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Power Earth

Giant Floating Windmills To Launch Next Year 162

Posted by kdawson
from the we've-tried-earth-and-fire dept.
pacroon writes "StatoilHydro is building the world's first full-scale floating wind turbine, Hywind, and testing it over a two-year period offshore of Karmøy, Norway. The company is investing approximately $80 million. Planned startup is in the fall of 2009. The project combines existing technology in innovative ways. A 2.3-MW wind turbine is attached to the top of a so-called Spar-buoy, a solution familiar from production platforms and offshore loading buoys. A model 3 meters tall has already been tested successfully in a wave simulator. The goal of the pilot is to qualify the technology and reduce costs to a level that will mean that floating wind turbines can compete with other energy sources."
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Giant Floating Windmills To Launch Next Year

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  • Transmission? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by William Robinson (875390) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @05:48AM (#23534747)
    TFA does not talk about transmission. How exactly they are going to manage a good reliable power transmission with the kind of floating power station, Any idea?
    • Re:Transmission? (Score:5, Informative)

      by a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @05:55AM (#23534779) Homepage Journal
      A power cable.

      The raft wont be floating freely, it will be anchored to a specific spot where the conditions for wind is good. However its much cheaper to use than construction something from the sea bottom in deep water. Most sea wind power are close to shore wind power plants that is build where the water is shallow or on islands. With this techonolgy a wind farm can be set up in deep water where the wind conditions are good.

      • Re:Transmission? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:19AM (#23534849) Homepage
        Indeed, Denmark already has extensive offshore windfarm resources, and they produce a good percentage of their power from wind as well. A small country like Ireland could well produce most or all of its power with this technology.

        This also solves the issue with noise from wind generators anchored in deep water, which the Danes have estimated could cause problems for whales - sound travels much farther in deep water.

        And can we please spare the feckless comments on injuring birds, large size windmills move much too slowly to cause a bird damage unless they ploughed into it headlong, and any bird that would do that will have difficulties with flying into cliffs as well.
        • by Weh (219305)
          i didn't know there was a "noise" problem but if there was; how is this going to solve it?

          one of the problems I can see is that there will be a lot of torque/forces on the turbine hubs/axes due to the gyroscopic forces/spar motion combo. I'm sure the engineers thought of that already though, I'm just wondering how they solved it.
          • Re:Transmission? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @07:52AM (#23535167) Homepage

            i didn't know there was a "noise" problem but if there was; how is this going to solve it?
            Apparently there is a problem [wikipedia.org] at greater depths...

            Tests carried out in Denmark for shallow installations showed the levels were only significant up to a few hundred metres. However, sound injected into deeper water will travel much further and will be more likely to impact bigger creatures like whales which tend to use lower frequencies than porpoises and seals. A recent study found that wind farms add 80â"110 dB to the existing low-frequency ambient noise (under 400 Hz), which could impact baleen whales communication and stress levels, and possibly prey distribution.

            As far as I understand it, towers will transmit the noise directly to the ocean floor, but a floating platform, even if anchored, distributes most of the noise at the surface, although I could be mistaken in that.
            • by cayenne8 (626475)
              I have to guess these versions of them still have the NIMBY problem tho....I doubt they'll let you put these up off the coast of cape code...they don't seem to like them there [grist.org] .
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by grizdog (1224414)

          And can we please spare the feckless comments on injuring birds, large size windmills move much too slowly to cause a bird damage unless they ploughed into it headlong, and any bird that would do that will have difficulties with flying into cliffs as well.

          I don't object to windmills, but the tip speed of the large windmills is quite fast. The article said these would be 80 meters in diameter, so if they rotated at one revolution every three seconds, that would be almost 200 miles per hour at the tip. I think that one of the main reasons large turbines do rotate so slowly is the high tip speed is difficult to deal with - at the speed of sound (340 m/s) shock waves become a problem, and structural problems show up at slower speeds. And of course, there ar

          • Re:Transmission? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @08:39AM (#23535333) Homepage

            And of course, there are the birds.
            Borrowed from here [treehugger.com]:

            To help our understanding of turbine hazards to birds we'd like to make an analogy, to your bicycle. Turn your bike upside down or put it in a work rack, set it to the highest gear...the one you use to go fast on a level slope.... and now move the wheel slowly with your hand. The chain moves rapidly with only a few degrees of wheel rotation. This symbolizes today's cutting edge 1.5 mW turbines, which have a very large surface area of blade exposed to the wind and a gearbox that turns the dynamo quickly while the blades move slowly. Birds dodge these slow moving blades relatively easily.

