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Optimize Offshore Wind Farms Using Weather Modeling

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the any-way-the-wind-blows dept.

Power 111

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from a Stanford news release: "Politics aside, most energy experts agree that cheap, clean, renewable wind energy holds great potential to help the world satisfy energy needs while reducing harmful greenhouse gases. Wind farms placed offshore could play a large role in meeting such challenges, and yet no offshore wind farms exist today in the United States. In a study just published in Geophysical Research Letters, a team of engineers at Stanford has harnessed a sophisticated weather model to recommend optimal placement of four interconnected wind farms off the coast of the Eastern United States, a region that accounts for 34 percent of the nation’s electrical demand and 35 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. ... Among its findings, the Stanford model recommended a farm in Nantucket Sound, precisely where the controversial Cape Wind farm has been proposed. The Cape Wind site is contentious because, opponents say, the tall turbines would diminish Nantucket’s considerable visual appeal. By that same token, the meteorological model puts two sites on Georges Bank, a shallows located a hundred miles offshore, far from view in an area once better known for its prodigious quantities of cod. The fourth site is off central Long Island."

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111 comments

AC Gets A First Post While Passing Wind (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39419885)

sulfurous
stanky
frost

Get it done.

You can't have it all, guys (4, Insightful)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39419945)

You can't have pristine landscapes, a non-petrol economy AND several kilowatts of electric power at your fingertips, to be switched on whenever you come home. We here in Europe are making choices. We know we have to. So will you, so will you.

Re:You can't have it all, guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420061)

It's not 'petrol' this thing is replacing, it's good old west virgina coal.

Re:You can't have it all, guys (1)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420253)

Don't forget Pennsylvania... those billboards along the Penn Turnpike keep saying how clean it is too....

It isn't WV nor PA coal (3, Informative)

stomv (80392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420377)

Coal burned in the ISONE (New England minus a tiny bit of northern Maine) comes almost exclusively from South America -- Columbia and Venezuela. It turns out that shipping it by barge is easier than getting it past the railway congested New York City area.

That written, given the current prices of delivered gas and coal, gas is on the margin, not coal. That means additional wind generation likely displaces natural gas generation for most hours of the year. However, given that natural gas prices continue to fall, the dispatch order may switch within the next few years or sooner, especially in non-winter months, relegating coal to peak hours during the week in summer and winter regardless of the wind projects.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for installing wind and displacing fossil fuel generation in New England, New York, and (more importantly) PJM (DC to Newark to Chicago triangle, roughly). However, understand that at this point, wind isn't likely to displace coal in New England.

Re:It isn't WV nor PA coal (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39425231)

Then theres the rest of the country on Nuke, natural gas and a bit of coal with a smidgen of hydro just beginning to be peppered with wind power.

Re:You can't have it all, guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420085)

Ironically, I believe East Coast offshore wind farms were opposed by the Kennedy's because of how it would affect their view. I understand that environmental concerns, including the view, are important, but c'mon. Arguments about variability, having to have almost a full wind farm's worth of gas turbines on standby in case the wind isn't blowing, etc., sure, I'll buy those arguments. But raging about wind turbines 6 or more miles from one's property, because of the view? I have little sympathy for that.

Re:You can't have it all, guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420131)

Well, here's the thing, they would have been happy if it'd been moved a few more miles away.

What's so important about 6 miles, when it could be 8 miles, or 10? 12? That's how Patrick Kennedy ended his Op-Ed, a request to move it a bit further offshore.

Re:You can't have it all, guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420345)

Even with the gradual slope of the Atlantic, unless I'm mistaken, the further offshore you go, the deeper you have to build the foundations. It's particularly ironic since Kennedy is for wind power, as long as he doesn't have to look at it. So, it's okay in somebody else's back yard, but not his.

If he were to offer up a significant chunk of the funds to move the turbines further off shore - assuming similar wind conditions, then that'd be a fair trade off, yes?

Re:You can't have it all, guys (1)

Rasperin (1034758) | more than 2 years ago | (#39421345)

Higher wind speeds the further off shore they are, so over the long term I'd wager so. And ontop of that couldn't they make them pretty like the old mills of sweden? Wouldn't that be pretty awesome?

Re:You can't have it all, guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39421869)

They make floating wind turbines. Why do they have to build foundations when they can just drop an anchor?

But won't he be paying for it anyway, as an electrical customer?

