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A Server Farm Powered By a Wind Farm

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the nice-and-symmetrical dept.

Power 164

1sockchuck writes "A Texas startup called Baryonyx plans to build data centers powered entirely by renewable energy. Its first project will be a wind-powered server farm powered by 100 wind turbines in the Texas panhandle. The company has also leased 38,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico, where it hopes to build hundreds of 300-foot wind turbines that can each generate up to 5 megawatts of power to support additional facilities. Baryonyx plans to sell excess capacity to the local utility, which it will use as a backup when the wind dies down."

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Car powered by a wind farm. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28762659)

I've built a car that runs on a wind farm. Only problem is that it only works in the water. 100% green though!

Re:Car powered by a wind farm. (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28762895)

But does it run Wind River Linux?

Umm... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28762701)

*Hundreds* of 300ft wind farms to power a data center? Holy sustainability problems Batman!

Re:Umm... (4, Funny)

HalifaxRage (640242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28762743)

You know I could have sworn someone was trying to sell a few hundred giant turbines here a few days back...

Re:Umm... (1)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 5 years ago | (#28762977)

Uh...wtf? They said it takes 100 of these things to power the one data center, and that they are planning to build an additional 38,000 acre wind farm. They also said that the individual units are 300ft tall. And just incase it got by you, they are talking about having enough "excess capacity" to make it worth the local utility's time to purchase. In my mind this seems like a good thing. Personally, I believe that free electricity and internet access are going to be necessary for us to make the jump to the next positive stage of our social development. With more and more internet media becoming saturated with little tv-style commercials and pop-ups, the future begins looking less and less promising.

-Oz

Re:Umm... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28763013)

I know that Texas is a big state and all, but need one hundred turbines that are three hundred feet tall doesn't strike you as a little excessive?! Drive past/through a wind farm some time, and then imagine how much space you need for 300 of these fuckers. Then think about how you're only powering one datacenter with them...

Re:Umm... (-1, Flamebait)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763115)

It's a hell of an undertaking for a startup. I suggest using the seed money to lobby for a law which mandates that those turbines be installed on the roofs of the Texans' houses, because we all know Texans are full of hot air (and shit, but that's a different fuel altogether).

Texas may be a big state, but retards tend to be big people.

Signed, Ethanol-fueled: From Excellent to Terrible Karma in seven days. [slashdot.org]

Re:Umm... (4, Insightful)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763219)

I think that, yes, our modern lifestyle is excessive. But this is happening with coal too. You just don't appear to live in a state where it's extracted, nor downwind of where the plants are releasing pollutants. Texas has a LOT of land that's not particularly good for animals, humans or plants over about 3 feet tall, and is perfect for wind farms.

Re:Umm... (1)

crispin_bollocks (1144567) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763891)

Ah, tripods - maybe someone in Texas can get Homeland Security funding for razor-sharp ground-grazing windmill mazes along the border.

Re:Umm... (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764419)

And then when some drunken idiot earns a darwin award people will throw a fit. Even if you are improving the gene pool SOMEONE will complain

Re:Umm... (0)

pallmall1 (882819) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764657)

Texas has a LOT of land that's not particularly good for animals, humans or plants over about 3 feet tall, and is perfect for wind farms.

Well, that's easy for you to say. Do you share the same opinions about the landscape of the arctic wildlife preserves?

Those wind farms really scar the countryside, and the maintenance roads that link them further destroys the ecosystems you so readily condemn. Don't forget about the intra-farm transmission lines and support structures. These things destroy hundreds of square miles to produce the power of one natural gas power station. Of course, it's on somebody else's land, though, isn't it? I guess there's no price some people are not willing for someone else to pay.

And funny that coal was mentioned, because it is the most favored fuel under the new "green energy" bill passed by the US House of Representatives. It is going to be massively subsidized for decades to come, while the cleanest fuel (natural gas) is the most punished -- both in power generation and industry. But, hey, who cares if "green energy" as portrayed in the popular press works or not... it's _GREEN_, and these wind farms go to ELEVEN [youtube.com] !

Re:Umm... (4, Informative)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765065)

Texas has a LOT of land that's not particularly good for animals, humans or plants over about 3 feet tall, and is perfect for wind farms.

Well, that's easy for you to say. Do you share the same opinions about the landscape of the arctic wildlife preserves?

theres a big difference between the artic wildlife preserves and the texas panhandle, BIG. obviously theclimate, but only _slightly_ less obvious is the wildlife diversity / scarcity. theres not a lot of wildlife that lives specifically in that area at all, much less endangered species. There are few Raptors that live in that area as well, furthermore the Energy Center of Wisconsin claims that Cell Phone Towers kill far more birds annually. i guess we should stop using them too, huh?

Those wind farms really scar the countryside, and the maintenance roads that link them further destroys the ecosystems you so readily condemn. Don't forget about the intra-farm transmission lines and support structures. These things destroy hundreds of square miles to produce the power of one natural gas power station. Of course, it's on somebody else's land, though, isn't it? I guess there's no price some people are not willing for someone else to pay.
 

In open, flat terrain, a utility-scale wind plant will require about 60 acres per megawatt of installed capacity. However, only 5% (3 acres) or less of this area is actually occupied by turbines, access roads, and other equipment--95% remains free for other compatible uses such as farming or ranching. But lets not limit our view to land use, since you mentioned the alternative of natural gas, lets look at some of the resources that requires in comparison
according to the American Wind Energy Association [awea.org] (i know, probably a somewhat biased source, but hey, its _a_ source, all i saw in your post was youtube, which i dont consider a source for things like _facts_ and _data_) a combined cycle gas plant requires approx .25 gal\kWh produced, a wind plant requires .001 gal\kWh, again i ask, have you been to Texas? its not exactly drowning in water, except for the Gulf Coast, but thats several hundred miles away, should we truck the water in or lay pipelines for a gas plant? i'm sure the impacts of that would be minimal.

And funny that coal was mentioned, because it is the most favored fuel under the new "green energy" bill passed by the US House of Representatives. It is going to be massively subsidized for decades to come, while the cleanest fuel (natural gas) is the most punished -- both in power generation and industry. But, hey, who cares if "green energy" as portrayed in the popular press works or not... it's _GREEN_, and these wind farms go to ELEVEN [youtube.com] !

ummm... the the US house of representatives? the same US house of representatives that is considered to be the 7th most corrupt on the planet by Transparency Internationals 2009 Global Corruption Barometer? http://www.transparency.org/ [transparency.org] you _really_ want to trust that they're looking out for _your_ interests? wait, are you an Oil Barron, or a major Pharmaceutical manufacturer, or a Multinational Conglomerate or a failing bank? if so, these just might be your guys.

Re:Umm... (1)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765295)

a combined cycle gas plant requires approx .25 gal\kWh produced, a wind plant requires .001 gal\kWh

i forgot to specify, we're talking about water per kilowatt hour of electricity.

Re:Umm... (2)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765729)

Yes. Just to add to this. Most of west texas has been used for cattle for decades now. All the old growth has been destroyed. The grasslands have been destroyed. And most native species have been destroyed. Cattle are far worse to the environment than wind turbines. To get it back to the state that the artic refuge is in would take many years. I'm not suggesting we put them in Big Bend.

