Wind Power Operating, Maintenance Costs Drop 38 Percent
The costs of wind power are falling, not only for turbine cost and performance, but also for operating and maintaining wind farms. Shown here, Siemens service engineers work in a wind turbine's gondola. (Source: Siemens)
The best projections of the viability of intermittant renewables such as wind and solar are around 10-15% of the available power required. As others have said, it simply needs storage to get past that 15%. I love reneawables, but I acknowledge the problem.
This IS absolutely fantastic news. I can't full digest the fact that the scientists & surveyors have located this less expensive cache of reliable wind!
We'll finally be able to wean ourselves off those nasty legacy fuels, petroleum & coal!
Mark my words! In a short time it WILL be disclosed that the U.S. has the greatest natural supply of wind than any other country on the face of the Earth, but a minor problem may exist in that they will have to "frack" it from one specific area, notably, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Of course, there will be those detractors that will claim it will be environmentally irresponsible to frack in such a densely populated area, but the gov't will somehow find a way to offset that with an energy tax credit.
It is great to read that the cost of generating electrical power from wind is falling, but YEP, I agree, wind is not 100% available. It changes with location, season, time of day, and weather. We will never be able to rely on wind or solar energy completely until we develop a cost-effective means to store energy.
I've noticed a severe lack of in-depth studies on the secondary effects of so many alternative energy "solutions." Examples: I've observed huge numbers of dense arrays of windmill/s/turbines (most recently in the I-55 corridor in central Illinois, and in eastern Germany). These are obviously located in extremely low population density areas; however, the energy produced is generally consumed (and eventually turned back into heat energy!) in high population density areas far away. Logically, this is equivalent to transfer of entropic energy to places already contributing far more than the average density of same globally. Could this actually result in WEATHER/CLIMATE MODIFICATION? I would guess that soemwhere around 100% of the fervent supporters of "alternatiive energy" are also extremely concerned with what is now referred to as "Man-caused Cilmate Modification." Is there a reason this possibility is ignored? The same applies to most other forms of alternative energy, including geothermal and tidal. 50 years ago, I was part of a research project at MIT looking into alternative energy. The one I chose to investigate was exploitation of the ocean thermocline (Google it, no room to explain here!). I proposed using thermoelectric piles composed of platinum and carbon, chosen because of relative chemical inertness. Then there is the economic analysis ("Engineering Economics" was a REQUIRED course back then). The ocean deeps are not exactly a benign environment chemically! I calculated the rate of erosion of the Pt electrodes. Even at the then-price of Pt @ $50/troy ounce (31g), the lifecycle cost of the Pt was far greater than the value of the total lifelime energy produced!
If you perform a true systems analysis of tidal energy, you'd realize that this is absolutely NOT "renewable" as it utilizes a finite resource: the angular momentum of the Moon! Way too many "true believers" simply wear blinders, or are ignorant of the complexities of reality, or just find it inconvenient to consider this truth (NO apologies to Al Gore, BTW!). Of course, the previous posting applies equally well to solar.
A "well-done" to my colleague old_curmudgeon for the "fracking" reference, BTW. I've seen HUNDREDS of posts on various topics in DN extolling the virtues of "natural gas" that ignore the only reason it is by far the most economic source of energy is the widespread use of new fracking techniques. Personally, I find the trade-offs in fracking quite acceptable; however, if challenged, I suspect the vast majority of the AE proponents here would avoid this factor!
Many of the older wind turbine designs are maintenance "hogs".
- eddy currents in generators requiring slip rings created etched pits in the bearings of the generators... Newer designs don't have this problem. (not an issue with REALLY old induction systems - too bad they have such limited operating speed range)
- generator or transmission replacement required large cranes on older designs. This was a MAJOR expense. Newest designs don't require this.
- Newer blade designs require less maintenance. And what maintenance required will likely be automated - as noted.
- Newer designs have much better SCADA systems for remote monitoring.
In a industry (power generation) that is exceptionally risk adverse, this means they will start to view future investments in a more positive light. Maintenance costs of older turbine installations have given the industry a bad taste concerning "true" costs.
Yes .. alternative energy sources will require some new breakthroughs in energy storage to become a larger part of the energy "pie"... likely required in future regardless of energy source.
By the way... the photo caption appears to be wrong. The techs are in a nacelle. Gondolas are something very different (specific boat design or under a balloon/airship or suspended cable car). Worked in the industry - never heard someone refer to the nacelle as a gondola.
Storage is a strawman arguement that has no merit. Why is any energy put in is used then as it always has. The utility adjusts just like it does to demand and has for 100 yrs which is far more variable than wind supply is.
Plus big wind doesn't just stop but ramps down, up and as more wind is added over larger areas it averages out.
I don't see anyone talking about when nukes scram which happens far more often than most realize cutting a whole GW in a second!! Yet utilities handle that many x's/yr. Isn't GW in 1 second far worse than 50MW's of wind in the worse case over 15 minutes?
Doesn't NG generators now throttle to 50% power with good eff solve any precieved problems with either supply or demand?
We have multiple storage that is under $10/kw yet how come almost none of it is used on the grid?
Ratsky, your point on tidal is so bad I won't say to be polite. Tidal happens every day 2-4times and in different places happens at different times. Renewable means it continues and has nothing to do with the amount though it is huge. So why are you making that very wrong point? One would have to say you have some sort of bias to say such obvious misinformation.
Your point is RE causes climate modification is laughable. A WT cause no more problem than a hill of the same size. Solar has no change either. Tidal like others is so tiny to be ignored as less than similar size natural obstructions, etc. Or are you blaming rocks underwater, hills above for climate change?
All these pale compared to fossil fuels and their damage to climate and economies because of the damage they do which is foisted off into YOUR taxes. So I assume you like your taxes raised from having to clean up their mess, pollution deaths, air, land and water destruction and economic recessions from oil price shocks plus protecting international oil companies for free be my guest but I think otherwise.
One might not be intrusive. But typically the windmills are built in groups of 10+ in small clusters. It definitely changes the horizon. Especially since they tend to be put in areas with high average winds, which typically have few trees, which means these things are seen for miles.
So your argument against storage being a problem is to say the grid just handles it and there's not an issue. I think the main question is how do we collect wind energy on the 200 or so days when it is windy and use it during all 365 days of the year. We are not necessarily talking about spikes but wind generation that is just not constant.
Being in the midwest I know that the payback period is still so long that most farmers are not jumping at the chance to put that money in now for something that will take so long to pay back.
However, several farmers do like the idea of renting some area to someone else for the wind rights so to speak. It allows them to have a steady year round income.
Regarding the cornstalks. There are still quite a few hurdles. While some will spend the money to bale the stalks and then take them to be processed. The are taking valuable nutrients from the stalk off of the land that will later need to be replaced by fertilizers.
All and all I think progress is being made and eventually they will be able to process more and more and then replace more and more efficiently, but it is still relatively new.
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