Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power Earth Science

Wind Could Provide 100% of World Energy Needs 867

Posted by kdawson
from the lotta-towers dept.
Damien1972 sends in a report on a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, which finds that wind power could provide for the entire world's current and future energy needs. "To estimate the earth's capacity for wind power, the researchers first sectioned the globe into areas of approximately 3,300 square kilometers (2,050 square miles) and surveyed local wind speeds every six hours. They imagined 2.5 megawatt turbines crisscrossing the terrestrial globe, excluding 'areas classified as forested, areas occupied by permanent snow or ice, areas covered by water, and areas identified as either developed or urban,' according to the paper. They also included the possibility of 3.6 megawatt offshore wind turbines, but restricted them to 50 nautical miles off the coast and to oceans depths less than 200 meters. Using [these] criteria the researchers found that wind energy could not only supply all of the world's energy requirements, but it could provide over forty times the world's current electrical consumption and over five times the global use of total energy needs."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Wind Could Provide 100% of World Energy Needs

Comments Filter:
  • Except (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:18PM (#28431093)
    Now people are whining [www.ctv.ca] about the noise and environmental impact.
  • by Vuojo (1547799) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:19PM (#28431099)
    It just couldn't simply because there isn't wind all the time and we don't have any realistic way to store energy for calm days. Wind could be useful as a part of the energy production but with current technology there is no way wind could be used as the only energy source.
  • Re:Math (Score:3, Informative)

    by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:25PM (#28431221) Homepage Journal

    Read it again. Forty times the electrical needs or five times the total energy needs.

  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:30PM (#28431295) Journal

    Please state your source of knowledge on nuclear power and the dangers of same.

  • by dougsyo (84601) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:35PM (#28431409)

    I was looking for a quote about "open mouth, change feet" - completely unrelated to this topic - just a few moments ago, and ran across this post that really fits:

    http://papundits.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/salazars-wind-power-first-open-mouth-then-change-feet/ [wordpress.com]

    The summary of the numbers in that article (replacing US coal-burning plants with offshore east coast windmills):

    So, we have, just for the towers nacelles and fans:
    - A workforce of 170,000 people, just to work at the plants to construct them.
    - 120 huge factories to construct.
    - Wind towers every 375 feet for the whole length of the Atlantic Coastline and stacked 38 rows deep.
    - Construct those towers, nacelles and fans at the rate of one every 8 minutes for 40 years, in the Atlantic Ocean.
    - $10.4 Trillion in today's dollars (conservatively).

    It gets more ludicrous than that, when you consider continental shelf, keeping shipping lanes open, etc.

    Admitted, adding on-shore windmills would be more doable, but still - it is quite pricey and impractical.

    Doug

  • by jfdawes (254678) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:37PM (#28431453)

    Some wind turbine designs are far more bird friendly than others. The standard "propeller" based designs tend to be pretty bad. Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (Pac Wind [pacwind.com] and Helix Wind [helixwind.com]) can be much more bird/bat friendly.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:37PM (#28431457) Homepage Journal

    there have been numerous stories stating putting the things near where bats dwell in numbers turns it into a massacre.

    Regardless where they are put someone will bitch.

    Let alone, if we have nearly unlimited electricity what will we do with the heat?

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:40PM (#28431503) Homepage Journal
    Single Wire Earth Return is a standard way to distribute electrical power to remote places in my country. The current density in the return path is very low because the medium which carries it has a high cross sectional area.

    Lets say the cable going one way carries 1000 Amp with a cross section of 0.1 square metres. If the return path uses 100 square metres the current density would be 1000th of that in the cable.
  • by BlaKmaJiK_ (101711) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:41PM (#28431525)

    Actually this is not uncommon. It is called Single Wire Earth Return [wikipedia.org]. It is often used in rural areas to save cost due to the long cable distance.

    I didn't know that it was used for HVDC submarine cables, but it seems like it is in use in Germany and Tasmania (Basslink), as the GP stated.

  • by Scott Carnahan (587472) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:53PM (#28431691) Homepage

    The basic answer is, "a really long time," because the main power source for the wind arises from the sun, rather than the rotational energy of the Earth. Tides leach much more rotational energy, and they've been at work for over 4 billion years.

