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

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 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.
  • 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.


  • 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." []

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

  • Re:WUWT (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2014 @08:59PM (#47347163)

    Germany is finishing out building coal plants that were already in construction. And they expect to run those at a loss at current energy prices, to say nothing of their costs if carbon prices go up.

  • 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.

  • Germany (Score:5, Informative)

    by mdsolar ( 1045926 ) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @09:03PM (#47347173) Homepage Journal
    The price of electricity is falling in Germany owing to renewable energy. [] They like wind power.
  • Re:WUWT (Score:3, Informative)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @09:06PM (#47347183)
    ...several orders of magnitude fewer of them than feral and domestic cats and window glass panes.
  • Re:Germany (Score:2, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @09:15PM (#47347231) Journal
    The article you linked to is titled, Germany’s New Coal Plants Push Power Glut to 4-Year High. That doesn't sound like renewable energy.
  • Re:WUWT (Score:4, Informative)

    by Uecker ( 1842596 ) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @09:20PM (#47347247)

    No. You will understand the world much better if you dig deeper and rely on primary sources with hard data (I posted links elsewhere) and not just google something which already fits your opinion. Coal use in Germany is on a similar (high) level as always. This is not good, but has nothing to do with "returning to massive building of coal plants" which is a myth.

  • by ishmaelflood ( 643277 ) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @09:51PM (#47347373)

    Sorry, I misread the article, they are capping the growth in new WT installation for the next 6 years to about 80% of recent growth rates, and are building several new coal plants, whether that results in a net reduction in % windpower depends on economic growth achieved, ie crystal ball.

  • Re:WUWT (Score:5, Informative)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @11:01PM (#47347641)

    "(How do Americans manage to consume so much electricity in their households?)"

    That electricity is used because of global warming.
    Air conditioners use a lot of power in the summer, when its 82F and 100% humidity

  • 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.
  • Re:WUWT (Score:4, Informative)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @02:24AM (#47348209) Homepage

    The proper fiscal calculation is. Work out the total capital cost and calculate the monthly financial payment based upon borrowing all that money and then add in monthly maintenance and administrative costs, deduct that from the value of the average energy generation forecast and associated revenue, what you have left over is profit on the investment. Technically in financial circles the investment starts paying off in the first month or it never really does. In total over the life of the system, you check to make sure it pays itself off before it expires.

    Any other arguments are meaningless, extra generators, mass storage etc need to be costed completely separately as they are about recovering energy costs from other sources, so you just really compare them to the wind generators and in the case of batteries storing the energy of wing generators to sell it other times, versus other energy generation methods.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2014 @11:23AM (#47350451)

    There's always 'that guy'.. Looking to blame the rich - thinking that a one-size fits all package is the answer.

    " I can show you an area in eastern Colorado where the wind nearly NEVER stops".

    And I can show you a far greater portion of the country that has much less wind/sun by comparison.

    I can also show you two turbines in Ohio (right off lake Erie) that are tax funded and have been for much longer than the articles so called 'pay-off date'.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.