Windmills and energy input

Is there someplace that has an analysis of how much energy is put into making,
erecting,
and commissioning a windmill vs typical energy output. I'm wondering how long
it takes to
recover the energy used to put it in place.
Since wind is a bit variable, we can assume it is somewhere in the wind corridor
that T.
Boone Pickens was pitching.
I know solar cells have a lousy break even point unless the technology has
changed
drastically.
Thanks,
Wes
Reply to
Wes
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Do you need something precise, with documentation, etc.? If so, there are lots of studies, using different methods of measurement. Search on "wind power embedded energy," wind power embodied energy," or "wind power life cycle analysis."
I did this a few years ago. At that time photovoltaic was showing a worst-case payback of around 24 years, while wind power showed a payback in 6 months or even less.
Just grabbing one from a Google search, without checking it for accuracy, here's something that shows how it's calculated and some specific numbers. There are better studies that you can find, I'm sure:
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-- Ed Huntress
Reply to
Ed Huntress
When I analyzed small solar installations to be constructed under a prevailing wage scenario, the installations generated such a small amount of electricity that they would not even cover the interest on tax-free municipal bonds, and that is after generous utility rebates and other aid had been applied. Of course homeowners can get the panels installed for less using small contractors employing illegal aliens. Wind power is only feasible in areas where there is sustained wind available:
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Reply to
ATP*
There are a number of windy areas in the world and many in the south west and other places. One of the first was in southern California - gap towards Nevada. There are unique designs now that are verticle and horizontal turbines. They have promise. They are used in big city canyons and roof tops...
Solar Cells have a problem with the clouds. I would get 6 months of use at about 50% loading and the rest of the time in the 20's. That is a 250,000 USD design. Only if I were mega rich would I spend that kind of money for some power.
Their issue is they don't see UV light at all. If UV then most of the time they would work. Another issue
Martin
Wes wrote:
it takes to
Reply to
Martin H. Eastburn
On Sat, 17 Jan 2009 18:24:49 -0500, the infamous Wes scrawled the following:
it takes to
What scale are we talking about, Wes? Home or commercial with a 90' wingspan?
Let me finish the book first, then I'll tell you if Tucker had stats in there. _Terrestrial Energy_ is quite a good book so far (I'm 129 pgs into it now.) It's subtitled "_How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America's Energy Odyssey_" He (and lots of others in the know) is banking on nuclear power for the base and solar, etc. to provide the peak power on a daily basis.
Until this book, I had no idea that it was the nuclear-_trained_ President Carter who derailed the nuclear industry, caused the proliferation of nuke waste (by not allowing rod recycling), and brought back coal, the dirtiest of all possible power sources.
-- If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. -- Thomas A. Edison
Reply to
Larry Jaques
The cost issue is one thing, and the embedded energy can be quite different. One thing to watch out for in the optimistic assessments of photovoltaics is that they sometimes mix-and-match technologies. For example, I saw an audit of monocrystalline photovoltaics, which make up most of today's installations, that didn't include the energy cost of growing the crystals/ingots. The rationale was that the cells are made from rejected ingots from the semiconductor industry, and thus cost nothing in terms of energy. Those ingots are a large part of the embedded energy in the cells.
I also saw a quick energy payback claimed for thin-film photovoltaics, which may or may not be true, but they used the 25-year lifetime figure often used for monocrystalline cells. But apparently the thin-film cells, so far, have much shorter lives.
So it pays to be careful in reading the evaluations. That's why I put the disclaimer in that note to Wes, above. I'd want to see the complete methodology and a detailed accounting of any report on photovoltaic payback.
In terms of dollars, most people acknowledge that they're a loser.
Wind, on the other hand, keeps looking better. I don't know enough to evaluate the construction costs and so on, but the numbers from a variety of sources look very promising. Of course, there are a lot of variables. So far, the costs work out best when wind is just a small percentage of a system's input.
-- Ed Huntress
Reply to
Ed Huntress
it takes to
Definitely commercial. I'm trying to make sure wind power isn't a feel good thing like using corn for gasohol.
Doesn't look like it has changed much.
Does the book go into his reasons for being anti nuke? That man has been an embarasment all around.
Wes -- "Additionally as a security officer, I carry a gun to protect government officials but my life isn't worth protecting at home in their eyes." Dick Anthony Heller
Reply to
Wes
From that it looks like the coastal areas of Michigan have a lot of potential. Since I live in that state that is the part of your link that caught my interest.
Wes
Reply to
Wes
I see now that the original question referred to energy input/payback, not dollars. Hopefully we will see much greater efficiencies in the production of solar cells as the technology evolves, which will reduce the cost and energy input. The potential for improvement through innovation in solar cells is probably much higher than in corn to ethanol. I think wind power installations are a hideous blight on the environment, I don't see technology changing that aspect much.
