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Power Earth

12 Small Windmills Put To the Test In Holland 510

tuna writes "A real-world test by the Dutch province of Zeeland (a very windy place) demonstrates that small windmills are a fundamentally flawed technology (PDF of tests results in Dutch, English summary). Twelve much-hyped micro wind turbines were placed in a row on an open plain. Their energy yield was measured over a period of one year (April 1, 2008 — March 31, 2009), the average wind velocity during these 12 months was 3.8 meters per second, slightly higher than average. Three windmills broke. The others recorded ridiculously low yields, in spite of the optimal conditions. It would take up to 141 small windmills to power an average American household entirely using wind energy, for a total cost of 780,000 dollars. The test results show clearly that energy return is closely tied to rotor diameter, and that the design of the windmill hardly matters."
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12 Small Windmills Put To the Test In Holland

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  • A little sad. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by haeger ( 85819 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @04:53PM (#27639241)

    It would take up to 141 small windmills to power an average American household entirely using wind energy...

    I think this sais more about American household power consumption than it does about small windmills. Doesn't it?

    I think it's a little sad and I would love to see a power-meter that shows exactly how much power you use when you use it. I think that would make people think.
    Also it's a little amusing to read this site on how "bloated" KDE and Gnome are, or how bloated the linux kernel is, but still people use their terrible inefficient cars and houses that are energy-hogs.
    Why isn't everyone here trying to make their home and car as efficient as comfortably possible? It's the "techie" thing to do.
    And the tech is already available.
    Remember that the cheapest energy unit is the one that you don't use.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 19, 2009 @04:56PM (#27639263)

    Another problem with the "design hardly matters" - even if all six of these _had_ completely failed, how on earth would even that be a basis to say that "design hardly matters, you cannot produce viable small windmills"?

    In the early days of the car, if you took six different prototypes and concluded that they were all horrendous crap, it would be somewhat premature to conclude that 'car design is meaningless because it always ends up as crap'. Or rather: I am sure someone did, and that those someone were horse carriage manufacturers.

  • by loshwomp ( 468955 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @04:57PM (#27639277)

    [...]and only windy areas will benefit from them.

    Well I'm glad we finally cleared that up.

  • by Bucc5062 ( 856482 ) <> on Sunday April 19, 2009 @05:05PM (#27639345)

    I was going to use my mod points to mod you informative, but when I got to the web site I got this little conundrum:
    Subscribe/Join AAAS or Buy Access to This Article to View Full Text. The content you requested requires a AAAS member subscription to this site or Science Pay per Article purchase. If you already have a user name and password, please sign in below
    If you provide a link, please at least make it one where I don't have to pay, or provide the full text here.

    As it is I can hardly determine if your thoughts about the EPA are a troll, or true. Try again.

  • by NewbieProgrammerMan ( 558327 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @05:09PM (#27639383)

    I don't think the EPA has any say in whether most people want to put a windmill on their property or not. I know people that have looked into putting one or more windmills on their farm (it turned out they don't have enough wind to make it worthwhile), and they didn't run into any EPA restrictions.

    Neighborhood associations and local (city,county) regulations might be a different story, of course.

  • New here? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @05:10PM (#27639391) Homepage

    There is original research posted to Slashdot all the time, mostly in the field of computer science.

    If there is enough data in the article to draw your own conclusions, then there is enough to discuss. This is a discussion site. If Slashdot only posted agreed-upon facts, then we would all just sit here with our dicks in our hands.

    What the fuck is wrong with you people lately? This isn't wikipedia. We don't need anything filtered for truthiness by the retards responsible for that site.

  • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @05:29PM (#27639533) Homepage

    Repeat after me: slashdot is not wikipedia.

    Original research must appear somewhere in journals and the like. When it appears it becomes news. Slashdot is, guess what? news for nerds.

    Now someone please mod the parent down.

  • HMmm. I am curious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @05:46PM (#27639691) Journal
    When I spent time in Germany, I noticed that their homes really are quite similar to ours. The real issue was that EU has MUCH nicer climate throughout. With that said, I would like to see a comparison of electrical/Gas usage of a HOME, as opposed to a region. The reason is that most places try to compare regional uses which adds in manufacturing as well as travel.
  • Re:A little sad. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @05:46PM (#27639693)

    If americans lived in Holland, rather than California, Texas, or Florida, then they wouldn't need A/C for 90% of the year.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @05:48PM (#27639715)

    Sailors all over the world use small wind generators to charge their batteries while at anchor.

    That doesn't tell me anything if I don't know the size of the battery or the rate of charge.

    Sunforce Air X Marine Wind Turbine [] 12 Volts. 400 Watts at 28 mph. 46" Blades. $750.

    It strikes me that anchoring in 28 mph winds would keep you usefully occupied managing other problems.

  • Re: Free Energy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @05:48PM (#27639717)

    "Free energy devices are out there (such as the "Joe Cell") but are being ruthlessly suppressed by the corporate elite because they would lose control of the populace"

    They cannot be suppressed if the inventor makes them instantly available under appropriate Free and Open licenses via the internet.

