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Is Backyard Wind Power Worth It?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the a-mini-holland-without-dikes dept.

475

eldavojohn wonders: "In the October IEEE Spectrum magazine, I read an article on backyard windmills and their growing feasibility. With the lowest model's price tag, it's about $9,000 and lasts for around 100,000 kilowatt-hours (20 year life), which results in 9 cents per kilowatt-hour. Now, the article mentions that if the market takes off, that price will drop. However, I was wondering what price range the windmills would have to fall to (or the energy rates have to rise to) before I could consider this? Well, the price of the windmills in the article are out of my price range right now. I don't imagine many Americans have $8k-$11k laying around and the current month's rates for energy in my neighborhood are 2.2 cents/kWh for the first 800 kWh and 1.2 cents/kWh after. I was wondering what are your thoughts on being an early adopter of wind energy? Do you think that if enough people bought these windmills, the price per kWh could compete with the local power grid's? Will it ever?"

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Is it also worth the drama? (3, Insightful)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308317)

Because some communities tend to be rather picky about what you put up. Even if it's only slightly visible, some drama queen or snooty neighbour may kick up a fuss about it.

Re:Is it also worth the drama? (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308395)

this pic [ieee.org] makes it look fairly attractive. i'm sure there'll be some that complain, but IMO it isnt nearly as ugly and tacky as a flag.

Re:Is it also worth the drama? (1, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308511)

Sorry, but that's hideous. When I think windmill I think of a quaint little old-fashioned thing, and I think 'yeah, I'd put one of those in my yard. It'd look neat.' When I see that thing... Eww. I think even -I'd- complain if I were in an upscale neighborhood and someone put one up.

Re:Is it also worth the drama? (3, Interesting)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308567)

You are so right.
Over here someone went to repaint their house as the CCNRs mandated (in all fairness the paint was looking tired).
Once the painters were out a neighbor threw a fit that the color was too brigt to be allowed. Whole thing ended up on the local news and in court!

The real kicker? The painters were painting the house the exact same friggin shade of color. They color matched to some of the paint under the eves where it was not yet sun-fadded.
There's nothing like putting your foot in a drama queens ass in court, especially when they are the ones pressing charges and the judge holds them down for said foot insertion :-)

Needless to say the home owner won, but they did not get to counter-sue for court costs (so their insurance paid) and their home-owners quietly dropped them after the renewal period the following year was over.
-nB

Re:Is it also worth the drama? (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308717)

This is why we need law changes to prevent homeowners' associations from having so much power over individual properties. It's okay for them to require you to pay into a communal pool for maintenance of shared resources, but beyond that, your home is your castle, and no one should have the right to tell you what you can and cannot do to it, public health and safety laws notwithstanding.

Re:Is it also worth the drama? (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308871)

I think the problem stems from the fact that too many people view their now not only as a home, but also as a financial investment. They're worried that if you paint your garage door flourescent green, then you will bring down the value of their house. I can see their point of view, but a house should not be there just to make money. Buy a house that you like, not one that you think will gain the most value in 3 years so you can sell it and upgrade.

Then sell your home (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309023)

Then don't buy a home where there is a homeowner's association. Sell your home if one gets voted in. Why should the desires of the one automatically outweigh the desires of the many? Especially when the one can simply refuse to play by selling and moving. That's the beauty of the free market: people are free to set up socialist systems such as homeowner's associations within it and you are free to buy into them or not. But you don't have the right to limit the free market by saying people can't do that. Property rights are a deal mutually enforced by property owners, and if other property owners want to say that you have to jump through a flaming hoop into a pile of dog doo before they will honor you property claims, well, what can you do except defend your property yourself.? You want the privilege of being part of a system that defends your property rights? You play by that systems rules, or leave and make your own system. What's that you say? Every place is already owned and encumbered by rules you didn't agree to? Tell that to the vast majority of humans who own no property at all, I'm sure you'll get a lot of sympathy.

Re:Then sell your home (4, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309453)

Sure and we can use this type of thinking to our advantage too. Our home owners association already has stuff in place to keep the poor out. We have rules not particulaly faviorable to blacks unless they are the type who conform to the uncle tom versions of blackness. We have been able to keep the mexicans out and we are working on the jews and extreamly religous christians. I also think some rules are even hostile to foreigners. Of course it was hard to keep the irish and germans out because they adapt so easily but we got that covered too.

So yea, if you don't like it, leave. And we can justify all our positions based on property values and value to potential buyers willing to spend the most money.

Seriously, there are some things a little more important then value of investments. Other people's implied values shouldn't be used as reasoning for limiting someone elses freedoms.

(note, that was a fictional acount but i can easily see how inocent looking rules could work that way. thats the purpose of the home owners association, keeping undesirables out and property values high.)

Re:Is it also worth the drama? (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308849)

That's why one of the things I looked for when buying a house was a home-owner's association- and I avoided the areas that had such stupidity.

But without an association (1)

anomaly (15035) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309387)

I live in a community without a homeowner's association. Some of my neighbors come from cultures where the standard for maintaining a home differs significantly from typical suburban US standards.

When my neighbor began parking his truck in his yard, began storing applicances and garbage in his lawn, installed a new concrete porch without a permit, refused to cut the grass, and ordered a portable storage unit delivered to his house where it has sat in the driveway for more than a year, what is my recourse?

I'm still not anxious to be a part of an HOA, but there are some advantages.

Re:But without an association (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309491)


  Your resourse is to encourage more and more of your neighbors to introduce themselves to such neighbor. To ask him/her why they want to keep such things, to talk though the issues. This is the heart of "neighborhood," which goes beyond just a collective location for people to live. Communication clears things up much faster than not.

Re:Is it also worth the drama? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309063)

Or audible. Most windmills get pretty noisy. I'd kick up a fuss if someone put one too close to me.

Re:Is it also worth the drama? (1)

demigod (20497) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309335)

Most windmills get pretty noisy.

The specs [windside.com] on these claim 0 dB Measured sound emission.

Re:Is it also worth the drama? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16309385)

Oh jebus...that reminds me of the town I'm from in eastern Canada. A new chain grocery store opened up downtown, and they put up this awesome gigantic Canadian flag. Within 24 hours a bunch of people who lived within like 5 blocks were complaining that the soft rustle of this flag sounded like a "gunshot". The flag was never taken down, and the uptight morons finally got used to the idea that sometimes things change.

Re:Is it also worth the drama? (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309427)

Aside from the drama is that health effects of the noise, especially low frequency inaudible sounds, are not well researched. Here in Nova Scotia (Canada), a family has had to move [www.nben.ca] due to this. A reasonably well researched UK report [wind-watch.org] [PDF] also lends some credence to the problem.

The bottom line at the moment is that no one knows.

Solar panels (2, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308319)

I'd rather go with solar panels, though I'm waiting for a breakthrough in technology (higher output, lower prices). A windmill is too big and too much of an eyesore to be installed in backyards.

Re:Solar panels (1)

eric76 (679787) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308823)

Lookout out the windows at home, there are number of large commercial windmills (1.25 megawatt capacity each) to the north, northeast, and east.

I don't see them as an eyesore but I do think they'd look better if they were all painted different colors instead just a boring off-white.

We have a windmill, but it is for a backup water supply, not electricity and is usually used just to water the garden.

Re:Solar panels (5, Interesting)

demigod (20497) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309249)

A windmill is too big and too much of an eyesore to be installed in backyards.

They don't have to be eyesores [windside.com] .

Not the way you described it. (1)

celardore (844933) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308357)

Shell out $9,000 for the ugly windmill in your backyard and have electricity at 4 times the price you currently pay for twenty years? No, that's not worth it at all. Unless of course you are a rich eco-warrior, but you don't see many of those around.

We need more green power, but right now it's not economical for Joe Average. In the future perhaps.

Re:Not the way you described it. (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308529)

4 times the price? Maybe in the US, but here in the third world, 9c/kwh is half what I pay.

Re:Not the way you described it. (1)

celardore (844933) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308661)

Electricity price isn't a concern for me, as it's inclusive in the rent I pay. Which has the negative effect that am not as careful as I would be if I were directly footing the bill myself.

Re:Not the way you described it. (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308775)

Depends on where you live in the US. Electricity in the Pacific Northwest tends to be cheap, the northeast tends to be more expensive.

Re:Not the way you described it. (4, Informative)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308601)

Is .02/KWH right? I just got my bill today and saw that I was billed an "energy cost" of 0.029/kwh for all power over the month + between 2.6 cents and 8.5 cents per kwh depending upon the date (summer/"winter" billing). If my real cost per unit of power is between 5 cents and 10 cents, it's not quite as much of a stretch for spending $9000 on a small windmill. I think that the power company has been taking lessons from the telephone company in producing their billing statements.

Re:Not the way you described it. (1)

dualityshift (1009271) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308735)

That is the sort of attitude that extingushes the renewable energy movement. Thank you for your demonstration. I agree expense is a factor, however, in 100 years, your grandkids will curse your mantra "not economical for Joe Average." as their skn cancers flare up, and lung disease eats away at them.

Re:Not the way you described it. (3, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309275)

The problem with that logic is that you asume those results to be true. This couldn't be more problematic then ever.

First there is no guarentee that outcome will be true even if this stay exactly the same as it is today.

Second, just because the acerage Joe cannot afford it, doesn't mean power companies cannot. It is more likley that power generating companies could asbsorb the costs and distribute it to people it provides power to while keeping the pricing cheaper overall to each user. Also, if power generating companies pick it up, while likley on a larger scale, it could very well reduce the price for the average joe to implement it themselves. Maybe even to a point wer eit could be cheaper then the power companies rates.

Third, the article/submision doesn't acount for unused power that should go back into the grid. The power companies should be paying for this backflow of energy and it would reduce the costs even more to the average joe. possibly making this .09/KWH might actualy be .05 depending on the household usage compared to energy produced.

fourth, Even if the average joe does take this alternative energy up, there is no guarentee that 100 years from now, grand kids won't still have problems with lung disease and skin cancer. We have proven a likly conection but as science insist, they conclusion could change with new evidence.

Fith, I take issue with this do it now, we don't care what it will cost you (even if it bankrupts you or starves your children) additude and then instill some scary scenario that could happen If certain other issues are ignored. It is almost as bad as certain tv preachers claiming god will take his life if you don't donate a certain amounts of money to me. Or even these out of state charities claiming to be supporting fallen law enforcment officers and firefighters making statements like "well, if you don't contribute, they will remeber this when you need thier help" (implying the cops won't protect you or firefighters won't help you next time you need them if you don't give them money now).

Also, for those wantig to take it further, this can be applied to global warming and all the scare threats used there too. It might be one reason why so many americans even though admiting global wamring might exist, question either the facts of global warming itself or the purposed remedies. There are quite a few people who belive global warming is happening but refuse to belive the stated causes or the purposed actions to fix it. This doesn't even begin to address those who think this is some concocted problem designed to get people to by from different forces in the enrgy markets. And yes that could be applies to backyard energy sources too.

Re:Not the way you described it. (3, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308915)

Depends where you live- I want to know where the submitter lives to be getting those prices on residential electricity. Here in Beaverton, OR, I'm paying 8.4c/kwh- this technology looks like it could be attractive as the cost of fuel-based electricity generation goes up. Heck- marry this tech to a Zap Xebra, and you've got independance from the gas station for (within $2000) about the same cost as a Toyota Prius.

Re:Not the way you described it. (2, Insightful)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309089)

9 average for 20 years is pretty good, considering 20 years of fossil-powered electricity will end up costing you 10x that.

