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Study Suggests Generating Capacity of Wind Farms At Large Scales Overestimated

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the battery-half-empty dept.

Earth 209

First time accepted submitter AchilleTalon writes "Research by Harvard professor David Keith suggests that the global capacity for energy generation from wind power has been overestimated, and that geophysical / climate effects of turbines will reduce the benefits of large-scale power installations. 'People have often thought there's no upper bound for wind power—that it's one of the most scalable power sources," he says. After all, gusts and breezes don't seem likely to 'run out' on a global scale in the way oil wells might run dry. Yet the latest research suggests that the generating capacity has been overestimated."

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Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusations (0, Flamebait)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#43008441)

A lot of these "hippie favorite" power sources are being crazy overrated of late. People have just stopped talking about it because they're tired of getting shouted down by the naive hippies and their allies who will not brook even the mildest criticism of their unrealistic dreams of a world where everything is powered by wind and solar alone. Dare to stand up an any environmental impact meeting and point out that the physics of many of these technologies just aren't there and that you have to factor in manufacturing costs and impacts, and pretty soon you've got some trust-fund asshole in dreadlocks screaming that you must be a plant from Big Oil.

Some lessons are just best learned the hard way. I just wish they could be learned without wasting my tax dollars on more unrealistic schemes that are going to amount to little, if anything, useful in the end. I'd rather see at least some tax money going to tested technology, like nuclear, that really DOES have great unrealized potential.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#43008557)

Oh, you have to put words in other people's mouths and deride them as "naive hippies" before they can talk? I'm sure you win all your arguments.

You should try reading the whole article next time. All the way down to the last sentence:

"Wind power is in a middle ground," he says. "It is still one of the most scalable renewables, but our research suggests that we will need to pay attention to its limits and climatic impacts if we try to scale it beyond a few terawatts."

Sounds like Keith is recommending we invest a few terawatts worth into wind and that it's still one of the best renewable options out there. But your knee jerk response didn't give you the time to read the article much less his actual research.

Dare to stand up an any environmental impact meeting and point out that the physics of many of these technologies just aren't there and that you have to factor in manufacturing costs and impacts, and pretty soon you've got some trust-fund asshole in dreadlocks screaming that you must be a plant from Big Oil.

[citation needed] Seriously, tell me where this happens. Your ad hominems and strawmen are really getting old around here, crazyjj.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 2 years ago | (#43008653)

our research suggests that we will need to pay attention to its limits and climatic impacts if we try to scale it beyond a few terawatts."

OK then, no problem, since all US production is 1.1TW. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43008665)

our research suggests that we will need to pay attention to its limits and climatic impacts if we try to scale it beyond a few terawatts."

OK then, no problem, since all US production is 1.1TW. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

Jesus Christ, it's one of those trust-fund dreadlocked naive unrealistic shouting asshole hippies that crazyjj warned us about! (all actual words he just used to describe his opponents whom he has no proof exist)

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43008931)

our research suggests that we will need to pay attention to its limits and climatic impacts if we try to scale it beyond a few terawatts."

OK then, no problem, since all US production is 1.1TW.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

So the rest of the world doesn't exist? He meant a few TW for the entire world. Wind turbines will have a major impact on climate change. You cannot take energy of of the air without having any impact on weather or climate patterns.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009009)

If you take latent heat out of the air, where does it go?

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (4, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#43009605)

You cannot take energy of of the air without having any impact on weather or climate patterns.

Sure... just like you can't use Niagra Falls to run turbines without having a major effect on the.... oh, no... wait.

You see, although you're technically right... you can't take energy out of a system without affecting it, the scale at which we could ever even *HOPE* to usefully harness power from such a system compared to the scale of actual net power available in the whole system is naught but insignificant. To be fair you might appear to some very local effects on things like temperature, wind direction, etc, but then so do things like towns or cities with any large or particularly tall buildings. Ultimately, most of the phenomena that has any real impact on climate in our atmosphere happens at *FAR* higher altitudes than any wind farm blades will reach.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#43010461)

Taking energy out of what system? You aren't taking energy out of the atmosphere in any meaningful quantity. There might be local effects but that's it.

Reminder:
Sun = 174,000 terawatts. All we need is about 15 of that.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (0)

flyneye (84093) | about 2 years ago | (#43010301)

You mean " THE SKY IS FALLING, THE SKY IS FALLING!!" ?
Sorry man, your warning was pre-empted by poultry.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (2)

Jerry Atrick (2461566) | about 2 years ago | (#43010407)

...if one effect of warming is increased wind speeds and storm conditions, I'd quite like turbines to suck some of that out of the atmosphere.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (1)

rujholla (823296) | about 2 years ago | (#43009801)

problem is in the article they are talking about scaling beyond a few terawatts world wide.

A planet full of windfarms could power half the US (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 2 years ago | (#43009915)

From your wikipedia link: "Primary energy use in the United States was 25,155 TWh In 2009"

At 8,760 hours per year, that's 2.85 TW AVERAGE, about 5TW peak. So covering the entire planet with nothing but wind farms could power half of the US. The claim is that we could have windmills powering electric cars. Not on this earth, the math just doesn't work.

Re:A planet full of windfarms could power half the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43010161)

So...1 watt per sq. meter, where surface area of the earth: 510 x 10^12 = 500 TW.
Nice but not enough. And then, we are only 29% land.

Re:A planet full of windfarms could power half the (3, Informative)

spitzak (4019) | about 2 years ago | (#43010369)

Huh? The article says 'If we were to cover the entire Earth with wind farms, he notes, "the system could potentially generate enormous amounts of power, well in excess of 100 terawatts"'.

