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The Rocky Road To Wind Power

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the must-save-many-megawatts-to-outweigh dept.

Power 281

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times has an interesting story on the logistical problems involved in transporting disassembled towers that will reach more than 250 feet in height from ports or factories to the remote, windy destinations where the turbines are erected. In Idaho trucks laden with tall turbine parts have slammed into interstate overpasses requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs. In Texas the constant truck traffic is tearing up small roads in the western part of the state where the turbines are being rapidly erected. And in Maine a truck carrying a big piece of turbine got stuck for hours while trying to round a corner near Searsport.""'It left a nice gouge in Route 1,' said Ben Tracy, who works nearby at a marine equipment store and saw the incident. On a per-turbine basis, the cost of transportation and logistics generally varies from around $100,000 to $150,000, said John Dunlop, an engineer with the American Wind Energy Association, and experts say that transportation logistics are starting to limit how large — and as a result how powerful — wind turbines can get. There is talk of breaking a blade up into multiple pieces, but 'that's a very significant structural concern,' says Peter Stricker, vice president at Clipper Windpower who added that tower bases were getting too large to squeeze through underpasses. But a partial solution may be at hand. While vast majority of turbine parts now travel by truck, in Texas and elsewhere, some wind companies are looking to move more turbine parts by train to save money. But even the train routes must avoid low overpasses when big pieces of wind turbines are aboard. 'It's not your typical rail-car shipments,' said Tom Lange, a Union Pacific spokesman."

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Dirigible. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801929)

or blimp.

Re:Dirigible. (3, Funny)

PBoyUK (1591865) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801947)

Maybe they're not a fan of blimps?

Re:Dirigible. (4, Funny)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801979)

Why wouldn't they be?

Just hang the pre-assembled windmill upside down, run electricity backwards through the generator, and voila! - You've got a nice powerful propeller to drive it.

Re:Dirigible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802027)

Maybe they're not a fan of blimps?

Why wouldn't they be?

Just hang the pre-assembled windmill upside down, run electricity backwards through the generator, and voila! - You've got a nice powerful propeller to drive it.

You want to know why?

This [bustedtees.com] t-shirt summarizes it all.

Penis VS Vaginsa (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802751)


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Re:Penis VS Vaginsa (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802913)

Drawn by a 3rd grader, no doubt, after attending a 'sex ed' session.

Re:Dirigible. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802043)

Pick your favorite large dirigible, and study how short its life was and what happened to it.

The heavy lifters all seem to have been struck by lightning or otherwise done in by weather.

Dirigibles are not a safe, reliable, or cost effective mode of transportation.

Re:Dirigible. (1)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802539)

You could be referring to the Hindenburg, which had a skin made of flammable materials with a gas bag full of hydrogen. Generally, there is no reason that a blimp couldn't be made to work, but it would probably have to be purpose designed.

But then, if your moving 150 windmill assemblies, this becomes a minor issue.

Re:Dirigible. (5, Informative)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802683)

Pick your favorite large dirigible, and study how short its life was and what happened to it.

I'll pick three: three of the last four airships built by Luftschiffbau Zeppelin

#1 LZ-127, the Graf Zeppelin [wikipedia.org] : 11 years of safe, reliable operation, including a flight around the world and a million miles of passenger service. Scrapped at the beginning of World War II.
#2 LZ-126/ZR-3, the USS Los Angeles [wikipedia.org] : 10 years of safe, reliable operation. Scrapped at the beginning of World War II.
#3 LZ-130, the Graf Zeppelin II [wikipedia.org] : two years of safe, reliable operation. Scrapped at the beginning of World War II.

The big threat to properly-designed rigid airships seems to be World War II. Now that it's over, new airships shouldn't have any trouble.

Re:Dirigible. (2, Interesting)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802047)

After being in the met life blimp, I have to say, the size required to lift a cabin 2 people and a bit of camera equipment is crazy. I'd hate to see the size of one made to lift a load of 10s of tons.

Re:Dirigible. (4, Insightful)

Weedhopper (168515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802615)

Hate? WTF are you babbling about, man? I'd pay to see one that was capable of moving 10 tons because it'd be a damn cool feat of engineering.

You, OTOH, with a name like ArsonSmith, should stay the fuck away. ;)

Re:Dirigible. (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802083)

Just hang the pre-assembled windmill upside down, run electricity backwards through the generator, and voila! - You've got a nice powerful propeller to drive it.

WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!

Re:Dirigible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802285)

*clank*

They do now.

Re:Dirigible. (1)

tetrahedrassface (675645) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802481)

Just make a nuclear windmill and the problem is all solved!@

Re:Dirigible. (3, Interesting)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802241)

A few weeks back, I watched an entire wind farm go by on a single train. Blimps are more maneuverable than trains and are better at accessing remote country, sure, but you just can't get the same sort of throughput.

Re:Dirigible. (2, Interesting)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802759)

Train plus big heavy lifting helicopter (think Chinook or similar) for "last mile". Or to make OP happy, a dirigible.

Wind Farm implies Wind (4, Insightful)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802747)

I could be wrong, but isn't it likely to be really windy at the site of the wind farm? Couldn't that make airships impractical?

Not too surprising (5, Funny)

gringer (252588) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801955)

You can always expect problems when you're transporting large things along a windy road. I'm sure the initial issues will blow over, and they'll tackle the remainder with much gusto.

Re:Not too surprising (4, Funny)

MeanMF (631837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801997)

Yeah, with a little more planning it should be a breeze.

Re:Not too surprising (1)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802641)

But they have to be careful to keep current. It won't stay smooth sailing forever.

Re:Not too surprising (4, Funny)

PBoyUK (1591865) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802301)

Insightful? 'WHOOSH' has never been more appropriate.

I hope they bring their GPS! (1, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802551)

I'd hate to get lost delivering one of those big turbines while navigating those back roads, you could get lost for days driving on...

Some winding little windy roads
Some little windy winding roads
Some windy little winding roads
Some winding windy little roads
Some little rocky windy roads
Some little windy rocky roads
Some rocky little windy roads
Some windy winding little roads
Some windy rocky little roads
Some windy little rocky roads
Some rocky windy little roads

Re:I hope they bring their GPS! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802923)

I'd hate to get lost delivering one of those big turbines while navigating those back roads, you could get lost for days driving on...

Some winding little windy roads
Some little windy winding roads
Some windy little winding roads
Some winding windy little roads
Some little rocky windy roads
Some little windy rocky roads
Some rocky little windy roads
Some windy winding little roads
Some windy rocky little roads
Some windy little rocky roads
Some rocky windy little roads

It is very windy. You are likely to get blown by a grue.

And Distillation Columns are Small? (3, Insightful)

pandymen (884006) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802679)

If I wasn't bound by privacy agreements, I could post a picture of a 120 foot long distillation column 15 foot in diameter getting trucked down the interstate. It is far larger than any of these wind turbines and took up 2 lanes of interstate while traveling 40 miles an hour. The types of things transported by industry in America are heavier and larger than wind turbine blades. This story is ridiculous. Maybe they should focus stimulus money towards already crumbling roads and bridges? There's no chance roads just started crumbling after a few loads of wind turbines.

First Fart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801963)

A rocky road where the travellers eat baked beans but lentils are good too.

In otherwords... (4, Funny)

hampton (209113) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801967)

If we don't solve the size problem it will lead to an erection problem.

Re:In otherwords... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802817)

Come on mods - this is not off-topic in this thread! It's Funny. Someone please offset the idiot who modded it 'off-topic'.

Doing it wrong. (5, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801983)

FTS: " In Idaho trucks laden with tall turbine parts have slammed into interstate overpasses requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs"

You're supposed to put them on the truck parallel to the ground.

Just saying.

Re:Doing it wrong. (5, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802045)

FTS: " In Idaho trucks laden with tall turbine parts have slammed into interstate overpasses requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs"

Actually, it's a good thing they're running into the overpasses that need repairs. It'll kick start the process. However, if they were to run into an overpass that was brand new, or that had just finished being repaired... Oh Boy! Somebody would be in trouble.

You're doing it wrong... (0, Troll)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802127)

... is what she said!

Re:Doing it wrong. (1)

s4ltyd0g (452701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802135)

You get what you pay for I guess. I don't know about Idaho, but up here all the overpasses are marked with a maximum hight.

You'd have to be a drooling idiot to drive your truck into one. Not that it's never happened, we have our share of drooling idiots...

