Cuckoo time in energy

Posted: July 7, 2012 by tchannon in Energy

Over on suggestions Zeke a long time reader raised the matter of windmills as a subject.

I would welcome Zeke expanding.

As it happens WUWT have a post up pointing to a fairly sane article at the IEEE site

Some of of you will not know IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). I was in an allied field for years but bodies like that tend to boil my blood, are too overbearing so I never seriously considered subscribing.

You want reality, don’t listen to Politicians or Scientists.

The author of the article, Vaclav Smil, is from a culture and region where historically there are many good engineers, mittel Europe, old Austria and surroundings, which is not Germany.

Do I agree with the IEEE article? Only in part, is a classic of being taken on the real problem, is diverted to what hand sitters want. The actually problem is massively larger: –

They talk about replacing energy sources then do a dance to divert attention to a small part of the whole, to electricity generation. Sorry, that does not address air, land, sea or much of manufacturing (including bringing back exported manufacturing). You want renewables then you can jolly well stop cherry picking, do the whole thing, which can be done given a high grade energy source, electricity. I reckon this means 10X and more generation capacity than installed today. Given that, wind, solar are flea bites.

Posted by Tim Channon, co-moderator. This does not necessarily reflect the views of Tallbloke. (who is absent on other matters)

  1. Joe Lalonde says:


    We harness energy in the most inefficient and wasteful way.
    The problem is we NEVER understood the factors of using a circle to harness energy compared to a straight line(which really does not exist naturally).
    A turbine uses a full circle of space and ONLY a small portion of the blade actually harnesses energy. The rest of the blade is drag due to the velocity differences of a circle within a circle within a circle. An engineer can push the massive blade on the outside but does not have enough strength to push it from the center closest to the shaft. It is the same effect as a lever(to move a stone with a pole and pivot point(if permitted, it would generate a full circle as well)).
    The second is centrifugal force becomes a factor as soon as motion is involved.
    With water turbines, the mistake is that the faster the blade spins, the more blow back from centrifugal force and the more friction is generated against the housing.
    Inversion of this process is very efficient as then centrifugal force become a partner and not the enemy.

  2. Ceri Phipps says:

    The people who should be making most noise about this ridiculous idea of supplying more and more electricity from wind is the electricity industry itself. They aren’t going to do this though because of the money. They get paid a subsidy to generate it and are allowed (by the regulator) a guaranteed rate of return for distributing it. Its a license to print money.

  3. Joe Lalonde says:

    Ceri Phipps,

    It is worse than that. Manufacturers are perfectly happy to keep the status quo of not changing anything. It is far more profitable to sell 18-20 turbines and all the parts than one highly efficient unit.
    Governments want the market system to regulate itself rather than be involved to generate a more cheaper and efficient product. More taxes being taken in by higher prices than having and extremely cheap supply.

  4. Tenuc says:

    Our energy policy is a shambles in UK. We have plenty of coal and shale gas reserves, but still following the green dream of wind power, which is fast turning into an economic nightmare.

    Luckily, us Brits have the answer to these noisy blots on the landscape…

    “Thieves turn to windfarm sites for scrap metal cash”

    … 🙂

  5. Hans says:

    Smil´s article contains much common sense. It is very clerver to listen to what engineers are saying.
    Each one might have a limited scoop of knowledge (speciality) but it is possible to listen to several in different fields to realize basic facts based on much experience making countries to prosper.
    They are trained and forced to make things work and not get lost in fantasy land or they will lose their jobs. This limitation does not exist for politicians who easily tells BS to get elected for another period regardles of what their bad decisons will cost their home land.
    Political panic actions as the decision to close down all nuclear power in Germany is nothing more than insane, costly and unresponsable.
    The sunami in Japan did kill people, not the nuclear power stations that did mallfunction. When will a sunami be a threat to German nuclear power stations?

  6. Zeke says:

    Thanks Tim. In the suggestions I posted a quote from Renewable Energy Foundation, a UK website which carefully documents and tracks the outputs, the subsidies, the expense to consumers, and the subsequent payments made to windfleets, after they are built. This is an excellent website to use in analyzing the real numbers from the UKs wind energy debacle, as it unfolds.

    It is also instructive for anyone in the world, because the UK politicians are now scrambling to meet extremely strict, arbitrary carbon emissions reductions which they signed into law in the Climate Change Act. The outrageous cost of the Renewable Energy addition to the energy sector is both seen and unseen. Unseen costs include the introduction of price volatility, intermittent supply, and constraint payments made back to wind farms, often at several times the going rate of electricity in the area.

    In the US, my concern is that we will soon be facing the marketing of the 20/20 solution – that is, 20% Renewable Energy use by 2020 – right after our elections. The carbon emissions reductions regulations were all done without the consent of voters or Congress, but by fiat through the EPA and by court decisions. These ghg regulations are now in place.

    The question is, is the 20 by 20 a free-market solution to ghg regulations?

  7. Zeke says:

    As German commenter on WUWT DirkH observed: “I think they intentionally designed the renewables feed-in law in all its nonfunctional glory to destroy the energy market.”

    Absolutely. Renewable Energy is so designed that even 20% (by 2020) will have disastrous consequences for the energy sector. First, it introduces intermittent power sources which create price volatility and unpredictable supply. That is in itself mischief to the market because it is necessary to know costs before you produce anything.

    For the consumer, the unreliable supply means that power will be unavailable when it is needed most.

    Renewable Energy requires subsidies, which are seen, but after that, the constraint payments made to wind and solar owners are totally unaccountable and would require an enormous bureaucracy just to trace who was paid constraint payments, at what rates, and why. Was the wind in reality not blowing? Was the wind blowing too hard? Or did the constraint payment cover a peak hour? Why are constraint payments often made at several times the going rate for electricity?

    The 20 by 20 is not an “all of the above” “free market solution” to ghg regulations. It will be sold that way but it is not. 20/20 is enough to introduce ruin to any nation’s economy.


  8. Zeke says:

    From the IEEE story “A Skeptic Looks at Alternative Energy”

    “An example is the 2008 plan promoted by former vice president Al Gore, which called for replacing all fossil-fueled generation in the United States in just a decade. Another is Google’s plan…which envisaged cutting out coal generation by 2030. Trumping them all was a 2009 article in Scientific American by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil engineering at Stanford University, and Mark Delucchi, a researcher in transportation studies at the University of California, Davis. They proposed converting the energy economy of the entire world to renewable sources by 2030.”

    The Institute of Electrical and Electronics What?

    This blog post is most encouraging to see on IEEE Spectrum. I am afraid it is a rare exception to the usual coverage of energy issues. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has unfortunately conformed to the global warming culture, like all of the rest of the scientific societies**, and its publication is repleat with Renewable Energy solutions to the easily disproven Antrhopogenic Global Warming hypothesis.

    For example, a recent article on The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Spectrum pointed out the necessity for greater use of Renewable Energy in order to reduce co2 emissions, and went on to suggest the need for future development of back-up battery storage technology for wind and solar energy.

    This begs the question: what kind of engineer would build a building with intermittent power, and no back-up storage technology? What kind of engineer would build a building for human habitation with expensive, intermittent power sources, before the delivery grid and storage was in place, and which would be later installed and at unkown cost? No engineer would ever do a thing like that. If he did, he would be censured and removed from practice, or have his license suspended. No engineer in private practice would or could do what academics and governments are now legislating into the economies of the world.

    **a story in itself

  9. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Zeke: I changed of a radio station I was hearing this morning, when they began their repetitive nagging about energy from wastes…We are tired, they are not. It does not matter anymore if windmills have a yield of 2.35%, as recorded in Finland. Hope generalized occident bankruptcy will trash all these silly projects.

  10. Roger Andrews says:

    “The most ardent supporters of solar, wind, and biomass argue that these sources can replace fossil fuels and create highly reliable, nonpolluting, carbon-free systems priced no higher than today’s cheapest coal-fired electricity generation, all in just a few decades. That would be soon
    enough to prevent the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide from its current level of 394 parts per million to more than 450 ppm—at which point, climatologists estimate, the average global temperature will rise by 2 °C.”

    Interesting how someone who concludes that the ardent supporters of solar, wind and biomass don’t know what they’re talking about – and provides hard facts to back this conclusion up – is apparently prepared to believe what “climatologists” say about global warming without even checking.

  11. TG McCoy says:

    Here in Ne Oregon USA we have the exact same problem. We have the Power companies
    -like our own that are building palaces for the several offices, our rates go up and they now seem to have ignited a huge opposition.
    “Happiness is a warm fast breeder.”

  12. gallopingcamel says:

    Tenuc (July 7, 2012 at 8:54 pm)

    “Luckily, us Brits have the answer to these noisy blots on the landscape……thieves turn to windfarm sites for scrap metal cash”.

    Thieves are nature’s way of telling you to change your behavior. The ancient Egyptians had tomb robbers and us Brits had copper thieves removing the phone lines that used to run along railways in the UK.

    Standard Telecommunications Laboratories in Harlow invented the optical fibers that replaced all those copper phone lines. The thieves can still steal the cables but all they will get is some cheap plastic (polyethylene & PVC) plus some silicon dioxide (sand).

  13. gallopingcamel says:

    TG McCoy says:
    “Happiness is a warm fast breeder.”

    I can’t disagree with that but the Uranium will only last 100,000 years so “viva la LFTR”.

  14. Brian H says:

    Hans says:
    July 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    The sunami in Japan did kill people, not the nuclear power stations that did mallfunction. When will a sunami be a threat to German nuclear power stations?

    When the UK sinks beneath the waves, Hamburg will be washed 1000 km inland.

  15. Zeke says:

    With theives like that, who needs MPs? (:

    Although, the theives don’t quite balance the sheet because each turbine foundation requires between 500 and 1,000 tonnes of concrete and aggregate, and these tend to crack from the stress.

    You still need to get rid of more MPs, while maintaining current levels of scrapmetal theives.