            Now put the bike in the lowest gear...the one you use to climb hills...and move the wheel with your hand fast enough to turn the chain as fast as before. That symbolizes the 20-year-old "bird-o-matic" wind turbine design. Small blades with small surface areas have to turn rapidly to overcome the magnetic force of the dynamos, which generate electricity.

            Recapping: small blades, low surface area, lots of dead birds possible; very big blades, with large surface area exposed to wind, very few dead birds.
            • Nice, but I think they mixed up the gears. The first one should be low gear (chain goes fast, wheel goes slow) and the second high gear (chain goes slow, wheel goes fast). Or maybe it's some weird bike thing.
            • by instarx (615765)

              Borrowed from here [treehugger.com]:

              Pulease. As an actual degree-granted environmental scientist (M.S., Environmental Sciences and Engineering), I find this site to be total baloney. Please take a look at treehugger's staff list - not a single environmental scientist or engineer in the bunch. In fact, there isn't a single technical degree in the lot of them. They're all web gurus, ex-fashion designers, design students and 20-something "serial entrepeneurs" (I would be embarassed to write that about myself) who have clearly jumped on the s

              • by RockDoctor (15477)

                This "article" about the so-called misconceptions of wind-turbine bird-kills from a bunch of "sustainability enthusiasts" (their words) is about as worthless as it gets.
                If it were done as a book, it would at least have the advantage of keeping a number of hand-sized sheets of paper in a convenient unit. Now, what could you use that for?
              • YOU'RE QUOTING THESE PEOPLE AS EXPERTS ON WIND-TURBINE BLADE DESIGN!?

                Not at all, it was literally one of the first results on Google that seemed to have a nice easy to grasp explanation of the reduced danger that modern wind turbines pose to wildlife. I'm sure someone with a bit more time on their hands could find a few more authoritative articles. However you seem to be getting terribly upset, purely because:

                As an actual degree-granted environmental scientist (M.S., Environmental Sciences and Engineering), I find this site to be total baloney.

                This "article" about the so-called misconceptions of wind-turbine bird-kills from a bunch of "sustainability enthusiasts" (their words) is about as worthless as it gets.

                Seriously, unless you have a specific argument against what I quoted, your opinions on the authors are entirely irrelevant. They do in this case explain what I want

                • by instarx (615765)

                  Seriously, unless you have a specific argument against what I quoted, your opinions on the authors are entirely irrelevant. They do in this case explain what I wanted them to, and I don't vouch for the rest of the site.

                  ha ha. You quote unqualified, self-promoting dilitants as your technical source to justify your point of view, and somehow that makes my observations on the quality your experts irrelevant? You and I clearly live on a different planet. On mine experts quoted to support a technical argument should have some hint of technical ability. Credentials if you will. If not, your argument remains unsupported. And remember what your [frankly] off-the-wall argument was: spinning windmill blades look like a solid c

                  • You quote unqualified, self-promoting dilitants as your technical source to justify your point of view, and somehow that makes my observations on the quality your experts irrelevant?

                    But eh, they did explain it. If their explanation (the only part I quoted) was wrong, feel free to point out the error.

                    And remember what your [frankly] off-the-wall argument was: spinning windmill blades look like a solid cliff face to birds. Uh huh.

                    I said a bird blind enough to get hit by one of these would also have trouble hitting just about anything, I did not say windmills=cliffs.

                    It is scientifically and logically deceptive to cite people who don't know a damned thing about the topic in question

                    And for the third time, the one single and only point that matters: were they wrong?

                    and to give the impression that they are "experts".

                    Where did I do that?

                    I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and say you did it by accident, but be more careful next time, please.

                    Sufficient unto the day, the evil thereof.

                    • by instarx (615765)

                      But eh, they did explain it. If their explanation (the only part I quoted) was wrong, feel free to point out the error.

                      No, they did not explain it. They made up some stuff they thought supported their conclusions. Point out the error(s)? Ok, I will.

                      1. They say that modern wind turbines use wide blades. That is not the case. The most efficient shape for blades has remained unchanged - long and thin.

                      2. They say that blades turn slowly. Not true. In their non-technical dilitant way they have confused low RPMs with low blade speed (they're artists, web designers, and self-promoters - not engineers). Even at a low RPM the tips of long blades can be travelling very fast - even approaching the speed of sound.