Re:Doing it wrong. (4, Informative)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802221)

Someone want to calculate the minimum safe stopping distance of a wide-load truck laden with a 50-meter section of tower traveling at, let's say 45MPH without jackknifing or breaking the load restraints?

IMO, the problem isn't the truck drivers, it's either failure to properly plan the route by the companies, or else improper height measurements. Those signs on the overpasses are for surveying the route, and not really effective as a last-minute warning.

Re:Doing it wrong. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802349)

Someone want to calculate the minimum safe stopping distance of a wide-load truck laden with a 50-meter section of tower traveling at, let's say 45MPH without jackknifing or breaking the load restraints?

      Usually when you're carrying several million dollars worth of equipment, it's a good idea to have someone in a car scout out the route ahead of time... just saying, you know, it's common sense?

     

Re:Doing it wrong. (5, Interesting)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802459)

It's not just common sense, in most states oversize loads are required to have scout and chase vehicles. When I was a teenager a few times I drove a scout car with a flexible fiberglass pole the height of the load being carried plus one inch ahead of an over-height load. Supposedly the route was clear but it was still a required precaution.

Since when is a lazy/incompetent trucking company the wind power industry's fault?

Re:Doing it wrong. (1)

El_Oscuro (1022477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802339)

Please. I will see you a drooling idiot and raise you one. We once had an idiot drive a truck under the wing of a C-141. Took the whole wing off.

Re:Doing it wrong. (1)

randy of the redwood (1565519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802255)

"Did you get your truck stuck?"
"Nah, I was delivering this overpass and I ran out of gas. Here's your sign"
- Bill Engvall

Re:Doing it wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802315)

at least they aren't spilling fuel all over the highway and bursting into flames

Re:Doing it wrong. (1)

jpstanle (1604059) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802779)

While I realize you're making a joke, the support tower of a relatively smallish 600 kW wind turbine (Most of the large land-based turbine are about 2.5 MW) is about 10'. When laid parallel to the ground on a truck bed that is 3 to 4 feet off the ground, you're looking at something that is approaching the upper limits of typical trucking payloads.

Re:Doing it wrong. (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802809)

You're supposed to put them on the truck parallel to the ground.

They tried it that way initially. But while the overpasses were high enough, they were far too narrow.

President Obama was right... (4, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802003)

...Green energy does create jobs.

Re:President Obama was right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802337)

You mock the might Barak. I feel for your karma.

Re:President Obama was right... (2, Informative)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802437)

Flamebait? C'mon, mods...it was funny.

Newsflash (4, Insightful)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802029)

Trucks carrying "oversized loads" are more likely to have difficulties than other trucks.

Same as it's always been.

Re:Newsflash (4, Funny)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802117)

No, no, there have been a couple accidents, so we should ditch wind power. Time to go back to good ol' oil, which has never had any [wikipedia.org] kind of problem [wikipedia.org] whatsoever.

So.... (2, Insightful)

solweil (1168955) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802055)

So wind power is doomed because a few truck drivers don't know their shit? Come on.

Re:So.... (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802599)

Exactly. Is it REALLY too much to expect of truckers these days, that they know their height limitations? I mean, EVERY bridge posts its clearance. In feet and inches, no less!

What do these fucking rednecks think the signs are for, to pad the "sign budget" for next year or something?

Then again, where I live, 18-wheelers like to camp the passing lanes on six-lane freeways... Trucker quality has probably gone down.

Re:So.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802851)

you're a fucking idiot. How tall is the bridge? How tall is your truck? Simple math, right? No, how big a dip is in the road? Oops! Bus was 2" shorter then the marked height on the bridge. However, the road went under the bridge, and the bus hit because the bridge was a lot lower if you measured from a straight line between the bus wheels. Now, try with something as long as a wind turbine blade. Maybe, asshat, the drivers know what they're talking about and you don't.

Oh boo hoo (4, Interesting)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802057)

How much carnage does the average coal mine produce? Typically ripping apart a huge, huge chunk of the countriside (for open cut), innumerable trucks and other big machines trundling around, not to mention the massive construction required for the actual power generation plant itself.

This type of story strikes me as particularly stupid: "big objects hard to move around" doesn't equate to "wind power worse than other types of power" as the summary seems to imply.

I also find it hard to believe that the truck traffic for installing windmills is coming through at such a huge volume that it is actually degrading any half-decent road. That would involve tens of thousands of trucks, surely?