Re:A planet full of windfarms could power half the (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 2 years ago | (#43010495)

From your wikipedia link: "Primary energy use in the United States was 25,155 TWh In 2009"

energy != electricity. please read again. obviously electricity is the right baseline here, since wind farms produce electricity not gasoline.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (1)

SillyHamster (538384) | about 2 years ago | (#43008805)

"Wind power is in a middle ground," he says. "It is still one of the most scalable renewables, but our research suggests that we will need to pay attention to its limits and climatic impacts if we try to scale it beyond a few terawatts."

Sounds like Keith is recommending we invest a few terawatts worth into wind and that it's still one of the best renewable options out there. But your knee jerk response didn't give you the time to read the article much less his actual research.

No, Keith's suggesting that serious research needs to be done to scale wind beyond that point.

"The idea is feasible" is different than "we should execute the idea".

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (2, Insightful)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | about 2 years ago | (#43008633)

Attempting to Build a nuclear plant has large upfront costs, takes 20 years, and often results in a half-way cancelled project. By the time a plant could be built, and become operational, other forms of energy such as solar will have since grown cheaper than the cost electricity from the new nuclear plant

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (2, Interesting)

Cassini2 (956052) | about 2 years ago | (#43008731)

People have been predicting cheap energy for longer than I can remember. Energy is going to get more expensive, not less.

The renewables (solar, wind) have fundamental reliability issues. They require an energy storage system, and that energy storage system is expensive.

Nuclear is expensive too, but for different reasons.

Oil and coal will likely stay the cheapest energy storage source for a long time to come. In part, because the concrete and steel to make the nuclear plants and the chemicals to make the solar cells come from heavily energy based sources that use oil and/or coal.

Realistically, investing in different conservation schemes gets way better payback than some renewable energy approaches. It doesn't take much computation to show that switching from always-on incandescent to motion-activated LED light bulbs yields a better return on investment than purchasing solar cells. As gas prices rise and climate change issues increase, North America will simply have to get better at conservation.

Cheap Solar (4, Informative)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | about 2 years ago | (#43009113)

http://news.discovery.com/tech/alternative-power-sources/solar-power-to-beat-coal-prices-in-new-mexico-130205.htm [discovery.com]

The cheap clean energy is here, and it's getting cheaper. The price of solar is falling fast.

http://www.dmsolar.com/solar-module-1141.html [dmsolar.com]

If you're looking to invest more than $50 on LED light bulbs then today's solar is very cheap these days. Here is a retailer that sells some residential panels for only 0.79 per watt. Solar will only continue from here to become even cheaper

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009957)

People have been predicting cheap energy for longer than I can remember. Energy is going to get more expensive, not less.

You can go further on $1 energy (gas, horse feed, etc) today than you could 10, 20, 30, 500 years ago.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (3, Insightful)

Ichijo (607641) | about 2 years ago | (#43010145)

The renewables (solar, wind) have fundamental reliability issues. They require an energy storage system...

False. If you'll recall from Econ 101, adding supply isn't the only way to eliminate a shortage.

It's unfortunate for our economy that so few people understand Supply and Demand.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (5, Informative)

Tailhook (98486) | about 2 years ago | (#43008801)

large upfront costs ... takes 20 years ... half-way cancelled project

Bullshit.

That phenomena is unique to Western nations that indulge pressure groups and their abuse of the legal system, coupled with a leadership vacuum. China builds a reactor in under 24 months. The completed cost of an AP-1000 reactor in China is $2 billion as of 2009.

other forms of energy such as solar will have since grown cheaper

Even if that ancient promise were to one day come true it won't matter. Building will not be permitted [renewableenergyworld.com] . Period.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43008897)

other forms of energy such as solar will have since grown cheaper

has already happened. http://about.bnef.com/press-releases/renewable-energy-now-cheaper-than-new-fossil-fuels-in-australia/

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (2)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | about 2 years ago | (#43009187)

Bullshit or no bullshit; that's the way it is. You wanna change it? You think you can do that, and have a plant built, before other renewable sources are cheaper than this potential nuclear plant? We've got to play the cards we're dealt

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/02/03/1529651/new-mexico-utility-agrees-to-purchase-solar-power-at-a-lower-price-than-coal/
In some places solar plants are thriving and already are the cheapest form of energy

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (4, Interesting)

Tailhook (98486) | about 2 years ago | (#43009573)

We've got to play the cards we're dealt

We've long since played cards we've dealt ourselves. That's why there is a vast cloud [nasa.gov] of pollution drifting out of China. We've feathered our environmental pressure group nest at home and shipped our industry and its energy demands out of "the environment."

new-mexico-utility-agrees-to-purchase-solar-power-at-a-lower-price-than-coal

Mexico doesn't have a Feinstein to wreck [latimes.com] their solar build outs. For purposes of this discussion Mexico isn't in "the environment" either. It's just another destination for refugee industries evacuating the US.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (2)

gmhowell (26755) | about 2 years ago | (#43009807)

new-mexico-utility-agrees-to-purchase-solar-power-at-a-lower-price-than-coal

Mexico doesn't have a Feinstein to wreck [latimes.com] their solar build outs. For purposes of this discussion Mexico isn't in "the environment" either. It's just another destination for refugee industries evacuating the US.

Mexico =/= New Mexico. NM has the exact same Feinstein as CA, given that she isn't a state legislator.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009739)

Bullshit.

That phenomena is unique to Western nations that indulge pressure groups and their abuse of the legal system, coupled with a leadership vacuum. China builds a reactor in under 24 months. The completed cost of an AP-1000 reactor in China is $2 billion as of 2009.

That's impressive considering no one has completed building an ap-1000 reactor yet... To know in advance that there will be no overuns hmm.

Hang on Cowboy (2)

dbIII (701233) | about 2 years ago | (#43010553)

The completed cost of an AP-1000 reactor in China is $2 billion as of 2009.

China didn't have an operating AP-1000 in mid 2012, let alone 2009, and I'm not sure if it's been finished since then.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (2)

es330td (964170) | about 2 years ago | (#43009813)

Attempting to Build a nuclear plant has large upfront costs, takes 20 years, and often results in a half-way cancelled project.

