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Gas Wants To Kill the Wind

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the sounds-like-a-friend-of-mine dept.

Earth 479

RABarnes writes "Scientific American has posted an article about the political efforts of natural gas and electric utilities to limit the growth of wind-generated electricity. Although several of the points raised by the utilities and carbon-based generators are valid, the basic driver behind their efforts is that wind-generation has now successfully penetrated the wholesale electricity market. Wind was okay until it became a meaningful competitor to the carbon dioxide-producing entities. Among the valid points raised by the carbon-based generators are concerns about how the cost of electricity transmission are allocated and how power quality can be improved (wind generation — from individual sites — is hopelessly variable). But there are fixes for all of the concerns raised by the carbon-based entities and in almost all cases they have been on the other side of the question in the past."

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Nigger Joke First Post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31405930)

What was the only thing missing from the Million Man March? Three miles of chain and an auctioneer!

What's the difference between a black welfara mama and an elephant? About four pounds.

Re:Nigger Joke First Post! (-1, Troll)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406052)

if I could kill you with my mind, you'd already be dead, asshole. go fuck your mama

Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginning (4, Insightful)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31405962)

When the general attitude of the phone companies was "It's scary, make it go away"

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (-1, Offtopic)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406116)

there's a lot of that kind of stuff in the "real America," Glenn Beck has based his career on fueling it

OMG something's NEW and DIFFERENT! PANIC!!!

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406752)

Is that the same GlennBeck rumoured to have raped and killed a girl in 1990?

He still has not denied it!

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (-1, Offtopic)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406900)

He still has not denied it!

You expect a man who can't remember what he said an hour ago to remember if he raped and killed a girl in 1990? Guess he climbed on that wagon a little too late:

Beck "hacked off" by RNC memo, claims America is looking for "someone that is not going to play on our fears" [mediamatters.org]
Beck: "We are sitting around and we are watching the systematic destruction of everything we hold dear by thugs" [mediamatters.org]

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (1)

slashdottedjoe (1448757) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406878)

Socialism is not new or different. If anything Glenn Beck shows that the more things change the more they stay the same.

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (4, Insightful)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406156)

And you would think it would be a good opportunity for them to leverage their existing contracts, resources, and brand name to push into wind power.

Buying out a small startup player and giving them your established name and relationships with other power companies seems like a big win

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (2, Interesting)

RedEars (1622495) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406766)

They don't embrace new technology early for business reasons. They let those small startups burn through development cash, let them do the innovating while "fighting" the new technology. The fighting serves to motivate the innovators. Then once the startups have innovated enough to where it's actually profitable technology, that's when they buy out. They're not fighting new technology, they're motivating it.

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (5, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406896)

The problem is the high voltage transmission infrastructure that no one wants to build. FTFA:

Reaching a goal of 20 percent wind generation in 2024 would require construction of 10 inter-regional high-voltage lines spanning a total of nearly 22,700 miles, at a cost of $93 billion. Such an ambitious goal won't be achieved under a business-as-usual approach, the study concluded.

Not only will it cost an enormous amount of money, but it will have to cross State lines, meaning it will take multiple
regulators, multiple special interests, and multiples of everything else you can think of in order to become reality.

Infrastructure is one of America's top 5 problems for the 21st Century.
Not only do we require trillions in new infrastructure,
there are still trillions in repairs we've been putting off.

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406920)

Yep. The play of buying up smaller companies which take the risk is done by oil and gas companies all the time.

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406426)

Actually I know someone that works in the Wind Power part of a major utility company.
He spelled out the problem with wind for me very clearly.
"Companies don't care about carbon offsets because they don't believe that there will be a carbon tax".
"Followed by "Natural gas is dirt cheap right now."
Natural Gas is cheaper and more reliable than wind right now.
Trust me this utility has spent a bundle on wind and my friend is on the road many days a month trying to set up wind power and make deals for people to buy the power. In this case I wouldn't blame the utilities.
What it comes down to is dollars and cents. Gas is cheaper and works better than wind.
Of course I love this comment.
" Among the valid points raised by the carbon-based generators are concerns about how the cost of electricity transmission are allocated and how power quality can be improved (wind generation — from individual sites — is hopelessly variable). But there are fixes for all of the concerns raised by the carbon-based entities and in almost all cases they have been on the other side of the question in the past.""
Notice how in the summary the poster says that they have some valid concerns and then says that there are fixes for them.
Yea sure... But at what price? Read some of the "fixes" and then ask who is going to pay for them? Should the government keep subsidizing wind and the infrastructure.
Don't bother saying that they can just take the money from the Military since we know that will not happen. Are you willing to pay more in taxes and pay more for goods produced in the US by US companies? China and India will not pass a dime of the costs on manufacturing so if you increase the cost to make goods in the US you will be pushing more manufacturing to China and India so in effect you will be shifting the carbon production from US plants burning natural gas to Chinese power plants burning Coal.
Oh and Window power in China? Unless forced to that is just for export. They will produce a few token sites and then sell Windmills to western countries until it becomes economical to replace coal with wind.
So the west will subsidize even more manufacturing jobs going overseas.
I fear this isn't as simple as the summary or what most people on slashdot think it is.