Re:Oh boo hoo (2, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802325)

And how much carnage does oil produce? It's not as though trucks carrying gasoline never crash, and oil tankers never spill. Gas stations sometimes blow up, oil wells sometimes catch fire. All that stuff causes damage and costs money.

But now what's causing these problems? Truck drivers not paying attention to whether they have enough clearance? Infrastructure being unlabeled or mislabeled as to how much clearance is there is? Figure it what's causing the problem and try to fix it. This isn't really a problem with wind power. It sounds like you'll have the same problems transporting any large machinery.

Re:Oh boo hoo (2, Interesting)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802345)

This is off the top of my head, but I think the wear on the road goes up with the cube of the weight. So a couple trucks carrying heavy cargo could do the same damage as a whole lot of smaller cars. And those wind turbines don't look small or light . . .

But this seems more of a planning and transportation issue with moving large, heavy objects as opposed to an issue specific to wind turbines themselves.

Re:Oh boo hoo (5, Interesting)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802575)

This is indeed a logistical problem, and not an inherent problem. It's also not a problem with weight.

Wind turbines and wind towers for those turbines are very different. Towers are large and bulky, built to be structurally sound. Interstate laws require that only so much weight can be put on any given set of wheels. Heavy, illegally-running trucks (liquid haulers, etc) can easily get much heavier, on fewer wheels. The weight problem is already managed, and oversize trucks are routinely checked, where other trucks aren't as much.

If smaller roads that happen to carry large amounts of truck traffic are getting torn up, then it's not surprising, given that trucks are trucks. This Texas road in specific is notorious for being undermaintained, and the Highway Department can whine, but they know they need to do something.

I seriously doubt that this remark about 'a big gouge in Route 1' was because of weight, but rather because of size. Perhaps it clipped an overpass. Perhaps (god forbid) it actually slid off the truck. Accidents are remembered, but gradual wear and tear on a road isn't an 'accident' that happens all at once.

Putting a truck laden with a section of tower can clog up a heavy construction area for hours. Can you plan around that? Yes, but only so much. Incidents will happen, and I distinctly remember one of these trucks knocking down all the cones in a construction area, because it was either the cones or the signs.

This is 'routine' logistical work for any oversize hauler. If someone's screwing up, fingers are easy to point. It may be the driver, or it may be that construction crew that was lazy with their cones, but it's manageable, up to a point. If you can't get it through no matter which route you take, it's too big to transport.

For states back east, it's messier still because the roads are smaller (you can't fit one of these around most of those corners) and the clearances are sized to match.

Eventually, wind tower construction companies are going to have to mobilize. Contract for several years here, and several years there, and it makes more sense to actually relocate the manufacturing facility for large products to save costs.

Re:Oh boo hoo (2, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802853)

Eventually, wind tower construction companies are going to have to mobilize. Contract for several years here, and several years there, and it makes more sense to actually relocate the manufacturing facility for large products to save costs.

Which means they will have to transport the very large equipment required to build these towers and such, so I am not so sure that is the answer. Most are already built relatively close to where they are being installed to begin with.

The problem seems to be that this is simply a new logigicial challenge, and like most logistical challenges, we will fuck up a few times along the way while learning. (bridge building, sky scrapers, etc. are other examples) A more likely scenario is that we will end up learning some cool new engineering methods for transporting extremely large machines over time. (and the military will benefit, in the long run or perhaps even participate) The problem is being overstated, and our ability to figure out the solution in a reasonable amount of time is being underestimated.

Hey genius, do the math... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802409)

Tally up how may tractor trailers carrying crates of canned garbonzo beans get into accidents in the US. I'll bet that garbonzo bean transport is far more prone to accident than wind turbine tower transport is.

Oh, just for fun, tally up fun statistics like nuclear fuel rods being involved in trailer accidents. I recall a good one in Springfield MA some years ago shutting down the local interstate and causing the local hazmat teams to soil their trousers. Wind turbines are unlikely to cause that much havoc, even in oversized loads.

Geesh...

Re:Oh boo hoo (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802519)

Road failure is sort-of binary - everything is fine until the failure, at which point all goes to hell pretty quickly. Not quite that simple, but pretty close - soil has a failure point which is sudden and catastrophic. The pavement will hold together for a while after the base and subbase have failed, but not long.

