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Power Earth United States

First Town In US To Become 100% Wind Powered 391

Posted by kdawson
from the can't-get-much-greener dept.
gundar99 writes "Rock Port Missouri, population 1,300, is the first 100% wind-powered city in the US. Loess Hill Wind Farm, with four 1.25-MW wind turbines, is estimated to generate 16 gigawatt hours (16 million kilowatt hours) of electricity annually. 13 gigawatt hours of electricity have historically been consumed annually by the residents and businesses of this town."
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First Town In US To Become 100% Wind Powered

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  • by joshamania (32599) <jggramlich@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @08:26PM (#23319550) Homepage
    I'm not sure what the metric is exactly, but it has to do with something like, megawatt-hours-produced-per-acre. This measurement is used when discussing power production by some engineering geeks somewhere...sorry, just trying to point the discussion down a path quickly here and not really set it up too much. :-)

    In short, as cool as we all would like wind power generation to be, it just falls way too short in the aforemention critical statistic. If you've seen the wind farm outside of San Fran, you know how big they can get. The nuke plant between SD & LA (iirc) is but a postage stamp compared to that windfarm and it probably has about twice the power output.

    Wind is not population density friendly. At some point, land costs wipe out any efficiencies.
  • by ijustam (1127015) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @08:34PM (#23319608) Journal
    The pillar that the turbine is mounted to doesn't take up that much room. I imagine a company would pay a farmer to give them a small chunk (probably 0.01 acres) of land for a turbine. If low-altitude (0-500ft~) sky were prime real-estate then we'd have problems, but luckily no one really wants to build anything there.
  • Re:big catch (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Skippy_kangaroo (850507) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @08:56PM (#23319724)
    Also, if there is a suruplus at some times, then energetically intensive industrial operations can be scheduled for those times (for instance, aluminum refining).

    Not if you need guaranteed availability for a period of hours - imagine that you have the furnace almost up to temperature and the power gets cut, that would be a massive waste of energy. Also, you talk of scheduling as if we can forecast wind speed days in advance - you can't of course. Which all means that for practically all industrial applications, wind power fails as a viable alternative. Indeed, domestic applications are pretty unforgiving of random fluctuations too - sorry kids, we can't have dinner tonight, the wind isn't blowing.

    And what is the average cost of wind power anyway? Probably a lot higher than coal even with large carbon taxes.
  • by ThreeGigs (239452) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:14PM (#23319824)
    "The $90 million Loess Hills Wind Farm" .... "is eventually expected to generate 16 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year"

    $90 million for 16 million kWh/year.

    Lessee... over 5 years that's $1.12 per kWh, ouch.
    Over 10 years... nah, still a bit much.
    Over 30 years (can you still get mortgages that long?) it's 19 cents per kWh. ...without maintenance costs.
    Or interest.

    I hate to say it, but this smells like fail. Yeah, a nice feel-good project perhaps, and certainly green, but it's not looking economically viable, if that $90 million number is accurate.

    And speaking of $90 million for 4 windmills... 20 million+ per windmill? No. Freakin'. Way.
  • by Dare nMc (468959) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:15PM (#23319838)

    isn't something that anybody is happy about,

    I disagree, Talked to a nuclear plant engineer working at a plant with a gas turbine auxiliary plant. They are thrilled when the turbine powers up, because they get paid more for that energy because their willing to fill peak demand. If that plant was put into constant production they would get paid the same rate as the nuclear plant, so reduced joy overall.
  • by Vectronic (1221470) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:19PM (#23319876)
    They have the option of idling down some, but they dont have to... they can keep on pumping out as much juice as they want to, if nowhere in the US is using the power...it'l tricle (up) to Canada, or down to Mexico...or whatever...

    When the wind isn't blowing, they'l have to pick up the slack to make up for the loss... and when it is, they might be able to use that time for maintenance, etc.
  • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:37PM (#23319966)
    Checkout Cape Wind. http://www.capewind.org/ [capewind.org]

    It's a 420MW wind farm being setup off the coast of Nantucket Sound.

    Also, check out this page:

    http://capewind.whgrp.com/ [whgrp.com]

    It's a dynamic page that displays how much power the farm would put out based on the average windspeed for the last hour.

  • by glwtta (532858) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:02PM (#23320122) Homepage
    We have enough birds.

    Plus, if they can't figure out that flying into the spinning blady thing is a bad idea, the species is better off without those individuals.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:04PM (#23320148)

    Wind is not population density friendly. At some point, land costs wipe out any efficiencies.

    But wind power doesn't block other use of the land at ground level. The land below the blades can be agricultural and industrial. It can even be residential -- I appreciate that may sound unlikely but remember that an awful lot of density population people live alongside airports and highways, and in some pretty nasty inner-cities.