What it all comes down to is that Natural gas is cheap, efficient, and thankfully pretty clean.
While not carbon free it has the lowest carbon foot print of all the fossil fuels. It is MUCH lower in carbon output than coal so it isn't terrible that it is displacing wind. It could be worse, they could be building coal plants instead of wind.

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (1)

OutSourcingIsTreason (734571) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406594)

This just sounds hokey. The wind is free. How much cheaper is gas, according to your friend?

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (2, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406734)

This just sounds hokey. The wind is free. How much cheaper is gas, according to your friend?

Natural gas is free as well. It's just stuck in the ground ready for you to go tap into it. Plug your USB socket into a likely hole in the ground and go for it.

Did you forget your sarcasm tag or are you just horribly confused?

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (4, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406842)

This just sounds hokey. The wind is free. How much cheaper is gas, according to your friend?

Wind is free. If what you want is to have your hair ruffled, you pay nothing.

If, on the other hand, you want to build an energy grid based on wind power, it costs far more than you might imagine. The post you're responding to has some salient points in this respect.

The problem of replacing or upgrading the single most important piece of our national infrastructure has always loomed as the greatest problem with converting to energy alternatives. Wind and solar power have radically different properties with respect to the national grid, and you can't just plunk them in and go on. Doing that leads to unpleasant things like brown-outs that kill the elderly during the height of summer or depths of winter.

These aren't unsolvable problems, but they cost a LOT of money to solve, and no one is yet willing to step up and pay for it, as the advantages are not easily recognized.

Re:Reminds me of broadband internet in the beginni (5, Interesting)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406828)

The thing is Wind is Flaky, Personally I like to have power all the time, even when there is no wind.

There are two solutions to this problems:

1. Giant Batteries/ Flywheels/ Water storage hills
2. Gas Supplement.

The Reason you use gas is it's easier to turn on and off the Coal/Nuclear.

IMHO Nuclear>Gas+wind>coal

Granted this is a simplistic approach, But Gas is coming either way. There is going to be a ton of it on the market soon.

Standard Disclaimer: the company i work for would benefit by me making these statements.

Missed the Better Headline (5, Funny)

MrTripps (1306469) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406008)

Gas Seeking to Break Wind

Re:Missed the Better Headline (0, Redundant)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406164)

My gas already breaks the wind.

Re:Missed the Better Headline (2, Funny)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406370)

And mine makes a gentle "whoosh..." sound when it creeps out.

Re:Missed the Better Headline (1, Offtopic)

zm (257549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406490)

Best fart is like a ninja - silent but deadly.

Re:Missed the Better Headline (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406832)

Man who fart in church sit in his own pew.

Re:Missed the Better Headline (0, Offtopic)

Conditioner (1405031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406716)

oh that would be nice, Mine are 50/50 between an out of tune trumpet and a Tommy gun.

if these jerkwads had any sense (3, Insightful)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406036)

they'd embrace the new tech and get in on it, rather than trying to fight it

Re:if these jerkwads had any sense (4, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406176)

agreed. Especially considering that gas is a finite resource and we need to use is for MATERIALS not energy, as its value in fertiliser, plastics and other materials FAR outweighs its value as an energy source. We need gas to build the wind farms, and as many as possible as quickly as possible. (As well as solar thermal and other energy production systems). Because there will come a day, and it's not that far off, when fossil fuels will not be energetically profitable to mine, at which point we will leave them in the ground except to extract them as materials, not as energy.

This isn't a question of IF, it merely a matter of when and how, and IF the gas companies had half an ounce of sense in their heads, they'd be "Springfield Energy" not just "Springfield Gas".

RS

Re:if these jerkwads had any sense (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406320)

We need to use wind electricity to synthesize gas.

Re:if these jerkwads had any sense (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406844)

We need to use wind electricity to synthesize gas.

I'm not sure if you were being sarcastic, But this actually makes since. but not gas hydrogen.

Re:if these jerkwads had any sense (1)

Mantis8 (876944) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406344)

I wonder - were they the ones working behind the scenes that recently killed the massive wind power project that was supposed to be built in the Texas pan handle that was supposed to supply around 20% of our nations power???

Re:if these jerkwads had any sense (2, Informative)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406418)

The one Boone was pushing? I believe he killed that one himself. Something about the power transmission facilities being inadequate to move the power to market, IIRC.

Re:if these jerkwads had any sense (1)

Mantis8 (876944) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406628)

That's the one. You may be right, but I still have my suspicions...

You're talking about an awful lot of money here...

Re:if these jerkwads had any sense (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406858)

No. That plan was killed by the people of Texas because Boone wanted to get right of way to build a power corridor, and coincidentally he would use that right of way to build a pipeline to drain an aquifer supplying local farmers to provide Austin, TX with green lawns for a few more years. It was all a farcical comic book villain style plot.