I am pretty sure that not one of the nuclear power plants used by the US Navy took 20 years to build. The S8G reactor on board an Ohio class boomer makes 220MW of energy. I am pretty certain we could start siting small reactors, operated by former USN personnel, near cities cheaply enough to make nuclear the dominant, and cost effective, electricity source given the political will to do so.

The extreme length of start to finish is 100% related to the number of lawsuits filed by opponents of nuclear power.

BTW...projects are not "half way" cancelled. They may be half way completed when cancelled but "cancelled" is a binary condition.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43008727)

I have 0 expectations on the environmental impact. Our world runs on electricity at this point. We need more of it, not less. So building more wind and solar is not a bad thing. We need coal/gas/nuke/wind/solar/geo/hydro/whatever. We need more power! Building more (and in some cases cheaper) power sources is a good thing. Just remember sometimes an 80% solution is better than no solution which is what most people advocate. Most people seem to think 'we must go all in on tech X'. That is narrow minded silly. We want a good mix of tech then use linear algerbra to help us find the right mix.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009153)

The problem is, linear algebra combined with basic statistics says that wind and solar aren't near reliable enough to be trusted on the baseline, which should be filled by nuclear reactors instead. And the thing about nuclear reactors is that they're so predictable that solar and wind just get relegated to 'extra electricity above and beyond predicted capacity, except when they're nothing,' unless somehow we make a giant leap forward in battery technology.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#43008753)

the naive hippies and their allies who will not brook even the mildest criticism of their unrealistic dreams of a world where everything is powered by wind and solar alone

What about the naive businessmen and their allies who will not brook even the mildest criticism of their unrealistic dreams of a world where everything is powered by fossil fuels forever?

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (5, Insightful)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about 2 years ago | (#43009075)

Not forever. Just through next quarter's results. Some fucking dweeb down in the R&D closet in the cellar will figure it out by then, no doubt.

Re:Cue the "Keith's owned by big oil!!" accusation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43010303)

Yeah, well done. Your whole post was an obvious attempt to poison the well, in favor of your obvious biases. Care to make an actual contribution?

Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#43008471)

'People have often thought there's no upper bound for wind power—that it's one of the most scalable power sources," he says.

What?! I've been lied to! My father poured foundations for windmills in my hometown and I've been going around saying that they're a great resource for us to have and boy do I feel like I've been duped! Let's read this whole news article and find out all the other lies I've been spouting!

"Wind power is in a middle ground," he says. "It is still one of the most scalable renewables, but our research suggests that we will need to pay attention to its limits and climatic impacts if we try to scale it beyond a few terawatts."

Okay so you write that as your last sentence in the entire article? Crawl in a hole and die. Please. Whoever wrote this news article and summary, please go die. I'm sure the professor's research is sound but the way this press release of it was laid out painted wind as a mythical source of energy so please just do us all a favor and die.

So a few terawatts is what, like 7% of our total energy needs? Okay, let's scale it up to there and then we'll have empirical evidence to support how far we should go.

I don't think anyone suggested we blanket the Earth in windmills or even that wind is the basket into which all of our apples should go but, looking at the high wind areas next to metropolises, you have to admit there's some low hanging fruit out there, yeah?

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43008695)

There is an environmental impact of wind turbines. First, they are ferocious bird-killers. Second, they are noisy 24/7, so much that it has been to stress animals who can't get away from the noise.

Instead, how about some R&D on something which actually will be useful in densely populated areas? LENR fusion looks promising. If we get that going, especially with carbon atoms as fuel, that would be more important to the world's economy than the Industrial Revolution or the invention of electricity combined.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#43008723)

Windmills don't kill anywhere near as many birds annually as cats or plate-glass windows do, and I don't see anyone moving to get rid of those...

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

xevioso (598654) | about 2 years ago | (#43008869)

[citation needed]

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#43008933)

There's a nice little summary table towards the right here [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009181)

Already brought up in this conversation 15 minutes before you here [slashdot.org] but you get all the karma ... *sigh*

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#43009259)

That summary is utterly meaningless without a scale factor. I mean, if there are 2 wind towers and a million cats, it's pretty obvious the cats are going to kill more birds even if each cat only kills 1 bird and the turbines kill a thousand each. And there are quite a lot of cats in the US (86 million or so), but relatively few wind turbines (some rough math places a top figure of 60,000 turbines in the entire US, and it's probably closer to half that in actuality).

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#43009329)

Wouldn't that only be relevant if anyone were proposing to build 86 million wind turbines? What matters, if you want to reduce overall bird mortality, is to go after the biggest sources in absolute numbers. As it currently stands, reducing cat populations by even 1% would save more birds than tearing down every windmill would.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

Sarius64 (880298) | about 2 years ago | (#43009443)

When the cats start killing California Condors and Golden Eagles this argument might have legs. Till then:

U.S. probes golden eagles' deaths at DWP wind farm [latimes.com]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwVz5hdAMGU [youtube.com]

ON THE SPOT FEATURE: Wind turbines are killing condors [wonews.com]

LFTRs would replace all the bullshit.

Wind turbines should have sensors to see birds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43010189)

IF they could see them, then they could brake or slow down to miss them as they fly through. Same as you do in your car...

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 years ago | (#43009861)

In 2009 a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) scientist estimated that wind turbines kill 440,000 birds per year in the U.S., with future mortality expected to increase significantly as wind power generation expands by 2030 to levels about 12 times higher than 2009 levels.