Now to your other point:

Americans in particular are willing to accept almost any amount of destruction as long as it happens someplace else. Rip the top off of a mountain in Apalachia and poison the river - that's OK as I can't see it from my house.

But god help you if you block the interstate that I drive for a few hours.

Re:Oh boo hoo (3, Insightful)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802709)

This type of story strikes me as particularly stupid: "big objects hard to move around" doesn't equate to "wind power worse than other types of power" as the summary seems to imply.

Maybe you're reading a different summary than I did. Maybe you're reading the summary differently. What I read was simply that wind power was not all sweetness and light like some in the eco movement would have us believe. Those that slam on minute amounts of radioactive waste from a nuclear power plant don't bat an eye on the primary (making the thing) or secondary (transporting) or even tertiary (road damage requiring massive amounts of oil to repair) costs of wind power. Heck, these aren't mentioned at all, as if turbines appear out of nothingness in their desired positions, with all the required power-grid infrastructure also magically appearing. I didn't read it to say this is worse than other forms of generating energy, merely that we need this information to have a factual, objective discussion about energy production on this planet.

Yes, "big objects: hard to move around" is obvious when you stop and think about it. The problem is, too many people don't stop and think about the repercussions of their ideology. We all need to, both eco-whackos and global-warming-deniers, and everyone in between, if we're going to have a chance at survival on this planet.

Re:Oh boo hoo (2, Funny)

Beltonius (960316) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802857)

as if turbines appear out of nothingness in their desired positions, with all the required power-grid infrastructure also magically appearing.

You clearly never played SimCity 2000

fly them (1)

cfa22 (1594513) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802059)

strap on batteries and wings and just fly them.

Re:fly them (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802375)

strap on batteries and wings and just fly them.

Your strap-on has batteries? Lucky you!
-Taylor

Ice Cream (-1, Offtopic)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802069)

mmmmmmmmm :) yummy.

I'm no engineer.. (1)

SirEel (1604445) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802079)

I often wonder why they build them with a single-stem trunk? Surely a triple- or quadruple-stem trunk could give added stability with a lower materials cost, and greater ease of transportation, if greater assembly time. For that matter, why not have two (or, of course, more) propellar sets one above the other? Harness not too much less than double the amount of power without needing larger individual propellar blades. I'm sure there are fundamental reasons why these wouldn't work, but I'm not an engineer.

Re:I'm no engineer.. (3, Informative)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802397)

I often wonder why they build them with a single-stem trunk? Surely a triple- or quadruple-stem trunk could give added stability with a lower materials cost, and greater ease of transportation, if greater assembly time.

For that matter, why not have two (or, of course, more) propellar sets one above the other? Harness not too much less than double the amount of power without needing larger individual propellar blades.

I'm sure there are fundamental reasons why these wouldn't work, but I'm not an engineer.

Tubes are extremely strong, so you don't really need multiples. Plus, all of these turbines have the capability to rotate, as far as I know, and rotating one turbine around one tube is a lot easier than rotating a gang of them around without their blades hitting something.

They're just keeping it simple. Some of the generator bodies are the size of a small bus, they just don't look like it from far away.

-Taylor

Re:I'm no engineer.. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802429)

A larger blade will sweep through a larger area than multiple blades that combine to the same length, harvesting more power (a 6 meter blade sweeps through 9pi square meters, 3x 2 meter blades, in combination, sweep through 3pi square meters).

Re:I'm no engineer.. (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802495)

I'm not an engineer either, but I'd guess the single stem trunk is so that you don't have to hang the turbine way out in front of the tower (bending moment, and all that) to keep the propeller blades from hitting the tower below it. A single-stem trunk is purely vertical; however, the base is wider than the peak for three- or four-legged towers.

Alternative designs don't have that problem (2, Interesting)

techmuse (160085) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802109)

There are alternative designs that do not have that sort of problem. For example, Windspire is a 30' tall wind turbine that can be erected even in densely populated areas.

Re:Alternative designs don't have that problem (2, Informative)

techmuse (160085) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802125)

Ok, it might help if I posted that link with html included. :-) Windspire [mariahpower.com]

Re:Alternative designs don't have that problem (4, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802581)

So let me make sure I have this right: you're comparing a 1.2kW 30' consumer grade single household turbine to a 200-250' 3-5MW commercial wind turbine? You're not serious are you? Let me do a little math.... The Windspire turbine is 2000 to 4000 times smaller than the commercial power plants the NYT article is discussing.

