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Chinese To Supply 600 MW Wind Farm In Texas

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the stimulus-dollars-at-work dept.

Earth 453

Hugh Pickens sends in a Wall Street Journal report that Chinese banks will provide $1.5B to a consortium of Chinese and American companies to build a 600-megawatt wind farm in West Texas, using turbines made in China. The wind farm will be built on 36,000 acres, and will use 240 2.5-megawatt turbines, providing enough power to meet the electrical needs of around 150,000 American homes. The project will be the first instance of a Chinese manufacturer exporting wind turbines to the United States. China aims to be the front-runner in wind- and solar-power generation "The Obama administration is hoping a shift to renewable energy will inject new life into the US manufacturing base and provide high-paying jobs, making up for losses in other sectors. But while the US has poured money into renewable energy through tax credits and other subsidies, China has positioned itself to reap many of the benefits by ramping up its export machine."

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453 comments

How is that sustainable? (1)

Loomismeister (1589505) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923043)

I'm not seeing an obvious benefit to China in doing this. Is there one, or is China just being really generous?

Re:How is that sustainable? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923055)

They're making money and destroying a rival.

Re:How is that sustainable? (3, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923245)

Which part of $1.5B isn't beneficial? Their banks collect interest and their manufacturers make sales.
 
Meanwhile, 36K acres to power 150K homes? Doesn't a nice nuclear plant only need 100 acres or so to provide power that same number?

Re:How is that sustainable? (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923361)

I suggest they use an 8x8 grid pattern as the basic city layout. Then, you can put a 20MW turbine in each corner and power all the houses within each block. The turbines themselves only take up a single block, so you still get 60 blocks of high density residential zoning with no pollution at all.

The alternative (and better choice) is to terraform a small area away from the city. By raising the level of the land and encouraging waterfalls, you can build a very efficient hydroelectric power farm that generates no pollution and never breaks down.

Nuclear fission has its related pollution problems. Fusion plants don't last longer than 50 years. Wind power is pretty inefficient as far as power generation goes. But Hydroelectric is built to last and has a great price/output ratio over the life of the plant.

Re:How is that sustainable? (0)

the_macman (874383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923575)

Cool. Sounds good for any newly constructed neighborhood. Lets goto Las Vegas and put it into practice. Oh wait. The housing market crashed like the titanic. Ok so lets dig up existing neighborhoods and put a turbine on every block. I'm sure that won't be a hassle for the local residents and it certainly won't kill every bird in the area.

Sorry man wind power just isn't sustainable. You're better off investing in a technology that has realistic power yields (nuclear).

Re:How is that sustainable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923623)

Why do I never have Mod points when I really want them?? +1 Funny

Re:How is that sustainable? (1)

mayko (1630637) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923773)

Lets just hope it doesn't get really windy one day for something like this [youtube.com] to happen.

Re:How is that sustainable? (4, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923383)

Meanwhile, 36K acres to power 150K homes? Doesn't a nice nuclear plant only need 100 acres or so to provide power that same number?

Yes but there's a big difference in how those acres are occupied. One is sparsely occupied by the windmill towers, the other is a field of impermeable ground cover.

Just saying. More nuke plants too please.

Re:How is that sustainable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923525)

This is in West Texas. Finding a contiguous 36K acres with no life form higher than a snake living on it is pretty easy. What else are they going to use the land for?

Re:How is that sustainable? (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923599)

Meanwhile, 36K acres to power 150K homes?

Who cares? There's plenty of open land in Texas...

Re:How is that sustainable? (1)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923665)

Well, a 1,000 acres or more is preferable for all the support buildings and security reasons, but yes, the 'power block' can be under 100 acres.

Anyway, The total maximum capacity of these turbines is 600 megawatts. Modern (ie, built in the last 30 years or in progress) put out double this amount, and they do so 24-7 for an 18 month fuel cycle.

A wind farm as described might put out a few hundred megawatts for parts of the day. Actual power plants have to be ready to compensate when the wind dies down.

Re:How is that sustainable? (4, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923341)

Same thing the U.S. gained when it rebuilt Europe - a place to sell goods. In this case it's Chinese turbines so they get jobs, and we get poorer.

Re:How is that sustainable? (2, Interesting)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923445)

China would likely benefit in repair parts and maintenance related costs. Once the components for these turbines are in place, you're not likely to just switch them out for some other manufacturer.

