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Power The Internet Data Storage Earth

A Server Farm Powered By a Wind Farm 164

Posted by timothy
from the nice-and-symmetrical dept.
1sockchuck writes "A Texas startup called Baryonyx plans to build data centers powered entirely by renewable energy. Its first project will be a wind-powered server farm powered by 100 wind turbines in the Texas panhandle. The company has also leased 38,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico, where it hopes to build hundreds of 300-foot wind turbines that can each generate up to 5 megawatts of power to support additional facilities. Baryonyx plans to sell excess capacity to the local utility, which it will use as a backup when the wind dies down."
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A Server Farm Powered By a Wind Farm

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've built a car that runs on a wind farm. Only problem is that it only works in the water. 100% green though!

  • Umm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:01PM (#28762701)

    *Hundreds* of 300ft wind farms to power a data center? Holy sustainability problems Batman!

    • Re:Umm... (Score:4, Funny)

      by HalifaxRage (640242) on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:04PM (#28762743) Journal
      You know I could have sworn someone was trying to sell a few hundred giant turbines here a few days back...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      you've must never have seen the Texas panhandle. its big, barren, desolate, empty space, like the moon- but with wind.

    • by syousef (465911)

      Just use the exhaust fans from the servers to power it! Instant perpetual motion!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:05PM (#28762757)

    The current version has coal-fired blowers feeding into the wind farm.

    Future versions promise to remove the coal-fired blowers.

  • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:07PM (#28762775) Homepage Journal

    "A Texas startup called Baryonyx plans to build data centers powered entirely by renewable energy. [... ] it will use [the local utility] as a backup when the wind dies down."

    If it's powered of the grid when it isn't windy out, and it's powered entirely by renewable energy, wouldn't it be powered entirely by renewable energy if it used the grid all the time?

    Or are they just trying to say that it's net-positive? Or what? The linked article doesn't seem to claim that the data center will be "powered entirely by renewable energy", so it isn't much help.

    -Peter

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      I was thinking they would have a massive flywheel for backup, but grid power would be needed if there's sustained calm.
      • by Trahloc (842734)
        Flywheels sound great in theory and the hype the companies who make them sound like they're probably the cure for cancer. Until you dig into the material and find out to equal the 15 minute UPS that lead acid batteries provide you in a couple dozen square feet you need flywheels that take up almost as much space as the servers themselves. Awesome line conditioners though, just a horrible backup power solution.
        • by Trahloc (842734)
          Doh, its 28,000 sqft. Well 42 megawatts just means that 10% capacity still gives a net positive at 1,500 watts/sqft.
    • by bugnuts (94678) on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:32PM (#28763017) Journal

      You calculate your average annual load, and scale your wind farm for that load. If you produce more, it goes into the grid for someone else to use. If you produce less, you draw from the grid and pay rip-off prices from the local power company. Basically you're using the power grid as a huge battery and hoping your numbers were close enough to produce what you draw.

      It's better than just a net sum of zero. It's actually better when you use the produced energy yourself, because there is far less energy loss than if the power company sent it to you. Transmission losses for a short distance from the wind farm to you are much lower, assuming you don't skimp on the wiring, and any excess energy will be sent to downstream customers with less loss, too, especially if they make it a high voltage generating station (and I suspect they have to due to the size).

      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:50PM (#28763229) Journal

        It's better than just a net sum of zero. It's actually better when you use the produced energy yourself, because there is far less energy loss than if the power company sent it to you. Transmission losses for a short distance from the wind farm to you are much lower, assuming you don't skimp on the wiring, and any excess energy will be sent to downstream customers with less loss, too, especially if they make it a high voltage generating station (and I suspect they have to due to the size).

        From a cash standpoint, though... not sure it would be better.

        Is it cheaper to build out your own power generation than it is to pay for the overhead and profits of the grid power suppliers? What are the efficiencies of scale in electricity generation? How does capital financing play into this -- would the utilities get much cheaper capital from the financiers?

        I like the main idea of your post, though. Distributed (and sustainable/green) power generation with traditional power companies acting as a backup supplier would give a nice transition to a more sustainable generation system. Unfortunately, I think if that model were adopted widely, we'd lose one of the great efficiencies of centralized power generation -- predictable loads. The big power companies would need to shift to power supplies that have a quick response to increased demand (or they'd need to waste a lot of fuel maintaining higher base generation).