    Youtube videos prove nothing Inventors should actually build a working model and offer it for testing by neutral third parties, and should furnish specific plans so anyone wishing to build their own example and test it in public can do so.

  • by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) * on Sunday April 19, 2009 @06:01PM (#27639811)
    Hmm, maybe I'm missing something since I can't read Dutch but why is this not completely obvious even without this experiment? The bigger they are, the more wind they catch. Sure the small ones are going to be somewhat cheaper but it seems like it's only a matter of the scale of the parts (such as bigger blades or whatever) so the cost is not going to be all that different.
  • Re:Obvious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @06:05PM (#27639851)

    Misschien kan de man niet Nederlands heel goed spreken of lezen?

  • Re:A little sad. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) * on Sunday April 19, 2009 @06:24PM (#27639997)
    I would like to see some examples of how Americans consume so much more power then Europeans? Not saying that it doesn't happen, but I lived in both places and didn't really notice much difference in how people behave towards electrical consumption. Gasoline is a different matter of course, it's obvious that Americans drive bigger and less efficient cars, but electricity? Could it be that there are more extremes in climate in the US and so cooling/heating is the big culprit? For example, I bet power usage for air conditioning in the southwest is pretty astronomical. Phoenix or Las Vegas average temperature in the summer months is around 40C (104F). The hottest places in southern Europe are nowhere near that.
  • Re:Some thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @06:32PM (#27640055)
    Probably not. So? 100 years is a LONG time. 100years ago we only had coal power. 100years before that we didn't have the lightbulb. Also I think that number is pretty frivolous. Nuclear reactors will get more efficient. They will be able to reuse their waste (already have that tech). And we will be able to find much more in the ground. Uranium is more common than tin. If there is a demand I'm sure we'll find more. Enough to last 150years I'm sure. By then we will have something way better. Gimping what is effective now for something that may happen in 100+ years from now is silly.
  • by narcberry ( 1328009 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @06:36PM (#27640087) Journal

    Or nuclear. It's proven, it's working today, and there's phenomenal amounts of energy.

    When did America become so retarded?

  • Re:A little sad. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot@spamgoe ... minus poet> on Sunday April 19, 2009 @06:51PM (#27640157) Homepage

    Phoenix or Las Vegas average temperature in the summer months is around 40C (104F). The hottest places in southern Europe are nowhere near that.

    Call me stupid, but perhaps it's a little short-sighted to build cities where humans can't naturally survive. Why do you think Europe has developed so fast over the last few millenia - perhaps because they didn't need to struggle against the elements to grow crops and survive.

  • Well duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zogger ( 617870 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @06:53PM (#27640175) Homepage Journal

    No one in the industry I am aware of would say one of those tiny (those montana and skystream models are the exception there, as they are more realistically sized) windchargers would power a household. And further, no one credible who sells or installs realistically sized residential windchargers would recommend it be installed on a household roof. I have a very small windcharger, 300 watts max output in ideal conditions, it is designed to provide a small amount of battery recharging capability for like sailboats or a small weekend cabin or something, and that's it. Same as no one solar panel is going to power your home. This is the duh part, I mean, read the dang specs before you buy and try to keep in mind what your demand would be. There are still a lot of decent windchargers out there that fall between these tiny models and those megawatt sized hugemongous models.

      This was sort of a *really* stupid test. Might as well throw a lawnmower engine in your caddy to try and achieve epic mileage, and then see how far you get down the road. It is that dumb to anyone who knows anything about alternative energy.

    There are tens of thousands of people who own and use residential windchargers, all over the planet, but they are all designed for the task, they are all large, and mounted on sturdy tall towers. The mentioned two largest ones there should be considered entry level in size for practical household use. Yes, size matters obviously, and this info has been out there for close to a century now as regards wind to electrical power.

  • Re:A little sad. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hwyhobo ( 1420503 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @07:19PM (#27640359)

    Call me stupid, but perhaps it's a little short-sighted to build cities where humans can't naturally survive

    I wonder if you logically extend this attitude to starving Africans?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 19, 2009 @07:22PM (#27640381)
    If you don't like >100F weather, why are you living there?
  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @07:31PM (#27640431)

    Yeah, I try to keep up with this stuff, since I live in a location that has an "above average wind energy density" to put it mildly. Just last week I saw a hyped article about a new small turbine, went to their web site, and they're claiming that their device only costs about $5,000 installed and will generate 500kWh/year. I blinked. I re-read. I went to other pages to see if that figure was a typo or consistently used. But nope, that's what they're claiming: for only $5,000 up-front I can generate $50/year worth of electricity. And to think, some of the founders will probably be surprised when the company is out of business in a very few years.

    So, obviously, I thought that it was ridiculous (and sad) that a company would offer such a low-producing product at that price. But looking at these test results, $5,000 for 500kWh/year is actually hugely better than most!

  • Burj Dubai (Score:4, Insightful)

    by failedlogic ( 627314 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @07:43PM (#27640497)

    Tall buildings and skyscrapers are a boring part of the city scape. Nothing ever moves. They are only pretty with Christmas lights.