I hate to sound like Microsoft, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16308369)

What is the total cost of ownership? When you include maintenance costs (which are significant for any type of power generation) of the wind power unit and associated electrical equipment, it may become much less economical. It might also lower property value for being an eyesore.

To avoid a few flamewars. (5, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308371)

1) No, on a purely financial basis, it probably isn't worth it. (Saves the posts of people doing a detailed analysis.)

2) Yes, it has the non-financial benefit of being earth-friendly, which isn't necessarily captured in a financial analysis. (Saves people from lecturing others that money isn't everything.)

3) Yes, it would probably save you money if the appropriate goods were taxed to reflect their environmental costs. What the appropriate externality compensation would be depends on your ideology, so if you wanted people to use less fuel anyway, you probably think these costs are HUGE.

4) Yes, we know that alone, windmills won't solve all energy problems. No one thinks that.

5) Yes, some birds are killed from these. No one cares, since tall buildings kill a lot more.

Does that about cover it?

To avoid a few shattered nerves. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16308637)

"5) Yes, some birds are killed from these. No one cares, since tall buildings kill a lot more."

When buildings attack! *cue psycho shower scene music*

Re:To avoid a few flamewars. (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308663)

6) Yes there are cheeper and geekier alternatives like the guy who made his own windmill/generator combo from a plywood disk, some rare earth disk magnets, magnet wire and the wheel off an old volvo.

Can't seem to find the link ATM, but I'll keep looking...
-nB

Re:To avoid a few flamewars. (3, Interesting)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308701)

OK, so while I couldn't find it in my bookmarks... A google search of volvo and windmill did nicely.
http://www.otherpower.com/bartmil.html [otherpower.com]

-nB

solw dwon cbowoy i'ts been one minute since your last confession. wait... wrong forum.

Re:To avoid a few flamewars. (0, Redundant)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309007)

You missed #6:

6. Instead of looking at your house energy costs, look at your car. Marry this to a Zap Xebra for your commuting, and ask yourself where else you could get a transportation system for under $19,000 that frees you from sending money to terrorists through the gas pump.

Re:To avoid a few flamewars. (1)

Ignignot (782335) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309455)

Stop being so even handed! This is a slashdot discussion, not a friendly discourse!

Instead say, "think of the children! The environment is so much more important than a few bucks. But the things slaughter birds by the thousands, and so we're going to have to figure something else out!"

worth it... (1)

greywire (78262) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308379)

I think the real question is whether its "worth it" it money terms, because its not, and probably wont be for a long time.

But is it "worth it" in terms of saving the envirionment? Maybe.

Although I think some kind of solar power or fuel power from renewable fuels is a better option right now..

Re:worth it... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16309289)

If you have reasonable wind resources and reasonable solar resources -- then wind wins by about a factor of 2. I won't touch the renewables issue. The best way to go is to increase your efficiency before you spend money trying to generate your own power -- but people don't like to hear that message.

I just want to know where this guy is getting 0.02/kwh. Indianapolis power and light is some of the cheapest elect in the country (my brother does geothermal heating and they are his power co). IPL charges about 0.06/kwh for residential heating. Maybe the OP is math challenged and paying $0.20/kwh (expensive power).

The question with wind power is as much one of resource as it is economics. It doesn't matter if the turbine is rated at 1M kwh if your available wind is only capable of sourcing 100W. Moreover, the bigger the turbine the higher the cut-in speed. A 30kW turbine needs more wind to start up than a 10kW which is more than a 1.5kW. Also, unless you are in a state (like MN, WI) with aggressive net metering legislation the economics may not work out. Also, write to your congress critter: there's a bill up to provide favorable tax treatment for small (100kW) wind configs. I want that legislation because it shifts the balance for a 10kW at my particular location from "works but not a clear winner" to "no-brainer".

For $9k the poster has to be looking in the 1.5kW range for a turbine. The RMS output for those runs around 300W for say class II to class III wind. If it did the math right 0.3kw * 365dpy * 24hpd * 0.02 $/kwh = $52.56. So pay off would be around 171y.
(At 0.2/kwh that would be 17y which is about the common price -- back of the envelope generally turns out that you get "free" power for the last 1/3 to 1/2 of the turbine life span.)

             

Only if there is wind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16308389)

If there is no wind, it doesn't work as well.

Windmill mania (0)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308407)

Well I hate to break it to you but wind "slows down" when it passes through a windmill. The more people in a neighbourhood have one, the less the power produced per household. And this is even the least problem.

A "backyard" is supposedly near lots of houses, trees and what not. Wind will just lose most of its power even before reaching the windmill. Notice how windmills are set up in big plant: there's nothing but grass on the ground. Noone is building cities below.

Imagine your neighbour: "stop stealing my wind you greedy bastard!"

While you're arguing, I'll be enjoying my solar-cell powered home theater just nearby.

Re:Windmill mania (1)

brewer13210 (821462) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308505)

I live in upstate New York, and for six months a year, people are not able to enjoy solar powered anything...but that wind sure does blow.

Re:Windmill mania (1)

bman08 (239376) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308835)

That's funny, I live in central Vermont and we get 80% of the sun that Florida gets. There are plenty of people up here comfortably living off-grid with solar systems.

Re:Windmill mania (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309261)

That's funny, I live in central Vermont and we get 80% of the sun that Florida gets. There are plenty of people up here comfortably living off-grid with solar systems.

Actually, New York state is significantly worse than Vermont, especially in the winter, if you look at solar energy charts. They get a lot of lake-effect snow from the west making parts of it pretty darn bad. It also gets a lot more snow accumulation. One good snow and your panels are inoperative until you clean them off, and in many cases the power needed to do so automatically is less than the power they generate. Solar power, off the grid, in New York state, or much of the US is just insane given the state of the art. It is fine for supplemental energy, but probably not as efficient as wind power in those same locations (lake effect snow correlates to prevailing winds from said lake).

