Saturday, November 26, 2016

Trumpzilla - Grief Central for Renewable Energy (at least for a while)….



As a country, America can often excel at things, though sometimes those things are nothing to be proud about. The impending disaster that is The Donald as President is one of those things not to write home about - a shameful event whose magnitude still has yet to dawn upon a lot of people. But most of them will eventually get it, and pay for it in lots of ways. Those responsible for this event - well, maybe they will persist in claiming it's not all that bad, or it could be worse, or something - after all, for many all they did is either not vote at all or merely cast a vote for this Potential Debacle on an epic scale. After all, so many thought he never had a chance to win, so this was their protest vote. And such a protest, though for many the ones doing the protest many find that it falls on deaf ears. Undoing the damage may not even be possible, especially if you fall in the bottom 90% of the income and wealth scales of America…

But seriously, if there were such a thing as  Godzilla, would you bring him to your town - say for the July 4 parade and fireworks - what could possibly go wrong?  How about to meet your mom or to impress your significant other? Oh, the fireworks! Barbecue anyone? And while the top image has some comic aspects to it, if there were such a beast such as ‘Zilla, seriously, the more distance you keep between it and you and all those you like and love, the better. After all, as the story goes, this beast got unleashed by firing off a nuclear bomb in just the wrong spot, and how could that possibly sound like a good thing to do? In the history of bad ideas, well, unleashing The Donald certainly rates high on the list…

But rather than key on so many aspects of this - which will get covered en masse while its still allowable to do such a thing, as there’s just a never-ending story to it all - let’s zoom in on one of Trumpzilla’s targets - wind turbines and wind sourced electricity.

The Donald and wind turbines do not seem to be copacetic. He hates the way they look, at least when they are near any of his golf courses. He is certain that they will depress the value of his golf course (what could be more important?) and that it will detract from the golfing experience for him and the patrons of his project located on the North Sea coastline near Aberdeen, Scotland. He’s got big plans for that place, and even though he lost every appeal, court case and legislative appeal to the Scottish Parliament (where he was thoroughly mocked and insulted because he would not shut up about it), he is STILL pushing on British politicians to stop the impending wind farm proposed for the waters next to his golf course. It seems that the North Sea is both shallow and amazingly windy (sounds like quite the challenge to play golf, especially for such a terrible golfer as The Donald), and a great place to put wind farms. The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC)  project - using 11 of the biggest turbines made to date in the world - is scheduled to be installed shortly between 1 to 3 km offshore by the socialist enterprise known as Vattenfall (the electric company owned by the government/people of Sweden). It’s actually an R & D demonstration project, and on the few days with visibility, wow are these hummers going to be visible. The turbines are MHI-Vestas V164 turbines with a rotor diameter of 538 feet and an top rotor maximum height of 773 feet (http://www.4coffshore.com/windfarms/aberdeen-offshore-wind-farm-(eowdc)-united-kingdom-uk47.html). Talk about giving The Donald the NY Bird “bigly” and 11 times at once! And for decades! For an image conscious guy, that’s got to be ever so hurtful. How to get revenge?

But then there is the case of Atlantic City, formerly home to 3 casinos owned by/developed by/operated by The Donald. It seems they actually have a smaller wind farm array located right on the coast (at the water treatment facility): 



But since people gambling in the casinos are not supposed to look OUT of the casinos (at least while gambling), evidently, no big deal. These 5 GE turbines were put in almost a decade ago, and are mostly used to power up the sewage facility, though on occasion their excess electricity used to help power up those gambling palaces/money extraction zones for dopamine junkies. And while there may have been complaints, by the time these were installed The Donald had gone bankrupt on the Atlantic City facilities more than once. The last of these recently shut down, throwing lots of people out of work (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/10/10/trump-taj-mahal-closes-after-years-losses/91845566/). But The Donald has been forced out of that scene for some time, though not without some serious money extraction from casino investors, the State of New Jersey and many more, as well as tax avoidance possibilities worth nearly a $916 million that has been spread out over a generation…

So, wind turbines in Atlantic City - OK. Wind turbines xext to The Donald’s dream golf course in a place with some of the worst weather, on average, to golf in - very bad. But since we are in the Post Truth Era (PTE), it only depends on what the whim of The Donald is at any given time and place. Be flexible, as flexible as is the concept of PTE, and it won’t trouble you possibly worried mind….

