Enough wind to power global energy demand, new research says

Sep 09, 2012
A Vestas wind turbine. Image credit: Vestas

There is enough energy available in winds to meet all of the world's demand. Atmospheric turbines that convert steadier and faster high-altitude winds into energy could generate even more power than ground- and ocean-based units. New research from Carnegie's Ken Caldeira examines the limits of the amount of power that could be harvested from winds, as well as the effects high-altitude wind power could have on the climate as a whole. Their work is published September 9 by Nature Climate Change.

Led by Kate Marvel of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who began this research at Carnegie, the team used models to quantify the amount of power that could be generated from both surface and atmospheric winds. Surface winds were defined as those that can be accessed by turbines supported by towers on land or rising out of the sea. High-altitude winds were defined as those that can be accessed by technology merging turbines and kites. The study looked only at the geophysical limitations of these techniques, not technical or .

Turbines create drag, or resistance, which removes momentum from the winds and tends to slow them. As the number of wind turbines increase, the amount of energy that is extracted increases. But at some point, the winds would be slowed so much that adding more turbines will not generate more electricity. This study focused on finding the point at which energy extraction is highest.

Using models, the team was able to determine that more than 400 terrawatts of power could be extracted from surface winds and more than 1,800 terrawatts could be generated by winds extracted throughout the atmosphere.

Today, uses about 18 TW of power. Near- could provide more than 20 times today's global power demand and wind turbines on kites could potentially capture 100 times the current global power demand.

At maximum levels of power extraction, there would be substantial climate effects to wind harvesting. But the study found that the of extracting wind energy at the level of current global demand would be small, as long as the turbines were spread out and not clustered in just a few regions. At the level of global energy demand, might affect surface temperatures by about 0.1 degree Celsius and affect precipitation by about 1%. Overall, the environmental impacts would not be substantial.

"Looking at the big picture, it is more likely that economic, technological or political factors will determine the growth of around the world, rather than geophysical limitations," Caldeira said.

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antialias_physorg
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 09, 2012
High altitude wind harvesting sounds like something that (almost) no one could object to. At the very least there's no animal life that high up and you also don't have to worry about people complaining about noise, intermittent shadows or unaesthetic wind towers.

It'll be interesting to see who'll put up the first high altitude wind farm.
Sean_W
3 / 5 (11) Sep 09, 2012
[qThe study looked only at the geophysical limitations of these techniques, not technical or economic factors.

That is really the problem with all wind industry and much of the solar power industry predictions. People think government subsidies can overcome anything if the laws of physics line up.
SteveL
4.7 / 5 (6) Sep 09, 2012
Everything has a price. These would have to be placed outside normal aviation patterns, which would tend to be away from the load centers (large towns and cities). Also, I wonder how well such a device would fare against tornadoes and hurricanes. "Throughout the atmosphere" is quite a span for engineering purposes.
NotParker
2.4 / 5 (14) Sep 09, 2012
Estimated Cost: 1,000 Trillion.

And there will be days when the wind still doesn't blow. Usually in the summer or winter.

The important questions:

How much steel? How much concrete? How much rare earth metals? How many million miles of transmission lines? How much copper?

A: Ridiculous Amounts of all the above.

NotParker
2.2 / 5 (13) Sep 09, 2012
http://notrickszo...o-merit/

"Adding it all up, one must conclude that under the present conditions in the Netherlands a 100 MW (Megawatt) 'name plate' capacity wind development produces on average 23 MW because of the capacity factor. 4,6 MW (20%) of this has to be subtracted from the final net result because of initial energy investments. From the actual Statline production figures we know that 27% of this 23 MW = 6,17 MW represents the actual fossil fuel and CO2 savings. But from this figure we need to subtract the amount of energy invested in the construction works: 4,6 MW. The net total of fuel saving electricity provided by our wind turbines therefore is 6.17 – 4.6 = 1.57 MW on average over the year. That is ~ 1.6% of the installed capacity. It makes wind developments a mega money pit with virtually no merit in terms of the intended goal of CO2 emission reduction or fossil fuel saving
casualjoe
3 / 5 (6) Sep 09, 2012
These things will improve with time and experience though, human ingenuity is a fabulous thing!

