Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Bad News for Wind Power

 

However, the bad news for wind power could be good news for flying animals! Just a few links to bring folks up to date on this “clean” source of “free” energy:

Retiring worn-out wind turbines could cost billions that nobody has

Germany Now Faced With Thousands Of Aging Wind Farms

Germany Faces Huge Cost Of Wind Farm Decommissioning

Mass Blade Fail Means Early ‘Retirement’ for Hundreds of Danish Wind Turbines

The problem is environmentalists are focused on only one factor when it comes to power production – carbon dioxide. There are a huge number of life cycle factors to consider, including all waste types produced by a given technology.

Published in Environment
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There are 23 comments.

  1. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Stad: There are a huge number of life cycle factors to consider, including all waste types produced by a given technology.

    Yabbut, none of those other environmental effects will “literally destroy the planet“, so they can be safely discounted.

    < sarcasm mode = off >

    • #1
    • November 18, 2019, at 9:32 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  2. Matt Bartle Member

    A few years ago they built 14 wind turbines on the old Bethlehem Steel property along Lake Erie south of Buffalo. This weekend there was an article in the paper explaining the reason most of them are no longer working: the company they get parts from went out of business. So now they have to completely replace everything but the towers themselves, which will take a couple years and many millions of dollars. But they promise the new version will kill fewer birds.

     

    • #2
    • November 18, 2019, at 9:33 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  3. Stad Thatcher
    Stad Post author

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):
    But they promise the new version will kill fewer birds.

    That’s comforting!

    • #3
    • November 18, 2019, at 9:35 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. MarciN Member

    I have been wondering about the decommissioning process and its cost for a long time. Nantucket Sound was a candidate for a wind farm for many years, but the obsolescence of the turbines never came up. It should have. It was an obvious question to ask.

    I didn’t like the idea of putting them out on Nantucket Sound because the shoals and sandbars are very unstable out there. It didn’t seem to be a good place to build anything–especially given the ferocious storms out there. And why take the chance with a unique and truly beautiful coastal area? This is exactly what I envisioned twenty years after construction (from the first article cited in the original post):

    Or if that proves to be too costly, as seems likely, some areas of the state could become post-apocalyptic wastelands steepled with teetering and fallen wind turbines, locked in a rigor mortis of obsolescence.

    Cape Wind eventually went out of business. I feel sorry for the owners of the business, but I’m glad that wind farm did not get built.

    Environmentalists are so obsessed with particular issues that they never look at decision-making through an accurate cost-benefit lens. What’s ridiculous about that is that they are the very same people who schooled the rest of the world to consider the entire life of a manufactured product, from its raw materials to its final disposal in the local landfill, and to consider the “far-flung environmental impact” of our actions. Yet they routinely ignore the wisdom of their own advice. :-)

    Obsession is an illness of sorts. It can completely distort a person’s thinking.

    • #4
    • November 18, 2019, at 9:46 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  5. Bob W Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):
    But they promise the new version will kill fewer birds.

    That’s comforting!

    That’s because there are fewer birds!

    • #5
    • November 18, 2019, at 10:16 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  6. I Walton Member

    Would there be wind energy investment without major subsidies? If we add all costs, pollution, decommissioning, replacement is there any value to wind power? Financially? Environmentally? How does it compare in total environmental impact and cost of gas?

    • #6
    • November 18, 2019, at 10:29 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  7. Jon1979 Lincoln

    The first wind farm in Texas, built in the early 1990s, was taken down about five years ago because it was built at Guadalupe Pass, which is the state’s most notorious wind tunnel. A huge wind storm back in 1994 caused gusts of over 160 mph through the pass, and caused major damage to the turbines, and the problem just kept happening, even with lower speed winds.

    In this case, one of the reasons the wind farm was able to be removed, though, was the land it was on was sold to Jeff Bezos, who’s now using the flat area below the mountains to launch his Blue Origin rockets. Not sure who would help fund the removal of other wind farms in the future, if the first-or-second richest guy in the country doesn’t own the land it’s on.

    • #7
    • November 18, 2019, at 10:56 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  8. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    The wind farms kill thousands of eagles every year and an estimated 500,000 bats a year. This whole thing reminds me of when China decided to kill all the sparrows.

    • #8
    • November 18, 2019, at 11:33 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  9. Arahant Member

    Eat more beans. It provides both wind power and natural gas to burn.

