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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."
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Wind Could Provide 100% of World Energy Needs

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  • Impact on birds... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Ann O'Nymous-Coward (460094) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:15PM (#28431021)

    ...would be bloody terminal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:18PM (#28431075)

    It'd seem having massive wind turbines would slow down the movement of air, which might lead to scenarios where the current global warming scare would be merely a trifle.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:19PM (#28431107)

    Right so this is assuming we put these rather large ugly things everywhere that hasn't already been greatly disturbed by people. I know they are excluding forests. but just because you don't have to cut down a tree doesn't mean it isn't a spot worth preserving.

    Personaly I think that we really ought to build more nuclear power plants. Yes there is waste but overall it is fairly clean and cheap and would do more for preserving the environment and supplying electricity than this would.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:22PM (#28431165)
    And... How much energy will it take to create these wind turbines? To erect them? Maintain them? Ditto for the network connecting them to the people who want to use the electricity. How do they expect the worlds energy demand to increase with increased access to energy? What type of environmental impact would this network have? Would it have a local/global impact on weather patterns? These results definitely sound interesting enough to warrant looking into these questions.
  • by exabrial (818005) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:22PM (#28431175)
    Nulcear YES Wind YES Oil YES Solar YES Coal YES Natural Gas YES Tidal YES There is no one size fits all people! You 'open minded' people need to open your minds to the real problems and solutions we already have available!
  • Offshore (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:24PM (#28431199) Journal

    I've often thought that if it's economically viable to go to the trouble of all that engineering for offshore oil exploration, extraction and processing, surely it's viable to build vast offshore wind farms where there's plenty of room, plenty of wind, and no neighbours to object.

  • All we need now (Score:1, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:27PM (#28431251) Homepage Journal

    is a cost effective wind turbine design. Sheesh.

    I live in Australia and we use coal. This is not even slightly environmentally responsible. In an effort to placate the greenies the government has been looking into clean coal and co2 sequestration. The general opinion of the green movement is that "clean coal" is an oxymoron and co2 sequestration is "just burying the problem". Wind and solar are continually touted as a realistic solution. They are not. If you were to ban coal, they say, wind and solar would be the only option so it would obviously grow. So long as you maintained our current ban on nuclear of course. Oh, and ban burning oil. This is nonsense. The result would simply be that the cost of power would go through the roof and all our industry would shut down. 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.

  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:31PM (#28431317)

    From TFA: "despite these limitations, it is clear that wind power could make a significant contribution to the demand for electricity"

    I don't think they're saying that the would should be entirely wind-powered. They're pointing out that there's so much untapped wind power that we should stop thinking about wind power as only a minor source of energy and invest more toward developing the resource.

  • by R2.0 (532027) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:34PM (#28431385)

    Sure, wind could do it. So could solar, if we spot a shitload of solar cells all over the world cover a decent portion of it.

    But is it practical? It seems like people are perfectly fine dismissing "clean" coal (aka carbon sequestration) as a pipe dream, technology doesn't exist, etc., and then turning around and throwing scheme's like these out there as perfectly reasonable.

  • by copponex (13876) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:34PM (#28431395) Homepage

    Every joule of energy we get on the earth, without tapping geothermal sources, originally comes from the sun. The only question is which source is the most economically (from an energy standpoint) obtainable and environmentally sustainable.

    Wind and sun to electric current seem to be the best bets, since they don't require any intermediate steps like biomass or super old biomass, also known as oil. Solar-thermal molten salt storage for overnight and cloudy weather with natural gas backups will probably be the winner for much of our electricity needs. Colder climates will rely on wind and geothermal differential generators.

    The important thing is that we invest now in technologies that allow high efficiency transfers of electricity, because we're going to need to balance the load across the country. This, in combination with building efficiency improvements and abandoning the urban sprawl model, should have us well on our way to sustainability.

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:35PM (#28431405)

    Most people whining about noise and environmental impact are talking about older designs, or do not realize there is a net improvement in environmental impact over the alternatives. The alternative to green power is not 'no power', but is dirty power. 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.

    Newer wind turbines have the blades further away from the supporting tower, which reduces the noise considerably. The bird and bat deaths can be substantially mitigated by making sure your turbines are out of known migration paths, and by making the blades rotate slower. The number of bird & bat deaths that would result from a polluted environment by non-green power is a much more serious problem. Proper wind turbine technology & placement is a FAR lesser evil here, IMO.