Re:You can't have it all, guys (1)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | more than 2 years ago | (#39429669)

So, it's okay in somebody else's back yard, but not his

I don't understand this perspective. I live in Germany where there are quite a few wind farms, and I think they are great. I wish I had one in my backyard. Giant cool epic piece of technology generating power for me, and the government pays well for the land. Also, in a century or two they will be old fashioned and trendy like the windmills in Denmark, and property values will rise anywhere near them. It is win win. Give me a windmill!

Re:You can't have it all, guys (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39421529)

The water in this particular spot is 20 feet deep. If you go 12 miles offshore from Cape Cod, it's around 80 feet deep in most places. You can build wind turbines in deep water, but it's much more difficult and expensive.

Re:You can't have it all, guys (2)

murphtall (1979734) | more than 2 years ago | (#39422083)

The water in this particular spot is 20 feet deep. If you go 12 miles offshore from Cape Cod, it's around 80 feet deep in most places. You can build wind turbines in deep water, but it's much more difficult and expensive.

nah, not much more at all, oil rigs go much deeper, the tech to anchor stuff 80ft is very simple to say, i dunno, an oil rig........

Re:You can't have it all, guys (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39437257)

The wind pushes *much* harder on a turbine than on the oil rig -- getting pushed on by the wind is what a turbine is designed to do. You can anchor one in deep water, but it's not cheap. Wind turbines cost a few $million, while a deepwater oil platform is worth about half a $billion:

So you're trying to solve a more difficult engineering problem with a tiny fraction of the budget. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it ain't trivial.

Re:You can't have it all, guys (3)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420287)

It's not a race to the bottom, or in your case, a race to see who can abase himself and sacrifice more. Europe has neither pristine landscapes or a non-petrol economy, so how's that working for you?

Re:You can't have it all, guys (5, Insightful)

Bomazi (1875554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39421555)

Yes you can. It is called nuclear energy.

Re:You can't have it all, guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39422183)

Oh for some mod points.

Re:You can't have it all, guys (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39425715)

All that waste has to go somewhere. We still need mines to dig up the fuel in the first place. You can't build a nuclear plant off-shore. And, most importantly of all, for many countries nuclear isn't an option because they don't have the infrastructure, don't want to be reliant on other countries for material and expertise or we simply don't trust them with it (non-proliferation).

Re:You can't have it all, guys (1)

rickett81 (987309) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428409)

An offshore floating nuke plant sounds awesome actually . . .

An endless supply of cooling water. No NIMBYs. and in case of a meltdown, just drop it . . .

Re:You can't have it all, guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39429547)

"All that waste has to go somewhere."

I think the problem of "nuclear waste" has been overstated. My understanding is what most people understand as "waste" is actually still 98% fuel, it just has to have the actual waste removed from it by reprocessing, then it can be put right back into the plant it was taken from and the removed waste has a far lower half life (in 40 years it will loose 99.9% of its radioactivity, 1,000 years to drop back to natural levels) The only two problems are that the US doesn't have commercial reprocessing plants anymore, a result of "no nukes" red tape. And short term costs, for immediate purposes simply burying the "waste" in a hole in the ground is cheaper than reprocessing. Long term however reprocessing is probably cost neutral, if not advantageous as it would extend current nuclear fuels far into the future instead of having to mine and process new uranium deposits.

Re:You can't have it all, guys (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39422337)

Sure you can friend, come to AR! here we have hollows up the butt where the wind whips like a mother, and with a depressed economy we'll be happy to tear shit down left and right! Rich folks don't want that shit, bring it to us, we bust our asses and are cheap too! Why these companies don't come to the south where folks are more than willing to work with them without all that NIMBY shit I'll never know, but you want wind come to the Ozarks, its wind city!

Re:You can't have it all, guys (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39422385)

I am not trolling. I want you to consider this and you will realize it to be true.
You there in Europe are used to having other people make your decisions for you. Usually as a result of being conquered by the latest bunch of ragtags that refuse to put up with your bullshit anymore.
We here in America make choices for other people *regardless of the consequences*
Actually we spend a lot of time talking about consequences but as long as it doesn't effect us we don't care.
We do whatever we want because, because-

God blessed America

Re:You can't have it all, guys (2, Insightful)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39423253)

You can't have pristine landscapes, a non-petrol economy AND several kilowatts of electric power at your fingertips, to be switched on whenever you come home. We here in Europe are making choices. We know we have to. So will you, so will you.

Of course you can have all of those things.

Nuclear.

Offshore wind farts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39419955)

As I understand it, the problem with offshore wind is not the weather, but the insanely high costs of maintenance. Fix that and they might make some sense.

Re:Offshore wind farts (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420105)

"As I understand it, the problem with offshore wind is not the weather, but the insanely high costs of maintenance."