The EOWDC is stated to cost close to 300 million Pounds, or roughly $US 500 million. It’s been close to a decade in the making, and it will be used to demonstrate cost saving design, construction and operation techniques for mega-turbines. Scotland intends to be fully powered as far as electricity goes with renewable energy energy by 2020 (they are close, using hydropower, onshore and offshore wind turbines). No nukes, no coal power and no methane energy sourcing for their electricity. In fact, they want to earn a nice income from sales of offshore wind sourced electricity (possibly waves and tidal, too) to England and Northern Europe. The deployment of these offshore project will serve as employment for those now servicing the offshore oil and gas industry in Scotland, especially a useful concept since the oil and gas fields are rapidly depleting. It seems like a perfect match - awesome wind resource, a highly skilled workforce, a huge market for renewable electricity in Europe, energy storage in Norway interconnected via HVDC lines. And the golf-business-tourism fantasies of The Donald never have and never will be able to interfere with that future, even if he manages to assume the Presidency in 2016, as scheduled.

As part of the 2016 campaigning for the Title of President, The Donald pandered relentlessly to some, and insulted many others. Some “panderees” (those pandered to) included the still or ex-coal mining dependent regions of Appalachia - Pa, Ohio, WV, Ky, Tenn, Va - which ended up giving him many electoral votes. It does not matter that the reasons for the demise of employment in the coal biz in that region - depletion, mountain top removal, the destruction of unions and the below the cost of production of fracking sourced methane in the Marcellus and Utica shale zones - mean that coal will become more and more irrelevant as an economic engine for the region. Scapegoating is a skill perfected by The Donald, and it was those darn environmental regulations such as the Clean Sky Initiative - those are to blame. And competition to the use of coal to make electricity from old or nuke nukes and methane fired generation facilities - that’s not a problem (in a non-PTE world, it IS the problem for coal usage, but we’ve now departed from that world…). Wind turbines are also a problem, as they use up the available market for electricity. Wind turbines will be supplying close to 5.5% of the US electricity at the end of 2016 (http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=28512), and probably over 6% by the end of 2017. And since not even old nukes can compete with the marginal production cost of wind turbines once they are installed… each wind turbine installed means either less fracking methane and/or coal gets used for electricity.

Of course, when or if the people in Appalachia ever get their senses back from whatever voodoo The Donald has induced in so many of them, they will realize that once again, they have been had. There will be no recovery in the US eastern coal market, where prices are now in the $40/ton range, and which has to compete with strip mined lignite from Wyoming/Montana/Colorado/NorthDakota that goes for $9/ton. The biggest 3 coal companies in the US are now operating under bankruptcy protection, and they seem unlikely to make any money mining coal to make electricity (for steel production, maybe its a money maker). But then neither is the fracking for methane biz in that region - prices are often in the $0.50 to $2/MBtu range, and nobody is making much (if any) money at such prices. And this region supplied close to 1/3 of US methane last year. Meanwhile, there is more and more midwest wind, and Canadian wind. And there is energy efficiency - the goal of replacing the incandescent lightbulb with either CFL or LEDs is almost complete. That alone has shaved 2% off of US electricity demand. Smaller computers, LCD displays and iPads now means that electricity needed for home and office computing has drastically shrunk, so there goes THAT market, too. As for the big server centers (which is a growing market for electricity), more and more of these are seeking long term (20 years or more) contracts (Power Purchase Agreements) at stable, predictable prices. And that just cannot be had using coal, nukes or methane, as nobody knows what long term methane prices will be other than much higher. Wind turbines are the safe bet for those, too.

But there are other aspects to The Donald and the coalition that brought him to power. Another acronym for Republicans is GOP - Gas and Oil Party - and they seriously need higher prices NOW for both methane and crude oil. Upstart competition like wind turbines shrinks the potential demand for fracking based methane (now the majority of methane extracted in America), and that keeps prices low. Since drilling and production contracts/financing deals for methane and oil forbid throttling back production when prices suck, all that can be done is to steal market share from someone else - in this case from coal burners and nukes. But when prices finally do rise when demand exceeds supply for methane (and when a lot of coal burners and nukes have shut down, forever), coal prices will also rise and some increasing use of coal is expected. But most likely it will be stuff shipped in from the strip-mines in the west, the $9/ton stuff. That is, if the coal extractors for Appalachia have not mostly been shut down, forever, by then. After all, bankrupt coal companies can only go so long without a profit before the banks and bondholders finally pull the plug.

So the future for wind turbines may be to experience a “delay of game” for a couple of years. But subsidies for the industry end by 2022, and largely by 2020, with the phase out beginning by the end of 2018. And will Republicans and The Donald do massive subsidies to Appalachia coal extractors (and tax credits and depreciation don’t cut it if there are no profits to avoid via credits and depreciation)? Doubtful - coal sales for the US are only $25 billion, and less than $15 billion for the east of the Mississippi River stuff and again, just losses, no profits. Meanwhile, Low Wind Speed Turbines have become amazingly efficient at tapping the Great Plains winds at amazingly low costs per delivered MW-hr. Once methane prices rise (a result of little new drilling/fracking and rapid depletion of shale gas wells and ever poorer resources to tap), UNSUBSIDIZED wind turbines will actually be the lower cost option for electricity. And by 2018/2020, well, that’s a long time away, assuming democracy is even possible at that point. So those longing for a coal revival in Appalachia, as well as a fracked methane one will once again get The Shaft. That’s the other aspect of The Donald, perhaps his One True Essence, as if you’re not rich, you’re nobody, especially after the votes have been cast. A grifter’s gotta grift, and after a lifetime of doing that and screwing people/investors/governments out of at least $3 billion with zip to show for it, is The Donald going to wake up and See The Light? Seriously, in the Heart of Darkness that is his meager mind with respect to anything that is not marketing and looking for the next mark?

You might have better luck at bringing Godzilla to the wedding reception. At least that will have a quick end….

Last images to remember The Donald by… These are of the MHI-Vestas Burbo extension (near Liverpool) V164 turbines; there will be 32 of them eventually installed, and some are now making electricity. And Trumpzilla will not be happy at what these are foretelling...., but unlike that Personality Disorder posing as a humanoid, most people find this project a step in the right direction. And they sure do look cool...





Monday, May 30, 2016

Some Wind Energy News & Views - May 2016


from http://www.windkraft-journal.de/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/E_101_ENERCON-254x300.jpg

At the end of 2015, the wind energy industry was finally given a 5 year incentive package in return for a rather meaningless gift to the oil and methane industry - the ability to export US made crude oil. Since the US still imports 9 million bbls/day from Mexico, Canada, South America and East Africa (plus a bit from the Middle East), one would think this is really dumb, but the thinking behind the oil industry is that not all oil has the same quality. Thanks to fracking, the US produces too much “lites” - too much propane, butane, pentane, hexane and octane, not enough of the “diesel cuts” - so we could export our crude to countries needing such materials while we continue to import crude rich in “middle distillates. But thanks to the Saudi Arabian induced collapse in oil prices (designed to bankrupt US fracking based oil producers as well as Canadian Tar Sand Sludge producers), this is a pyrrhic “victory” to US oil and methane producers. And with US oil and methane production now dropping because the businesses in the fracking biz are going bankrupt/no longer drilling (engaging in capital investments because their expenses exceed their income), oil exports of crude from the US just keep getting less and less likely. Oops…