    This report is ... interesting. Placing that many turbines in very remote areas is going to be ridiculously expensive to run transmission lines to, and deal with the effects of intermittent addition of energy to the grid. An electrical grid is a temperamental mistress at the best of times. The technology CAN be had, but it's not as simple as just hooking up a turbine to a grid without some real smarts in between. Also, having trained people available to do regular maintenance on such extremely remote sites (and getting replacement parts there) is not gonna be cheap.

    Still, better that that an unlivable planet. But we need to take a serious look at MODERN nuclear power, especially with re-using the waste, gas-cooled pebble bed designs, Thorium designs, etc. Trying to make ONE solution fix the problem is completely idiotic.

  • by liquiddark (719647) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:36PM (#28431437)
    For "sustainable" (ie we have a long term supply that we can't imagine exhausting) non-fusion-based energy, we're pulling the energy out of the ecosystem regardless. Solar and wind have more or less the same impacts, albeit at different points in the cycle. Wind impacts are problem more friendly than solar simply because the cross-section is vertical and blocks very little sunlight, whereas solar is largely lateral and therefore can't be implemented where there's a significant amount of vegetation without massive non-energy-consuption-related impacts. If you're familiar with chaotic mathematics, you know it's almost certain that pulling increasing volumes of power out of the planet's energy will have significant impacts simply due to the fact that there are always going to be incalculable tipping points present in any complex system. We can't operate based on fear rather than knowledge. The world really is more complex than we can manage in any real sense. Doesn't mean we don't take care of the obvious things - global warming seems pretty clear-cut - but we can't cut ourselves off completely. Industry and citizen both need to become more efficient if possible, because that will mitigate the threat as effectively as switching sources, but switching sources still counts as a good option.
  • Re:Except (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:38PM (#28431479)

    Helen Fraser and her husband lived just over 400 metres from a turbine. She says the sound and strobing effect caused her to develop headaches and body aches, and her caused her husband's diabetes to get worse.

    Somehow I'm having a hard time imagining how diabetes is influenced by a big windmill. I suppose she could be ranting and raving about the turbine so much that her husband's stress levels affected his diabetes.

  • Re:Except (Score:4, Insightful)

    by joocemann (1273720) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:43PM (#28431567)

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

    People are generally ignorant, foolish, and short sighted when dealing with things outside their realm of knowledge.

  • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:44PM (#28431575)
    Building a wind turbine is proven, and cost effective. "Clean coal" or as we call it in real life, bullshit, has yet to be proven as either successful or economically viable. The faster we drive a stake through coal's heart, the better.
  • But... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:50PM (#28431665) Journal
    What will lubricate the turbine bearings?

    how will we paint the machines?

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

    how will we make the fiberglas?

    without oil?

    RS

  • by fenring (1582541) on Monday June 22, 2009 @07:56PM (#28431729)

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

    I'm not an expert, but dont't nuclear power plants have the best output/waste ratio? Environmentaly speaking, isn't it better to have some radioactive waste than build a trilion plastic/metal/whatever wind turbines?

  • by IdahoEv (195056) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:04PM (#28431825) Homepage

    Large industries operate with those kind of numbers all the time. How many power plants have been constructed over the years, and what did it cost?

    The worldwide auto industry produces roughly 50 million cars a year [worldometers.info]. That works out to ~1.6 per second. Scary statements like "OMG We have to make one every EIGHT MINUTES" are peanuts to large-scale industrial production: we make cars roughly 750 times faster than you're saying we'd need to build turbines.

    Wind towers every 375 feet for the whole length of the Atlantic Coastline and stacked 38 rows deep

    The aesthetic impact of that is the only part of your post that gives me any concern. The rest is perfectly doable.

  • by chuchmo (1013291) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:08PM (#28431877)

    Every joule of energy we get on the earth, without tapping geothermal sources, originally comes from the sun.

    Not true; you forgot nuclear. Uranium and other heavy elements don't come from the sun. Sure, they came from a star, just not ours.

  • by Bemopolis (698691) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:12PM (#28431923)
    3300 square kilometers is 1275 square miles, not 2000.
  • Mod parent up. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by copponex (13876) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:13PM (#28431951) Homepage

    I did forget about nuclear. It's a finite resource, though. The sun is too, but if we still haven't gotten off this rock in a few billion years, we'll have only ourselves to blame. Or an asteroid.