                      3. They say that just by adding gearing (their stupid bicycle analogy) turbines can get the same energy from lower blade speeds. Just put some gears in to speed up the generator part! Again that is not true. There is no free lunch and the blades have to turn at their most efficient speed given the wind-speed. You can't simply slow them down and add a gear to speed up the generator. Again, they show their utter lack of understanding not only of wind-turbine design, but of even the basic physics of everyday mechanical systems.

                      And these are the people you quote as experts! And because you did many people now think that wind turbines have been shown to be completely harmless to birds - based on the musings of a bunch of incompetents.

                    • No, they did not explain it. They made up some stuff they thought supported their conclusions. Point out the error(s)? Ok, I will.

                      1. They say that modern wind turbines use wide blades. That is not the case. The most efficient shape for blades has remained unchanged - long and thin.

                      The size of the blades has changed a bit since the early days though, don't you think? Going from small to 80 meters plus, which is much easier for birds to see and avoid? They even have to use specialised trucks to transport the blades around. Would you say the blades are physically wider than the early ones?

                      2. They say that blades turn slowly. Not true. In their non-technical dilitant way they have confused low RPMs with low blade speed (they're artists, web designers, and self-promoters - not engineers). Even at a low RPM the tips of long blades can be travelling very fast - even approaching the speed of sound.

                      And the tips are attached to the rest of the blade, which moves much slower, reducing the effective danger zone for birds as well as giving them something they can actually see. Speed of sound my a

        • by JJ (29711)
          I wonder about your phrase "most or all". That seems very ambitious.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Ireland is one of the best locations in Europe for wind power as it is situated on the Western edge of Europe and is exposed to high winds from the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea. Wind power utility factors tend to be higher in Ireland than anywhere else. By the end of 2006 the installed capacity of wind power in Ireland was over 745 MW, or around 6% of the total power production in the country (which climbed 50% in 2006).

            So its not really that much of a stretch to see 80% or 90% of the power in the country
        • by toddhisattva (127032) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @01:53PM (#23536939) Homepage

          can we please spare the feckless comments on injuring birds
          Nope. The environmentalists buttered their bread and now they have to lie in it. For over a century they have whined about every overspecialized subspecies being "endangered."

          Now it's time to use their own bullshit against them. It is time to shut down every idiotic "green" project by any means necessary. Building a wind farm? Expect to hear every single lie told about conventional power thrown back in your face.

          All those power lines leaking radiation into the environment!

          Wind turbines have huge carbon footprints because of their refined metal content. The only carbon-neutral wind turbines are made of wood.

          The iron used in wind turbines has a half-life of billions of years!

          The quantum flux caused by their rotating magnets makes eggshells thinner.

          The vanes mix the air and cause acid rain.

          Electricity from wind turbines has been shown to cause moleculitis in kids.

          Using dozens of tiny generators instead of one big generator puts tons more negative ions into the atmosphere. Or is it positive ions? It better not be neutral ions, because those are pure poison.

          --
          Usually, I am against using lies to counter lies. The corrective for lies is truth. But in this case, I expect the creative use of lies to illustrate previous lies will be funny as hell, because it is so deserved.

          Hoist by their own petard. Hehe, I said "petard."
        • by instarx (615765)
          Feckless? The area of the blades in the windmill's blade-arc is about 98% open space, and even less at the tips. That's hardly like a cliff - in fact it is a lot more like open sky than a cliff. As for blade speed, to you the speed of the blades may appear slow, but your brain is being fooled by he windmill's size and low RPMs just like a bird's would be.

          I'm not saying the windmills would or would not be harmful to birds, but your ideas on why they would not be show remarkably poor reasoning on your part
      • Re:Transmission? (Score:5, Informative)

        by William Robinson (875390) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @08:00AM (#23535193)

        The raft wont be floating freely, it will be anchored to a specific spot

        Thanks.

        I found a better article [azom.com] that explains the concept with better pictures.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hojima (1228978)
        Or you can use the windmills to electrolyze water and compress the hydrogen so that we wont be dependent on foreign oil to run our cars. Hell, it would be good to have individual generators running on it so you don't face the power loss from the cables.
    • by CarpetShark (865376) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:29AM (#23534881)

      How exactly they are going to manage a good reliable power transmission with the kind of floating power station, Any idea?