Re:if these jerkwads had any sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406474)

This isn't new... Even in 'socially responsible' (or is that reprehensible?) Canada, we have issues that stink of lobbying as well:

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2009/06/10/ontario-wind-turbines.html

On the flipside, the gov't does seem proud of what little they have done...

http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/marketdata/windpower.asp

Re:if these jerkwads had any sense (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406794)

It's easy to say, but if you had just spent millions for a new power-plant that wasn't expected to make profit until 20 years into the future, you wouldn't want to change quickly either.

They make a valid point: wind power is nice, but who is the backup when the wind doesn't blow? The summary tries to put its own slant on the issue, but it really is a hidden cost in the wind power solution.

No, they would NOT (2, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406914)

The incumbent suppliers, gas/coal/oil-fueled generating utilities, have NO, repeat NO incentive to encourage a competitor. And every incentive to prevent the entry to market of viable competitors such as wind, solar, etc.

I'm not trolling, nor am I just trying to be contrary. This is a business fact. Show me a business that has a good case for encouraging their competition. I have one, too, the exception that proves the rule; retail. Clustering retail outlets together, such as clothing or even convenience stores, can increase business by concentrating traffic. But even this is intended to deny their remote competitors opportunity.

Just be honest about this. Their businesses are under incredible pressure - costs rising, alternatives becoming viable and either cheaper or not significantly more expensive, social pressure to change their processes at great expense and diminishment of profits, government regulation that is threatening to become puntitive and eventually literally drive them out of the business. They will want to hold on as long as possible. And use every means available, that they can survive, to stop or slow down their competitors.

It is naive to state, for instance, that "they'd embrace the new tech and get in on it, rather than trying to fight it". The reality is that they also know that their competitors would have every reason to denigrate any such attempts as failed and futile attempts for these incumbent industries to plot their survival and continued monopoly, soley for the purpose of denying entry to new competitors. These new competitors would petition our government to tax or regulate the existing players to 'level the playing field', as well as ask for breaks and grants to 'encourage alternatives'. The petroleum industry is locked in this no-win situation, and is being stufffed into the pre-defined role of evil lords of power and control. And they deserve that position, largely if not entirely due to their own past acts.

I have NO sympathy for them. They have massive capital available, and if they would bear down and exercise their immense leverage, they could do the research, snap up smart minds to solve problems, and bring to market their future products that are now being developed by the nimbler competitors. They have their chance still, but are squandering the opportunity, or perhaps see that this is a fight they just don't have the stomach for and will milk the world for all it's worth. The Third World may be their growth market for the next 40 years. Then again, Africa for example might decide to choose wisely in advance. That leaves China and India, who might just do their own thing. A gamble, and the hand has not yet been called.

To repeat, while the current powers should indeed be making the investment, they are not idiots to not do so. They could adopt that strategy, but they have other options, which are not, from a business viewpoint, entirely without merit. Just risky, and perhaps not serving us the citizens of the world as well as it might, but these are profit-centered organizations. They do not exist to protect the environment. If you think this is 'wrong', then you need to work to change the nature and regulation of corporations worldwide. And I'm with you. We need to do that. Soon. Now.

And we do have a right, indeed a duty, to compel them to be less evil. This is not limited to the petroleum industry, and may be even more important in other sectors.

Better Title: (0, Redundant)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406038)

Gas wants to break Wind.

Successful???? (4, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406044)

I'd only call it mildly successful when it can run at least 50% without government subsidies. and fully successful when it is >99%

I don't belive we'll ever be able to get back a US where there isn't government subsidies in everything.

Re:Successful???? (5, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406072)

Without subsidies, there is no political influence. And without political influence, lobbying wouldn't work and you are exposed to market forces... That's just bad business.

 

Re:Successful???? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406094)

BRB painting myself black and registering as a 'native american'

Re:Successful???? (0, Troll)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406134)

I don't belive we'll ever be able to get back a US where there isn't government subsidies in everything.

Nor would we want to. That caused the Great Depression. Regulation of the free markets is a necessary activity. Any economist will tell you there needs to be ways of moderating the natural boom-bust cycle of capitalism. Of course, nobody agrees on how to do this... Subsidies are one answer. If you want to suggest another one, present your argument, but don't just wish for it to go away without a valid replacement.

Re:Successful???? (3, Informative)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406338)

Regulation of the free markets is a necessary activity.

Indeed, but the parent was talking about subsidization, not regulation. Subsidization is handing out money for nothing to non-profitable enterprises; regulation is imposing conditions on your operations that cost you money. Economically, they are opposites.

Re:Successful???? (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406350)

Accept that as long as human beings are regulating the market there will be boom and bust cycles. Regardless of whether those regulators are part of the government or traders.

Re:Successful???? (3, Insightful)

silverbax (452214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406504)

Um, no. That's completely backwards. Unregulated markets result in boom and bust markets, as is taught in standard economics. If left to it's own devices, markets will suffer from both natural forces and human emotion, which is generally irrational. The free market is why the stock market shoots up and down on 'news' every day but the SEC puts in curbs to keep it from fluctuating too wildly.