  • by ogl_codemonkey (706920) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:54PM (#28431705)

    That's an interesting position, because apparently Tasmania is a net importer of power across the Basslink cable - so you aren't actually 'partially fueled by hydro power' so much as 'distributing fossil power to a state that doesn't have the hydro resources to fuel itself'.

    http://www.basslink.com.au/ [basslink.com.au] cites: In its first year of operation Basslink supplied 1920GWh to Tasmania and 450GWh to the National Electricity Market.

  • The original article (Score:5, Informative)

    by siddesu (698447) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:56PM (#28431727)

    In case someone's interested, it is available free here:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/06/19/0904101106.abstract [pnas.org]

  • Answer (Score:4, Informative)

    by TopSpin (753) * on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:59PM (#28431753) Journal

    2004 NIH study on this: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=526278 [nih.gov]

    Ambiguous results. Naturally "they" confuse the results by suggesting that energy extracted offsets the energy increase caused by global warming, thus a small net change and happy bunnies everywhere.

    My guess: pulling tens of terawatts of energy out of the atmosphere will effect the climate.

    Call it Atmospheric Thermal Depletion, and credit me. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:08PM (#28431865)

    If we stop wasting money blowing up Iraq we've already found 10% of the money that is needed...

  • Re:All we need now (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:10PM (#28431903)

    In what way is solar not an option in Australia? We have HUGE amounts of unused land with high solar irradiation year round. Large scale solar-thermal with molten salt energy storage plants will provide more energy that you can use 24/7 if scaled up. The technology is here, it is proven, and environmentally responsible.

  • Re:tourism (Score:5, Informative)

    by quenda (644621) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:10PM (#28431905)

    I thought it was the copious amounts of marijuana that made Amsterdam a compelling destination. LOL!

    You must be real fun at parties, explaining the punchline of every joke.
    If that gets "insightful" moderation, I just want everybody to know that water is wet. (Or is that informative?)

  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:21PM (#28432043) Homepage Journal

    We have the following methods of storing energy from wind power, which are currently in production:

    1. gravity storage of pumped water.

    2. electrical storage of electricity in batteries.

    3. hydrolysis cracking of the dangerous substance H20 into hydrogen and oxygen for use in fuel cells.

    There are other methods, including the storage in ten ton weights, winched up from the wind turbines output, which are then dropped from a great height onto global warming deniers heads.

    Admittedly, this last method, while resulting in very satisfying splats, is not the most efficient method of storage available to science. But it looks really cool on video.

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:24PM (#28432081)

    They already do this quite regularly with the oldest green source of power you managed to omit: Hydroelectric. There are a great deal of dams within British Columbia and Alaska out in the middle of nowhere - and they've been relatively successful and constant power sources.

    I think you misunderstand the scale we're talking about. There are comparatively few hydrodelectric dams in North America compared to the number of wind turbines being discussed here. The difference in number is _vast_.

  • Re:All we need now (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jeremi (14640) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:30PM (#28432173) Homepage

    The economy would go into the toilet and that would raise the real cost of power to even higher, and the demand would go down even more. By the end of the year we'd be all living in dirt huts. But, ya know, reality.. never let it get in the way of an indignant cause.

    If you're concerned with reality, why not examine it rather than putting up a straw man?

    A real solution would build out wind and solar resources over a number of decades, and wind down coal usage as the load gets shifted over.

    Nobody is proposing anything remotely like forcibly converting the entire world to wind/solar within one year.

  • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anaerin (905998) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:36PM (#28432243)

    What will lubricate the turbine bearings?

    Polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE for short (AKA Teflon®).

    how will we paint the machines?

    Soy/Rapeseed(canola)/nut-based oil pigment paints

    how will be mine the materials that go into these things?

    Mine? Use electric power. Though you could also recycle! 10,000 drinks cans = 1 turbine nacelle (Note: Completely wild guess, but you get the idea)

    how will we make the fiberglas?