      They've discovered that a relatively unorthodox technology, known as "peer to peer" is a good solution. Unfortunately big corporations have made it illegal in every country but sweden. The upshot is that, instead of using the natural infrastructure of a p2p network that already exists, the company will be based in sweden, and all of the floating windmills will be directly tied to their HQ, by long cables. From sweden, the company will then export it back to your house, beside the windmill, on trucks.

      But don't worry, you will get a shiny plastic wrapper for your 1-ton battery, and an insert with lots of credits to the corporations who made it possible, and copyright notices.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Wouldn't that be pier-to-pier?
    • Windmills (Score:5, Funny)

      by Dr. Cody (554864) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @07:44AM (#23535133)

      TFA does not talk about transmission. How exactly they are going to manage a good reliable power transmission with the kind of floating power station, Any idea?
      Well, the summary says they're windmills, so I assume it will be transmitted in the form of flour.
    • Re:Transmission? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 25, 2008 @09:22AM (#23535489)
      >How exactly they are going to manage a good reliable power transmission
      >with the kind of floating power station, Any idea?

      The subsurface structure:
      Water depth: about 220 m (approx. 720 ft); buouy is a cylinder standing vertical in the water, the draft is about 100 m (305 ft);- buoy diameter, say 10 m.

      Topside structure/turbine data:
      Operating wind speed: 3-27 m/s; about 40 m long blades; rated capacity and speed: 2.3 MW; 5-15 rpm.

      Mooring system:
      Attached to buoy at about mid-point (say at depth 50 m); 3 mooring lines.

      The power transmission system, the electrical cable:
      The cable is attached to the buoy at either depth 50 m or at buoy bottom. The buoy will be subjected to both dynamic and static motion due to waves, currents and wind. The static motion is mainly horizontal offset caused by the static loads that are counteracted by the mooring system. The cable arrangement is able to adjust to these buoy motions without mechanical overload, this is achieved by the following methods:
      1. Bend stiffener in the interface with the buoy (a 2-3 m long conical plastic thing which main purpose is to avoid overbending and associated fatigue damage in the interface with the buoy.
      2. The cable is arranged in a compliant riser configuration between seabed and buoy, this allows the spar buoy to move without causing excessive tension and bending in the cable. This effect is achieved by "storing" over-lenght in a buoyant cable section. Hence - when the buoy moves - cable lenght is simply "paid" out (or in) from the buoyant section. Starting at the buoy there is a bend stiffener followed by say 150 m cable, then perhaps 60 m cable equipped with buoyancy until eventually there is cable to the seabed. There is of course an anchor somewhere at the seabed to keep the cable fixed.

      The above technology is well known from the oil industry, the described riser configuration is a so called "pliant wave" or "lazy wave configuration". The main challenges with this concept is that it is new uncharted territory and that we do not yet know the actual parameters. Our experience is from the oil business, where such cables between platform and seabed are routinely used.

      Greetings from a member of the engineering team within Nexans Norway AS, the Halden plant, which will design and manufacture the power transmission for the Hywind project.
  • Floating... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Llywelyn (531070) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @05:58AM (#23534787) Homepage
    Will make them a little hard to tilt against. A charge on horseback is nearly as dramatic when they are out at sea.
  • Birds? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jamesh (87723) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @05:59AM (#23534803)
    One of the arguments against wind farms on land has been that they take out the odd bird now and then. Would bird activity be lower out to sea at the altitude that these things sit at?
    • Re:Birds? (Score:5, Funny)

      by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:11AM (#23534829) Homepage Journal
      Taking out an albatross could be bad luck.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      considering the bird thing was never really a problem on land either, lower bird activity might even push it into the negative range; i.e. new birds would occasionally pop into existence around it or become healthier by flying near it.
    • Re:Birds? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tracy Reed (3563) <treedNO@SPAMultraviolet.org> on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:36AM (#23534905) Homepage
      I don't get this bird killing thing. I've spent lots of time walking amongst the giant wind turbines around Tehachapi, CA where I grew up. I never saw a dead bird out there nor had I ever heard of these things killing birds until just a few years ago. Does anyone actually have any data on this? So far it sounds like an urban legend.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by StormyWeather (543593)
        Just environmentalists looking for a reason to hate the technology. We have tons of the power windmills here, and even when the wind is howling those things move slow as a glacier. The old water pump windmills of the plains would have been a bigger threat, but I'll bet the birds loved the water from the horse troughs.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by maxwell demon (590494)
          See? The electric windmills don't give the birds water. They are BAD! :-)
        • Actually, just anti-environmentalists looking for ways to paint every environmentalist as a raving lunatic.

