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Author Topic: Rabbit and Wind Power
Irami Osei-Frimpong
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Link

Is this a step in the right direction or is it a distraction?

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scifibum
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I can see where it describes how wind turbines generate power, but how do the rabbits fit in? Are they on treadmills? Or are they used as some kind of fuel?
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ketchupqueen
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*giggles* I know this was most likely intended to be addressed to The Rabbit or something, but that is exactly what I was thinking.
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Mucus
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rabbits would be an awesome biofuel
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Primal Curve
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
rabbits would be an awesome biofuel

And lucky to boot!
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King of Men
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[joke so ancient it can be used as evidence against a young Earth] Not for the rabbits! [/ancient joke]
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Lyrhawn
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In what way would it be a distraction?

I didn't see it in the article, but I've read other articles about Pickens' move and it seems his rather massive private investment in wind power will only come if Congress renews the production tax credit that is languishing in Congress at the moment, and is due to expire at the end of the year. If it does expire, billions in investment dollars will be lost, and tens of thousands of jobs as well.

There are some other hurdles to Pickens' plan too, mostly having to do with the actual construction of the fields. Wind power is hugely popular worldwide right now, which is leading to a shortage of parts to actually build the turbines and what not to make wind farms. GE is probably the biggest maker of wind turbines, and they're sold out already for the next three years, to the point where they've had to stop taking orders. That means we have to import the rest from Europe, primarily Spain and Germany. They're way ahead of us on production. Thanks to rising fuel prices and the falling dollar, that means we have to pay even more of a premium on those turbines to bring them here. American production is lagging far behind, and many are reluctant to invest millions in new factories when they aren't sure what Congress is going to do. Congressional torpor is really screwing up the whole system here.

Texas has either the largest or second largest amount of wind power generating capacity in the country currently. And they happen to be their own little power grid. I'm not sure of the history of why, but they aren't connected to the rest of the national power grid, so they create and use all their own power, which is coming increasingly from wind (though still a small overall percentage).

Pickens, like others though, I think is best viewed not as an oil man but as an energy man. A lot of these guys might have made a lot of their money in oil in the last 30 years, but they also see which way the wind is blowing, and they realize that there's money to be made in renewables so that's where they're going. The only thing significant about this deal is the name on it, and I guess maybe the size, but wind power deals are inked every couple days. This just happens to be one backed by a guy who made a lot of money in oil first.

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ElJay
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[random]

There's a company that makes the blades in Southern MN. I drove past it last week, and it's just crazy to see rows of these huge blades laying in the dirt waiting to be trucked out.

[/random]

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Lostinspace
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When I was a kid, my grandfather used rabbits in the greenhouse in the winter to heat the green house! Just thought I would tie in the rabbits for ya!
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Tstorm
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quote:

That means we have to import the rest from Europe, primarily Spain and Germany

The turbines for the field in my county are being built in Denmark. It's a pretty big company, though I'm not sure where they rank in production capacity compared to other companies. I'd say it's safe to say Denmark has more large turbine manufacturers than Spain or Germany. I'm not sure about smaller turbines. [Smile]
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Jhai
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I just started working as an analyst in wholesale power, so this is a fun new topic for me. I haven't been working much with wind power so far, but I have learned a bit. Main thing is that wind power is already becoming an issue in power markets here in the US, and increases in the number of turbines will not solve future power problems in the long run - in fact, they may lead to significant problems of another sort.

The problem with wind power is that its power is (obviously) variable, and they tend to produce the least power during the times when it's needed the most: peak hours, particularly from noon to 6 or 7 pm. So just when demand for power is the highest, wind "power plants" go offline. But during the off-peak hours - 11 pm to 7 am or so in most markets - wind can fulfill a significant portion of the power needs, which causes prices to drop like a rock (sine wind's operational cost is virutally nil).

But the price drop, while nice for consumers, hurts the bootom line of other sorts of power (coal, gas, nuclear, etc), which causes less development of those type of plants. Which means that capacity requirements during peak hours aren't being met, or possibly will not be met in the future. Or that there will be crazy swings in prices, which are generally not a good thing in economic markets.

One solution that's slowly being implemented is to use the energy produced during off-peak hours to pump water into position to be released during peak hours, creating hydropower. It's a very elegant way to "store" power, but hasn't been implemented widely yet, and the technology isn't quite there to make it anywhere close to efficient.

Lyrhawn, about 75% of Texas (everything but the northern bit and part of the area northeast of Houston) is considered the ERCOT region, which is one of the three major power regions in the US/Canada. The other two are just known as East & West (at least around the office). All three of these major regions historically developed seperately, and have slightly different trasmission systems. If you wanted to pull power from one region into another it has to be converted, which is quite expensive.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Tstorm:
quote:

That means we have to import the rest from Europe, primarily Spain and Germany

The turbines for the field in my county are being built in Denmark. It's a pretty big company, though I'm not sure where they rank in production capacity compared to other companies. I'd say it's safe to say Denmark has more large turbine manufacturers than Spain or Germany. I'm not sure about smaller turbines. [Smile]
Denmark has the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world in Vestas. After that there isn't a company in the top 10. Germany has three in the top 10, Spain has 2, and the United States has the number 2 spot with GE. In terms of actual wind power production Denmark is sixth in the world, though I think they're arguably first or second if you use a formula that ranks generation per capita.

Jhai -

Aren't there HVDC stations to facilitate power transfers through the regions?