Re:How is that sustainable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923649)

This is China we are talking about. They'll just be disposed of and replaced by more cheap Chinese junk ever year.

Re:How is that sustainable? (3, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923521)

Hopefully they can shame the USA into taking some 'retaliatory' action.

Fingers crossed.

Confessions of an (1)

tdyer (1399659) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923047)

Economic Hit Man much?

Re:Confessions of an (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923389)

The summary is wrong.

It should say China is lending *another 1.5 billion on top of the 1400 billion they've already loaned us for bailouts - just like Mr. Potter did in It's A Wonderful Life. First loan the money, then raise the interest, then take over.

Re:Confessions of an (3, Insightful)

jayspec462 (609781) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923709)

Wait a minute... You can arbitrarily raise the interest rate on Treasury Notes!? Woo hoo! I'm gonna buy a whole mess of 'em and raise the rate to 3,000%, compounded minutely! Suck it, Uncle Sam!

Quit RAGGING on the Chinese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923051)

They are people too !!

China is taking the lead (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923071)

What with all the rest of the cheap Chinese shit we Americans buy every day, what's the big deal with buying some more cheap shit to generate our electricity?

Hey, cheaper turbines making cheap electricity. We're preserving the American Way of Life.

Re:China is taking the lead (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923563)

There's a difference between buying cheap Chinese shit at the dime store and buying high-profile technology from them. Oh, the shame...

Oh great, more cheap junk! (2, Insightful)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923691)

Works great for one two three months but false apart after the first rainfall. Kind of the same way the clothes made in China last.

Re:China is taking the lead (5, Insightful)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923777)

> Hey, cheaper turbines making cheap electricity. We're preserving the
> American Way of Life.

No, we don't. At least when you look beyond tomorrow morning. If all we can
afford is cheap and ever more cheaper, our standard of living will eventually
be just that: cheap crap. While in the meantime the Chinese raise theirs, have
better and more quality products and can afford it easily.

The Chinese are incredibly clever...they produce everything 'for cheap' just
as we idiots want them to in our penny-wise, pound-foolish attitude. We give
them our precious fruits of 'research and development' to produce the actual
products. So even if they produce at a loss, it's a huge
win-win-win-win-win-etc situation for them. They practically leapfrog over
what took our economy years and decades to develop.
For every factory producing goods according to our blueprints is one shadow
factory a few miles further, producing the same exact item minus the
brand-name. That will then be sold across all of Asia, including the 'chinese
market' our western capitalists like to salivate over, for half the price than
the identical 'original' item. In the end they not only got the know-how for
free, but also manufacturing methods, perhaps even the machines to produce and
then make money at the end with their own copies while our business has to
fold as it can't compete by any margin at least on their asian market.
That they sell turbines of all things to us should be shaking us to the core!

Re:China is taking the lead (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923893)

I know - someone else has already pointed out the difference between dollar store items and proper Chinese industry, but your special sort of bigotry deserves the full smackdown:

Cheap 'Chinese shit' like every Apple product you buy? Like your TV? Your computer?

new world order (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923097)

new world order

The US should control the technolog (3, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923103)

I hope that the Chinese exports to the US do not mean the USA loses all control of the technology behind the venture.

Who knows...the Chinese could well end up controlling everything we rely on. This could be a backdoor entry!

Re:The US should control the technolog (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923139)

I fail to see how they don't already. Without imports from China, we're sunk.

End up controlling everything we rely on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923151)

Like our deficit financing?

Why do they need a back door when they can go in the front door of the fed?

Re:The US should control the technolog (3, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923223)

I hope that the Chinese exports to the US do not mean the USA loses all control of the technology behind the venture.

Just like when US exporters give out their technology to their buyers so they can control the technology.

You know, a good test of whether an idea like yours really is reasonable is to simply reverse the terms in your mind, and ask yourself, in this case: "self, if the US was exporting turbines to China, would I be fine with giving them the know-how and have China control the technology?"

If, in your mind, it does sound reasonable, then it quite possibly is. If not, then it's not.

Re:The US should control the technolog (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923601)

I'm pretty sure the complaint could be boiled down to a couple key points, one of them being "Dey took our jerbs".

Re:The US should control the technolog (4, Interesting)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923271)

The door is open on a level playing field for American companies to design and manufacture wind farm turbines. The fault for why this did not happen lies within America. You want the USA to 'control' the technology? Control in the 21st century comes from innovation and first mover advantage.

I personally don't have a problem with where the turbines come from. Borders don't mean a whole lot to me and cheap, clean energy is social justice.

Level Playing Field? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923407)

With approximately 1 ton of rare earth magnets in each turbine, and China having dominance in the rare earth supply chain, and threatening to cut off all exports of rare earth oxides (hmmm, build your factory in China and China will let you have access to the REO), with no EPA or greenies to stymie the mining industry, I'm failing to see where this field is level.

Re:Level Playing Field? (4, Informative)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923511)

With approximately 1 ton of rare earth magnets in each turbine, and China having dominance in the rare earth supply chain, and threatening to cut off all exports of rare earth oxides (hmmm, build your factory in China and China will let you have access to the REO), with no EPA or greenies to stymie the mining industry, I'm failing to see where this field is level.

Rare earth magnets are not the only way to build efficient turbines. This summary [terramagnetica.com] of this article (PDF, p.26) [magneticsmagazine.com] does a good job of showing why your statement is probably false.

Re:The US should control the technolog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923503)

No, it's not. The Chinese government uses what amounts to slave labor to build these, giving them the ability to undercharge to the point that no one can compete on price. This is in NO WAY a level playing field.

Re:The US should control the technolog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923705)

Good point. The cotton business was booming when the only thing you had to pay your employees was "low-end" room and board. The society that wins is the one most willing to sacrifice it's morals.

Re:The US should control the technolog (1)

MrSenile (759314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923329)

Yes, heaven forbid. Next we may see China make bids to buy out corporate America!

Not like they're buying out Morgan Stanley...

http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2009/06/03/CIC-to-buy-447M-shares-of-Morgan-Stanley/UPI-45271244026009/ [upi.com]

Or NBA teams...

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/columns/story?columnist=stein_marc&page=CavsChina-090601 [go.com]

Or Automobile companies like Hummer...

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/business/03auto.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=1&adxnnlx=1256911465-MYcwhz7EQCEgv2gHJoLH7Q [nytimes.com]

Or tried to buy out our oil/energy corporations in the past...

http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/archives/2005/08/chinese_ownersh_2.html [becker-posner-blog.com]

Yes, Chinese needs a 'backdoor' entry. This would be similiar to having a co-owner of a house putting in a back door to the house.

Kinda hard to get a backdoor entry when they're already sitting in your living room.

Re:The US should control the technolog (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923751)

This could be a backdoor entry!

thats a good way to describe how China is shafting the US which has become complacent

It is NOT because China ramped up manufactuering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923107)

It is because they have their yuan tied artificially low to the dollar. Once America is destroy, they will simply shift it to the Euro. This is for all intents and purposes, a cold war. It is aimed cleerly at all western nations. America will go down first, but EU, Canada, Australia will follow. Right now, China is working hard to pull Japan and South Korea away from the west and have them be part of an asian bloc.

If the west does not pull together and insist that China honor their treaty obligations (drop ALL trade barriers and free their money per the Clinton agreement AND WTO), then kiss it all goodbye.

We can't even compete for THIS!? (4, Insightful)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923149)

I thought those huge blades were very difficult to manufacture and transport. I know for something this expensive they can customize a barge and do something special at the port, but I'm surprised this didn't give local producers an edge. And while I considered myself knowledgeable about the waking dragon, I'm somewhat surprised that they have the manufacturing chops to produce something this "high tech". I guess it's another feather in their hat that their businessmen can arrange this sort of deal. With Texas no less.

Come ON people! Get it together!

Re:We can't even compete for THIS!? (2, Informative)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923259)

The blades might be hard to transport but the summary says the Chinese are making the turbines, not the blades.

Re:We can't even compete for THIS!? (2)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923647)

dictionary.com: turbine
-noun,
any of various machines having a rotor, usually with vanes or blades, driven by the pressure, momentum, or reactive thrust of a moving fluid, as steam, water, hot gases, or air, either occurring in the form of free jets or as a fluid passing through and entirely filling a housing around the rotor.

I think that means they _are_ making the blades.

Maybe they're not making the generator that the turbine is connected to.

Re:We can't even compete for THIS!? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923447)

Uhh, high tech??? WTF is high tech about a wind mill? We have been building wind mills for about 3 thousand years, so it is mature tech in extreme. However, you do realize that China is launching space vehicles - *that* is high tech.