I'd rather we played with kites than with fracking..
Jeddy_Mctedder
2.2 / 5 (10) Sep 09, 2012
you know what is cheap? coal.
engin
2.1 / 5 (7) Sep 09, 2012
"But from this figure we need to subtract the amount of energy invested in the construction works: 4,6 MW. The net total of fuel saving electricity provided by our wind turbines therefore is 6.17 – 4.6 = 1.57 MW on average over the year."
Ehh.. this is a product of an ignorant, as this is complete BS. You cannot subtract energy from power to compensate for embodied production spent CO2. There is just so much idiots talking shit. 4,6 MW can never be energy invested! BTW it is well established consensus that clearly less than 1 year running of an wind energy plant will recoup the invested energy.
VendicarD
2.2 / 5 (10) Sep 09, 2012
Estimated Cost of Bushie's conservative war crimes in Iraq. 4 trillion.

"Estimated Cost: 1,000 Trillion." - ParkerTard

Estimated cost of Bush's bailout of the Banking Industry $1 trillion.

kochevnik
1.9 / 5 (9) Sep 09, 2012
you know what is cheap? coal.
Even cheaper is the value of life in the coal-mining Appalachian Mountains. Your feeble efforts at perception management are a failure.
VendicarD
1.9 / 5 (9) Sep 09, 2012
ParkerTard asks important questions about Nuclear power....

"How much steel? How much concrete? How much rare earth metals? How many million miles of transmission lines? How much copper? - ParkerTard
Noumenon
1.7 / 5 (6) Sep 09, 2012
The study looked only at the geophysical limitations of these techniques, not technical or economic factors.


Done.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (6) Sep 09, 2012
ParkerTard lies twice in the following to sentences.

"But from this figure we need to subtract the amount of energy invested in the construction works: 4,6 MW. The net total of fuel saving electricity provided by our wind turbines therefore is 6.17 – 4.6 = 1.57 MW on average over the year." - ParkrTard

First ParkerTard conflates power generation with an energy consumption and then he goes on to subtract total construction energy from the yearly power generation to generate a false low value when he should be subtracting the construction energy after it has been divided by the number of years the turbine will operate.

If the turbine will operate 20 years than it isn't 4.6 MW that is to be subtracted from the yearly energy production but 0.23 MW to be subtracted each year.

ParkerTard is clearly innumerate.
RealScience
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 09, 2012
NP - You appear to be applying the capacity factor twice, once as 23% and then again as 27%. The article's 23% is more pessimistic than your 27%, so let's use their 23 MW average.

I also don't know how you calculate 4.6 MW for embodied power - what lifetime did you assume? But even if your 4.6 MW is correct, 23 MW - 4.6 MW = 18.4 MW which is more than 10x larger than your figure.
CapitalismPrevails
2.4 / 5 (9) Sep 09, 2012
Estimated Cost: 1,000 Trillion.

And there will be days when the wind still doesn't blow. Usually in the summer or winter.

The important questions:

How much steel? How much concrete? How much rare earth metals? How many million miles of transmission lines? How much copper?

A: Ridiculous Amounts of all the above.



Exactly what i was thinking. Of course, all of those capital costs do factor into the end price. Coal or natural gas plants don't necessarily need long transmission lines, as much space, or building materials. Libs will argue pollution is not factored into the price and advocate cap and tax policies with tax credits or subsidy handouts for alternative green technologies. But at what cost? These policies lead to grand misallocations of resources. If you thought carbon dioxide was poisonous and made everybody in a building stop breathing to achieve 0 carbon dioxide, than that would not be a favorable trade off.
NotParker
3 / 5 (12) Sep 09, 2012
"The construction of windturbines, their installation, grid adaptation and connection require considerable investments of energy. Some think these costs should not be taken into account because that is also not done for conventional plants. This is erroneous. Conventional plants are being installed to produce electricity according to societal demand. Wind turbines are not. They are being added to the system in order to save fuel and to diminish CO2 emissions. The question of whether they actually do therefore becomes essential. If not, they would only be superfluous supplements adding to the investment and other costs of the system."

http://www.clepai...208.html

As for hate monger VD ... you and your foul mouthed cohorts bring nothing to the discussion.
VendicarD
2.8 / 5 (9) Sep 09, 2012
I wasn't aware that your continual stream of lies, constituted a discussion.

I thought that a discussion involved the exchange of thoughts and ideas, not lies and distortion.

You know. The lie you told earlier when you subtracted the total "energy" needed to build a wind tower from the power it generates per year in order to calculate the amount of energy it produces per year.

Then there is the little matter of you expressing the build energy in watts, when energy is measured in Joules. Watts are a measure of the rate of flow or consumption of energy.

"As for hate monger VD ... you and your foul mouthed cohorts bring nothing to the discussion." - ParkerTard

Poor mentally diseased ParkerTard/Sunshine Hours.