  • Re:But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bemopolis (698691) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:17PM (#28431997)
    You're right — it will be so much easier to build these windmills after we've used up all of the oil.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:17PM (#28432003)

    Yes, birds are important, however, I am more concerned about the energy in the wind.

    If we go and build enough wind turbines to power the world (and its growing energy demands), that energy needs to come from somewhere. What happens to the global, regional, and local ecosystems if this energy is removed from wind. In other words, what happens if we reduce the winds blowing across the world?

    Is it enough to alter air currents? Jet streams? What about the erosion, pollen distribution, and all the other things nature depends on the wind for that I can't think about right now.

    Now, probably there is plenty of wind out there not to make an impact, but no one has even addressed this. Everyone thinks it is a magical energy source with NO negative consequences. I want to know if there are any, but no one seems to be worried. Is it an issue people are hiding to promote wind power? Or is it really insignificant?

  • by shentino (1139071) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:20PM (#28432035)
    The amount sapped from sheer friction with the ground will make the "turbine tax" negligible.

    Not to mention that wind energy is constantly refreshed by solar input.
  • by frieko (855745) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:26PM (#28432105)
    I can't imagine a wind farm ever approaching the drag coefficient of a forest.
  • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:35PM (#28432231)

    "Building a wind turbine is proven, and cost effective."

    If it was cost-effective, then it wouldn't require massive government subsidies.

    Coal, on the other hand, _is_ proven and cost-effective, which is why there are so many coal-fired power stations.

  • What are "needs" ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:38PM (#28432265)

    It bothers me when people talk about our energy "needs", as though without some particular number of number of Watts, the world ends.

    Are they better considered our energy "wants at a given price point"?

    When I hear "need", but don't hear a "for what" part soon after, I get suspicious. Was the term "energy needs" a rhetorical device introduced by governments or energy suppliers to distract from the fact that we can live on varying amounts of energy consumption.

  • 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...

  • by jmv (93421) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:44PM (#28432353) Homepage

    Every joule of energy we get on the earth, without tapping geothermal sources, originally comes from the sun.

    There's actually another exception: nuclear energy. It comes from supernovas that predate the solar system's formation.

  • by cenc (1310167) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:45PM (#28432371) Homepage

    Geothermal does not have the pollution problem, does not have visual problem, the problem of messing with birds or whatever, and the latest technology allows them to drill geothermal wells in very low temperatures or dry wells by pumping water in to the earth, rather than needing to find a particular geothermal friendly area. Even if just limited to areas naturally conducive to geothermal, there is likly just as many areas in the World where geothermal can be built (if you include all the places you can not build wind turbines like the middle of a city). Best of all, it is 24 hours, always on energy using the same technology we already use for our oil based society (drills, turbines, etc). It is "shovel ready" and producing energy right now all over the World.

    Can anyone give me something that beats all of that in terms of energy to cost (including environmental)?

  • by Ifni (545998) on Monday June 22, 2009 @08:51PM (#28432433) Homepage

    I don't necessarily consider this pricey or resource intensive when you realize that what is proposed in nothing short of replacing roughly 100 years of nationwide power generation infrastructure, from scratch, in 40 years. Attempting to do that, with any technology, is what is ridiculous (though nuclear might be up to the challenge, haven't seen the numbers). That and attempting to do it with energy generation limited exclusively to the east coast, introducing insurmountable (or at least unnecessarily difficult to surmount) obstacles to distribution. Oh, and essentially barricading the entire eastern seaboard. So, yeah, it's a bad idea, but not because it costs $10.4 trillion and requires 170,000 people for 40 years.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:02PM (#28432573)

    Australia does not depend wholly on coal, you know. In fact, wind power generation is increasing by a large amount.

    How do I know this? My brother works at the wind farm on the south coast of south-eastern South Australia (it's near a place called Millicent). He is currently working extremely long hours constructing yet another batch of turbines. This is the second batch he's worked on in only a few years, and both batches are huge (we're talking dozens of turbines, not just a handful). So, it's not some feel-good experiment, it's a full-fledged economically-viable business.

    As for solar energy, Australia has so much sunlight we'd have to be crazy not to make use of it. I know there are problems with transmission if you put a big solar plant out in the middle of nowhere, but that's not what I'm talking about. Think about all of the roofs in all of the cities - not just residential, either. How much solar energy is being wasted just bouncing off of the corrugated iron roofs of warehouses and factories? Put solar collectors on them, and they'd probably generate more power than they'd use - at least during the day, and most factories shut down at night.