Re:We can't even compete for THIS!? (1)

koiransuklaa (1502579) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923685)

Lack of knowledge of a specific area technology is something that can happen to the best of us. It only becomes unpleasant stupidity when you cling to your ignorance even when you are given fairly strong hints that should make you either shut up or read up on the subject.

Re:We can't even compete for THIS!? (1)

Oswald.fi (1542279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923693)

I suppose it can be high tech in the same sense a cutting edge car can be high tech even though people rode horse wagons way back when.

Re:We can't even compete for THIS!? (1)

thickdiick (1663057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923515)

The hardest part in transporting mega-turbines is the ground part. The logistics of routing a shipment in a way that ensures that every overpass has the necessary clearance are immense and add greatly to the cost.

I don't like how much space these turbines take up and how little power they provide.

Re:We can't even compete for THIS!? (2, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923591)

Wages are cents in the dollar. Working conditions are as cheap and unsafe as they can get. Wind turbines due to low manufacturing numbers have a high labor content as such, there is no way reasonable or acceptable way for US labor to compete and if they could of course the whole exercise becomes utterly pointless as they could not afford to pay the electricity generated killing the investment.

As long as government continue down the path of blind, deaf and dumb monkeys and don't accept the need to establish fair trade practices and import duties to ensure companies compete upon a equal basic, whether foreign or domestic, socio economic collapse is inevitable.

The WTO is nothing more than a tool of the rich to destroy the middle class, eliminating that threat to their hereditary power base and, turning the bulk of the worlds population into nothing more that working in poverty minimum wage slaves (counting India and China that is already true but the first world middle class have yet to feel the weight of the chain and the bite of the whip not since they put down the masters a century or so ago).

Argh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923155)

This just makes me so cranky on a Friday morning that I don't know where to start. If the U.S. hasn't figured out that losing all its manufacturing infrastructure to other countries is a BAD thing, then maybe we deserve it. Was it the funding? Because it's not like the Chinese quality is superior (however, they are getting better). I'm all for spending a little extra money to buy a product made within my own country as long as the quality is the same.

Re:Argh! (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923283)

You're right, of course.

Losing manufacturing to China is probably the largest problem we face as a country. Especially in fields of advanced manufacturing, it is strategically important to maintain a strong lead in the U.S.

Some have said that we are moving away from a foundation of manufacturing and towards one of information management and service-oriented business. This is a truly horrifying prospect as both depend on a constant influx of *manufacturing* jobs to create demand for these new industries. Losing manufacturing to other countries means losing independence and self-sufficiency. We can't clean each other's pools forever.

The other problem, though, is that China can undercut our labor by a huge amount. It used to be that the Japanese were saying Americans were lazy and overpaid. It took the Chinese and Indians to prove it. So even if we were to begin another "Buy American" program, we would still be at a disadvantage to overseas customers who would simply choose the cheaper Chinese products over the expensive American products.

We are in a race to the bottom, and if we are to pull ourselves out of this death spiral it will be necessary to look to other failed states for examples of what not to do. No empire in its death throes has ever been able to save itself. England is doing a good job of coming back, but their once vast empire is now just a small collection of rainy islands in the North Atlantic.

Re:Argh! (1)

the_macman (874383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923625)

I'm not trolling. I'm curious. What is your proposal. America losing manufacturing is free market at work. China has no labor laws therefore they do things cheaply. We don't. Companies move to China. What can we do to compete with that?

Re:Argh! (1)

caladine (1290184) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923847)

Don't forget the manipulation of the Chinese currency that their government does. They keep it artificially lower in value on purpose.

Re:Argh! (4, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923783)

Nope.
First, losing parts of manufacturing to nations that free trade and have free money is NOT an issue. The money values change and then things will straighten up. China is not doing that. They have their money pegged to ours AND have trade barriers against the vast majority of goods.
Second, this deal is going through FINANCED MOSTLY BY AMERICAN AND TEXAN GOV. The Chinese got in on a small amount of financing on this.
Third, the Chinese plants are WELL KNOWN FOR BEING HORRIBLE. THey break down ALL THE TIME. There are American made plants that are great quality. Likewise, multiple companies out of EU as well. Sadly, GE makes theirs in China. But these 3rd party parts are PURE JUNK.

