Can Wind Power Get Up to Speed?

Discussion in 'In the News' started by Chuck, Jun 24, 2009.


Is the Obama administration doing enough to promote green energy?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    [​IMG] Can we go from 3% renewables (less hydro) to 25% in 2025?

    [fimg=RIGHT][/fimg]Brian Walsh - TIME - June 23, 2009

    Put the exact CNN poll up --Ed.

    Pop quiz: what source of power doesn't come out of the ground, doesn't burn and isn't radioactive? Hint: it contributed the most new electricity generation to the U.S. grid in 2008.

    The answer is wind power, the technology that has become synonymous with going green. Companies that started out small, like Denmark's Vestas and India's Suzlon Energy, have become multinational giants selling steel and fiberglass wind turbines; even blue chippers like General Electric have identified wind power as a major revenue source for the future, while the construction and installation of wind turbines will employ workers here in the U.S. Investing in wind power, said President Barack Obama at a turbine factory in Iowa on Earth Day, "is a win-win. It's good for the environment; it's great for the economy." (See the top 10 green stories of 2008.)

    But for all the green talk and growth in wind power — it accounted for 42% of all new electricity generation added to the U.S. grid last year — wind still makes up less than 3% of America's total electricity generation. Even at current rates of growth, that figure is unlikely to change soon. The question is, Will wind ever produce enough power to satisfy America's energy needs?... [rm],8599,1906507,00.html[/rm]
  2. alpha-dog

    alpha-dog Member

    Maybe when people start adding VAWT's on thier roofs
  3. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    What is VAWT?
  4. alpha-dog

    alpha-dog Member

    vertical axis wind turbine
  5. mparrish

    mparrish Rosie the Riveter Redux

    France can do it. We can't? Pfffft.

    The key to going 25+% renewables is not primarily to increase supply. Start living, working, & moving efficiently, and start taking coal plants offline. Then you'll get your 25%.
  6. R.I.D.E.

    R.I.D.E. Well-Known Member

    I had some different answers. Solar, Lunar, the Corelis effect. But then they are the source of wind energy and other recoverables.

    Ocean currents

    Many choices depending on your location.

  7. hobbit

    hobbit He who posts articles

    VAWTs have the disadvantage that they will shake supporting
    building structures to pieces unless they're very carefully
    designed [and I'm leaving that deliberately vague on whether
    that means the building or the turbine]. Dedicated masts seem
    to work out better long-term.
  8. Elixer

    Elixer Well-Known Member

    One of the big problems with wind is that you tend to get lots of electricity exactly when you don't need it, and it's very intermittent. The article says that we can get around this problem by better power transmission. Yeah right.

    "But both those hurdles can be sidestepped by building a more modern and supercharged electrical grid, one capable of funneling wind-generated electricity from the middle of the country to the coasts. A dense and more connected network can also compensate for intermittency, with wind turbines in one part of the country backing up those in another."

    Transmitting power at 60Hz gets to be extremely difficult at more than 300 miles, and 500 miles is about the absolute limit, due to the inductance of the wires. You can do it greater distances with DC transmission lines but they're very expensive and add to power losses. Transmission lines are already wired across the US like a tangle of wires, our transmitting capacity is not bad at all considering the practical physical constraints. His idea of transmitting power from middle America to the coasts is far fetched without building multi-billion dollar DC transmission lines.

    "The question is, Will wind ever produce enough power to satisfy America's energy needs?"
    This is a big resounding No. I don't think wind power will ever make up more than 20% of our energy unless someone invents a very effecient and very cheap storage technology. Wind power is great if you can use it to keep you from having to fire up gas generators to meet the peak loads during the day, and to reduce the required power draw from other power plants. Wind is a intermittent power source and always will be, and the power supplied need to be constant, which is major reason why wind will never be the dominant energy source. Ask anyone in the power business and they will tell you the same thing, they'll probably be even less idea than me.

    This article was written by someone who doesn't really understand the engineering involved in power. The fact that we have 50 times or whatever value he's stated more wind power than our current power use doesn't really tell us anything.

    I definitely do believe that wind power is part of the solution, along with many other. I envision a world where we primarily use wind, solar, hydroelectric, and other renewables, with nuclear energy to back it up, as well as a microgrid of hybrids supply power to the city during peak usage. However wind power is far from a god-send and reports of how there's enough wind energy to power the US x number of times over is more or less a false line of reasoning due to wind power's intermittent nature.
  9. Gordon

    Gordon Highland Hypermiler

    Biggest on shore wind farm in Europe and I can see it from my front yard. If we can do it, then what the hell is taking America so long. T. Boone Pickens is the greatest pioneer right now in America for Wind and Solar energy. Amazingly enough since he made his name through oil!
  10. Taliesin

    Taliesin Well-Known Member

    I had to vote no, but he is doing slightly better than previous presidents (with Carter being the exception).

    He may be doing more, but no one has done enough.
  11. Shiba3420

    Shiba3420 Well-Known Member

    Even as a big supporter of wind, I have to point out a few shortcomings of the article. With wind nearly doubling in installed capacity every year, you would think that this year we would be able to install nearly nothing but wind and meet increasing demand...after if wind was 40% last last year, shouldn't we be at 80 to 100% this year?...However that is based of faceplate capacity....the maximum the system can generate. You can only expect wind to generate about 25 to 33% faceplate on average (deep water turbines can get up to 33 to 50%). So really the wind installed last year only represented about 1/7 or 14% capacity installed. However its clear that wind can make a significant contribution....its just a matter of time and policies.