    While we're on the topic, have any wind engineers got the numbers handy for the land area required for a wind farm vs the agricultural area required to supply the same people? Varies with place of course, but we must have some studies by now.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:59PM (#23320448) Homepage

    Way, way overpriced. Four 1.25MW turbines for $90 million, or $18/watt? That's far too high. Compare the Cedar Ridge project [alliantenergy.com], with 41 turbines of 1.65MW capacity each for $180 million, or $2.6/watt. That's a real not-to-exceed number. The American Wind Energy Association likes to talk about $1/watt, but that's seldom achieved.

    $18/watt is either wrong or a rip-off.

  • by philcolbourn (1150439) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @11:26PM (#23320580)
    Ok, US average according to wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption [wikipedia.org] is about 12,000 kWHr per person per year. But this average would include industry and government consumption averaged over the whole population. Would Rock Port, Missouri have significant industry to make it's consumption only slightly less than average (about the same as AU average)? 10,000 kWHr per day per person seems far too much. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Port,_Missouri [wikipedia.org] Wiki says that there are about 650 households, so each consumes 55kWHr/day - Csn this be right?
  • by triffid_98 (899609) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:25AM (#23320876)
    If we were using fast breeder tech (viva la France) to recycle our spent rods we wouldn't need nearly as much(~1/60th). As an added benefit we could drastically scale back our Yucca Flats facility since we'd have a lot less waste.

    But their are not enough known nuclear material in the US to be self sufficient in nuclear, so it definitely can't (currently) solve the US energy problems either (unless were willing and able to kick South Africa's ass next.)
  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @01:13AM (#23321054)

    So if we wanted to power say, California, which as of 2006 has 36,457,549 [census.gov] people we would need something around (36,457,549/4=28044 so 28044*4=) 112,177 wind turbines. That is stupid ridiculous!

    Yea it's stupid to decentralize power generation when you can concentrate all that power into a few hands instead. Fact is is a farmer can have wind turbines on the farm while still growing food, and they will supplement farmers' income. Wind farms can also be located offshore. Then there's solar [wired.com] and geothermal [ca.gov]. Tidal power can even be used.

    Wind power 'feels good' but when you start running the numbers it gets dumb real quick.

    In what way? If wind were given the same subsidies as nuclear power [cato.org] the math would change. As it is now nuclear power is a form of corporate welfare.

    Falcon
  • Re:Wind can't do it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by supervillainsf (820395) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @01:13AM (#23321056)
    So, what, the you're saying the dungeon masters guidebook isn't historically accurate?
  • by Dr. Cody (554864) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:37AM (#23323164)
    Pumped storage is not without problems--environmental, that is.

    Many resevoirs are designed to operate at a constant level ("head" for us, the difference in height between the surface and the exit of the turbine). Of course a drought could push you out of wack if this is your regulation goal, but, in general, you're going to be sticking to pretty much the same level, and, as a consequence, coast.

    With resevoirs which vary according to demand, there can be large head changes over the year and with different demand patterns (and rainfall)--which translate into DRAMATIC changes in the coastline of the resevoir. As you know, the vegetation and soil developement is most at the coast line. When all of this living matter is suddenly put under four meters of water, it dies and is replaced with anerobic systems. This decay produces hydrogen sulphide (generally nasty) and methane (a greenhouse gas IIRC 400x stronger than CO2). This is the origin of concerns about how much greenhouse gas production that hydropower offsets.

    Then, when the water level dives down, you kill the anaerobic systems, leaving a barren coastline (both just above and just below the waterline at the coast) which is less hospitable to fish and terrestrial animals whose life is based around this environment.

    Up in Sweden, where we have considerable such resevoir regulation, which results in lakes banked by bleached stone for many km in each direction. It has also completely changed the distribution of fishlife in these valleys.
  • Re:Not Really... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Scootin159 (557129) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:58AM (#23323342) Homepage

    Which means, of course, that less power is being generated by other means elsewhere.
    You make this sound like a bad thing.... Personally I'd rather see a larger share of energy being taken from the wind than from coal/gas/oil, etc. While we could never be a 100% wind powered society (unless we have adequate battery capacity for when the wind stops blowing), every bit that we do generate from wind power "saves" a proportionate amount from other (non-renewable) sources.
  • eeePC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CottonThePirate (769463) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @01:09PM (#23327260) Homepage
    Not to be a troll, but if you're seriously concerned get yourself an eeePC, draws 13 watts most times. Now if you hook up an external keyboard/mouse/ monitor you've got a darn decent setup for web/email/light compiling for probably around 35 watts (if you get a low power monitor). I love my little eeePC, I'm always surprised by how decent it is for my tasks.

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