Wasted Energy Storage (0, Flamebait)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923187)

This makes me feel all fuzzy good inside, so I endorse it. It "feels" greeny, so it must be a good thing.

The question on my mind is... (5, Interesting)

j0se_p0inter0 (631566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923211)

...where the hell are they going to put them? I'm sitting here in West Texas in an office of a major tower manufacturer; and we have 80 towers worth of sections sitting in our storage lot (which is being expanded) that the company purchasing them can't find a home for. A couple of sites have been proposed, but they fell through because it would cost too much to build the infrastructure to connect them to the grid. Now they're trying to find a site in a different state. And Mr. Pickens reportedly has 200 towers built that he can't site either, my favorite quote is "Well I damn sure can't put 'em up in my yard". So good luck to the Chinese I guess. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Re:The question on my mind is... (3, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923469)

I don't know, but every time I drive out to West Texas on I-10, I see trucks carrying windmill parts, and I see more windmills on the plateaus visible from the highway. So somebody is finding places to put them. Or already owns suitable places and is occupying them over time. Maybe that's who the Chinese are selling to, and that's why that land isn't an available choice for your customer? I don't know.

Re:The question on my mind is... (1)

j0se_p0inter0 (631566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923749)

Could be, not sure. I know that over here in my neck of the woods, the farms are being sourced by one large US producer and 3 from overseas. The article mentions that only the turbines would be Chinese-sourced, but all the companies I know of with farms here produce their own turbines. If they struck up a deal with a Texas company to build the towers and slap Chinese turbines on them, my best guess is that it would be Trinity. But there's not really any details in the article, so who knows. Like I said, this will be interesting to watch :)

What does Mr. Horse think? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923213)

"No sir, I don't like it!"

Capacity Factor (5, Insightful)

some_hoser (656003) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923221)

I hate how articles talking about renewable energy never take into account the capacity factor of the production. Wind is about 30% or so, so the real average output will be more like 200 MW, unlike a nuclear or other plant with a capacity factor of 90+%. Yet still, they will be compared on their MAX output, not the AVERAGE.

Long cable (1)

daybot (911557) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923231)

providing enough power to meet the electrical needs of around 150,000 American homes.

California really are getting desperate. Also, that's a long cable; they'd better crank the voltage to reduce resistive loss...

Re:Long cable (1)

daybot (911557) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923253)

Bollocks - misread the summary. I thought it was saying they're building a wind farm in China.

Why China? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923233)

Why are we not using US resources for this? G.E. has been producing these turbines for years.

Re:Why China? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923309)

GE produces those wind generators IN CHINA, NOT in WESTERN NATIONS.
They are the ones that transferred that tech to them.

Re:Why China? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923675)

Here is the answer:

Right now I am involved in getting funding for a telco venture. Only the Chinese banks will funds the gig, on condition we source only from Chinese suppliers.

What American companies and people are involved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923275)

I would like to picket them.

What I find amazing is that Chinese wind Generators are well known for lots of downtime (gee, what a surprise), which means high labor costs on THIS side. That means that these companies will pay a great deal more for the power.

We're dooooooomed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923295)

Seriously, though, this is getting sad. First we loose the manufacturing of cheap plastic crap, then consumer electronics, then consumer everything. We pin our hopes on big-ticket stuff like train engines and green technology, then we start losing that too. The fine article pointed out that just 25% of the components of US-installed turbines are made in the states.

What's wrong here? It can't just be the wages or the currency. There's a hell of a lot of skill and work that went into china's boom for the past 30 years. Are our best and brightest going to Wall Street rather than industries that actually produce something? Is economic nationalism seen as passe among the powerful? Are we generally just too lazy now?

I'm a treehugger but... (1)

e-scetic (1003976) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923297)

36,000 acres of turbines to power only 150,000 homes? Seems incredibly inefficient...

Re:I'm a treehugger but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923473)

True, if you couldn't use that 36,000 acres for anything else. Wind sites can still be farmed, grazed, etc.

Re:I'm a treehugger but... (1)

Guido von Guido (548827) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923657)

True, if you couldn't use that 36,000 acres for anything else. Wind sites can still be farmed, grazed, etc.

To second that, Toronto has a windmill downtown at Exhibition Place. That's a pretty heavily used area.

I'm sure the Europeans can give more examples. Taking the bus or the train through Germany in recent years I've seen a large number of windmills on what looked like actively used farmland.