Will it need thousands of armed people spending a trillion in foreign lands?

Re:Offshore wind farts (1)

Adriax (746043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420251)

Taxes were never raised to pay for it, so it must be 100% free!
Right?

Re:Offshore wind farts (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420807)

You're being sarcastic, I know. But the parent has a point. Maintenance via engineering and technicians is far cheaper than boots on the ground halfway around the world. The hazards are far worse too.

The reality is that the day of cheap energy in the form of BTUs are over. We can bitch moan and complain all we want. The party was fun while it lasted. Sobering up to reality is the part that sucks.

My advice. Start getting used to leaving your windows open. Soon you'll find that running your AC gets expensive. Driving too. I'd like to plant a victory garden myself, but these days that will land you in jail. Fun times ahead.

Re:Offshore wind farts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420837)

It is simply untrue FUD that you will go to jail for planting a garden.

Re:Offshore wind farts (1)

murphtall (1979734) | more than 2 years ago | (#39422107)

if you garden has cannabis in many places in would be illegal, and if i may add, just the type of things i'd want in my garden ;)

Re:Offshore wind farts (4, Insightful)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39421723)

Actually, running your AC is about a perfect application for solar PV. You need it most when the Sun is shining the hardest.

Re:Offshore wind farts (3, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39422439)

The problem is simply this.....electric cars don't work, they aren't economically feasible ATM. Even with government subsidies the Volt is over $40,000 and i bet if you look the biggest use of gasoline is the working poor who sure as hell can't afford to get rid of that 99 Explorer they have paid for for some vehicle that costs $40k and will need the $17k+ batteries replaced in less than 7 years without the vehicle being stowed in a garage (which most poor don't got).

And please don't bring up public transport because 1.-in many areas like pretty much the entire rural states it simply doesn't exist and wouldn't be economically feasible to build, and 2.-Buses quickly become overrun with the scummiest of the scum so nobody wants to ride them. i know in my home state I'd rather ride on a prison bus than take public transport, at least the prison bus has armed guards.

so you are looking at a couple of choices, you 1.-pay trillions in taxes to give the masses electric cars AND you pay trillions to replace the batteries they can't afford when they die, or 2.-you pay trillions for public transport AND trillions more in both security and in keeping lines in rural areas open. Since neither of these will actually be possible thanks to the states being broke and the majority of a certain party signing Grover Norquist's 'No new taxes on teh rich EVAR!" pledge I simply do not see how non fossil fuels are suppose to replace boots on the ground in either the short OR the medium term. Doesn't mean we shouldn't be paying for research, after all some scientist may come up with a super cheap battery tech that will make it work, but right now the math just doesn't compute, sorry.

Electric Already Feasible (4, Insightful)

mathmathrevolution (813581) | more than 2 years ago | (#39423159)

First, many people can afford a 100% electric vehicle right now and never pay another dime for gas to commute to work. The Zero XU [zeromotorcycles.com] has a removable battery that I can use to charge at work and at home. The range is sufficient for me to get to work on a single charge. It only costs $0.16 per charge and that's 16 cents that I won't even be paying since I'm going to charge it under my desk at work. The total cost for the bike is less than $8K and it is available for purchase right now.

Second, the ARPA-e independently validated Lithium Ion breakthrough [gigaom.com] is going to be commercialized in a few years and then Electric cars are going to really be into play for all classes of vehicles including trucks.

Re:Electric Already Feasible (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39427057)

The average commute in my area is 45-60 miles each way, and it rains about 1/3rd of the year. wanna rethink that position? That might work in AZ or NM, but it sure as hell won't work in states like AR, LA, or MS.

Re:Electric Already Feasible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39427623)

Electric motorcycles are cool, but still too expensive. The Nissan Versa is like $11k brand new and it's a real car -- meaning; weather, passengers and cargo capable. ;)

Re:Offshore wind farts (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39423589)

And please don't bring up public transport because 1.-in many areas like pretty much the entire rural states it simply doesn't exist and wouldn't be economically feasible to build, and 2.-Buses quickly become overrun with the scummiest of the scum so nobody wants to ride them. i know in my home state I'd rather ride on a prison bus than take public transport, at least the prison bus has armed guards

Absolutely agree. Which is why I'm in favor of concealed carry. Public transportation works wonders in highly populated cities, but not anywhere else where density starts drop off the further from the major cities you go. Also, going shopping and moving any large amount of foods and other goods is a major PITA. You almost have to get it transported for you. That, or you're completely dependent on a limited selection of retail and food markets located close to home.