Meanwhile, the Production Tax Credit (PTC) was extended for 5 years, but with a “phase-out” arrangement. The value of the PTC will start falling at the end of 2016 and go away completely by 2019 (http://programs.dsireusa.org/system/program/detail/734). Projects have to “commence construction” by the end of 2016 to get the full 2.3 c/kw-hr subsidy, and it drops in a regular manner after that:

- by 20% (to 1.84 c/kw-hr) for projects commencing construction by the end of 2017
- by 40% (to 1.38 c/kw-hr) for projects commencing construction by the end of 2018
- by 20% (to 0.92 c/kw-hr) for projects commencing construction by the end of 2019

Of course, wind turbine owners still get the full MACRS tax deduction, which almost always was worth more that the PTC, anyway, and the MACRS is much easier to utilize.

In theory, this is a disaster for the US wind turbine biz, but in actual fact, not likely to be that at all. Thanks to the development of Low Wind Speed Turbines (now THE dominant type being installed in this country, even in high wind energy resource zones), the delivered cost of electricity from wind has dropped by roughly 20% to 60%. And thanks to the end of almost ALL fracking based drilling for methane (prices are now too low to justify the $10 million per well investment, especially in the Marcellus Shale region), methane production rates are already declining. On 5-25-16, methane was selling for $1.48/MBtu at the Pa-NY border, and $1.56/MBtu in NY City. And since it costs roughly $6/MBtu for most fracking gas wells to “break even” - well, that is some bad math indeed. See http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/prices.cfm.

Fracking and new wind turbine farm installations both run on credit. When it is perceived (based on lots of empirical evidence) that frackers are horrid credit risks, they won;’t get as much money for loans or via bonds and what money is forthcoming comes at higher rates. Bonds used to finance fracking are now relegated to junk status or lower, and interest rates/yields of much greater than 10%/yr are now needed. And with prices in the pits, money costs now in loan shark territory, that means that is not a good business to be in right now. There are only 85 gas drilling rigs active in the entire country at the present time - less than 5% of the all time high point 8 years ago. And as can be seen in the monthly dry gas shale figure for May of 2016, ALL fracking fields are now on a downward production trend. Especially the biggest of them all, the Marcellus. But, the oil and gas biz is not a charity….

So, a fracking gas well produces roughly 90% of its methane in the initial 5 years. unless drilling rates increase dramatically, the SU fracking based methane production rate could EASILY drop for the present 43 billion cod to less than half of that. And a lot of methane also gets produced as “associated gas” - a by-product of oil production. http://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/weekly/#tabs-rigs-2. As oil fracking drilling also spirals downwards in activity, that methane production will also drop. And then methane prices will rise, a result of decreasing supply and more or less constant demand. And when methane prices rise so does the cost of making electricity from methane. All this is going to make wind turbines a very smart investment in 2018-2020. Rising methane prices will mean drastic profit potential for those with the ability to deliver electricity that does not involve methane usage. And since no new coal plants or nukes (aside from 2 in Georgia, the likely last of their kind) are in the works, well, for those pursuing money, this looks like good times ahead for those who have operating wind turbines. Especially in NY State, where Casino pricing rules and long term Power Purchase Agreements seem to be almost impossible to get. Of course, if you are a consumer, prepare for a major fleecing, but then electricity consumers are not exactly on the top of the proverbial food chain.

That 2.3 c/kw-hr tax credit (minus financing costs and legal work, which are not insignificant) is no longer going to be that important when gas prices spike due to decreasing supplies (via no new investments in drilling) and a more or less constant demand, causing electricity prices to spike. In fact, the 2.3 c/kw-hr is likely to be lost in the noise.