    Glass-Reinforced Soy-based plastics? Carbon Fibre?

    without oil?

    There are already solutions to all your problems.

  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:45PM (#28432375)

    ...would be bloody terminal.

    Actually buildings and cats kill many more birds than wind turbines do. The wind genies that killed a lot of birds are the old ones that spun fast, spun at high rpms. Modern genies [howstuffworks.com] spin slow and are safer.

    Falcon

  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:46PM (#28432391) Homepage Journal

    I am basing this on the university-provided scientific publications from my ScienceDirect feed of peer-reviewed papers on Energy.

    These come from numerous scientific journals - published over the last two years, including ones which are not yet in print, but still in draft and review stages.

    The primary advantage the French have is that they have a basic standardized fission reactor design - this is also true of the safer methods used in the Canadian fission power plants - but is not true of the US power plants, which have no truly standardized designs, and are frequently designed to have specific design byproducts of weapons and medical grade plutonium and other materials that are lacking in the Canadian designs, for example.

    Current scientific papers - not those from decades ago.

    (caveat - until recently we had a reactor here on the campus at the UW)

  • by mh1997 (1065630) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:51PM (#28432437)

    The NIMBY crowd would be more than happy to Luddite civilization into the stone age, and then complain about the lack of affordable power. Californians are the worst at this -- in the US, anyway.

    You mean like Senator Ted Kennedy (www.boston.com):

    ...But, it turns out, Kennedy's antipathy to furtive rules changes and backroom power plays stops at the water's edge -- specifically, the waters of Nantucket Sound, which separates Cape Cod (where the Kennedy family has an oceanfront compound in Hyannis Port) from the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. A shoal in the center of Nantucket Sound is where Cape Wind Associates hopes to build the nation's first offshore wind farm -- an array of 130 wind turbines capable of generating enough electricity to meet 75 percent of the Cape and Islands' energy needs, without burning any oil or emitting any pollution. The turbines would be miles from any coastal property, barely visible on the horizon. In fact, Cape Wind says they would be farther away from the nearest home than any other electricity generation project in Massachusetts.

    But like a lot of well-to-do Cape and Islands landowners and sailing enthusiasts, Kennedy doesn't want to share his Atlantic playground with an energy facility, no matter how clean, green, and nearly unseen. Last month he secretly arranged for a poison-pill amendment, never debated in either house of Congress, to be slipped into an unrelated Coast Guard bill. It would give the governor of Massachusetts, who just happens to be a wind farm opponent, unilateral authority to veto the Cape Wind project.

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/05/07/kennedy_doesnt_play_by_the_rules/ [boston.com]

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:54PM (#28432469)

    > Most people whining about... ...environmental impact are talking about older designs, or do not realize there is a net improvement in environmental impact over the alternatives.

    You know, that statement works great in the context of nuclear power too...

    Indeed. WRT nuclear power plants, I can't say I'm all _that_ impressed by 4th gen. Water cooling is a pretty horrible way to go, very expensive, plus it limits your site selection at the same time it forces your site to be dangerous to locate on - it MUST be near a significant source of water for cooling, which means in the worst-case scenario - a meltdown - you can contaminate your ground water. No thanks.

    I really like the gas-cooled pebble-bed reactor design the Chinese are working on. Way safer, gas-cooled, and modular. That's a good way to go.

    A high temperature gas-cooled plant could also be used to economically produce hydrogen, which can then be used in a CoGen situation to produce even more power, or to use in hydrogen-powered vehicles.

  • by Mr_Blank (172031) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:13PM (#28432711) Journal

    Let alone, if we have nearly unlimited electricity what will we do with the heat?

    If human machines take energy from the wind, do work, and return waste heat to the atmosphere, then I think the cycle would repeat itself: The warmer air near the concentrations of machines (cities) would cause weather and wind just like the uneven heating of land and water does.

  • by aXis100 (690904) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:14PM (#28432735)

    Geothermal is far friendlier than fossil fuels or nuclear, but it does have alot of downsides - Complex machinery and processes, high water usage, high maintenance on the wells. All of those have a pollution aspect to them. Plus it's still releasing extra heat to the environment.

  • NIMBYs (Score:3, Informative)

    by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:17PM (#28432775)

    Now people are whining [www.ctv.ca] about the noise and environmental impact.

    NIMBYs have been whinnying and blocking wind farms for years. Near Boston, Cape Cod is a good place for offshore wind farms however NIMBYs [greenlegals.com] including Kennedy has opposed them.

    Falcon

  • by jfdawes (254678) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:24PM (#28432847)

    The original article was suggesting that there is so much wind around that wind power is a viable power generation method, not that this should actually be done. There's problems with every method of power generation - they all remove energy from the environment.

    Maybe with all the deforestation going on there's now too much wind? Maybe we need some way of slowing it down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:43PM (#28433067)
    1.6km per side. 1.6*1.6=2.56 Learn basic geometry.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:49PM (#28433153) Journal

    You have a wrong website for Pacwind: try pacwind.NET

  • by StCredZero (169093) on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:02PM (#28433303)

    It just couldn't simply because there isn't wind all the time and we don't have any realistic way to store energy for calm days. Wind could be useful as a part of the energy production but with current technology there is no way wind could be used as the only energy source.

    Somebody who works for an actual wind power company debunked this for us. If you build more turbines and deliberately run them at less than their maximum, then you can use the reserve capacity plus a limited amount of geographic distribution to get steady-state power output the majority of the time. This stuff about storage technology is bunk -- we haven't built out wind power infrastructure to its potential. Do that and you don't need storage. (And Solar Thermal could make up for a lot as well. It has a cheap and reliable storage technology that would work just fine on 24 hour timescales.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:28PM (#28433529)

    "windmills do not work that way!" - Morbo

  • by shermo (1284310) on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:34PM (#28433591)

    Tassie is currently experiencing a long drought (of the order of a few years). When the link was built it was sold as allowing excess hydro power to be exported to the mainland, but in reality it hasn't been used in that way.

    It's effectively used as pump storage (which slashdot seems to like so much). During times of high mainland demand power flows from tassie to the mainland, draining hydro reserves in tasmania. When there's low demand on the mainland, power flows the other way and hydro reserves recover.

    Looking at the numbers it's only going tas to mainland about 5% of the time, but it makes a large difference when it does since the mainland relies on slow coal so much. (Slow coal can't respond quickly to peaks so price spikes very high and a small increase in supply has a large effect)

  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:38PM (#28433635)

    Besides transmission issues, what about land use? I mean, what will we eat if all our agricultural land is covered by wind turbines?

    Actually wind turbines add another source of income to farmers. They don't take up much space, and depending on how it's structured, farmers get royalties on the energy produced. Here's a report on wind turbines in Minnesota corn fields, "Innovation in the fields [postbulletin.com]". The royalties come to more than the loss of income from farming. There are also plenty of places to cite wind farms where there is little activity. The Rocky Mountains and the Southwest for instance. To the east offshore from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras is good. Also in the east from the Appalachians up into the Catskills and Poconos Mountains there are good places.

    Falcon

  • This is silly (Score:3, Informative)

    by greg_barton (5551) * <.moc.oohay. .ta. .notrab_gerg.> on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:48PM (#28433741) Homepage Journal

    We can solve all of our energy problems with nuclear power right now. We have enough uranium fuel to last hundreds of years. If we switch to thorium there's ten thousand years of fuel just in the known reserves alone. Here's a little reading [blogspot.com]

  • HVDC (Score:3, Informative)

    by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:51PM (#28433775)

    moving power over a thousand miles normally is wasteful even though there are a few places in the world where it is done.

    Long distance isn't that wasteful if the electricity is High-voltage direct current [wikipedia.org]. According to the wiki article losses are about 3% per 1,000 km.

    Falcon

  • typo in summary (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:07AM (#28434541)

    3300 sq.km. = 1274.13712 sq. mi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:12AM (#28434573)

    Heat is no wind. It can not move seeds. Or change a climate. Bring clouds of rain over fields of plants. Etc.

    Heat causes air to rise. Other air moves in to fill the gap. Result: wind.

