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Researchers Claim Wind Turbine Energy Payback In Less Than a Year 441

Posted by timothy
from the answer-is-blowin'-in dept.
mdsolar (1045926) writes "Researchers have carried out an environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines mooted for a large wind farm in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. They conclude that in terms of cumulative energy payback, or the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation, a wind turbine with a working life of 20 years will offer a net benefit within five to eight months of being brought online." Watts Up With That? has a more skeptical take on the calculations.
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Researchers Claim Wind Turbine Energy Payback In Less Than a Year

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  • by djupedal (584558) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @07:55PM (#47346903)
    We attended an investors meeting in Portland relating to solar power 2 yrs. ago....the panel of solar experts all kept talking about playing catch up with wind and how solar was getting it's ass kicked. Finally someone in the group asked "Can you tell us what room the wind energy investment group is meeting in...?"
    • by phrostie (121428) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @07:58PM (#47346907)

      a little rivalry is a good thing.

      I'm a fan of both and still believe that putting all your eggs in one basket will just lead to other problems.

      • by GNious (953874) on Monday June 30, 2014 @03:24AM (#47348361)

        Diversity is critical in energy production - is part of why certain groups insists on dismissing any green source that is not capable of meeting 100%+ of energy-needs.

      • They're both very volatile and cannot be counted upon to meet base-load demand.

        Therein, as the "Watts Up With That?" commenters point out, lies the problem. You can *only* achieve that kind of ROI if you're connected to a power grid that will pay you fixed rates for your excess power when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, and guarantee availability of power in other circumstances (against base rates).

        Power plants have a nasty habit of costing money every second while they're being kept in read

        • They're both very volatile and cannot be counted upon to meet base-load demand.

          This is a myth. All electricity generation in a developed country is indeed connected to a grid. There is never a time when there is no wind/solar/hydro/tide/wave power from anywhere.

          Furthermore theses sources are pretty predictable.

          Renewables can form part of the baseload, just as other sources can. Diversity is always the key.

          Anything you read on Watt's Up With That is inevitably bullshit. It's a site that will make any argument to match a far right wing agenda. It's anti-science.

    • by donaldm (919619) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:37PM (#47347051)
      When considering solar power, wind farming is quite practical for large scale production (not for the residential home) however you still need some sort of storage or alternative power generation to offset the hours or even days when there is little or no wind (hence a survey).

      Actually no matter what methods are used for large scale energy production it will always be "consumer pays", so if you as a home owner want to offset your electricity bill then solar panels are the way to go, but only after you have done your homework and by that you need to work out the initial costs verses the longs term benefits. Unfortunately it is so easy for so called "experts" to rip people off since most people have no idea how to work out what really is best for themselves in regard to energy utilisation.
      • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @09:53PM (#47347375)
        The wind is always blowing somewhere. We need a world grid. We already have Europe/Asia/Africa power grids. A grid that connects the world, probably along the lines of a Risk board, would let us move power from day to night, and from wind to still. There's more than enough power, we just have a storage or distribution problem to solve, and given the state of storage and the state of transportation, I think we'd be better off with world-wide distribution.
        • by Scottingham (2036128) on Monday June 30, 2014 @12:55AM (#47347957)
          The variable you are neglecting to consider is transmission losses.

          Look into super-conducting cables. So far, only Germany has managed to get a 1km long super-conducting cable in place for a still tiny % of the energy necessary to make this global grid work in the way you're talking about.

          1/3 Local nukes+1/3 wind+ 1/3 solar > coal
          • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Monday June 30, 2014 @04:40AM (#47348553) Homepage Journal

            The grid loss is something in the figure of 5% 7% of total power production germany.
            That is regardless of the source. Difficult right now is the transport of wind power from the 'far' north to the 'far' south, because of lack of power conduits, not because of 'grid loss'.
            The loss is usually about 7% per 1000km transport distance, however it depends on voltage. E.g. Kasachstan uses 1mega Volt lines, where the grid loss is about 6% per 10,000km, not 1000.
            Superconductors are likely not a solution, I guess they are simply to expensive and if one breaks you have a long long long downtime.
            A bit simpler are high voltage direct current conduits, the power companies are shifting slowly to them for long range power transport.

            • by T.E.D. (34228)

              The grid loss is something in the figure of 5% 7% of total power production germany.

              Germany covers about 138,000 square miles, which makes it just a smidge larger in area than the state of New Mexico. Scaling a grid up from the size of a single state to the entire Continental US is likely to be a whole different kettle of fish.

              OTOH, you could argue this extra geographic spread is a good thing, as it affords a US electric consumer the same variety of locale for wind generation that has proven adequate in Germany, within their one state alone. New Mexico is a lot poorer and less populated

          • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday June 30, 2014 @04:44AM (#47348565) Journal
            Transmission losses matter a lot less when generation doesn't cost you anything. If you have a coal power plant and demand drops, you burn less coal and lower your costs. When demand increases, you burn more coal and make more money. With a wind power plant, if the wind is blowing but demand drops then your choice is either 100% loss by just wasting the power, or something less than 100% loss by transmitting it. For very long distances, the same transmission mechanisms that we use for fossil fuels are applicable: store it in chemical form and put it in trucks / trains / boats. Whether the chemical form is hydrogen, diesel, aluminium, or something else is up to you.
          • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Monday June 30, 2014 @07:29AM (#47348967)

            You mean HVDC cables? They're installed all over Europe and are working fine, thanks. It would be pretty straightforward to have several of them piping solar power from the Sahara and wind power from the North Atlantic into the same grid with very minimal transmission losses.

        • by Cryacin (657549)
          Yeah, superconductor based underwater sea cables would be awesome. I would question how well this would work with standard underwater power cabling due to loss.
        • by durrr (1316311)

          Sure, lets build a grid capable of handling 10000 times more than the local demand will ever amount to because we're piping electricity from all europe to china through it.

          Or we could take the money that would cost and use it to produce any other form of electricity locally.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Monday June 30, 2014 @03:38AM (#47348397) Homepage

        Wind is actually pretty reliable over the short term. A bit of smoothing helps, and Japan has already deployed 50MWh batteries for that purpose. Even without smoothing with a number of turbines distributed geographically the output doesn't vary much over an hour, and is quite easy to predict a few hours in advance. That gives other sources plenty of notice to ramp up.

        Home owners can't really lose with solar PV, unless they somehow get screwed on workmanship or installation costs. The panels with always pay for themselves in a few years and it's shear madness that new houses are being built without it.

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday June 30, 2014 @04:52AM (#47348587) Journal
          It's also possible with smartgrid things to tweak the demand curve a bit. For example, a fridge or freezer needs to keep the contents in a temperature range with a little bit of leeway. It will typically let things warm until they're near the top of the range, then run the compressor until they're close to the bottom of the range. If your freezer knows about the spot price of electricity, then you may set it to an economy mode, where it will start the compressor early if power is sufficiently cheap, so by the time the price goes up (i.e. supply drops) you're effectively storing energy by having the entire contents of the freezer at the bottom end of its temperature range. The same is true for electric cars - if you're using one to commute and the battery will last a few days, then the amount that you're willing to pay for electricity varies based on how low the battery charge is. If it doesn't have enough for tomorrow's commute, then you'll pay more. If it does, then you'd happily top-up the charge cheaply when there's some surplus supply.
        • Home owners can't really lose with solar PV, unless they somehow get screwed on workmanship or installation costs. The panels with always pay for themselves in a few years and it's shear madness that new houses are being built without it.

          If you're going to live in the house for at least the break-even time then yes, you probably can't lose. However, I'm less convinced that it adds so much to the value of the house: if there are 2 identical houses for sale, but one of them has a brand new £20K installation of PV panels on the roof, are people really going to pay £20K more for that one? I suspect not, because its an up-front cost and some people simply won't be able to afford that much up-front. (Ok, so people will tack it onto

        • by wiggles (30088) on Monday June 30, 2014 @10:44AM (#47350141)

          > Home owners can't really lose with solar PV

          Unless, of course, you happen to live somewhere other than Southern California or Arizona, where weather conditions don't permit the sun to shine at sufficient intensity over the whole year. Here in the mid/upper midwest, the payback period for a solar installation on my house works out to be 17 years. Wind, on the other hand, can be cost effective if you have sufficient land space to put up a tower. I see a few of my rural neighbors with wind turbines on their properties.

    • CdTe panels have been in this range for a while. It is expected that crystaline silicon will get there by 2020 for a central European site.

      "The photovoltaic (PV) market is experiencing vigorous growth, whereas prices are dropping rapidly. This growth has in large part been possible through public support, deserved for its promise to produce electricity at a low cost to the environment. It is therefore important to monitor and minimize environmental impacts associated with PV technologies. In this work,
    • by jandrese (485)
      Well of couse the Solar guys were in trouble, they were in Portland. Solar doesn't work so well when it's always overcast.
  • WUWT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @07:59PM (#47346909)

    The rebuttal is from a climate-change denial site?

    What the fuck is this, Fox News? What's next, Free Republic?

    Fuck you, Timothy. Seriously, just fuck off.

    --
    BMO

    • Re:WUWT (Score:4, Funny)

      by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:05PM (#47346933)
      But their argument is irrefutable. "But the wind speed changes!! They didn't mention that!!". I only have three words. Double-U Oh Double-U.
      • Re:WUWT (Score:5, Informative)

        by afxgrin (208686) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:52PM (#47347129)

        "A 2.0 MW wind turbine would generate 6.12 GWh per year, assuming a 35% capacity factor." [ourenergypolicy.org]

        Right in the fucking source paper. They don't even have that as an argument...

        • by bane2571 (1024309)
          I've just spent my lunch break reading this paper, and I like what he's done as far as calculating the environmental impact. I don't think I've ever seen something like this and wish more was published in the media.

          I suck at reading scientific literature though so I can't find where he defined the total energy cost of the wind generators. Could you please tell me which page it's on? I'm looking for the GW number that was used to compare with your quoted GWh number to give a payback time.
        • You don't place a commercially used win turbine (or a wind farm) at a place where according to expected wind speeds over the year your 'capacity factor' is only 35%.
          Something like that you only do as a privat owner where you perhaps build a 10kW plant because you only need 5kW, and for some reason, kick in wind speed or shut down wind speed or simply price, you find that interesting.
          Commercial wind farms are usually build where the 'capacity factor' is far above 100%.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by pipatron (966506)
      Next up: Conservapedia for unbiased fact-checking.
    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      The study is peer reviewed. http://www.inderscience.com/in... [inderscience.com]
    • Re:WUWT (Score:5, Funny)

      by Rei (128717) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:52PM (#47347131) Homepage

      Typical Slashdot. "New peer reviewed science study says something. But random guy on the internet says they're wrong!"

      • Re:WUWT (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Burz (138833) on Monday June 30, 2014 @02:21AM (#47348197) Journal

        WUWT's publisher gets Koch funding by way of the Heartland Institute... so, not "random".
        http://mediamatters.org/blog/2... [mediamatters.org]

        Now I get to put my first /. mod on my (rather small) enemies list and my exclusion list: Timothy.

    • Re:WUWT (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anubis IV (1279820) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:56PM (#47347145)

      Does it matter what the source is, so long as it presents a testable claim?

      Besides which, their argument was mischaracterized in the summary. It's not a rebuttal of the ROI period, which is what the summary seems to suggest. Rather, they took issue with the overly-broad statement that seemed to suggest that each turbine would replace the need for traditional power sources for over 500 homes, which is, as far as I can tell, an accurate claim. Obviously, there are lulls in the wind, so while it may on average provide that much power, the lulls would mean that the traditional sources will still need to be used. What was left unsaid is that they would be used in lesser quantities.

      Yes, it's a "well duh" sort of thing, but it's also accurate. And if you don't think it is, feel free to disprove them. It wasn't exactly a complicated argument, nor a particular meaningful one, but that's also a bit of a "well duh" sort of thing, given the source. ;)

      • Well, "accurate"... If one of those turbines is going to be producing 600 kW on average, it should be able to provide >2000 homes like mine. (How do Americans manage to consume so much electricity in their households?)
      • Re:WUWT (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TapeCutter (624760) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @09:28PM (#47347271) Journal

        Does it matter what the source is, so long as it presents a testable claim?

        Yes. Stubbornly refusing to withdraw a claim when multiple independent tests have already found it to be false is the definition of a denier. It's the reason why we laugh at flat earther's and (the original) April fools.

        To test Watts' claim simply calculate three trends from his data, one for his "worst" 100 stations, one for his "best" 100 stations and one for the full set of ~1100 stations, if his claim has merit there will be signifcant differences in the three trends. So go ahead, you test his claims if you doubt, I've already done so on many occasions, that's what science is about.

        BTW: When you find his claims don't hold water, don't be tempted to post a video about it on youtube because he will issue a false DCMA to try and shut you up.

      • Re:WUWT (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Monday June 30, 2014 @03:49AM (#47348431) Homepage

        Rather, they took issue with the overly-broad statement that seemed to suggest that each turbine would replace the need for traditional power sources for over 500 homes, which is, as far as I can tell, an accurate claim. Obviously, there are lulls in the wind, so while it may on average provide that much power, the lulls would mean that the traditional sources will still need to be used.

        The same logic applies to all electricity sources because none of them can run un-interupted at full output for their entire lives. Even coal and nuclear plants need regular down time for maintenance, as well as unexpected events.

        The grid is a pool, with many generation sources contributing to it. If you only had one turbine they might have a point, but when you have hundreds or thousands you can rely on them for a certain amount of "base load" power. In fact they are more reliable that traditional forms of generation, because a single failure at a coal/gas/nuclear plant can knock out hundreds or even thousands of megawatts, but a single turbine failure is insignificant.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TapeCutter (624760)
      Indeed. Watts' opinion on anything climate related is about as relevant and enlightening as Fred Phelps opinion on gay bars.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:00PM (#47346913)

    A 4 unit coal fired power station will be lucky to have 80% availability.

    Maintenance is continuous on those things, so they don't have 100% availability either.

    Admitted, the downtime is handled on site (3 of 4 units still run while one is down), but that's WHY there's a power grid. So the counter argument has flaws as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sl149q (1537343)

      Funny you should mention maintenance. Presumably the smaller generators on wind turbines will last longer with less maintenance. Especially since any maintenance that is required is distributed across a larger number of remote points (some in the ocean) and many feet in the air.

      We have a gas fired plant locally that used to have yearly tours (sadly suspended after 9/11). Highly efficient and large turbines, but at the expense of frequent (well once every year or two if I recall) maintenance and overhauls. B

      • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @09:42PM (#47347327)
        With respect, wind turbines are tiny and although a great deal of maintenance is required it is both trivial and not constrained by time. So you are down 2MW - big deal, get around to fixing it next week when the crew is free.
        Gas is also small and high maintenance with respect to coal (three to five years between shutdowns on well run coal fired plants), but it doesn't take very long to either build or fix the things in comparison.
        The major reason wind is now a player is that the things are both a lot more reliable and easier to get going again than they used to be. Crews apparently swap things out and transport the damaged parts to be repaired in a shed instead of way up in the air.
      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:13PM (#47347467) Journal
        Any generatortor will need maintenance, the real question is; is the maintinace cost preventing you from paying off the capital investment, and the answer for both is an obvious - no.

        The FF popoganda normally ignores that and talks about "base load" as if it is somehow essential. This is total bullshit since no city will ever have a flat demand curve, base load means you must fire up gas turbines during demand peaks and pump water up hill during demand troughs, exactly the same as needs to happen for any solar/wind/wave/tide farm. By definition a flat supply curve will only ever match a wavy demand curve at the points where the demand changes between under and over supply. Solar actually does a better job at maching the demand curve in specific senarios such as a hot day when air-conditioners are working overtime.

        Coal assets, mines, railways, ports, have been steadily losing value recent years, they are now worth roughly 40% less than they were a decade ago and are in danger of becoming "stranded assets" (google it). The "world's largest coal port" being planned for Queensland is now looking unlikely to go ahead due to major investment funds withdrawing from the project, HSBC, Dueches Bank, Bank of Scotland, et-al. This is not because of the enviroment, it's because the current price of coal makes it uneconomical in hard dollar terms.

        Add the above economic dificulty to the fact it's now cheaper for India to build solar farms than it is to import coal from Australia. The new Indian PM has declared he will use solar power to provide electricity to 400M people. The new Aussie PM is attempting to keep climate change off the agenda at the G20. Coal is Australia's #1 export and (as with Canada), it makes up a big chunk of our GDP). Wich succinctly explains why the conservative governments in both those countries are climate "skeptics".

        The technological tide is turning the energy economics of the 20th century on it's head, ignoring future miricale breakthroughs such as fussion power, renewables we be ubiquitous in 20yrs because they make economic sense now and the number$ are still improving at a rapid pace. It's not that far-fetched to see an impending deflation of enrgy prices in the 2020's if the trend continues.
  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:04PM (#47346929)
    That's what they're for here, right? The "more skeptical take" is a joke. It's a fundamental nature of intermittent power sources and a well known fact that you need an improved grid over a large geographic area to filter out the outliers. Picking out one installation is dishonest, and so is to claim that the energy being intermittent falsifies the original cumulative EROEI claim, which had nothing to do with whether one installation is continuously sufficient. It's a blatant straw man on WUWT's part.
  • What the hell was that inserted for? It was an idiotic point made on a site which clearly has a political axe to grind. It wasn't made well. Anyone claiming to engage in a scientific debate with the phrase "by my own observation" deserves to be laughed out of the room.

    This is supposed to be Slashdot, not Fox. Why the hell was this included?

    • by AchilleTalon (540925) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @09:03PM (#47347171) Homepage

      Well, forget WUWT and you will see there is not much calculations neither in the original claim and in fact, there is a big warning sign in the text, something the cost has not been taken into account in the evaluation but mandatory for their hypothesis to hold, here it is:

      "Wind turbines are frequently touted as the answer to sustainable electricity production especially if coupled to high-capacity storage for times when the wind speed is either side of their working range."

      So, they presume the high-capacity storage exists and it has zero cost. Seems to me a bit optimistic.

  • by satsuke (263225) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:10PM (#47346949)

    And of course the skeptical take comment section is filled with non-researched and non-constructive comments about wind energy.

    Almost as if being for or against green energy were an overt political statement than a well thought out business plan and energy policy.

    (I'm from Kansas, we have nowhere near enough utilization of wind energy, despite several large wind farms in the western part of the state).

  • Show me the money! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Entrope (68843) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:15PM (#47346973) Homepage

    If this wind farm expects payback in five to eight months, we should be able to find some other wind farm (anywhere) that had payback in less than a year, right? Does anybody have a pointer to that kind of success story?

    • by thaylin (555395) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:21PM (#47346993)
      That is not what it means by payback. The article, if you read it, means that the net cost of creating the turbine in terms of electricity and minerals is re-payed in 8 months, basically the cost to the environment.. Of course the skeptical site has nothing but a large strawman using the same type of argument you are using.
      • by grim4593 (947789) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:40PM (#47347061)
        That is an odd definition of payback. The raw material cost of creating something is irrelevant since you cannot buy anything at cost: there are always value-add processes and profit margins to consider.
        That said, the GP is right, unless these wind turbines in the study have noticeable improvements compared to other turbines I would expect there to be similar installations around the country that are making profits/savings for their investors. There should either be news about those gains or news about how the investors who previously built wind turbines are investing even greater sums of money due to their success.
        • by thaylin (555395)
          How is it odd? There are monetary costs, there are external costs. If you can repay the monetary costs why can you not repay the external costs? In this case they are studying the external costs of the usage of nonrenewable power sources to create renewable power, and seeing where the environmental balance shifts. I mean if your entire world only revolves around your bank account then I can see how you would find it odd. This study does NOT talk about MONETARY ROI AT ALL.
          • How is it odd?

            It's odd because it's not a particularly relevant statistic (that is, if it didn't give a payback very quickly, then wind farms would be an utter waste).

            What matters is when wind becomes cheaper than coal. That's when things get interesting.

        • by mdsolar (1045926)
          No, it is the embodied energy. It takes energy to turn ore into steel or to make the windings of a generator. Energy payback time is a consideration for how quickly a new energy source can build out. If, like WWII, we were to concentrate very hard on a task, the task of replacing our energy system quickly, if we all froze in the dark for half a year, we'd be finished using wind turbines. With current solar, we'd need a year and a half. Obviously, there are other things that would be hold ups, but the p
        • Here's a story about investors in traditional power generation plants in Texas looking at losses because of new alternative energy power production:

          http://www.renewableenergyworl... [renewableenergyworld.com]

        • That is an odd definition of payback. The raw material cost of creating something is irrelevant since you cannot buy anything at cost: there are always value-add processes and profit margins to consider.

          If you do it in dollar terms the payback will be much faster in some markets due to insanely high spot prices for peak power. In others it won't. Even in the same place six months later it may have much slower financial payback. Energy payback is far easier to determine.

        • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:23PM (#47347503)

          It's an odd definition but it's a common one. People often complain (incorrectly) that solar cells take more electricity to manufacture than they produce in their lifetime.

          This is a study saying that they "pay back" the input resources in a small fraction of their life span. It's refuting all of the FUD around green energy that it's just taking Coal and Petroleum and storing it inefficiently in a wind turbine or solar panel to be slowly released over the course of several years.

      • by Entrope (68843)

        Why does the article think it gets to define its own meaning of "payback"? If I can basically pick and choose which cost factors to consider, and have a lot of leeway to fudge (some or most of) those numbers because they are not anything that people try to objectively measure, of course I can calculate a ridiculously short payback period. You have really only said that the article is not worth the electrons it is transmitted with, and that we should treat its authors as charlatans.

        • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:07PM (#47347447) Journal

          They aren't. They're using an established term "energy payback". The authors wrote an analysis which will be useful to many people but used the word "payback" in a way which does not match your preconceived notion of how it should be used. For this, you label them "charlatans".

          So all the people interested in energy payback times should not be able to publish or read about it because you've claimed ownership of the word "payback" and won't license them to use it? They should use a less clear term to express their meaning because otherwise some random idiot who reads technical papers might make the leap "payback = money", despite the term "energy payback" being self explanatory?

          Had you argued that because this is "energy payback" rather than financial payback, it isn't worthy of being reported on Slashdot, I could respect your argument. Instead you label people charlatans because what they discuss is not what you're interested it.

  • The advocates of wind energy make no claim that the wind generators will run 24/7. Nevertheless, calculating payback as if they do provides a convenient comparison to other power sources. In practice, a combination of wind, solar and natural gas can economically provide power and greatly reduce the generation of greenhouse gasses and should cost less as usage of the technology grows. In fact, similar technology works for hybrid cars and for Florida Power & Light's hybrid gas / solar electric plant (h
  • by ishmaelflood (643277) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:25PM (#47347009)

    Oddly enough both of the calculations in the OP were correct, yes, the wind turbine generates energy equivalent to its energy of manufacture quite quickly, and yes it is still a bad idea to rely on wind energy for use in a national grid except for a tiny percentage, each MW of wind turbine relies on an additional MW of conventional generators if you want 24/7 availability, or I suppose you could try energy storage, which ought to be added to the turbine operating cost and energy payback.

    Interesting to see such knee jerk support for an inappropriate technology. I wonder if the posters above have ever thought through why Germany is /reducing/ its reliance on wind turbines?

  • Stupid argument (Score:5, Informative)

    by m.dillon (147925) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:40PM (#47347067) Homepage

    It's hilarious watching people argue over a topic that has already been shown to be a non-issue. The EIA (US) and German statistics show that, in aggregate, wind-energy sources produce a relatively steady amount of power. Individual turbines and even whole wind farms might not be deterministic, but all the wind farms taken together... are.

    -Matt

  • Please read the "skeptical" article with a skeptical eye. The poor guy goes through all the work to get the specs and highlights the minimum wind speed rate of 4m/s for the turbines to work. He also links to an excellent page showing wind patters and letting you see wind speed across the country.

    But then, he goes off the rails. He can "tell from his own experience" that the wind doesn't always blow that fast and "look at all the blue, which means low wind speed". The big problem is that he didn't go

    • by jgoemat (565882)
      Ok, I've looked at it more and it is more like 1/3 - 1/2 what looks blue than 'nearly all', but still...
  • Nice phrasing... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cirby (2599)

    "the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation" ...but not the time to produce enough energy to pay back the actual cost of the machine, including labor and materials.

    The actual study is very, very careful to NOT claim that it will pay back the total system cost. It's just the amount of energy used in production and installation, not the cost of raw materials and labor.

  • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @09:11PM (#47347209)

    "Watts Up With That? has a more skeptical take on the calculations."

    And if you look at the site it's pretty much a site full of straw men and attacks on climate change friendly politicians and scientists, with little actual scientific facts (besides the grandiose endorsement of it's own content.)

    Why is this link even here? Did someone just randomly Google it and stick it on there because, hey, it's on the internet? Or did someone want the site to get more page views?

    C'mon editors. This is news for nerds. Not news my uncle sent me in his email about how Obama is part of the illuminati.

  • watts up with that? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    to be fair, i havent read their current analysis of this particular project. but watts up with that is well known to be well wrong about well lots :)

  • by DERoss (1919496) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:45PM (#47347589)

    About 30 years ago, "wind farms" were built in several places in California where the wind seems constant, not intermittent. One is in the San Gorgonio Pass along I10 between Beaumont and Palm Springs. Another one is in the Altamont Pass in the hills near Oakland. In both places, with what was then primitive technology, the constancy of the wind still justified the construction of these "wind farms". I have seen both installations, and I have never seen them idled by a lack of wind.

    Similarly, there are places where sunshine is so prevalent that solar power would have few interruptions during the day. Unlike wind power, however, storage of electricity during the day is needed for use at night.

    In the meantime, Southern California Edison has outages at all times of the year. These are not the result of unreliable generation sources. Instead, these are the result of not performing any kind of scheduled preventive maintenance on local portions of the distribution system.

  • Crap post (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anarchduke (1551707) on Monday June 30, 2014 @01:24AM (#47348059)
    Watts up with that looks like a Republican astroturf site dedicated to debunking climate science.

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

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