Anyway, the US and many other countries are now in a wind turbine “boom” era, which is likely to continue for many years. Employment in the US wind biz, according to AWEA, is now 88,000. It looks like at lest 10 GW per year of new installs is likely for the next 5 years. See http://www.awea.org/Resources/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=5059 for the trend. Average production in February of 2016 was ~ 32 GW and average capacity utilization of the 48,000 operating wind turbines was around 40% (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_the_United_States). Of course, February tends to be a windy month, though thanks to El Nino weather, not so good this year. Average wind production was 21.8 GW for all of 2015, or roughly 5% of US electricity consumption. By 2020, close to 9% of US electricity consumption is likely to be wind turbine based.

As far as NY goes, we seem to have been by-passed by this wind boom. Thanks to the Marcellus Shale, NY has some of the cheapest electricity in the country, so why bother with new generation?There are still several wind farms that got their RPS subsidy from NYSERDA in 2013 (Black Oak, Cody Road) and especially 2014 that have yet to be installed, despite the 3.5 to 2.2 c/kw-hr NYSERDA subsidy that goes on top of the PTC and MACRS subsidies. Of note is the Arkwright wind farm proposed for Chautauqua County (36 x Vestas V110 turbines) and the Jericho Rise one in Franklin County (37 x G114 Gamesa). Both are slated for installation by 2017 (commencing in 2016, of course) and both use LWST units of ~ 2 MW capacity. These units are amount the best at extracting electricity from low to moderate winds. Both are being developed by EDPR (Portugal, ex-Horizon Wind), and both should be quite profitable given trends in the methane biz in the US. See https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Main-Tier/Main-Tier-Solicitations and https://www.edprnorthamerica.com/farms/regulatory-permitting-information

Closer to WNY, THE happening project of note is actually not in NY but in Ontario - The Niagara Region Wind Farm is now being installed. This is a 230 MW project owned by Enercon and it will use 77 E-101 Enercon turbines installed on 125 to 135 meter tall concrete towers. The project will be located between Port Maitland and Grimsby, and it will straddle the Niagara escarpment/region of Ontario. This project was facilitated by the Green Energy Act/FIT, and it also involves actual local content. The electronic module and concrete tower sections are being made in new factories built for this project; blades will probably come from Quebec. These 3 MW turbines may be visible from Buffalo (land height plus 135 meter tower plus 50.5 meter blade radius. This means that the tips of the blades will be 608 feet above the ground at their highest point. See http://www.nrwf.ca/project/


On the image, note the placement of cell phone antennae (2 sets) on the tower. Those are situated ~ 200 feet above the ground. So here is a situation where ugly cell phone towers get replaced by a 135 meter concrete tower where they hardly get noticed at all. Will wonders ever cease? Image from http://www.windkraft-journal.de/2014/06/27/hamburger-beteiligungsgesellschaft-cee-setzt-den-ausbau-ihres-windkraft-portfolios-fort/54093

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Reach for the Heights to Do It Right


A picture from 2011 of a Senvion LWST from a few years ago (a 3.4 MW rated unit with a mere 104 meter rotor diameter placed on a128 meter tall tower) - https://elsa.senvion.com/anon/public_folder. It makes the high voltage/high power transmission tower look small by comparison, and that is probably at leaf 160 feet (50 meters) above the ground…. This company just came out with a 3.4 MW unit with a 140 rotor diameter x 3.4 MW unit, in theory able to tap 81% more air moving through it’s swept rotor area (https://www.senvion.com/global/en/wind-energy-solutions/wind-turbines/3xm/34m140-ebc/) than the 104 meter model. That’s some serious cost of electricity production reduction…. However, based on similar scale ups, only 2/3 of this is likely to be realized, which is still a 54% increase in energy output for an identical wind resource.

