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Wind Power Falls Under $0.01/kwh

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the hey-it's-breezy-in-here dept.

The Almighty Buck 1064

js7a writes "Colorado State University's Rocky Mountain Collegian reports that, "as of June [the price of wind power] dropped to 1 cent per kWh." Even without further expected improvements in turbine technology, the U.S. would now need to use less than 3% of its farmland to get 95% of its electricity demand satisfied by wind power. Plus, wind power is the only mitigation of global warming, because if the whole world converted to wind power in 15 years, the amount of power being extracted from the atmosphere would be more than the increase in greenhouse gas atmospheric energy forcing since 1600. Don't say goodbye to coal and oil, yet, though; unless cell technology increases substantially, when we run out of oil we will convert coal to synthetic fuel." Update: 09/15 13:40 GMT by T : Note: the "1 cent" figure refers to the premium paid for the power over conventionally supplied electricity, rather than the final per-kWh price.

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1064 comments

Power Company Web Worth a Visit (5, Informative)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10251980)

I went to the Platte River Power Authority site and found a table entitled Monthly Wind Speed and Performance Data 2004. It is interesting to see the variations, which are not small, from month-to-month. For example, January saw two millon kWh of energy produced and an average wind speed of 27.8 mph versus July which showed about 820,000 kWh and 13 mph.

The wind energy is not exactly bought directly, though:

Platte River is a community-owned, wholesale power supplier to the cities of Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, and the Town of Estes Park. You can sign up for the wind program in any of these communities, and the wind energy you receive will come from Platte River's Medicine Bow Wind Project.

As regarding fulfilling a great deal of energy needs from wind their website has this to say:

While it is theoretically possible to produce enough energy from wind turbines to supply all our needs, it's not technically feasible at present. This is because wind is an "intermittent" resource, i.e., the wind doesn't blow all the time. Since electricity can't be stored in large amounts, we still need other resources to ensure that energy is available when people need to use it. Research continues on the effect of wind generation on electric system reliability. A recent study of California wind farms found that wind can make up as much as 10% of total electricity capacity without significantly impacting the reliability of the electric grid.

I found the web site for the energy company to be a pretty interesting place to get a fair amount of detail about how an energy company harnesses energy from the wind and blends into their grid.

Cheers,

Erick

Re:Power Company Web Worth a Visit (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252005)

wind doesn't blow all the time

Mussttt.... rrrreesssissstttt

Re:Power Company Web Worth a Visit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252165)

Not perhaps what you were thinking, but I'll step in:

Your mom blows

Re:Power Company Web Worth a Visit (4, Interesting)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252036)

Since electricity can't be stored in large amounts

Could hydrogen fuel cells potentially change this?

Not right now... (2, Insightful)

Goonie (8651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252071)

Sure, and fusion power, solar power satellites, or artificial photosynthesis could make the whole discussion moot in a couple of decades. Right now, no.

Re:Power Company Web Worth a Visit (4, Interesting)

SheldonYoung (25077) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252080)

Since electricity can't be stored in large amounts, we still need other resources to ensure that energy is available when people need to use it.

Use the power to pump water uphill and store it in a reservoir or heat a large amount of water. There are plenty of ways to store large amounts of electricity.

Re:Power Company Web Worth a Visit (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252146)

Use the power to pump water uphill and store it in a reservoir or heat a large amount of water. There are plenty of ways to store large amounts of electricity.

Which is dandy if you've got someplace to store the water (for starters).

There are plenty of ways to store electricity, sure. The problem is finding cost-effective ways of storing electricity.

-jcr

Re:Power Company Web Worth a Visit (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252171)

Young man, we obey the laws of thermodynamics in this household! Each time we convert the energy we lose a little (or alot depending on the method employed.) Therefore, these types of storage systems are suboptimal. Say you lost 2% on each side of the transfer, you end up with a net loss of 4%, and this is not including loss across the transmission lines and after a while these seemingly small losses add up and you're sitting at an overall efficiency somewhere in the 70-80% range.

So yes, you can store it, but you will lose alot of it in the process.

There's a downside to everything.... (2, Funny)

hugesmile (587771) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252126)

Boy, I don't know...

Imagine 3% of U.S. farmlands with windmills on them. All of the sudden, the wind is slowed down because it has to turn numerous giant windmills. This could cause global weather changes that we cannot even predict. All of the sudden, the East Coast of the US has no wind, and smog and heat becomes unbearable.