12*0.44 = 5.28.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

felixrising (1135205) | about 2 years ago | (#43010229)

Certainly no one complains about cars, yet they consume enormous resources - fossil fuels, metal, and land, kill people (through accidents AND through pollution - the worlds fastest growing cause of death is cars apparently). Yet people here in Australia are up in arms about the birds occassionally dying, or the "Wind-farm Syndrome" (which is not surprisingly absent in other areas where wind-farms have been around for 20+ years)... That's right, build some more of the dirtiest coal plants in the OECD nations, but whatever we do, don't build wind-farms.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43010401)

So called Assault Rifles don't kill anywhere near as many people per year as falling out of a tree, but I do see people trying to get rid of those...

Use Citations! (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#43008745)

There is an environmental impact of wind turbines.

Of course, there is an environmental impact with anything you do. I'm sure there's an environmental impact from LENR in some form or fashion.

First, they are ferocious bird-killers.

"Ferocious"? Well, I can see this is going to be a rational quantitative discussion. They do surveys underneath windmills to try to estimate how many birds they kill. I hate to break it to you but the numbers are pretty darn small [wikipedia.org] . Yes, it is a concern. No, it is not "ferocious."

Second, they are noisy 24/7, so much that it has been to stress animals who can't get away from the noise.

What? [citation needed] Modern windmills are not noisy [wikipedia.org] and I've stood underneath the ones my dad erected and I couldn't hear a damn thing over the wind.

Instead, how about some R&D on something which actually will be useful in densely populated areas? LENR fusion looks promising. If we get that going, especially with carbon atoms as fuel, that would be more important to the world's economy than the Industrial Revolution or the invention of electricity combined.

Look, dude, I'm all for spreading our funding around. And I think we do. I'm really sad that ITER has had so many funding problems but the big difference between wind and LENR is that your if on LENR could turn up nothing. And then where did all your money go? At least wind has something returned as you scale. LENR is just a big output at the very end if it works. That's why their funding is always problematic. Nothing to show until the very end is a huge gamble.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43008865)

"There is an environmental impact of wind turbines. First, they are ferocious bird-killers."

No, you confuse them with cats. They are much smaller and cheaper.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43008697)

We should put windmills on the moon and run an extension cord to the earth, that way the rich liberals won't have their view obstructed and we can get limitless free power!

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (3, Funny)

xevioso (598654) | about 2 years ago | (#43008899)

How about we put a windmill attached to your chin. That way the hot air you spout could be used to serve all the world's energy needs for decades to come.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43008761)

Okay so you write that as your last sentence in the entire article? Crawl in a hole and die. Please. Whoever wrote this news article and summary, please go die. I'm sure the professor's research is sound but the way this press release of it was laid out painted wind as a mythical source of energy so please just do us all a favor and die.

You seem to be fascinated with holes and death. Anyway,

looking at the high wind areas next to metropolises

Which high wind unoccupied areas next to metropolises can you find? Sorry, but unless the city is next to some mountains (not ideal for wind farms), it is very unlikely you'll find land that,

  1. is cheap
  2. is unoccupied
  3. is in low demand
  4. is not near an airport
  5. and building 10MW turbines will not result in some issues neighborhood complains.

"Metropolises" are not like isolated buildups. They tend to be surrounded by urban sprawl for 10s of km. If you think otherwise, please give some example for these mythical spaces for,

    1. New York City
    2. Berlin
    3. Paris
    4. Los Angeles
    5. Toronto
    6. London
    7. Tokyo
    8. Beijing

And please don't say that Tonroto has one turbine on their waterfront. To be useful, 1000 turbines are what we are looking for here.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

xevioso (598654) | about 2 years ago | (#43008985)

The San Francisco Bay Area, a metropolis if there ever was one, has a ton of windfarms just west of the city on the Altamont Pass and thereabouts. One of the largest in the world, actually.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altamont_Pass_Wind_Farm [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about 2 years ago | (#43009109)

Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, El Paso (#s 4,7,9,13,16,19 on the list of largest US cities).

I'm pretty sure I can find some nice open spaces in Texas.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009645)

I'm pretty sure I can find some nice open spaces in Texas.

And as, you probably expect, there's lots of wind farms on them.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

baker_tony (621742) | about 2 years ago | (#43009103)

> looking at the high wind areas next to metropolises, you have to admit there's some low hanging fruit out there, yeah?

Um, typically metropolises aren't built next to high wind areas. Usually high wind areas are where people don't want to live.

Also, what happens when there's fine weather for a week... You just get people to switch everything off? You can't just turn off and on nuclear/thermal all the time.

Wind is OK when you can balance it with hydro power, otherwise, it's crap.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (4, Informative)

jamesl (106902) | about 2 years ago | (#43009293)

The costs for a utility scale wind turbine in 2012 range from about $1.3 million to $2.2 million per MW of nameplate capacity installed.
http://www.windustry.org/resources/how-much-do-wind-turbines-cost [windustry.org]

Say, a dollar per watt (nameplate).

An installed nameplate terawatt would cost about $1,000,000,000,000. That's a pretty expensive experiment. And wind turbines' real world average output is a fraction of their nameplate rating.

The total levelized cost of an advanced combined cycle natural gas fired plant is about one third less than onshore wind and 80% less than offshore wind.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#43010197)

Yes, but that doesn't include the cost of obtaining fuel.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

jamesl (106902) | about 2 years ago | (#43010565)

Yes, but that doesn't include the cost of obtaining fuel.

And that's why we link to sources. But rather than follow the link, some people prefer to showcase their ignorance.

Levelized Energy Cost (LEC, also known as Levelised Cost of Energy, abbreviated as LCOE) is the price at which electricity must be generated from a specific source to break even over the lifetime of the project. It is an economic assessment of the cost of the energy-generating system including all the costs over its lifetime: initial investment, operations and maintenance, cost of fuel, cost of capital, and is very useful in calculating the costs of generation from different sources.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source [wikipedia.org]

Note, "cost of fuel."

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#43009439)

Low hanging fruit indeed, and a possible source of PRIMARY power for rural residents, there's just one downside... the financial feasibility. The problem with wind power is there's not always wind, and if there's no wind for a week and the batteries drain, you need a fallback, which means regular electricity needs to get laid out to the rural houses anyways, costing the builder of the windmill, & the electric company, who are then going to pass it on to the owners.

Would you add $50 to your electricity bill to get wind power? When you look at it in that light, is probably why we haven't done it yet.

Re:Ah, Let's Read the Whole Article, Shall We? (2)

dwywit (1109409) | about 2 years ago | (#43009787)

It's not that black and white. Each installation needs its own specification. You go for a mix of technology. It's not JUST wind - you can put in some PV panels, and a wind turbine, maybe even a water turbine, maybe a fuel cell. Some places have good wind, many don't. Most places in tropical/temperate zones have reasonable or good solar resources, and some don't. Some places have permanent running water, most don't. And you don't design an off-grid system without a backup generator - yes, they use fossil fuel, but my experience is that it's still cheaper to have all that - in my case, solar PV, batteries, and backup generator - than it is to connect to the mains. At last quote in 2009, it was going to cost ~AUD$30,000 to connect me to the mains - 600 metres up the road. PLUS tree-clearing costs to put the poles in. It's financially feasible for me to have such a system, and you shouldn't say it's not for other people until you've conducted an energy audit for the consumer, and quoted on a suitable system.

Old news (3, Interesting)

Tailhook (98486) | about 2 years ago | (#43008663)

The UK already figured out that wind power claims are exaggerated [bbc.co.uk] . By a lot. "Fuel poverty" [bbc.co.uk] is now an 'issue' that appears regularly in the UK press. It's killing people [thesun.co.uk] .

Don't believe any of it; they're all oil company shills. Yay saving the planet.

Re:Old news (0)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 2 years ago | (#43009017)

To be fair... it should be "fuel poverty and a decision to not share living spaces and fuel costs during cold times".

I.e., if four poor seniors slept in the same building at night, their fuel costs would be 25% (probably less due to body heat- each person is like a 100 watt light bulb).

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009279)

their fuel costs would be 25%

That wouldn't then become an opportunity to lower their fuel benefits and increase fuel fees even further, would it?

The 'non-profit' environmental lobbyists and the ministers they fund will also be moving in together as well, right?

The other per-household benefits of these 'poor' aren't going to be compromised as they adopt higher cohabitation, right?

Who were you planning to give half of your living space to to reduce the fuel necessary to keep you warm?

Re:Old news (2)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 2 years ago | (#43009859)

Roommate situations are cheaper than living alone.

As recently as 80 years ago we used to have more people in the same space.
Today, in my area, mexican immigrants live 12+ per house. It saves them money.

If you are freezing to death, you might consider sharing a house together each night and spending your days in your own house.

I have a room mate now. It saves me a couple hundred bucks a month.

Are you perhaps over reacting or maybe being just a TEENY bit "entitled" here?

Re:Old news (1)

Wookact (2804191) | about 2 years ago | (#43009149)

You are blaming wind power for rising Natural Gas costs in the UK?

Have you actually put any thought into this, or are you just trying to see what will stick? Let's assume you have. Would you mind connecting the dots for me in how MORE wind power = Higher Natural Gas costs. It seems to me that as more people use electric for heat, that it would reduce the demand for natural gas, and in turn LOWER the costs for the gas.

That IS how supply and demand works correct? Are you telling me that a free market does not work, and that the costs will rise regardless of demands? Thanks!

Re:Old news (3, Informative)

Tailhook (98486) | about 2 years ago | (#43009417)

Are you telling me that a free market does not work

The "free market" is not involved. UK government policy to reduce carbon drives both the adoption of wind, which we learn does not produce expected output, and deliberately inflates gas cost while lowering heating benefits to reduce demand, producing fuel poverty.

Adopting wind [telegraph.co.uk] and its false promises is government policy. Fuel poverty [thepeoplespower.co.uk] is government policy. Connection complete.

Re:Old news (0)

Wookact (2804191) | about 2 years ago | (#43009571)

So what you are saying is that because the government is focusing more on wind then gas, that it is the governments fault that gas prices go up?

What if the government invested in neither, would rising gas prices continue to be the government's fault? Unless the government is actively involved in raising the cost of gas prices (via taxes or something) I fail to see how this can be blamed on the government, or more distantly wind generation. No time to give your articles a better read, but the one concerning Wind does not seem to mention gas, and the same is true vise-versa. Again I will have to read more later no time now.
If you have one I would prefer something showing the direct connection rather then the very tenuous connection that I can see.

In other news (2)

Dishwasha (125561) | about 2 years ago | (#43008671)

A new study confirms that coal and petroleum are in fact still finite resources.

Boundary effect (2)

mudshark (19714) | about 2 years ago | (#43008701)

Given the fact that power generating wind turbines only poke up 30-50m from the surface, I fail to see how the effects are going to be as significant as Keith suggests. Surface winds are already moderated by friction and topographically generated turbulence, while the vast bulk of wind energy exists above the boundary layer. We're unlikely to deploy large wind farms in a linear sequence anyway, so atmospheric coupling means surface winds will only be affected for a finite distance downstream of a given facility.

Energy vs. Power (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#43008889)

The problem you're running into is the difference between energy and power. While it's true that the moving air above the surface contains energy, what is actually useful is the power that is taken up by the air mostly from solar heating, and is ultimately dissipated to friction at the boundary layer. This is the resource that is limited.

Re:Boundary effect (2)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#43008917)

"Given the fact that power generating wind turbines only poke up 30-50m from the surface, I fail to see how the effects are going to be as significant as Keith suggests."

This is the guy who suggested injecting a huge cloud of ash into the atmosphere to deflect sunlight and heat.
He has many strange ideas.

http://www.ted.com/talks/david_keith_s_surprising_ideas_on_climate_change.html [ted.com]

Re:Boundary effect (2)

Frojack123 (2606639) | about 2 years ago | (#43009209)

Given the fact that power generating wind turbines only poke up 30-50m from the surface, I fail to see how the effects are going to be as significant as Keith suggests. Surface winds are already moderated by friction and topographically generated turbulence, while the vast bulk of wind energy exists above the boundary layer. We're unlikely to deploy large wind farms in a linear sequence anyway, so atmospheric coupling means surface winds will only be affected for a finite distance downstream of a given facility.

I didn't see where he made any dire predictions about the effects, other than an out of hand comment about what might happen if you covered the entire earth with windmills. Clearly he is not suggesting we are anywhere near that.

His whole point is that these turbines are packed too densely, and the front ones are shadowing the rear ones, and this fact seems to have been missed when people were making promises about the efficiency of large wind farms. Yet it is easily measurable by reading the output power from the down-wind turbines in existing large deployments.

I suspect that if simply reading the meters on turbines in the rear indicate a lower available energy budget, that this alone indicates there has been some environmental effect. Perhaps it is not significant, or far reaching. Maybe it is even beneficial to other land use (farming, etc)/. But the effect is there, and measurable. Further the effects may reach further than most people think. similar to the way that watering fields in California boosts rain fall hundreds of miles away [sciencenews.org] .

Re:Boundary effect (3, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#43009287)

Your conception of large wind-farms is out of whack. Modern turbines are pushing 200 meters tall now, with rotor diameters of up to 150 meters. Turbine farms are limited by the area of land they're placed on, and the wake of other turbines greatly affect placement. On small farms they can get them as close to each other as 4 to 10 rotor diameters, but on bigger farms the minimum is 15x the size of the rotors. So if we're talking about real industrial scale wind farms where the turbines are in the 200 meter tall range... then they have to be placed over a mile apart!

A single one of these modern giant turbines produces about 7MW of power and costs about $14 million to build. The smallest reactor in the US (not counting test reactors and such) is in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska and produces 478MW. It would cost close to a Billion dollars and take up nearly 70 square miles of land to use wind to produce the equivalent amount of power as the smallest nuclear reactor in the country.

We have absolutely no idea what affect a windfarm of that size would have on the environment. If we had enough farms to power the entire country? Again, we have no idea, but the effect would likely be dramatic. You can't take that kind of energy out of our weather systems and expect mother nature to roll over and take it.

Re:Boundary effect (2)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#43009427)

It depends what large scale deployment means. In many areas the near ground level wind energies are not significant. If we are to harness wind energy, it will have to be at higher altitudes.

Which is really why as we move forward we have to have a much more diverse view of energy. Right now most countries have a majority producer, be it coal or nuclear or natural gas or whatever. This is most likely due to political pressures, rather than rational thought. In large countries like the US there is going to have a realization that certain regions are going to be better with certain generation methods, and allow those regions to develop a local plan. Right now federal subsidies are promoting inefficient programs. For instance corn ethanol provides nearly zero benefit, yet there is still money wasted on corn rather than trying to reintroduce something like sugar cane into the US.

1-2 watts per square meter of land? (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#43008779)

I had no idea wind power produced that little power.

Biggest single wind farm in the world: Alta-Oak Creek Mojave Project, 320 wind turbines, 36 km^2 area, 800 MW. That's 800MW for 36 million square meters, or 22W/m^2. That's peak power, though; yearly average for most wind sites runs about a quarter of peak.

A real problem with wind power is that it's like water power - there are a limited number of good sites. There are four really good wind power sites on shore in California, and there are big wind farms on all of them. Anywhere else is less cost-effective. There's good wind from the Texas panhandle north to the Canadian border, but not much there to use the power. (Basic truth: if it's a good wind power site, it's too windy for most people to live there.)

And, of course, there's the intermittency problem. Here's California's wind power graph for today. [caiso.com] Note that total statewide wind output went up by a factor of 7 in 2 hours, after dropping by a factor of 4 in 5 hours. California buffers some of this by using the dams and pumps of the California Water Project as energy storage, but still, that's a huge variation. Extra generating plants have to be on standby for when the wind dies down. Up to about 15% wind, there's enough slack in the system to handle that. Beyond that, somebody has to build extra plants or energy storage.

Solar is more predictable. Solar energy and peak air conditioning load track closely. A reasonable goal is to get most of the world's air conditioning load onto solar power.

Re:1-2 watts per square meter of land? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#43008979)

"Solar is more predictable. "

Indeed, half the time it's pitch black and we know the exact minute it happens, not that it helps energy-wise knowing that in advance.

Re:1-2 watts per square meter of land? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009317)

Uuuuuhhhh, actually, it's a bit of an issue ramping up power plants. Nuclear doesn't ramp up. You call up the nukies and ask for a few extra megaWatts in a few hours and they just flip you the bird. They're good for the steady baseline. Coal takes about half an hour and is the primary way that the grid reacts to events. There's gas turbines and diesel that's faster and good in a pinch, but costly. Hydro is on and off on within minutes, which is one of it's pluses.

But by and far the biggest issue with these things is contracts and pre-planning. Yeah, logistics, bitches. The regularity of solar's availability is a plus. It helps to know in advance what you need. Well... as long as you're talking about the day/night cycle. Cloud cover is where solar loses it's regularity, and is one of it's downsides.

Re:1-2 watts per square meter of land? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009361)

Actually, it _does_ help to know that in advance.

Many types of power plants have the problem that you can't just press a button and start generating power immediately. You start the plant and an hour or two later, everything is hot, the turbines are spinning, and the power is being generated.