There are several approaches being studied to turn wind and solar into 24 hour sources of energy. Geothermal, by the way, for anyone reading this, is a constant stream of energy, so for anyone doubting the ability of all renewables to provide load bearing power capacity, look up and study EGS. Anyway, they're looking at molten salt and compressed air as two other ways to store power. You use excess power to compress air and then let it back out to turn turbines on demand. As for the salt, it remains hot for hours after the sun stops shining, and the excess power can be used during night time offpeak hours. Another possible consideration is to use leftover hybrid batteries. This is sort of dependent on a switch over to LION batteries, or even something more futuristic like eestor supercapacitors. Batteries used for hybrids and soon for E-REVs and PHEVs are considered unusable when they reach a point where they can only provide 80% of capacity. But that's still a lot of capacity left. It's theorized that if a company were to buy up all these extra batteries, for what I imagine would be a very cheap price since all that would happen to them anyway is someone would have to pay to recycle them, they could all be used on concert to store and release vast sums of energy on demand to squeeze a few more years of life out them, and create an after market for batteries thereby making them cheaper to consumers in cars. The technology isn't quite there yet. But it's close.

Integration of the various national power grids is going to be essential as we move forward in coming up with new energy solutions. If you break down the dozen or so NERC regions separately, you find a wide disparity in excess offpeak generation between the different regions that might be hidden in just looking at the West or East halves. And for that matter the potential for renewables in these regions varies greatly too. Creating a seamless method of transfer of energy between these various regions is going to be a requirement. If the ERCOT has excess power and wants to sell it to the SPP region (a hypothetical, as I'm not sure of the actual transfer rates at the moment), they should be able to do it as efficiently as possible with little transmission loss. I thought this was already at least somewhat possible, as I thought there were HVDC transfer stations between the East, West and Texas.

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Jhai
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You can transfer power between regions - the question is whether it's worth the cost of doing so. Right now, it pretty much isn't, and so there isn't an infrastructure developed to transfer significant loads.

Revamping the regions' transmission systems to allow for a "seamless" transfer of power isn't going to happen anytime soon, either. That'd be crazy expensive and there's little incentive. There's also bureocratic issues, given the various different market setups in the different regions.

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Juxtapose
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quote:
Originally posted by Primal Curve:
quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
rabbits would be an awesome biofuel

And lucky to boot!
Don't forget renwable.
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aiua
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It's a well known fact that bunny energy will just keep going and going..
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scifibum
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I completely forgot about that. It makes total sense now.
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Tstorm
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quote:
Denmark has the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world in Vestas.
Yes, and they're building the largest land-based wind turbines available in the United States currently. [Smile]
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Lyrhawn
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Are they the ones testing the massive 7.5MW turbines? I knew it was a company in northern Europe, so that'd make sense.

I wonder though at one point the size becomes untenable using the current design.

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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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Rabbit, I think you were in Europe when I originally posted this. What do you think?
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The Rabbit
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I'm still in Europe, but now I'm at work in Münster with full internet access rather than bike touring along the med.

I really don't know the details for this particular proposal so I can only speak to the issue in general.

I was involved with a wind power project in the early 90s. We were developing new materials for wind turbine blades. Although I haven't worked in the area for nearly 10 years, I do still follow it quite closely.

Wind power is definitely a move in the right direction. Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands have a dedicated wind power effort that has been sustained over the past 30 years so the problems that arose with the early wind power efforts in the 70s (Altamont Pass for example) have been largely worked out. The new Turbines are quiet, efficient, reliable and in my opinion kind of pretty. They've even greatly reduced the problems with bird kills.

Wind power is economically competitive with new coal power right now, which says a lot since coal power receives some major tax subsidies that wind power does not. Of the renewable energy sources, wind power is the only one that is economically competitive right now. We should be definitely pumping money into this area and I'm glad to see private investors stepping up to promote the area.

I'm not big on the idea of using wind to replace natural gas generators so that the natural gas can be used in cars. I'd much rather see wind used to replace coal fired power, which would have a bigger impact on priority pollutants and greenhouse emissions. I'd prefer to see the natural gas saved for use in home heating since we don't currently have a good substitute for that area. Electric heating is highly inefficient and outrageously expensive unless you have subsidized power. Anything else would be either a big pollution problem or require a major change in buildings and infrastructure.

The part about shifting natural gas currently used in electricity generation for fueling automobiles could be considered something of a distraction. America needs to face the hard fact that SUV driving and long commutes are not sustainable. We must start a transition to greatly improved fuel efficiency combined with good mass transit and walkable/bike-able communities. We may be able to delay that transition for a while, but the longer we take to make it the more painful it will be.

Overall, natural gas vehicles aren't a bad idea. They have certain advantages over gasoline engines one of which is that engines last a lot longer. The energy used in making the vehicle accounts for over half the energy used over the lifetime of the vehicle so anything that increases the longevity of the car will result in a reduction in energy use and greenhouse emissions. Burning natural gas produces less CO2 per kcal than burning gasoline and I believe that particulate and VOC emissions are also less. I do seem to remember something about NG engines producing more NOX, but I'd have to look that one up to be sure.

Overall, I'd say its a step in the right direction. I wouldn't call it a distraction unless people start really hyping it as the reason to consider buying a new gas guzzler and think about moving 60 miles from where they work or a reason to oppose the latest mass transit proposal.

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