About the worst case scenario is going back to an era where human powered cycle rickshaws become popular again. Supply and demand yields unexpected results.

Re:Offshore wind farts (2)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39423269)

The reality is that the day of cheap energy in the form of BTUs are over.

Simply untrue.

Nuclear.

Re:Offshore wind farts (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39423515)

OK then, or in the future after more R&D.
A good design, mass production of it and improvements to the fuel cycle could make it competive with other forms of energy as those other forms slowly increase in expense, but that takes work instead of the sitting around and whining that is all the US nuclear lobby can be bothered to do.
For now "cheap nuclear" is science fiction, but it's SF that could become reality if some resources are commited to it. In the last few years we've finally seen the full development of Synrock which makes the high grade waste problem a hell of a lot easier to solve. It was almost ready in the 1980s but a lack of commitment to R&D and the fantasy that all problems in nuclear had been solved held it back for so long.
As for wind, energy monocultures are a very bad idea so even wind has it's place. Apparently it's good to have as spinning reserve that you can bring on line almost instanly to cover a peak, or the interesting idea of using it as compressed air pump storage.

Re:Offshore wind farts (2)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39423645)

Current nuclear is cost competitive. [world-nuclear.org] It is not science fiction. Please educate yourself.

Please read before insulting (1, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39423971)

The Synrock bit should have been a bit of a clue that I've been following this since before 1986 so the "please educate yourself" comment of yours is a very amusing backfire. Don't just be a silly fanboy, silly fanboys that assume that it's all perfect actually hold progress back (eg. cancellation of the US thorium reactor project because of the implications that current uranium reactors are not perfect).
It's an interesting subject and you can do a hell of a lot better than the watered down propaganda at the link you sent. The numbers have to actually measure something properly to mean anything and a bullshit graph that ignores capital costs is nothing but a trap for suckers. Don't be a sucker. Learn a bit about what you are advocating and after a while you would be embarrassed to link to something like that.

Re:Please read before insulting (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428045)

d00d, my grandfather was a nuclear chemist at ORNL from '48 to '77, and worked on the MSR experiment. I may not be as knowledgable as my grandfather was but I do know about the subject.

Re:Please read before insulting (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433965)

You are not your grandfather, you were insulting me and you made a massive mistake about the economics. If that problem had been solved there would be nuclear power plants built without government funding, but as yet that has not happened anywhere. Sorry, but it was extremely clear that you were so far out of your depth that you were passing on a lie and calling for the "education" of someone that saw it as a lie. I think you need to learn a bit more before you darken your grandfather's name.

Re:Please read before insulting (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434813)

You're showing that you're out of your depth, or willfully ignorant. I'm guessing both. No form of energy production is without government support and subsidy. None.

Re:Please read before insulting (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39436639)

None? You are showing that you are taking your local polititical situation and government corruption in your own nation (energy lobbyists) and in either ignorance or malice pretending it applies globally.
Also you've shown either a vast amount of contempt for me or perhaps innocent ignorance by directing me to that progaganda site. "Claim salting" by putting a few tiny nuggets of truth to sell a pile of bullshit is a dishonest practice that can be seen at work there. Those "educated" even a tiny bit in related fields would see it as useful lies to children at best and manipulation to push an agenda at worst. Fuck the propaganda - go for the physics and engineering. Instead of rubbery numbers with wild assumptions grouping everything together consider the performance of the best operating plant you can find (sorry, no AP1000 since there isn't one running yet). Oddly enough you'll find the performance of the best real reactor still fails to meet that of the average given in propaganda. It's quite sad and entirely counterproductive because real reactors can stand on their own merits in some situtations.

Re:Please read before insulting (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39436713)

Name one energy production method in one country that is not subsidized by a government.

Re:Please read before insulting (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39437687)

Every single non-government and non-solar electricity generating installation in Australia for a start. Please get off the irrelevant sidetrack and consider raw costs instead of cooked books. The subsidy angle DOES NOT MATTER when direct comparisons are made with the assumption that a single body is paying for it.
Also, why reply to the least important bit of the above post? Did you even read beyond the second sentance? Why show me such contempt if you are trying to "educate" me?

Re:Please read before insulting (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39437715)

Because you can't help it.

Re:Please read before insulting (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446319)

I should add to help you in your ignorance, that in some places where a government runs energy infrastructure that it is a form of extra taxation (ie. the government makes a profit on it at the expense of the consumer) instead of whatever subsidity government corruption results in wherever you are. Niether is ideal but both exist.
It's a big world out there and looking no furthur than your own tiny little horizon and canned propaganda is just going to make you look ridiculous when you step out of your comfort zone. Nuclear power is an interesting subject, and I suggest you read technical papers instead of propaganda. That's not as hard as it sounds because if you don't understand something in a paper you can follow a trail of references that will usually end in simple review papers that introduce you to a field.