As a financial investment, the return on solar panels for lowering your bills is pretty darn poor compared to dumping that capital in the stock market and spending the earnings on paying for your power. If you're going with solar, do so for ethical reasons, not financial unless you live in the desert.

Re:Windmill mania (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309347)

Exactly. Put solar panels all over that blasted wasteland known as Nevada. Put windmills in friggin' windtunnels like Ellensburg, WA, where I'm going to school. They're putting up about 120 huge windmills on a hillside because the wind almost never stops blowing in this stinking valley. I saw a perfectly healthy tree uprooted and fallen onto somebody's car from a particularly nasty windstorm we had. That'll run your windmills at a good pace.

Re:Windmill mania (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16309475)

That's funny, you don't live in the New York snowbelt where you seriously don't see the sun for months at a time (it's just gray during the day) yet you can make a comment implying that the grandparent doesn't know what he's talking about because you get so much sun in the winter in a state that's more than 250 miles away. Go figure.

Re:Windmill mania (1)

stuuf (587464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309465)

No, what we really need to work on is rain power generation.

Re:Windmill mania (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308753)

Oh noes!!! Teh wind is slowed down by teh windmills just like putting up a curtain will slow down light!! Get real. If you live in a suitably windy environment (like most of us near lakes), there's plenty of wind to go around. The average windspeed where I live is 45 MPH. With gusts up to 80 MPH on a clear day. It's damn near impossible to walk anywhere without getting blown over at least once. All you people living in your wind starved inland locations! Feh!

Re:Windmill mania (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309013)

Oh noes!!! Teh wind is slowed down by teh windmills just like putting up a curtain will slow down light!! Get real.

I'm being told to get real, by a guy who compares the physics of photon particles and movement of air.

I've seen everything now.

Re:Windmill mania (1)

Bagheera (71311) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308949)

Sure it does, but half a diameter to either side, and three or four diameters down wind, it's right back where it was. I realize you're trying to be funny, but do you realize how much energy you'd need to extract from the local wind to have any noticible effect?

Though you've got a point in the air in a residential area being "dirty" (in an aeronautical sense) overall, and not especially efficient for wind power. Or neighbor-friendly for that matter.

Though I suppose you'll be coming to my place just nearby when night falls, the winds shifts a little, and your solar powered entertainment system closes down.

Side note: Wind, like solar, or micro-hydro, is a great alternative in places that are suited for it. It's all about location, location, location.

1.2/2.2 c/kwh???? (5, Informative)

bloosqr (33593) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308415)

Are you sure you are reading your bill correctly? Are you in canada or something? I think i pay about 13 c / kwh

here is a list of average prices around the US

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table 5_6_a.html [doe.gov] ,,

1/2 is the distribution cost and 1/2 is the generation cost..(this is only matters if you choose a different energy provider as all you can save is the generation cost .. the distribution cost is fixed) .. if you are making energy on site you save on both since they aren't distributing that power to you...

In the UK (1)

HuskyDog (143220) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308593)

My current rate here in the UK is the equivalent of 18.5 c/kWh for the first 728 kWh in each quarter and 17.5 c/kWh thereafter. In addition, there is a standing charge of 29.8 c/day.

Re:In the UK (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309033)

Not to mention the fact that, in the UK, the national grid is required by law to buy any excess electricity you generate, so you can use it as a big battery. This is probably good for a wind generator which is likely to generate a lot of power during the night as the ground cools, while you are asleep. I think many parts of the USA have similar rules.

Re:1.2/2.2 c/kwh???? (1)

yancey (136972) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309245)

By that chart, I would suggest Google move its data centers [com.com] to Idaho.

Re:1.2/2.2 c/kwh???? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309313)

Are you sure you are reading your bill correctly? Are you in canada or something? I think i pay about 13 c / kwh

Canada isn't as cheap as 1.2/2.c cents/kwh.

Currently, in Ontario, you pay 5.0 cents for the first 750 kwh, and 5.8 cents for everything after that. Cheaper than your 13 cents, but (in this province at least) I pay more for 'debt reduction' than I do for actual hydro. (Our bill includes several administrative costs in it which frequently add up to more than your actual monthly consumption) If I was to aggregate the *total* I pay per month for electricity, it would be much higher than your 13 cents I suspect. But it sounds as if you have a bunch in delivery costs as well, so it might balance out.

Cheers

Where the heck do you live? (1)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308451)

I don't imagine many Americans have $8k-$11k laying around and the current month's rates for energy in my neighborhood are 2.2 cents/kWh for the first 800 kWh and 1.2 cents/kWh after.

Those rates are insanely low. The national average is about $0.095/kWh with some paying close to twice that. For me, $0.09/kWh is about what I pay after taxes, etc, but I would rather skip the backyard windmill.

Sadly, I think you are probably right about most Americans lack of liquidity.

Re:Where the heck do you live? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16308995)

Not to mention that yes, the initial cost is around $9,000, with an expected life of 20 years or so... But the windmill doesn't look at it's internal clock and say "20 years? Oh, fuck!" and promptly explode. It my begin to me less efficient and require some maintenance. Replace the bearings inf the generator section and the turbine section, replace the brushes in the generator, and you'll be back up and running for signicantly less than anoth $9,000. Probably under $1000, including labor, if you have a professional perform the repairs. This whole question is lame, as the asker just needs do do more research to conclude that yes, it is worth the investment, IF you can come up with the cash.

Where do you live ?? (1)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308453)

Did you slip a decimal point? The average cost per kilowatt hour in the US based on 2006 YTD data [doe.gov] ia 10.15 cents/KWH up sharply from 9.08 cents in 2005.

Where I live, we are paying about 6.5 cents and get our electricity from a non-profit municipal utility. I consider us very lucky to have this low cost electricity.

If you really have those electricity rates, then the pay back for you is pretty far down the road, but for most people, if they can afford the initial investment and have a suitable location, it's looking pretty good. You condo and apartment dwellers are probably SOL as are you lucky folks who live in neighborhoods with restrictive covenants that don't even allow an outside antenna.