... stuck for hours while trying to round a corner (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802123)

Reminds me of my favorite trucker song:

'Give Me Forty Acres to Turn This Rig Around' by the Willis Bros.

'Some guys can turn it on a dime or even right down town
but I need forty acres to turn this rig around.'

We haul big stuff all the time. Have you ever noticed the pickup trucks with the long pole sticking up behind. He's checking clearance on underpasses and power lines. We can get the power company to lift lines for us. We can get the cops to escort us. Of course it all costs money.

If guys are running into overpasses and not making it around corners; those guys aren't fully professional.
 

Sounds Like Money! A Green Boom! Good! (-1, Flamebait)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802133)

Good! Let all those people with their gas guzzlers get just totally hosed by this green green. Let all those oil grubbers in Texas switch to wind. Let their greed be useful for a change. Go ahead and tear up those roads--and never re-build them. No human is going to be saying here: "Our problem was--we didn't build enough roads."

What a Joy it is seeing a Green Boom. I have no problem with people getting excited over some form of energy that does not harm that much--except the birds and they were already toast when the world heated up if we don't switch to wind.

Aerisyn Puts 'em on Barges. (2, Informative)

tetrahedrassface (675645) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802147)

Aerisyn has been here in my hometown for a number of years. They are expanding like crazy right now, and occupy space formally held by Combustion Engineering (Who went way to far into nuclear in the '70's and went broke). The facility languished as manufacturing jobs in the fair burg of Chattanooga went away, but Combustion had been around for many years, and during WW2 built ship boilers for the war effort. So, being located on the Tennessee River, Combustion had their own port, which is now being refurbished and Aerisyn and Alstom ( I think are going to share the port to ship stuff).

So it doesn't have to really go on the highway unless the tower factories are located in a place that doesn't have access to shipping. Of course rivers and waterways only go so far and sooner or later the towers have to hit the road.

Re:Aerisyn Puts 'em on Barges. (1)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802605)

Unfortunately, may of the biggest windmill farms will probably be going up in tornado alley... that belt of states from Texas and points north. Not too many navigable rivers out in those parts.

Yes, some of the equipment can make its way up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers quite a distance, but most of it will still be hundreds of miles from its final destination once the water gets too shallow to be navigable.

You want omelets, you break eggs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802155)

You want omelets, you break eggs. How many "accidents" happen with/are caused by oil production?

Re:You want omelets, you break eggs. (4, Insightful)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802273)

People from the 1920s and 30s would have LAUGHED at us for making these arguments if we made them back then.

Folks today don't want to make investments for the future. THey don't want to take any risks. It's like society has had its balls collectively cut off.

Look at the space program! We've been in limbo for decades and now that they finally want to do something INTERESTING again people are like "it's too expensive!" or "it's too risky!"

Let the people who take on the challenge accept the risk, as it's always been. Let's invest in our future. Let's stop being pansies. PLEASE.

This sounds like a job for Homeland Security (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802179)

"In Idaho trucks laden with tall turbine parts have slammed into interstate overpasses requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs, in Texas the constant truck traffic is tearing up small roads in the western part of the state where the turbines are being rapidly erected, and in Maine a truck carrying a big piece of turbine got stuck for hours while trying to round a corner near Searsport."

Wind turbines seem to fit the current definition of a terrorist. Now how do we ship them to Gitmo?

Oh the Humanity (1)

jchernia (590097) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802197)

This seems like a good use for blimps. These parts are heavy, say 30 tons, but there are companies designing such blimps (http://www.myairship.com/news/economist_may99.html). That would totally eliminate the awkward shape problem.

Nuclear not great either (2, Funny)

Boronx (228853) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802259)

And the Diablo canyon nuclear power plant was part way finished before they realized they were putting it in backwards and had to start over.

Big deal (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802261)

Trucks damage bridges now and then. Sue to fools for the damage and it will stop. Better yet, avoid contracting bozos to begin with.

Some back forty dirt road gets rutted? Big deal. That's why we build graders. Run up the props then grade the road.

