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Power

World's Largest Wind Farm Gets Green Light 388

Posted by Hemos
from the a-windy-tomorrow dept.
cliffski writes "According to the BBC website the UK govt has just given the go ahead to two large offshore wind-farm projects. Between them the schemes would produce enough renewable electricity to power about one million households. The larger London Array project covers 144 sq miles (232 sq km) between Margate in Kent and Clacton, Essex and will be the world's biggest when it is completed. The £1.5bn scheme will have 341 turbines rising from the sea about 12 miles (20km) off the Kent and Essex coasts, as well as five offshore substations and four meteorological masts"
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World's Largest Wind Farm Gets Green Light

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  • by SNR monkey (1021747) on Monday December 18, 2006 @10:43AM (#17286530)
    Last time I checked, 144 square miles would be 373 square kilometers. Remeber is 1.609*1.609 *144...
  • by mobiux (118006) on Monday December 18, 2006 @10:49AM (#17286636)
    "Enough to power about 1 million homes."

    How about a MW output. That's a specific number that can be compared to other forms of electric generation.

    Is that one million homes in the late spring (mildest time of year), when no one is running a/c or heat?

    Or is that one million homes in the middle of summer when whole power grids collapse from the strain?

    Specifics please.
  • by jibster (223164) on Monday December 18, 2006 @10:49AM (#17286642)
    From TFA this is the worlds biggest windfarm but will generate 1% of the UKs electricty needs. If you want a viable answer to the worlds energy needs I think we need to think outside this particular box.
  • by Hijacked Public (999535) * on Monday December 18, 2006 @10:59AM (#17286798)
    I guess there has to be, or has already been, a decision about the acceptable tradeoffs before it is built. For a given amount of power from wind versus coal, which method is best overall, not just to birds or the pocketbook or the ozone layer.

    Typically in order to find out what the Unintended Consequences are things have to be built first, and while wind farms aren't exactly new neither are they common. As with most things the more widespread they become the more effort will be focused on correcting whatever problems they have.

    A friend and I had a similar discussion about cell phone towers while hunting this weekend. He was complaining that the woodcock population has been down lately, and I mentioned that one factor might be the continued proliferation of cell phone towers in our area. Towers were going up with solid beacon lights that screwed up the navigation systems of some migratory birds. A simple change to blinking beacons seems to be fixing the problem. Of course we had to find piles of woodcocks dead around cell phone towers before we even knew it was necessary.
  • Re:Tides (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CmdrGravy (645153) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:01AM (#17286820) Homepage
    The best place to harness tidal power is in river estuaries which tend to support large eco-systems dependant on the tides.

    Unfortunately I think most devices capabale of turning tidal energy into electricity tend to need to be built on a pretty large scale to worth while and this tends to totally destroy the eco systems in the immediate vicinity.

    At least that is what I learned in Geograpgy lessons 15 years ago so things may have moved on since then !
  • by be-fan (61476) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:04AM (#17286864)
    God, I wish the environmentalist would take the same position with regards to nuclear power!
  • Re:Mobile Farms (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mad Dog Manley (93208) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:04AM (#17286876)
    Why don't they put these wind farms on barges floating around the seas offshore

    Hmm, maybe you should have read the submission text, let alone the article. Let me quote for you:

    According to the BBC website ehe UK govt has just given the go ahead to two large offshore wind-farm projects

    Offshore, meaning, you know, not on land. On the water.
  • disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:15AM (#17287030)
    The global energy market disagrees with you, that is why you are seeing this article instead of your alternative which is ...nothing. Ignoring the problem doesn't work, actually doing something about it beyond talking is the only solution that can possibly work right now.

      The alternative energy solution is "all of the above", solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, etc, etc, all of it in total. There will probably not be any one solution any time soon, we need the combination of vastly more energy efficient buildings and vehicles (really the number one place we should be working on) combined with alternate sources of energy combined with the traditional energy sources. That's the only silver bullet. Backyard mr. fusion is here if you recognize that the Sun works, it just works, and it is our only practical fusion power. Solar PV, Solar thermal, biofuels, and wind are all mostly factors of the Sun's output. If you are waiting for man-made ITER type reactors to save you you'll be shivering in a cold dark house for decades to come. Not to say we shouldn't still try and develop it, but reality indicates we need solutions to start now, not wait until it hits OMG crisis mode.
  • by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhocking@Nospam.yahoo.com> on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:16AM (#17287050) Homepage Journal
    Of course, many do not. Probably more do not. However, Al Gore (the anti-enviros favorite whipping boy) does. That was one of the things I really liked about him in 2000. He understood technology and respected the environment. (Not that I want him to run in '08. I think it would detract from his current campaign.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:17AM (#17287078)
    Wind farms may not be THE answer but they may well be PART of the answer. Coupled with modern nuclear power, hydro electric damns, tidal power and solar panels we might well have workable solution for the UK.
  • by OneSmartFellow (716217) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:18AM (#17287090)
    ... made by people who refuse to think clearly!

    Talk about immediate environmental impact. WAKE UP people - wind farms take energy directly out of a very complex self-regulating system. Let's see how long it takes the greenies to realise this is NOT a long term solution,

    As I have repeated said, energy efficiency is the only soultion to our energy problems. Until manufacturers are required to produce more efficient products, we are on the wrong path.
  • by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:19AM (#17287144) Journal
    Eagles, Hawks and Owls. Three types of birds with eyesight ten times better than mine.

    I can see the blades spinning...

  • Re:Mobile Farms (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:22AM (#17287200)
    Cables?
     
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:36AM (#17287432) Homepage
    In Denmark around 20% of our power come from wind, expected to grow to 25%. That is probably the maximum, as you need power when the wind isn't blowing as well. Wind power is not the answer, or an answer, but can be a significant part of answer.

    I wonder why so many people (in particular Americans for some reason) feel that such a complex issue as energy supply need a single source as an answer. Some even dismiss all discussion of conservation with the "argument" that you can't totally eliminate the need of energy that way. Even though just going to EU/Japan level of conservation would eliminate 50% of the energy consumption. Maybe it is because people have been brought up in a world where only answers that can be expressed as sound bites are considered relevant by the media.
  • by End Program (963207) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:49AM (#17287666)
    Tell the to the rich snobs trying to stop a wind farm off the coast of Nantucket, MA. All of a sudden, they have become bird advocates. http://www.saveoursound.org/node/119 [saveoursound.org] All while they drive their large SUV's. F'ing hypocrites Another example of we are for green power, except for NIMBY
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:52AM (#17287730)
    Lisa, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

    I don't know which is worse... the use of the term "renewable" (from an energy/mass-there-is-only-so-much-of-it point of view) or the use of the term "renewable" when you're talking about wind. The tides aren't renewable. Geothermal isn't renewable. Solar isn't renewable. These are all forms of energy that are simply used.

    Trees are renewable. Oil is renewable (um, if you're really patient). How can we expect to get people to think more critically about their use of energy when fundabental notions like "renewable" are tangled up and mis-applied by the very nerdy-smart-people that are supposed to know better? Why butcher the language and cave in to the warm-and-fuzziness of that term when simply calling it like it is would be more accurate, more educational, and better for shaping science-ready minds as they first really stop to think about such things?

    Crap is renewable, by the way.
  • by el_womble (779715) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:56AM (#17287804) Homepage
    We also take insulation more seriously: use brick/breze block cavity walls almost across the board and have double glazing - but compared to Scandiavians we're still savages when it comes to heat efficiency. I was in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago and the room was so hot because of the insulation I had to put a fan on to keep me cool.

    What I don't understand is that a wealthy and educated country like America sees air-conditioning as the solution to being too hot and not quadruple glazing. Insulation keeps you cool too (and makes it cheaper to run said air-conditioning if nothing else).
  • by eggywat (1020737) on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:00PM (#17287878)
    The turbines will be out at sea so endangered land based birds are safe unless they try to migrate through the blade paths. As far as I'm aware seagulls are not endangered. If a few die I don't mind. Less smelly gull poo on the pier. http://bymyreckoning.com/ [bymyreckoning.com]
  • by Cervantes (612861) on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:01PM (#17287902) Journal
    From TFA this is the worlds biggest windfarm but will generate 1% of the UKs electricty needs. If you want a viable answer to the worlds energy needs I think we need to think outside this particular box.

    You're right. Obviously we've been building windfarms on too small a scale up until this point. It's about time we fully embraced the technology and started building windfarms that can provide a comparable percentage of electricity needs. Let's get out of this "little windfarm" box and start making them the size they should be.
  • by pkulak (815640) on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:26PM (#17288360)
    You're right. If it doesn't completely solve the problem, it's not worth doing. I was going to buy a pellet stove so that I would save thousands of dollars a year on my electric bill, but then I realized that I couldn't even plug my microwave into it! What a sham!
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:29PM (#17288402)

    What I don't understand is that a wealthy and educated country like America sees air-conditioning as the solution to being too hot and not quadruple glazing. Insulation keeps you cool too (and makes it cheaper to run said air-conditioning if nothing else).
    Energy is cheap. Who cares how much is used.

     
  • by EvilErik (160738) on Monday December 18, 2006 @01:22PM (#17289298)
    That's senseless. I lived in Australia for 17 years with temperatures that peaked around 45-47c and I've never had A/C. Before Australia I lived in Papua New Guinea, guess what... no A/C. Oh and before that it was South Africa; have a wild guess at the A/C situation then.
    I'm not attacking you as your outlook makes a lot of sense, but the culture of energy usage that I see in other countries makes me twitch to say the least.
  • by Rei (128717) on Monday December 18, 2006 @01:22PM (#17289302) Homepage
    I'm more bothered by people complaining about people not checking about energy return on investment without checking to see whether the people they're complaining about check on energy return on investment.

    *breathes*
  • by Rei (128717) on Monday December 18, 2006 @01:25PM (#17289356) Homepage
    The number killed is tiny compared to most other man-made causes -- windows and housecats being two big ones, killing millions of birds annually. Even with widescale adoption of wind turbines, they'll still kill far fewer birds than just those two causes alone.

    Really, when you look at the numbers overall, turbine birdstrikes are not much of an issue at all.
  • by legirons (809082) on Monday December 18, 2006 @02:05PM (#17289924)
    The problem with wind energy is that it's output is unreliable

    Not when the wind turbines are in different places

    and unlikely to match demand

    Cold winds -> lots of electricity to heat houses. Plus, UK houses can turn their heating on and off when the electricity company sends them a radio signal, which means you can modify the demand whenever you want.

    Essentially, this means that wind farms have to be backed up with other, reliable, fast-switching power sources.

    Like Dinorwig power station? (hydroelectric, very rapid switching). You can also do it with a building full of fuel cells.

    This, of course, means you've still not solved the energy problem - what do these other plants run on?

    Does it matter? You already said they only need to match the difference in demand, to cover short-term fluctuations. And as mentioned above, those plants can run on electricity from the wind turbines if you want.

  • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Monday December 18, 2006 @02:56PM (#17290662) Journal
    Sorry, but your distinctions are just silly.

    First off, language is about communication, and requires transmitter and receiver to agree on the meanings of symbols/words. "Renewable energy" is a well recognised term, and does its communciation job perfectly well, even if it doesn't quite match your idea of what "renewable" means. "Kick the bucket" similarly communicates an idea, despite having a meaning unrelated to do with kicking or buckets.

    Secondly, the word "renewable" is entirely justifiable in "renewable energy". It refers to energy souces which are constantly renewed, so that extracting energy from them depletes the source only for a short period of time (months or years for hydroelectric, hours for tidal, possibly minutes or hours for wind.)

    Finally, why should it be that harnessing solar power by photosynthesis is renewable, but harnessing it by photoelectric cell is not?
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday December 18, 2006 @04:07PM (#17291734)
    First off, language is about communication, and requires transmitter and receiver to agree on the meanings of symbols/words. "Renewable energy" is a well recognised term, and does its communciation job perfectly well, even if it doesn't quite match your idea of what "renewable" means

    There's nothing at all wrong with language evolving. What I don't like is when it devolves - when two distinct words/phrases used to make the distinction between two similar but importantly different concepts are replaced with one word to cover both of them. Leaving both people in the conversation less able to be sure that the information being exchanged is actually meaningful.

    "Renewable" (in practical terms, things like crops for fuel) is not the same thing as "abundantly available" (like radiation from the sun). Can a lot of conversations be had without needing to make the distinction? Sure. Does the average citizen's already feeble grip on precision in communication (especially as it relates to technical and scientific matters - things that many people feel they then must keep in mind while voting or spending money, etc) get damaged by dumbing it down? Very much so. Quit treating people (especially kids) as too dumb to know that similar but subtly (or substantially) different things deserve their own bits of the language, and they won't end up too dumb to be considered articulate when they grow up. More words, more clarity, more synapses in the ol' meat computer. It's good all the way around.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:47PM (#17294276)

    I was in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago and the room was so hot because of the insulation I had to put a fan on to keep me cool.

    Sigh. Leave it to Americans/Britons to find completely novel ways to waste energy. Why didn't you just open the window instead? ;)

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