Of course, I am making this up, but I contend that there are sides of this issue that will appear later that we cannot imagine. Yes, worthy of further exploration, but possibly a panacea...

FIRST POST! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10251987)

Verily, I claim this first post in the name of the dead, charred monkeys of doom!

GNAA Launches Attack on Slashdot Parent Company (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10251988)


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Misleading title (5, Insightful)

adoll (184191) | more than 9 years ago | (#10251994)

This is a subsidized price. The article says students can pay this, but it doesn't say what the cost is to produce the power. I expect that even at $0.045/kWh the payback on the windmills is 15 years.

-AD

Re:Misleading title (5, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252016)

Very misleading. If wind power costs less than fossil fuels to produce, then the change will not require any political willpower at all. Energy companies will all switch in an instant. All this is telling me is that the cost of wind is HEAVILY subsidized right now, which is complete stupidity.

Re:Misleading title (4, Informative)

adoll (184191) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252094)

Offshore Wind Energy [offshorewindenergy.org] report by Deltf Univ, Netherlands, on the economics of a wind power system offshore in Europe.

Page 5 gives the cost of producing power, including capital costs, at Eur 0.051/kWh (~5.5 US cents/kWhr). This gives a payback of about 7-8 years. So, NO, the power doesn't cost USD0.01/kWh.

-AD

Re:Misleading title (5, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252119)

Of course the price of oil is heavily subsidized as well. In order to keep the oil flowing, much of the US military is currently stationed in the Middle East to enforce relative stability in the region. The huge costs of this effort are charged to the taxpayers rather than being added directly to the price of oil.

Re:Misleading title (4, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252150)

It has been about 8 years since I lived in Ft. Collings, but the power was not subsidized. We paid extra for it initially (about 12 years ago), and about the time that I left Ft. Collins, the price was plummeting.

The real problem is not the price / KwH, but the fact that it is intermittant. In Colorado, we are one of the better states for energy/power esp with wind, but it still is intermittant. Until we create low cost energy storage this will not be truely viable

Re:Misleading title (1)

Lies of Society (811253) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252152)

Not only that, but no one seems to have considered just how many of these wind turbines it takes to generated a KW and how much space they take up compared to a Gas or Oil plant.

First post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10251995)

...that is, if you sort by Latest First.

Oh yeah baby, props to me!!!

My 2 kwh (5, Insightful)

joeldixon66 (808412) | more than 9 years ago | (#10251996)

From the article: "If you have any interest in our environment, it only makes sense to put out the little cost that it takes," Travis Kimball said. "It's the absolute least you could do."

No, the absolute least you could do is nothing - which most of the Colorado residents are doing it seems. While it doesn't surprise me that initial takeup is going slow, it is a little disappointing. Giving uni students the choice is a good start, but Mr. Citizen would probably be more likely to spend the extra money on a bigger TV - than cleaner electricity.

Re:My 2 kwh (1)

Veridium (752431) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252138)

That's a major problem in our area with solar. Everyones got a fricking pool(we don't) and nobody has solar power anything. We're getting read to refi to install a solar system. I should add, I live in a desert, so solar power is extremely attractive. ROI is realized in a few years, especially with state refunds for the equipment.

We also have a very large windmill farm near us...
http://www.palmsprings.com/services/wind.html [palmsprings.com]

If people did the math in this area, they'd be buying solar systems before pools.

I've actually... (2, Interesting)

Judg3 (88435) | more than 9 years ago | (#10251997)

...started looking into Wind power recently.

Nothing big mind you, but I'd like to get a cabin up north in the middle of nowhere, and I'd love to power it via wind. Sure, generators are a possibility but all the noise sort of destroys my reason to go out there - to commute with nature.
Plus, I wouldn't have to worry about bringing fuel with me at all either - just let the wind do it.

Aye... (1)

Vthornheart (745224) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252007)

There are some places where wind pretty much comes constantly... and at that point, Wind Power can be as close to reliable as it's gonna get.

I find that the middle of nowhere tends to be a windswept, dry and lifeless place... as such, it could be perfect! ;)

Re:I've actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252009)

"commute" with nature? How american, you can't even get rid of your SUVs when you go bush. The rest of us prefer to ditch the trappings of consumerism you all bow to and "commune" with nature.