Reply to
ATP*
I just need to get a rough idea if windmills are net energy plus and what the span is.
I googled a bit and didn't find something better yet. That one gave me a good enough idea of inputs and how long to recover them.
Near the end where they break down financial payback was an added plus, saved me another question. :) However, my googling shows estimated life of about 20 years for these machines. About the time the project recovers the expendature it needs major renovation.
Of course getting longer life than estimates could happen and the designs are going to improve over time as a body of experience is collected.
At least now I have something in my head to detect if someone is trying to run some bs on me.
While googling I ran into this chart:
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showing energy inputs and where they go. Notice how much waste is in electrical distribution.
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The section of the site were this came from looks like it has some interesting reading material.
I notice that there assumptions for next few decades have coal as an energy source. I guess they didn't get the memo. ;)
Wes
Reply to
Wes
On Sun, 18 Jan 2009 01:26:01 -0500, the infamous Wes scrawled the following:
making, erecting,
long it takes to
Right, and that turned into a nightmare which is ongoing. I HATE gasohol and 10% ethanol fuel for its horrible mileage. It's gutless.
corridor that T.
The power factor has doubled (at minimum, while costs have gone down) every decade since the 70s. They're up to 30% efficient now. We're getting there.
Not so far as I've read. S. David Freeman, author of "A Time to Choose", was anti-nuke and had Carter's ear. Skipping ahead in the book, I see that it was Pres. Ford who actually halted nuclear reprocessing, then Carter deferred any Fed help on the plants which would have done the work. Carter was afraid that the recycling of spent fuel would leasd to nuclear proliferation.
I was mistaken that he'd been fully trained in nuke operations, as shown in this Wiki excerpt:
"Carter has said that he loved the Navy, and had planned to make it his career. His ultimate goal was to become Chief of Naval Operations. Carter felt the best route for promotion was with submarine duty since he felt that nuclear power would be increasingly used in submarines. During service on the diesel-electric submarine USS PomfretTemplate:WP Ships USS instances, Carter was almost washed overboard.[7] After six years of military service, Carter trained for the position of engineering officer in submarine USS SeawolfTemplate:WP Ships USS instances, then under construction.[8] Carter completed a non-credit introductory course in nuclear reactor power at Union College starting in March 1953. This followed Carter's first-hand experience as part of a group of American and Canadian servicemen who took part in cleaning up after a nuclear meltdown at Canada's Chalk River Laboratories reactor.[9][10]
Upon the death of his father, James Earl Carter, Sr., in July 1953, however, Lieutenant Carter immediately resigned his commission, and he was discharged from the Navy on October 9, 1953.[11][12] This cut short his nuclear powerplant operator training, and he was never able to serve on a nuclear submarine, since the first boat of that fleet, the USS Nautilus, was launched on January 17, 1955, over a year after his discharge from the Navy.[13]"
It appears that he saw only the worst side of nuclear. He also couldn't pronounce the word properly, a thing which always amazed me.
-- Even with the best of maps and instruments, we can never fully chart our journeys. -- Gail Pool
Reply to
Larry Jaques
And which OCEAN does Michigan border? :-) "coastal: along an ocean"
OH! You mean "Lakeshore" :-)
have a lot of potential. Since I
...lew... (couldn't help my self) :-)
Reply to
Lew Hartswick
I put a huge amount of personal energy into windmill electrical generation between 1982 and 1984.
Your results are very dependent on the wind in your area.
The wind power available is proportional to the cube of the wind speed. If the wind is too low, you shut down. If the wind is too high, you shut down. If the wind is just right, you convert power.
The Seattle are is a terrible place for wind generation. The wind is mostly too high or too low.
Reply to
clarkmagnuson
Like batteries for cars, its promise always seems to be just over the hill. When I was doing new-materials research for Japan's MITI, back in 1981-82, I was working with an MIT prof who had developed a phosphorescent-augmented solar cell that was going to revolutionize the technology. It didn't, and I learned a few lessons from that experience (I had reported it enthusiastically ). One lesson is that the basic physics of solar cells are pretty well wrapped up -- there's nowhere new to go. Another is that this doesn't stop people from trying, and that many of them, including a lot of college profs involved in research, are working a different side of the street. They're after research money and investment dollars. They seem to recognize that they're more or less playing in a sandbox.
There are new places to go with materials, however, and the thin-film approaches are where the action is. Without studying it, my impression is that they're looking for a magic potion that they can deposit in multiple layers of different materials, which will involve low embedded energy and fairly long life. Honda's CIG cell is one example. It looks like a layer cake. Sony has a "dye-sensitized" cell that's still in early stages, and there are in-situ electrolysis cells that generate hydrogen. As far as basic science is concerned, there is action in biologicals, trying to strip down the biochemistry of photosynthesis to some basics that can be synthesized. The last two are not about generating electricity directly, but rather towards producing an intermediate fuel.