Over the last couple of years, Low Wind Speed Turbines have now become THE dominant form of new wind turbines that are being sold, especially outside of China (but even in China they are becoming a big factor in the wind biz). Those installing turbines have done the rather simple math surrounding these - for essentially the same installation costs and cost of the turbine, a LWST versus a “medium” or a “high speed” turbine is a better bargain. For essentially the same price/cost, a LWST makes more electricity over the course of a year. This makes the cost to generate the electricity less. And if the cost of the product (electricity from those wind turbines) is more or less fixed and the cost to make it drops, well, that’s certainly better than the situation where the cost is rising and the price stays the same or the cost is constant and the price is dropping. 

For example, consider the 3.4M140 (2015) and the  3.4M104 (2011) turbines. The main difference is that the older unit has a rotor blade that is 50.5 meters long (~ 166 feet) while the new one is is 68 meters long (about 225 feet). Since the mass of these is more or less proportional to the 2.4 power of the length, the new blade weighs about twice as much as the older, smaller one (probably less, as some tricks of the trade have been learned in how to make these blades). If the labor to make these blades is roughly the same as for the smaller ones, but the mass is about twice as much, the cost to make that blade is mostly the cost of epoxy resin and fiberglass cloth. 

An estimation of the cost breakdown for a turbine can be seen in this graph (from 2012):



Using a turbine like the 3.4M104 (a bit ahead of its time in 2011), the blades constituted about 20% of the total cost. The new, seriously more humongous turbine would be more costly to make, mostly as a result of having blades weighing around 30 tons each and not 15 tons. This means that the longer bladed turbine would cost about 20% more than the smaller turbine, and that the blades are now about 33% of the cost of the turbine. But, a 20% increase in cost to get potentially an 54% increase in potential energy output. That’s not too shabby…

Another aspect of these longer blade turbines is that a lot more land deemed windy enough now exists. For example, instead of searching wide and far for the windiest spot of land, the places to search for reasonably windy lands near electrical transmission lines. A recent study by the US Dept of Energy shows the amazing increase in land area that is made viable for wind energy via LWST in combination with taller towers… The “possible” windy area jumps from 1.2 million km^2 to 2.7 million km^2 (110 meter tall towers) to 4.2 million km^2, an increase of 225% to up to 350% at a 40% gross capacity factor.




Going to a large rotor diameter almost necessitates taller towers. For example, putting a 70 meter radius blade on an 80 meter tower would mean that the blade at the low point (10 meters above the ground) in its rotation is getting very little energy to tap while at its high point (150 meters above the ground) a lot of wind pressure would push on the end of the blade. The blade would begin to wobble and set up a horrendous vibration - pushed hard at the top and hardly at all at the bottom. It would be far better to have the blade experience at least decent wind speeds for most of its rotation. With a 130 meter tower, the minimum distance to the ground would be 60 meters, while at the top it would be 200 meters (656 ft above the ground),

The wind resource at a given spot is usually evaluated at the center point of the rotor - also called the hub height. For an area with trees and/or some hills/buildings, hub height matters a great deal. This is because there is a logarithmic relationship between the height and the wind speed. For regions characterized by a surface roughness of 1 meter (very typical for NY State), here is a table relating average wind speed to hub height, as well as the cube of the ratio of wind speeds relative to speeds at an 80 and also 100 meter heights.

Hub Height Wind Speed Ratio, WS cubed

  80 meters 6.00 m/s 1.00 0.86
100 meters 6.31 m/s 1.16 1.00
120 meters 6.55 m/s 1.30 1.12
130 meters 6.66 m/s 1.37 1.18
140 meters 6.77 m/s 1.43 1.23
150 meters 6.86 m/s 1.49 1.28

Tall towers really go good with large bladed wind turbines. They also go good with local manufacture of the “extra boost” portions of these towers, because most of these are made of reinforced concrete sections that are easily transported on trucks, but due to the weight and their ease of manufacture, making these local makes sense. It turns out that steel is just too flexible - even when 1” thick - when it is in the form of a turbo with a base diameter of around 145 feet (~ 4.2 meters), which is as large as can be transported and still fit under bridges that cross over a highway. At present, the nearest concrete tower plants are in Welland, Ontario and in Quebec (to make towers for Enercon turbines), but these are easy to set up. It’s just that the US has not caught up with what has been common in Europe for more than a decade. But hey, better late than never….