Re:I'm a treehugger but... (3, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923569)

That land can be used simultaneously for other things, like a farm. OR, We could accomplish the same thing with one (fairly small by modern standards) nuclear power plant AND use much less land. Your choice. Either is fine by me.

on first thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923307)

I hope this works out better than the Chinese drywall that eventually reeked of their sulfurous quarries.

On second thought, this could be a good thing, something that could fire up the blood of the cowboy entrepreneurs down there to compete in this new arena. I wouldn't surprised to see people like Dubya associated with new ventures.

Bah. (2, Interesting)

Penumbra (175042) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923311)

Wait, Texas EXPORTS windmills, mostly to the Netherlands. I see the blades going by rail to the port all the time. The Beaumont Enterprise lists what ships are in port with cargo and destination information.

"using turbines made in China" (2, Insightful)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923331)

...using turbines made in China...

Sigh...I knew the artificial inequities in trade - that is, the artificial difference in the cost of living and thus the wages you can get away with paying, the artificial differences in the cost of regulation, and the way the Chinese manipulate their currency to ensure they maintain a preeminent trade position - would result in the much-ballyhooed "green jobs" going to China.

Am I the only person in America who sees a horribly bleak future for our children because of inequitable free trade and trickle-down economics? The latter only encourages our top economic tier to seek the margins the former provides, eliminating patriotism (and ethics, morality, honor, and even the public displays of religion - but that is another rant entirely) from the equation.

Unless something changes, I don't think America has anywhere to go but down...for 90% of us, anyway.

Re:"using turbines made in China" (2, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923401)

Then I would suggest making sure you are part of the 10%. For all the other asinine problems running around here, we do have a tremendous amount of upward mobility. There is a huge portion of that 90% that believes that they should be able to whine loud enough and someone else will come fix their problems in some fashion. Government handouts, corporate charity, whatever. Then on the top end, there is a bunch of worthless dead weight always waiting to be replaced. These are the guys with more money than brains. The ones that didn't get there through hard work, ingenuity, etc. They just can't compete. For every guy ready to invest heavily in 'the next big thing' that has a clue how to evaluate that investment, there are probably 10 that want to throw all their money at what someone tells them will be 'the next big thing' without any real evaluation or critical examination.

Problem is, this is NOT just America (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923483)

Right now, China is targetting America by tying their Yuan to the dollar. BUT, once they feel that we are down enough, then they will go after EU by tying to the Euro.

Re:"using turbines made in China" (1)

thetagger (1057066) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923757)

Am I the only person in America who sees a horribly bleak future for our children because of inequitable free trade and trickle-down economics? The latter only encourages our top economic tier to seek the margins the former provides, eliminating patriotism (and ethics, morality, honor, and even the public displays of religion - but that is another rant entirely) from the equation.

Wow, an American complaining about inequitable free trade? WTF.

Why get China into this? (1)

werfu (1487909) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923437)

Why do the China has to get into this? Don't the US realize that by having such deals and loan with China they're selling their country. Obama has planned for the green energy industry to help to rebuild the economy. If the wind turbines and most of the manufacturing is done in China, where's the point?

Re:Why get China into this? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923653)

GE has been making wind plants in China all along. Oddly, it is EU companies that produce their wind generators in the states.

For those who were thinking about the math... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923439)

150,000 homes, powered by
36,000 acres = 145.7 km^2

Average U.S. household size = 2.59 (census.gov)
150,000 homes = 388,500 people

145.7 km^2 / 150,000 homes ~= 1000 m^2 per household
145.7 km^2 / 388,500 people ~= 375 m^2 per person

U.S. Population = 304,059,724 (Google)
To power the entire U.S., that's 114,022 km^2
(For reference, the state of Ohio is 116,096 km^2)

It makes sense, actually (5, Insightful)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923517)

They're suppressing competition by undercutting prices. This is easy to do if you've got a low cost labor pool and government backing (both overt in the form of subsidies and covert in the form of silent ownership by senior Chinese government officials). All the better that you can seek (and probably get) tax breaks from the government of the very country who's industry you're looking to hobble with your low prices.

That said, there's nothing wrong with buying Chinese generators if they meet quality and price requirements. But I think this is a case where the US government has lost sight of the football here. Assisting a foreign power with the task of gutting an industry that was pioneered in the US and that may be important in future green energy markets around the world seems extremely foolish and short sighted.