Er... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252015)

I believe you mean commune. I'm not sure how you could commute with nature, except maybe you could ride the deer into work?

Probably break it's back... while you're at it you might as well get a big hammer and break open the scuttling red crabs.

Re:I've actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252048)

Sure, generators are a possibility but all the noise sort of destroys my reason to go out there - to commute with nature.

Do you need a permit for that?

Re:I've actually... (2, Informative)

niktesla (761443) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252067)

You can find a lot of useful information about homebuilt wind generators here [otherpower.com]. I'm also thinking of doing something similar to this someday when I get the time for it.

Re:I've actually... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252115)

You really gotta love all the grammarians here on Slashdot. One wonders if they put the same care into their own words as they do yours.

The Problem Is... (2, Interesting)

simetra (155655) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252003)

Nothing is free. If you slow down the wind with these turbines (energy lost when wind is converted to electricity), what effect with this have on the weather patterns?


Re:The Problem Is... (2, Interesting)

celeritas_2 (750289) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252013)

I read somewhere that in the UK somwhere a large wind farm appeared to change the local climate making it colder and dryer. Maybe a fluke, maybe a problem, but before we put too much in we should try to understand the effects more.

Re:The Problem Is... (4, Interesting)

AltaMannen (568693) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252160)

You're suggesting that we should take caution before using wind power because it can change the local climate as opposed to fossil fuels?

Re:The Problem Is... (1)

kjamez (10960) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252023)

i'd thought about that myself, and found somewhere a wonderful explanation about that being the reason the arms of the turbine are so skinny and rows are staggered to minimize impact and maximize return.

Re:The Problem Is... (4, Informative)

Capt'n Hector (650760) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252031)

Well the theory is that with global warming, weather becomes more severe. That is, with more energy being dumped into the atmosphere, more water evaporates from the ocean at a faster rate which results in more circulation, etc etc. Wind power will *slightly* decrease the severity of the weather, just like the hairs on your arm keep a strong wind from making you too cold.

Re:The Problem Is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252035)

Or the birds, the big ones are known to kill all the birds around them.
-James

Re:The Problem Is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252042)

$mediawhore will just have to talk more.

Re:The Problem Is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252053)

ground based obstacles can disrupt tornado formation.

Re:The Problem Is... (2, Insightful)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252054)

I'm willing to be that the effect is negligible, or at the very least much less disruptive than the global warming caused by the fossil fuel burning that the wind power replaces...

Re:The Problem Is... (2, Insightful)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252096)

As auxillary power, even on a national/global scale, nothing bad. As backup power, I do appreciate wind power. However, the "save the earth" hippies don't understand, it can't be more than that. Or it could have significant effects. Just like hydroelectric does, this would change something horribly, I feel, if we were to set up wind farms big enough to provide the majority of our power.

We need fusion. There is no excuse for the minimalistic funding fusion research gets. And in the meantime, we need to seriously consider fission.

Re:The Problem Is... (1)

raodin (708903) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252108)

Better cut down all those trees and level all those mountians, after all, they're slowing down the wind too.

Re:The Problem Is... (0, Flamebait)

MrLint (519792) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252110)

I also thought about this and then toss is out as claptrap. i very much doubt that even if human were to erect a single mountain it would have much effect on wind patterns. Besides no one gives a rat ass about how all the skyscrapers in manhattan changed wind patterns.

In any case as much of the US farmland is in the tornado belt, how does one deal with the inevitable of a tornado cutting a swath across the power production grid? There will likely still need to be some kinda of non-decentralized backup. If we were to go all wind/solar the only reasonable backup would be nuclear as the fossil fuel plants would end up being shut down

In the noise so to speak (1)

Camel Pilot (78781) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252111)

I would suspect that a row of wind turbines would be no more disruptive then say a row of trees or forest.

So it would be permissible to put up a wind farm only if you cut down some of your trees :)

Or turn it around, if you cut down your forests then you must replace it with a wind farm!

Re:The Problem Is... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252129)

There should be almost no effect on weather patterns even if you covered the earth with windmills sufficient to meet our current energy needs. Well over 99% of the wind energy is distributed above 200' AGL.