        I'm by no means an expert in the industry, so I don't know tons about how it *could* play out, let alone how it *would* play out... but I do wonder how a grid-based backup supply could cope with highly variable demand.

        • by The_Quinn (748261)

          From a cash standpoint, though... not sure it would be better.

          Well the government has poured billions into energy, and still it is definitely not cheaper.

          If cost were the primary concern, then there would be no reason for the government to make yet further inroads into the control of energy. We have abundant, cheap carbon-based energy, which could be even more abundant and cheap if we were not forcibly prevented from getting at it all.

        • by bugnuts (94678)

          Is it cheaper to build out your own power generation than it is to pay for the overhead and profits of the grid power suppliers?

          It absolutely is, where I live.

          I will give an example from my state, New Mexico, which is very renewable energy friendly.

          1. You get a federal rebate of 30% of the total installation cost. This applies to everywhere in the US.
          2. NM offers an additional 10%. That's a total of 40% off the cost, refunded on your taxes.
          3. NM has exempted renewable energy generators from sales tax.
          4. PNM, the electric company, has been mandated to produce 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. They will pay r

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ron Bennett (14590)

        Assuming the grid can accept that excess power, which is not a sure thing. Often peak power usage times doesn't correspond with times of optimal wind speed. There have reportedly been instances in which some grids in Europe have experienced severe problems due to large excess and/or rapidly fluctuating loads coming from wind farms.

        Ron

    • If it's powered of the grid when it isn't windy out, and it's powered entirely by renewable energy, wouldn't it be powered entirely by renewable energy if it used the grid all the time?

      Sounds like they have excess generation capacity. They sell the power to the grid when the wind is high and buy it from the grid when the wind is too low to supply the local loads. If they buy less than they sell they can honestly say the load is (at least on the average) powered entirely by renewable resources.

      It's not eve

      • by shermo (1284310)

        Peak wind power usually occurs when the peak demand on the grid is occurring.

        I'd be really interested if you could supply a source for this assertion.

    • by aldousd666 (640240) on Monday July 20, 2009 @10:03PM (#28764921) Journal
      They'll have to invent a new HTTP error code: 603 - Calm Weather
  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:16PM (#28762883) Homepage Journal
    The linked story has all of the alternate energy buzzwords in it - and it's nice that they've gained the wind power leases for some land in Texas. But all those high-powered wind turbines are going to cost some very serious cash - that's the first problem. They aren't likely to have access to the kind of money it takes to make this happen. Then they talk about having their data center in three years. There's another clue to what's going on here - even if they did have the money, it'd be very difficult for them to have even one of these wind turbines actually generating power by then.

    I'm still chuckling about those 300 foot tall towers that will be standing on the 450 acres of ocean they've leased. For extra credit, calculate the wind load of a turbine extracting 3.5 MW of power from the wind when it's at the top of a 300 foot tower. For extra credit, determine the size and number of supports it would take to keep this thing standing. Remember, it's standing in the Gulf of Mexico so be sure to design for the storms that blow through there from time to time and a long life standing in seawater.

    It's an interesting story - but if you're approached about investing in this project you might want to keep your wallet in your pocket.

    • by tcopeland (32225)

      > if you're approached about investing in this project
      > you might want to keep your wallet in your pocket.

      Unless your name is Uncle Sam, in which case you raise taxes (or print money, which is the same thing) and hey presto, up go the turbines. For more I refer you to Chris Horner's excellent work Red Hot Lies [amazon.com].

    • For extra credit, determine the size and number of supports it would take to keep this thing standing.

      The answer is 1 hollow reinforced concrete base approximately 45' in diameter at sea level.

      Remember, it's standing in the Gulf of Mexico so be sure to design for the storms that blow through there from time to time and a long life standing in seawater.

      I'm sure if the design works in the North Atlantic, it'll work in the much milder weather of the Gulf.

      • Remember, it's standing in the Gulf of Mexico so be sure to design for the storms that blow through there from time to time and a long life standing in seawater.

        I'm sure if the design works in the North Atlantic, it'll work in the much milder weather of the Gulf.

        Katrina was Cat 5 while it was in the Gulf. So was Rita. I take it you have a lot of those in the North Atlantic?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tinkerghost (944862)

          Katrina was Cat 5 while it was in the Gulf. So was Rita. I take it you have a lot of those in the North Atlantic?

          Check the oil rigs they put in the North Atlantic & the ones they put in the Gulf. Look at which ones they build to take more punishment. It's not all about the Hurricanes.

    • by The_Quinn (748261)

      But all those high-powered wind turbines are going to cost some very serious cash

      If cost were the primary concern, then there would be no reason for the government to make yet further inroads into the control of energy. We have abundant, cheap carbon-based energy, which could be even more abundant and cheap if we were not forcibly prevented from getting at it all.

  • by unix_geek_512 (810627) on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:24PM (#28762939)

    We need more nuclear power.

    Wind turbines are great and all, except for the fact they need tons of copper, aluminum, fiberglass and other resources which require a heck of a lot of energy to mine and produce.

    All those resources are best used elsewhere, where it is more efficient.

    Nothing beats nuclear power at providing base generating capacity.

    Let's get some hydro in there too, hydro is a dirty word nowadays, which is insane. It's more green than all the "fashionable green technologies".

    Give me an all of above approach please!!!

    And don't forget we need to return to the moon and start mining Helium 3 now();

    • And don't forget we need to return to the moon and start mining Helium 3 now();

      I much prefer the boron-hydrogen fusion systems. No radioactive output, and the materials are here now.
      • First off, it's simply not true that aneutronic fusion is clean - it yields only a fraction as many neutrons as D-T, but that's still a huge flux, which will transmute containment materials into radioactive isotopes. Look it up - every "aneutronic" reaction has inevitable side reactions which produce neturons.

        Secondly, neither boron or He-3 fusion are anywhere close to reality. The have extremely small cross sections compared to D-T, so they need temperatures an order of magnitude hotter. This isn't pra
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Wind turbines are great and all, except for the fact they need tons of copper, aluminum, fiberglass and other resources which require a heck of a lot of energy to mine and produce.

      So do fuel-burning plants (though not precisely the same amount or mix of materials). Whether the fuel is combustible or nuclear.

      But the "fuel" for the wind turbine is just wind - which is free (except for the cost of using the site). And the "ash" is slower wind (typically in a place where using the land involves raising windbr

    • by dbIII (701233)
      If you knew anything practical about nuclear power you would know that we are talking about a situation where we cannot even compare wind and nuclear.

      1/ Wind power has a short lead time which in some cases can be under a year. For nuclear it takes around a decade. It comes down to the scale of the projects really.
      2/ At really small scales nuclear is horribly expensive per watt and is only useful in submarines, satellelites etc, but as size increases you get a much better return since you can get more ene
    • by Tweenk (1274968)

      Wind turbines are great and all, except for the fact they need tons of copper, aluminum, fiberglass and other resources

      All other kinds of plants do as well, but that's not the point.

      A server farm has high availability requirements, and cannot be powered solely by a single intermittent energy source like a wind farm, because when there's no wind your clients canish off the net. That's as stupid as making a solar powered respirator (or other life support device), where the patient dies when the Sun stops shining. The whole premise of the article is hilarious. They essentially invested in 2 separate things: a server farm and a

  • dunno about the rest of ya but for me...every time I hear wind power generation, it reminds me of Dune....specifically, the Dune PC games...where the main source of power were these wind turbines.

    (yea, the old DOS based game...Dune II...man...classic...)

    but dang...300ft turbines? imagine the number of migratory birds, insects (notably monarch butterflies from mexico), and numerous PETA/Greenpeace boats would be destroyed....
    I guess the downside is just the animals that would be sacrificed for the greater go

  • Does anyone else get the image of a wind tunnel data centre with passive coolers dissipating directly into gale-force winds? Not that the idea's bad, exactly. I just wonder how much power they're consuming for AC when the wind-powered notion could probably be taken more directly for a significant portion of the running costs (ie cooling).
  • They may need add a 404-w for sever down do to lack of wind.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:35PM (#28763045) Journal
    I would rather see these companies spend money on geo-thermal or Solar Thermal. Both of these can serve as base-load power.
  • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:35PM (#28763049) Homepage

    59 square miles of land to generate a theoretical maximum of 1500 megawatts (300 turbines x 5 MW each). But the reality is even with all 300 turbines running, assuming they all get built, the actual power output much of the time will be well below their rated maximum output. A nuclear power plant, in particular, those containing multiple reactor units, can easily produce well in excess of 1500 MW on a much smaller foot print than 59 square miles, and more consistently.

