Wind-powered Generators

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Desertrat, Feb 28, 2009.

  1. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #1
    The February issue of the magazine of Texas Wildlife Associates has some interesting data about wind units. Environmental impacts, costs, and economic impacts. Texas now has some 6,200 MW of capacity. Their information is taken from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission, the Public Utility Commission and private-sector sources.

    Environmental: The transmission lines cause more deaths of birds than do the units themselves. Surprisingly, the death rate for bats is higher than for birds. But, nationwide, about four birds per unit per year. There is some data to suggest that grassland birds (prairie chickens, e.g.) move away from the areas around the wind units, but studies are ongoing. A European study indicates migratory waterfowl do not use wetlands near wind units, and many playa lakes in the Texas Panhandle are important to such as Sandhill cranes as well as ducks and geese. Anecdotal evidence from the Panhandle parallels that study.

    Generally, one unit per sixty acres. Service roads are needed between units, just as for oil fields. Each foundation requires some 439 tons of concrete and about an acre of ground.

    Transmission lines are generaly 325,000-volt (325Kv) and require rights of way roughly twice as wide as the more common 69Kv and 148KV lines; commonly, 200 to 300 feet wide for the 325Kv.

    Costs: The lease rate for a landowner is in the general average of $5,000 per unit per year. Transmission lines cost one to two million dollars per mile. It is anticipated that some 2,334 miles of transmission lines will be built in the ongoing development.

    Financial factors: Wind units are not economically competitive in the marketplace when natural gas is less than $8 per 1,000 cubic feet. (Right now, it's $4.) Governmental subsidies are needed, and so any private entity in the wind generator business is vulnerable to public policy changes.

    Land values are affected. While there is little data as to sales of land with these units, it appears that the negative impact ranges from 20% to 40% diminshment. It is well-established that transmission lines reduce land values by around 20% to 25%.

    'Rat
     
  2. Schtumple macrumors 601

    Schtumple

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    #2
    Guess we should rely soley on oil, coal and gas, cause they don't cause any environmental impact :rolleyes:
     
  3. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #3
    Stale response.

    Solar and geo-thermal is the way to go, but they also have a carbon footprint.

    At least they aren't as ugly as wind farms.
     
  4. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #4
    The Texas Wildlife Association homepage banner is fantastic. Working for Tomorrow's wildlife......TODAY!*.


    * so it can be killed with weapons.
     

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  5. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Schtumple, there is no system which does not have some sort of negative impact. Some, major; some, relatively minor. But there are environmental costs to everything. TANSTAAFL.

    .Andy, what's wrong with killing game critters with weapons? They're tasty. I can't outrun a deer, nor outfly a quail or turkey. Neither can you.

    And hunters can't hunt unless there is a surplus of game. Hunters have the strongest vested interest in a healthy environment/ecosystem of any identifiable interest group. That's why we spend more money on wildlife research, plus preservation and/or enhancement of habitat than any other group.

    We are the ones who established seasons and bag limits. We are the ones who imposed taxes upon our gear to be spent for governmental efforts to aid wildlife--and who spend private funds as well.

    'Rat
     
  6. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #7
    Not until we have the means to safety dispose of the waste.

    Until then, solar it is. Wind is nice too.
     
  7. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #8
    I can out maneuver everything I eat. And I don't I need camo gear, a projectile weapon, pheromone spray, and bottles of urine to coax it within shooting distance.

    Therein lies the massive conflict of interest. Hunters can't be interested in the environment/ecosystem as a whole. You said it yourself - their interest is in ensuring there is a surplus of animals of the variety in which they wish to kill. That's not conservation by any means.

    Again you're not a conservation group if your interest is in creating a surplus of tasty animals that you can kill. That's not conservation.

    Also something being tasty does not ethically defend the killing of it. A child could pick holes in that argument.

    All which has your own interests at heart - killing animals. Preservation/conservation of animals/the environment isn't the priority, no matter how one dresses it up under the banner of environmentalism. It's blatant greenwashing.
     
  8. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    I don't see why "nuclear waste" won't someday be a raw material for some other use. Safe storage until that time is already no problem. Our problem now is the existing unsafe storage. What I think is mistaken is the notion that it has to be stored forever.

    And there are other ways to have nuclear energy than to use uranium. Thorium is one example, and its by-product will not provide material for weapons nor have extremely long half-lives. We use uranium solely because of its bomb-making capabilities.

    .Andy, so you don't eat deer meat or wild turkey. That's your problem, not ours. Nor did I mention conservation; I spoke of a healthy system. Your definition is of no interest to any of us since it does not apply to what we do--although we certainly conserve and not waste either land or its resources. And of course we have our own interests at heart. We'd be fools not to. The environment MUST be a priority, or we'd be out of luck.