For solar, the fact that we know in advance when sunset is (and usually know with an hour warning when it's going to be cloudy enough to seriously impact generation), means this is fine; an hour before sunset the coal plant fires up, and ok, we're getting solar during the day and coal at night; if we want to replace half the coal in the system with solar, and it happens to be done by replacing the "daytime" half, that works reasonably well (you don't actually shut half the coal plants, but you are burning half as much coal).... For wind, the fact that there are unpredictable large swings in generation is a big problem; you can't ramp up production at other power plants to compensate. If wind power is 1% of the portfolio of your state, this isn't a big deal (the wind dies down suddenly and half of the wind production goes away, that's half a percent, and you have enough fast-responding generators to cover that). But if wind power becomes a large part of your generating capacity (estimates vary, but somewhere in the 10%-20% range), you are likely to start having problems when the wind dies down and you have a sudden need to turn on 5% or 10% of the power generation for your state in a hurry, and you don't actually _have_ that many fast-responding generators. Oops.

Another bonus with solar is that as the parent post mentioned, it happens to track peak load -- in sunny areas that are ideal for solar anyway, a big part of your load is air conditioning, which happens to be run most during the day on sunny days; conveniently exactly when you're getting peak generation out of your solar cells. Minimum electricity use for all purposes (lighting, computers, appliances...) tends to be in the middle of the night when people are asleep, so the minimum of your solar production is also during the minimum-consumption parts of the day. So where you previously had coal plants that had to be on during the day and off at night anyway because that's what the demand for electricity was, now you have solar capacity that (roughly) tracks that curve automatically.

On the downside, solar cells are still pretty expensive, but lots of researchers are working on that.

Re:1-2 watts per square meter of land? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009039)

Basic truth: if it's a good wind power site, it's too windy for most people to live there.

You're saying people shouldn't live somewhere because it's too...windy?

OK, I guess tornadoes happen from time to time in the midwest (I've been through a few myself), but the east cost has hurricanes and that doesn't stop anyone.

I'm going to guess you're from California just based on the link you posted. If that state's weather is the metric by which you measure how livable a place is, Earth is uninhabitable.

Where have I heard this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43008845)

you mean it won't be too cheap to meter?

Shocker (1)

h8sg8s (559966) | about 2 years ago | (#43008867)

There's a shocker.. someone painting a rosy picture about green energy that turns out to be fiction. Politicians and scientists (or truth, for that matter) make for the ugliest of bedfellows.

Here's another shocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009213)

Someone painting a bleak picture about green energy that turns out to be fiction. Politicians and scientists taking paychecks from established interests make for some really ugly bedfellows.

Engineers Learning Daily... (2)

Frojack123 (2606639) | about 2 years ago | (#43009019)

Quote TFA:

Keith's research has shown that the generating capacity of very large wind power installations (larger than 100 square kilometers) may peak at between 0.5 and 1 watts per square meter. Previous estimates, which ignored the turbines' slowing effect on the wind, had put that figure at between 2 and 7 watts per square meter.

Seriously, you have to wonder how this effect was over-looked by the original engineers.

Yet there appears to be hope. When you look at large windfarms [google.com] , you will see the older ones were built much more densely than the modern ones, which endeavor not only to place turbines in the gaps between other turbines, but also leave more room between the towers as well as using towers of varying heights.

It would appear that simply reading their meters, the engineers are realizing that densely packing turbines behind each other is going to give progressively less ROI for those that are downwind.

I wonder if the good professor made any differentiations based on the age of the wind farm development?

Missing the point as to why we need renewables (1, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 2 years ago | (#43009073)

We're not going to replace all our generating capacity with wind. Or solar. Or wave. Or hydro. Or biofuels. None of them are even close to the scale of hydrocarbon energy as we use it now, nor will they ever be.

If we manage to build about 2500 nuclear plants ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_mile_of_oil [wikipedia.org] ) over the next 50 years, and get batteries worth a shit, we might be able to replace hydrocarbon energy in a useful way, particularly if new nuke plants run on relatively safe, common, thorium, however, at the moment, we're still depleting industrial-scale energy much faster than we're building new sources, so I'm doubtful that this reasonably plausible scenario will play out. It would take the kind of foresight, political will and money that most of the world no longer has.

The likely reality is that we need wind, hydro, solar and geothermal so that there will be *some* sort of local, maintainable, electrical power left after hydrocarbons, particularly oil, stop being useful as an industrial-scale energy source (i.e. having enought net energy to run a civilization and at a price that's affordable).

When hyrocarbons cease to be useful, and the international, interdependent web of "just-in-time" supply chains starts breaking down, and we can no longer affordably transport the materials necessary to find, extract, refine and distribute the natural gas, oil or coal to the power plant, what we'll have left is nuclear (which we won't be able to maintain), hydro, wind and solar.

So, if you have grandchildren, or children, you want this. It won't be much. It won't be nearly enough, but by 2050 through 2100, a few less people will be shivering in the dark.

Re:Missing the point as to why we need renewables (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#43010033)

We're not going to replace all our generating capacity with wind. Or solar. Or wave. Or hydro. Or biofuels. None of them are even close to the scale of hydrocarbon energy as we use it now, nor will they ever be.

(skipped, pushes one)

The likely reality is that we need wind, hydro, solar and geothermal so that there will be *some* sort of local, maintainable, electrical power left after hydrocarbons, particularly oil, stop being useful as an industrial-scale energy source (i.e. having enough net energy to run a civilization and at a price that's affordable).

When hydrocarbons cease to be useful, and the international, interdependent web of "just-in-time" supply chains starts breaking down, and we can no longer affordably transport the materials necessary to find, extract, refine and distribute the natural gas, oil or coal to the power plant, what we'll have left is nuclear (which we won't be able to maintain), hydro, wind and solar.

So, if you have grandchildren, or children, you want this. It won't be much. It won't be nearly enough, but by 2050 through 2100, a few less people will be shivering in the dark.

See, the main problem we have is that everyone has their favorite energy source.

The answer to (less energy) is not (energy source A), it is (energy source A + B + C + D) adjusted by the optimal sources for the region you are in.