Re:Where do you live ?? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308779)

If you really have those electricity rates, then the pay back for you is pretty far down the road, but for most people, if they can afford the initial investment and have a suitable location, it's looking pretty good.
Not really. Don't forget the opportunity cost of laying out that cash right away. Over a twenty-year life, you'll find that you're actually spending around three times that for the energy... if you assume a modest return of 5% on your investments.

This of course does not include adjustments for inflation (which increase cost-effectiveness of buying one now) or changes in energy costs...

But it's absolutely clear from a personal financial standpoint that you're currently (pardon the pun) better off buying from the grid.

Now, from a public standpoint, you'll want to look at the cost of environmental impact of the energy you'd otherwise be buying off the grid, plus the energy and environmental impacts of producing the windmill, but I think it's more than likely that these offsets don't make the personal windmill a benefit to the public good or to the private good.

Re:Where do you live ?? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309141)

Over a twenty-year life, you'll find that you're actually spending around three times that for the energy... if you assume a modest return of 5% on your investments.

Given stocks over the last 10 years- you'll be lucky to see a 3% return on your investments from here on out. The world itself is being mismanaged to the point that eventually stockholders are going to have to eat their mistakes.

They need to make more "noise" (4, Interesting)

ExE122 (954104) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308455)

I was wondering what are your thoughts on being an early adopter of wind energy? Do you think that if enough people bought these windmills, the price per kWh could compete with the local power grid's? Will it ever?

With rising energy costs, global warming, and environmental concerns, I think the answer to your final question is a resounding "maybe".

This same energy-conservation trend has shown itself in hybrid vehicles. The first hybrids were priced almost twice the cost of regular vehicles. So people doing the math and asking themselves the same questions you are about wind power. However, as popularity grew and more hybrid vehicle models became available, the prices became more competitive. Even the government has gotten involved in many areas by offering tax cuts, toll leniencies, and access to restricted lanes as incentives. While many people would argue that it still isn't cost-effective to purchase a hybrid, there have been over a million sold.

I think there are other benefits that can be said about windmills. I remember reading a report once which showed that minor improvements to homes (new paint, adding walk-in closets, new windows) increased sale prices by way more than was invested. How much more could you get for a house when you tell a potential buyer that their electricity bill will be 20-90% less other homes because of the big fan in the backyard? I'm willing to bet it would sell for at least $10k more in most areas.

So returning to your second question, I think the outcome of windmills will indeed be determined by their popularity. If they catch on, I think production will diversify and the government will get involved to offer incentives. However, the article itself says "the SkyStream turbine is not meant to wean you from the grid completely".

--
"A man is asked if he is wise or not. He replies that he is otherwise" ~Mao Zedong

Re:They need to make more "noise" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16308741)

Funny because noise is exactly the problem with windmills.

You put one anywhere near my house and I'm getting you shut down. I hate windmills. The vibrations and noise drive me insane.

Be nice to your neighbors you insensitive dolts.

Re:They need to make more "noise" (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309185)

This is the second time I've seen this complaint about this technology- and I still don't understand it. I've visited PGE's Klondike Wind Farm- those 41% efficient turbines don't waste any energy they can be converting, they certainly don't waste it in "noise and vibrations". They're as silent as can be. You get more vibration and noise in a storm from the wind itself.

Re:They need to make more "noise" (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309459)

A minor quibble to your minor improvements list: windows typically represent between 10 and 25% of the entire price of a house, at least where I live. It's very hard to recover the price of new windows. Most major improvements have a negative return, particularly bathrooms and kitchens, from what I've read, while minor improvements do have a small positive return, although it's likely that they make the house sell faster, which is in itself a (difficult-to-measure) value-added result.

Well, my wife thinks so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16308459)

About a week ago I had a big feed of beans... y'all know the kinds... black beans, red beans, baked beans, etc.
Of course, that caused my "wind power" (as my wife likes to call it) to increase fourfold and she banished me to the back yard.
Well...since it's the end of gardening season, I took this as an opportunity to clear out the brambles, pull out the old tomato plants, and refresh the compost heap.
so yeah, I think backyard wind power is worth it...I got LOTS accomplished this week.

(amusing note: my captcha is "recycle")

What do you do when there's no wind? (2, Insightful)

some_hoser (656003) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308461)

The big problem with wind power is that on top of that price, you also have to invest in a huge (and very expensive) energy storage system that can supply your entire energy needs for at least a day when there is little/no wind.

Re:What do you do when there's no wind? (2, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308783)

The big problem with wind power is that on top of that price, you also have to invest in a huge (and very expensive) energy storage system that can supply your entire energy needs for at least a day when there is little/no wind.

I don't think he mentioned going off the grid, which would be a pretty bad idea. He just talked about putting in a windmill. If there is no wind, you just buy from the grid. If you generate surplus energy, you dump it on the grid (to the dismay of the power company). At least where I live the power company is required to pay me for the power I dump onto the grid, regardless of the spikiness or other undesirable aspects of it. Also, staying on the grid and having a generation system provides an emergency backup.

how about the grid? (1)

mindbender.ca (875755) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308875)

You dont need an expensive storage system... you can just borrow from the grid. They even have meters that allow power to flow both ways. A battery system is great during brownouts or blackouts and unless you want to be totally independant, why even bother?

Re:What do you do when there's no wind? (1)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308967)

The big problem with wind power is that on top of that price, you also have to invest in a huge (and very expensive) energy storage system that can supply your entire energy needs for at least a day when there is little/no wind.

Not true - You only need that if you plan to go completely off-grid. If you just want to cut your electric bill (possibly to the point of making it negative) and do your part to help save the environment, you can throw up a windmill or two, a few solar panels, whatever, and just install a grid tie inverter. On the plus side, these cost far less than battery banks (which still need an inverter, just a less complex one) and last longer, but you won't have power if the grid goes down.

You can also get hybrid inverters, that switch to off-grid during a blackout, usually but not necessarily supplemented by a small battery bank, which can give the best of both worlds as long as you have either rare blackouts or very steady wind.

Re:What do you do when there's no wind? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309091)

Why? Pump the electricity you don't need back into the grid, where the electricity company will pay you for it, and then buy any excess you need from them.

Re:What do you do when there's no wind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16309101)

What do you do when there's no wind?

PISS!

Someone thinks it's worth it..... (1)

Raxxon (6291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308463)

The area I'm living in the local power company is talking with land owners about renting some of their fields for putting in these towers. One person I know was offered 9k/year per tower and they're talking about possibly wanting to install 11 towers on their land.

It may not be currently feasable for the "average home owner" to do something like this, but at least some of the electric companies are looking into it to supplement their production.

Re:Someone thinks it's worth it..... (1)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308829)

We have literally hundreds of these Big Windmills in Southern Alberta. The farmers do make a ton of money on them. I've heard of plans for about 400 more.

where do you live? (1)

epaulson (7983) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308473)

Your electric rates seem very, very low. In Wisconsin, we're at $0.09 a kwh in the winter, and $0.10 in the summer.

The best way to handle this currently... (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308483)

...is integrating it into the construction or purchase of a new home, particularly ones in a semi-rural area, or areas with larger lots and less restrictive requirements for things like wind or antenna towers. Rural areas, depending on the lay of the land, will also typically have more access to wind as well.

This way, you can integrate the purchase price of things like a windmill, solar panels, conductive liquid heating, and things of that nature into the home itself, amortizing it along with the home.

My wife and I are looking into doing a windmill, solar panels, and concrete construction for our next home, and using things like the windmill to augment commercial power, and/or be able to operate a certain portion of the home for a certain period of time (in conjunction with battery storage, and so on) in the absence of commercial power altogether.

The fact of the matter is that whether you do it yourself or pay a subsidy to a local energy provider for wind and alternative energies, it's going to be more expensive than traditional energy, because things like coal and natural gas are still cheap. So this is a decision that must transcend cost a bit. One day, "alternative" sources of energy may become cheaper, but that won't be happening anytime soon in the context of your question, even with the most dire "peak oil" arguments, so you must make a conscious choice to sacrifice a bit, possibly financially, for environmentally conscious energy sources.

Re:The best way to handle this currently... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16308981)

I don't think anyone has mentioned yet the massive subsidies provided to fossil fuel power plants. Coal alone gets over 30 Billion USD annually worldwide. On page 73 of this UNDP report [undp.org] there is a nice table. If these subsidies were revoked and given to alternative fuel sources the alt. sources surely would be more competitive.

Re:The best way to handle this currently... (1)

DeathFlame (839265) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309251)

Don't forget to look into a geothermal system for your heating/cooling needs.

nope (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308533)

that one windmill will do squat for you. You need at least 2 in a windy area as well as a sotrage system (intertie inverter can run your meter backwards if the power company allows it)

I have been there with wind and solar. you need far more than they say you do to make it worth screwing with. plus it is not an appliance like your fridge, you have to become an expert in it, maintain it your self and constantly monitor the stuff. Otherwise your cost per kilowatt goes up to 4-5 times what you calculated.

if you are hoping for a plop it in the back yard and get free power item then it will not work.

And that is not even considering the huge amount of lifestyle and equipment you need to re-buy to be ableto live more efficient. a high effeciency fridge that you would use off grid will be 10-20 times the price of your current fridge, CF lamps, etc.... you can lower your electrical draw significantly, but it's horribly expensive as every appliance just became a nitche market item and has the price to go with it. Dont even think of Air conditioning unless your home is far more effieicent than the highest energy star ratings.

vertical axis. (2, Informative)

TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308557)

I haven't looked into windmills myself as I'm still living the apartment life, but I've a friend who has read up on the matter some and raves about the vertical axis windmill [typepad.com] and all the benifits thereof. Were I in a position to consider it, I'd start with these.

Re:vertical axis. (2, Informative)

the_povinator (936048) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308787)

Someone was saying in comments on another Slashdot article that most vertical axis wind turbine things are scams designed to steal investors' money. So I would be cautious about this. I think the time it makes sense is when you need a simple, very small-scale device to run isolated electronic equipment. Dan

Re:vertical axis. (1)

TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309357)

Based on parent, I decided to dig a little deeper and unfortunatly, I was unable to find anything from a site that I would deem 'trustworthy' (read: unbiased). Most everything I read was on webpages/webistes that were poorly put together and nothing that seemed like a creditable news source. ...that said, I'd look into them, but I'd be wary of most of what I found.

It depends... (1)

Balun (773120) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308571)

A pure number crunch generally tells us that is not worth it but it is all the other benefits that backyard power grants that is at issue. Extra power can be sold back to the grid, or you have a backup power source in case the grid goes down again.

A great resource is Home Power http://www.homepower.com/ [homepower.com] they have lots of articles discussing the pros and cons of all the various kinds of alternative power and building technology. (no affiliation) They go into it in far more depth then any of us can.

right (1)

hamburger lady (218108) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308577)

I don't imagine many Americans have $8k-$11k laying around and the current month's rates for energy in my neighborhood are 2.2 cents/kWh for the first 800 kWh and 1.2 cents/kWh after

i pay 20 cents per. that makes wind power pretty attractive. hell, that makes hooking a frickin generator up to a stationary bike attractive.

Re:right (1)

dualityshift (1009271) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308805)

You draw up the plans and I'll build two of them, one for you, and one for my shirpa to use.

Why is installation so expensive? (1)

Galuvian (755742) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308623)

The tiny power plant sells for US $5100; total cost including installation runs between $8500 and $11 000.

WTF?

The numbers look even better if the install costs could be trimmed down. $0.051/kWh

Devil is in the Details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16308631)

what price range the windmills would have to fall to (or the energy rates have to rise to) before I could consider this?

It depends strongly on where you live. Check with your electic company to see what your rates are. According to the DOE, 9 cents/kWh would be competitive in many places.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table 5_6_a.html [doe.gov]

You don't mention the kind of area in which you live. The suburban Homeowner's Assocation might have something to say about giant windmill towers in the back yard. The urban condo flat dweller is going to have an awkward time installing one. There's more to it than price.

You don't mention maintenance costs. Or was that included in your lifetime calculation?

The most common use I've seen in the US for wind power is by farmers. Many of them have retention ponds for irrigation water (or for animals), and use a windmill to sporadically drive a pump to keep the pond full. The value here isn't in the price of main electricity. It's that such installations tend to be isolated, and connecting the pump to the main power grid costs more than it's worth.

Also, the application isn't "mission critical" and the pond naturally buffers the random and sporadic nature of wind power in most places. As long as it averages out over the month, you're okay. The pond doesn't need power _now_, or even _sometime today_. Your house is a different story.

Wow. Only 9 cents per kWh? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308635)

Here in California, our power is tiered. The first chunk is at something like 7.5 cents. My most expensive electricity was over 30 cents per kWh. Compared to that, 9 cents is already much less than I'm paying.

Of course, with my luck, it would fail right after the warranty (which is probably a year), making it cost $3.80 per kWh. :-) Devices with moving parts are a high risk unless you're buying in bulk. It's the whole MTBF problem all over again. Thanks, but I'll stick with solar.

When the cost per unit drops below $1000 for a moderately sized prefab, call me. Until then... not so interesting... even with power at 30 cents per kWh. Besides, you can build your own from parts for far, far less than $9,000.

http://www.otherpower.com/otherpower_wind.html - build your own [otherpower.com]

relative costs (1)

PixelCat (58491) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308645)

Impressively low rates you have. Most places I've lived (all up and down the East Coast) tend to have electric rates much higher than that, and that's not counting the fuel charges. I think I'm paying about 5.5 cents per kwh right now, plus another 4 cents per kwh fuel charges. At that point, wind is definitely competitive--if you live in an area with sufficient wind, of course.

Not valid for you as your electricity is cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16308651)

and the current month's rates for energy in my neighborhood are 2.2 cents/kWh for the first 800 kWh and 1.2 cents/kWh after

Compare this to up to 18p (um, over 30 cents) per kWh in the UK (with lows of 6p overnight, depending on your energy pricing plan). How the hell is your electricity so damned cheap?

Things like this would make a lot more sense in Europe or remote places.

Solar is worth the wait (1)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308687)

Much more funding and research is going into solar than is going into wind. Wind power, of course, will always be around and improved upon, but solar has an edge. Solar will work in many more places than wind power, as well as being less of an eyesore. Numerous large scale research projects are yielding results that will increase the productivity and lower the cost of solar panels. Right in my backyard here in AZ(Tempe), they have a massive energy project focusing on solar energy.

My point is that, within a short period of time, solar energy will be affordable to buy and, just as importantly, maintain. These will provide an efficient source of energy for the cost of the panel while not being an eyesore at all. I anything, the panels in Tempe look pretty cool. I would not mind them on my roof one bit.

Re:Solar is worth the wait (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308953)

Much more funding and research is going into solar than is going into wind. Wind power, of course, will always be around and improved upon, but solar has an edge. Solar will work in many more places than wind power, as well as being less of an eyesore.

I'm not really sure about this. In the northern states we get about 1/6 of a solar day worth of energy each day, because of weather and latitude. Most solar panels won't even generate enough electricity to keep the snow off of them to allow them to function for the winter. Also, for an off the grid solution, you need a really big storage array, most of which are negatively affected by the cold, so it has to be buried. Finally, panels break and last I heard none of them were all that recyclable and most contained significant amounts of poisons. AZ is ideal for solar power, but where I'm at it is a non-starter. We do, however, have significant prevailing winds.

My point is that, within a short period of time, solar energy will be affordable to buy and, just as importantly, maintain. These will provide an efficient source of energy for the cost of the panel while not being an eyesore at all.

My point is, that may be true in AZ and other desert areas, but I doubt it will be in the US in general.

Re:Solar is worth the wait (1)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309391)

I see your points and I agree. The research being done are addressing those issues though. Panels that track with the sun and get the most out of each day. Whether or not they make the research makes the use of them plausible for use in other areas is still unknown though. It is being looked into, I can only offer that as an answer really. (I just took a tour of the research facility and learned got a slew of information about the subject)

How big is your backyard?? (1)

noser (114367) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308697)

If you live in suburbia, your neighbors are probably going to have a problem with that big prop tower you are planning to erect. Keep in mind any large trees or buildings nearby are going to degrade the quality and reliability of your wind. Do you even have good wind where you are? If your backyard looks more like a small-scale industrial site, where you do some agriculture or fabrication or what have you, and if you are in a rural area where you have wind and can get away with it, yes, put up a prop. It will be a fun project that should eventually pay for itself.

If you like wind power you might want to see how you could support it in your community. My power company National Grid has a 'Green Up' program i've been participating in for a few years. I pay a 2 cent per kwh premium for a 'pure wind' option, which means that they supposedly reimburse a wind power project in my state for all the money I spend on electricity from them. I know I still get my juice from the grid like everyone else, but at least I don't have to feel quite as bad when I crank up the AC all summer.

In upstate New York, we have a company that has been trying to get approval for a 12MW wind project on an old mining site in the Adirondack park. The level of opposition has been ... interesting. You can read more about that project on the advocacy site here: http://www.adirondackwind.com/ [adirondackwind.com]

About the cost of a new computer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16308857)

The cost of a new computer (~$2kUSD) is about where people stop thinking of it as an expensive toy and start wondering where to get one.
Realisticly speaking, the cost of the tower to put a windmill on doubles or triples the overall price. In some places you can get away with doing things like attatching it to your roof, but that's generally against housing codes.
I suppose if there was a modular kit system like in the PC industry, where the cost is spread out, there would be more intrest.