    It's no different from making a living from farming or ranching. It's all about stewardship to maintain a longterm, ongoing success. You plow on the contour and you don't burn out the soil. You don't overgraze and you minimize soil erosion. Control the amount of brush so the creeks keep flowing. All that stuff that goes into keeping the land healthy for both critters and people.
     
  9. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #10
    Solar is terribly inefficient right now and PV panels of any size reasonable enough to provide any meaningful power are subject to damage by hail and wind.

    TMI and Chernobyl still have people in the U.S. scared of using nuclear power, but the truth is that both of those accidents were comedies of errors where so many mishaps had to happen all at once - and the Chernobyl plant was designed to standards far below those that existed in the U.S. even at the time of the TMI accident.

    Thing is, nuclear electricity is much cleaner and safer than fuel-fired electricity, but for some reason people don't seem to fear fire, smoke, and ash as much as they do nuclear radiation (which already exists in the ground anyway). I suspect it's because of a general lack of understanding of how it works, and human nature is to fear what we don't understand.

    It's plenty easy to dispose of nuclear waste, and methods are already in place to do it, but we just aren't doing it. It's as simple as sealing the byproducts in a lead-lined concrete vault and burying it in a non-seismic area. What a lot of people forget is that it's uranium when it comes out of the ground, and it's uranium when it goes back in. It's also radioactive coming out and going in - we're only extracting some energy out of it and putting it back more or less where we got it.

    I'm not a green hearted environmentalist, but the fact remains that nuclear energy has a carbon footprint of nearly zero. Lower, in fact, than solar PV.
     
  10. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #11
    I like the wind power generator going out of control in Destroyed in Seconds.

    Almost looked like it exploded, and it sent parts flying a couple miles.
     
  11. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #12
    Solar's gaining quite a bit of efficiency, remember that there are different kinds of designs: Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology, which is based on solar radiation concentration to generate steam or hot air, which is used by an electric plant to run steam turbines. There's also parabolic trough technology, dish Stirling technology, and the usual PV arrays. Each has different advantages and disadvantages, including vulnerability to weather.

    True, there's a lot of fear-mongering on the nuclear issue.

    I'd love to see your numbers, but remember that Nuclear includes several major costs, including the mining of nuclear material, the construction and maintenance of the plants, even the safety protocols necessary to protect these facilities. And, even the best systems still have waste that must be dealt with. The French, a country which nuclear adherents should look to, have brokered a deal to ship their waste out of the country.

    'Rat, you mention the waste issue, and though I think you have a valid point that future technologies may deal with the waste, we still have to be able to safely store these materials until that day. Thus, this problem should be added into the equation.

    As 'Rat always points out on these issues, TANSTAAFL and that's true for every technology currently out there.

    Unless someone digs up an Atlantian ZPM. ;)

    In order to support a population of game animals, hunters often end up supporting entire ecologies. In some instances, hunters have done a lot of good for protecting land and species. It's no historical accident that Teddy Roosevelt, a noted game hunter, also created the National Parks system.
     
  12. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    I agree that PV cells are becoming more efficient, but right now the systems widely available for use average around 15% efficient, or roughly on par with an automobile engine - quite poor. I'm an engineer working in building design, including energy efficient and LEED accreditation, and I've had several owners and developers ask us to evaluate PV farms to power or partially power the buildings. In every case so far, there just isn't enough space on the roof of a typical building and parking garage to generate an economically useful amount of solar electricity, even with about 40,000 sqf of coverage on a 5-story building.

    Like you said, it's getting better, but we're a long, long way from being able to rely on it.

    Numbers here.

    Yes, all energy plants will have waste - but in the case of nuclear power, that waste is not smoke, carbon dioxide, ash, or anything of the sort - it's only moisture from cooling tower water (good ol' H2O, and up to this point nobody really minds that being ejected into the atmosphere) and solid waste, which is far, far more easily contained than anything from a fuel burning plant.

    And we can go on and on all day about the ups and downs of various types of power plants - they all require construction costs, safety regulations and inspections, mining/harvesting of fuel, etc. Speaking strictly from an engineer's point of view, the most "renewable" long-term energy sources I see are (1) solar, (2) wind, and (3) water/ocean currents. As long as we have the sun (1) and (2) will never go away or become depleted, and as long as we have gravity we'll always have (3). I'd love to see more R&D go into these three sources, but unfortunately we have so far to go to get these sources to be economically and technologically viable that they might not become widespread in our lifetimes.
     
  13. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #14
    Actually it appears to be your problem. Your only justification for shooting animals seems to be that they're tasty or claim there's something wrong with people that question the ethics of what you do. The ball is again squarely in your court.

    Again, ensuring excess animals (whatever that means) that somehow require being shot on grounds of their own general well-being or the well-being of the environmental is not making the environment a priority. It's not ensuring a "healthy system". It's ensuring continuity of your pastime. A balanced environment is the last thing hunters want. To claim the environment is the priority is nothing more than greenwashing.