Hydro is not that great in plains areas. Wind works well in many areas, but not all. Solar works well in many areas, but best for passive solar heating and cooling, even in places that have overcast days (Seattle has 80 pct efficiency for solar on cloudy days).

The answer is not A or B or C. The answer is a mix of energy supplies, optimized for each region.

In certain areas, (e.g. Sydney Australia) coal is one of the more optimal answers, due to easy availability and short distance to deliver and method of collecting).

However, more coal and oil means more global warming, which increases systemic energy and has heavily negative impacts.

You don't need energy - you need gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43010315)

All your energy comes from gravity. Those tiny little rain drops that fall from the sky, focussed to stream and
river, till they dam and turn the turbine. The star squeezes the photons out of it's plasma soup, flung trough
space to deposit 2 at a time on a hydrocarbon bond. Eons of time, gravity and heat cooking them to
the crude stew you love to eat. Even those crushed atoms to uranium and more, so unstable they fall
off the floor radiating in parts ....

You need the gravity to pull in earthly mass, spinning and heating with others that pass....

It's gravity that holds the gas with so little mass, and causes it to spin round and round.

Hydrocarbons get more for a plastic part than pushing your lazy ass around. Think about it before
your burn your children supply and die. Same for the nuclear fuel, one day your want it for
the coldness of space, far to far from that race you are, far to far.

Re:You don't need energy - you need gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43010381)

And you still couldn't tell it's from its. How come?

To add more - one size doesn't fit all (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 2 years ago | (#43010515)

Even if that nuclear option happens you'd get a electricity availabilty curve that looks like a great big staircase as very large units come on and off line due to demand. A small unit, such as a windmill, may be more expensive per MW but it's a hell of a lot cheaper than bringing a large steam turbine online in a nuclear plant or whatever when you only need a few MW.
Wind etc are competing in the peak load space with things like gas turbines and even diesel instead of in the base load space with hydro, coal or nuclear.

When hyrocarbons cease to be useful

Chemical industries use a lot, and on the coal side you need a lot of the stuff to reduce iron oxide and make iron from iron ore - cheap heat or cheap electricity doesn't get those jobs done.

Time for the free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009091)

to 3D print a space elevator and put up some orbital solar power arrays!

Publish or perish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009139)

It's just more of the "publish or perish" thing all academics practice. The guy studied a single scenario, and he's saying there's a possibility the benefits be lower than the costs.

Wind power is used on a grand scale in various parts of the world. When someone analyzes all those areas, no exceptions, and draws the same conclusions, then yes, indeed, we have a problem. But this ... this is not science, no matter how many trees that guy killed to get a single piece of paper.

Global Slowing - the other real threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43009141)

If we really exploited windpower to it's fullest extent, we could actually end up with longer work days!

http://globalslowing.org/

Re:Global Slowing - the other real threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43010343)

If we harnessed the power in all those extra apostrophes people use, we'd never need oil again.

All energy sources are finite (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#43009637)

That's the whole proposal of a Dyson Sphere is to capture all of a sun's energy because it is limited. At present there are three primary sources of power, nuclear decay, solar and gravity. Nuclear decay has issues and it will run out one day whether it's several hundred or several thousands years. Solar is limited mostly by the Earth's surface area and cloud cover. Orbiting mirrors and collectors could potentially expand it in the future making it the only source that can be increased without off world mining. Gravity is the trickiest. It mostly takes the form of hydroelectric and wave power. Fossil fuels are just stored solar. Solar and the pull of the Moon creates most of the wind and wave power. There's also a few things like geothermal but there's been little progress in widely adopting it. Most sources of chemical energy require processing that uses other forms of energy. Fusion is a nice idea but a pipe dream for now. There is simply no unlimited source of energy that can meet all our needs so all it means is we need to use all sources wisely. All the article is saying is it's probably not possible to meet all our energy needs with wind power. In our history we've never met all our needs with one source so it's hardly a reason to abandon wind and the article doesn't propose it it simply says we should know the limits of wind power and not exceed them.

Re:All energy sources are finite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43010005)

Hydro and wave power are also solar. The energy comes from solar heating of the oceans and atmosphere. "Gravity" is not an energy source.

Re:All energy sources are finite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43010497)

Gravity can be utilized with the potential energy it gives. It certainly helps if you want to get to the sun from earth and don't need to return back. I guess you could build a generator where an iron sphere passes through a magnetic field and generates energy before hitting the sun. That'd be an awful way to waste physical resources for minimal energy, though.

Both of you are omitting geothermal power, which comes from the hot insides of our planet. This brings us the triplet solar, nuclear and geothermal power. There are also some other minor ways to produce energy, such as non-organic carbon (remember, fossil fuels are organic) and other chemical reactions of stuff you find underground, but that's just a curiosity.

I think you meant coal oil reserves overestimated (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#43009965)

I think you meant to say that US and Canadian coal and oil reserves are dramatically overestimated.

There, fixed it for you.

Was it the Calculator's fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#43010335)

Wind Farms 5 miles in the ocean with HomeLand Security sensors & constant wind blowing into the coast. They can always put in bigger motors to generate more electricity. Was it the calculator's fault or Intel Corps CPU messing up with calculations again?

Professor of Public Policy (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 2 years ago | (#43010439)

Notice it didn't state above what his field actually is, so keep in mind that this is coming from a Professor of Public Policy and not an expert on air flow, wind powered electricity generation, or really anything to do with the topic at all. He may have picked up a few things but I'd say take his advice with a truckload of salt and get a second opinion from somebody that has put their feet on that bit of ground.
There's a tendency to accept words from anyone with an important title in anything so long as it aligns with political dogma, which is dangerous, because it devalues expertise and opens the door to confidence tricksters. The common kneejerk reaction to questioning the expertise or motives of a person is a scream of "ad hominem" - which of course is ridiculous in such a case because granting it value would proposing such stupid relativism as pretending that everyone knows exactly the same as everyone else.
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