    • #9
    • November 18, 2019, at 11:39 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  10. Stad Thatcher
    Stad Post author

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Would there be wind energy investment without major subsidies? If we add all costs, pollution, decommissioning, replacement is there any value to wind power? Financially? Environmentally? How does it compare in total environmental impact and cost of gas?

    I think all power sources get a subsidy of one form or another. However, your point is made – what power sources would cease to exist if it weren’t for government subsidies, or laws mandating their use?

    • #10
    • November 18, 2019, at 1:02 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  11. Duane Oyen Member

    There are two major issues here. 

    1) The cost-benefit justifications (i.e., the depreciation plan for the capital assets) used for turbines were, essentially, made up originally, to get numbers that would validate the investments. In actuality, the tremendous weight of the turbine blades and the consequent lever pressure on the rotor shaft and bearings is far greater than was planned. The actual effective life of a turbine is around half of what was hoped. One of my professors had a big research contract with the feds based on his concept to reduce nacelle weight by putting most of the gear and generating systems at ground level so that only the shaft support was in the air, which allowed you to beef up that part of the system significantly.

    2) You also get excessive wear because the wind blows too hard- sounds goofy, I know, because if you are generating power with wind, you would think that more wind yields more power. In actuality, turbines only work usefully over a limited band range- above a minimum air movement, and below another level. To compensate and try to extend the useful wind level higher, there are complex proprietary algorithms set by each turbine manufacturer whereby the turbine is rotated to reduce wind effect on the blades when the gusts are higher. Yes, they actually turn the blades to reduce the wind speed. I negotiated a couple of agreements to acquire the proprietary data and algorithms so that my university could work on the problem. When the wind gets to a certain level, the turbine is locked down- so that it does nothing whatever when things are really blowing. 

    That is sort of like hitting yourself on the head because the aspirin is too effective, but it illustrates why wind power can never be more than a niche supply. There is some promise for improved photovoltaics some day (for example, finding ways and materials that free up more than one electron per photon, etc.), because they do not have these basic mechanical physics limitations.

    But wind is pretty much a utility company scam designed to get the rate base up, and retiring the old turbines will be billed right back to us payers. Pac Bell doesn’t care, they get 7% profit margin on whatever things cost.

    • #11
    • November 19, 2019, at 3:11 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  12. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):

    2) You also get excessive wear because the wind blows too hard- sounds goofy, I know, because if you are generating power with wind, you would think that more wind yields more power. In actuality, turbines only work usefully over a limited band range- above a minimum air movement, and below another level. To compensate and try to extend the useful wind level higher, there are complex proprietary algorithms set by each turbine manufacturer whereby the turbine is rotated to reduce wind effect on the blades when the gusts are higher. Yes, they actually turn the blades to reduce the wind speed. I negotiated a couple of agreements to acquire the proprietary data and algorithms so that my university could work on the problem. When the wind gets to a certain level, the turbine is locked down- so that it does nothing whatever when things are really blowing.

    That was the problem with the original Texas wind farm. The Austin power co-op putting it in decided to place it on top of a ridge right below Guadalupe Pass, because that’s the windiest place in the state, but the first major windstorm that came along started rippinng up the turbine blades, poles and motors, and, IIRC, another wind farm built near McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains suffered from the same excess wind problem. It was only later they decided that the turbines should be located on top of mesas or simply hilly areas, where the terrain boosts wind speeds, but not to the same damaging levels.

     

    • #12
    • November 19, 2019, at 6:16 PM PST
    • 1 like
  13. Manny Member

    I can’t stand the whole wind turbine approach. So little in actual energy gained for terribly unsightly structures, health hazards for those that live near them, and the killing of countless birds, which is an environmental catastrophe in itself. These turbines need to be shut down. End them.

    • #13
    • November 19, 2019, at 7:49 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  14. Manny Member

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):

    But they promise the new version will kill fewer birds.

     

    And how do they propose for that to work?

    • #14
    • November 19, 2019, at 7:51 PM PST
    • Like
  15. Matt Bartle Member

    Manny (View Comment):

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):

    But they promise the new version will kill fewer birds.

     

    And how do they propose for that to work?

    I think they said they were going to shut them down in more wind conditions, so they won’t be spinning when birds are more likely to be there. But obviously that means less power generation.