    This is just double talk though. The motivation of hunters in this regard is to kill animals. To make sure there is enough of the specific species they want to pursue. Not to ensure that the environment is a balanced and untouched ecosystem that can function on it's own. That's not an ecosystem. That's a theme park for hunters. Again it's greenwashing with the pretense that they care about what they're shooting and the environment it lives in. That's not to say they can't also care about the environment. But the two acts are in opposition.

    Which, if left to their own devices national parks don't require any animals to be shot as sport. The world is full of national parks that function just fine and do not require whatsoever letting people walk around picking off animals with weapons. The claim that animals need to be shot regularly by recreational hunters for the good of the species or the good of the natural ecosystem is completely laughable. How it ever gained traction in the US is beyond me.

    He was also a trophy hunter so my opinion of him in this regard is zero. That's even less ethically defensible that shooting for food. In fact I don't think it can be defended on any grounds....
     
  14. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #15
    Indeed, children are quite tasty.
     
  15. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #16
    And largely wind-powered....
     
  16. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    #17
    I did not know about thorium, and it's potential in generating power. A quick read on the web made it seem pretty attractive.

    Thanks rat - I learned something new today.

    Color me (tentatively) impressed.
     
  17. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #18
    And someone alluded to projectile a few posts back. ;)
     
  18. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #19
    blackfox, I violated today's precepts for expertise in arguments about nuclear power: In 1961 I signed up for two semesters of nuclear power reactor design. The prof had been in the Manhattan Project. I'd already had a semester of nuclear physics.

    Same sort of deal with guys like .Andy. I grew up farming and ranching, and spent four years brain-picking on wildlife biologists. Add in some 65 years of shooting and hunting and being an outdoorsman. He's trying to impose his moral views on the real world. Gaia's world is amoral. Not good, not bad; just there.

    I started paying attention to wind generators because of the visual pollution along I-8 at Palm Springs and at Altamont Pass. I then started learning of all the bird deaths from man-made "stickups" like radio and TV towers. Everytime you use a cellphone, think of the birds you killed. When you fire up your computer, think of the dead geese which hit a transmission line--whille somebody bad-mouths a hunter. :D

    To repeat, TANSTAAFL. It takes a bunch of strip mines to produce the copper and nickel for a Prius. It takes a bunch of oil and natural gas to have the plastics in our conveniences and necessities. And ya gotta stripmine a bunch of bauxite to have a wind generator.

    Then there's the energy balance. I only know the numbers for the awl bidness. On land, you put one unit of energy in for 100 units of energy retrieved as oil. Near-offshore, it falls to about 1:30. Deepwater offshore, it falls further; some say as low as 1:7 or 1:4. IOW, diminishing returns. PV? Wind? I don't yet know.

    'Rat
     
  19. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #20
    How many birds a year do you kill while driving along those rural Texan roads and US interstate highways, 'Rat? Multiply that by the number of vehicles in the US and your have unbelievable carnage on your hands. I'll bet those shiny oil skyscrapers in Houston probably kill more than a few as well. How many birds are killed around airports for safety purposes? How many people are killed because of bird strikes in airplane engines?

    Why aren't we pushing for electric high speed rail? You'd kill far fewer birds and for that matter, animals if there were fewer cars on the road. The single occupancy vehicle is the problem, not wind towers.
     
  20. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #21
    Come on 'Rat, where's all the zeal you had for life-cycle cost analysis and the horrible environmental effects of the waste products of the Prius? Where are your dire warnings about the environmental impacts of uranium mining and your hand-wringing over what to do with all that nasty waste?

    For some reason, those reservations vanish when the topic switches to nuclear power. But I'm sure that has nothing to do with ideology, now does it? :p
     
  21. Schtumple macrumors 601

    Schtumple

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    #22
    That's what I meant though, surely a few birds having to move a few miles over is better than the earth cremating itself...
     
  22. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #23
    Questioning the ethics of an activity is not imposing a moral viewpoint on anybody. Ad hominem attacks in lieu of a response just illustrate that you can't justify your actions intelligently. I wish I could say I expected more.

    I propose hunters are not allowed to carry firearms but instead are restricted to picking up birds killed by man-made objects erected to serve other purposes. There's apparently plenty to around. No one will be hungry.
     
  23. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #24
    A key strategy for developing energy independence will be wider small-scale renewable generation.

    PV, wind and geothermal systems installed by private homeowners will free up oil and gas for continued availability in applications where no practical alternatives exist for petroleum.

    The most successful and advanced civilizations in history are ones where energy was made abundant, whether from animals, slaves or fossil fuels. The Department of Energy is every bit as important to our welfare as is the Department of Defense.
     
  24. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #25
    Highly questionable assertion on so many grounds...
    I'd be a little circumspect about introducing that argument. :cool:
     

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