Some choice, huh? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923519)

So these days we have a choice for every 36,000 acres: either build 150,000 structures to house 300,000+ mouths to feed, or build 240 turbines to power 150,000 structures housing 300,000+ hungry mouths somewhere else? Can we have an option (c) none of the above? I'd kinda like to just leave those 36,000 acres the hell alone.

Obligatory (suprised noone has said it yet) (1)

Zantac69 (1331461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923571)

I, for one, would like to welcome our chinese overlords.

Its not that you are "new" - you are just finally starting to show your face.

Your Wind Farms Are The (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29923593)

New World Order [youtube.com] Your winds farms not made in the U.S.A. Your wind farms not made in the U.S.A. in slave labor camps in China. ...errrrrr.... made in factories in China and so on and so forth.

Yours In Novorossisysk,
Kilgore T.

How long (0, Flamebait)

kannibul (534777) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923753)

How long before one of the blades snaps off and kills someone, or there's lead in the paint, or the turbines themselves are "rigged" by China for debt-collection purposes? I know here in Oklahoma I see huge wind turbine blades being hauled all the time - well, at least in summer. I don't know where they come from or going to, but the going along the highway that goes from Tulsa to Dallas (state HWY 75) Why not buy American...and help OUR economy for once? Seems there needs to be an increase on taxes for imported goods...maybe we could use that to supliment health insurance (either by lowering income taxes, or by paying for it...)

For all the Californians, wonder why TX? (4, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923775)

Of course, it's because a developer in Texas can just buy the land and build a wind farm.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/18/weekinreview/18galbraith.html?_r=3 [nytimes.com]

The irony is quite telling -- environmental regulations making it harder to build a renewable energy source. The most telling part of this (and recall that the New York Times was not a particular fan of this TX governor):

But here again, Texas and California have behaved very differently. Texas set a strong renewable energy requirement back in 1999 (when George W. Bush was governor) -- and quickly exceeded it. Last year, 5 percent of the state's electricity came from wind power. California set a very high bar, requiring big utilities to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources next year, although they are not expected to meet it.

That is, measured purely by results, the track record of the state that doesn't give a shit is miles ahead of the state that makes a big complicated deal about caring.

[ Aside: I'm not against environmental regulation by any means. At the very minimum, however, we ought to insist that the benefits a cleaner environment outweigh the costs of regulation. In cases like this where it seems like the regulations are actually counterproductive to the goals, well then the costs are truly wasted.]

Not "Baseline" generating capacity. (2, Insightful)

GuyFawkes (729054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29923841)

The thing is, with electricity generation you have something known as "baseline demand" which you can think of as a water table or the level of the sea a low tide.

You absolutely HAVE to have this generating capacity 24/365, no if's, but's or maybe's.

The problem with wind (and solar, and wave, etc) is that generating capacity can be anywhere from zero on up, if there is no wind, or even just light winds, generating capacity is effectively zero.

What this means is that if you are an electricity grid planner, it doesn't matter how much theoretical wind turbine generating capacity you have, NONE of it is applicable to your baseline demand.

This means the only things that you can use for baseline demand are coal powered, oil powered, nuke powered or hydro powered "traditional" generating stations.

The nature of "traditional" power stations is such that like the car doing 60mph down the freeway, there is a fair bit more power on tap, 24/365, so in fact, due to the nature of grid demand, by definition, the "traditional" power stations that are REQUIRED to meet baseline capacity can, in 99.9% of cases, ALSO supply peak demand (think of this as high tide).

So, the ONLY thing you can use wind power for, assuming the wind is blowing, is peak demand.

Now that you can only use it for peak demand, and given that you have an electrical grid, the only time you will ACTUALLY use one power source over another is if one is CHEAPER per giga-watt-hour than another.

Fact is, wind power loses out here too, UNLESS you heavily subsidise it, and that is no longer a level playing field.

The grid itself is also a problem, although a high tension grid can transfer useful power 1,000 miles, when you start talking about reasonable losses and efficiency in the grid, you are down to 250 miles, so it is not like you can put offshore wind farms *here* and connect them via the grid to a demand *here* 1,200 miles away, even with the wind power subsidies, it still does not make economic sense.

All you have to remember, is this.

The purpose of a wind turbine manufacturer is to sell wind turbines.

They really could not care one way or another if the installed turbines make economic sense on a level playing field.

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