    Elixer, I don't understand your 60Hz comment....long distance power distribution is usually done on 230k to 800k lines, and I believe there are lines of much higher voltage planned.. At the higher voltages, cross country transmission is possible. HVDC is useful because you don't have to worry about getting the frequency right between the broadcasting and receiving ends, so integration of the transmitted power is much easier, although power losses are also less.
    However, keep in mind that power would rarely be sent from one end of the country to the other.
    Consider this simplified example....Country in 3 pieces (east, mid, west). Mid has just enough wind, east has abundance of wind, west has shortage of wind. You don't have to transmit the power from east to west. Instead you transmit from mid to west, and from east to mid. The total distance that power is pushed is dramatically reduced.

    Besides all this, from what I have read, the grid we have is out of date, and we need to make a major overhaul. That was material we were reading even before renewables came back on the scene in such a big way. If you have to do that anyway, why not spend additional money to bring to give it the ability to deal with the new sceneries that renewable present? Its cheaper now than later.

    That said, until we reach our goals, we can always do more. I voted no, but even if we just manage to keep the policies now in place long enough, I think wind will reach its full potential.
  12. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Anyone have any rule of thumb for what percent of power is lost in a 'typical " 100 mile transmission line?
    500 mile line?
    How about a 1000 mile line?

  13. paratwa

    paratwa Well-Known Member

  14. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member


    "As of 1980 the longest distance that electricity can be economically transmitted is 7000 km(4000 mile) but the longest actual transmission distance is considerably shorter".According to the article the longest distance is 1500 miles or so??

    It also stated that in the USA about 7.2% of the energy is lost in transmission.

    What is the big deal??? Why are folks whining about transmission losses? Lots of wind is right on the coast-lots of big cities are ON THE COASTS. Wind alley in TX OK etc is no more than 700 miles from the megapolis of DFW(5,000,000 or so folks) and only 1000 miles from Houston-another 5000000 or so. Amarillo,OKC are also close.

    LA and NYC are only about 1200 miles(LA) and maybe 1600 miles(NYC) from TX wind alley.
    I'm not generally a fan of H2 as an energy source, but certainly excess wind energy could be used to split water and make H2. Heck, maybe future hybrids could be battery fuel cell electrics. Take on 200 lbs of H2 and a 500 lb battery pack.

    Yes, wind is more expensive than coal, and maybe more than oil(depends on how you decide what oil costs-military etc-we sure wouldn't give a crap about the ME if it didn't have oil). But, if we want to get off foreign oil-for national policy reasons-WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO DEVELOPE SOMETHING ELSE TO POWER OUR ECONOMY(AND CARS).Wind is the most mature alternative right now.


  15. Radio_tec

    Radio_tec Tell AAA, Saving gas saves America!

    I voted no. President Obama has certainly done more than the previous two presidents on renewable energy but much more needs to be done if were to preserve the semblence of a climate that has sustained civilization, albeit with some downturns, for the last 7000 years.
  16. Radio_tec

    Radio_tec Tell AAA, Saving gas saves America!


    You raised a number of interesting questions which I will answer in this post.

    The efficiency of the US electrical grid is 92%. Line voltages will run from 115 kV to 765 kV depending on the country. The highest voltage of any AC transmission line was a Russian one built during Soviet times and it is rated at 1,150 KV and is located in Kazakhstan. Although it was designed to handle that amount of voltage it typically runs at 400 KV. The capacitance between the phase lines and coronal arching limit the amount of voltage that can be sent through the lines.

    Power can be transmitted over distances greater than the 300 to 500 miles of the current AC high tension lines with the use of High Voltage DC power lines. These lines can extend the range of your power up to 3000 miles so if you properly site wind turbines in the wind corridor of the Midwest you can certainly power the cities in the east from Chicago to New York. HVDC has current losses lower than AC due to the reduction in current resistance losses you get from running high voltages in a steady on state and the elimination of losses characteristic of AC systems like capacitance loss between phase lines. Also HVDC transmission can be cheaper than AC transmission lines if you are transmitting over very long distances. The cost of running the converter stations at each end of the High Voltage DC transmission are offset by the cheaper construction costs of HVDC and electrical losses that are lower than their AC line equivalents.

    When it comes to power loss, the biggest source of loss in power generation is from waste heat in nuclear and coal plants. Coal fired power plants are around 30% efficient and the other 70% is up the flue as waste heat. I don’t' have efficiency numbers for nuclear but it is low. Its inefficiency is aptly demonstrated when you look at the large cooling towers and the large quantities of water required to keep the reactor cool enough to operate. Natural gas plants are likely to be around 50% efficient.

    Wind intermittency can be managed with the use of a smart grid. Because wind forecasting can be predicted with an accuracy of 90% you can switch in wind turbines in the active areas and switch out those that aren't. Enough wind turbines can be sited to offset power from those that are not. Wind is not the only solution for providing renewable energy but it will play a significant part of it.
  17. worthywads

    worthywads Don't Feel Like Satan, I am to AAA

    That's where it can get's expensive. Even if we can be 90% accurate, if the forecast is no wind at 75% of the wind generators we still need to kick in the backup fossil fuel at the ready.

    In a situation where we actually have 25% reliance on wind would there every be a time when we wouldn't be trying to generate every last bit of that capacity? What do you mean by switch in/out?
  18. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info.

    Yes,occasionally you'll have to kick in turbine(jet engines) driven with methane to make up for no wind..Maybe it would make sense to store excess wind energy as H2-and use it to drive the turbines.
    A properly designed wind system should have maybe 4X the nameplate capacity ,and they should be spread out geographically, so even if you have 75% down because of no wind, you still have enough capacity. There will have to be a way to store wind energy-pump water uphill or convert it to H2-so we can use all the potential energy the wind turbines can capture. If you spend all that money building the turbines, you should get max benefit from them.


Share This Page