Hmm (4, Insightful)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252006)

the U.S. would now need to use less than 3% of its farmland to get 95% of its electricity demand satisfied by wind power

Does that take into account the amount of energy lost when transporting electricity from the point of generation (farmland) to the point of use (everywhere except farmland)? Also what would the monetary cost of doing this be?

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252047)

Where on earth did they get this 95% electricity demand number from?

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252114)

You do know that 75% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

Re:Hmm (1)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252164)

You know... come to think of it, that's probably a better question than the one I asked.

Re:Hmm (0, Flamebait)

Guano_Jim (157555) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252049)

Also what would the monetary cost of doing this be?

I'm guessing that it's going to cost less than the price of the war in Iraq. 87 Billion and counting would supply plenty of turbines and lots of dandy infrastructure to move the energy around.

And it would have the added benefit of killing significantly fewer people.

I hope (1)

MC68040 (462186) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252011)

"unless cell technology increases substantially, when we run out of oil we will convert coal to synthetic fuel." that at least the synthetic fuel will be more environmentally friendly than coal and oil then =)

Re:I hope (1)

bofkentucky (555107) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252102)

What kind of crack are you smoking
$Hydrocarbon + 02 = CO2 + H20

/. needs an idiot filter on at least the science section, I expect crap in the YRO and Politics section, not here.

Nice on paper (2, Interesting)

Apreche (239272) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252020)

This is really nice on paper. However, wind power isn't all its cracked up to be. First off, you don't want power output to rely too heavily on weather conditions. I want my electricity to be stable. Not that what we have now is stable either...

Also, there are definite weather and atmospheric side effects of absorbing all that wind power into giant fans.

Hey, there's a lot of wind down south now. Why don't they run down there and setup some turbines tonight so tommorow we can get a bunch of free juice?

Re:Nice on paper (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252073)

First off, you don't want power output to rely too heavily on weather conditions. I want my electricity to be stable.

There is a potential for this... perhaps, just perhaps, the power harvested from windmills can provide a way to produce/refine hydrogen. This could be substantial.

Also, there are definite weather and atmospheric side effects of absorbing all that wind power into giant fans.

I can't imagine that it's much different than a large forest's effect on wind. In this way we already may have a model of the local environmental effects of a large windfarm.

Re:Nice on paper (1)

sm3ggy (790661) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252075)

Yeha, IMO Hydro Power is the one that should be investigated more. Provided the infrastructure is setup right it can provide alot more power at cheaper price. Wind Power has many disadvantages (ugly, loud, needs lots of turbines, the noise can be harmful).

Re:Nice on paper (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252090)

First off, you don't want power output to rely too heavily on weather conditions. I want my electricity to be stable. Not that what we have now is stable either...


Also, there are definite weather and atmospheric side effects of absorbing all that wind power into giant fans.


All I've heard is unsubstantiated claims on Slashdot. Care to back that up?


There are definite weather and atmospheric side effects to burning fossil fuel and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The more renewable power we get going, the less fossil fuel we need to burn.

Re:Nice on paper (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252105)

If what we have now isn't stable in your book, this shouldn't impact it too much, right? I mean, the advantage of wind is that you diversify your stations across many regions with different weather patterns in each, so your wind power production as a total isn't particularly impacted. If you have ten generating areas, each with suitable wind 70% of the time, you can build to meet your capacity at any given point.

Regarding atmospheric affects, we've had much stronger weather lately, taking some of that energy out of the air might not be a bad thing.

Re:Nice on paper (3, Informative)

thpr (786837) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252113)

First off, you don't want power output to rely too heavily on weather conditions. I want my electricity to be stable. Not that what we have now is stable either...

There are actually reasonable solutions to this. First, you can store the energy. There are already wind turbines in California that split water at night into hydrogen and oxygen and then convert that back to energy (using a fuel cell) during the day. Expensive as all get-out (in terms of capital cost, not variable cost); but it works.

Since one of the best regions for sustained winds is in the Dakotas (North Central USA, for those Americans who don't know their geography), it could be converted to hydrogen and then piped somewhere (most likely Chicago) for conversion to power. The challenge with this method is that Hydrogen (being such a small molecule) donsn't like to stay in pipelines. It may be better to steam reform carbon dioxide into Methane and then put the methane into our existing pipeline infrastructure.