          Most of us who like the idea of wind technology don't particularly care about the handful of birds it might effect, and resent getting stereotyped by the people who want to marginalize everything we stand for.
          • by Peaker (72084)
            What about nuclear energy?
            Do you support that or do you prefer existing solutions?
            • by Jeremi (14640)
              What about nuclear energy?
              Do you support that or do you prefer existing solutions?


              Haha, it's the old false choice fallacy. In fact, I prefer nuclear energy over coal and petroleum, but I also prefer wind/solar/wave/hydro over nuclear.

            • Me personally, I support it. I would also like to see something equivalent to the Apollo Program devoted towards developing economical Fusion power, since from my (admittedly limited) understanding, fusion produces radioactive waste with a much shorter half-life than fission. Fuel for fusion is also much easier to obtain.

              But I figure wind, solar, and maybe something like biodiesel from algae farms can all contribute to a solution with less environmental impact than coal and less dependencies upon source
        • Re:Birds? (Score:5, Informative)

          by TapeCutter (624760) * on Sunday May 25, 2008 @09:39AM (#23535571) Journal
          "Just environmentalists looking for a reason to hate the technology."

          People who shun technology are called Ludites.

          The last time I heard of a windfarm cancelled because of birds was here in the state of Victoria in Australia, it was about 2yrs ago. It was a right-wing government minister that killed the project, obsetnsibly because of concerns by experts over "rare birds". This proffesional anti-environmentalist trawled the environmental impact statement and found a mention of (IIRC) the orange-bellied parrot. He was the one who chose to kill the project there were no prosteters, and the impact statement had given the project the thumbs-up.

          The "environmentalists" have been ranting about wind farms since the 1970's, the vast majority of people (green or otherwise) knew the bird thing was bullshit and wanted the farm. However when the minister cancelled the project because "experts said rare parrots were found breeding in the area", mass-media dutifully blamed "environmentalists".
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by KostasPlenty (1285896)
            To reinforce that point, the article in The Age had some detail on the risk posed to parrots. It read something like: "up to 0.6 parrots per year will die". As far as I understand it had to do with State - Federal politics one being Labour and the other Liberal at the time and nothing to do with the bloody parrot. The Federal government blocked a state decision which as far as i know is difficult to overcome.
      • Re:Birds? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:54AM (#23534991)
        Studies show that the number of birds killed by wind turbines is negligible compared to the number that die as a result of other human activities such as traffic, hunting, power lines and high-rise buildings...

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power#Birds
        • Re:Birds? (Score:5, Funny)

          by maxwell demon (590494) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @07:08AM (#23535029) Journal
          Of course the windmills will produce traffic (a service technician coming to control them every now and then), power lines (obvious) and high-rise buildings (for the companies who build and operate those windmills). Possibly they'll also produce hunting (I can't currently find any link, but I'm sure with enough creativity, you'll find one). So you have to add all those birds killed by those activities to the numbers of windmills. You'll see immediately that the resulting sum is larger than the effect of any activity you mentioned.

          And don't tell me that this calculation is not serious. After all, the RIAA gets away with this type of calculation all the time!
          • Possibly they'll also produce hunting (I can't currently find any link, but I'm sure with enough creativity, you'll find one).

            After all, the RIAA gets away with this type of calculation all the time!


            That's easy. Following the RIAA example, windmill operators will hire people to hunt down the birds, and/or shoot them on sight.

        • Re:Birds? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by vlm (69642) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @09:54AM (#23535619)

          Studies show that the number of birds killed by wind turbines is negligible compared to the number that die as a result of other human activities such as traffic, hunting, power lines and high-rise buildings...

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power#Birds [wikipedia.org]
          What about human activities like ... eating? The most obvious problems are often overlooked. Given a highrise with 10K people inside, it really doesn't matter if one or two birds crash into it, if they are renting the ground floor to KFC.
          • by FooAtWFU (699187)

            Somehow or another (there are a lot of different and sometimes contradictory mechanisms at play) most people associate "chickens" (and eating chickens) with an enormously different set of concepts and moral ideals than they do wild birds of all sorts -- especially the big pretty ones like herons and such, but somewhat for any bird outside. Even pigeons and seagulls fare better, I think.

            Random vaguely-offtopical bonus link: Polish chicken! [flickr.com]

          • by pavon (30274)
            The difference is that those chicken would have never even existed if they weren't being raised for food, and killing them has zero impact on the "natural" (current) ecosystem (raising them is another issue).