It's been a frustrating half-century of research, IMO, filled with disappointments and blind alleys. It's hard not to be cynical about it if one has followed it with hope through all that time, as I did for a couple of decades. Now I just sit back and wait.
I think they're kind of inspiring. We see some in Indiana, off to the south of I-80, that I pass by a couple of times a year and they make my jaw drop. There's a new project getting started here in NJ, with wind turbines placed 10 miles or so off the coast. Present circumstances may leave it stillborn, but I want to see it happen.
-- Ed Huntress
Reply to
Ed Huntress
Yeah, it sounds like distribution is the problem that's holding up a lot of possibilities. Somebody has to solve that (not to make big improvements in efficiency, necessarily, but just to make it possible to transmit power over long distances in the US -- politics and regulation are big impediments) or wind and large-scale solar are going nowhere. Not that I ever expect them to be a dominant source of power, but they could be significant.
I'm looking forward to seeing if my prediction made 20 years ago comes to pass. I predicted then that more nuclear fission was inevitable, that it would eventually dominate our electricity generation, with wind and/or solar being mostly of local application in a few areas. My heart sunk when Three Mile Island put the final nail in fission's coffin for at least a generation. I hope I live long enough to see something happen.
-- Ed Huntress
Reply to
Ed Huntress
That whole era was rather anti-"nucular". In NY, even conservative Republicans were against nuclear power and wouldn't allow the completed Shoreham power plant to operate. I knew a guy who worked at the plant for ten years, while they were building and low power testing it, and then they mothballed it.
Reply to
ATP*
I'm going to guess that maybe President Carter, who was trained in nuclear technology, maybe he knew something that you and I didn't?
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Hanford Toxic Burial Ground Cleaned Up Near the Columbia River
HANFORD, Wash-- One of the most hazardous Hanford burial grounds along the Columbia River has been cleaned up.
Cleaning up the 618-7 burial ground at Hanford was a very difficult process. Clean-up staff had very little records about what was underground. It was three trenches and between 1960 to 1973 the site received nuclear fuel waste.
This is part of the careful cleanup of 800 barrels of toxic waste. Hanford officials say a milestone is reached that holds true to the Tri-Party Agreement.
"We found a lot of unknowns and a lot more material than we expected. We handled that very well and completed the project on time," said Dave Brockman, Manager of the Richland Hanford Office.
Clean-up of the burial site cost more than $20 million. The Environmental Protection Agency oversaw the process and says it went smoothly.
"It's probably the most challenging waste site that they have done at Hanford to date and they've shown that they can meet this challenge and do it," said Dave Einan, EPA.
Some of the trenches contained chips of zircaloy which can easily ignite. Most of the waste came from Hanford's fabrication and research facilities. Before removal, samples needed to be tested to see what type of materials they were.
"You anticipate what's going to happen, you create a series of boundaries, and you go step by step by step by step very carefully, then stop and you go back and evaluate," said Chuck Spencer, Rresident of Washington Closure Hanford.
During excavation of the trenches, last August a small fire broke out but there was no injuries or contamination spread.
"It was a very hazardous project but we have more hazardous one's to come. We learned a lot from this now we fell we're ready to move on to a couple more," said Brockman.
The next clean up project is a site north of this burial ground and another one that's near Energy Northwest. After this site was cleaned, which took about a year, workers had removed 180-thousand tons of waste.
Reply to
cavelamb
Wind energy is another boondoggle financed by govt grants. I am supprised that the enviomentalists are not up in arms about windmills growing like mushrooms across the enviorment. You know its a boondoggle because of the way they rate the output of them vs. true cost.
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This one nuke plant dwarfs the output of all the windmill generation systems in the whole country.
19,046,000 megawatt-hour facility vs 26.6 billion kWh per year
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They are now in the process of building another plant so Ed can keep his lights on in NJ.
I do admit though that a local company that manufactures the towers for windmills is doing quite well, but with the building of the second nuke plant, the stimilus to the local economy will be a welcome addition. A certified welder can make a fortune in the coming years. They are becomming very hard to find.
John
Reply to
john
There's some new designs proposed and actually being built, that are failsafe in that the safety mechanism is built in and relies on the law of physics, not human judgment to control a runaway. Hardly an exhaustive search, but this was the first Google hit I looked at:
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One of the more interesting facts in the site above is that coal fired plants routinely release more radioactive particles than any nuclear facility. I think when things get tight enough, attitudes are going to change. I too hope to live long enough to see safe nuclear power live up to it's promise.
Jon
Reply to
Jon Anderson

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