No wonder why all those thousands of hours you have spent on your sunshinehour blog have been a waste of your life. You are trying to refute science when your knowledge of physics is pre-grade 9.
VendicarD
2.7 / 5 (7) Sep 09, 2012
It would be more helpful if ParkerTard's reference didn't make grade school subtraction errors in his Blog.

Paragraph 1, Conclusions and outlook. Dr. Foofie, subtracts 4.6 MW from the produced energy and does so twice, because, once is just not enough apparently.

"The construction of windturbines" - ParkerTard's reference

Caliban
3 / 5 (6) Sep 10, 2012
Estimated Cost of Bushie's conservative war crimes in Iraq. 4 trillion.

"Estimated Cost: 1,000 Trillion." - ParkerTard

Estimated cost of Bush's bailout of the Banking Industry $1 trillion.


And, when you add to that the hundreds of trillions vacuumed out of the economy by the housing/student loan/dotcom/financial market bubbles, offshoring, and the zero-interest Fed loans to the banks --suddenly we're looking at close to half of that terrifying ONE QUADRILLION figger that NutPecker lobs at us, for which we received ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in return.

All of a sudden, a cool quadrillion for a superabundance of virtually endless, renewable, virtually non-polluting energy that will also break the back of Big Carbon doesn't look so scary or astronomical at all...

In fact, it looks positively dreamy.

NutPecker wants to naysay it just long enough for Big Carbon to find a way to dig hooks into it, so that he can earn a couple more points on his quarterly investment dividends.
JGHunter
1 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2012
At the level of global energy demand, wind turbines might affect surface temperatures by about 0.1 degree Celsius and affect precipitation by about 1%.


In what direction, upwards or downwards? In places that don't get much precipitation already, 1% would surely make a difference if it was a drop.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2012
Everything has a price. These would have to be placed outside normal aviation patterns, which would tend to be away from the load centers (large towns and cities).

It depends on how costly fossil fuels will become (especially once were add the indirect costs.)
Having such a windfarm on one side of a load center would not interfere with air traffic overly much. Runways aren't pointed willy-nilly. Landing and takeoff strips tend to be at close to 180° to each other - so 90° to the side is a spot where such windfarms could reside.

Also, I wonder how well such a device would fare against tornadoes and hurricanes.

Tornadoes aren't a problem in most of the world. Hurricanes are predictable (in that case all such installations would be grounded well before the hurricane hits)

And there will be days when the wind still doesn't blow.

Wind at high altitudes is much more constant (e.g. if you hang them into a jet stream)
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2012
Anyhow, the power from such installations would, as with all alternative energy sources, be a part of the mix - not the entire shebang. So the cost figures posted in the comment section by NotParker are just idiotic.

Do it where it's sensible and economical.
djr
5 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2012
"you know what is cheap? coal."

You might want to check your math on that one Jeddy. Costs are very fluid these days - and vary by country. This wiki article is a good starting point http://en.wikiped...y_source

Many studies are now showing the cost of wind power continuing to fall - and in many situations beating the cost of all other forms of power - http://www.energi...ces-find
triplehelix
1 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2012
"But from this figure we need to subtract the amount of energy invested in the construction works: 4,6 MW. The net total of fuel saving electricity provided by our wind turbines therefore is 6.17 – 4.6 = 1.57 MW on average over the year."
Ehh.. this is a product of an ignorant, as this is complete BS. You cannot subtract energy from power to compensate for embodied production spent CO2. There is just so much idiots talking shit. 4,6 MW can never be energy invested! BTW it is well established consensus that clearly less than 1 year running of an wind energy plant will recoup the invested energy.


Consensus in science?

Righto. Like the consensus of the plum pudding model of the atom, Look how that turned out. No science is settled. That is the very nature of science, the fact that it isn't a gospel one must repeat a mantra, unless its an environmental science it seems.
tadchem
not rated yet Sep 10, 2012
These things will improve with time and experience though, human ingenuity is a fabulous thing!

I'd rather we played with kites than with fracking..

Kites won't generate *energy* - only *force*. To get energy out of the kite you must arrange for that force to move something through a distance. Work: W = F * D. The distances through which kites can tow things along the ground are severely limited.
djr
5 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2012
"Like the consensus of the plum pudding model of the atom" - a very poor analogy triple. The economics of energy production are changing, but they are something we can quantify with 100% certainty. If I build a wind farm, operate it for 25 years, total up the costs involved, and the energy it produced over that period - I get very solid data - yes? No comparison to understanding the details of an atom.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Sep 10, 2012
The distances through which kites can tow things along the ground are severely limited.