Re:Successful???? (5, Insightful)

TheSync (5291) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406428)

Any economist will tell you there needs to be ways of moderating the natural boom-bust cycle of capitalism.

No, some economists would say that government attempts to moderate the boom-bust cycle of capitalism (such as the Fed's action to purposely burst the stock bubble of the late 1920's through deflation) have often proven to be worse than letting the economy alone. Keynesian stimulus spending rarely works well, because even if it works in one's theory, in practice governments never save during good times, and when spending happens it is inefficient, slow, and corrupt.

This rap video [youtube.com] provides one viewpoint along these lines.

Now keeping the banking system intact is a separate issue - although I think it will be many years before we know if saving "too big to fail" banks was better or worse than letting them fail.

Re:Successful???? (2, Informative)

Manax (41161) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406568)

Be aware, not every economist agrees that _capitalism_ has a natural boom-bust cycle, and I expect few believe a lack of government subsidies _caused_ the Great Depression.... Some economists believe that government intervention in the market (through fiat currencies, through manipulations of the interest rates, through many complex and interacting regulations (with a variety of tax consequences) of commerce that have unpredictable consequences) cause the boom-bust cycles.

Re:Successful???? (5, Insightful)

ldconfig (1339877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406166)

So its bad for the government to help support clean energy. I notice you don't bring up all the tax breaks and corporate welfare the oil gas and coal co's get and how huge it is compared to what green energy gets.

Re:Successful???? (2, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406696)

So its bad for the government to help support clean energy.

A fairer way to do that would be a carbon tax instead of a ton of special cases.

Re:Successful???? (1, Informative)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406720)

electricity from coal - 0.44 dollars/MWh (the vast majority of US power is produced with this method)
refined coal - 29.81 dollars/MWh
solar - 24.34 dollars/MWh
wind - 23.37 dollars/MWh

Some of these things are not like the other. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_subsidies [wikipedia.org]

Re:Successful???? (2, Insightful)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406168)

"I don't belive we'll ever be able to get back a US where there isn't government subsidies in everything." ...You mean, like, including fossil fuels, right, because they pull in tons of subsidies? You do know that, right?

Re:Successful???? (2, Informative)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406384)

You mean, like, including fossil fuels, right, because they pull in tons of subsidies?

But they shouldn't be subsidized. That's just wasteful pork-barrel corruption.

Re:Successful???? (2, Insightful)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406620)

It used to be that fossil fuel production was subsidized because encouraging development would improve the local economy.

Now we won't remove the subsidies because the producers will leave and favor other locations, hurting the local economy.

At least, that's what the ads say on TV whenever the issue comes around. True or not, it's a vicious cycle.

Re:Successful???? (2, Informative)

NoseBag (243097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406232)

Exactly. I don't think there's a single wind-power installation anywhere in the world that is anywhere close to truly self-supporting. They are a great idea but just don't cut it commercially.

Even the Danes - major investors in (and sellers of) the technology haven't been able to make it pay - except by exporting the technology to other countries. That's why they've tried hushing the economic reports about their w-farms; they don't want to scare away customers with the facts.

That's a pity: I always liked the idea of windfarms.

Re:Successful???? (1)

danskal (878841) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406864)

I don't know what horse-faeces you've been fed, but the Danes have made it pay pretty darn well - in fact we have pretty much saturated our home market for wind turbines. This causes issues with "too much success" - when the wind really blows and energy requirements are low, they have to sell the energy abroad at knock-down prices. But most of the time, wind power provides 20% of Denmark's electricity.

So quote your sources or go away.....

And of course the global environmental factor is of no importance?

Re:Successful???? (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406274)

Wouldn't wind do better if the turbines were closer together? I remember reading that the way wind turbines are placed (axis parallel to the ground) they had to be placed something like 10 rotor lengths apart to get full efficiency, while vertical orientations can be packed much more densely, getting more electricity out of the same land area.

I like wind power, because I think it's kind of neat, but unless we get a good temporary storage mechanism (new battery type, compressed something-or-other, flywheels, etc) I don't think will every be terribly useful for the general public, maybe only some manufacturing with large power demands who might be able to step things up on windy days to take advantage of the cheap electricity's temporary availability.

Re:Successful???? (1)

jollespm (641870) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406478)

Wind power, in our foreseeable future, will never be able to provide enough electricity for most industrial countries, therefore storage of wind power isn't really necessary. The natural gas powered turbines are the storage/take up the slack mechanism.

The only time I see wind power storage necessary is if there is no grid to connect to and the area served doesn't have backup generation capabilities. That probably isn't going to happen on the scale needed to drive massive energy storage technology.

Re:Successful???? (1)

ciggieposeur (715798) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406328)

and fully successful when it is >99%

In America at least there are zero successful industries by your definition.