Re:Please read before insulting (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39446575)

Kettle black.

Re:Please read before insulting (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39447325)

Those posts really put your above statements into perspective don't they? You are just trolling with inane and misinformed statements about nuclear power to upset anyone that wanted to discuss a wind power article aren't you?
If not, at least try to stay on subject and make sense.

Re:Offshore wind farts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39423809)

no it isn't. It's time for people to take nuclear energy seriously. Check out liquid fluoride thorium reactors and traveling wave reactors, there's plenty of unexplored designs...

Re:Offshore wind farts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420893)

Problem with offshore wind is that it has to be out of the sight of people like Ted Kennedy (and yea, I know he's not part of the problem anymore).

Re:Offshore wind farts (2)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420705)

Maintenance costs, low capacity factor, and the diffuse nature of the energy source it is trying to harvest

as opposed to offshore oil rigs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39421411)

with their high death rates, huge costs, and notorious spills?

Of course (3, Funny)

VP (32928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420091)

Authors on the West Coast propose wind farms on the East Coast ;-)

Re:Of course (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420181)

There are physical limitations - like the Pacific shelf being much more like a cliff than the Atlantic's. Where practicable in the W., go ahead and install wind turbines. I believe; however, that the E., as a whole, is better with wind as a renewable where the W. is better off with solar.

And if you think a wind turbine is an eye sore, think about those acres and acres of mirrors involved in large scale solar. We might also have to relocate some endangered species of tortoises and cacti for true wide spread - hundreds, maybe even up to thousands of square miles of said mirrors. I'd imagine there'd be a few properties that would be uprooted as well.

Re:Of course (4, Informative)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39421575)

I'm from southeast Massachusetts, and I agree with the authors: the east coast is the best location. Here's why: 10 miles offshore from Cape Cod, the water is 25 feet deep. 10 miles offshore of Los Angeles, the water is 2000 feet deep.

More from the Oxymoron Dep't (1)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420093)

cheap, clean, renewable wind energy

Won't. Happen.

Wind is diffuse and intermittent. If it really were "cheap", there would be a sound business case for it. As it is, the costs of storage are forever elided.

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (1)

powerspike (729889) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420129)

The Real Problem is, it can't be cheap, as if the wind stops, something has to generate the the power like gas turbines, which are expensive. We need some form of baseline renewable energy. Until we get that every solution we come up with is going to be expensive due to having to have to supplement the power when the primary energy driver stops (ie wind/solar/waves/etc).

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420321)

It's also important to note that you can have supply following loads. So if you're wind farm is not producing much power your load ramps down it's work.

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420337)

The necessity you imply just ain't so.

Reserve is always carried because even nuke and coal and gas plants go off line unexpectedly: I think our (near) biggest nuke in the UK may be running at a capacity factor of ~60% over the last couple of years having tripped out again very recently; only twice as much as wind for example. We don't cover every nuke plant with 100% gas backup.

We have to learn to cut our suit to fit our cloth better: learn to use energy when it's abundant and trim our usage when energy is scarce. It's called conservation and demand control.

There's a lot of room for fat trimming in Europe and much more so in the US. Then that 30%-capacity factor wind is looking more like 60%.

Rgds

Damon

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (1)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39423883)

The necessity you imply just ain't so.

Reserve is always carried because even nuke and coal and gas plants go off line unexpectedly: I think our (near) biggest nuke in the UK may be running at a capacity factor of ~60% over the last couple of years having tripped out again very recently; only twice as much as wind for example. We don't cover every nuke plant with 100% gas backup.

But you have to cover wind with 100% backup capability, full stop.

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39424223)

No.

Wind is good for 10%--15% baseload IIRC.

So at most you need to cover about 90%; there's demand management, etc, too.

Rgds

Damon

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (3, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39421463)

The base load problem is a myth. It's an artifact of the fact that today, renewables are a small fraction of the total power stream. If you have a diverse enough set of large enough, widely-spaced enough power sources, you can ensure that at least a few are producing enough power to run the country. Any minor gaps can be filled in by voluntary demand reduction and intermittent / pumped hydro.

The myth of the "myth" (3, Insightful)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39423905)

If there were a real business case for this, we would already be switching over to it.

This is no "myth", it is a real consequence of energy diffuseness and intermittance. All pitches for renewables for baseload always end in the punchline, "And we could do it today, if only we find the political will." N.b., the key word "political". That is, the author wishes to force their ineffective, uneconomic solution upon everyone else.

Hidden from view, of course, is the fact that switching to these energy sources will impoverish anyone dumb enough to use them.

Re:The myth of the "myth" (1)

olau (314197) | more than 2 years ago | (#39425511)

If there were a real business case for this, we would already be switching over to it.

You are conveniently ignoring externalities here and direct and indirect (like wars) government subsidies. Noone is denying it will cost more right now. But you know what? There's more to life than money.

Hidden from view, of course, is the fact that switching to these energy sources will impoverish anyone dumb enough to use them.

That's hyperbole. You are not going to be impoverished from switching to other energy sources. Some renewable sources are not that far from being competitive these days. And the price is going down.

Re:The myth of the "myth" (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39425781)

All pitches for renewables for baseload always end in the punchline, "And we could do it today, if only we find the political will." N.b., the key word "political". That is, the author wishes to force their ineffective, uneconomic solution upon everyone else.

Which is the same punchline nuclear pitches end with. What is your point? Aside from coal and gas pretty much all sources of energy need subsidy.

Hidden from view, of course, is the fact that switching to these energy sources will impoverish anyone dumb enough to use them.

Germany rolled the dice, let's see if that happens to them in the next decade, shall we?

Re:The myth of the "myth" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39427371)

Which is the same punchline nuclear pitches end with. What is your point? Aside from coal and gas pretty much all sources of energy need subsidy.

No! Not even close to being accurate. Nuclear is needlessly MORE expensive and dangerous BECAUSE of politics created by ignorant anti-nukers. Right now we are living in a world of self-fulfilling prophecy [wikipedia.org] created by anti-nukers. If anti-nukers would just shut the hell up and go home, over time, the world would become a far safer and less expensive place to live.

Re:The myth of the "myth" (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39435927)

Not my pitch. Mine ends with the punchline: "and we would do it today, if only fossil fuel weren't so cheap."

We can argue all day about "political will", but I can say with absolute certainty that fossil fuel won't always be this cheap.

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (3, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420311)

Yep. Without subsidies, wind is not economically viable at present -- probably never will be. A lot of people are making good money from the subsidies right now, including even (in Europe) being paid not to operate the farms.

What people seem to forget is that this was also politically-fashionable in the 80's for a while too, there's plenty of rusting turbine hulks in California and Hawaii -- albeit of less efficient machines. When wind finally runs out of subsidies, it will die another death -- just like the last time.

There are better, more efficient, sustainable sources of energy out there. Just all the money's being wasted on wind right now, because that's where the free lunch is. This is not a good thing.

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420551)

Not sure which better, more sustainable things there are. Solar? Nuclear? We've already damned up just about every river, so there's not much more hydro to utilize.

Sources I know about: coal, natural gas, oil, hydro, geo-thermal, nuclear, solar - both mirror based and "traditional" solar cell based, wind. Feel free to supply any I've forgotten.

Coal, even "clean" coal is generally looked at as a dirty energy source. We're about tapped out on Hydro, far as I know, and it has significant environmental impacts. I'm not sure where we are on geo-thermal or what the environmental impacts are with this. Natural gas is fairly abundant, but there are grave concerns about the new fracking processes being employed, and the fact that the companies don't even have to disclose the "secret" chemical soups they're using. Oil is environmentally, monetarily, politically costly, and costly in human lives. Nuclear has potential - it's not renewable, but it provides a lot of energy per plant. Of course, the downsides are fairly well publicized.

That leaves us with solar, which, if I'm not mistaken, costs more than wind. On the other hand, in the deserts of Eastern CA and Nevada, it's at least a more predictable energy source than wind. It also has the potential of storing some of its energy via large vats of liquid salt so, with more $$$, it can even generate energy at night. I wouldn't say that acres of land devoted to mirrors and a tower is any more unsightly than a mere tower with propellers, but that's just me. At least the sites are not located where many people are likely to be situated.

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (4, Insightful)

Dr. Tom (23206) | more than 2 years ago | (#39421965)

The interstate highway system wouldn't have been built without govt money, but I think people find it useful now. Once there are enough turbines generating power people will probably forget who built the farms, like they seem to forget who built the roads, and the sewers, and GPS, and etc., etc.
Just because it's costing taxpayer money now doesn't make it bad. Not to mention that apparently the oil industry is still getting handouts from the govt which they don't need.

