Archive | Wind turbines

Small wind turbines are cute and mostly useless

Hi, I'm cute and mostly useless

Little bitty wind turbines appear virtuous, creating green power so everyone can feel good about them. In reality, they generally way underperform their specs due to turbulence on the ground and bad design. For reliable wind power, ginormous turbines, especially offshore where the wind is more reliable, are by far more efficient.

Wind turbulence and inconsistency near the ground makes it difficult to site baby turbines efficiently, make worse by ludicrously optimistic specs and lack of testing by the manufacturer.

Truth is that unless you live in a very windy place, you will be better off putting your money into solar PV. Period.

Wind turbines need wind. Not just any wind, but the nicely flowing, smooth, laminar kind. That cannot be found at 30 feet height. It can usually not be found at 60 feet. Sometimes you find it at 80 feet. More often than not it takes 100 feet of tower to get there. hose towers cost as much or more, installed, as the turbine itself. How much tower you need for a wind turbine to live up to its potential depends on your particular site; on the trees and structures around it etc. Close to the ground the wind is turbulent, and makes a poor fuel for a small wind turbine.

The world of small wind turbines is much like the wild-west of a century ago: Anything goes, and no claim is too bold. Wind turbine manufacturers will even routinely make claims that are not supported by the Laws of Physics. Energy production claims are often exaggerated, as are power curves. In fact, this is the rule, not the exception. Those manufacturers that tell the truth are the exception. Many manufacturers have never tested their wind turbines under real-world conditions. Some have never tested their turbine before selling it to unsuspecting customers. We are not joking! Because we sell grid-tie inverters for small wind turbines we have a front-row seat when it comes to actual operation of turbines of many makes and models. It turns out that some do not work; they self-destruct within days, and sometimes run away and blow their inverter within seconds (clearly nobody at the factory bothered to ever test it).

Also, vertical-axis small turbines are seldom at optimal angles to the wind. They are also installed in close proximity at each other, creating turbulence, and when installed in tandem with solar PV, the south-facing panels creating even more turbulence.

Many of these small turbines are what is called a Savonius design, which looks like two halves or a barrel stuck together. They are cheap but not very efficient, since half the turbine is blocking the wind while the other half scoops it. It barely manages to get 40% efficiency compared to horizontal axis turbines and creates a huge amount of turbulence in its wake.

philishave.jpg

As for that London skyscraper with the turbines at the top, they hardly move at all.

Then there are the turbines that are put on buildings for no other reason than to advertise “I am green!” The developer of the ugliest building in London that looks like a giant shaver actually wanted to put motors on the turbines so that would turn, because they sure don’t in the wind. Fortunately the architect refused so they just sit there.

Posted in Renewable energy, Wind turbines0 Comments

Cape Wind off Nantucket dead, killed by wealthy in class war against us

This will never be off Nantucket now. The US still has no offshore wind.

This will never be off Nantucket now. The US still has no offshore wind.

Wealthy, Republicans and Democrats alike in Cape Cod and Nantucket, have succeeded in killing the Cape Wind project, which would have delivered green energy to Massachusetts and been the first offshore wind project in the US. These deep pocket elitists, including the Kennedys, fought Cape Wind for decades, pouring millions into obstructing it. The sight of a wind turbine way offshore is apparently too much for these upper class twits to endure. And, oh the horror, they might actually see a turbine closer up while out on their sailing yachts. Certainly that will never do. So it’s screw everyone else.

In an e-mailed statement, Cape Wind representative Mark Rogers said that the company would “pursue every option available to us” in order to move the project forward. He cited a “Force Majeure” provision in the PPA that extends milestones if an “unusual, unexpected and significant event” occurred outside the control of Cape Wind.

That “event” was the onslaught of litigation from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group of local wealthy property owners who spent millions of dollars over the years to stop Cape Wind.

Posted in Renewable energy, Wind turbines0 Comments

Offshore wind turbines grow in size and power. Still none in U.S.

offshore-wind-turbines

There are still no offshore wind turbines in the U.S. because of course it’s so much easier to argue for decades about installing them than actually do anything constructive. The rest of the planet though, is happily installing offshore wind turbines, and making us look ridiculous in the process.

Vestas just received orders for 32 ginormous 8.0 MW V164 turbines, the most powerful ever built. They will be installed in Liverpool Bay in the UK, delivering a total of 258 MW of power, enough for 180,000 homes. The blades are 262 feet long. Hub height is 344 feet, longer than a football field.

About the V164-8.0 MW
• 8MW rated power, with an optimal rotor to generator ratio
• 80m blades, the equivalent of nine double decker London buses
• Swept area of 21.124m2 , larger than the London Eye
• The nacelle is 20m long, 8m wide and 8m high, weighing approximately 390 tonnes including the hub
• Approximate hub height of 105m
• Approximate tip height of 187m
• Reduces operational and maintenance costs by enabling customers to run fewer, larger turbines
• World record production by a single wind turbine of 192 MWh in 24 hour period (October 2014)

Siemens makes assembling offshore wind turbines look like assembling Legos…

Posted in Renewable energy, Wind turbines0 Comments

Small bird deaths by modern wind turbines ‘biologically insignificant’

1980's wind turbines at Altamont

1980’s wind turbines at Altamont Pass are more hazardous to birds than modern turbines

Previous studies on avian deaths by wind turbines generalized from studies done at Altamont Pass CA, which have ancient, more dangerous turbines. Modern wind turbines are much larger, slower, do not have latticing, are out of hunting range of raptors, and lower than small bird migration paths. A new peer-reviewed study shows that avian death rate from these new turbines is less than 0.01% of the small passerby bird population, which is “biologically insignificant,” especially considering that 30% die of natural causes each year. A study of raptor and water bird death from wind turbines is coming.

The avian mortality rate found in the new study updates estimates from previous studies that over-sampled information from the earliest wind farms at California’s Altamont Pass. The faster-turning small kilowatt-level 1980s turbines were low on the hillside, where raptors swoop on updrafts to hunt prey on the ground.

Posted in Renewable energy, Wind turbines

California could be 100% renewable energy by 2050, say researchers

solar_power_tower

A combination of renewable energy from wind, water, and sunlight could power California completely by 2050, say perky researchers from Stanford. In my view they’re a bit too perky as well as overly We Know What Is Best For You.

First off, all those pesky gas and diesel vehicles would need to be completely replaced by electric, they say. No word on how electric semis would be able to haul multi-ton loads up the steep Grapevine outside of Los Angeles. No electric truck to my knowledge has the needed torque and power to do this. Maybe they will one day. But they don’t now.

Then there’s this.

[Wind, water, and sunlight] sources selected “ranked the highest among several proposed energy options for addressing pollution, public health, global warming, and energy security.”

Um, shouldn’t cost be a criteria too? Also, grid technology neccessary to support 100% renewables doesn’t exist yet. Perhaps it will soon. However, making projections based on technology that doesn’t exist yet seems a bit specious.

They claim going to 100% renewables would pay for itself.

“The California air-pollution health plus global climate cost benefits from eliminating California emissions could equal the $1.1 trillion installation cost of 603 GW of new power needed for a 100% all-purpose WWS system within ~7 (4–14) years.”

“Global climate cost benefits”, whatever that might be, do not pay for the project or decrease costs eleswhere and should not be included in cost calculations.

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar power, Wind turbines

World’s largest solar-wind hybrid installation

solar-wind

A Jamaica law firm has installed an 80 kw hybrid solar-wind array on the roof of their office. It is expected to save $2 million over its 25 year lifespan and uses small vertical turbines and solar PV.

The installation incorporates 50 of WindStream’s SolarMill devices. The different SolarMill models each comprise one or more solar panels and three or more turbines

Posted in News, Renewable energy, Solar power, Wind turbines

Solar Wind Energy Tower may be built near Mexico border. I’m skeptical

solar-wind

The Solar Wind Energy Tower, promoters say, can produce power 24/7 in hot dry areas using recycled water. Pumps spray water at the top of a ginormous 1,200 foot diameter, 2,250 ft tall tower. Hot, dry air evaporates the water. The air inside the tower becomes cooler and heavier than outside air, creating wind speeds up to 50 mph, which then powers multiple turbines. San Luis, Arizona has just approved construction of a $1.5 billion structure.

