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.
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.
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.
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.
California wind turbines kill more birds per megawatt than elsewhere. No one is quite sure why. Disturbingly, data from Altamont Pass wind farms, notorious for bird kills, was not included. However, even in California the mortality rate of birds from turbines is far less than from windows, cats, and communications towers.
California’s newest wind turbines may be killing more than 100,000 birds a year, according to a peer-reviewed study to be published in December. Those mortalities seem to climb the taller wind turbines get. And California wind turbines kill more wildlife per megawatt than identical turbines in other parts of the country.
Other studies have shown far lower kill rates.
Duke Energy is paying $1 million fine in a criminal case, admitting they installed wind turbines in a way they knew would bill birds.
The American Bird Conservancy, a nonprofit group that supports protections for bird habitats, said that the plea agreement was a positive step toward addressing bird deaths caused by the wind industry, but that federal officials needed to do more to address violations by other companies.
Twenty kilometers offshore from Fukushima is an experimental floating wind turbine. It is connected the the world’s first floating substation. If tests go well, 140 floating turbines, which are tethered to the ocean floor, will be installed, generating a gigawatt of power. This is the equal of some coal and nuclear plants.
The first prototype Fukushima wind turbine has already weathered an earthquake, small tsunami and typhoons in October—all before the turbine and substation are scheduled to begin full operation in November.
An innovative new design in wind turbines is being tested and is aimed at the home or small business market. Designed to be inconspicuous, the Dragonfly can produce electricity even in very light winds. Also, big wind turbines can afford electronics or special designs that shut down the turbine if wind speeds get too high. Small turbines haven’t been able to do that, until now. However, the dragonfly apparently can.
The turbine has been designed to have a minimal visual impact and has only two blades, rather than the more usual three. when the turbine is not turning, the blades align vertically with the mast. in the total absence of wind, the turbine is capable of blending perfectly into the surrounding environment, being reduced to the slim vertical line of the tower
Between rooftop solar for homeowners and big companies building microgrids, traditional power utilities are facing a major threat to their traditional monopolistic ways of doing business. We don’t need them nearly so much as we used to. It makes sense for big companies to have control over some or all of their power. Microgrid technology allows companies to easily switch between their own solar, fuel cell, or wind power and that coming from the utility. Smart utilities are gearing up to meet this huge change in distribution of power. Dinosaur utilities will fight it – and lose.
The 3,200 U.S. utilities are already facing what NRG Energy Inc. CEO David Crane calls a “mortal threat” to the industry. Forces including deregulation, green politics and an explosion of rooftop solar and other homemade energy — known as distributed generation — mean a reduction in the fossil-fuel electricity utilities sell.
Microgrids may be the mechanism through which this revolution in clean distributed generation will be carried out – – a portal for leaving the traditional power grid.
California’s mandated push to at least 33% renewable energy by 2020 faces supply problems for six months each year when the sun sets earlier, says the California Independent System Operator. Their ‘Duck Chart’ shows the problem. More power is needed in late afternoon / early evening, when people return home from work. However, for six months each year, that’s precisely when solar power production drops. And if wind isn’t blowing at wind farms, the problem gets worse. If more renewable energy is added, then there will probably be excess capacity during the other six months.
Of particular concern to the ISO are three-hour periods when the sun goes down in January, February and March and in October, November and December of each year (called “shoulder months” by the ISO). In a future state energy system that is half green, it would no longer be the peak hot months of the summer or an unusual winter cold snap that would present the risk of blackouts or rolling brownouts. Instead, it would be the sunset period of each day during moderate temperature months that is likely to present a critical challenge to the reliability of electricity for customers.
One blade for the turbine. Credit: windpowermonthly.com
A behemoth Samsung Heavy Industries’ 7 MW wind turbine is being installed 65 feet offshore in Scotland. It has a walkway to people can gape at the 640 ft tall structure, which can power 6,000-10,000 homes.