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (4, Informative)

mathmathrevolution (813581) | more than 2 years ago | (#39423313)

Wind is already viable. I'm on the east coast and using 100% wind energy and marginal cost is a few bucks per month. It's a small price to pay for clean air. You can find a clean energy provider in your area from this useful page by the Department of Energy [energy.gov] .

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39425835)

what do you do for power when its not windy?

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39425759)

The subsidies are far lower than nuclear. 60+ years down the line and it still isn't economically viable without government support. Wind, on the other hand, will cross the threshold for non-subsidised profitability within a decade by most estimates.

Most major new tech needs government support to get going, but some of it never learns to walk on its own.

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (1)

mk1004 (2488060) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428399)

IIRC, subsidies for wind power that work out to less than $0.02/kWh makes all the difference between private companies starting wind projects or not. So it seems to me that wind is pretty close to being economically viable, and will eventually get there when the costs for producing coal/gas/oil gets high enough, considering that it's getting harder to extract those resources.

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (3, Interesting)

Alioth (221270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39424823)

From the point of view of the UK National Grid, wind is NOT considered intermittent. But nuclear is. Why?

From a grid management perspective, if your wind farms are generating 2GW of power now, they will likely be generating 2GW or very near that in 20 minutes time, and it's very predictable over the next few hours what the wind generation is going to do.

However, Sizewell B could go offline in 2 minutes time meaning the grid suddenly loses well over 1GW of generating capacity in one sudden, enormous hit. This never happens with wind, because it's generated by thousands of small generators instead of one huge one, and the wind never *suddenly* stops, it always takes a few hours for the wind to slow down so you have plenty of notice. But you won't have any notice of a sudden shutdown of a large coal or nuclear power station, so you must keep enough spinning reserve online to cope with the possible sudden failure of one or more large power stations. If you don't have enough spinning reserve, well, you end up with something like the great north east blackout a few years ago in the United States if a large power station goes offline.

Re:More from the Oxymoron Dep't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39426077)

Total nonsense as a generalization. The wind can vary up or down by 100% within a few minutes -- something that can be demonstrated with any long term weather station. Sure, taking out a large plant is a big problem -- but so would crashing an airplane through a transmission line. And the last big blackout around here was triggered by poor tree trimming combined with a computer failure -- that caused a catastrophic grid failure even though all the generators were fine.

NIMBY (4, Interesting)

trongey (21550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420157)

As always, nobody wants this stuff where they will have to look at it. Then there's the political brilliance in the linked article: "...the advantage of sharing costs across several states, potentially increasing political support for the plan." Yeah, a bunch of New England states are gonna jump at the chance to pay for something that benefits other states.

Re:NIMBY (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420531)

As always, nobody wants this stuff where they will have to look at it.

How do you know? Cape Cod isn't a single person. Maybe the people who don't want a wind farm anywhere near it are the "drill baby drill!" crowd.

Re:NIMBY (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420729)

Lots of people like how wind farms look. Rich north eastern Americans seem to be an exception, not the rule.

Re:NIMBY (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39421377)

This AC is not rich, lives on Cape Cod about five miles from proposed site, and is not a fan of the plan. Even if it did "look nice" the idea of my already-high energy rates going up because private entrepreneurs came up with yet another get-rich-quick scheme at our expense displeases me. It comes down to this: public waters given away to private individuals who will receive buckets of our cash for it. And in a decade when wind power is made obsolete by better technologies, they're gonna hand us the bag.

Re:NIMBY (1)

mathmathrevolution (813581) | more than 2 years ago | (#39423351)

Wow then you must really hate fossil fuels, what with all those public lands being opened to private entities who receive buckets of our cash for it. And in a decade when fossil fuels are made obsolete by better technologies, they're going hand us the bag.

Re:NIMBY (2)

Dr. Tom (23206) | more than 2 years ago | (#39421819)

The people who say wind farms are eyesores are the same people who call CFL bulbs "pigtails". It's just propaganda. The fact is wind farms are much nicer to look at than supertankers leaking crude.

Other windspeed data sources (5, Interesting)

Captainmarts (2530504) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420197)

I wonder whether they have considered using the WINDCSAN dataset. It's what I worked on for a couple of years developing much greater accuracies for offshore windspeeds than modelled data - and more accurate than the raw NASA data. We managed to achieve 95% accuracy when compared to in situ metmasts, far better than the 80% accuracy with the raw data. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WindScan [wikipedia.org]

Re:Other windspeed data sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39421467)

wtf is this, you cannot be more accurate than a dataset. a prediction cannot exceed the source data from which it is created.

you could create a model that has higher correlations with the NASA dataset than the WINDSCAN, but that only means you are specializing on one, rather than the other.

climate data prediction probably relies on decades of data, and decades of verification. just because something is good for year 1, doesn't mean shit.