Can this be built? Will the company find financing and pass regulatory and NIMBY hurdles? We shall see. Those commenting in an article by The Atlantic are openly skeptical, especially since the technology has not been proven at scale. And, um, what happens when birds get sucked into the turbines?

So, in this tower the moist air is heavier than the dry air? When did they learn to do that? Moist air used to be less dense where the airplanes fly.

I find it hard to believe people are falling for this.

“When water vapor content increases in the moist air the amount of Oxygen and Nitrogen decreases per unit volume and the density decreases because the mass is decreasing.”

The farce is strong with this one

From the company:

Solar Wind Energy’s Tower is unique in that it does not have any operational limitations in terms of time. It’s capable of operating around the clock, 24 hours per day, and seven days per week. Whereas there are operational limitations with solar collectors that work only when the sun shines, and with wind turbines that work only when the wind blows.

It also has the ability to be operated with virtually no carbon footprint, fuel consumption, or waste production. It generates clean, cost effective and efficient electrical power without damaging effects.

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar power, Wind turbines

Elitist NIMBYs manage to delay Cape Wind again

offshore wind

Deep pocket elitists (hi there, Kennedy Clan!) posing as very concerned environmentalists have managed to throw yet another roadblock against Cape Wind. They of course deeply care about renewable energy, so as long as they never have to view an icky wind turbine miles offshore. What would this do to property values? Oh the horror.

The United States still has no offshore turbines. That’s right, none. Cape Wind, between Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard has been delayed, blocked, and sabotaged for ten years, primarily by wealthy, arrogant landowners who simply can not allow such foolishness to built anywhere their exalted personages might see it.

The court remanded the case to FWS to independently evaluate a shutdown of turbines during migratory bird season. FWS has acknowledged this as the most effective measure to reduce bird mortality; however, Cape Wind has resisted the measure as one that would destroy the economic feasibility of its proposed project, the project opponents said.

I’m not sure what is more pathetic – that the US, despite its bleating about renewable energy, still has no offshore wind or the rich elitists who try to block it while pretending to be liberal environmentalists. Cape Wind will no doubt prevail again, no thanks to the overly-entitled.

Posted in Renewable energy, Wind turbines

Wind farms can provide crucial frequency regulation, as well as power

South_Point_Wind_Farm

Frequency regulation keeps the electrical grid in balance between supply and demand on a second-by-second basis. Gas turbines often do this now. However, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have found that wind turbines can do the same by changing the pitch of their blades. Thus, a wind farm could perform a crucial service and generate more revenue by delivering and dropping power output at precisely the right moments.

“Because the grid values these services so much, [wind farms] can actually earn more money by curtailing and providing services than if they’re providing energy,” he said.

For example, there are times in the middle of the night when wholesale energy prices are negative because there is excess wind power. At those times, frequency regulation services would be more valuable than providing energy.

The technology for wind farms too do this already exists. However, it has yet to be implemented on a massive scale. Once it is, wind farms could provide frequency regulation faster than fossil fuel plants.

Posted in Renewable energy, Wind turbines

Ginormous next-gen offshore wind turbines coming

scd-wind-turbine

Huge offshore wind turbines are coming to market. Each turbine can generate 7-8 MW, enough for 4,000-5,000 homes. The SCD 8 MW behemoth is pictured. It has a rotor diameter of 551 feet and an innovative two blade design, which makes transporting and assembling easier, plus the gearbox is smaller. The blades lock into place horizontally when winds are too high or to allow a helicopter to land on top.

The advantages of two-bladed rotors are for a start the much lighter rotor weight of approx. 70% that of a comparable three-bladed rotor, less torque and consequently a smaller gearbox, the hub design is simpler to produce, there are only two pitch systems and above all there is a noticeable drop in assembly, transport, installation and maintenance expenses. Especially offshore applications are simplified due to the only one turbine lifting stroke. For regions with tropical cyclones, the ultimate loads can be reduced considerably through the horizontal parking position. Furthermore, this parking position makes it possible to install a helicopter landing pad.

Posted in Renewable energy, Wind turbines

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