    Solar collectors may only run during the day, and may lose efficiency during cloudy days, but consider this - when is the single biggest draw time? Summer, during the day, when all those air conditioners are running. This also happens to be when the skies are clearest and the solar radiation received at its highest - therefore when the solar collectors would be at their most efficient.

    Yes, we may not be able to just ban coal - yet. But we can easily reduce the dependence on it if we look outside the box, and don't just bag alternatives out of hand.

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:11PM (#28432691)

    The problem is that "dirty power" can be cleaner than "green power" overall in some circumstances.

    I've never seen that proved. The real cleanliness of dirty power hasn't been calculated yet (and likely _can't, except theoretically), since we have not been able to clean the environment of the true impact of dirty power. Until you can capture all that CO2 that nobody has been worrying about for decades, you don't even know the scope of what dirty power is really doing.

  • by Quothz (683368) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:22PM (#28432813) Journal

    Now, probably there is plenty of wind out there not to make an impact, but no one has even addressed this. Everyone thinks it is a magical energy source with NO negative consequences. I want to know if there are any, but no one seems to be worried. Is it an issue people are hiding to promote wind power? Or is it really insignificant?

    I've been raising this point, around here especially, whenever a wind-power topic comes up. Generally, you're right: Not too many folks're interested, and a few are downright hostile to the notion. It'd be nice to see some peer-type-reviewed studies, or at least computer modeling, before we test it head-first. I suspect any such thing would, as usual, be ignored by those it opposes and embraced by those it favors, with no real political impact regardless. But at least I'd go from "vaguely worried" to either "somewhat relieved" or "a crank with citations".

  • by BikeHelmet (1437881) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:41PM (#28433041) Journal

    Ugly? Ugly? As opposed to what?

    I happen to think skyscrapers are a bigger blight than a few wind turbines. Wind turbines have a certain... elegance, to them.

  • by adf92343414 (1332481) on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:18PM (#28433433)

    There's problems with every method of power generation - they all remove energy from the environment.

    And then they put energy (in the form of heat) back into the environment. The only exception is the energy that results in light and other electromagnetic energy, which of course can escape the earth.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:30PM (#28433537) Journal
    "Like a lot of grand plans we do "in the name of science" nobody yet knows what throwing that many turbines up would do ecosystems around the world. It's a lot of energy to be robbing from systems that depend on that energy."

    Most of the wind energy in the atmosphere is in the bottom 5,000m, the largest wind turbines are only 100m tall (about as tall as the largest trees which are much more effective at damping SURFACE winds), "robbing" the energy of the wind is the least of our problems. As for birds, modern prop turbines move slowly and kill fewer birds than the same number of high rise buildings with mirrored windows.

    "Seriously", don't pretend you care about the environment by posting anti-science NIMBY twaddle, read some real science [realclimate.org].
  • by rcw-home (122017) on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:40PM (#28433661)

    There's actually another exception: nuclear energy. It comes from supernovas that predate the solar system's formation.

    One more exception: Tidal power comes from the earth's rotation in the presence of the sun and the moon.

  • by shermo (1284310) on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:49PM (#28433759)

    If you ignore the externalities from Coal power, sure. However, if you properly account for polution costs it's much closer. I'm not a green nut, but 'alternative' power supplies are becoming cost effective once all real costs are taken into account.

    However, I don't think subsidies are the answer, rather it makes more sense to correctly penalize fossils, and possibly nuclear, to account for market inefficiencies. That way you don't get political fads dictating research and growth areas.

    Of course penalizing industries is far less popular than subsidizing others, so it's not going to happen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @11:06PM (#28433915)

    So, I suppose mining billions of gallons of oil and coal isn't raping the earth? Not to mention the mining equipment, traveling/shipping equipment, pipelines, refinement factories, giant coal furnaces, etc....

  • by kjllmn (1337665) on Monday June 22, 2009 @11:32PM (#28434205)

    Global warming means there is too much energy in the atmosphere. Removing some is not bad.

  • by Jurily (900488) <[jurily] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:34AM (#28434717)

    Oh wow, we can spot something as tiny as a hurricane!

    Here's a question for you to simulate with that: if we lower the average wind speed by 3 MPH across the globe, how does that affect the reproductive capabilities of the oak tree [wikipedia.org]? How about other trees, like the maples [wikipedia.org], which use the wind to get their seed as far away as possible? Other plants which don't use bees?

    Simulations are fun, but don't ever think you thought of everything.

  • 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.

    We know that there are all sorts of natural energy sources around us, but its the financial cost that keeps us from recovering it.

    More like it's politics. If financial costs were that important there would be no nuclear power. As I said before even coal gets subsidies. "Chevron [grist.org] agrees to lobby with Sierra Club to end coal subsidies". In "My Climate Bill 'Has Huge Subsidies For Clean Coal! Huge!' [youtube.com] Rep Edward Markey goes over some of the subsidies different energy sources get.

  • by mr exploiter (1452969) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @03:25AM (#28435799)

    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.

    Because you are too naive. There are lots of people that have some interest in the status quo and they can post in slashdot too. I'd even say slashdot could be infiltrated. It's a good spot to seed false ideas as it has a kind of "collective mind" that amplifies the ideas, due to the moderation system.
    And the people that I'm talking about can be from rich investors in the oil sector to average joe that works for shell as a sysadmin and is afraid he's not getting his yearly 2% raise.

  • by mr exploiter (1452969) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @03:44AM (#28435893)
    Are the mods on crack? How is this +4? I think it's pretty clear that "need" is based on how much energy we are using today. And we may no be that flexible about the energy that we use. Transportation and heating are were most of the energy is used and they are not much elastic. Electricity use would have been to be reduced drastically to make an important difference and at that point civil unrest could start a dangerous downward spiral. In a few decades there won't be so much fossil fuels to fall back for easy energy to maintain a large population. The only way to prevent a catastrophic energy shortage is to have varied and redundant energy sources ahead of that happening.
  • by mattcasters (67972) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @05:34AM (#28436441) Homepage

    Even 1/40th sounds like a an awful lot of windmills.

    I also would like to point out that this "smart" grid would have to be really "smart" to be able to create electricity when there is no wind. Given the fact that whole countries (and multiples of it) can be without wind at any given time, that seems like the biggest challenge.

    Personally, I think that these "wind|sun|wave energy solves all our problems" stories do more harm than good because they offer an extreme and unbalanced view that is so easily dismissed.

  • by fgouget (925644) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @06:05AM (#28436571)

    Right so this is assuming we put these rather large ugly things everywhere that hasn't already been greatly disturbed by people.

    Actually what the article is saying is that we could supply for our current electricity needs by installing wind turbines on just 2.5% (100/40) of the usable land and shores. Even if you add a 3x safety factor in case the study did not take into account the average vs. peak power production ratio (due to low wind days, average production is about 30% of the peak wind turbine capacity, so 0.75MW for a 2.5MW turbine), this still leaves 93% of the land/shores untouched. That should be more than enough leeway to preserve those areas worth preserving. Even in the US you could get by with 4% to 17% land/shore use.

    Now if you want wind turbines to provide for 100% of our energy consumption, i.e. also replacing oil, nuclear, etc, then yes it's probably trickier. But the fine article does not provide numbers there. That said it would be crazy to restrict ourselves to just wind turbines anyway. That would be like getting into a fight with a hand and a leg tied in your back.

  • +1 for Efficiency (Score:4, Insightful)

    by turing_m (1030530) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @06:08AM (#28436589)

    When I hear "need", but don't hear a "for what" part soon after, I get suspicious. Was the term "energy needs" a rhetorical device introduced by governments or energy suppliers to distract from the fact that we can live on varying amounts of energy consumption.

    Exactly. Especially seeing as how most of our so-called "energy needs" can be eliminated using existing technology. Using 3 tonnes of vehicle with the drag coefficient of a barn door to transport one person to the grocery store is not a need. Heating your non-insulated house so that you can walk around in shorts and a t-shirt in winter is not a need.

  • Re:Except (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cliffski (65094) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @06:29AM (#28436695) Homepage

    I'd also imagine that if they lived in a less litigious society, the aches and pains would mysteriously vanish.

  • Re:Except (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phreakiture (547094) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @07:57AM (#28437127) Homepage

    I would be surprised about diabetes, but not so surprised about epilepsy. The rotating blades would cause a strobing effect when the sun hits them wrong, which could be a problem, maybe.

    Then again, I am not a doctor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @08:41AM (#28437443)

    Many farms have portions of their land that are not particularly great for farming, in particular, rocky areas. These are the ideal spots for windmills as they would have firmer soil that way. So you are only removing the least productive land (assuming we aren't going all out maximum possible density) from farming. Besides the footprint relative to the area covered by the blades is tiny.

  • by JimFive (1064958) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:24AM (#28437893)

    They also ignore the unknown effects.

    Yes, they do.

    What's being proposed is actually "destroying" 2.5% of all global wind (or 20% if oil is to be replaced too).

    No, when wind hits the windmill it doesn't stop, it slows down. So we're talking about reducing by some small amount the wind energy in 20% of the wind in a narrow band near the surface of the planet. How high do you think windmills are?

    Birds will not be able to fly as high, or as fast.

    What?!?!? We're not destroying the air we're reducing the wind. Altitude is limited by air density not wind speed. If a migratory bird is flying high enough to take advantage of wind speeds they are probably above the height of the windmills.

    This isn't to say that there wouldn't be unforeseen effects, I suspect there would be. But, I think the extremism in your rhetoric overshadows that point with absurdity.
    --
    JimFive

  • by rjstanford (69735) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:07AM (#28438337) Homepage Journal

    BS. Mining for nuclear fuel is probably the dirtiest mining there is.

    Per tonne of fuel, compared to coal? Probably. Per generated watt? Not a chance. If we allowed modern reprocessing reactors, the balance would tilt even further in nuclear's favor.

  • Re:Except (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:45AM (#28439813)

    "Somehow I'm having a hard time imagining how diabetes is influenced by a big windmill."

    You haven't dealt long term with stress then.

    In short, chronic diseases raises stress levels. You don't adapt, you deal with it. Any additional stress makes a huge impact.

    Everyone deals with this on a small level. You may get a bad case of the flu, a massive headache, or some other bothersome issue. Next thing, your neighbor's dog starts barking constantly and it annoys the hell out of you. It's simple exacerbation.

    Now think of someone who deals with chronic fatigue or pain or disability.

    "I suppose she could be ranting and raving about the turbine so much that her husband's stress levels affected his diabetes."

    So?

    This is one of the many reasons, like a poor area having a bad environmental record (one leads to the other and vice versa). If you live in an environment where you are powerless or have little power to change or affect where you live, where people don't listen, the only thing you can do is complain, and that does raise stress levels and make life less enjoyable. You pointing that out is like saying you have internet access when posting on slashdot--no shit.

    btw, all this complaining is why we don't have supersonic jets overland. Also why we don't have new and improved nuclear reactors. These "people" you disagree with learned from the best--the environmentalists themselves.

  • by bussdriver (620565) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:43PM (#28440705)

    Not so simple. As I recall, it was NOT boaters that were the big factor it was the small businesses and fishermen who raised hell over the Cape Cod wind farm with funding from the rich pricks who don't want to see them. Kennedy was being the good representative he is by keeping his voters happy by doing what they want - a SIMILAR issue came up with the fishermen getting upset over federal fishing regulations limiting them on their overfishing. Kennedy got them what they demanded and now many are out of business because fish populations continued due to the predictable decrease from their overfishing. They got what they deserved BOTH TIMES and would have hated their representative for trying to inject any wisdom to the contrary.

    I think its sad the way people shift blame to their representatives for THEIR OWN MISTAKES and wonder why the ones that tell them what they want to hear and throw a bone to the loudest groups. They get their power regardless of what they do on side issues (good or bad...) Some do good and some do bad but nearly ALL play politics where they must to get in and stay in. This is why you can't touch the corrupt farm lobbies or do much about all the welfare states (which are BTW all the 2004 "red" states.)

    People SAY they don't want waste etc; but when their rep brings waste into town-- they REWARD them with re-election. Sure I want nuclear energy-- but not in my backyard...

  • by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @04:30PM (#28444659) Homepage

    Turbulence sinks. You probably want a reference to this so I think it's in the FAR/AIM, or possibly in the Private Pilot's Training Manual. But it shouldn't be that hard to verify that slow moving air has a higher density than fast moving air (Bernoulli effect [wikipedia.org]) and therefore is heavier and will sink.

    You know what ? We math graduates think we have it soooo good. After all every nutcase only bothers the physicists with their ideas for perpetual motion machines.

    Guess I'll have to drop my illusions.

    Hello ? When you take energy OUT of a system LESS remains (even less total remains, ie. putting that energy back in STILL results in less remaining energy). Not more. Not equal amounts. LESS.

    Wind energy does not get magically replaced. The wind does not keep moving no matter how much energy you take out of it. It does not.

    Do you seriously expect to argue on this point ? Go to the Democrat national convention, don't try to convince anyone who's ever mastered high school physics.

    And yes this means that long-term there is no such thing as renewable energy.

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