But hey, you have no solutions, so why not condemn everyone else's!

* And just as a footnote. The Obama administration is a pretty conservative administration. Most liberals are not happy with a lot of his policies (esp. clean coal). I know that Limbaugh and Fox tell you that we all march in lockstep behind our leader, but it's simply not true. Most liberals like him for the same reason a majority of Americans like him - he comes off as a nice guy. His policies aren't that great, but when you compare them to Bush they're fantastic (although that's like comparing a community theater to an elementary school christmas program).

Re:Umm... (1)

Pentavirate (867026) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764209)

The 100 windmills are not the same as the 300ft tall ones they're planning on putting in the Gulf of Mexico. They're separate projects. It doesn't say how big the 100 windmills for the data center in the pan handle of Texas are, though they are 3.3 MW so I'd imagine that they'd still be big.

Re:Umm... (2, Informative)

aldousd666 (640240) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764901)

The ones they have in PA are a standard 400 feet tall. I didnt know that they were making smaller ones. In fact they have a windmill factory about 45 minutes from my house, and it cranks out the gigantic blades by the truck load. They're multiplying. I say fine, build wind farms, but don't expect it to replace the supply of coal plants anytime in the near future. I'm betting solar or fuel-recycling nuke plants are the eventual victory over energy. (with solar still requiring significant advances, and nukes requiring significant education -- people are still worried they blow up like nuclear bombs.)

Re:Umm... (2, Informative)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764839)

you've must never have seen the Texas panhandle. its big, barren, desolate, empty space, like the moon- but with wind.

One small technical hurdle (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28762757)

The current version has coal-fired blowers feeding into the wind farm.

Future versions promise to remove the coal-fired blowers.

Sure is mellow, jackin' into a hat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28762773)

I quite enjoy masturbating into a hat. Do you? Then reply to this post, ya big lunkhead!

Why not just use the grid? (3, Insightful)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28762775)

"A Texas startup called Baryonyx plans to build data centers powered entirely by renewable energy. [... ] it will use [the local utility] as a backup when the wind dies down."

If it's powered of the grid when it isn't windy out, and it's powered entirely by renewable energy, wouldn't it be powered entirely by renewable energy if it used the grid all the time?

Or are they just trying to say that it's net-positive? Or what? The linked article doesn't seem to claim that the data center will be "powered entirely by renewable energy", so it isn't much help.

-Peter

Re:Why not just use the grid? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28762827)

I was thinking they would have a massive flywheel for backup, but grid power would be needed if there's sustained calm.

Re:Why not just use the grid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28762843)

company is also developing plans to eventually use hydrogen fuel cells and solar power to support its facilities when wind generation ebbs due to weather conditions.

Based on that part, I would assume that they won't be getting enough energy from wind, at least yet. Probably not even net positive because if they would, they wouldn't need to have plans for more unless they want to get into the energy selling business (in which case the data center isn't the main point here).

Re:Why not just use the grid? (4, Insightful)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763017)

You calculate your average annual load, and scale your wind farm for that load. If you produce more, it goes into the grid for someone else to use. If you produce less, you draw from the grid and pay rip-off prices from the local power company. Basically you're using the power grid as a huge battery and hoping your numbers were close enough to produce what you draw.

It's better than just a net sum of zero. It's actually better when you use the produced energy yourself, because there is far less energy loss than if the power company sent it to you. Transmission losses for a short distance from the wind farm to you are much lower, assuming you don't skimp on the wiring, and any excess energy will be sent to downstream customers with less loss, too, especially if they make it a high voltage generating station (and I suspect they have to due to the size).

Re:Why not just use the grid? (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763229)

It's better than just a net sum of zero. It's actually better when you use the produced energy yourself, because there is far less energy loss than if the power company sent it to you. Transmission losses for a short distance from the wind farm to you are much lower, assuming you don't skimp on the wiring, and any excess energy will be sent to downstream customers with less loss, too, especially if they make it a high voltage generating station (and I suspect they have to due to the size).

From a cash standpoint, though... not sure it would be better.

Is it cheaper to build out your own power generation than it is to pay for the overhead and profits of the grid power suppliers? What are the efficiencies of scale in electricity generation? How does capital financing play into this -- would the utilities get much cheaper capital from the financiers?

I like the main idea of your post, though. Distributed (and sustainable/green) power generation with traditional power companies acting as a backup supplier would give a nice transition to a more sustainable generation system. Unfortunately, I think if that model were adopted widely, we'd lose one of the great efficiencies of centralized power generation -- predictable loads. The big power companies would need to shift to power supplies that have a quick response to increased demand (or they'd need to waste a lot of fuel maintaining higher base generation).

I'm by no means an expert in the industry, so I don't know tons about how it *could* play out, let alone how it *would* play out... but I do wonder how a grid-based backup supply could cope with highly variable demand.

Re:Why not just use the grid? (2, Informative)

knightri (841297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764043)

The time it takes for a gas/coal fueled power plant to change its output from from lets say 50 megawatts to 200 megawatts is minuscule. And yes I work with and design control systems for power plants.

Re:Why not just use the grid? (1)

The_Quinn (748261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765793)

From a cash standpoint, though... not sure it would be better.

Well the government has poured billions into energy, and still it is definitely not cheaper.

If cost were the primary concern, then there would be no reason for the government to make yet further inroads into the control of energy. We have abundant, cheap carbon-based energy, which could be even more abundant and cheap if we were not forcibly prevented from getting at it all.

Re:Why not just use the grid? (2, Interesting)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763321)

Assuming the grid can accept that excess power, which is not a sure thing. Often peak power usage times doesn't correspond with times of optimal wind speed. There have reportedly been instances in which some grids in Europe have experienced severe problems due to large excess and/or rapidly fluctuating loads coming from wind farms.

Ron

Use the grid as a big battery. (2, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763161)

If it's powered of the grid when it isn't windy out, and it's powered entirely by renewable energy, wouldn't it be powered entirely by renewable energy if it used the grid all the time?

Sounds like they have excess generation capacity. They sell the power to the grid when the wind is high and buy it from the grid when the wind is too low to supply the local loads. If they buy less than they sell they can honestly say the load is (at least on the average) powered entirely by renewable resources.

It's not even a cheat: Peak wind power usually occurs when the peak demand on the grid is occurring. The wind farm doesn't just displace more fuel-burning at peak times than the data center causes at offpeak time. It displaces more costly fuels - both in money and pollution potential.

Re:Use the grid as a big battery. (1)

shermo (1284310) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764699)

Peak wind power usually occurs when the peak demand on the grid is occurring.

I'd be really interested if you could supply a source for this assertion.

Re:Why not just use the grid? (3, Funny)

aldousd666 (640240) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764921)

They'll have to invent a new HTTP error code: 603 - Calm Weather

Great Idea: Except You're (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28762813)

missing the transmission lines.

T. Boone Pickens says the lines won't be available until 2013 [npr.org] .

Yours Electrostatically,
Kilgore Trout

Something about this lacks "reality" (2, Insightful)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 5 years ago | (#28762883)

The linked story has all of the alternate energy buzzwords in it - and it's nice that they've gained the wind power leases for some land in Texas. But all those high-powered wind turbines are going to cost some very serious cash - that's the first problem. They aren't likely to have access to the kind of money it takes to make this happen. Then they talk about having their data center in three years. There's another clue to what's going on here - even if they did have the money, it'd be very difficult for them to have even one of these wind turbines actually generating power by then.

I'm still chuckling about those 300 foot tall towers that will be standing on the 450 acres of ocean they've leased. For extra credit, calculate the wind load of a turbine extracting 3.5 MW of power from the wind when it's at the top of a 300 foot tower. For extra credit, determine the size and number of supports it would take to keep this thing standing. Remember, it's standing in the Gulf of Mexico so be sure to design for the storms that blow through there from time to time and a long life standing in seawater.

It's an interesting story - but if you're approached about investing in this project you might want to keep your wallet in your pocket.

Re:Something about this lacks "reality" (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763199)

> if you're approached about investing in this project
> you might want to keep your wallet in your pocket.

Unless your name is Uncle Sam, in which case you raise taxes (or print money, which is the same thing) and hey presto, up go the turbines. For more I refer you to Chris Horner's excellent work Red Hot Lies [amazon.com] .

Re:Something about this lacks "reality" (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763275)

For extra credit, determine the size and number of supports it would take to keep this thing standing.

The answer is 1 hollow reinforced concrete base approximately 45' in diameter at sea level.

Remember, it's standing in the Gulf of Mexico so be sure to design for the storms that blow through there from time to time and a long life standing in seawater.

I'm sure if the design works in the North Atlantic, it'll work in the much milder weather of the Gulf.

Re:Something about this lacks "reality" (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765059)

Remember, it's standing in the Gulf of Mexico so be sure to design for the storms that blow through there from time to time and a long life standing in seawater.

I'm sure if the design works in the North Atlantic, it'll work in the much milder weather of the Gulf.

Katrina was Cat 5 while it was in the Gulf. So was Rita. I take it you have a lot of those in the North Atlantic?

"vaporware" (1)

GabriellaKat (748072) | more than 5 years ago | (#28762885)

...thats a pun this time, right? right? get it? vaporware? (prepares to dodge flying food)

freakin' farms (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28762903)

can someone explain to me why server farms and wind farms are "farms"? last time i checked, an X farm is where you grow X. do whey grow little servers in server farms (aka servlets)? do they grow wind in a wind farm? what the hell is up with naming conventions these days?

Re:freakin' farms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28763033)

They wanted to use "flock of servers", but decided customers would run, run so far away.

Re:freakin' farms (1)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763087)

These days? What do you suppose is produced at a truck farm [answers.com] ?

Re:freakin' farms (1)

Tynin (634655) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763099)

While I cannot speak on wind farms, I do see server farms as just that. Several of the data centers I've worked in are generally laid out in a farm like fashion, partitioned off into plots of land, each for its own purpose. That land is cultivated, in its own way, to allow for products or clients to grow and flourish. And it surely takes numerous hands to keep a server farm up and running happily.

Re:freakin' farms (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763107)

Maybe because there is row upon row of identical looking items? Maybe because they have top-notch people working there (ones that are "outstanding in their field")? Maybe because of all the bullshit?

By analogy with "antenna farm". (3, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763231)

can someone explain to me why server farms and wind farms are "farms"?

Probably by analogy with "antenna farm" - an old radio term for a site with a number and usually a variety of antennas. (These were typically a radio amateur running on many bands but some commercial and military "farms" also existed.) It was a joking reference to the crowded cluster of antennas "growing up" from the plot of land like a crop of trees or other cultivated plants in a farm or garden.

Re:By analogy with "antenna farm". (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763861)

This really intrigued me, so I looked into the etymology of the word 'farm' [etymonline.com] a bit.

Going back to its roots, a "server farm" or a "wind farm" make perfect sense, as the basis for the word "farm" is land.

That is, the agricultural connotation of "farm" is a later addition. Really, any tract of land is a farm. It just happens that leased land was rarely used for anything but agriculture back in the middle ages, so eventually a "farm" was only a tract of land used for agriculture.

So the primary meaning of the word "farm" is "land". This fits for wind farms, agricultural farms, etc. For server farms, I think it has more to do with the agricultural similarities. A row of cabbages is similar to a row of servers, etc. Rather than one monolithic production entity (like a city), instead you have rows of servers that equate to rows of crops.

Likely the modern usage is heavily influenced by the character of what is being called a $PRODUCT farm, regardless of land use. But it's interesting to me that this ties in very well with the original meaning of the word "farm".

Re:freakin' farms (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763613)

Farms aren't just about growing, they're about harvesting too. In an apple farm, you grow apple trees and harvest apples. In a wind farm, you build windmills, and harvest wind energy. A solar farm harvests the energy of the sun, which is what the other two farms are doing indirectly. It works pretty well for me. I think the pastoral connotation of "wind farm" fits better than the industrial heavy-sounding "wind power plant".

Server farms are a different matter. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but a lot of computer-related terminology doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Maybe because our field is so abstract, our naming analogies are more whimsical. *shrug* No idea.

Re:freakin' farms (1)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765163)

well a farm _does_ indeed grow things. my presumption has always been that wind and solar farms grow electricity (rather than breaking it out of some sort of fuel like coal, oil, NG or Nuclear) a server farm more or less grows processing power, or 1's and 0's if you like. by adding capacity to the server farm it grows greater floppage (thats a technical term, btw) also, like the act of growing plants there is little work involved on the surface, corn seems to _just grow_ and servers seem to _just operate_ of course, tell a farmer or a server farm director if their job is easy and you eather get laughed at or punched in the mouth.

wake up folks need more nuclear power! (4, Insightful)

unix_geek_512 (810627) | more than 5 years ago | (#28762939)

We need more nuclear power.

Wind turbines are great and all, except for the fact they need tons of copper, aluminum, fiberglass and other resources which require a heck of a lot of energy to mine and produce.

All those resources are best used elsewhere, where it is more efficient.

Nothing beats nuclear power at providing base generating capacity.

Let's get some hydro in there too, hydro is a dirty word nowadays, which is insane. It's more green than all the "fashionable green technologies".

Give me an all of above approach please!!!

And don't forget we need to return to the moon and start mining Helium 3 now();

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (-1, Troll)

Shoe Puppet (1557239) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763037)

Nothing beats nuclear power at providing base generating capacity.

Unless you take the radioactive waste and the occasional meltdown into account.

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (1)

Tynin (634655) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763599)

Unless you take the radioactive waste and the occasional meltdown into account.

Of which the waste can be dealt with with current technology (pebble bed reactors), and only a single true melt down has occurred which also could be addressed with current tech and better procedures.

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763801)

Pebble bed has many advantages but I really do not know where myths about waste like the above start. Accelerated thorium has the potential of dealing with several types of high grade radioactive waste and discarded weapons materials so that may be what you are thinking about.

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (2, Informative)

uvdiv_blog (1602161) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764943)

Of which the waste can be dealt with with current technology (pebble bed reactors),

I don't get it - why pebble bed reactors? They don't seem suitable for destroying waste (that is, transmuting and fissioning the transuranics). First off, many PBRs are completely unsuitable for this - because they are [pbmr.com] uranium-cycle reactors in the thermal spectrum, and are not breeders - they do not destroy TRUs, but in fact create more of them. I guess some PBRs could be breeders - maybe the thorium PBRs [wikipedia.org] , but even then there's a huge problem. PBRs are not designed for a closed fuel cycle - quite the opposite, the extremely-hard ceramic pebbles are designed to be indestructible and inert, not easily amenable to chemical reprocessing (which as a first step, means dissolving or melting the spent fuel elements.)

There are other reactors that are designed for closed fuel cycles, and disposing of nuclear waste. One class is the liquid-metal fast breeder reactors (LMFBR), like the IFR [wikipedia.org] that was developed at Argonne national lab. The IFR was designed around a reprocessing cycle (pyroprocessing [anl.gov] ): that is why it uses metal fuel, as opposed to the common metal-oxide fuels, which are harder to reprocess because you need to reduce the very stable uranium/plutonium oxides. (Or even worse, the carbide fuel in TRISO pebbles).

Another reactor designed for reprocessing is the molten salt reactor [wikipedia.org] , which has a liquid core (!) of a low-melting point fluoride salt. This is even more amenable to reprocessing - there is no need to break down - and then fabricate again - the solid fuel elements, as there aren't any!

But as far as I know, pebbles beds have no chance as a closed fuel cycle.

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (1)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763117)

There is also the "Size" issue... I think I read on Marcy Kaptur's(D-Oh) website the Lake Erie is the "Saudia Arabia" of wind power. It's gonna look kinda funny when ships can't get around and recreational boating is stopped because of people running into big turbines out in the lake... Not to mention the issues of building it in the lake, carbon created in the build process and installation process, etc..

BTW, they are going to announce tomorrow a "Temporary" moritorium on hardrock mining around the grandcanyon. What were they looking to mine? Uranium, the fuel needed by Nuclear reactors. *** Before you get upset, NO the mines were not staked right at the edge of the grandcanyon. (Which, surprisingly doesn't have a fence around it, talk about a lawsuit waiting to happen!)

"Are you worried about your excesive carbon footprint? Come look at the wonder of this nuclear plant near the great grandcanyon."

                  'oooo-ahhhh -- [HUH?] -- Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh......[THUD]'

"Next!"

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763255)

And don't forget we need to return to the moon and start mining Helium 3 now();

I much prefer the boron-hydrogen fusion systems. No radioactive output, and the materials are here now.

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (2)

uvdiv_blog (1602161) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763941)

First off, it's simply not true that aneutronic fusion is clean - it yields only a fraction as many neutrons as D-T, but that's still a huge flux, which will transmute containment materials into radioactive isotopes. Look it up - every "aneutronic" reaction has inevitable side reactions which produce neturons.

Secondly, neither boron or He-3 fusion are anywhere close to reality. The have extremely small cross sections compared to D-T, so they need temperatures an order of magnitude hotter. This isn't practical.

See the graph on wikipedia (axes are logarithmic!): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fusion_rxnrate.svg [wikipedia.org]

So I think the future of fusion is D-T.

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (2, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763301)

Wind turbines are great and all, except for the fact they need tons of copper, aluminum, fiberglass and other resources which require a heck of a lot of energy to mine and produce.

So do fuel-burning plants (though not precisely the same amount or mix of materials). Whether the fuel is combustible or nuclear.

But the "fuel" for the wind turbine is just wind - which is free (except for the cost of using the site). And the "ash" is slower wind (typically in a place where using the land involves raising windbreaks anyhow). Beat THAT with your nuclear reactors and their uranium mines, processing plants, and waste disposal issues.

Call me when somebody gets a practical hydrogen-boron fusion design working and we'll compare costs over the life of the device.

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (0, Redundant)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763667)

Is wind really "free"? If we install enough wind turbines, wouldn't we slow the spin of the earth because of the collective resistance of the turbines?

Personally, I look forward to loosing the extra weight when we hit zero-G because of the spin stopping, but thats just me. ;)

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (5, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763769)

Is wind really "free"? If we install enough wind turbines, wouldn't we slow the spin of the earth because of the collective resistance of the turbines?

Nope. Angular momentum is conserved. You'd just be modifying the distribution of it between the atmosphere and the ground's motion - and the planet is a LOT more massive than the atmosphere. (Also: In the temperate zone you'd SPEED UP the Earth by slowing the wind. But not by enough to measure.)

As for weather effects and the like: A wind farm has about as much effect as growing a forest or raising some skyscrapers. It's a drop in the bucket, atmospherically speaking.

Give me a call when they're powering the whole planet by using dirigible-borne wind turbines to slow the jet stream by a few percent. It might make a detectable difference in storm tracks.

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28763869)

whooosh.

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (2, Insightful)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765073)

I look forward to loosing the extra weight when we hit zero-G because of the spin stopping

What happened to gravitation?

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (1)

uvdiv_blog (1602161) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764153)

But the "fuel" for the wind turbine is just wind - which is free

And that is compensated by the construction cost, which is extremely high. Everything included, wind electricity is substantially more expensive, per kWh, than conventional sources (coal, nuclear, hydropower).

Beat THAT with your nuclear reactors and their uranium mines,

What, the amounts of uranium needed are very small. And don't pretend wind farms don't need mines, for their hundreds of tons of iron and copper and whatnot. And more interestingly, lanthanide metals ("rare earths"), for high-density permanent magnets in the wind motors. Interesting because these occur in the same ores that thorium is mined from (not exactly uranium, but another nuclear fuel and radiologically similar).

See for instance Atlantic's recent Clean Energy's Dirty Little Secret [theatlantic.com] , subtitle: "Hybrid cars and wind turbines need rare-earth minerals that come with their own hefty environmental price tag."

processing plants

The amounts of material used in enrichment facilities, or in chemical reprocessing plants, is very small, and it is manipulated in hot cells, and not released into the environment in any meaningful quantities. (I consider this the great theme of nuclear power: everything is "small", because the energy density is extraordinarily dense.) In contrast, (e.g.) solar photovoltaics go through large amounts of solar photovoltaic waste, which is not held to the high standards of radiological material, but (in many countries) simply dumped. Sure not in the US, but then we do import much of our PVs, no?

See for example WP's Solar Energy Firms Leave Waste Behind in China [washingtonpost.com] (about dumping of SiCl4 byproduct used in Si-cell manufacture), or CNET's E-waste looms behind solar-power boom [cnet.com] , which points out that PV cells die and need special disposal considerations, because they contain toxic pollutants.

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763447)

If you knew anything practical about nuclear power you would know that we are talking about a situation where we cannot even compare wind and nuclear.

1/ Wind power has a short lead time which in some cases can be under a year. For nuclear it takes around a decade. It comes down to the scale of the projects really.
2/ At really small scales nuclear is horribly expensive per watt and is only useful in submarines, satellelites etc, but as size increases you get a much better return since you can get more energy out of the steam.
3/ Base loads are not the problem in power generation. It's peaks that everyone worries about. It's hard to power up another thermal unit of any kind (coal, oil, nuclear) but easy to switch a low power unit like a windmill on or off the grid.

Nuclear shows signs of being viable at large scales but at small scales it is so expensive that it is only considered for military applications. In the case of this article we are talking about a small scale. Wind power doesn't really scale up and maintainance costs are high but in this case it doesn't have to scale up.
As for Hydro, how much snow is there in Texas? Hydro works when you know you are going to have a lot of water at high elevations. Now while there has even been a tidal hydro station at Le Havre for fifty years that is only practical in places with very large tides and a lot of space to store the water.

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764149)

Wind turbines are great and all, except for the fact they need tons of copper, aluminum, fiberglass and other resources

All other kinds of plants do as well, but that's not the point.

A server farm has high availability requirements, and cannot be powered solely by a single intermittent energy source like a wind farm, because when there's no wind your clients canish off the net. That's as stupid as making a solar powered respirator (or other life support device), where the patient dies when the Sun stops shining. The whole premise of the article is hilarious. They essentially invested in 2 separate things: a server farm and a wind farm, and now try to link them to create free "green" publicity.

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28764905)

And begin to clone ourselves some helium-3 miners, too..

Re:wake up folks need more nuclear power! (1)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765191)

wake up dude, people are dumb! _Especially_ here (or there) in the US

Yo dawg (1)

XnavxeMiyyep (782119) | more than 5 years ago | (#28762985)

I herd u liek farms so we powered yo farm with a farm so u can farm while you farm!

all you need now is spice... (1, Funny)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28762991)

dunno about the rest of ya but for me...every time I hear wind power generation, it reminds me of Dune....specifically, the Dune PC games...where the main source of power were these wind turbines.

(yea, the old DOS based game...Dune II...man...classic...)

but dang...300ft turbines? imagine the number of migratory birds, insects (notably monarch butterflies from mexico), and numerous PETA/Greenpeace boats would be destroyed....
I guess the downside is just the animals that would be sacrificed for the greater good.
c'est la vie

They could save some money (1)

liquiddark (719647) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763003)

Does anyone else get the image of a wind tunnel data centre with passive coolers dissipating directly into gale-force winds? Not that the idea's bad, exactly. I just wonder how much power they're consuming for AC when the wind-powered notion could probably be taken more directly for a significant portion of the running costs (ie cooling).

Re:They could save some money (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764127)

And when the wind stops your server farm melts. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:They could save some money (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765089)

They could also not build their server farm in Texas. I'm sure there's room in Alaska.

They may need add a 404-w for sever down do to lac (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763027)

They may need add a 404-w for sever down do to lack of wind.

Wind is nice, but.... (2, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763045)

I would rather see these companies spend money on geo-thermal or Solar Thermal. Both of these can serve as base-load power.

59 Sq Miles for 1500 MW. Nuke Plant Better. (3, Insightful)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763049)

59 square miles of land to generate a theoretical maximum of 1500 megawatts (300 turbines x 5 MW each). But the reality is even with all 300 turbines running, assuming they all get built, the actual power output much of the time will be well below their rated maximum output. A nuclear power plant, in particular, those containing multiple reactor units, can easily produce well in excess of 1500 MW on a much smaller foot print than 59 square miles, and more consistently.

In my view, wind power is a fad. I'd wager in 20 years there will be a booming business in wind turbine demolition as it becomes painfully clear, even to many wind power advocates, that their efficiency is lousy and the ongoing maintenance, especially as the turbines age, far larger than inticipated; many will be glad to see the eyesores turn down. To digress, right now, wind turbines, in most places, are still a novelty and seem neat, but once they're everywhere, and especially as they age, aren't going to seem so nice anymore.

Solar, especially home and business installations on roofs, which basically unused space now, shows much promise - won't eliminate the need for the grid, but will reduce demand somewhat while saving people money.

Ron

Re:59 Sq Miles for 1500 MW. Nuke Plant Better. (1)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763141)

Addendum: I misread the summery. 300 is the height in feet of the turbines. With that said, the article speaks of there being hundreds of turbines as opposed to thousands, so the 300 number I mentioned is probably still in the ballpark.

Re:59 Sq Miles for 1500 MW. Nuke Plant Better. (4, Interesting)

StickyWidget (741415) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763519)

Nuclear power plants in the 1500 Megawatt range cost 30-40 Billion dollars just to build.

Wind Farms in the 1500 Megawatt range cost 300-400 million dollars to build.

Put in the zeros:
40,000,000,000 vs 400,000,000....

For the price of one 1500 Megawatt nuclear plant, we can build 100 1500 megawatt wind farms.... 1500 MW Care to revise your argument?

~Sticky

Re:59 Sq Miles for 1500 MW. Nuke Plant Better. (2, Informative)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764007)

There are some important differences between a 1500MW wind farm and a 1500MW nuclear plant. The nuke will actually put out 1500MW consistently regardless of weather conditions (with a good track record of security you can even get an uprate of a few percent), whereas the wind farm will sometimes give you 1000MW and sometimes zero (wind farms rarely achieve their theoretical power output). The nuclear plant will also probably last longer.

Re:59 Sq Miles for 1500 MW. Nuke Plant Better. (3, Informative)

shermo (1284310) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764781)

A type 1 wind site will get about 40% of maximum capacity on average. So a simple multiplier still puts wind farms a long way ahead on those numbers.

Of course there are other benefits to nuclear over wind and as the proportion of wind increases, the grid quickly becomes unstable. However at the current level of wind penetration that's not an issue, so wind farms are the better choice.

Re:59 Sq Miles for 1500 MW. Nuke Plant Better. (4, Informative)

uvdiv_blog (1602161) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764639)

Nuclear power plants in the 1500 Megawatt range cost 30-40 Billion dollars just to build.

Nonsense. The new French reactor [wikipedia.org] , 1650 MWe, has a pricetag of $4.8 billion. Recent Japanese and Korean reactors were in the same range - $2-3/W (PPP), as surveyed by MIT CEEPR [mit.edu] (under "update on the cost of nuclear power"). The accompanying study [mit.edu] (2009) predicts costs for new US reactors to be $4/W. In short, the numbers are consistent. You can look up cost figures, levelized cost studies (here's a start) [blogspot.com] up and down, and you will find this is true.

Wind Farms in the 1500 Megawatt range cost 300-400 million dollars to build.

Also nonsense. Just take one recent [eon-uk.com] UK wind farm, which came in at £111 M for 60 MWe - $2.07/W, or extrapolating, over $3 billion for 1500 MW. You can survey costs all over the web, and this is typical. Whitelee [renewableenergyworld.com] , Europe's largest onshore farm, cost £300M ($496M) for 322 MWe, $1.54/W. Lynn and Inner Dowsing [wikipedia.org] - UK's largest offshore farm - came in at £300 M ($496 M) for 194 MWe, $2.56/MW. The famous London Array [timesonline.co.uk] is now at £3B ($4.96 billion) for 1,000 MWe: $4.96/W. (To be fair though, this represents a 200% cost overrun over the original estimates. [wikipedia.org] ) (Sorry about the angstrom signs: they are supposed to be British "pound" symbols)

Also, besides the fact that your bogus figures for wind are 10 times cheaper than reality (and for nuclear, 10 times more expensive than reality), your comparison is bogus in yet another away. You comparable incomparable quantities: a megawatt of baseload yields far more energy than a megawatt of wind power - because it yields power continuously, whereas the wind turbines are very frequently down, or generating at fractional capacity. This is represented by the "capacity factor" [wikipedia.org] , which is the fraction of the nameplate capacity actually achieved by a power plant - ratio of [average power output]/[power capacity]. And while nuclear power plants, as generally reliable baseload plants, run at 90%+ [doe.gov] capacity factor - that is, average 0.90 MWe of generation for each 1 MWe of nameplate capacity - wind farms, becuase of the obvious intermittency of wind, average only 20-30% [wordpress.com] capacity factors, with some exceptional [prinsesamaliawindpark.eu] offshore locations yielding 40%. Those megawatts are completely incomparable: 1 MWe of nuclear yields 2-4 times more energy than 1 MWe of wind power.

Re:59 Sq Miles for 1500 MW. Nuke Plant Better. (3, Interesting)

StickyWidget (741415) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765465)

Jeez. Where do I even start....
1. Don't reference Other Countries nuclear programs. This is the United States, where the costs of regulation, permitting, licensing, buying land, paying off neighbors, etc outweigh the material cost of a reactor. Don't compare France. Japan, Korea, or all those others, to the US, it's apples and oranges when it comes to nuclear acceptance. The issue was a wind farm in the US, not France. A nuke in America costs 30-40 billion dollars, stem to stern, full cost. That's the cost of a FULL COMPLETE nuke plant(including water treatment, balance of plant, turbines, etc), but I'll forgive your ignorance on that. People who read wikipedia and don't know power generation often make that mistake.

2. You got your numbers wrong: Financing referenced in that wikipedia article is only for construction phase, which is the CHEAPEST part of building a nuke. Permitting isn't there, startup (which is WAY expensive) isn't there, commissioning (which is RIDICULOUS expensive) isn't there, NRC approval and licensing (which is THE most expensive piece) isn't there. If you worked for a utility or in the nuclear industry (like me) you'd know this.

3. If you want to reference a source, use one with some TEETH. Something like http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/analysis/nuclearpower.html [doe.gov] , or http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/82975.pdf [state.gov] . Some dipshit's blog doesn't count, especially when he admits a full bias and doesn't disclose his credentials. BTW: I'm a computer engineer with 5 years of experience in control systems, power generation, and the economics of electric power.

4. Seriously? OFFSHORE wind farm budget numbers up against LAND BASED wind farms? Lets' see, we'll put a wind technology that is designed, constructed, and operated in one of the most harsh environments on the planet, which you have to helicopter maintenance personnel into, against a wind technology that is built on solid ground, with standard materials, and can be maintained with guys in trucks. Gee, that's a real valid comparison. My wind numbers are accurate, I know because I work in the industry.

5. Fine. Assume that they produce 1500 MW 10% of the time instead of 90%. Still a break even with my ACCURATE numbers.

6. Definitely not an engineer. Megawatts are always comparable, they are absolute quantities. A MW produced by a wind farm is the same MW produced by a nuke. Yes, while wind provides a smaller percentage of it's capacity factor when compared to nuclear, that can be (supposedly) be defeated with large numbers of geographically dispersed wind farms.

Nukes cost a lot of money. That is the operational reality. Get over it. Until someone decides that nukes are a good investment for their cost, we will not see a nuke plant. Other countries can do what they like, they are 20 years ahead of us. The NRC rules all, and nobody wants to finance something we can't figure out how to get rid of the waste for. And that's sad, because nuclear power is the future of baseload generation and will help end our dependence on fossil fuels.

~Sticky

Re:59 Sq Miles for 1500 MW. Nuke Plant Better. (1)

StickyWidget (741415) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765557)

Whoops, got a little ahead of myself.

MW Hours, not MW for #6.

~Sticky

Re:59 Sq Miles for 1500 MW. Nuke Plant Better. (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764345)

59 square miles of land to generate a theoretical maximum of 1500 megawatts (300 turbines x 5 MW each).

Most of the ground in those 59 square miles will still be empty. Is there any reason wind can't co-exist on the same land with agriculture, grazing, or solar power?

Re:59 Sq Miles for 1500 MW. Nuke Plant Better. (3, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764373)

A nuclear power plant, in particular, those containing multiple reactor units, can easily produce well in excess of 1500 MW on a much smaller foot print than 59 square miles, and more consistently.

Why is land area the primary criterion? Why talk about wind farm land 'foot print' as though it were a big parking lot you plop down, as if it occupies land in the same way a nuclear plant does. One of the nice things about wind farms is that at ground level they consist of mostly empty space which can be used for farming, animal grazing, and so on. If it even matters. Nobody cares about squeezing multiple uses out of every square mile in west Texas, for example. Unless it's to put wind mills where you already have oil wells, which I've seen. There's plenty of land besides that isn't being used for anything else.

In my view, wind power is a fad. I'd wager in 20 years there will be a booming business in wind turbine demolition as it becomes painfully clear, even to many wind power advocates, that their efficiency is lousy and the ongoing maintenance, especially as the turbines age, far larger than inticipated

If they're tearing it down in twenty years, then they'll only be doing it to put up a new one, because they would have long since made a profit on the windmill. The farms that were built ten years ago have already turned nice ROIs. Even without a lot of incentives, it's profitable to run them. Unexpected maintenance issues late in life aren't going to change that. Forget some Oil-and-would-be-water Baron in the panhandle; there's a reason they're throwing up all those wind farms in west Texas.

Now I could see development slowing down if they start to run out of economical places to put them. But why would they tear down farms in places that have already proven to be profitable?

many will be glad to see the eyesores turn down.

Ah. Wishful thinking. Sorry you feel that way. I think a wind farm looks beautiful, personally. Some older models aren't very good looking, sure. But all the new ones they're building look elegant to me, a modern take on an old pastoral theme, and seen a hundred of them all carving out big circles at slightly different speeds is mesmerizing.

Solar, especially home and business installations on roofs, which basically unused space now, shows much promise - won't eliminate the need for the grid, but will reduce demand somewhat while saving people money.

Yeah, that's nice too. Economies of scale help here though just like with everything else, so it's not always as clear for a homeowner that it's a good ROI, but in the right conditions it does very well. My house used to have solar panels on it, but they were removed due to maintenance issues and a bad installation that affected the roof. It's possible I'll new ones up at some point. Commercial rooftops, though, sound like a fantastic place for solar.

Re:59 Sq Miles for 1500 MW. Nuke Plant Better. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28764919)

In my view, wind power is a fad. I'd wager in 20 years there will be a booming business in wind turbine demolition as it becomes painfully clear, even to many wind power advocates, that their efficiency is lousy and the ongoing maintenance, especially as the turbines age, far larger than inticipated; many will be glad to see the eyesores turn down.

Oh? How much would you wager?

There are already wind farms that have been around for more than 20 years (e.g. the Altamont Pass farm in California), installed in response to our last energy crisis (in the '70s). The last few decades have indeed seen some of the turbines being taken down, but often simply to be replaced by newer, larger models that generate more power and are less hazardous to wildlife.

As to your speculation about efficiency and maintenance, it seems odd in light of this history. What surprising new general problems with turbine maintenance and efficiency are we going to learn in the next two decades that we didn't learn in the past few, beyond the occasional "lemon" model of turbine? If turbines were so spectacularly troublesome in general, then why would the owners of the older wind farms have continued to maintain and upgrade them over the past few decades? Do the people installing new farms fail to investigate the historical record when presenting the efficiency and operation and maintenance (O&M) components of their cost model to investors? Are the investors similarly negligent when making the massive capital outlays necessary to finance a wind farm? None of these wind farms are heading for flashy IPOs where VCs can unload risk onto the public.

Wind energy may have been a "fad" in the early '80s, but in 2009, it is a relatively mature and serious industry, with long-term investments and time horizons. There are conferences all about trends in wind energy O&M, for Christ's sake. This notion you seem to be presenting, that the entire industry is ignorant about the subject and you're the only one who has thought to anticipate these problems, is laughable. It seems more like you just don't like wind turbines and are speaking from hope, rather than knowledge.

The truth is that turbines have become more efficient and maintainable as time has passed, and it is likely that this trend will continue as the technology continues to mature, as competing wind farm operators demand better performance from competing manufacturers, and as these operators deploy condition monitoring, predictive modeling, and other technologies designed to reduce O&M costs.

However, if you really are convinced of your opinion and serious about your wager, it's possible that, if you wished to make your challenge on longbets.org, someone would be willing to take you up. So, issue your challenge and put your money where your mouth is. I'd suggest you put at least $2000 on something like "in the year 2029, the rate of wind turbine demolition will exceed the rate of wind turbine construction, and this will largely be attributed to unforeseen efficiency problems and maintenance costs."

Or, your could settle back in your armchair and leave the opining on wind turbine efficiency and maintenance to people who know something about it and have real money riding on getting it right.

Re:59 Sq Miles for 1500 MW. Nuke Plant Better. (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765031)

Don't forget to add a bit of land for the strip mine.

Wind Farms in Mexico? (1)

stoicfaux (466273) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763063)

Not to be overly cynical, but is there any reason why anyone hasn't bought cheap land and/or politicians in Mexico to get around those pesky NIMBY people and environmental laws? Granted you would need to spend money on infrastructure to get the power to the Southern US, but you would think it would still be more economical than wasting time in the US.

Re:Wind Farms in Mexico? (2, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763401)

... is there any reason why anyone hasn't bought cheap land and/or politicians in Mexico ...

The land is cheap - but US citizens can't own it.

The politicians are too expensive: Once you've got some money coming in they want it all.

Re:Wind Farms in Mexico? (1)

StickyWidget (741415) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763443)

Even though the USA and Mexican power networks have the same fundamental power frequencies (i.e. 60 Hz), they operate out of sync and can't simply "connect". To get around this, companies install a High Voltage Direct Current system (HVDC) or a Variable Frequency Transformer (VFT). However, these connections are VERY limited in what they can bring across due to the nature of the equipment. HVDC installations are many many more times the price of conventional substations, and usually have a lower capacity due to the type and complexity of equipment necessary (thyristor banks can only handle so much current). Additionally, HVDC only becomes cost effective after 100s of miles, short distances are very inefficient. VFT installations are incredibly maintenance intensive, they are basically massive electric motor-generator pairs, Mexican electricity spins a drive and US electricity is generated in sync on the other side, with severe losses due to friction heating and other mechanical stresses. Current VFT design is limited at 100MW, making it cheaper to just build a small gas fired plant (especially in Texas).

HVDC/VFT installations are pretty expensive, and when it comes down to it, the cost of electricity in Mexico is probably pretty similar to the US. It's not like Mexico gets a cheaper deal on fossil fuels, they buy natural gas from the same places we do. Plus their operational efficiency is nowhere near ours, which washes out our issues with labor and environmental compliance (in Texas, it's really not that bad. Apparently Texans are fine with pollution). These HVDC/VFT ties cost a lot to build and operate, so the providers charge a lot to move electricity across them. Additionally, the US cannot rely on Mexican power in the same way we rely on Canadian power, so additional capacity has to be reserved for these connections, which costs even more money. It's the reliability issue, and reliability is what caused the Northeast Blackout's cascading outages in 2003.

That's why.

~Sticky

Re:Wind Farms in Mexico? (1)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765251)

Drug Lords, much?

green marketing gimmick (4, Insightful)

Necron69 (35644) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763089)

"Baryonyx plans to sell excess capacity to the local utility, which it will use as a backup when the wind dies down."

Translation: the local utility will need to build/buy additional generating capacity to cover the lack of base-load power from the wind farm.

This is a gimmick that isn't near as 'green' as they want you to believe.

- Necron69

Hope they Have Startup Capital (2, Informative)

StickyWidget (741415) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763151)

Cause at $1.5-2.0 Million per mile for 30 miles of transmission line, they are looking at around $45-60 Million for 115KV transmission out there. Add another $10 Million to add to the 138KV sub in Dalheart, at least another $15 million for their own substation near the wind farm, plus another $10 Million for interconnections between wind turbines and the wind substation. Settling any right of way issues, better budget at least $5 million. And add in 10% for miscellaneous changes and unforeseen consequences. Plus another 10% for the program management....

We're talking $100-115 million dollars being spent on transmission line construction, and this all before this project makes any money. Plus, THREE YEARS? I know you are marketing to the venture capitalists, but I don't think so, try 5 years minimum.

And this is BEFORE costs per wind turbine, which run in the $2-3 Million per turbine due to them being in high demand right now. So that's another $200-300 Million on top of that. Tax credits will shave off almost 70-80% of the purchase price of the turbines over 10 years though. Didn't know we taxpayers were subsidizing this construction, didya?

WANTED: Investors with serious balls. Require big brass ones, with money to spend in a shite economy. Will not receive return on investment for at least 5 years if ever. This is Texas, Wussies, Pussies, and Wimps need not apply...

~Sticky

Not renewable... (1)

Excelcia (906188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763361)

I love these folks that think that if they sell some power to the "grid" and then use the "grid" power later that somehow they are using 100% renewable resources. No, sorry, you are using wind power when you are drawing from the wind, and grid power (using whatever technology the grid there uses to generate) when you are drawing from the grid. The "grid" isn't some sort of battery. Come talk to me when you're storing your excess wind power yourself and drawing off of that when the wind dies.

Re:Not renewable... (1)

StickyWidget (741415) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763467)

It's a market thing. You aren't 'storing' you are selling high and buying low. This is a valid and established tactic in the power generation game. Go get educated : http://www.amazon.com/Market-Operations-Electric-Power-Systems/dp/0471443379 [amazon.com]

But the wind doesn't care when the price is high, and doesn't always cooperate when the price is low...

~Sticky

Re:Not renewable... (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763481)

... you are using wind power when you are drawing from the wind, and grid power (using whatever technology the grid there uses to generate) when you are drawing from the grid. The "grid" isn't some sort of battery.