    • #15
    • November 20, 2019, at 6:33 AM PST
    • Like
  16. Stad Thatcher
    Stad Post author

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):
    2) You also get excessive wear because the wind blows too hard- sounds goofy, I know, because if you are generating power with wind, you would think that more wind yields more power. In actuality, turbines only work usefully over a limited band range- above a minimum air movement, and below another level. To compensate and try to extend the useful wind level higher, there are complex proprietary algorithms set by each turbine manufacturer whereby the turbine is rotated to reduce wind effect on the blades when the gusts are higher. Yes, they actually turn the blades to reduce the wind speed. I negotiated a couple of agreements to acquire the proprietary data and algorithms so that my university could work on the problem. When the wind gets to a certain level, the turbine is locked down- so that it does nothing whatever when things are really blowing.

    Exactly. Too strong of a wind can destroy the blades. The last thing you want are the blade tips reaching supersonic speeds. When they reach their wind speed limit, the blades are fully feathered so as not to rotate at all.

    • #16
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:12 AM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Stad Thatcher
    Stad Post author

    Manny (View Comment):

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):

    But they promise the new version will kill fewer birds.

     

    And how do they propose for that to work?

    Warning signs written in pidgin English . . .

    (I can hear @arahant groaning all the way down here)

    • #17
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:14 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  18. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):

    2) You also get excessive wear because the wind blows too hard- sounds goofy, I know, because if you are generating power with wind, you would think that more wind yields more power. In actuality, turbines only work usefully over a limited band range- above a minimum air movement, and below another level. To compensate and try to extend the useful wind level higher, there are complex proprietary algorithms set by each turbine manufacturer whereby the turbine is rotated to reduce wind effect on the blades when the gusts are higher. Yes, they actually turn the blades to reduce the wind speed. I negotiated a couple of agreements to acquire the proprietary data and algorithms so that my university could work on the problem. When the wind gets to a certain level, the turbine is locked down- so that it does nothing whatever when things are really blowing.

    That was the problem with the original Texas wind farm. The Austin power co-op putting it in decided to place it on top of a ridge right below Guadalupe Pass, because that’s the windiest place in the state, but the first major windstorm that came along started rippinng up the turbine blades, poles and motors, and, IIRC, another wind farm built near McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains suffered from the same excess wind problem. It was only later they decided that the turbines should be located on top of mesas or simply hilly areas, where the terrain boosts wind speeds, but not to the same damaging levels.

     

    We do one or two motorcycle trips to the Big Bend every year and I always wondered why the ones near Ft Davis came down.

    Very close to where the Republic of Texas barricaded themelves.

    • #18
    • November 20, 2019, at 8:23 AM PST
    • Like
  19. Manny Member

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):

    But they promise the new version will kill fewer birds.

     

    And how do they propose for that to work?

    I think they said they were going to shut them down in more wind conditions, so they won’t be spinning when birds are more likely to be there. But obviously that means less power generation.

    That’s actually hilarious…lol.

    • #19
    • November 20, 2019, at 11:03 AM PST
    • Like
  20. Arahant Member

    A Democratic Congressman’s statement on wind power:

    • #20
    • November 20, 2019, at 11:06 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. Randy Weivoda Moderator

    I’m with all of you on the economics of wind farms. But I’m probably the only person on Ricochet who doesn’t think they’re ugly. I think they look cool. Nuclear power plants aren’t objects of natural beauty, but I still want them. And the birds? Birds so stupid that they fly into wind turbines will probably find some other way to kill themselves, anyway. Except for the government subsidies, I really don’t object to wind farms.

    • #21
    • November 21, 2019, at 1:49 PM PST
    • 1 like
  22. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    Except for the government subsidies, I really don’t object to wind farms.

    I object to them because they destabilize the grid. The resulting impact on consumers’ bills (mine!) is enough reason to ban them. Subsidies aren’t the only problem.

    • #22
    • November 21, 2019, at 2:06 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Stad Thatcher
    Stad Post author

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    I’m with all of you on the economics of wind farms. But I’m probably the only person on Ricochet who doesn’t think they’re ugly. I think they look cool. Nuclear power plants aren’t objects of natural beauty, but I still want them. And the birds? Birds so stupid that they fly into wind turbines will probably find some other way to kill themselves, anyway. Except for the government subsidies, I really don’t object to wind farms.

    Modern wind farms do look cool – until you back up and look at the scenery behind it.

    Driving back from out west last year, we passed numerous wind farms. The sheer beauty of the vast expanse was (IMHO) marred my the sight of these tall, manmade spires with slow moving blades.

    At least they were out in the middle of nowhere, so few people could object to their placement like what happened at Martha’s Vineyard (or was it Nantucket?). Still, it ruined the scenery IMHO . . .

    • #23
    • November 21, 2019, at 2:09 PM PST
    • 3 likes