In other words, stability isn't a problem, as you can use other methods. While it does decrease efficiency (going back and forth between electricity and chemical storage of energy is wasteful!) it STILL has less of an environmental impact than oil.

sorry (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252021)

Windmills kill birds. Can't use that.

Re:sorry (2, Interesting)

celeritas_2 (750289) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252044)

How many birds, and can it be prevented? Though it is possibly a problem. Take everything into account. Cars kill deer, lets not use them either [troll sarcasm]

Still Breeds Polution (1, Troll)

Anonymous Squonk (128339) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252029)

In the form of Noise Pollution. Ever been close to a big windmill? Those suckers are loud!

At least a nuclear plant only makes its presence known to the locals when something goes wrong...

Re:Still Breeds Polution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252074)

Well if it only takes 3% of the farmland, i dont think that would be a problem, just set a few reserved places away from people. Or kick everyone out of florida and convert it into a power plant.. plus when the hurricanes come we'll get even more power =P

Re:Still Breeds Polution (1)

adoll (184191) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252109)

And pollution to build the turbines. Think mining, smelting, carbon fibre production, transportation, maintenance...

-AD

Bull! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252032)

It's bull, has been and will be. We may, as a hypotheses, be able to generate 90% of the power the US needs. But that is ONLY if the Wind is blowing ALL day, EVERY day!

And guess what, the demand changes by the minute, any ALL the extra power they may generate over the demand is LOST. We can not come even close to storing enough of if to be efficient. It's an insurmountable engineering problem that is bound by the laws of physics.

Mod me down if you want, by I'll still be right.

--Tyler
http://reddun.blogspot.com/

Re:Bull! (1)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252089)

But that is ONLY if the Wind is blowing ALL day, EVERY day!

Move up north here to North Dakota. We are officially the windiest state, if it drops down to 10-15 mph that is considered calm. 5 mph is dead calm, very rare indeed...

Doesn't blow when you need it (1)

adoll (184191) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252170)

Like when it is -30 degrees in Alberta, tends to be quite calm in an arctic Low pressure system. Same when we cook in the summer with +30 degree (C) temps. If the wind ain't blowing, then we still need Genesse [cim.org] running.

Before you jump onto the Wind Powered Band Wagon.. (5, Informative)

Jettamann (25050) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252043)

... Watch this the next time it is broadcast on your local PBS station.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/extremeoil/

I wathced this last night..

Oil is going to be arround a lot longer then you think...

Re:Before you jump onto the Wind Powered Band Wago (4, Insightful)

celeritas_2 (750289) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252061)

Oil is going to be around a lot longer, there are massive deposits too far away to reach. But the question is can we survive with all that carbon in the atmosphere?

Re:Before you jump onto the Wind Powered Band Wago (2, Interesting)

CleverMonkey (62124) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252103)

I was wondering about this. Seems to me that all the carbon currently sequestered in fossil fuels was probably part of the atmosphere initially (seems like CO/CO2 are part of the primordial ooze). So, basically it was the rise of photosynthesizers which created the oxygen atmosphere and removed the CO2 from the air. All we're doing is putting it back. No less "natural" than the removal, but possibly very detrimental to our health.

Is that the full cost or the extra cost? (4, Interesting)

Goonie (8651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252057)

I buy green power here in Australia. The base cost of electricity here is about 10 cents (US) per kilowatt hour, and you pay about a 2 US cent premium for green power. I very much doubt that energy is 90% cheaper in the US than it is here.

Oh, and for the millionth time, would the proponents of wind power factor in the cost of energy storage into their ridiculous claims that it's possible to affordably replace fossil fuel and nuclear generators with wind right now?

Re:Is that the full cost or the extra cost? (3, Informative)

CleverMonkey (62124) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252142)

Yup. You are absolutely right - although the submitter, the poster and the original article don't make it clear 0.01$ is the PREMIUM for green power over traditional fossil fuel power.

This small over-looked fact makes this entire post (and the subsequent /. chatter) rather meaningless. Perhaps a better title for the posting would be "Green/Renewable Power Still More Expensive than Fossil Fuels".

Gak.

lol (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10252058)

lol internet lol

One thing to keep in mind. (0, Troll)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252064)

The energy cost in manufacturing the turbines is greater than the energy gain you get back from them. So all you're doing is shifting the cost to another part of the chain, in accordance with the third law of thermodynamics.