If you have a reliable source of power to feed the grid - say, during peak hours, which happen also to be peak for wind generation but not server load - feeding it to the grid lets the grid operators correspondingly reduce the consumption of fuel at generation plants. If you later pull some when the wind is low you cause the consumption of fuel (though perhaps cheaper fuel at off-peak times).

The net result is that your wind/server farm can have a net zero, or even negative, fuel consumption.

So though the grid isn't a battery you can use it like one and have the same effect on average resource consumption as if you had your own batteries and ran purely off the wind.

(And you can pay for the line losses and inefficiencies by feeding extra wind power to the grid, just as you'd feed extra wind power to the batteries to pay for their leakage and inefficiencies.)

Re:Not renewable... (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763515)

Of course you can't do this with ALL the grid's load - just a (big) fraction of it. You have to keep your "use the grid as a battery" fraction of the load low enough that it doesn't end up trying to run the world's power plants backward.

But by the time we get enough renewable energy generation going to start retiring fuel-driven plants the grid operators will be deploying things like vanadium-redox batteries, additional pumped-water energy storage, and the like. (Unless proton-boron fusion works out at the "Mr. Fusion" scale and we all dump the grid.)

Q: So how's their uptime? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 5 years ago | (#28763557)

A: It blows.

No cattle farm? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764071)

Naaah. Then I don't want it! Not shitty enough.

P.S.: How about using the "output" of all those cows for energy generation trough "biogas" and burning(?) "biomass"?

Big irony, big problem with that... (1)

drik00 (526104) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764211)

The company has also leased 38,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico, where it hopes to build hundreds of 300-foot wind turbines that can each generate up to 5 megawatts of power to support additional facilities. Baryonyx plans to sell excess capacity to the local utility, which it will use as a backup when the wind dies down.

Wind generators are required to have (usually gasoline or diesel) motor backups when the "wind dies down" because they are required to maintain a certain amount of power at all times... they have to keep producing electricity whether the wind is spinning the blades or whether the motor is.

Re:Big irony, big problem with that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28764865)

I can't be bothered explaining how power markets work (and they're all slightly different).

So I'm just going to post a big "No ur wrong" as AC.

Wind is free. Wind power is very expensive. (1)

knobsturner_me (1210594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764337)

Wind power is very expensive to produce. Just add up the numbers for investment. Sticky Widgets numbers are ok, if a tad low: So about 500 million for these turbines. So in order to get any kind of ecomic return - which better be on the order of 20% per year given the political uncertainty with wind, means that you need to charge about 100 million per year for the electricity. How much juice? Easy. 100 turbines x 365*24*1.5MW * 30% of the time its windy, means $253 per megawatt hour. Or 25c per kwh. This is about 5x the price for nuclear or coal, and nuclear and coal can be called up on demand. The 'real' price is higher still, as you need a 450MW (likely gas fired) plant built to cover the times when no wind is blowing.

Right now in Ontario, power is selling for a spot price of about 1/12 that - $17 US /Mwh. Wind energy needs to be priced at the spot market value, since it is not predictable. (Unless you also build the 450 MW gas plant, and add that to the cost). http://www.theimo.com/imoweb/marketdata/marketToday.asp [theimo.com]

Wind power is a run for your wallet arranged by big business, demanded by the populace (who can't add) and approved by the government who gets elected by city people who don't have to live with it.

Say hello to tripling your elecric bill, while not measurably lowering carbon output.

Re:Wind is free. Wind power is very expensive. (1)

StickyWidget (741415) | more than 5 years ago | (#28765151)

Seriously man. You have no idea how utilities finance their capital investments. Payback is:
1) In terms of decades, not years. The cost of a wind farm will be spent in loan payments over at least 30 years.
2) Subsidized by government. 70-80% of the cost is recoverable in tax credits over the first 10 years. At least in the US, but Canada does similar.

Cost of contingency reserve (which is the 450 MW gas plant) is factored into that, because intermittent generation carries with it a penalty on the market. BUT this penalty isn't enough to cause them to be unprofitable.

Wind power is ridiculous cheap because the fuel is free; the only cost is maintenance and upkeep (which is normally under contract from the vendor and included in the purchase price for at least 5 years. In Texas, they take entire plants offline when the wind is blowing hard, that's how cheap it is. Your estimate of 253/MWH for wind generation is ridiculous. BUT, if you were to look at October peaks from last year (http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/pubs/marketReports/download/GenWeightedAvePrice_20090717.xls), spot price gets as high as $400/MWh. Even with your monkey math, there are instances where wind generation can make a killing.

And don't pick an abstract price to show your "knowledge" of the electricity market. Prices for electricity on the free market aren't constant, they change during the day. Ontario's electric market price at almost 9:00 CST is going to be ridiculously low, that's the fact of life. Take a look at noon, almost $40/MWH. Most commercial businesses are in sleep mode, families are turning in for the night, it's what we call a low peak demand. And at low peak demand, you can actually run into situations where a utility will actually PAY people to use their generation. Plus, OPG is mainly hydro with some coal and gas. Ridiculous cheap hydro power will trump almost anything.

No disagreements. All the tax credits suck money out of taxpayers. But what the hell, why not?

Now a Carbon footprint. THAT'S a crock of shit right there.

~Sticky

Re:Wind is free. Wind power is very expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28765493)

Wind is inexpensive if you can get financing and that requires a contract with a utility to buy the power. An example of a 1.8MW turbine using a ballpark reasonable estimate of $2,300 per kW yields an annual payment of $201,000 at 7% for 30 years. This turbine will put out 5,200 annual megawatthours of electricity at a 33% capacity factor in a year. If you divide the annual payment by the annual output, the average cost is $39/MWH. The current market referent (cost of running a natural gas fired combustion turbine including capital costs) price for renewable energy in Calif is $113/MWH. There is a hell of a profit to be made since taxpayers are paying capital costs with tax credits. Market prices have been low this year ($50 average) but last year averaged ~$80-90.

The predicted capacity factor was to be close to 33% and it has been close to that. Energy output has varied significantly by hour from hours with zero to maximum production, but averaging 33%. Now if you wanted predictable, firmed up wind is available from the Northwest using hydro to firm the wind. You just have to pay to crank the hydro generators up and down plus the added transmission cost (~$9/MWH).

Birds on the large turbines are not a problem because they turn slow and lattice towers are no longer used. Cows graze under the towers because they are spaced far apart. See:
http://www.iberdrolarenewables.us/cs_hw.html

Maintenance is similar to other generation and gearboxes (of all things) have been a problematic maintenance issue.

Nuclear isn't an option because it is way too expensive (read about Duke's proposed plants in Georgia) even though it has a 97% capacity factor. Coal will no longer be a cheap source as a carbon tax or cap&trade come into play. Solar PV and solar thermal are slowly dropping in price but wind will be cheaper for a long time.

Finally, there is former oil company that is using undersea oil towers to hold up wind turbines off the coast of Scotland or the North Sea. I believe construction has started.

To reiterate someone elses point - the fuel is free.

Awesome!!! (1)

Schnoogs (1087081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28764737)

Now we can blanket the planet with them to power everyone else!!!

Nuclear Power for the win.

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