Location matters (1)

im_mac (927998) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308889)

That's what really matters when it comes to wind power. How strong of wind do you get? How often is it windy? Check out [energy.gov] your location first to see if there is enough wind to begin with. I did a little research when my parents asked (and they have enough land that the neighbor problem wouldn't exist) and it turned out that for the most part it wasn't windy enough to make anything worthwhile.

It's only $.09 per kWh if the interest rate is 0 (2, Insightful)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16308921)

Otherwise you have to figure in the opportunity cost of not investing that $9K. Even in CDs you can get about 3% on that, which means you can withdraw more than $580 a year from it for 20 years, not just $450; that works out to over $0.11 per kWh. As alternative power plant designs become more durable, this kind of calculation becomes more important: a $9,000 windmill that produces 5,000 kWh/year for infinity years instead of twenty sounds like it will produce free energy, but that "free" will really cost you more than $0.05 per kWh when you do the math.

The electric companies factor these sorts of costs into their bill when they build a new power plant. If you don't do the same, you might think you're successfully competing with them when you're really just tricking yourself.

Re:It's only $.09 per kWh if the interest rate is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16309369)

Dude, you are SO behind the times with W's war spending fueled inflation and high interest rates. An ordinary savings account gets you 4.5% now, check out INGDirect or Emigrant's Bank. CD's are even better of course.

I say fuck that shit, putting your money in the bank just lets the man use it ! Buy gold and horde it and let the straights wallow in their own inflation !

Off-grid power (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309031)

Like solar panels, wind becomes more of an economically viable alternative when you are trying to power a remote site and the cost to bring power lines in is prohibitive.

Co-incidentally, a remote site also means that there are fewer neighbors to complain about the installation.

UK wind turbines for £1500 (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309167)

And i think you get 30% off through grants:
http://www.diy.com/diy/jsp/bq/nav/nav.jsp?action=d etail&fh_secondid=9330400&fh_location=%2F%2Fcatalo g01%2Fen_GB%2Fcategories%3C8530236%2Fcategories%3C 9050001&fh_eds=%C3%9F&fh_refview=lister&ts=1159984 743563 [diy.com]

This is a bran dnew thing, saw one in the store at the weekend, looks pretty sturdy, im sure there are downsides, but you can now walk into your high st UK store and order a wind turbine. I can imagine them dropping in price big time over the next 5 years.

Hooking to the grid can cost $$ (5, Informative)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309425)

If the grid isn't already in place, it can be very cost effective to adopt energy independence. Two scenarios in real life:

1. Someone I know lives on 50-odd acres; his house is about 1/2 mile from the road. As I understand it, the power company quoted him $18,000 to run power poles from the road to his house. Of course, this upfront cost was just for the opportunity to send them money every month thereafter. For that same $18,000 he bought a complete power system including a bunch of special batteries, high tech electronic load and generation management and a diesel generator. I think the generator and batteries came from folks who had installed Y2K panic systems, and never used them. For several years he ran the generator once a week for a couple of hours, now he's installed two solar panels and he has gone all summer without running the diesel, though he will probably have to run it occasionaly during the winter. He has a small wind generator for testing, so far. His major electricity usage is shop tools and clothes dryer. He uses propane for hot water, and propane and wood for heat. He plans more solar panels eventually, and will then use the diesel only for emergencies.

2. According to the World Bank [worldbank.org] , small amorphous silicon solar panels are replacing kerosene lamps in rural African villages - they cost about the same as two months' worth of kerosene, provide more light than the kerosene lamps previously used, and once paid for cost nothing to run, except amortized cost of replacement every ??? years. This also offers the opportunity to radically change lifestyles in these areas. Evidently amorphous silicon panels are less efficient than the more expensive solar panels but are so much cheaper that they're a better deal. I can easily foresee several families in a village connecting their panels and batteries together, and voila! Instant community power grid, that can grow incrementally.

For the large percentage of people who live outside areas that already have well-developed electric power and other networks, localized community-based or individualized solutions including wind, solar and small hydro can be very practical, and even life changing. This paper [resource-solutions.org] notes that:
"Off-grid renewable energy investments are cheaper when communities and individuals can build and operate electricity generation facilities without going through regional governments and utilities. In Nepal systems under 1 MW do not need approval for off-grid development. This has played a critical role in helping local micro-hydro entrepreneurs set a tariff which is acceptable to the community being serviced as well as being profitable to the entrepreneur running the micro-hydro plant"

Wind power (1)

mknewman (557587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309457)

Houston Looting and Plunder, uh, Reliant Energy (they change names several times in the last few years, maybe to escape their reputation), recently started reselling Wind power under it's 100% Renewable plan. I signed up, now my 2200 or so kwh per month are guaranteed to be replaced with 100% wind generated power. There are wind farms going in Galveston and Corpus Christy, also a tidal power project. I figure this is about 3/4 of my energy budget a month (about $300 with $100 for gasoline and natural gas), so it made a huge dent in my carbon footprint. I then bought a Terrapass for my GMC Suburban which is a major bandaid approach to clean energy, but at least they are investing in good projects. Once hybrids get more mainstream I'll buy one.

Early Adopter... (3, Insightful)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16309489)

What happens a few years from now, when some new dramatic improvement in turbine design happens? Or 100% efficent solar panels are invented? Or heck, maybe they even invent portable fusion reactors, who knows what is coming in the future?

If you are amortizing the cost of a windmill over 20 years, this IS a concern. 20 years is a lot of time for technology to significantly improve. Think of how much cars have changed, let alone technology like computers and information networks. Alternative energy sources are a hot thing to invest in lately, and I have a feeling there will be some serious improvements real soon. Maybe if you could amortize the cost in 5 years, it would be a reasonable risk. But 20 years? I can't see how it would be a good idea.
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  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>