Wind Turbine: Alternative Energy Flop

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by PoliticalChic, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    In its October 2011 issue, Consumer Reports reviews wind turbines as an alternative energy option.

    1. CR tested Honeywell WT6500 Wind Turbine. The $11,000 unit was installed at the Yonkers, NY headquarters. Even before rebates, the unit is less expensive than many wind systems. It’s warranted for five years, and can be ordered through True Values.

    2. Another factor in selection, it’s among the few systems that can be mounted on a roof, and is low-noise rated. This should involve an analysis of the roof’s structure, as the system is over 440 pounds. And, may require a waiver from the zoning board.

    3. WindTronics, which makes the system, says it can deliver 18 to 23 percent of an average home’s annual electricity needs. Based on this, it should pay for itself in about six years, based on a) the energy created in your area, b)the 30% federal tax credit, and c) thousands in state rebates.

    4. Sadly, we have yet to see the power the company says we should expect- even after sever visits from the tech. At the current rate (no pun intended), the Honeywell wouldn’t pay for itself over the expected 20 years of its life.

    5. WindTronics claims 2,000 kWh per year at class 3 winds, which the federal government defines as 11.5 to 12.5 mph. But windknowledge.com showed an output of just 1,155 kWh per year at the 12 mph average it predicted for our area.

    a. This is only about 10% of the 11,000 kWh per year for the average home- not the 18%- 23% WindTronics asserts!

    b. And, while WindTronics calculator gives a ‘good’ rating for the 12 mph speeds it predicts in our zipcode, that is at a height of 164 feet, not the 33 foot roof height Honeywell calls for.

    c. And, a New York government map lists average wind speed for our area below 10 mph, not 12.

    d. Hills, trees, other obstructions will give an even lower wind speed.


    6. Want to guess why CR sub-titles the article “…new wind turbine delivers little” ?
     
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  2. Photonic
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    Photonic Ad astra!

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    It's actually VERY much based on where you live.

    My friend recently payed $9k for a solar energy portable system that generates 2kW, since we live in Santa Monica, California, with 95% of the days being sunny, it will pay for itself VERY quickly.

    Alternative energy works, but it only works in the areas it's designed for.
     
  3. Dr.Traveler
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    Dr.Traveler Mathematician

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    This. Back in the late 80's when I was in middle school, the local art teacher famously had a windmill that generated 105% of the energy she needed for her home. For the curious, if you generated more energy than your home used, it was the law that the local utility company had to buy your excess energy. That meant she had a nice side income off her 80's tech windmill.

    So it can work, but not everywhere. The same is true for all kinds of alternative energy sources, which is why they're so slow replacing our current energy needs. It's a very patchwork solution. Where it works, it works well. Where it doesn't, it flops horribly.

    For the record: This is why I'm very very very much pro-Nuclear. That's the closest thing we have to blanket solution. Yeah, Nuclear plants can have problems, but so can oil refineries and Coal burning power plants. Every technology has risk.
     
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  4. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    One must wonder, then, why the greatest use for solar in this nation is to heat swimming pools...

    Based on US Department of Energy, sources of energy used in the US:
    39.2% petroleum, 23.3% natural gas, 22.4% coal, 8.3% nuclear, 3.6% biomass, 2.4% hydroelectric, 0.35% geothermal, 0.31% wind, 0.08% solar.
     
  5. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    Two probs...

    1. we import most of our uranium, much from Russia

    2. nuclear energy is supported by huge subsidies.
     
  6. flacaltenn
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    flacaltenn USMB Mod Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    DrTraveler::

    Even happy anecdotes like this miss the point that even if that teacher AVERAGED 105% of home needs with a wind turbine -- that home was NOT 100% powered from wind.

    Even the best sited, best engineered wind farms have periods of multiple days below 10% of ratings. During those days -- and for 20minutes every 5th hour -- that home was powered by "something else".

    The more concise statement is -- the teachers' home electricity was FINANCED by wind power..
     
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  7. flacaltenn
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    flacaltenn USMB Mod Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I don't know for sure -- but I'll wager that we import it because it's more expensive to get permitting and do the mining operations here in the US -- than it is to buy it from Russia.
     
  8. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    Red Tape: 90% of our GDP.
     
  9. flacaltenn
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    flacaltenn USMB Mod Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Politicalchick::

    Red Tape: America's last great product..
     
  10. Dr.Traveler
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    Dr.Traveler Mathematician

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    Both true, but the 2nd one is especially sad because most of the energy infrastructure in the USA is supported by subsidies. No one is building anything, Coal Plants, Oil Refineries, etc, without some form of money from the Feds.
     

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