Cheap and Wid Energy In Same Sentance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420205)

If the truth doesn't fit you. agenda...lie.

Beauty in the Beholder's Eye (1)

baudilus (665036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420219)

The visual appeal is subjective at best - I for one think that offshore wind farms are very cool looking and wouldn't mind seeing a line of turbines off in the distance when I walk out of my backyard and onto my pier.

This overwhelming sense of peace and contentment is probably because I have a mansion in Nantucket with a private pier.

Re:Beauty in the Beholder's Eye (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39424787)

Exactly! I for one cannot simply understand why Wind turbines look "ugly". You mean to tell me that coal-based, smoke spewing plant looks less ugly?

An ILL Wind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420257)

Problem with wind power anywhere is that it tends to blow when the power is not needed. Faking it out by using backup power to fill in the blanks when the wind shifts or dies is not particularly 'green' (in Ontario there has been a quiet but massive deployment of gas turbine generator plants). So with no way to store it and a statutory commitment to buy it when available, not when needed, Ontario follows everyone else with massive costs to pay others to take un-needed wind electricity. And there is another dirty little secret -- because the wind plants interfere with atmospheric mixing, downwind tends to be warmer and drier than it was before. And since ALL energy sources are renewable -- some one has to wait longer for than others, the problem is overrunning the renewal rate of the resource. But people are good at that...

They didn't use weather modeling (1, Informative)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39420393)

They used weather statistics to model their theoretical windfarms.

Re:They didn't use weather modeling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420611)

They used weather statistics to model their theoretical windfarms

From the article, emphasis mine:

The study used the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF)-Advanced Research WRF (WRF-ARW) mesoscale weather model [Skamarock et al., 2008] at high resolution (5 Ã-- 5 km2), reinitialized every four days with the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR).

Tehachapi pass Wind Farm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39420977)

TWF is 3 times the size of any other wind farm in the US and as I recall the second largest in the world at over 50 square miles. On just about any average day a quick scan over the horizon will show a very small number of them actually turning, even on a windy day. The three units in the center of town, turned on mayb e 1-2 hours in 3 days. I couldn't miss seeing them since they were directly outside my hotel room window.

Wind power is costly (rare earth metals from China in the turbines), requires thousands of acres of land, provides sporadic power (unlike a solar trough there is *no* storage of overage or underage), and in the case of TWF, most of the benefit is not even provided to the local area. One look at the city of Tehachapi will show this local "benefit" since virtually all the power goes somewhere else. The only real benefit is the contractors who stay in hotels in the town but surpisingly the city residents don't receive lower electric rates from SOCAL Edison and the public lands that could have been used for literally anything else were sold in parcels to the electric company. If you add in the real estate, turbine, maintenance, and other costs I would imagine that PPW is likely more costly than a nuclear station. The current situation for SOCAL Edison seems to support this since most of the power comes from the San Onofre reactor complex and not TWF. The economic reality is more valid a point than any political debate about wind power - the value just isn't there. If it was, we'd see every turbine turning if there was enough of a breeze 24/7 365.5 days a year and electric rates in the SOCAL Edison area dropping.

Re:Tehachapi pass Wind Farm (1)

grep_rocks (1182831) | more than 2 years ago | (#39428489)

You can store wind power or any other intermittent power source by pumping water uphill of a dam and then running the dam down when the wind is not blowing, there are losses but the energy can be stored

What about Lake Michigan? (2)

Randym (25779) | more than 2 years ago | (#39423831)

...a team of engineers at Stanford has harnessed a sophisticated weather model to recommend optimal placement of four interconnected wind farms off the coast of the Eastern United States...

This map indicates that Michigan has wind resources consistent with community-scale production. The map shows that the land-based community-scale wind resources in Michigan are concentrated along the immediate shores of the Great Lakes (especially Lakes Michigan and Superior) and on islands. The Great Lakes themselves have good-to-outstanding wind resource.

http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/maps_template.asp?stateab=mi

Chicago (and Northern Illinois, Northern Indiana, Southern Wisconsin, and Western Michigan) would certainly benefit from these wind farms in Lake Michigan; they could be placed far enough from shore so that there is no 'Nantucket problem'.

WHAT 'harmful greenhouse gases'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39425693)

www.climatedepot.com

Add in the fact that wind energy is not viable, and has to be heavily subsidised (that means 'paid for by the taxpayer' or it can't 'compete' in the marketplace), and we have another load of bunkum.

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