  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:12AM (#28434577)

    It seems to me we'd have to rape the earth in a way most of us would consider fairly extreme to erect giant concrete towers on every square meter of ocean and land.

    Not even close. In the US the Rock Mountains alone contain enough potential wind energy to power the 48 continuous states. I think that's what the Picken's Plan [ning.com] calls for. However the Southwest on up the Pacific Coast is also good. To the east from the Appalachians north to the Poconos and Catskill Mountains contains a lot as does offshore from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod. Unfortunately there are a lot of NAMBYs along the coast who don't want wind farms offshore. Kennedy is one of them fighting to stop wind farms in Cape Cod.

    The ecolgical impact of billions of tonnes of raw materials being mined would be astronomical.

    You have that with all sources of energy. If you don't want mining then you don't get energy.

    Falcon

  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:14AM (#28434593) Journal
    "It seems to me we'd have to rape the earth in a way most of us would consider fairly extreme to erect giant concrete towers on every square meter of ocean and land. The ecolgical impact of billions of tonnes of raw materials being mined [to build windmills] would be astronomical."

    We already mine and BURN over six billion tons of coal a year, That's one ton of coal for every man, woman and child on the planet.

    Why does common sense and reason go out the window when people post on these stories? It's got to the stage where I feel like I'm arguing with young earth creationists.
  • Cars Kill more birds (Score:3, Informative)

    by wooferhound (546132) <tim.wooferhound@com> on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:25AM (#28434669) Homepage
    Cars and other motor vehicle traffic kill more birds than wind turbines ever will,
    but nobody is suggesting that we stop building cars . . .
  • by Gibbs-Duhem (1058152) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:47AM (#28434817)

    I'm honestly totally neutral to the idea since I'm a scientist, and I don't really have any personal stake in the answer. However, I have done a lot of reading about many things like this.

    People have seen a measurable local temperature increase near the ground due to lower winds -- similar to a city heat island. We are talking about a degree or two C locally, right where the windmill is, not an extended area effect.

    Furthermore, the greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere are theoretically increasing the amount of energy in the atmospheric system (increased hurricanes, etc). It seems rather unlikely on the face of it that removing energy from the atmosphere will cause a problem that more than offsets the problems from greenhouse gases, although it's certainly a valid thing to look into.

    In any event, here is a back-of-the-envelope calculation for you. The solar insolation is 1366 W/m^2 at the top of the atmosphere, with ~500-1000 W/m^2 absorbed before it gets to the ground. The cross section of the earth is 127,400,000 km^2, giving a total power absorbed by the atmosphere in excess of 63700 TW. So, producing the total energy consumption of humans on earth (16TW) by energy removed from the atmosphere this way is talking about a 0.025% decrease in the atmospheric energy...

    It's not impossible that this would cause problems, but this seems like a situation far less likely to lead to the extinction of mankind (or at least lots of animals that can't adapt fast enough) than global warming, and powering ourselves from wind removes a huge amount of political friction from the world, making a situation that is far less likely to lead to a nuclear holocaust... I think it's a matter of risk analysis... and unless someone did some pretty compelling modeling to demonstrate otherwise, I think I'll take my chances with too many calm summer days.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt.lynx@bc@ca> on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:53AM (#28434861) Journal

    Thinking that taking energy from wind would change nothing is ignorant, blind and very stupid

    Actually, it's a very realistic view. Wind power is not a closed system, energy is _constantly_ being put into it by the sun... at a grossly faster rate than we could actually siphon it off to make a significant difference. The total world power demands are, today, somewhere between 15-20 terawatts. Notwithstanding the technological hurdles that would be required to extract it, we could utilize that amount a hundred times over and it would not even be 1% of the total energy available.

  • by benjamindees (441808) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:59AM (#28434897) Homepage

    It's just you. Given that we're talking renewable energy that's doable now with existing technology, that's hugely impressive. I'm not sure you realize exactly how dependent we are upon the energy from fossil fuels.

    Barring cost-effective fusion, global power consumption will simply not be able to continue rising like it has. If we ever get to the point that everyone on Earth has half the energy usage of an American today, we will be lucky.

