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World's Largest Wind Farm Gets Green Light 388

cliffski writes "According to the BBC website the UK govt has just given the go ahead to two large offshore wind-farm projects. Between them the schemes would produce enough renewable electricity to power about one million households. The larger London Array project covers 144 sq miles (232 sq km) between Margate in Kent and Clacton, Essex and will be the world's biggest when it is completed. The £1.5bn scheme will have 341 turbines rising from the sea about 12 miles (20km) off the Kent and Essex coasts, as well as five offshore substations and four meteorological masts"
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World's Largest Wind Farm Gets Green Light

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  • by SNR monkey ( 1021747 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:47AM (#17286602)
    Ignoring my typos (must use preview), when I RTFA, it says

    the larger London Array project covers 90 sq miles (232 sq km) between Margate in Kent and Clacton, Essex.
    So, the 232 km^2 is correct, but the summary is wrong about the 144 square miles.
  • by LizardKing ( 5245 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:53AM (#17286684)

    How about a MW output.

    1.3GW according to the Register article.

  • by simm1701 ( 835424 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:57AM (#17286760)
    Following the link to the london array project gives 1GW peak power for 271 turbines which could power 750,000 homes (I assume the other array must produce 500MW to power the other 250,000

    This should mean that the new media mesurement of 1Hp (House power) is equal to 1.33KW peak power....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:03PM (#17286850)
    It really helps to have some perspective.
    Mans activity contributes to a vast number of bird deaths every year:
    1. Utility transmission and distribution lines, the backbone of our electrical power system, are responsible for 130 to 174 million bird deaths a year in the U.S.
    2. Collisions with automobiles and trucks result in the deaths of between 60 and 80 million birds annually in the U.S
    3. Tall building and residential house windows also claim their share of birds. Some of the five million tall buildings in U.S.
    4. Agricultural pesticides are "conservatively estimated" to directly kill 67 million birds pe year.

    In December of 2002, the report "Effects of Wind Turbines on Birds and Bats in Northeast Wisconsin" was released. The study was completed by Robert Howe and Amy Wolf of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and William Evans. Their study covered a two-year period between 1999 and 2001, in the area surrounding the 31 turbines operating in Kewaunee County by Madison Gas & Electric (MG&E) and Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) Corporation.

    The report found that over the study period, 25 bird carcasses were found at the sites. The report states that "the resulting mortality rate of 1.29 birds/tower/year is close to the nationwide estimate of 2.19 birds/tower.16- The report further states, "While bird collisions do occur (with commercial wind turbines) the impacts on global populations appear to be relatively minor, especially in comparison with other human-related causes of mortality such as communications towers, collisions with buildings, and vehicles collisions."

  • by NSIM ( 953498 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:03PM (#17286858)
    > How about a MW output. That's a specific number that can
    > be compared to other forms of electric generation.

    According to the Register, it's 1.3GW

    > Or is that one million homes in the middle of summer when
    > whole power grids collapse from the strain?

    You are confusing US power requirements with UK. Vast majority of UK homes don't have A/C so you don't see that massive summer energy consumption spike, in fact quite the reverse, with fewer houses needing heat and daylight from 6am-10pm (give or take) the electricity requirements in the UK typically drop during the summer.
  • Um. (Score:2, Informative)

    by neimon ( 713907 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:03PM (#17286860)
    Gee. Take that much power out of a surface wind? Makes you kinda wonder what happens when you take that much energy out of a system that determines a lot of weather and water temperature and moves it inland to, say, make toast.

  • by mypalmike ( 454265 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:13PM (#17287016) Homepage
    From the article:

    The larger London Array project covers 90 sq miles (232 sq km) between Margate in Kent and Clacton, Essex.
    The second wind farm, called the Thanet scheme, will cover 13.5 sq miles (35 sq km) off the north Kent coast.

    I'd call it 103.5 sq miles (267 sq km).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:34PM (#17287408)
    Birds don't really often get killed by wind turbines, the blades move quite slowly and predictably and are clearly visible so the birds can avoid them. Some birds even have nests on top of turbines.

    Rather birds tend to fly into ordinary power lines and die. Climate change and pollution are also big threats to birds as other wildlife too, and their effect is often global.

    Furthermore, bird enthusiasts even in America are supporting wind power, here is a link to a statement from the Audubon Society: ml? []

    It's one of the perpetual myths against wind power that surface every time the public discusses about it, I was sure it'd pop up here on slashdot...
    Now just waiting about the "will the turbines ever recoup their construction energy cost?" (They will in a few months.)
  • by polar red ( 215081 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @01:02PM (#17287916)
    wind power is rather good in that respect: vestment_(EROI)_for_wind_energy []
  • by petaflop ( 682818 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @01:03PM (#17287934)
    The question has been asked and the anwser is yes for both wind and solar. (The answer used to be no for solar, but with concentrators and cell technology improvement it changed. See []).
  • by Intron ( 870560 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @01:04PM (#17287968)
    According to this California white paper [], the payoff is within the first 4-6 months of operation. Also the cost per kWH is lower than most other alternative energy sources.
  • by polar red ( 215081 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @01:09PM (#17288080)
    from the article on wind power on wikipedia []
    "An estimated 1% to 3% of energy from the Sun that hits the earth is converted into wind energy. This is about 50 to 100 times more energy than is converted into biomass by all the plants on Earth through photosynthesis." This gives you an idea of the scale.
  • by htd2 ( 854946 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @01:58PM (#17288876)
    James Lovelock, the environmentalist who coined the Gaia theory is a supporter of Nuclear power.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 18, 2006 @02:03PM (#17289004)
    "Well, where I live, A/C is pretty much a given. With Summer temperatures running in the mid 90s to the mid 100s (35-39c), there is no amount of insulation short of ~20 feet of earth thrown over your house that will make a difference."

    I presume you are being deliberately over the top!

    You might want to have a look at some of the research done into straw bale construction, a traditional building form in Arizona. It has excellent thermal properties and can dramatically cut the requirement for a/c. (The downside is that it only really works for single storey buildings) Stone can also be very effective and many traditional houses in Southern France (where it also gets hot) can remain cool in summer without air conditioning. Add in other traditional measures such as shutters and awnings and more modern devices such as glass which rejects some of the light spectrum, smaller windows on the southern faces, and passive air conditioning and you can reduce electric a/c requirements quite considerably.

    Some of these techniques are more expensive than the typical postwar US house construction which were used when energy was cheap, but as energy costs increase they will pay back the investment. The problem is that people don't want to pay the extra few percent on the home cost unless it is explained in detail. As you say - it can be an education problem.
  • by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @02:24PM (#17289340) Journal
    Actually the type of construction your talking about is pretty poorly insulated by american standards. Our windows are universally double pane, often with argon filling to reduce heat conduction, exterior wall are 15 cm thick with the wall filled with fiberglass insulation, and the attic has 30 to 45 Cm of insulation then the whole house is wrapped in plastic to prevent infiltration losses. Right now my thermostat is set at 62F and by opening the drapes to let some sun in the house stays between 65 and 68.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"