We used to build stuff in the US without all this whining. I'm all for exposing green tyranny where it exists but this isn't it.

This is some pointless NYT filler to limit the space available for discussing Obama's stupid white cops dust up. He had the benefit of the doubt on race until yesterday when he proved he hadn't left that racialist crap back in chitown where it belongs. Good job Barry; you just alienated the same people you're trying to talk out of private health insurance; the white working class. Idiot.

Re:Big deal (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802629)

I have a dog, his name is Segway.

Anyways, speaking of dogs ...

So? (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802295)

The insurance policies should cover this damage - wait, they DID ship them with insurance, right?

The insurance companies, once they get fed up of paying for wrecked turbine parts and bridges, will start demanding competent drivers for the trucks, or they won't insure. Therefore the trucking companies will have a choice - deal with the union so they stop providing idiots who don't bother checking the height of their load and their maps, or they can pay the repairs out of their pockets.

This is how capitalism is SUPPOSED to work.

My -2 cents observation better transport design (3, Insightful)

JavaManJim (946878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802381)

Observations,

These are very special hauling requirements, so they require a much more specialized design. I am uneasy about that generic hauling truck trailer shown in the picture.

1. If the blades are 50 yards long, then designing a hauling truck like an old fire engine ladder truck might be better. Those had a rear cab and movable wheel carriages in the back.
2. Also the trailer design in the picture is horrible regarding height. Design a trailer with lengthwise side support that allows blades to travel four or five feet lower. This could also incorporate hydraulic lifting to raise the trailer over bumps and low spots. Think lowrider cars that jump up.
3. Additional tires on the truck and trailers to distribute weight and save the roadways. Heavy equipment haulers here in TX once in a while have as many as 50 wheels per tractor\trailer(s). For max wheels see this site (the bottom picture).
http://www.goodtransportationinc.com/ [goodtransp...ioninc.com]
4. I hope for low interstate overpasses that trucks could exit, then take the service road up, over (and adjacent) to the interstate then return to the interstate.
5. And a lead car with laser height and side measurement device to alert the hauling convoy of incorrect, changed, or terrain shifted height/side measurements.

I know this is blitheringly obvious. But plan and triple check. Just yesterday in Dallas a large fork lift plowed into a 14 foot 5 inch clearance underpass and thoroughly shattered the first cement beam.
http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/wfaa/latestnews/stories/wfaa090722_wz_tootall.6696c458.html [wfaa.com]

Thanks,
Jim

Re:My -2 cents observation better transport design (4, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802473)

When I worked on road systems we installed simple IR light interruption height sensors before bridges. The sensor triggers a warning sign so the driver knows they are over height. Of course some drivers have this idea that the warnings are always set a metre too low. Most of our low bridges have sacrificial steel beams fitted before the bridge. That way the expensive concrete doesn't get hit.

At the end of the day the truck driver should know how high their load is.

Re:My -2 cents observation better transport design (1)

JavaManJim (946878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802571)

In the USA (here TX only), I have not seen much construction like you describe. Especially the height warning signs. Most highways here have two height signs and a fairly generous clearance. But no specialized IR light interruption warning signs. And certainly no sacrificial beams. In lieu of sacrificial beams, TXDOT found that the pillars were vulnerable so care was put in directing wayward trucks away from the support pillars.

Thanks,
Jim

Re:My -2 cents observation better transport design (1)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802767)

On the other hand, I've seen plenty of underpasses here in Texas where there is a small armor strip running the width of the approaching lanes. That probably isn't enough to avoid the kind of damage from the accident yesterday in Dallas (the picture I just saw had no sign of an armor strip), but it should help on lesser incidents.

Re:My -2 cents observation better transport design (1)

JavaManJim (946878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802855)

Yes, I suppose those help a little bit. Especially those guys carrying something that juts up like the elbow of a digging machine screeching to a stop.

That hit yesterday was physics to the max powerful. Somewhere amongst the road litter of cement chunks there is a bow shaped piece of that armor strip.

Have a great weekend,
Jim

Railroads (1)

parcanman (933838) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802385)

I know the technology isn't exactly cutting edge, but I'm surprised I didn't see railroads being mentioned as a possibility. Here's a flickr album showing them being moved without a problem http://www.flickr.com/photos/10372533@N06/2468920475/ [flickr.com] Run them on trains to as close to where they're going to go as possible, then air lift them to their final destinations, simple as that.