It's probably better to focus on using stored energy more efficiently. There's a lot of waste in coal or oil that could be cut back.

Really? (1)

Goonie (8651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252098)

This claim has been made a lot for solar power (where it's been shown to be wrong) as well as for wind. Would you care to cite a source, please?

3-6 month payback time... (2, Informative)

Goonie (8651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252141)

Sorry to reply to my own comment, but this study [windpower.org] by wind power advocates suggests an energy payback time of three to six months, a small fraction of a windmill's lifetime. Even assuming they're out by an order of magnitude, a turbine should last at least 20 years and so the energy produced is way larger than the energy used to produce the turbine.

translation needed (1)

cosmol (143886) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252077)

can anyone parse this sentence from the write-up and translate it into a readable form for me? Plus, wind power is the only mitigation of global warming, because if the whole world converted to wind power in 15 years, the amount of power being extracted from the atmosphere would be more than the increase in greenhouse gas atmospheric energy forcing since 1600.

That's a fair-sized wind farm (5, Informative)

1984 (56406) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252082)


From the CIA World Factbook, USA:

Land Area: 9,161,923 sq km
Arable Land: 19.3%

So that's 1,768,251 sq km of farmland, 3% of which is 53048 sq km.

Don't want to be down on wind power or anything, but there's still quite the engineering challenge here.

Environmentalists (1)

mauthbaux (652274) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252092)

While converting over to wind power as a main source of energy production may sound appealing, there are still drawbacks. I've heard the argument that so many moving blades can kill off the birds who thought that the top of a windmill might be a good nesting site. And leave it to Americans to start suing everyone around for the damages that the windmills would cause, (from the noise they produce, the dangerous moving blades, or ruining the scenic vista).

Personally, I'm all for converting to wind power. Some complaints and a few dead birds are not detrimental enough to justify the continued use of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, there's alot of people out there looking for something to complain about, and it only takes a hand full of them to stop progress of any sort.

Wind power effect on foul (1)

.aris_ny (780350) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252093)

I'm surpised no one has brought up the fact that these are knowen to chew up bird, i'm sure those tree-huggers are going to have a problem with that

Wind power won't reduce global warming (0)

nuggz (69912) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252100)

Sorry, if we take all this 'energy' out of wind, it won't reduce global warming.
This energy will be released right back into the atmosphere again.

Think about it, turn a turbine, generate electricty, then use that electricity, at ground level.
Your computer, lights, TV, oven, hair curler and nose hair trimmer will all release that electrical power as (mostly) heat back into the same atmosphere you pulled it out of.

Unless we fire the electricity off into space, there is no net energy reduction, hence no long term temperature reduction.

Someone should go take thermo 1. (Or basic physics if you went to a decent high school)

Re:Wind power won't reduce global warming (2, Informative)

pfriedma (725399) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252127)

Global warming is caused more by the release of greenhouse gases which reflect solar energy back to earth than it is due to net thermal release of our appliances into the atmosphere.

Re:Wind power won't reduce global warming (2, Informative)

applemasker (694059) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252133)

I think the point was that wind power will reduce greenhouse gases and other atmospheric pollutants that contribute to global warming (or not, if you ask the White House) that would otherwise be released by obtaining energy from fossil fuels.

Re:Wind power won't reduce global warming (1)

pompomtom (90200) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252153)

You mean it won't reduce global warmth.

Someone should go take thermo 1.

Yeah, and English, while you're there.

Re:Wind power won't reduce global warming (2, Informative)

synthparadox (770735) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252169)

Au contraire. Global warming is the effect of the increase in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. If you decrease the amount of greenhouse gasses, the heat radiates more readily from the Earth.

When you said electricity releases the heat back into the atmosphere, thats somewhat true, but heat naturally radiates from Earth at a pretty high rate. Greenhouse gasses are the important factors in global warming, not energy. When we say we're taking energy from the wind instead of coal or oil, we mean we're not producing the greenhouse gas byproducts.

Can't see this happening... (1)

FiReaNGeL (312636) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252120)

Yeah right, 3% of US Mainland, which needs to be

A- Flat
B- Extra Windy, in an appropriate climate
C- Unpopulated
D- Not TOO far from populated areas.

And as someone mentionned, if you concentrate too much, you could (theorically) alter local climate.

