Skip to comments.On Energy, Massachusetts Tilts At Windmills
Posted on 02/27/2012 4:13:35 PM PST by raptor22
Green Energy: Bypassing abundant supplies of environmentally friendly and reliable natural gas, the Bay State forces its utilities to buy energy from offshore wind farms. The tilting at windmills continues.
It is instead found in the vast resources locked up in the Outer Continental Shelf, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska and in the vast shale formations that bless the U.S. with an abundance of oil and natural gas.
A nationwide boom in natural gas production is set to fuel nearly 900,000 jobs and add roughly $1,000 to annual household budgets by 2015, according to a study by HIS Global Insight, a Denver energy research firm.
It is estimated that we have at least a 100-year supply of the relatively cheap, cleanest-burning fossil fuel.
To the 36 states that, like Massachusetts, have embraced what are called renewable portfolio standards, they will continue pursuing green energy sources despite their heavy subsidies, uneven and unreliable capacity, and the simple fact that you cannot store wind energy for when the wind is not blowing.
After decades of subsidies, wind provides only 1% of our electricity compared with 49% for coal, 22% for natural gas, 19% for nuclear power and 7% for hydroelectric.
Wind turbines generally operate at only 20% efficiency compared with 85% for coal, gas and nuclear power plants.
With the Green Communities Act of 2008, the state legislature enacted a clean energy mandate requiring that 20% of Massachusetts' power come from renewable sources by 2025. A prime source of Bay State wind power is to come from the Cape Wind project, an offshore wind farm that was controversial because it threatened to block the ocean view of the 1% ensconced on the shores of Nantucket Sound.
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Windmills can be very picturesque if done right, and the oceanside is a near ideal place for them. You can always count on some wind there night and day, year around. But they will not let a single mill be seen around, say, Martha’s Vineyard. Too hoity toity.
A little wind here and there....doesn't mean it's an ideal place.
Maybe you can count on some wind...doesn't mean it will even turn a commercial electricity producing turbine.
Nothing even to decorate those towers?
I’m thinking of Holland-style windmills, of course. They are not as efficient as those sword-bladed modern units but they are far prettier.
Wind likes to go from warm areas to cool, and during the day a fair breeze will go from land out to the ocean, reversing direction at night. Is it stiff enough to support turbines? Dunno. But if you were forced into it, the oceanside would be about the best place to have windmills. Certainly that worked well for the Dutch who benefited because by the shore is where the Dutch windmills ran the pumps that dried out the “nether lands.”
Those windmill clusters are causing another problem, birds flying into these things and their carcasses piling up at the base of the windmills. I could see them turning into biohazrd sites.
Actually the highest wind density location in the US is off the coast of SW Oregon.
These farms could probably hit 50% capacity factor there.
But: how long would a structure last hammered by the elements?
There's no population centers there.
Imagine getting approvals for say a 500 KV power line through there to Eugene or Medford?
Windmills above the salty, stormy ocean make no sense. The power costs 4-5x even allowing the same lifespan (30 years). Mass rate payers will end up paying 10x what they would pay for gas over the next 30 years. The funny thing is at least half of them will be in favor of it, even as they bitch about their electric bills every month.
The salt and storm would pose an engineering challenge. I’d think it better to have them on land than out in the ocean itself. As for the cost — well I’m just pointing out if that Massachusetts really wants these expensive albatrosses then it ought to start allowing them to populate Massachusetts ocean views to show its sincerity. The industrial looking tower units are rather ugly, but surely they have artists who can improve on the appearance.
That would be a site where “superconducting power lines” might actually make sense. There is some cost for keeping them refrigerated, but the virtually perfect conduction of power along the lines can more than make up for that. The main other problem, is this is also earthquake prone shakey ground. The enclosures required for the superconducting lines would have to be able to withstand tremors.
FALSE!! Most new wind farms these days have "net capacity factors" well over 35%, often in the Midwest reaching as high as 50% where many wind farms are willing to sign long term power off-take contracts for ~$30/MWh.
Where the wind blows, why not harness it?
Using images of wind turbines from the 1980s is like comparing European cars from the same period to those of today.
Land wind is 2.5x cheaper. Surprising that wikipedia hasn’t deleted this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source (probably because they added a silly carbon tax to coal), but offshore wind will cost ratepayers 24 cents per kWh (Nat gas < 7 cents). The estimates do not include the fact that offshore wind will not last anywhere near the assumed 30 year life. There is no other way to say it: offshore wind is idiotic.
Oh, I don't know. Audis were pretty good-looking in the eighties. And, at any rate, the uglification of the visual environment is less important than the extreme inefficiency of wind-power as mass electrical generation. That hasn't changed in 30 years.
Uglification is highly subjective, much like Liberals would say drilling offshore "uglifies" the coast line with oil derricks. With regards to efficiency, wind energy generation has become much more efficient and reliable in 30 years, not to mentions it runs on a free fuel source.
Suitable for baseload generation? No. But it can be an incremental part of the solution towards energy independence.
It isn't just liberals who consider off-shore drilling rigs ugly when visible from shore -- conservatives do, too. And rightfully so.
Windmills have only become more efficient to the extent that the blades have become longer. That's the only way to get more generating power from them. Now, it's true that windmill manufacturing has become more efficient, but that does not change the physics of converting wind to power.
Windmills could be manufactured and given to us free of charge and using them as mass-generation would be foolish. It's too undependable and the carbon-based back-up power required grows as the "free" wind-power capacity increases.
And your point is?????
Those wind turbines in those pictures are still in place today, and once they're built and the landscape is destroyed, it remains that way.
I guess in your piss-poor analogy, an old car still on the road doesn't get seen, either?
Wind turbines are inefficient, tax-subsidized-un-economic eyesores, no matter how "attractive" the "modern" design is, and they're 30% or LESS efficient. They cannot be built on their own merit, and ONLY line the pockets of favored investors with taxpayer money, by selling the "alternative energy of the future" bullshit, that will drive your electric bill skyward to accomodate (along with the tax dollars you'll also pay).
Here's the look of those TODAY in Altamont, CA.
What a great landscape of less than 1% of California's installed generating capacity (and available about 25% of the time).....a joke.