Well, if you look at this ship
http://en.wikiped...Skysails
then kites can generate a lot of useful energy. In some applications movement along the ground (in this case the sea) is what it's all about. Though the manufacturer was pretty badly hit by the economic crisis.
Bad timing.
RealScience
not rated yet Sep 10, 2012
Tadchem - have you ever flown a steerable kite?
You don't have to tow something on the ground to extract energy.
1: Steer the kite so that it pulls with maximum force.
2: Let out rope, extracting E = distance times maximum force.
3: Steer the kite to where it pulls with much less force
4: Reel in rope, expending E = same distance time much less force.
Repeat from step one.
Net energy = distance times (maximum force - much less force).

I've tried this with a steerable kite. The difference between the maximum force and the minimum force at which the kite flew stably was at least 5x and probably closer to 10x.
holoman
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2012
the nukies and oilies will do all in their power to discredit,
misdirect, kill, shutdown to keep their monopoly on energy.

How selfish can a group of people be. The betterment of
mankind's existence into this need for new energy research for
the future should come first.
triplehelix
1 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2012
"Like the consensus of the plum pudding model of the atom" - a very poor analogy triple. The economics of energy production are changing, but they are something we can quantify with 100% certainty. If I build a wind farm, operate it for 25 years, total up the costs involved, and the energy it produced over that period - I get very solid data - yes? No comparison to understanding the details of an atom.


100% certainty is impossible in science. Science has never proved anything, you can't prove anything in science. The only true proofs, are mathematical proofs. Science gives us confidences, but never 100%.

No comparison to understanding the details of an atom.


You missed my point COMPLETELY. I wasn't suggesting wind turbines are dependent on atom details. My point was one of how science works. The past decade has seen some seriously rude environmental "scientists" dictating "settled" science and repeating mantra and gospel like religion. Part 2 needed.....
triplehelix
1 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2012
My point of the plum pudding model of science, is that science is ever advancing, and that today, your statement WILL be laughed at in 100 years time, for thinking you know everything their is to do with wind turbine technology and exactly how its going to pan out with 100% certainty (Hilarious by the way considering no scientific process has ever given us a 100% certainty of something!).

I like environmental issues to be tackled, but at the moment it is being hosted by a rather large team of quite frankly, evangelical rage spitting amatuers, so any time anyone says "Hmm, I dont quite agree" they're suddenly labelled as a exxon pay off guy and they think the world should be covered in crude oil. It's pathetic, it happens on EVERY environmental update on physorg. It's just childish. These turbines have to be turned off with too much wind, and dont collect that much with low wind, they use more power than they collect. Wind power is a pipe dream.
kochevnik
2 / 5 (4) Sep 10, 2012
ParkerTard asks important questions about Nuclear power....
"How much steel? How much concrete? How much rare earth metals? How many million miles of transmission lines? How much copper? - ParkerTard
Moreover nuclear makes TEN TIMES more waste water than other polluting sources like coal! Probably that's why plants are often located by oceans. That, and hopefully they will just fall into the ocean when the earthquake one hits.
djr
4 / 5 (4) Sep 10, 2012
"You missed my point COMPLETELY." I understood your point very well. Are you saying that I cannot know with absolute certainty how much it costs to operate a wind turbine? I am talking about data. It is possible to know data with 100% certainty. If you want to have an argument about tolerance of measurement - that is just splitting hairs. There are facts we can know with absolute certainty. How much did that turbine cost to build? That is a fact I can know with total certainty.

"they use more power than they collect" That is a total lie. I am so sick of people making up rubbish. Look up the roi of wind turbines. Educate yourself. Wind is a viable option. and part of our energy future. You are flat wrong. Please take the time to read this article - it has some good information in it. http://www.energi...ces-find
ziphead
1 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2012
"Enough wind to power global energy demand, new research says"

Don't know about the Earthly atmospherics, but there is definitely enough hot wind on physorg forums to power Kardashev's type IV civilization.
VendicarD
5 / 5 (1) Sep 11, 2012
Yes, but literally dozens of NeoConservatives and Libertarians have told me that future generations can "go to hell" or "go extinct" as far as they are concerned because they owe nothing to the future or the past.

I am being completely serious and honest.

"The betterment of mankind's existence into this need for new energy research for the future should come first." - holo

Know the enemy.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (2) Sep 11, 2012
When I was younger I flew a regular sized kite out to a distance of about 1.6 kilometers. Tension on the cord was around .35 newtons. If I could have retracted the kite wings and reeled it back in under half the force, I could have generated around 280 joules of energy, and to maintain force, would require about 4 minutes to move that distance, and another 4 minutes to retract. So about 0.5 watt of power could be generated.

Increasing the size of the kite by a factor of 10 = which is easily done, would provide 50 watts of power.

"Net energy = distance times (maximum force - much less force)." - Realscience
dan42day
1 / 5 (3) Sep 11, 2012
Overall, the environmental impacts would not be substantial.


If an oil company made that statement it would immediately be derided as a bald-faced lie. But let an "alternative energy" proponent say it and it is accepted as fact.

After decades of research, we still haven't been able to accurately model the global warming effects of the carbon dioxide we are releasing into the environment, how can we be sure that this group of rsearchers is spot on with their predictions for significant changes in wind patterns?

I predict that 40 years from now the environmentalists will be protesting against the global climate changes caused by these wind turbines, and the companies running them will be villified as the oil companies are today.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 12, 2012
Overall, the environmental impacts would not be substantial. If an oil company made that statement it would immediately be derided as a bald-faced lie.

Okay, in a world that is heating up what changes climate less:
a) pumping sequestered, extra energy out of the gorund and adding it to the environment
b) using energy already in the environment by taking it out at one point (e.g. as wind speed due to pressure/temperature differentials) and putting it back in another place (i.e. as waste heat when the electricity is used)

Since the models we do have (which are pretty good, and which you seem to know nothing at all about) don't seem to persuade you maybe this simple, simple, common sense statement can.
SteveL
5 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2012
Got to agree with Antialias here. Even if you discount the data indicating AGW from using previously sequestered carbon, from a purely selfish perspective I can't help but belive that people would breathe far better down wind of a solar or wind farm compared to a coal or nuclear plant. I really can't understand why this is such a devisive issue.
NotParker
1 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2012
Got to agree with Antialias here. Even if you discount the data indicating AGW from using previously sequestered carbon, from a purely selfish perspective I can't help but belive that people would breathe far better down wind of a solar or wind farm compared to a coal or nuclear plant. I really can't understand why this is such a devisive issue.


Wind farms are very unhealthy.

http://www.wind-w...-health/
SteveL
5 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2012
Wind farms are very unhealthy.
So, what is black lung? And acid rain? And why were the citizens of 3-Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima evacuated if not because of the danger?

I read the article you provided and noticed that there seemed to be an agenda implied. Those who don't want wind farms for aesthetic reasons seem to have trouble sleeping, with ailments leading from that lack of sleep. I tend to wonder how much of this is actually psychosomatic and if some are complaining just because they don't like wind farms ruining their view. People with a bad or negative attitude can simply make themselves sick.
NotParker
1 / 5 (4) Sep 18, 2012
"In December 2011, in a peer-reviewed report in the Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, Dr Carl Phillips – one of the U.S.'s most distinguished epidemiologists – concluded that there is 'overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby residents, usually stress-disorder type diseases, at a nontrivial rate'"

http://www.dailym...hem.html

"Wind power could actually produce more CO2 than gas and increase domestic fuel bills because of the need for "back up" power stations, a think tank has warned."

http://www.telegr...tas.html

SteveL
5 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2012
If you look at the other articles on the initial link you provided they are repeatedly opposed to wind energy. This obvious agenda hardly lends its self to credible neutrality.

In the second article it seems as if the people getting sick didn't want wind farms there in the first place. In this modern world of litigation and NIMBY, claiming to be sick or injured is a common practice when one wants to milk the system.

The third article simply points out to me that traditional backup energy or supply leveling techniques are insufficient or inappropriate for the task. This is hardly a reason to discount wind power. I've always supported hydroelectric for supply leveling. Basically pump water up into reservoirs when you have an excess of energy and let it flow through generators when you need more energy. It's pretty simple really. And if you don't have natural elevations, although only a few hundred feet is all that is needed, an abandoned mine could do nicely.
NotParker
1 / 5 (4) Sep 18, 2012
Wind is bad for your health and saves no CO2 and costs 100s of billions in subsidies and capital costs when 10% of that would buy reliable gas power plants.

The UK has about 4GW of wind on a good day. On a bad day they have zero.

They need to run 4GW of backup power along side the 4GW of wind because it rarely is 4GW.

Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2012
Wind is bad for your health and saves no CO2 and costs 100s of billions in subsidies and capital costs when 10% of that would buy reliable gas power plants.

The UK has about 4GW of wind on a good day. On a bad day they have zero.

They need to run 4GW of backup power along side the 4GW of wind because it rarely is 4GW.


NutPecker,

Every time(or virtually so) you post a comment, it becomes more glaringly obvious that your objection to alternative energy generation technologies(ditto AGW) has nothing at all to do with their practicality, safety, efficiency, cost, etc --and everything to do with your concern over lost dividends to your investment portfolio.

Why don't you just do the smart thing, and invest in the renewables market, and save yourself all this effort and abuse.

Big Carbon has been made obsolete, and there will be considerable danger to your investments in staying engaged in its death-struggle.

Just a little friendly advice from your Ol' Uncle Caliban...

antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 19, 2012
Why don't you just do the smart thing, and invest in the renewables market, and save yourself all this effort and abuse.

He probably has long term investments he can't get out of.

Wind farms are very unhealthy.

Does this apply to off-shore wind farms?

So, what is black lung? And acid rain? And why were the citizens of 3-Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima evacuated if not because of the danger?

Yes. We need to keep things in perspective here. Trading in thousands of deaths per year from coal vs. a few cases of migraine is arguable not 100% optimal, but still a VAST improvement.
NotParker
1 / 5 (4) Sep 19, 2012
Why don't you just do the smart thing, and invest in the renewables market, and save yourself all this effort and abuse.

He probably has long term investments he can't get out of.

Wind farms are very unhealthy.

Does this apply to off-shore wind farms?

So, what is black lung? And acid rain? And why were the citizens of 3-Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima evacuated if not because of the danger?

Yes. We need to keep things in perspective here. Trading in thousands of deaths per year from coal vs. a few cases of migraine is arguable not 100% optimal, but still a VAST improvement.


Wind turbines need costly backup which produces as much CO2 as the NG power plants. Why squander trillions on wind?

Use shale gas. Clean. Cheap. Low Co2.
NotParker
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 19, 2012
utPecker,

Every time(or virtually so) you post a comment, it becomes more glaringly obvious that your objection to alternative energy generation technologies(ditto AGW) has nothing at all to do with their practicality, safety, efficiency, cost, etc --and everything to do with your concern over lost dividends to your investment portfolio.


The only investment I have in energy companies is that I pay more than I want to for electricity.

I do detect a pattern where I say same something relevant and you call me names or try and divert the discussion somewhere else.

Wind saves little or no CO2 because it needs backup. It needs backup because sometimes the wind does not blow. And it takes minutes to cycle up an NG power plant, and hours to cycle up a coal plant.

The UK has about 4GW of wind. Over 3000 5 minute periods in the last year it dropped to under 100MW and only averaged 1.2GW.

Thats science and economics.

SteveL
5 / 5 (2) Sep 19, 2012
Natural Gas power plants aren't designed for backup, or to be repeatedly started up and shut down. That is why they aren't efficient at it. This is really an apples vs. oranges argument. These technologies can work together synergistically if properly thought out and designed.

When wind and solar are low percentage producers they should be used to charge supply leveling techniques such as the hydroelectric one I mentioned above. Natural gas could be used to not only provide the man source of power, but also ensure the reserve remains charged.

As wind and solar become main players in the energy market, and I believe they eventually may, then the load could be shifted more to the renewables as the main source with the natural gas being used to ensure the reserve is maintained. In this way the natural gas power stations would only need to remain on line long enough to ensure the reserve is charged. If the reserve is of sufficient capacity it would reduce the natural gas cycling.
CapitalismPrevails
1 / 5 (3) Sep 19, 2012
And it takes minutes to cycle up an NG power plant, and hours to cycle up a coal plant.

And it take more energy than it normally would to cycle up any power plant from rest. It's just like when someone turns down the furnace and then turns it up again to warm a house.
NotParker
1 / 5 (4) Sep 19, 2012
So Steve, your plan is to squander trillions on wind before there is a storage technology available. (Because most of the best places for dams are already taken).

http://www.theglo...4103467/
SteveL
5 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2012
"squander" = you don't like it? The pumped storage technology is available today and is being used in several places around the world now to the tune of about 104 to 127GW. As an example:

http://www.jocass...tory.htm

For more information on pumped storage hydroelectric:

http://en.wikiped...electric

Quite simply this is the most efficient method of storing energy available to us with current technology, and it is able to respond to demand changes within seconds. This seems to me a perfect match for solar and wind power.

Back to your "squandering"... I like the idea of energy independence. I don't think nations should be held hostage due to their energy needs. If hundreds of billions are to be spent every year on energy anyhow, why not invest in domestic energy projects that enable us to not only be more self sufficient, but more ecologically responsible? I consider that a win-win scenario.
SteveL
5 / 5 (2) Sep 19, 2012
I read the article you posted. Yeah, it's a crime what politicians do with the people's money sometimes. Politicians make very poor businessmen, especially when it's not their money. Politics tries to pick winners and losers based on party contributions or loyalties rather than on responsible business plans.

There will be failures, there will be token companies like Solyndra that you can point to and say; "Look, see? It won't work!". The problem is that it didn't work because the Solyndra "investment" was a political move, not a good business decision. The Solyndras of the world are symptoms of governments that have more money than sense and don't feel accountable to the people for that money.

The above referenced Duke Energy Bad Creek project was a solid business decision based on their metrics of supply and demand. Not on a political affiliation. This was before wind and solar really became political buzz words. It will only succeed if the purpose isn't political.
NotParker
1 / 5 (4) Sep 20, 2012
"squander" = you don't like it? The pumped storage technology is available today and is being used in several places around the world now to the tune of about 104 to 127GW.


Those a peaking power plants designed to produce an extra burst of power for a short period of time when demand is super high and power companies pay huge amounts of money for that electricity.

Almost all of them are 20 years old now or older because they are too expensive compared to NG peaking plants and the good locations are gone.

It isn't how many GW. It is how many GW hours. Many of them can only run for a few hours at most.

Bath County is the largest pumped storage facility in the world.

3GW.

30GWh = 10 hours run time.

1.6 billion in 1990s dollars. 5 billion today if you could find a place.

That would buy you 5 - 10 GW of natural gas power plant that could run for 10 months of the year or more.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 20, 2012
And it takes minutes to cycle up an NG power plant

Which is plenty of time. Even though wind and sun are variable they are not THAT variable. We do have something called meteorology - which works fairly well for those timeframes.

And it take more energy than it normally would to cycle up any power plant from rest.

Current energy grids have a number of buffer systems for various intervals. Hydro storage is the fastests, then gas, then coal, then nuclear.
Yes: cycling up a buffer system requires startup energy (except hydro). But the point of having a good, decentralized and well connected grid is that you don't need the longer-term buffers very often. So the additional cost of occasionally running those is vastly outweighed by the majority of the time when they don't have to run at all.
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) Sep 20, 2012
And it takes minutes to cycle up an NG power plant

Which is plenty of time. Even though wind and sun are variable they are not THAT variable. We do have something called meteorology - which works fairly well for those timeframes.


Sure ...

Lets say you have 50GW of demand. 5GW of NG backup power. And 45GW of wind.

And the wind goes to near zero as it does quite regularly.

The only time wind works is if you have 100% backup.

Which means any country stupid enough to build a lot of wind gets extremely expensive power and their people and industry leave.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2012
The only time wind works is if you have 100% backup.

The point of having backup is that: the larger your grid, the shorter the time that 'wind will go to zero'. And yes: there will need to be some backup - and Im sure you will not find anyone who argues otherwise. But 100% backup powerplant capacity is a strawman argument. That only works for insular windopower without storage.

Wind should never be 100% of the grid (and I have seen no one, aside from people constructing strawmen, who would argue that this is anyone's aim). It will be part of an energy mix. No wind often means also: no clouds (i.e better conditions for solar)
and when you go off shore the 'no wind' case is so scarce as to be negligible.
SteveL
5 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2012
Lack of wind or solar power are temporary and localized. This is why we also need to build HVDC networks along with our storage systems to distribute power as supply and demand patterns shift.

It's a shame Obama didn't include this in his recovery package. According to one of his campaign speeches in 2007 he stated it will cost $400 billion to upgrade our electrical transmission and distribution networks to meet the needs of the next century. I think it would have been a valid investment in my nation's infrastructure.

There is a lot of land that is underutilized in the western US. A massive amount of reserve capacity could be built. A large percentage of it is already owned by either the federal or state governments. This would be a TVA - type or larger project, but you can't tell me it cannot be done.
SteveL
5 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2012
When it comes to land utilization wind and solar don't have to be exclusive. Wind towers have a significant amount of space between them that isn't required for maintenance that could be used for solar systems. There would be some shadowing, but it would be a very small percentage.

My "perfect" scenario would be for wind and/or solar to be used only to power the pumping stations that maintain a 2 week, preferrably several months worth of, hydro reserve. All power generated would be coming out of that hydroelectric reserve. The only time natural gas or other forms of carbon-based energy would be used is if the solar/wind systems were not able to keep up for some reason. In this way generation capacity could be brought online within seconds as needed and excess capacity could simply bypass the dams to flow out to sea. The larger the reserve the more chance the lakes could be used for recreational, irrigation or potable water purposes.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2012
I think it would have been a valid investment in my nation's infrastructure.

But, but, but...what about all those shiny missiles and tanks and medals and people in uniform...they all look so dashing. And it makes for great TV!
Surely that's gotta be more important than making the US fit for the future?

Don't you start being all sensible and stuff. You're cracking my US stereotypes.

My "perfect" scenario would be for wind and/or solar to be used only to power the pumping stations that maintain a 2 week, preferrably several months worth of, hydro reserve.

I'm not sure where to find high-up lakes that large.
2 weeks worth of power for an industrialized country is a lot. For the US that amounts to about 150TWh.
For comparison: The largst hydro storag facility in the world (Bath County in the United States) has a storage capacity of about 25GWh.

I'd rather go for overdesigning solar/wind/hydro a bit so that a bit of lack of wind/sun isn't too tragic.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2012
oops...wrong thread...
RealScience
5 / 5 (1) Sep 21, 2012
AP - Bath county may be the largest pumped-hydro storage facility, but Hoover dam has almost 20 cubic km of active capacity and 180 meters of head. Simplistically that's 3.6x10^16 Joules which is 10 THh - conversion losses and loss of head as it drains down probably cut that in half.

But in principle you are right, two weeks worth of storage for the US would require 30 PAIRS of hoover dams.

And you are also right that two weeks of storage is not needed.
The more diverse the energy sources (both geographically and type of resource), the less buffer is needed, approaching (in the limit of great diversity) the daily peak demand over average capacity.
NotParker
1 / 5 (4) Sep 21, 2012
AP - Bath county may be the largest pumped-hydro storage facility, but Hoover dam has almost 20 cubic km of active capacity and 180 meters of head. Simplistically that's 3.6x10^16 Joules which is 10 THh - conversion losses and loss of head as it drains down probably cut that in half.

But in principle you are right, two weeks worth of storage for the US would require 30 PAIRS of hoover dams.

And you are also right that two weeks of storage is not needed.
The more diverse the energy sources (both geographically and type of resource), the less buffer is needed, approaching (in the limit of great diversity) the daily peak demand over average capacity.


The US consumes 500TWh per week. (26,000 per year)

Even if the Hoover Dam stored 10TWh, it only has 2GW of of generators.

Which means in one week = 350GWh or .35TWh.

1500 Hoover Dams for one weeks power.

150 Hoover Dams for 1 day.

I don't think the US has places for even 10 more Hoover Dams, let alone 1500.
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) Sep 21, 2012
AP - Bath county may be the largest pumped-hydro storage facility, but Hoover dam has almost 20 cubic km of active capacity and 180 meters of head. Simplistically that's 3.6x10^16 Joules which is 10 THh - conversion losses and loss of head as it drains down probably cut that in half.

But in principle you are right, two weeks worth of storage for the US would require 30 PAIRS of hoover dams.

And you are also right that two weeks of storage is not needed.
The more diverse the energy sources (both geographically and type of resource), the less buffer is needed, approaching (in the limit of great diversity) the daily peak demand over average capacity.


The US consumes 500TWh per week. (26,000 per year)

Even if the Hoover Dam stored 10TWh, it only has 2GW of of generators.

Which means in one week = 350GWh or .35TWh.

1500 Hoover Dams for one weeks power.

150 Hoover Dams for 1 day.


200 for 1 day. Not 150.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Sep 21, 2012
two weeks of storage is not needed.

The power output of wind and solar never drops to zero over an entire continent. So the actual amount of buffer needed is a lot less (the "you need 100% backup" is a strawman argument)

Simulations for Europe show that with a perfect grid you'd need 2 days worth. With a grid as it is now (with no alterations whatsoever) you'd need 7 days worth. Alterations will have to be made, anyhow, so I'm suspecting the real number lies somewhere in the 4-5 days range. (A separate group calculated that for the german grid you'd need just 3 days worth)

This means 3-5 of this kind of reservoir per country
http://eduard-hei...are.html
These are large, but not unreasonably so (and do not require any new technology to be developed)

(sorry, the site is in german but the graphs should be clear enough)
SteveL
5 / 5 (1) Sep 21, 2012
two weeks of storage is not needed.
What can I say? I like lakes. Besides I've found that populations tend to need potable water for drinking, farming and other human activities. We can never seem to get enough. So my suggestion is that sufficient water be stored that it can be used for multiple purposes.
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) Sep 21, 2012
two weeks of storage is not needed.

The power output of wind and solar never drops to zero over an entire continent.


It can drop to zero. Solar drops to zero every day. The UK and Germany have both had zero day winds.

In Germany Wind PV regularly goes to 0

Look at page 3:

http://www.pfbach...4_14.pdf

No wonder Germany is building so many coal power plants.