            I have no moral qualms whatsoever about killing animals for usefull purposes. I do have issues with killing so many wild animals that it affects the sustainability of the species as a whole, or shifts the local ecosystem in undesirable (or unpredictable) ways. Which is why I'll eat as much cow and chick
        • Not to mention domestic and feral housecats. They've been estimated to kill MILLIONS of birds annually.
      • by Shivetya (243324) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @07:54AM (#23535177) Homepage Journal
        Here is an old article I remembered about and fortunately google brought it up http://www.coxwashington.com/reporters/content/reporters/stories/2005/11/13/BC_WINDMILLS_BATS_ADV13_COX.html [coxwashington.com]

        From the article
        " Towering up to 228 feet above the Appalachian Mountain ridge, far above the tree line, windmills are lined up like marching aliens from War of the Worlds.
        Up close, they emit a high-pitched electrical hum. From a distance of a few hundred yards, their 115-foot blades make a steady whooshing sound as their tips cut through the air at up to 140 mph."

        "A study conducted at FPL's Mountaineer Wind Energy Center here this year indicated that its 44 turbines may have caused between 1,300 and 2,000 bat deaths in a six-week period. That study was led by Edward B. Arnett, a scientist with Bat Conservation International, and financed largely by the American Wind Energy Association and its 700 member companies."

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by jafiwam (310805)
        You don't get it because it makes no sense.

        It's complete bullshit.

        Note the following facts:

        The original "wind turbines kill birds" campaign used several outlets to say the same thing, using the same four dead birds picture with no evidence.

        Glass buildings in cities, radio towers (lights at night), cars all kill way more birds than wind power ever could.

        "Fluffy" the house-cat let out at night, and feral cats kill 10,000 times the estimated bird kill from 100% of the US power needs from wind.

        In other words, i
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        It's not pure urban myth. One of the early wind farms--at Altamont Pass, I think--was "built along a major raptor migration corridor in an area with high wintering concentrations of raptors and in the heart of the highest concentration of golden eagles in North America" (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/PROGRAMS/bdes/altamont/factsheet.pdf). Oops.

        Altamont did kill a lot of eagles, and since it was one of the first, the reputation stuck. The reality is that Altamont has "has the highest numbers an
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zippthorne (748122)
          Yes, the tips are fast. But the issue is not the speed per se, but whether they can be avoided. Since the rotational speed is lower, they are simply not fast enough for persistence-of-vision to make them invisible (to humans. I suppose studies would need to be done as to bird persistence of vision...)

          Also, the time in between blades to pass through the gap depends solely on rotational speed, not tip velocity. That's what people mean when they say they turn "slowly."

          It depends on how you model the danger
  • Why is it that wind turbines aren't augmented with solar panels on them? I'm talking either in the base stem or actually on the blades, seems like a no brainer in so much that you save space and it would be useful for the those areas which are windy and sunny. I don't mean to suggest that their power generating capabilities are linked either, just why can't they take up the same space and whatever energy either of the technologies generate can be fed into that country's electrical grid.
    • by polar red (215081) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:26AM (#23534871)
      because solar panels can easily be fitted onto roofs, and looking out of my window, i can still see hundreds that don't have 'em yet, so putting solar panels out into the sea sounds a waste of time.
      • by ImaLamer (260199) <john.lamarNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:57AM (#23534997) Homepage Journal
        Look out of my window all I see are large apartment buildings and I can't help but to think they could be cutting their overall energy consumption with solar panels. The tops of these building are flat and wide and raise above the landscape, I look out and see an energy farm.

        I think there should be a city ordinance that states that each apartment building with more than 10 subunits should be forced to either install a set of solar panels or allow the local utility to do so. The surface area in my city alone could help the resident imprint. Make the law at the city level so it can be chosen to be followed by the local residents and if the property owner installs the system themselves allow their panels energy to impact the residents bill. I think there are forces in this type of legislation that could drive the market for panels and attracting residents with energy savings.

        Putting panels sky scrapers don't make sense because they simply use too much energy compared to their top surface area, their impact would be minimal - but look around, there are many places these things could go. In some buildings during the day there is absolutely no one too, they are off somewhere else using energy but the building where they live is just feeding into the grid (or paying off their evening's usage).