Indeed... let's move forward with the current plan (5, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406596)

1) Cover our eyes and let companies do whatever they want.
2) Suffer from energy spikes, speculative bubbles, piss poor infrastructure and a ruined environment.
3) Shovel billions into corporate coffers so they can sock the money away in offshore accounts while simultaneously failing to develop energy alternatives
4) Failure!

You have to subsidize new technologies because corporations cannot justify R&D to their shareholders. BP and Exxon cannot manufacture solar panels unless they can demonstrate higher profits, which one can't do until the technology is sufficiently developed, which one can't do without huge investments.

Technology has thrown the entire paradigm of free market economics for a loop. The amount of technology and science that go into an average product make information asymmetry astronomical. This requires more government regulation, not less.

Re:Successful???? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406808)

I don't believe we'll ever be able to get back a US where there isn't government subsidies in everything.

In electricity, there's isn't a historical free market Utopia to return to, unless you're talking about Edison wiring a few neighborhoods in New York City with DC. Right from the get-go, we started to do the most un-free market thing possible by granting monopolies on electricity generation and distribution.

Why?

In order to attract more rapid investment. Oh, we'd have got to almost universal electrification, but it wouldn't have happened over fifteen or twenty years. It might have taken twice as long. In the meantime we'd have an industrial infrastructure still dependent on steam engines and water power years after other nations were electrified.

That's what we're talking about here. Not operational subsidies, but getting lots of wind generation built over the course of a few years, rather than over the course of generations. The hope is that attract additional private investment to create companies in the US to design, build, service and innovate in wind power generation.

There's some really, really specific kinds of things you need to build a wind generator, and it would be nice to have the technological capability to do that here instead of sending to Germany for the massive bearings, or China for the blades and generators.

Gas Wants To Kill . . . (1)

babboo65 (1437157) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406050)

according to my wife I have the same problem sometimes.

Anonymous Coward (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406074)

The only real problem with wind power is a land use vs generated power issue. The largest wind farm in the us produces less than 800 MW of energy (and remember this is potential generation, wind generation is still inefficient compared to other sources), and takes up 47000 acres of land. You can't just drop one of those everywhere the wind is good.

It doesn't take up 47000 acres (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406340)

It doesn't take up 47000 acres. It takes up half an acre out of 47000 acre extent. The land is either not worth doing ANYTHING else on, or is being farmed, with less than a 0.1% reduction in yeilds.

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406406)

It doesn't quite 'take up' all that land.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

keithpreston (865880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406420)

According to google 47,000 acres = 73.4375 square miles, with a US population density average of 86.2 people per square mile (wikipedia) generating 800MW of energy would displace ~7000 people in the right areas (less in some areas). Just because you live on the more densely populated east or west coast doesn't mean there isn't plenty of land here in the midwest.

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406602)

Not to mention the area under the generators is usable for other purposes. Some wind farms are built on regular farms.

LED Light Bulbs (4, Interesting)

SloWave (52801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406092)

Just wait until LED light bulbs start hitting the fan. Watch the coal lobbiests and their pet politicians scramble then. I was recently allowed to try some 100W LED floodlights that were indistinguishable from the incandescent version, except no heat and a lot less power.

Re:LED Light Bulbs (3, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406200)

Last I checked, LEDs were roughly as power-efficient as fluorescent. The shift from incandescent bulbs to fluorescent and now LED bulbs is more than offset by the increase in draw from computers and other electronics.

I haven't been impressed with the current batch of LED light bulbs. They're pitching an MBTF of 15,000 and 25,000 hours when LEDs have classically exhibited lifetimes closer to 60,000 hours. That means they're doing something wrong.

Re:LED Light Bulbs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406600)

There is one nice advantage to using an LED (despite the higher cost) than the fluorescent. The LED does not use mercury + noble gas to generate visible light. Used fluorescent bulbs have to handled carefully because of the mercury they contain (i.e. cannot be thrown into municipal garbage -- legally).

Re:LED Light Bulbs (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406610)

LEDs have had longer lifetimes and lower power consumption than CFL for some time. Once on they use about the same, but CFLs use more energy to "get started" something not really advertised. Not to mention CFL are considered HazMat in most cities.

Re:LED Light Bulbs (2, Insightful)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406276)

Not likely to happen. We've already got legislation going the exact opposite way of what you predict, trying to ban incandescents.

The problem is that the favored technology (CFLs) contains mercury, so there is valid opposition to fighting such legislation. Plus fluorescents are bad news for epileptics... A friend of mine suffered a minor stroke and has since been prone to seizures. He is unable to spend more than a few minutes in any place with fluorescent lighting, and since nearly everywhere has such lighting, he is now on disability. Banning incandescents would make that problem even worse.

LEDs have potential, but right now they are a LOT more expensive than CFLs, and they are not as efficient as CFLs.

Re:LED Light Bulbs (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406416)

try some 100W LED floodlights ... and a lot less power.

ObFuturama: "Each pound of [dark matter] weighs more than 10,000 pounds".