    In my view, wind power is a fad. I'd wager in 20 years there will be a booming business in wind turbine demolition as it becomes painfully clear, even to many wind power advocates, that their efficiency is lousy and the ongoing maintenance, especially as the turbines age, far larger than inticipated; many will be glad to see the eyesores turn down. To digress, right now, wind turbines, in most places, are still a novelty and seem neat, but once they're everywhere, and especially as they age, aren't going to seem so nice anymore.

    Solar, especially home and business installations on roofs, which basically unused space now, shows much promise - won't eliminate the need for the grid, but will reduce demand somewhat while saving people money.

    Ron

    • Addendum: I misread the summery. 300 is the height in feet of the turbines. With that said, the article speaks of there being hundreds of turbines as opposed to thousands, so the 300 number I mentioned is probably still in the ballpark.

    • by StickyWidget (741415) on Monday July 20, 2009 @07:20PM (#28763519)

      Nuclear power plants in the 1500 Megawatt range cost 30-40 Billion dollars just to build.

      Wind Farms in the 1500 Megawatt range cost 300-400 million dollars to build.

      Put in the zeros:
      40,000,000,000 vs 400,000,000....

      For the price of one 1500 Megawatt nuclear plant, we can build 100 1500 megawatt wind farms.... 1500 MW Care to revise your argument?

      ~Sticky

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Tweenk (1274968)

        There are some important differences between a 1500MW wind farm and a 1500MW nuclear plant. The nuke will actually put out 1500MW consistently regardless of weather conditions (with a good track record of security you can even get an uprate of a few percent), whereas the wind farm will sometimes give you 1000MW and sometimes zero (wind farms rarely achieve their theoretical power output). The nuclear plant will also probably last longer.

        • by shermo (1284310) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:44PM (#28764781)

          A type 1 wind site will get about 40% of maximum capacity on average. So a simple multiplier still puts wind farms a long way ahead on those numbers.

          Of course there are other benefits to nuclear over wind and as the proportion of wind increases, the grid quickly becomes unstable. However at the current level of wind penetration that's not an issue, so wind farms are the better choice.

          • by adolf (21054)

            [[citation needed]]

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by shermo (1284310)

              Which bit exactly? The 40% number is taken from real wind generation data I have sitting in front of me. It's all public domain stuff.

          • by drsquare (530038)

            A type 1 wind site will get about 40% of maximum capacity on average. So a simple multiplier still puts wind farms a long way ahead on those numbers.

            Except you're still going to need the nuclear plant when the wind stops, so the price of the wind farm includes the cost of the nuke plant.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by MrPhilby (1493541)
              Or have various windfarms in various locales around the country/planet. Then link them together with Buckminster Fullers idea for a world electricity grid. Just saying.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by risom (1400035)

          The nuke will actually put out 1500MW consistently regardless of weather conditions

          Theoretically - mostly yes. I don't know nothing about the environmental laws in the USA, but in Germany there are laws allowing only a specific maximum of thermal energy to be diverted into the nearby rivers - so in a hot summer the nukes can only operate at 30% or even less (like in 2006) - source [wikipedia.org])

          Practically they are down quite often. They can only operate 92% of the time for maintenance reasons (same source). And even after maintenance they fail quite often. From the 17 or so nuclear plants in Germany

      • by uvdiv_blog (1602161) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:26PM (#28764639)

        Nuclear power plants in the 1500 Megawatt range cost 30-40 Billion dollars just to build.

        Nonsense. The new French reactor [wikipedia.org], 1650 MWe, has a pricetag of $4.8 billion. Recent Japanese and Korean reactors were in the same range - $2-3/W (PPP), as surveyed by MIT CEEPR [mit.edu] (under "update on the cost of nuclear power"). The accompanying study [mit.edu] (2009) predicts costs for new US reactors to be $4/W. In short, the numbers are consistent. You can look up cost figures, levelized cost studies (here's a start) [blogspot.com] up and down, and you will find this is true.

        Wind Farms in the 1500 Megawatt range cost 300-400 million dollars to build.