        It would be costly and would need to be implemented over some time frame; but the market would drive for the cheapest - and eventually most efficient of hardware.
        • Solar power should be required by the design standards for commercial air conditioning systems.
          • by Cally (10873) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @08:37AM (#23535327) Homepage
            The costs of manufacturing p/v (electricity-generating) cells is still high enough that they're not yet a mass-market item. Solar water heating, however, is getting pretty mainstream here in the UK. Unsolicited testimonial: to my left I have a view out the window of a misty, grey, drizzly and damp prospect (a typical English summer, in other words.) To my right, a bathroom with gallons of free hot water. Result, happiness :)

            On the other hand -- I've noticed very small p/v and wind turbine installations popping up on the roadsides in our area in the last few years - powering things like illumination lights for traffic signs, lights at bus-stops, speed-triggered LED speed warning signs and the like. The wind turbines are dinky things with rotor diameters of perhaps three or four feet. (Note, this is along the shore of the Severn Estuary, which is presumably more reliably windy than most places inland.) I'm curious if manufacturing economies of scale have brought such small devices down to the point that they're cost effective, as well as green, anyone know?

            • by StCredZero (169093) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @11:17AM (#23536047)
              There are some great devices for solar water heating produced in Britain. If you treated this as a water preheat, you could use this with a Stirling engine and have your own solar-thermal unit with solar energy storage.

              The big problem there is getting your hands on a Stirling engine.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by FooAtWFU (699187)

              It appears they are suitable for small things along the roadside where the cost of installation of electrical service far outweighs the cost of electricity - signs along the highway, and such - and moreover things which aren't exactly the most critical infrastructure (like, oh, stoplights).

              When it comes to things that chew lots of power, though, I'm sure there's no contest.

              It reminds me of those solar garden-lights that they sell that you can just stick in the ground instead of digging trenches and run

            • Small battery chargers are very easy to make. All you need is a 36V DC cooling fan for a large stationary motor and a diode. That will charge a 12V battery quite nicely and costs only about $100. This is a nice setup to power a cottage or a RV. We used one for many years, till the grid finally caught up with the cottage.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Graymalkin (13732)
              Wind turbines can be manufactured "green" since most of their construction materials are recyclable. They are also fairly easy to construct since they don't require any sort of exotic manufacturing processes. The DOE's website has a nice diagram [energy.gov] of a modern wind turbines components. Modern turbines are highly efficient and when situated correctly pay for themselves very quickly. As you've seen turbines have gotten cheap enough that individual units have become suitable for people to buy themselves. Small sc
        • However minimal it may be, it still is a saving. It adds up, each little tiny bit.
        • California is doing this now... heard a report on NPR about it a couple weeks ago, with a 10 year timeline to get something like 3000 MW online....

          http://gov.ca.gov/index.php?/press-release/3588/ [ca.gov]
        • by FooAtWFU (699187)

          I disagree - while the skyscraper may not have all its demands met by solar, it would be a fine candidate, because it may enough consumption that it could guarantee that all the solar is being used, and seems more likely to have the capital for it than a smaller complex would.

          The problem is that these things still do not make enough sense from the purely financial perspective. Electricity is cheap. Solar panels have a big up-front cost, and when you consider interest, maintenance, and such, the pay-back pe

    • by phreeza (1071714) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:31AM (#23534887)
      the majority of the surface area on a wind turbine is tilted at an angle unsuitable for that. the only place that would make sense is probably the top of the cabin. The Blades are subject to a lot of stress/deformation, might also be that solar cells don't handle that well.
    • A windmill is made up largely of vertical surfaces, which wouldn't get much direct solar energy. I'm guessing they don't stick solar panels all over them because for the same cost they could build another windmill, or put those same solar panels on a horizontal surface somewhere where they'd actually do some good.
    • by smallfeet (609452)
      What is the pay back on solar panels these days? They do have a limited life span and used to be expensive to install. Have they gotten to a break even point yet? I guess it depends on which sun zone you are in.
  • ...or are they designed to 'fight' them (i.e. stand strait at all costs)? Cthulu help them if it's the latter...
  • Am I only one who read it as "Planned startup fail is in the 2009" ?
    • by bjourne (1034822)

      Am I only one who read it as "Planned startup fail is in the 2009" ?
      Yes, the rest of us are able to read. Maybe you need to have your glasses checked up?
  • Steady winds (Score:5, Informative)

    by nadaou (535365) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @06:48AM (#23534963) Homepage
    Critically offshore winds tend to be much more steady than winds on land, where topography, trees, and buildings combine to create turbulence and resulting gusts. At sea the winds have nothing to slow them down meaning higher output, and nothing to make them subject to sudden gusts meaning less wear and tear on the gears (a squall or frontal gust mainly has a single onset and slow relaxation) and more predictable output.