Ecological? Will someone think of the BIRDS? :)

Isn't nuclear clean? Or any number of others? (2, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252128)

IIRC, modern nuclear energy is perfectly clean (Other than the waste, which can be safely stored, and who knows, in the distant future perhaps burning it up in the sun would be cheap enough)... And modern reactor designs seem to have a virtually nil chance of a meltdown. I seem to recall some sort of Canadian reactor that used pebbles of material or something. CANDU reactor or something?

Heck, even Chernobyl only happened because they turned off all the safties; it was an inherantly safe reactor until they manually fucked it up.

Anyhow, nuclear plants don't have to be in farmland (Less power lost on transport), are clean (Perhaps a smaller effect on the environment than wind power?), are safe, and best of all, produce much more stable output.

That and hydro. Which, while it has an impact on the environment when installed, after that it seems to me to be pretty clean. Heck, Quebec serves all of it's millions of people with a few hydro dams, and we have some of the cheapest power costs in North America.

Oh, and there's also the ever increasing efficiency of solar. And heck, while we're at it, fusion will be around eventually, perfectly clean radiation-free energy, as I understand it. Yes, it's far off, but if you invest in a worldwide wind power network only to have fusion come out and be a much better option, that's a huge waste of money. In fact, take the money you would have spent on all those wind generators, and put it into fusion research :p

Just for the record... (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252131)

Don't say goodbye to coal and oil, yet, though; unless cell technology increases substantially, when we run out of oil we will convert coal to synthetic fuel.

Statements like this just bug me, because it's such a fundamental misunderstanding of economics. And this attitude is SO pervasive among the enviro-people.

We will NEVER EVER run out of oil. Never. Ever.

What WILL happen is that eventually oil because more expensive to pull out of the ground as the reserves get lower. At that point, other sources of energy get more economical, and we inevitably switch over.

hot air? (4, Funny)

loid_void (740416) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252135)

And think of all the hot air in Washington that could be put to use just trying to legislate the whole thing.

Why do you need to use turbines? (1)

xyote (598794) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252136)

You could just collect the static charge that wind generates (that's where lightning gets its energy).

Or you could use the Bernoulli effect to force air thru ventiducts so you wouldn't need free standing turbines. (Ok, sounds cool anyway)

the problem is demographic (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252144)

If we had 1/10 the population, we would only need 1/10 the amount of energy. Given that Americans consume energy at the rate of Five Earths, with 1/10 the population, it wouldn't be a problem.

The solution to the pollution and energy problems is to reduce the population. Pure and simple.

Now go out there and ki....

Ki...KI.....KI!!!! PORGIE!!!!!

RS

3%? (5, Funny)

NMSpaz (34277) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252145)

The U.S. would now need to use less than 3% of its farmland to get 95% of its electricity demand satisfied by wind power.
Even less if we put them in Florida...

Butterfly effect (1)

Vulture101 (728858) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252158)

i always wondered, if are going to remove a subtancial qty of energy from wind arent we going to provoque some drastic climate changes too ?

ummm (2, Insightful)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252161)

"Plus, wind power is the only mitigation of global warming, because if the whole world converted to wind power in 15 years, the amount of power being extracted from the atmosphere would be more than the increase in greenhouse gas atmospheric energy forcing since 1600."

Just where did this emptyheaded "fact" come from I wonder. What does this person think happens to the electricity when it's used? Turns into magic pixie dust maybe? Almost all the electricity used today is CONVERTED TO HEAT! The miniscule amount of energy derived from electricity that is actually radiated off of the planet in the form of light(non-IR that is) which could potentially extract energy from the atmosphere and "get rid" of it is totally negligable. The idea that wind power can somehow reverse global warming is so far beyond asinine its hard to put into words.

one cent? not really (2, Informative)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 9 years ago | (#10252162)

According to the State of Wisconsin [mge.com], wind power costs 9 cents versus 4 cents for standard fuels. Of course, this is still cheaper than what people are paying here on the east coast (10-12 cents I would imagine).

if the whole world converted to wind power in 15 years, the amount of power being extracted from the atmosphere would be more than the increase in greenhouse gas atmospheric energy

Awesome.

when we run out of oil we will convert coal to synthetic fuel.

I doubt it. The Germans did this in the 1930's, and it was pretty expensive.

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