  • by wisty (1335733) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @01:32AM (#28435121)

    Keep in mind, there is plenty of scope to reduce demand as well (better insulation, fluro bulbs, etc).

    Plus, I don't think that gas and coal is going to go away too soon. New investement might be cut (something like 50% of the cost of coal power is the infrastructure, and so the risk of higher taxes makes it a poor investement), but that doesn't mean that existing generators will be shut off in the next 10 years.

    It's likely that the old generators will be gradually EOLed, and the replacements will be greener (and more sustainable) than fossil.

  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @01:51AM (#28435203)

    Keep in mind, there is plenty of scope to reduce demand as well (better insulation, fluro bulbs, etc).

    Yea, I've said that before. With proper insulation a candle should be enough to heat a room, if a body isn't. And with good ventilation there shouldn't be much need for cooling. CFLs, which I have in all of my light fixtures but and that one I rarely use, only use 1/3 to 1/4 the energy incandescent lights do. However LEDs use only 10%. Unfortunately they're expensive and currently they're only good for spot lighting.

    Falcon

  • Re:penalize nuclear? (Score:3, Informative)

    by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @02:34AM (#28435485)

    I'm curious, what do you think would be an appropriate penalty for nuclear power, and for what? Are you talking about waste disposal or accident insurance or what?

    I wouldn't penalize nuclear power but I would stop giving them massive subsidies. Nuclear Power is "Hooked on Subsidies [cato.org]". Even in China, France, India, and Russia. "How do France (and India, China and Russia) build cost-effective nuclear power plants? They don't. Governmental officials in those countries, not private investors, decide what is built. Nuclear power appeals to state planners, not market actors."

    Falcon

  • by Engeekneer (1564917) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @03:10AM (#28435699)

    There may be enough wind in the world to supply our need 40 times over, but is the cost of tapping the energy source competitive with the cost of coal, gas, or nuclear power?

    All of this get subsidies, as well as pass costs to others. Coal slurry spills [waterworld.com] happen all too frequently. Mountain top removal [scientificamerican.com] contaminates a lot of land. As does uranium mining [sustainabilitank.info]. Without government subsidies [wsj.com] nuclear power isn't even profitable [cato.org]. Though natural gas [earth-stream.com] emits a lot less CO2 than coal when burned it releases a lot more methane, which is more than 20 tymes as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2. Then it needs pipelines to deliver it.

    Well, actually, just because those two articles found negative aspects of nuclear power price, I dug out the following page [world-nuclear.org] about nuclear power in Finland. Here the price of nuclear power was EUR 2.37 c/kWh, when the closest second one, coal was 2.81 c/kWh. Wind power was somewhere around 5 c/kWh. The point is, maybe the US are unable to build profitable nuclear power, but that doesn't make nuclear power unprofitable. The same stands for uranium mining. Just because the US has one/some mines that have issues, is no reason to condemn uranium mining in general, at least with modern methods.

  • by RegularFry (137639) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @04:56AM (#28436243)

    He's probably talking about this. [valcent.net] It does actually look really promising. It's technically simple, and flexible enough to be tuned to specific required hydrocarbons.

    Unfortunately it suffers from the same problem as all biofuel proposals: an upper energy density limit of 100W/m2 of photosynthesisable sunlight, before tackling the problem of putting energy into the biomass to get your product out. You still need an absurd amount of installed capacity to even begin making a dent in any country's energy requirement with it. That being said, it looks orders of magnitude better than almost any other biofuel proposal.

  • Re:penalize nuclear? (Score:3, Informative)

    by weicco (645927) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @05:26AM (#28436401)

    I wouldn't penalize nuclear power but I would stop giving them massive subsidies. Nuclear Power is "Hooked on Subsidies".

    If I'm not totally in wrong here, in Finland nuclear power isn't subsidied at all. Nuclear get some investment guarantees from government but I haven't heard that money has ever changed hands.

    Wind power on the other hand screaming for subsidies. Local power companies don't even build wind generators unless government guarantees them. And what's worse they are demanding guarantees that they can sell wind power totally overpriced. I'm not sure how this goes but I think that if power company sells wind power with 10 amount of money, buyer pays 4 amout of money and government (us, the taxpayers) pays 6 amount of money. And of course we pay the actual power bill also so we end up paying 6+X amount of money.

    Hard to explain this in English when I don't even totally understand it in Finnish but I hope you get the point...

    So what I would like... Cheap, proven, clean, unsubsidied, nuclear energy thank you. We could even open up one or two uranium mines here in Finland. There's some uranium in the ground (which is actually poisoning our wells and room air in eastern part of Finland).

  • Re:NIMBYs (Score:2, Informative)

    by bobmorning (316459) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @07:29AM (#28436987)
    I found it amazing that the father of all things liberal is against wind power off his beloved Cape Cod shores. What a frigging hypocrite. As far as NIMBY's in CA are concerned, they deserve their budget mess and disintegrating quality of life. I say let's give the damn state back to Mexico, it's a dysfunctional state and an eyesore to America ando, you can have Arnie "the governator" too; he turned out to be no better than your typical Democrat liberal a-hole. So for you liberals, welfare whores, and other good for nothing do-gooders: better brush up on your Spainish.
  • by jabuzz (182671) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:02AM (#28437623) Homepage

    Unfortunately a study of the weather across the whole of Europe showed that the number of calm days covering significant areas of Europe are such that we would have several blackouts a year, even taking into account storage of the electricity.

    What we need is reliable renewable power, and in the UK that means tidal barrages in the Seven, the Mersey and the Conwy at least.

  • They're NOT metal... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:54AM (#28438215)

    ...they're all made of composites like fiberglass or carbon fiber. Even aluminum is too heavy for the size blades needed on an efficient wind turbine generator

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:32AM (#28439603)

    I think maybe you don't understand the scale of Hydroelectric production in N. America! I think perhaps you're referring to the US.

    I think you're thinking of the wrong numbers. I'm not talking generating capacity, which has nothing to do with what I'm talking about, but individual sites. Hydropower in North America is big generation spread across relatively few sites. Scaling up wind power to ginormous levels would involve small generation and zillions of sites, most in remote or very remote areas, often nowhere NEAR high voltage transmission lines. That makes a significant difference.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:10PM (#28440181)

    There is no reason why we don't have roof-top solar panels, and solar heaters on all modern buildings.

    Actually, there's a perfectly good reason why all modern buildings don't have these things--it's cheaper to use fossil fuel energy, at least as long as CO2 emissions remain an externality.

  • by Rabbitbunny (1202531) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @06:37PM (#28446585)

    And with good ventilation there shouldn't be much need for cooling.

    You're insane. Current temp (US zip 75501) is 100.8 with dew point at 73.4. This means sweating will only get you down to 99.8. You need active cooling in some areas, it's a necessity of life.

  • plastics (Score:3, Informative)

    by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:22PM (#28448043)

    Well... the problem with plastics is that they arn't bio degradable, so they are just accumulating in the biosphere.

    Plastic is biodegradable. Plastic was originally made from plants. The cellulose in plants is what the plastic cellophane [wikipedia.org] was made from. Kodak [pdf warning] [eastman.com] used to make film from it as well.

    They will however be weathered down into tiny particles over time, and animals will get them into their systems with yet unknown consequences

    Yea, that's one problem with petroleum based plastics. They make up a lot of the garbage in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch [mnn.com].

    Falcon

  • energy (Score:3, Informative)

    by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:05PM (#28448277)

    If we started looking at heating homes with electricity instead of natural gas, we'd be looking at yet another huge increase.

    With proper insulation [amazingsiding.com] little energy is needed to heat or cool homes. Those who build Off the Grid [offthegrid.com] do it all the tyme.

    you're talking about putting these massive obelisks over a surface area larger than Europe. Fact is, this alone would be the largest engineering project in human history, even at 1/40th of the scale. The effects of construction would be felt world-wide.

    And where is your science or applied data to support this?

    Falcon

"It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try, but the result's the same." - Mike Dennison

Working...