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Earth Power Technology

How Viable Is Large Scale Wind Energy? 345

New submitter notscientific writes "Renewable sources of energy are obviously a hit but they have as yet failed to live up to the hype. A new study in Nature Climate Change shows however that there is more than enough power to be harnessed from the wind to sustain Earth's entire population... x200! To generate energy from the wind, we may however need to set up wind farms at altitudes of 200-20,000 metres. To be fair, the study is purely theoretical and does not look at the feasibility of such potential wind farms. Regardless, the paper does provide a major boost to backers of wind-generated energy. Science has confirmed that the sky's the limit."
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How Viable Is Large Scale Wind Energy?

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  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:47AM (#41333475) Homepage Journal

    Every time a discussion about wind power comes up, some troll (usually with a very high UID, sometimes with an account created solely for the purpose) asks how putting up windmills will affect weather.

    The answer should be fairly obvious. We have cut down a shitload of trees, which normally slow down wind. Putting up windmills? Slows down wind slightly, increases turbulence significantly, causing minimal localized temperature effects []. Kind of like putting up trees. If there is any significant effect, it will be moderating, which is a good thing.

    In addition, wind turbines don't actually cause any heating worth mentioning, unless perhaps they catch on fire. This is covered in the linked article, which had the GP actually cared about this issue, they would have found with google and read already. They cause thermal mixing, which can raise temperatures at a specific point, but which don't raise temperatures in a region. It only results in higher measured temperatures in a relatively small area downwind. This is expected due to (fractionally) lower wind speeds and greater thermal mixing.

    In summary, anyone who expresses concerns about wind farms affecting weather is a shill, a troll, or an idiot, because these are not real concerns, and this is a well-known fact.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2012 @10:33AM (#41334591)

    I've spoken to people working with wind turbines and asked about how long it takes for a turbine to produce enough energy to cover the cost of the turbine. The answer was that it will never happen for the kinds of turbines in production today. The cost to produce and maintain the turbine is far larger than the value of the electricity that is generated.

    They said that even if it were possible to run the turbine at peak production except for maintenance times, it would still fall short of breaking even.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Informative)

    by daem0n1x ( 748565 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @10:35AM (#41334621)

    I checked my energy bill the other day and I was amazed by discovering that HALF of my electricity comes from wind turbines! And I live in the most populated area in my country, just a few Km from the capital, not in some little village in the mountains. If they're supplying me like this, they must be doing the same to millions of people. Count in hydro and only one quarter of my electricity is polluting. Also, we don't have coal or gas, but we have plenty of free wind and sun. Less imports, good for the economy.

    So, it's possible. What's the big deal?

    About the NIMBY argument in GP: We have a shitload of mountains and hills, It's not like the turbines must be installed on your roof! Or you prefer a coal plant in your backyard? Always the same old and tired arguments...

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Informative)

    by shugah ( 881805 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @10:51AM (#41334835)
    I recently spent a couple of months in Australia. In condo developments, it is pretty common to have your electric water heater connected to a special circuit that is on a timer so that the water heater is off during peak usage hours.
  • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Informative)

    by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:34AM (#41335281)

    It seems that the people running the infrastructure really believe in this wind energy.

    The big government grants they're getting to build said infrastructure probably contributes significantly to their enthusiasm.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:38AM (#41335335) Homepage

    Old style thin tank heaters are going away

    Not any time soon. Price out 'on demand' systems. Then look at the upkeep costs. They have quite a bit to go before they're ready for main street. They don't save all that much power when compared to a modern tanked system. They require large electric feeds.

    Now, solar hot water boosters might make inroads in parts of the US where it's appropriate (just like the rest of the world, sigh) but I don't see the tankless systems as really taking off.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chas ( 5144 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @01:08PM (#41336601) Homepage Journal

    Unfortunately, even offshore wind-farms [] can bother people. Because NIMBY just has no limits.

    The proper term is BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything)

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by amorsen ( 7485 ) <> on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:57PM (#41340631)

    By your definition all power generation can respond quickly to load changes. That removes all meaning from the phrase. Throwing away energy by venting the steam or turning the wings out of the wind or dumping the electricity in resistor arrays does NOT count, all technologies can do that.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson