American Elephants


Wind Power: Myths and Reality. by The Elephant's Child
March 14, 2010, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment | Tags: , ,

These wonderful  old windmills have always been a symbol of Holland. But these  beautiful antiques delivered “about fifteen horsepower at best, in favorable winds, about what a power lawnmower delivers these days.”

“These old-fashioned mills needed a two-man crew on a twelve-hour watch, seven days a week, because a runaway windmill first burnt its bearing, then its hardwood gears, then the entire superstructure.”

Henk Tennekes, the Netherlands’ famous engineer, former research director  of the Dutch National Weather Service and global-warming skeptic describes some of the problems of wind power.

Wind energy is an engineer’s nightmare. To begin with, the energy density of flowing air is miserably low. Therefore, you need a massive contraption to catch one megawatt at best, and a thousand of these to equal a single gas- or coal-fired power plant.

If you design them for a wind speed of 34 miles per hour, they are useless at  wind speeds below 22 mph and extremely dangerous at 44 mph, unless feathered in time. Remember, power is proportional to the cube of the wind speed

Think also a moment of the cable networks needed: not only a fine-maze distribution network at the consumer end, but also one at the generator end. And what about servicing? How do you get a repair crew to a lonely hillside? Especially when you decided to put the wind park at sea? Use helicopters — now that is green!

For  that matter, would you care to imagine what happens to rotor blades in freezing rain? Or how the efficiency of laminar-flow rotor blades decreases as bugs and dust accumulate on their leading edges?

Or what did happen in Germany more than once? German legislation gives wind  power absolute priority, so all other forms of generating electricity have to back off when the wind starts blowing. This creates dangerous, almost  uncontrollable instabilities in the high-voltage network. At those moments,  power plant operators all over Europe sweat blood, almost literally. The  synchronization of the system is also a scary job: alternating currents at 100,000 volts or more cannot be out of phase more than one degree or so, else circuit breakers pop everywhere and a brownout all over Europe starts.

Think also a moment of the cable networks needed: not only a fine-maze distribution network at the consumer end, but also one at the generator end. And what about servicing? How do you get a repair crew to a lonely hillside? Especially when you decided to put the wind park at sea? Use helicopters — now that is green!

For  that matter, would you care to imagine what happens to rotor blades in freezing rain? Or how the efficiency of laminar-flow rotor blades decreases as bugs and dust accumulate on their leading edges?

Or what did happen in Germany more than once? German legislation gives wind  power absolute priority, so all other forms of generating electricity have to back off when the wind starts blowing. This creates dangerous, almost  uncontrollable instabilities in the high-voltage network. At those moments,  power plant operators all over Europe sweat blood, almost literally. The  synchronization of the system is also a scary job: alternating currents at 100,000 volts or more cannot be out of phase more than one degree or so, else circuit breakers pop everywhere and a brownout all over Europe starts.

Wind power is a green mirage of the worst kind. It looks green to simple souls but it is a technical nightmare. Nowhere I have been, be it Holland, Denmark, Germany, France or California, have I seen wind parks where all turbines were operating properly. Typically, 20% stand idle, out of commission, broken down. Use Google Videos to find examples of wind turbine crashes, start meditating and reach your own conclusions.




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