        Also nonsense. Just take one recent [eon-uk.com] UK wind farm, which came in at £111 M for 60 MWe - $2.07/W, or extrapolating, over $3 billion for 1500 MW. You can survey costs all over the web, and this is typical. Whitelee [renewableenergyworld.com], Europe's largest onshore farm, cost £300M ($496M) for 322 MWe, $1.54/W. Lynn and Inner Dowsing [wikipedia.org] - UK's largest offshore farm - came in at £300 M ($496 M) for 194 MWe, $2.56/MW. The famous London Array [timesonline.co.uk] is now at £3B ($4.96 billion) for 1,000 MWe: $4.96/W. (To be fair though, this represents a 200% cost overrun over the original estimates. [wikipedia.org]) (Sorry about the angstrom signs: they are supposed to be British "pound" symbols)

        Also, besides the fact that your bogus figures for wind are 10 times cheaper than reality (and for nuclear, 10 times more expensive than reality), your comparison is bogus in yet another away. You comparable incomparable quantities: a megawatt of baseload yields far more energy than a megawatt of wind power - because it yields power continuously, whereas the wind turbines are very frequently down, or generating at fractional capacity. This is represented by the "capacity factor" [wikipedia.org], which is the fraction of the nameplate capacity actually achieved by a power plant - ratio of [average power output]/[power capacity]. And while nuclear power plants, as generally reliable baseload plants, run at 90%+ [doe.gov] capacity factor - that is, average 0.90 MWe of generation for each 1 MWe of nameplate capacity - wind farms, becuase of the obvious intermittency of wind, average only 20-30% [wordpress.com] capacity factors, with some exceptional [prinsesamaliawindpark.eu] offshore locations yielding 40%. Those megawatts are completely incomparable: 1 MWe of nuclear yields 2-4 times more energy than 1 MWe of wind power.

        • by StickyWidget (741415) on Monday July 20, 2009 @11:17PM (#28765465)

          Jeez. Where do I even start....
          1. Don't reference Other Countries nuclear programs. This is the United States, where the costs of regulation, permitting, licensing, buying land, paying off neighbors, etc outweigh the material cost of a reactor. Don't compare France. Japan, Korea, or all those others, to the US, it's apples and oranges when it comes to nuclear acceptance. The issue was a wind farm in the US, not France. A nuke in America costs 30-40 billion dollars, stem to stern, full cost. That's the cost of a FULL COMPLETE nuke plant(including water treatment, balance of plant, turbines, etc), but I'll forgive your ignorance on that. People who read wikipedia and don't know power generation often make that mistake.

          2. You got your numbers wrong: Financing referenced in that wikipedia article is only for construction phase, which is the CHEAPEST part of building a nuke. Permitting isn't there, startup (which is WAY expensive) isn't there, commissioning (which is RIDICULOUS expensive) isn't there, NRC approval and licensing (which is THE most expensive piece) isn't there. If you worked for a utility or in the nuclear industry (like me) you'd know this.

          3. If you want to reference a source, use one with some TEETH. Something like http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/analysis/nuclearpower.html [doe.gov], or http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/82975.pdf [state.gov]. Some dipshit's blog doesn't count, especially when he admits a full bias and doesn't disclose his credentials. BTW: I'm a computer engineer with 5 years of experience in control systems, power generation, and the economics of electric power.

          4. Seriously? OFFSHORE wind farm budget numbers up against LAND BASED wind farms? Lets' see, we'll put a wind technology that is designed, constructed, and operated in one of the most harsh environments on the planet, which you have to helicopter maintenance personnel into, against a wind technology that is built on solid ground, with standard materials, and can be maintained with guys in trucks. Gee, that's a real valid comparison. My wind numbers are accurate, I know because I work in the industry.

          5. Fine. Assume that they produce 1500 MW 10% of the time instead of 90%. Still a break even with my ACCURATE numbers.

          6. Definitely not an engineer. Megawatts are always comparable, they are absolute quantities. A MW produced by a wind farm is the same MW produced by a nuke. Yes, while wind provides a smaller percentage of it's capacity factor when compared to nuclear, that can be (supposedly) be defeated with large numbers of geographically dispersed wind farms.

          Nukes cost a lot of money. That is the operational reality. Get over it. Until someone decides that nukes are a good investment for their cost, we will not see a nuke plant. Other countries can do what they like, they are 20 years ahead of us. The NRC rules all, and nobody wants to finance something we can't figure out how to get rid of the waste for. And that's sad, because nuclear power is the future of baseload generation and will help end our dependence on fossil fuels.

          ~Sticky

          • Whoops, got a little ahead of myself.

            MW Hours, not MW for #6.

            ~Sticky

          • by Splab (574204)

            Also the price tag for the windmills running offshore in UK and Denmark for instance are for first try projects which will always be more expensive - and they are running on older technology.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by uvdiv_blog (1602161)
            Sigh.

            1. Don't reference Other Countries nuclear programs. This is the United States,

            My $4/W figure was the estimate for new United States reactors, according to the interdisciplinary MIT study The Future of Nuclear Power [mit.edu] (the 2009 update).

            Referring again to the MIT study, they explain in detail what goes into their cost models (the 2003 full report, appendix 5). It encompasses EVERYTHING - the entire plant (steam turbines and all), the operating costs over 40 years of operation, 40 years' worth of f

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by dbIII (701233)
              Yes, pretty and colourful powerpoint stuff to make the guys that drank through their MBAs eyes glaze over, but do you have any figures linked to a real plant that can actually be named so that people know you are not pulling a fast one? That IMHO is the big problem in the nuclear debate at them moment, nobody is prepared to name the costs of the single plant anywhere. We just get some incredibly unlikely adjusted value which pretends to be an average but ignores the not paticularly well performing dead en
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)

      59 square miles of land to generate a theoretical maximum of 1500 megawatts (300 turbines x 5 MW each).

      Most of the ground in those 59 square miles will still be empty. Is there any reason wind can't co-exist on the same land with agriculture, grazing, or solar power?

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:50PM (#28764373) Homepage

      A nuclear power plant, in particular, those containing multiple reactor units, can easily produce well in excess of 1500 MW on a much smaller foot print than 59 square miles, and more consistently.

      Why is land area the primary criterion? Why talk about wind farm land 'foot print' as though it were a big parking lot you plop down, as if it occupies land in the same way a nuclear plant does. One of the nice things about wind farms is that at ground level they consist of mostly empty space which can be used for farming, animal grazing, and so on. If it even matters. Nobody cares about squeezing multiple uses out of every square mile in west Texas, for example. Unless it's to put wind mills where you already have oil wells, which I've seen. There's plenty of land besides that isn't being used for anything else.

      In my view, wind power is a fad. I'd wager in 20 years there will be a booming business in wind turbine demolition as it becomes painfully clear, even to many wind power advocates, that their efficiency is lousy and the ongoing maintenance, especially as the turbines age, far larger than inticipated

      If they're tearing it down in twenty years, then they'll only be doing it to put up a new one, because they would have long since made a profit on the windmill. The farms that were built ten years ago have already turned nice ROIs. Even without a lot of incentives, it's profitable to run them. Unexpected maintenance issues late in life aren't going to change that. Forget some Oil-and-would-be-water Baron in the panhandle; there's a reason they're throwing up all those wind farms in west Texas.

      Now I could see development slowing down if they start to run out of economical places to put them. But why would they tear down farms in places that have already proven to be profitable?

      many will be glad to see the eyesores turn down.

      Ah. Wishful thinking. Sorry you feel that way. I think a wind farm looks beautiful, personally. Some older models aren't very good looking, sure. But all the new ones they're building look elegant to me, a modern take on an old pastoral theme, and seen a hundred of them all carving out big circles at slightly different speeds is mesmerizing.

      Solar, especially home and business installations on roofs, which basically unused space now, shows much promise - won't eliminate the need for the grid, but will reduce demand somewhat while saving people money.

      Yeah, that's nice too. Economies of scale help here though just like with everything else, so it's not always as clear for a homeowner that it's a good ROI, but in the right conditions it does very well. My house used to have solar panels on it, but they were removed due to maintenance issues and a bad installation that affected the roof. It's possible I'll new ones up at some point. Commercial rooftops, though, sound like a fantastic place for solar.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In my view, wind power is a fad. I'd wager in 20 years there will be a booming business in wind turbine demolition as it becomes painfully clear, even to many wind power advocates, that their efficiency is lousy and the ongoing maintenance, especially as the turbines age, far larger than inticipated; many will be glad to see the eyesores turn down.

      Oh? How much would you wager?

      There are already wind farms that have been around for more than 20 years (e.g. the Altamont Pass farm in California), installed in

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Don't forget to add a bit of land for the strip mine.

    • by johannesg (664142) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @02:36AM (#28766511)

      I'd wager in 20 years there will be a booming business in wind turbine demolition as it becomes painfully clear, even to many wind power advocates, that their efficiency is lousy and the ongoing maintenance, especially as the turbines age, far larger than inticipated; many will be glad to see the eyesores turn down.

