Are windmills any kind of an answer to our energy woes? by Kevin Roeten
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Many say "What can possibly be wrong with windmills to generate electrical power?" But it doesn't seem to be a thinking solution to perceived energy problems for the US. A few suggestions for the non-thinker: 1) What is the actual cost? 2) How much land or water will actually be needed?, 3) What has been the result of previous windmills built? And the coup-de-gras, 4) How much of US energy concerns can it displace?
Although wind energy is clean, this technology has environmental pitfalls. There is always a fair amount of maintenance involved. With wind turbines, engineering tolerances are so close that just a few bird strikes or extra-heavy winds can throw them out of alignment, reducing the efficiency of the wind-to-energy ratio. An attorney is currently representing 12 residents in Tippecanoe County who are asking for 1,000 feet set back from their property lines. For safety reasons, if one of those towers collapse; or if a blade detaches, breaks, or flies off, it does not seem a 1,000 feet buffer is unreasonable.
It seems high start-up costs, broken inverters, and intermittent sources of energy (wind doesn't always blow and sun doesn't always shine), can be negative factors. Wind requires huge amounts of land to produce and transport energy, requiring land 30x amount needed for fission energy (USNatureConservancy).
Bats are the most important predator of night-flying insects and consume vast numbers of pests. The 20 million Mexican free-tail bats in Bracken Cave, Texas, eat 250 tons of insects nightly. And that's only one state, and one location. Bat Fatalities at Wind Turbines: Investigating the Causes and ...consequences, shows that dead bats are turning up dead beneath wind turbines worldwide. Many species of migratory bats can be killed by wind turbines. They fly at night eating thousands of insects, many of which are crop pests. Therefore, bat losses in one area could have very real effects on ecosystems along the bats' migration routes.
In Why Wind Turbines Can Mean Death For Bats, Science News thinks it knows why bats actually die in much greater numbers. The bats they examined after death showed signs of internal hemorrhaging consistent with trauma from the sudden drop in air pressure (barotrauma) from turbine blades. Only a portion of the bats showed any evidence of direct contact with the blades.
Bats normally detect objects with echolocation, and seldom collide with other structures. An atmospheric pressure drop at wind turbine blades is an undetectable hazard for bats, thus partially explaining the large number of bat fatalities. So far no one has found a way to reduce the pressure drop at wind turbines without severely limiting their use. Bats are more susceptible to barotrauma than birds (due to a totally different lung configuration), and bat fatalities at wind turbines far outnumber bird fatalities.
This administration knows wind produces only a modicum of electricity, and not the kind of fuel that oil produces for cars. In Peak oil & supplies - April 22 | Energy Bulletin, Steven Hayward (American Enterprise Institute/ AEI) says oil is here to stay, for at least decades. "The problem with oil' is that it's such a terrific fuel, it's hard to match its performance and cost with anything else."
Townhall - David Kreutzer - Wind Power Addiction? explains how (the U.S. and the world's) current fossil-fuel production is not only sustainable, but will be around for quite a while. He understands how known reserves in the world are increasing every year because of ability to drill deeper with new available technology. Direct access of abiotic oil will become available to those going below 30,000 ft.
ITER - the way to new energy("the way" in Latin), has started constructing a prototype fusion reactor in Cadarache, France. Fusion is the process by which every star (including the Sun), transmutes matter, transforming hydrogen into helium to release stupendous amounts of energy. Harness that release, and the world's energy needs can be met, with almost no harmful by-products.
If everything is successful, ITER at PPPL will pave the way for a demonstration power plant in the 2030s. That power plant will feed energy into the grid by the middle of this century. All the while, research will continue in tens of other installations. If the gamble pays off, the last quarter of this century will usher in a future of almost limitless energy.
Knowing these facts encourages one to go out and buy a wind turbine immediately. Right...
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in this article are those of Kevin Roeten only and
do not represent the views of Nolan Chart, LLC or its affiliates.
Kevin Roeten is solely responsible for the contents
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let's see............you are worried about bat's dying and you just wrote an article titled "Oil Spill in the Gulf Could be a Positive for All"? Bats can't die but people's livlihoods, seawater ecosystems and fish can? Reason your way out of that one.
by the way, windmills can't produce the fuel of autos? maybe you have heard of electric motors. while the internal combustion engine runs at a max of one third efficiency, the electric motor runs in the high ninety percentile. the prius motor is seven inches in diameter. in contrast, the honda civic which gets good but less gas mileage is 1600 cc. SUV motors are so big, if you hollowed them out, homeless people could sleep in them.
Your argument, including your reference to fusion, is mired in the muck of statism. The question you ask is which energy source should your corporate socialist state choose? You want them to choose oil now [which they obviously have] and fusion later. You want to force those who disagree with you to accept the choice of your state. Your view is little different than that of the party leaders in communist Russia.
The real question is how do we attain the freedom to make our own individual choices, not how to use the force of the state to get everyone else to think like you. That question you have zero answer for.
Posted By: Jahfre Fire Eater
Date: August 2, 2010 06:52:38 PM
I think there are many things that could be a more effective and permanent solution to our energy woes. I believe one day we will harness nuclear fusion. In the meantime, communities should be able to tap local resources to help isolate the "energy woes" to those situations where woes truly do exist. Windmills may be great for some communities and absolutely inappropriate for others. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Where I live, allowing residents to harvest dead trees from the national forests would be wise use of resources but it just doesn't happen. There is enough standing dead wood in these forests to last for decades if harvested. Instead, it will stand until it burns and oh what a horror that will be. It will be a fire the likes of which have never been seen.
As for my ideas about long-term solutions: a good rapture would work, war, disease, famine, comet strike, super volcano, alien invasion. Just look at history. All of these things have caused major relief from unlimited growth in the past...well, maybe not a rapture...but all the rest. Most folks who talk about energy woes fail to state their assumptions first. Something like, "If we continue on this path of growth and consumption we will have energy woes." I always have to ask, how likely is it that we will stay on any path to its theoretical conclusion? Not likely at all. Something always happens to speed things along way before they reach an end. The journey always continues....at least it has so far...which is why we're here writing about it.
Scarcity is the solution to our energy woes. Either scarcity of demand through population reduction or scarcity of supply through government rationing and allocation to the perpetual war...where ever it happens to be at the time. Eventually I believe Obama or Hillary or Jeb will have to bring the war to South America for economic reasons. They can keep a war going in this hemisphere much longer for the same money.
How do bats do in war zones anyway?
-Jahfre Fire Eater