    I suggest Turning the Burj Dubai building into not only the world's tallest building, but also the world's largest windmill. At that height, one swing should power the whole world for the year!

  • Re: Free Energy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 19, 2009 @07:59PM (#27640561)

    So, did you work out where the energy was coming from ?

    It comes from the eventual depolarization of the magnets being used.

  • Re:A little sad. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xonstantine ( 947614 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @08:07PM (#27640599)

    get a window fan

    Great. You know what a window fan does when it's a 115 degrees? It acts as a convection oven.

    and a attic ventilator

    Helps a litte bit. A little bit.

    plant some shade trees.

    Yeah, and in 20 years when the trees reach maturity, that might be useful.

  • Re:A little sad. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @09:17PM (#27640987) Homepage

    I wonder if you logically extend this attitude to starving Africans?

    I would. Not as in I'd let them starve to death, but as an opposite "teach a man to fish":

    Find a way to migrate them/end their dependence, and you only need to sustain that.
    Find a way to sustain the unsustainable, and you must continue to sustain them forever.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 19, 2009 @10:25PM (#27641301)

    Run the numbers. We won't run out of nuclear fuel for several centuries if we reprocess it like sane people. And that's assuming current demand growth rates hold.

    More than enough time to figure out doing fusion in a realistic way.

  • Re:Obvious? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fractoid ( 1076465 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @10:50PM (#27641445) Homepage

    Yeh, the summary seems to reek of anti-green, or at least anti-wind technology. The assertion that 141 are required assumes that you are using the worst windmills in the US. A clear sign the submitter is not only anti-alternative energy, but also an obnoxious American.

    Actually, it reeks of anti-"I'm a trendpoppet with a micro windmill on my roof so I can preach to you about how holy I am by using recycled toilet paper". They seem to me to be just saying "yeah, these small windmills really really suck compared to just having one big windmill powering a bunch of homes".

  • by WoodenTable ( 1434059 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @11:12PM (#27641561)

    I learned a trick in Dwarf Fortress that would work like that, actually. It's like this: you perforate the dikes and run the water through waterwheels (or modern turbines, in this case). Then you use pumps, powered by the turbines, to pump the water back into the ocean! The remaining energy goes to whatever you want! The ocean is endless, and never stops running the turbines! Works like a charm.

    Frankly I'm surprised scientists haven't done it yet. It's infinite free, clean energy; you'd think they would have figured it out by now. The Netherlands especially, seeing as so many areas are already below sea level. And it's practically foolproof, except for those few times I flooded my fort and drowned half my dwarves and ended up with mushrooms growing everywhere.

  • by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @11:39PM (#27641705) Journal

    Holland is the combination of North-Holland and South-Holland, both provincies of the Netherlands. The Netherlands is the country as a whole.

    Then who are the Dutch?

    (Seinfeld reference)

  • by Tenebrousedge ( 1226584 ) <> on Monday April 20, 2009 @12:40AM (#27641909)


    The second law of thermodynamics has nothing to do with a discussion on future energy sources for the Earth. You could have just as easily mentioned that the sun is eventually going to kill off all life on the planet. Neither fact is relevant.

    Honestly, if you hadn't quoted my post, I'd question whether you were actually replying to it, and not some other post. This is not a physics problem, it's a question of resources. If you have some evidence that our readily available nuclear fuel will not be exhausted in a relatively short (i.e. centuries) amount of time, please post it here.

    In other words, prove me wrong before acting like a supercilious douchebag.

  • by pimpimpim ( 811140 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @06:35AM (#27643423)
    In europe you pay 20 eurocent per kWh at least. This is only going to go up in time. Cost per windmill-kWh will go down due to higher efficiency of future models and longer lifespan. This will converge eventually.
  • by Jesus_666 ( 702802 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @06:38AM (#27643435)
    However, when I hear that many houses in places like California still use antiquated buliding techniques/materials like single-pane windows I wonder how much of that air conditioning is actually neccessary. Double-pane isolated windows and a layer of mineral wool between the facade and the space inside the house could at least increase the effectiveness of the A/C, making you require less of it, thus saving energy. The best part is that there are no upkeep costs as long as you don't go around breaking your windows.
  • So you have a local source to make bricks, and no local source of lumber to speak of - logical conclusion: build wooden houses. Even if insulation wasn't an issue: WTF?
  • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:57PM (#27649089) Journal
    If pictures of dead or dying kids will not get the anti-vaccine people to change their minds then I doubt simply seeing a windmill will get those who dislike them to change their minds. Most people really hate admitting a mistake.
  • by MarkRose ( 820682 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:50PM (#27682907) Homepage

    The trick to that is putting a vapor barrier only on the in side of the wall. That allows the out side to breathe (and vent excess moisture), preventing mold buildup inside the wall, and if the wall is sufficiently insulated, the inside will not get cold enough for condensation to form -- provided you don't have cool, moist air inside the rooms (which is a problem my grandparents faced in far corners of the house). Air circulation helps by replacing cool and moist air with warm and dryer air. Even internal circulation will help greatly, though getting rid of excess moisture by venting outside (through a vent or imperfect walls) is best.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN