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Researchers Claim Wind Turbine Energy Payback In Less Than a Year

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the answer-is-blowin'-in dept.

Power 441

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Researchers have carried out an environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines mooted for a large wind farm in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. They conclude that in terms of cumulative energy payback, or the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation, a wind turbine with a working life of 20 years will offer a net benefit within five to eight months of being brought online." Watts Up With That? has a more skeptical take on the calculations.

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Sounds about right... (5, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | about 7 months ago | (#47346903)

We attended an investors meeting in Portland relating to solar power 2 yrs. ago....the panel of solar experts all kept talking about playing catch up with wind and how solar was getting it's ass kicked. Finally someone in the group asked "Can you tell us what room the wind energy investment group is meeting in...?"

Re:Sounds about right... (5, Insightful)

phrostie (121428) | about 7 months ago | (#47346907)

a little rivalry is a good thing.

I'm a fan of both and still believe that putting all your eggs in one basket will just lead to other problems.

Re:Sounds about right... (1, Troll)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#47347361)

All our eggs in the fossil fuel basket didn't cause any problems. Why diversify, that just wastes resources from duplications.

Re:Sounds about right... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47346975)

You sound like a nigger. Also, you are a faggot.

Re:Sounds about right... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347283)

Aren't you a precious little ray of sunshine.

Re:Sounds about right... (4, Informative)

donaldm (919619) | about 7 months ago | (#47347051)

When considering solar power, wind farming is quite practical for large scale production (not for the residential home) however you still need some sort of storage or alternative power generation to offset the hours or even days when there is little or no wind (hence a survey).

Actually no matter what methods are used for large scale energy production it will always be "consumer pays", so if you as a home owner want to offset your electricity bill then solar panels are the way to go, but only after you have done your homework and by that you need to work out the initial costs verses the longs term benefits. Unfortunately it is so easy for so called "experts" to rip people off since most people have no idea how to work out what really is best for themselves in regard to energy utilisation.

Re:Sounds about right... (5, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#47347375)

The wind is always blowing somewhere. We need a world grid. We already have Europe/Asia/Africa power grids. A grid that connects the world, probably along the lines of a Risk board, would let us move power from day to night, and from wind to still. There's more than enough power, we just have a storage or distribution problem to solve, and given the state of storage and the state of transportation, I think we'd be better off with world-wide distribution.

Solar is there too (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 7 months ago | (#47347071)

CdTe panels have been in this range for a while. It is expected that crystaline silicon will get there by 2020 for a central European site.

"The photovoltaic (PV) market is experiencing vigorous growth, whereas prices are dropping rapidly. This growth has in large part been possible through public support, deserved for its promise to produce electricity at a low cost to the environment. It is therefore important to monitor and minimize environmental impacts associated with PV technologies. In this work, we forecast the environmental performance of crystalline silicon technologies in 2020, the year in which electricity from PV is anticipated to be competitive with wholesale electricity costs all across Europe. Our forecasts are based on technological scenario development and a prospective life cycle assessment with a thorough uncertainty and sensitivity analysis. We estimate that the energy payback time at an in-plane irradiation of 1700kWh/(m2year) of crystalline silicon modules can be reduced to below 0.5years by 2020, which is less than half of the current energy payback time. "


Re:Solar is there too (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347279)

if this post was about fossil fuels and your username was mdfossilfuels, you would be rightfully shouted down, modded down, and called a shill.

but since you are a solar shill, by all means, post your bullshit pump-and-dump stuff, bask in the groupthink popularity, and watch the free government money roll in.

Re:Solar is there too (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347393)

Solar has some simple advantages. The main one is that it is fairly fool-resistant. Yes, you can get shocked if you don't know what you are doing, but anything electrical is that way.

Here are some nice things I can do with solar that can't be done elsewhere:

I have a shed or storage outbuilding where I want lights nearby, but don't want to run wires. A couple panels, two deep cycle batteries, an inverter, and a charge controller would give me plenty of lighting without needing to run electrical wires from the house (and the electrical code issues involved in that.)

Of course, solar panels won't pay for their cost of building by 20-30 years, but they are extremely useful for off-grid applications. I'm hoping for more dense batteries so even things like air conditioners could be run from panels, but that is still years away.

Re:Sounds about right... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 7 months ago | (#47347167)

You think the situation would be reversed in Phoenix, Barstow, or Vegas?

Re:Sounds about right... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347285)

You think the situation would be reversed in Phoenix, Barstow, or Vegas?

The calculus changes. Wind is awesome when it's blowing, but Power is a function of WindSpeed^3, so it's also highly volatile. You need to pair it with an energy source with a fast ramp time that can pick up the slack, I.e. Hydro or Natural Gas. Wind + Hydro is basically energy nirvana right now, but we can't build hydro wherever we want. Natural Gas is expensive and still fossil, but NG+Wind combined is cheaper and cleaner than coal. It's also cheaper than nuclear, and it's hard to compare nuclear on the "clean" metric.

In the PNW, wind is a means to stretch the finite hydro capacity for nearly zero cost. In the SW, wind just means NG+wind, which is merely a strong competitor, not a market dominator.

WUWT (5, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 7 months ago | (#47346909)

The rebuttal is from a climate-change denial site?

What the fuck is this, Fox News? What's next, Free Republic?

Fuck you, Timothy. Seriously, just fuck off.


Re:WUWT (3, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 7 months ago | (#47346933)

But their argument is irrefutable. "But the wind speed changes!! They didn't mention that!!". I only have three words. Double-U Oh Double-U.

Re:WUWT (4, Informative)

afxgrin (208686) | about 7 months ago | (#47347129)

"A 2.0 MW wind turbine would generate 6.12 GWh per year, assuming a 35% capacity factor." [ourenergypolicy.org]

Right in the fucking source paper. They don't even have that as an argument...

Re:WUWT (1)

skids (119237) | about 7 months ago | (#47347345)

To be fair their argument is that the environmental life cycle and economics of spinning reserves/baseline for backup generation, or of mass storage, needed to be taken into account. Not that that makes it any less of a peanut-gallery "rebuttal."

Re:WUWT (0, Troll)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 7 months ago | (#47347141)

Wind turbines kill birds. :)

Re:WUWT (2, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#47347183)

...several orders of magnitude fewer of them than feral and domestic cats and window glass panes.

Re:WUWT (-1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 7 months ago | (#47347293)

and anthropogenic co2 production is several magnitudes lower than natural sources.

uh oh.

Re:WUWT (1)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | about 7 months ago | (#47347199)

Good those things crap on my car.

Re:WUWT (2, Funny)

pipatron (966506) | about 7 months ago | (#47347005)

Next up: Conservapedia for unbiased fact-checking.

Re:WUWT (0, Flamebait)

bricko (1052210) | about 7 months ago | (#47347115)

Great news... Germany returning to massive building of COAL plants. Renewables are pretty much shite and they are afraid of nukes.....so here you have it http://www.bloomberg.com/news/... [bloomberg.com]

Re:WUWT (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347163)

Germany is finishing out building coal plants that were already in construction. And they expect to run those at a loss at current energy prices, to say nothing of their costs if carbon prices go up.

Re:WUWT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347323)

Only at the current "Russia is playing the gas market to trap them" gas rates. If the Ukraine succeeds in remaining independent (I've got $250K against it), then the price of gas will spike over the next decade.

Re:WUWT (3, Informative)

Uecker (1842596) | about 7 months ago | (#47347247)

No. You will understand the world much better if you dig deeper and rely on primary sources with hard data (I posted links elsewhere) and not just google something which already fits your opinion. Coal use in Germany is on a similar (high) level as always. This is not good, but has nothing to do with "returning to massive building of coal plants" which is a myth.

Re:WUWT (5, Funny)

Rei (128717) | about 7 months ago | (#47347131)

Typical Slashdot. "New peer reviewed science study says something. But random guy on the internet says they're wrong!"

Re:WUWT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347151)

Actually I just gave a +1 for the "Fuck you, timothy" part. Be assured that I feel appropriately bad for tacitly agreeing to the rest of the post.

Re:WUWT (5, Interesting)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 7 months ago | (#47347145)

Does it matter what the source is, so long as it presents a testable claim?

Besides which, their argument was mischaracterized in the summary. It's not a rebuttal of the ROI period, which is what the summary seems to suggest. Rather, they took issue with the overly-broad statement that seemed to suggest that each turbine would replace the need for traditional power sources for over 500 homes, which is, as far as I can tell, an accurate claim. Obviously, there are lulls in the wind, so while it may on average provide that much power, the lulls would mean that the traditional sources will still need to be used. What was left unsaid is that they would be used in lesser quantities.

Yes, it's a "well duh" sort of thing, but it's also accurate. And if you don't think it is, feel free to disprove them. It wasn't exactly a complicated argument, nor a particular meaningful one, but that's also a bit of a "well duh" sort of thing, given the source. ;)

Re:WUWT (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#47347215)

Well, "accurate"... If one of those turbines is going to be producing 600 kW on average, it should be able to provide >2000 homes like mine. (How do Americans manage to consume so much electricity in their households?)

Re:WUWT (4, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 months ago | (#47347271)

Does it matter what the source is, so long as it presents a testable claim?

Yes. Stubbornly refusing to withdraw a claim when multiple independent tests have already found it to be false is the definition of a denier. It's the reason why we laugh at flat earther's and (the original) April fools.

To test Watts' claim simply calculate three trends from his data, one for his "worst" 100 stations, one for his "best" 100 stations and one for the full set of ~1100 stations, if his claim has merit there will be signifcant differences in the three trends. So go ahead, you test his claims if you doubt, I've already done so on many occasions, that's what science is about.

BTW: When you find his claims don't hold water, don't be tempted to post a video about it on youtube because he will issue a false DCMA to try and shut you up.

Re:WUWT (0)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about 7 months ago | (#47347153)

What's the point? You fear to be infected? Read the argumentation for what it is and see if it make sense. If not, argument yourself on what you believe doesn't make sense. It is not because it has been published on such a site it is automatically wrong and evil. You offer no argumentation than saying it is coming from the enemy. You are acting exactly like a denier yourself.

Re:WUWT (3, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 months ago | (#47347193)

Indeed. Watts' opinion on anything climate related is about as relevant and enlightening as Fred Phelps opinion on gay bars.

Coal has downtime as well (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47346913)

A 4 unit coal fired power station will be lucky to have 80% availability.

Maintenance is continuous on those things, so they don't have 100% availability either.

Admitted, the downtime is handled on site (3 of 4 units still run while one is down), but that's WHY there's a power grid. So the counter argument has flaws as well.

Re:Coal has downtime as well (2, Interesting)

sl149q (1537343) | about 7 months ago | (#47347143)

Funny you should mention maintenance. Presumably the smaller generators on wind turbines will last longer with less maintenance. Especially since any maintenance that is required is distributed across a larger number of remote points (some in the ocean) and many feet in the air.

We have a gas fired plant locally that used to have yearly tours (sadly suspended after 9/11). Highly efficient and large turbines, but at the expense of frequent (well once every year or two if I recall) maintenance and overhauls. But large power plants have built in cranes to lift the turbines out of their cradles and move them to the attached tool shop that has all of the required tools and mechanics to rebuild them.

Wind turbines require that the mechanics with their tools get transported to the site, lifted in the air and then work in cramped and dangerous conditions. Of course if you are looking for a challenging and probably rewarding (financially) career the Wind Farm service industry is hiring. There are a lot of Wind Turbines coming off warranty.

Re:Coal has downtime as well (4, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#47347327)

With respect, wind turbines are tiny and although a great deal of maintenance is required it is both trivial and not constrained by time. So you are down 2MW - big deal, get around to fixing it next week when the crew is free.
Gas is also small and high maintenance with respect to coal (three to five years between shutdowns on well run coal fired plants), but it doesn't take very long to either build or fix the things in comparison.
The major reason wind is now a player is that the things are both a lot more reliable and easier to get going again than they used to be. Crews apparently swap things out and transport the damaged parts to be repaired in a shed instead of way up in the air.

Of course WUWT are going to play contrarians. (3, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#47346929)

That's what they're for here, right? The "more skeptical take" is a joke. It's a fundamental nature of intermittent power sources and a well known fact that you need an improved grid over a large geographic area to filter out the outliers. Picking out one installation is dishonest, and so is to claim that the energy being intermittent falsifies the original cumulative EROEI claim, which had nothing to do with whether one installation is continuously sufficient. It's a blatant straw man on WUWT's part.

Re:Of course WUWT are going to play contrarians. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347117)

Ha ha it's a denier site. There are more credulous cranks on wuwt than every bigfoot site combined, to judge by the rate they pound nails in the coffin of AGW.

As if "Watts Up" has any credibility (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47346931)

Whether or not the study is accurate, mentioning criticism from some climate change denier wingnut isn't exactly relevant. If he's either so ideological or mercenary as to spew that load of bunk, then his reasoning on just about everything is suspect.

WUWT has a more FUD take on the calculations... (2, Insightful)

amosh (109566) | about 7 months ago | (#47346935)

What the hell was that inserted for? It was an idiotic point made on a site which clearly has a political axe to grind. It wasn't made well. Anyone claiming to engage in a scientific debate with the phrase "by my own observation" deserves to be laughed out of the room.

This is supposed to be Slashdot, not Fox. Why the hell was this included?

Re:WUWT has a more FUD take on the calculations... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347039)

Perhaps you should start where he did, by looking at his observations on the observations: SurfaceStations.org/Odd Sites [surfacestations.org] (he started that site first)

Re:WUWT has a more FUD take on the calculations... (4, Informative)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about 7 months ago | (#47347171)

Well, forget WUWT and you will see there is not much calculations neither in the original claim and in fact, there is a big warning sign in the text, something the cost has not been taken into account in the evaluation but mandatory for their hypothesis to hold, here it is:

"Wind turbines are frequently touted as the answer to sustainable electricity production especially if coupled to high-capacity storage for times when the wind speed is either side of their working range."

So, they presume the high-capacity storage exists and it has zero cost. Seems to me a bit optimistic.

Haters gonna hate. (0)

msauve (701917) | about 7 months ago | (#47346943)

The entire rebuttal is based on wind power not being a constant source.

That, of course, in turn assumes that the power generated can't be buffered, such as with batteries or forms of large scale energy storage [wikipedia.org] . And it's not as if there doesn't already exist a nationwide power distribution system which can move energy from one area to another, depending on generating capacity and usage.

Re: Haters gonna hate. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47346987)

But the citation doesn't appear to include the costs of those "large scale energy storage" facilities. Nothing about batteries, hydralic lift storage, chemical stste change, etc. So it would appear to just as "biased". Or cheerleading, if you prefer.

Re: Haters gonna hate. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#47347035)

The percentage of energy storage required should decrease as the number of PV and wind installations and grid quality increases (the large area averaging/smoothing factor), and I guess the plan is to cover whatever remains with fast-acting energy sources like gas turbines, which can be powered with biogas to a considerable extent. (I also hope that cheap supercaps for stationary, low-density domestic energy storage will make a few breakthroughs in the decades to come, as these should be virtually maintenance-free.)

Re:Haters gonna hate. (3, Interesting)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 7 months ago | (#47346997)

So once a person factors in the battery and/or other large scale energy storage, does that change the calculus about the return?

Re:Haters gonna hate. (1)

Uecker (1842596) | about 7 months ago | (#47347077)

The energy storage thing is red herring. You balance with other sources.

Re:Haters gonna hate. (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 7 months ago | (#47347187)

OK, so then did it include the costs of the other sources? Typically wind turbines average around 24% of rated capacity [wikipedia.org] , so that means around four windmills needed to balance at a minimum. That should change the calculations a bit.

Re:Haters gonna hate. (1)

Uecker (1842596) | about 7 months ago | (#47347227)

Yes, but they already took a capacity factor into account.

Re:Haters gonna hate. (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#47347389)

OK, so then did it include the costs of the other sources?

With respect, if you are going to go that far you need at least a crude model of a real power grid to plug it into and the answer is going to vary very wildly depending on which one you use, the local climate etc.

It's also worth noting that the only people who advocate single sources of energy for a grid are salesfolk, fanboys, or people getting some sort of financial benefit from the salesfolk (eg. "lobbied" people in politics). Real grids tend to have things like pump storage or gas turbines to plug the gaps already in addition to a mix of energy sources - monocultures lead to single points of failure. So with some models you'd have another source paid for a decade ago with only running costs to worry about and others you'd need to buy something new.

Re: Haters gonna hate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347265)

Grid scale batteries run about $700,000 per 1 MWh of storage. You do the math.

That's not all (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#47347343)

Consumption varies as well. Wind is a nice way to deal with that since you can bring more power on line as needed in little 2MW chunks instead of having to fire up a boiler ahead of time to get 350MW.

Dumb - not snarky - responses (2)

satsuke (263225) | about 7 months ago | (#47346949)

And of course the skeptical take comment section is filled with non-researched and non-constructive comments about wind energy.

Almost as if being for or against green energy were an overt political statement than a well thought out business plan and energy policy.

(I'm from Kansas, we have nowhere near enough utilization of wind energy, despite several large wind farms in the western part of the state).

Not Real (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47346961)

Not on any engineering standard.

"Watts up With That" has zero credibility. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47346969)

You might as well post a link to a flat-earth website.

Show me the money! (4, Insightful)

Entrope (68843) | about 7 months ago | (#47346973)

If this wind farm expects payback in five to eight months, we should be able to find some other wind farm (anywhere) that had payback in less than a year, right? Does anybody have a pointer to that kind of success story?

Re:Show me the money! (4, Insightful)

thaylin (555395) | about 7 months ago | (#47346993)

That is not what it means by payback. The article, if you read it, means that the net cost of creating the turbine in terms of electricity and minerals is re-payed in 8 months, basically the cost to the environment.. Of course the skeptical site has nothing but a large strawman using the same type of argument you are using.

Re:Show me the money! (3, Insightful)

grim4593 (947789) | about 7 months ago | (#47347061)

That is an odd definition of payback. The raw material cost of creating something is irrelevant since you cannot buy anything at cost: there are always value-add processes and profit margins to consider.
That said, the GP is right, unless these wind turbines in the study have noticeable improvements compared to other turbines I would expect there to be similar installations around the country that are making profits/savings for their investors. There should either be news about those gains or news about how the investors who previously built wind turbines are investing even greater sums of money due to their success.

Re:Show me the money! (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 7 months ago | (#47347119)

How is it odd? There are monetary costs, there are external costs. If you can repay the monetary costs why can you not repay the external costs? In this case they are studying the external costs of the usage of nonrenewable power sources to create renewable power, and seeing where the environmental balance shifts. I mean if your entire world only revolves around your bank account then I can see how you would find it odd. This study does NOT talk about MONETARY ROI AT ALL.

Re:Show me the money! (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#47347223)

How is it odd?

It's odd because it's not a particularly relevant statistic (that is, if it didn't give a payback very quickly, then wind farms would be an utter waste).

What matters is when wind becomes cheaper than coal. That's when things get interesting.

Re:Show me the money! (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 7 months ago | (#47347159)

No, it is the embodied energy. It takes energy to turn ore into steel or to make the windings of a generator. Energy payback time is a consideration for how quickly a new energy source can build out. If, like WWII, we were to concentrate very hard on a task, the task of replacing our energy system quickly, if we all froze in the dark for half a year, we'd be finished using wind turbines. With current solar, we'd need a year and a half. Obviously, there are other things that would be hold ups, but the payback time is a hard limit.

Re:Show me the money! (1)

blue trane (110704) | about 7 months ago | (#47347177)

Here's a story about investors in traditional power generation plants in Texas looking at losses because of new alternative energy power production:

http://www.renewableenergyworl... [renewableenergyworld.com]

Re:Show me the money! (1, Insightful)

w3woody (44457) | about 7 months ago | (#47347121)

A payback analysis can be done very easily: how much does it cost to buy and install a 2MW turbine, how much does it cost to maintain a 2MW turbine each year, and what is the value of the resulting generated electricity?

One source has the cost at around $3 to $4 million to install a 2MW turbine. source [windustry.org]

In one year, assuming 20% capacity--which is not atypical in the real world--such a turbine would generate 3,504 mWh. (2mW * 365 * 24 * .2)

Using $50/mWh for the wholesale price of electricity (which I got from scanning the current wholesale prices listed here, [eia.gov] with $50/mWh eyeballed from column 'G'), I get a gross profit of $175,200/year for the generated power.

So just with my back-of-the-envelop calculations based on about 5 minutes with Google, the report seems to be bullshit.

Even if the numbers were off by a factor of two--remember, I only spent 5 minutes with Google--I don't see how you can make $116,800 (8 months of generated power) into $3 million (the installation cost quoted above), for large values of $116,800 and for small values of $3 million.

And notice what is missing from my admittedly stupid and simplistic analysis: the cost to run a standby generator, the cost of power storage, or the maintenance cost of the turbine, which I assume like any complex machine requires periodic maintenance.

The problem with research reports like this is that they do their hardest to not talk about the actual costs involved, and instead focus on a very small subset of the costs of construction. In this case it looks like we focused strictly on the power used to construct the turbine, and not the overall material costs, or labor costs. It's the only way I can explain a greater than one order of magnitude gap.

Re:Show me the money! (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 7 months ago | (#47347233)

You missed a key word in the title: "energy." What is the energy payback time? So, how much energy went into making the steel and the blades and the generator windings? It is different from money.

Re:Show me the money! (1)

Entrope (68843) | about 7 months ago | (#47347355)

Or maybe we just applied a sensible reading of "energy payback time" -- to wit, the time it takes for the energy output to pay off the total investment in the equipment -- rather than the stupidly narrow jargon that some people use, which pretends that human labor, raw materials, operational risks, and everything except electricity have negligible cost.

Re:Show me the money! (2)

Entrope (68843) | about 7 months ago | (#47347201)

Why does the article think it gets to define its own meaning of "payback"? If I can basically pick and choose which cost factors to consider, and have a lot of leeway to fudge (some or most of) those numbers because they are not anything that people try to objectively measure, of course I can calculate a ridiculously short payback period. You have really only said that the article is not worth the electrons it is transmitted with, and that we should treat its authors as charlatans.

Doesn't everybody know that by now? (2)

Are You Kidding (1734126) | about 7 months ago | (#47346977)

The advocates of wind energy make no claim that the wind generators will run 24/7. Nevertheless, calculating payback as if they do provides a convenient comparison to other power sources. In practice, a combination of wind, solar and natural gas can economically provide power and greatly reduce the generation of greenhouse gasses and should cost less as usage of the technology grows. In fact, similar technology works for hybrid cars and for Florida Power & Light's hybrid gas / solar electric plant (http://www.fpl.com/environment/solar/projects.shtml). Obviously this is still an experimental arrangement, but it works for cars, so why not commercial electric power?

I'm a researcher and I say.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347003)

I declare that I'm a researcher. I have no creditdentials but that doesn't matter. I am a researcher. Look at me and listen.

The sky is BLUE! Yes! Blue. Obama is the greatest president since Stalin! And 1+1 equals -2 when it comes to government spending as every dollar spent is worth at least twice the opposite.

Geez, I'm a slashdot genious. Yuck Yuck.

Slashdot has drunk the KoolAid (3, Interesting)

ishmaelflood (643277) | about 7 months ago | (#47347009)

Oddly enough both of the calculations in the OP were correct, yes, the wind turbine generates energy equivalent to its energy of manufacture quite quickly, and yes it is still a bad idea to rely on wind energy for use in a national grid except for a tiny percentage, each MW of wind turbine relies on an additional MW of conventional generators if you want 24/7 availability, or I suppose you could try energy storage, which ought to be added to the turbine operating cost and energy payback.

Interesting to see such knee jerk support for an inappropriate technology. I wonder if the posters above have ever thought through why Germany is /reducing/ its reliance on wind turbines?

Re: Slashdot has drunk the KoolAid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347043)

So, wind energy only needs a 100% match for the power grid to work as intended yet can never be more than a tiny fraction of said grid? Those two statements don't exactly align with each other.

Re: Slashdot has drunk the KoolAid (1)

Stumbles (602007) | about 7 months ago | (#47347053)

Neither does the idea of relying on wind power.

Re: Slashdot has drunk the KoolAid (1)

ishmaelflood (643277) | about 7 months ago | (#47347059)

Which part of 'additional' didn't you understand?

Re:Slashdot has drunk the KoolAid (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 7 months ago | (#47347057)

...Germany is /reducing/ its reliance on wind turbines

That's news to me. Have any proof for that?

Re:Slashdot has drunk the KoolAid (3, Informative)

ishmaelflood (643277) | about 7 months ago | (#47347373)

Sorry, I misread the article, they are capping the growth in new WT installation for the next 6 years to about 80% of recent growth rates, and are building several new coal plants, whether that results in a net reduction in % windpower depends on economic growth achieved, ie crystal ball.

Re:Slashdot has drunk the KoolAid (2)

Uecker (1842596) | about 7 months ago | (#47347063)

What do you mean by Germany is reducing its reliance on wind turbines? Germany is scaling up all kinds of renewables. They way you get reliable energy out of it by averaging over large areas, by having a mix of energy production (e.g. solar and wind complement each other fairly well in Germany) and by having additional plants which can quickly adapt to demand (i.e. not nuclear and coal, but gas or biomass). This works well.

"Inappropriate" Conclusion. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347155)

According to the chart in this article,


Germany has not significantly reduced megawatts from wind turbines. Adding other renewable sources is simply a wise move.

Germany (4, Informative)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 7 months ago | (#47347173)

The price of electricity is falling in Germany owing to renewable energy. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/... [bloomberg.com] They like wind power.

Re:Germany (1, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#47347231)

The article you linked to is titled, Germany’s New Coal Plants Push Power Glut to 4-Year High. That doesn't sound like renewable energy.

KoolAid? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347175)

Germany supplies about 10% of its electricity from wind. That is not a tiny percentage. In Brandenburg, 78 percent of all electricity now comes from wind turbines, photovoltaic panels or from burning biomass. Best to use multiple renewable energy sources. But it's not suprising to see knee jerk opposition to renewables. Those who make shitloads of money from selling high pollution carbon fuels also spend shitloads of money spreading FUD and dissinformation intended to undermine support for the alternatives.

The alternatives are very expensive. (1)

daninaustin (985354) | about 7 months ago | (#47347387)

What's the average cost per kWh for electricity in the US vs Germany? It's 12c in the US and 36c in Germany. Don't try and tell us how wonderful the green energy is when it's 3x the cost.

Re:Slashdot has drunk the KoolAid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347211)

each MW of wind turbine relies on an additional MW of conventional generators if you want 24/7 availability, or I suppose you could try energy storage

Energy storage is the only way to go. Hence you need some sort of hydroelectric storage, like pumped water storage, either on land or sea. The storage on sea where you pump water out of an enclosure has promise, but still is limited to sea areas.

In either case, a single 1.5GWe nuclear reactor is about equivalent to about 2,000 of these 2MW turbines (excellent wind areas get about 40% yield) *with* storage. So I guess it depends how much space you have. Replacing only 50GWe of power to wind would require about 65,000 of these turbines. So if you place 1 turbine every 1km, you need a square 255km on each side with just turbines. That would be some sight to see.

I wonder if the posters above have ever thought through why Germany is /reducing/ its reliance on wind turbines?

Because Germany does not have hydro *and* wind locations can only be installed on the north coast and consumption is in the south. There are also people bitching about high voltage power lines going north-south.

If Germany had some decent amount of hydroelectric power, wind would be an excellent multiplier of that installbase. But that's not the case....

That will be a first (1, Funny)

amightywind (691887) | about 7 months ago | (#47347015)

Windmill pay for themselves? That will be the first. The high school down the street has a multi-million dollar feel good sculpture. It's never turning. Of course leftist activist researchers will encourage us to bankrupt ourselves.

Re:That will be a first (0)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 7 months ago | (#47347069)

The plural of "anecdote" isn't "data".

Re:That will be a first (1)

amightywind (691887) | about 7 months ago | (#47347111)

With the huge number of windmills the chance of it being a statistical outlier are small. They are a fraud.

Re:That will be a first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347203)

anecdote data point != Fraud

There's a net payback after a short time period? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347029)


So we can eliminate the enormous subsidies to the wind turbine business, since and rely on private investment in the wind business (any rational investor would see an decent return on investment).

Or, the more likely case, this analysis is full of BS.

Re:There's a net payback after a short time period (2)

thaylin (555395) | about 7 months ago | (#47347047)

Or you did not read/cannot comprehend the study, which has nothing to do with repayment of monetary investment in the turbine... It is repayment of environmental resources used.

Re:There's a net payback after a short time period (1)

Entrope (68843) | about 7 months ago | (#47347225)

If the analysis was in terms of "environmental resources used", how many months does it take before the wind turbine produces enough steel, rare earths, and other raw materials to let us produce an identical turbine?

Really?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347033)

What's with all the editorial denier chum on slashdot? Linking to WATTATWAT is like linking to a creation site for balance every time someone submits a story about evolution.

Stupid argument (4, Informative)

m.dillon (147925) | about 7 months ago | (#47347067)

It's hilarious watching people argue over a topic that has already been shown to be a non-issue. The EIA (US) and German statistics show that, in aggregate, wind-energy sources produce a relatively steady amount of power. Individual turbines and even whole wind farms might not be deterministic, but all the wind farms taken together... are.


Strawman argument from climate denialists (0)

Bifurcati (699683) | about 7 months ago | (#47347081)

Did we really just link to a climate denialist site? Beyond that, did anyone read their article? They're note disputing the energy payback period - if they can't even find a way of fighting that, you know it's true. What they're doing is using a strawman argument to debate whether renewables can supply all our power needs in the future. That's a completely separate question. Right now - a wind farm produces all its creation energy in 6-12 months. End of story.

C'mon, Slashdot. You need to retract that editorial - and Timothy needs to have a think about his credentials.

Balance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347103)

On one side you have a comprehensive study of the total cost of a wind turbine over its entire lifespan, detailing each and every aspect of that cost. And on the other side you have somone saying "sometimes in some places there's no wind". How can you oppose these two kind of arguments?

Where's the study that shows on the globe map the minimum wind energy available at all times within transportable distance? That would be cold hard fact impossible to argue and that would definitely validate or invalidate the viability of wind energe on a large scale.

What's your definition of skeptical? (1)

jgoemat (565882) | about 7 months ago | (#47347133)

Please read the "skeptical" article with a skeptical eye. The poor guy goes through all the work to get the specs and highlights the minimum wind speed rate of 4m/s for the turbines to work. He also links to an excellent page showing wind patters and letting you see wind speed across the country.

But then, he goes off the rails. He can "tell from his own experience" that the wind doesn't always blow that fast and "look at all the blue, which means low wind speed". The big problem is that he didn't go one extra step and actually click on the map to check wind speeds. Almost all of the blue is above the required 4m/s for the turbines. The green is actually too fast. The maximum wind speeds for the turbines are 25m/s and the green areas are over 30.

Poor guy, how embarassing for him. That could have been avoided with a few clicks.

Re:What's your definition of skeptical? (1)

jgoemat (565882) | about 7 months ago | (#47347189)

Ok, I've looked at it more and it is more like 1/3 - 1/2 what looks blue than 'nearly all', but still...

Re:What's your definition of skeptical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347287)

The graphic of nationwide wind patterns is stupid. You don't build megawatt wind farms in someone's back yard. They're built in areas that have high wind.

Nice phrasing... (1, Insightful)

cirby (2599) | about 7 months ago | (#47347165)

"the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation" ...but not the time to produce enough energy to pay back the actual cost of the machine, including labor and materials.

The actual study is very, very careful to NOT claim that it will pay back the total system cost. It's just the amount of energy used in production and installation, not the cost of raw materials and labor.

What's up with the plant link? (4, Interesting)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 7 months ago | (#47347209)

"Watts Up With That? has a more skeptical take on the calculations."

And if you look at the site it's pretty much a site full of straw men and attacks on climate change friendly politicians and scientists, with little actual scientific facts (besides the grandiose endorsement of it's own content.)

Why is this link even here? Did someone just randomly Google it and stick it on there because, hey, it's on the internet? Or did someone want the site to get more page views?

C'mon editors. This is news for nerds. Not news my uncle sent me in his email about how Obama is part of the illuminati.

watts up with that? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347221)

to be fair, i havent read their current analysis of this particular project. but watts up with that is well known to be well wrong about well lots :)

Tony L'Abbottomy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47347395)

Someone should tell the Australian Prime Minister this - It's clear renewable Energy works - what doesn't work is our Prime Ministers brain. It's a shame when someone mind is hell bent on destroying a country, no amount of scientific facts can persuade them.

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