BTW, at 6 m/s the likes of a LWST can put out 35% of its capacity on an average basis - see page 8 of http://nozebra.ipapercms.dk/Vestas/Communication/Productbrochure/2MWbrochure/2MWProductBrochure/. A 6500 MW-hr/yr output is 37% of the rated capacity of a 2 MW unit (100% would be 17532 WM-hr/yr), and that's at a 6 m/s hub height wind speed. Not bad...

These days, LWST are now being used in faster wind locations, too, pushing net yields towards the 50% level and higher. As a result of more electricity made for a slightly larger investment, the costs of electricity production form these newer turbines has dropped very dramatically. After all, the bulk of the cost goes like this:

Cost = Capital Cost * Fixed Charge Factor/(Energy made per year) + O&M

Cranking out more annual energy production makes it less expensive to generate electricity.

For example, let’s say the installed capital cost for a 2 MW turbine is $5 million, and the Fixed Charge Factor is 8%/yr but the net output is 40% and the O&M cost is $10/MW-hr. The cost to make this electricity would be $67/MW-hr. But if that turbine used a taller tower to get to a 50% net output (but it cost an additional $500,000), the cost to make that electricity drops to $60/MW-hr.

In the US, most wind turbines are placed on 80 meter tall steel towers, though in some cases towers in the range of 95 to 100 meters are used. That is the limit of how large conventional steel towers can be, because taller towers require a larger base diameter, and a larger base diameter cannot be transported over roads due to the height of overpasses. Towers taller than 100 meters will have to use some other arrangement.

An easy solution is to place a conventional 80 meter tower on a “non-conventional base” - such as one made of multiple steel panels that can be bolted together, or concrete sections. For example, Vestas now has their “Large Diameter Steel Tower” (LDST) system that allows heights of 119 to 137 meter towers to be utilized. But there are a number of ways to make a usable tall tower for a wind turbine. The trick is to do it at a low cost. After all, the turbine owners are expected to make a profit, and this is still a cut-throat business when methane is being sold for less than the cost to make it.

Anyway, the really tall turbines are not needed everywhere - the usual indication is either the presence of trees or hills or both. But in much of the parts of the world where a lot of people live and where it’s not a desert - such as the eastern part of the US - that applies. It also applies when wind speeds are not that great, and especially where there is a hefty wind shear due to a rough surface (especially because of trees!). In fact, there’s the best rule of thumb - if there are trees present, tall turbines (120 meters and taller) are in order. It’s just what you do in this century, especially if you want to forestall Global Warming or at least make a valiant attempt at living without pollution sourced electricity.

So, for much of the US - here’s a map to ponder. With this, the quest as to how to power up America - at least the electricity portion - with renewable non-pollution based electricity - is done, except for some true believers for whom fax don’t mean much at all. The answer was to how to do it fastest and at the lowest cost is via wind turbines. It would take $2.5 trillion worth (maybe less) to do it, and a decade or less if we just bother to do it And for buffering/short term storage, these turbines mesh nicely with pumped and deferred hydroelectric storage. But then some people want to research this subject to death, while others just want no solution to come about (even though it has). Oh well, read it and weep. Or maybe read it and weep because our country shows no indication of bothering to choose this path - we just won’t be allowed to choose this approach of Low Wind Speed Turbines on Tall Towers.

Oh well, on to Paris 2015 for the Climate Talks, all talk and so little action….




Map from http://apps2.eere.energy.gov/wind/windexchange/windmaps/resource_potential.asp which shows the land area of the US with a 35 % gross capacity factor or better that can be tapped for LWST on 140 meter towers (lower for fast wind areas). Cool, eh?

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