    * Being able to go deeper means further offshore, which means less people on land looking for an easy pay off due to bogus eyesore / property value complaints.

    * In a massive storm these ones lean over, spilling away the force of the wind and reducing exposed surface area as cos(tilt).

    * The bird cuisinart effect is largely debunked. Many more are killed flying into windows (home or glass box buildings), stationary bridges and radio towers, and hit by cars while attending to roadkill. Many studies out there to back this up. "Homepower magazine" does a nice job of collecting peer reviewed studies (they had a great writeup on it, but I can't find that now). Also need to balance against the more dilute effect of wildlife killed by a coal plant's SO2 etc emissions. Granted most studies are not looking at sea birds.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zippthorne (748122)
      "The bird cuisinart effect is largely debunked."

      Not debunked. Solved. Early wind turbines were small and very fast. Too fast for birds.
      • by Digestromath (1190577) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @08:28AM (#23535291)
        I vaguely remember reading about 'early' wind turbines... they were mostly made of wood and dotted the picturesque country side (I hear the Dutch ones were particularly pleasant). I imagine we would have noticed the wholesale avian depopulation in the interveining 800 years of vertical axis wind turbines.
        • by Daimanta (1140543)
          Dutch windmills or not that high. I think modern electricity windmills are more along the flightpaths of windmills.
        • windmill != wind turbine
          • "windmill != wind turbine" A mill doesn't just refer to something used to grind flour. Therefore a mill can pump water, grind flour, generate electricity or run an early industrial age loom. Any kind of motor or gearbox can be described as a mill. So a typical car has a little mill in between the front wheels powering it...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nadaou (535365)

        Not debunked. Solved. Early wind turbines were small and very fast. Too fast for birds.

        While the newer ones turn at a much lower RPM, they are so much bigger that speed at the tips of each blade are easily moving in excess of 100 kph.

        Math: Say 100m diameter turbine, takes 5 sec to turn once. circumference = PI*d = 314m which means the tip has to travel 314m/5sec or 62.8m/s = 226 km/hr. I just made up the 5 sec, I don't really know the standard RPM would be exactly.

        Even so, the new monster turbines are so bi

  • by Insanity Defense (1232008) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @08:23AM (#23535277)

    Why not include a wave generator as part of the system?

    For the rare individual who does not know. A wave generator in this context does not make waves but uses the motion of waves to generate electricity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nfk (570056)
      "A wave generator in this context does not make waves but uses the motion of waves to generate electricity."

      It's a good thing you clarified, otherwise the rare individual would imagine this company has the department of "Let's make this thing work", which tries to harvest energy, and the department of "No you won't", which sabotages their efforts.
    • by S.O.B. (136083)
      Better yet, install a wave motion gun.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by andersa (687550)
      Because wave generators are difficult to build. Much more difficult than windmills. Actually nobody has yet to build a succesfull full scale wave generator. There are just too many things that can go wrong. Seawater is very corrosive and its much more difficult to harness the wave energy in a way that doesn't destroy the mechanism of the turbine.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)

      Probably because they can get more power for their money out of building another few windmills than they could by strapping on a few wave generators.

      These things are probably not optimized for wave-generation anyway. You'd be more concerned that your windmills can stay in one spot despite waves, and storms, and such. Otherwise, you're liable to lose windmills.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Probably because they can get more power for their money out of building another few windmills than they could by strapping on a few wave generators.

        Possible but the earlier poster above was probably right that it is a bad idea to combine two immature technologies.

        These things are probably not optimized for wave-generation anyway. You'd be more concerned that your windmills can stay in one spot despite waves, and storms, and such. Otherwise, you're liable to lose windmills.

        Wave generators extract energ

  • Video (Score:4, Informative)

    by MrZaius (321037) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @10:47AM (#23535909) Homepage
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0oN5G3WVf0 [youtube.com]

    Check out the last minute of the above to see their mock-ups.
    • I thought you were going to link to this video [youtube.com].

      Good close-ups of an interesting floating windmill design at 1m21s and 2m36s. I'm not too sure how it works though...

All this wheeling and dealing around, why, it isn't for money, it's for fun. Money's just the way we keep score. -- Henry Tyroon

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