Re:LED Light Bulbs (3, Informative)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406704)

We know he meant it produced the equivalent light output of a 100W bulb, while consuming a lot less power. Unfortunately, the typical consumer is used to measuring light in Watts instead of Lumens, hence every compact florescent is marked as "60W bulb equvalent" or something simular, and hides the fact that actual power consumption is much less. The 100W equivalent LED floodlights typically use 10W to 15W of power. Unfortunately, LEDs are highly directional, thus they make a better replacement for a spotlight than for a standard bulb (diffusers waste power, lowering efficiency).

Costs (4, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406100)

region's wind power too cheap for its members to compete with, unless developers there are made to pay the costs of moving wind power eastward.

To whatever extent the generation companies pay to move the power, I fail to see why wind shouldn't pay its fair share.

demanding that the state's wind developers share the costs of backup natural gas generators

That's stupid. The correct solution is: raise the price of natural gas generation to compensate for the efficiency of scale difference.

proposed to deny federal clean energy grants to wind developers that buy blades, turbines and other components from abroad.

Hey, if you want money from Uncle Sam, you gotta play the game the way it's played. You're always welcome to secure private financing and build it any way you please.

Re:Costs (0, Troll)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406212)

proposed to deny federal clean energy grants to wind developers that buy blades, turbines and other components from abroad.

Hey, if you want money from Uncle Sam, you gotta play the game the way it's played. You're always welcome to secure private financing and build it any way you please.

too bad we outsourced most of our manufacturing years ago

Calm down (-1, Troll)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406148)

Stop hyperventilating, you carbon zombies!

Breath in. And then breath out. Actually forget the out bit, if you, really, truly care about CO2 emission. ;-)

Also major co-conspirators (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406224)

Ted Kennedy and anyone with a backyard.

RTFA: Politics, not gas. (4, Insightful)

odin84gk (1162545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406246)

Summary:

Wind was okay until it became a meaningful competitor to the carbon dioxide-producing entities

Article:

And last week, four senators representing New York, Ohio, Montana and Pennsylvania proposed to deny federal clean energy grants to wind developers that buy blades, turbines and other components from abroad.

"It is a no-brainer that stimulus funds should only go to projects that create jobs in the United States rather than overseas," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, pointing at a proposed Texas wind farm whose backers include a Chinese power company.

They had one paragraph about the natural gas generators complaining about being used as a backup for the unreliable wind farms and wanting to charge more money to act as a backup service.
The majority of the article is focused on international and stimulus politics: Should stimulus funds be spent on foreign technologies, or should they only be used on local (US) companies. How much of the company must be in the US before it is considered a local technology?

Another misleading summary intended to promote controversy.

Yet another conspiracy theory by idiots (1, Insightful)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406262)

Of course, gas and electric companies would like to kill off wind power because it makes their own products uneconomic...WAIT NO IT DOESN'T. Wind power is expensive, unreliable and to provide electric power for when the wind drops, standby fossil fuel generation has to be provided. The only reason wind power is out there at all is due to massive subsidies from the taxpayer and "green" taxes on gas and electric companies.

In other words, all taxpayers get it in the shorts to pay for these shibboleths. Wind turbines, even under favorable circumstances, don't produce even enough power to manufacture wind turbines.

Only the economically illiterate would want wind power to grow significantly while we still have (but not for much longer methinks) an absurd apocalyptic panic about carbon dioxide and fossil fuels. Eventually, the laws of economics trump sentimental rubbish about wind power, because when the winter comes and the winds die down, people will demand fossil fuel generation in preference to freezing to death.

Re:Yet another conspiracy theory by idiots (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406412)

Where the hell do you live where the wind dies down in winter? I'm moving there

Re:Yet another conspiracy theory by idiots (2, Interesting)

Hays (409837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406564)

Wind turbines, even under favorable circumstances, don't produce even enough power to manufacture wind turbines. [citation needed]

Re:Yet another conspiracy theory by idiots (3, Informative)

sribe (304414) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406782)

Wind turbines, even under favorable circumstances, don't produce even enough power to manufacture wind turbines.

Original citation was probably from director of NREL, in TechReview. But it's old, and not true of recent generations of wind turbines.

Re:Yet another conspiracy theory by idiots (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406688)

You say "standby fossil fuel generation has to be provided".

Fossil fuel companies hear "less fossil fuel generation has to be provided".

The fact that wind farms cannot replace all other forms of power generation is immaterial to people on either side of the issue. More renewable power is better than less renewable power to environmentalists, and less fossil fuel burning is worse than more fossil fuel burning. The "can't provide base load" argument is just a talking point used by the anti-wind-farm crowd who are hoping their audience will be unable to distinguish between "some" and "none".

Don't be that person.

Re:Yet another conspiracy theory by idiots (4, Informative)

sribe (304414) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406758)

In other words, all taxpayers get it in the shorts to pay for these shibboleths. Wind turbines, even under favorable circumstances, don't produce even enough power to manufacture wind turbines.

That hasn't been true for at least several years. Direct-drive generation + solid-state power electronics upped both efficiency and durability by wide margins.

Re:Yet another conspiracy theory by idiots (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406762)

Wind power may have many drawbacks (well, just like any other energy source), but you cannot pretend its energy return on investment (EROI) is lower than 1.

Wind & solar power both have EROI of at least 10.
Insulating your house has an EROI that is orders of magnitude better than digging for oil.

Now, get off my lawn, and please stop spreading lies.

Carbon Dioxide Obsession (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406324)

How quaint!

Gas + Wind (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406398)

There was an article here or on Yahoo about a gas company that is setting up a solar plant. Seems like it could also set up a wind plant.

When the wind is blowing, use less gas.

Seems like they were starting with about 90mw solar + 3800 mwatt gas plant. Add a 90mw wind plant to that and there will be times when you are using 5% less natural gas.

Wind farm and climate change (0, Flamebait)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406486)

If enough wind farms are set up to actually contribute significant energy volume, I wonder what would be its impact on the climate.

I mean, it is sucking the kinetic energy directly out of the movement of air.

The Real Problem... (1)

MrTripps (1306469) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406498)

...seems to be storing and transporting energy. Its too bad all the good places for wind power happen to be out in the middle of nowhere. By the time you get the lines built and the extra power needed to send it hundreds of miles your project is even less profitable. Too bad Tesla's Wardenclyffe tower didn't catch on.

Which socialist EU utopia gets 50% from wind? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406512)

Quit blaming evil US capitalism for the failure of a pie in the sky hippy idea which simply does not work, has not worked, and is unlikely to work in the near future.

Re:Which socialist EU utopia gets 50% from wind? (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406680)

Certainly not with that attitude.

Re:Which socialist EU utopia gets 50% from wind? (1)

diegocg (1680514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406870)

Spain has got more than 50% of our energy on a few peak days. On november 3 we got 53% of our energy from wind. On average, in the last 12 months we got 14.45% of our energy from wind. And we are not communist hippies, thank you.

Complicated! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406556)

Among the valid points raised by the carbon-based generators are concerns about how the cost of electricity transmission are allocated and how power quality can be improved

I work in the industry on these two specific problems, and I can say that they are NOT easy to overcome. Wind power integration is not nearly as simple as one would think it is, and it is much more problematic than traditional power production. There is a lot of active research going on right now, but it is really coming out that mitigating the power quality and transmission issues are adding substantially to the cost of wind farms; often to the point where they are not viable, even with subsidies. There is certainly some protectionism from traditional energy companies, however this is not the major roadblock to wind adoption. The technical issues are still very much an impediment to large wind farms, not some massive anti-wind-power conspiracy.

Re:Complicated! (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406676)

Well nice to see that you shot your credibility all to hell. Actually admitting that you know something about the topic at hand.

Re:Complicated! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406826)

some of us are just to lazy to sign up

Join forces! (2, Interesting)

KDN (3283) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406678)

The answer is easy: the gas and wind groups should join forces. When they have enough wind, switch the gas systems to standby. When there is not enough wind, then crank up the gas systems. In addition, they should look into energy storage such as flywheel and/or compressed air. These will help fill in the gap between when the wind dies down and the gas turbines spin up.

Heck, wanna really have fun? Have surplus wind energy electrolize water into hydrogen and and oxygen, and store the hydrogen to feed the gas turbines. Or, use plasma incinerators to convert garbage into syngas and burn that instead of natural gas. If you did that you would not even need the natural gas people. Heck you could sell the excess back to the natural gas people!

Atoms (0, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406712)

I say we bombard atoms with radiation, causing them to fissure and release tons of energy.

We can use the energy to heat up a bunch of water to boiling. The resulting steam can then power a generator.

When our radiation source is depleted, it'll be completely inert and safe.

When our radiation source is depleted past the point of being useful in a large facility, but not at the point where it's inert, we can simply use it in a smaller, lower-yield facility.

Once the radiation source is depleted past the point of any usefulness, it's pretty much safe. If we want to please the plebes, we can simply wrap it in iron and bury it.

Wait'll coast power kicks in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406746)

If they can strike a compromise with coastal wind power, far enough out so they can't bee seen and they get constant wind, you'll really see the fossil fuel crowd scream. Drop rows of windmills 30 miles or so off Los Angeles and New York so they are close to the users and you get the best of both worlds. I know the rich with ocean front land will squeal if you put them halfway to Europe but I'd give them a choice of a coal plant in the backyard or windmills just out of sight. Alternative sources were fine while they were a novelty but as they get more competitive the CO2 crowd are going to try to kill them. What they are facing are higher fossil fuel costs while alternative sources tend to get cheaper over time. I noticed a few screaming about subsidies. Well here's one for you nuclear, coal and oil are all heavily subsidized. It's been one of the reasons alternatives have had trouble competing unless they are also subsidized. In a sense the middle east provides the biggest subsidies through dirt cheap oil, it costs them a few dollars a barrel to pump it. If we have to get all our oil from offshore and arctic sources it'd be 2X or 3X what is now.Offshore oil actually sets the price for oil but if we had to depend on it the prices would go through the roof. Take away all subsidies and see what happens? Also make all sources have to run clean and clean up their waste and you'd see a lot more windmills going up. Don't believe me? Drive past a coal burning plant. It's a crime they are allowed to use the air we breath as a landfill for dumping their waste and I don't just mean CO2. The sulphur and mercury and other toxins released are frightening.