Re:Railroads (1)

BeaverCleaver (673164) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802479)

I know this is Slashdot and we don't read the articles, but even the summary had a mention of rail transport.

Re:Railroads (1)

JavaManJim (946878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802489)

Your picture and description is excellent. But I suspect that the largest wind turbines might easily the width of a railroad track (something like 12 feet).

I think your suggestion to air lift might be interesting. If weight is not exceeded. If a heavy lift helicopter can lift about 45,000 kg /99,208 lbs /49.6 tons.
http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/helicopters/q0284.shtml [aerospaceweb.org]

Thanks,
Jim

Re:Railroads (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802497)

I think the problem here is the last couple of km to the site of the turbines. You are only going to transport the gear once so you don't want to install more infrastructure.

A good middle ground might be to build a temporary gravel road to the site. Gravel is used for the road which transports the space shuttle to the pad. It gets messed up and regraded after every job.

Re:Railroads (1)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802525)

Airlift them with what, exactly? The big turbine blades weigh 12 to 15 tons each, more than even an S-64 can lift under ideal conditions.

Re:Railroads (1)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802639)

CH-47D (Chinook) will lift 14 tons. Right on the edge, but doable, at least if you design the components around that limit. And that helicopter is based on a 1960's design!

Re:Railroads (3, Funny)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802841)

Hmm..

Problem: giant airfoil blades are too heavy for current helicopters: current helicopters need bigger airfoils to get the thrust at a reasonable power level. Some kind of giant blades are necessary...

A very normal engineering problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802439)

This is just an engineering problem which will almost certainly get solved in fairly short order.

Though it does suggest that there may be a niche for some domestic manufacturers who can be more responsive to the odd end-use deployment issue.

Trains (2, Insightful)

ozbird (127571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802475)

"Trains better than trucks - film at 11."

Oh no, clumsy drivers! (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802491)

Oh no, clumsy drivers! Well, that's it. Wind power is /doomed/.

This is -nothing-! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28802511)

Wait until you get the bill for the damage these friggin' bird choppers are going to do to the grid when they come on line, finally. Power surges, brown outs, exploding transformers... Its going to be AWESOME!!!

Personally, I already have two UPSs and a gasoline generator, so I'm going to be up and posting on /. when you greenie weenies are busy trying to eat everything in the freezer before it goes bad.

Coming soon... (1)

Cur8or (1220818) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802627)

The windy world of rock power

Weight-mile tax (2, Informative)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802689)

In Texas the constant truck traffic is tearing up small roads in the western part of the state where the turbines are being rapidly erected.

The solution is a weight-mile tax, so that truckers pay the full cost of the damage they do to the roads. But good luck getting it enacted, because the national trucking industry hates the weight-mile tax system. [accessmylibrary.com]

Why not post about the damage oil trucks make? (5, Insightful)

Torg (59213) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802695)

Living in Texas, with oil and gas, wells I can personally attest to damage done by service trucks to our road. This is due to to constant need to move the product to market, or service the water that comes from the wells (yes gas and oil wells produce water too).

I have seen these trucks that carry the crude oil from gas wells get into accidents. I have seen bridges totally destroyed from burning oil under them (concrete breaks down under the extreme heat).

Do we write about the millions of dollars in damage our oil trucks create yearly? Or do we single out a few accidents in trucking, carrying oversize loads instead.

Do we even hear about the oversize building moments that tie up traffic? Do we hear about the daily fatal accidents from truck accidents? Or do we single out a few trucks that just happened to be carrying wind turbine parts?

Gyromill (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802793)

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1248068.stm

Problem solved.

Bring them in through Canada (1)

Fencepost (107992) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802825)

They're not far from Coburn Gore which has a border crossing, and they're putting the turbines in on the western edge of the mountains. Looking at the terrain and roads on Google Maps, it looks like the Canadian side of the border is much flatter and has much straighter roads (because it's not mountainous)You might even be able to bring them in closer on barges to cut down the truck distance, though that would depend on the port facilities.

Idiots (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#28802901)

Hire transportation firms experienced in hauling oversized loads. The photo in the NYT article of the long load is pretty pathetic. Here in timber country (before the spotted owls screwed it all up), long logs were moved with a steerable rear trailer.

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