      I live in the Netherlands, and I can tell you that windfarms can be turned into a thriving tourist business after a couple of centuries.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      many will be glad to see the eyesores turn down.

      These people are gigantic fucking idiots. There is no other way for me to describe them. Mod me asshole if you want, but you cannot even begin to compare the eyesore [mccullagh.org] of an actual fossil fuel plant (let alone what they want it to look like [southpolestation.com]) or a nuclear plant [wordpress.com] (the image is the relevant part, but I always like nuclear dangers articles, they're fun!) with a wind farm [homefootprint.info]. A collection of pinwheels, or a smoking concrete monstrosity? On appearance alone, the wind farm wins. I like to mention Moss Landing because th

  • Not to be overly cynical, but is there any reason why anyone hasn't bought cheap land and/or politicians in Mexico to get around those pesky NIMBY people and environmental laws? Granted you would need to spend money on infrastructure to get the power to the Southern US, but you would think it would still be more economical than wasting time in the US.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      ... is there any reason why anyone hasn't bought cheap land and/or politicians in Mexico ...

      The land is cheap - but US citizens can't own it.

      The politicians are too expensive: Once you've got some money coming in they want it all.

    • Even though the USA and Mexican power networks have the same fundamental power frequencies (i.e. 60 Hz), they operate out of sync and can't simply "connect". To get around this, companies install a High Voltage Direct Current system (HVDC) or a Variable Frequency Transformer (VFT). However, these connections are VERY limited in what they can bring across due to the nature of the equipment. HVDC installations are many many more times the price of conventional substations, and usually have a lower capacit

  • by Necron69 (35644) <jscott.farrow@gmai l . com> on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:38PM (#28763089)

    "Baryonyx plans to sell excess capacity to the local utility, which it will use as a backup when the wind dies down."

    Translation: the local utility will need to build/buy additional generating capacity to cover the lack of base-load power from the wind farm.

    This is a gimmick that isn't near as 'green' as they want you to believe.

    - Necron69

  • by StickyWidget (741415) on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:44PM (#28763151)

    Cause at $1.5-2.0 Million per mile for 30 miles of transmission line, they are looking at around $45-60 Million for 115KV transmission out there. Add another $10 Million to add to the 138KV sub in Dalheart, at least another $15 million for their own substation near the wind farm, plus another $10 Million for interconnections between wind turbines and the wind substation. Settling any right of way issues, better budget at least $5 million. And add in 10% for miscellaneous changes and unforeseen consequences. Plus another 10% for the program management....

    We're talking $100-115 million dollars being spent on transmission line construction, and this all before this project makes any money. Plus, THREE YEARS? I know you are marketing to the venture capitalists, but I don't think so, try 5 years minimum.

    And this is BEFORE costs per wind turbine, which run in the $2-3 Million per turbine due to them being in high demand right now. So that's another $200-300 Million on top of that. Tax credits will shave off almost 70-80% of the purchase price of the turbines over 10 years though. Didn't know we taxpayers were subsidizing this construction, didya?

    WANTED: Investors with serious balls. Require big brass ones, with money to spend in a shite economy. Will not receive return on investment for at least 5 years if ever. This is Texas, Wussies, Pussies, and Wimps need not apply...

    ~Sticky

    • by yoshi_mon (172895)

      Tax credits will shave off almost 70-80% of the purchase price of the turbines over 10 years though. Didn't know we taxpayers were subsidizing this construction, didya?

      Yes, yes I did. And not only do I approve we have been doing such things for many years now!

      I know it's very fashionable right now to make a lot of noise about what our tax dollars pay for but anyone with a clue has known that they have been paying for a lot of things for a long time now. Only the willfully ignorant, coughfoxnewsviewerscough, get all shocked and amazed when someone like you talk about it.

  • Naaah. Then I don't want it! Not shitty enough.

    P.S.: How about using the "output" of all those cows for energy generation trough "biogas" and burning(?) "biomass"?

  • The company has also leased 38,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico, where it hopes to build hundreds of 300-foot wind turbines that can each generate up to 5 megawatts of power to support additional facilities. Baryonyx plans to sell excess capacity to the local utility, which it will use as a backup when the wind dies down.

    Wind generators are required to have (usually gasoline or diesel) motor backups when the "wind dies down" because they are required to maintain a certain amount of power at all times... they

  • The hot air produced by bankers, consultants and the current government alone must be able to power a few datacentres..

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