Re:Wait'll coast power kicks in (0, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406866)

Drive past a coal burning plant. It's a crime they are allowed to use the air we breath as a landfill for dumping their waste and I don't just mean CO2. The sulphur and mercury and other toxins released are frightening.

Almost as frightening as the image of another dumbshit hippie fuck bitching about the pollution of an industrial facility as he drives past in his fucking automobile made of petroleum-based products, made by petroleum-based machines, that runs on petroleum-based fuel, coal-generated electricity, heavy-metal-based and old-growth-destroying batteries, water-sucking fuel cells, etc.

Smoke scrubbers? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406906)

"Drive past a coal burning plant. It's a crime they are allowed to use the air we breath as a landfill for dumping their waste and I don't just mean CO2. The sulphur[sic] and mercury and other toxins released are frightening."

I thought that a decade or two ago, the EPA implemented rules requiring most U.S. coal plants to install smoke stack scrubbers that captured all that stuff before it exited into the environment? I was under the impression that mostly what came out of the stacks now is CO2 and water? (I realize this doesn't necessarily apply to the rest of the world; but since you seem to be talking mostly about the U.S., that is the context I'm discussing this in).

But, I agree with your main point about off-shore Wind. As long as we can do it in a way that doesn't too adversely affect marine life, or maritime navigation, then I'm all for it. You probably can generate a lot of very cheap power that way. Doesn't help us folks in Ohio too much, but we can probably turn some corn or pig farms into wind farms, or maybe put some out in Lake Erie (but I'm not sure there's any place in Ohio as consistently windy as those coastal areas).

Gandhi (0)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406790)

First they ignore you,
Then they laugh at you,
Then they fight you,
Then you win.

So we're at Stage 3 now I guess.

From the Wall Street Journal (3, Interesting)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406814)

The WSJ ran an article about this within the last week or two. The only gripe that traditional power companies had that seemed valid in my opinion is that wind producers get an exemption if they don't meet their production quotas. In a nutshell, this is how it works in Texas (and presumably other states): At the beginning of the day the department responsible for buying power for the state purchases power from utilities. The utilities bid based on how much power they are going to provide, and what the cost will be. Wind power comes in cheaper than gas or goal and gets purchased first. Gas and coal get penalized for not producing as much power as they promise to produce. So if they say they will deliver XXX megawatts, but due to facilities problems or whatever only deliver xxx-y megawatts, they have to pay a fine. If wind fails to deliver their promised megawatts, they are exempted from the fine.

On one hand wind is variable and not easy to predict (although wind based power companies claim that their models are become more accurate and reliable). On the other, wind is easy to come in inexpensively in part because there are incentives in place to make it cost competitive and they also don't have to pay fines for failing to deliver.

I'm of the opinion that the system is fine. Everyone agrees that wind can't provide baseline power. I think the government should reach some sort of compromise between the two. Wind can continue to be cheap and by all means we should be using it when it's available. When it isn't, wind based utilities should have to offset the cost of falling back to gas or coal. It takes hours to bring a plant online and doing so incurs operating costs. If the plant sits idle because the wind stays constant then that's great. The plant operator still needs to be compensated for spooling up the turbines, even if they aren't selling the output. The trick is pricing things in such a way that there is still an incentive to use wind when it's available. Maybe they can trend it, and say over the last five years, wind under-delivered by xx%. Therefore wind needs to adjust their rates upward by xx-y% to offset the irregularity. Y would be an agreed upon value to acknowledge the fact that man can't control the weather, but that when conditions are good, it is in everyone's best interests to tap the wind as a resource.

The problem with wind is simple (2, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406848)

Unless you have an effective way of storing the energy generated by wind turbines, wind power does nothing to reduce your peak demand for traditional power plants. However, it does reduce the average demand, making traditional plants less economically rewarding. Pretty much the same argument applies to solar. This might be the rationale behind desire for a hydrogen economy; use any excess wind and solar power to separate H20 into hydrogen and oxygen, then use fuel cells for power when it is dark and still (turning the H and O back into good ol' H20).

Wind not what it is blown up to be (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406856)

When you can make wind blow when you need electricity, then it will be able to compete. Do a little work on google and you will find the problems associated with wind blowing when you don't need electricity and not blowing when you do. Storage is in its infancy at this scale. If you want more technical terms, search for the correlation of wind generation with utility demand. You will find it is poor. Any time a large wind farm is planned, a huge engineering study must be done to find out what additional dispatchable (usually gas) generation must be installed to cover for when the wind is not blowing at the right time.

I don't practice IT, you don't practice power engineering.

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