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But there are limits that could hold wind back from growing

A new study from Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences says that the generating capacity of large-scale wind farms isn't quite as high as scientists previously thought.

The study was led by Harvard applied physicist David Keith, who showed that we may not have access to as much wind power as once thought. Keith is an internationally renowned expert on climate science.

According to Keith's study, individual wind turbines each create a "wind shadow," which is where air is slowed by the drag on the turbine's blades. Wind farms with as many turbines packed into an area as possible but with just the right amount of spacing in between them are optimal for decreasing this drag.

However, the larger these wind farms are, the more they communicate and regional-scale wind patterns are even more important. Keith said previous generating capacity of large-scale wind farms ignored the drags and these wind patterns.

Keith's study said that the generating capacity of large-scale wind farms that are larger than 100 square kilometers could peak anywhere from 0.5 and 1 watts per square meter. Prior estimates put these figures at 2 to 7 watts per square meter.


“If wind power’s going to make a contribution to global energy requirements that’s serious, 10 or 20 percent or more, then it really has to contribute on the scale of terawatts in the next half-century or less,” said Keith.

But there are limits that could hold wind back from growing. Keith said that if wind were to exceed 100 terawatts, it would have a huge impact on global winds and eventually climate -- which could negatively affect climate more than doubling CO2.

“Our findings don't mean that we shouldn’t pursue wind power—wind is much better for the environment than conventional coal—but these geophysical limits may be meaningful if we really want to scale wind power up to supply a third, let’s say, of our primary energy,” said Keith. 

“It’s clear the theoretical upper limit to wind power is huge, if you don't care about the impacts of covering the whole world with wind turbines. What’s not clear—and this is a topic for future research—is what the practical limit to wind power would be if you consider all of the real-world constraints. You'd have to assume that wind turbines need to be located relatively close to where people actually live and where there's a fairly constant wind supply, and that they have to deal with environmental constraints. You can’t just put them everywhere.”

Keith concluded that we'll need to find sources for tens of terawatts of carbon-free power "within a human lifetime" in order to stabilize the Earth's climate.

“It’s worth asking about the scalability of each potential energy source—whether it can supply, say, 3 terawatts, which would be 10 percent of our global energy need, or whether it’s more like 0.3 terawatts and 1 percent," said Keith.

Source: Harvard University



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RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By GotThumbs on 2/27/2013 10:37:17 AM , Rating: 5
I agree.

Many people may cite Chernobyl as a reason against nuclear power, but those people do not know the facts about how Chernobyl even happened.

The dopes at the controls(now dead), disabled multiple security/safety systems within the plant, to "Test" how much energy is generated during shut-down of the reactor. There was no explosion. It was a burst of steam that damaged the building and even the reactor was lacking a containment dome like US and many other reactors have.

The key point is that Chernobyl occurred and many people died, because idiots were playing with the system and doing exactly what they shouldn't have done.

Also, Nuclear waste is not green slime. It's anything that has radiation contamination. Could be a suit, tools, water, etc.

Ignorance of the facts is this countries biggest handicap.

Wind has its place, but it is NOT the single fix-all solution IMO.

Best wishes


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By GotThumbs on 2/27/13, Rating: 0
RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By casteve on 2/27/2013 11:04:19 AM , Rating: 5
Now, let us put it into context:

440 thousand bird deaths by wind turbines
1 billion deaths due to window collisions
http://web4.audubon.org/bird/at_home/SafeWindows.h...

3.7 billion killed by cats.
http://www.goldengateaudubon.org/blog-posts/number...


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By Flunk on 2/27/2013 11:19:03 AM , Rating: 2
So, you're saying we can't have cats?


By freeagle on 2/27/2013 11:36:54 AM , Rating: 5
No, he's saying we should put cats on wind turbines


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By Mint on 2/27/2013 11:19:14 AM , Rating: 3
I don't support wind power, but what you posted is a brilliant refute of a meaningless point with actual data.

Failure to put numbers in context is the #1 folly of the media, and thus the public is grossly misinformed. It's used to make neocons angry about EVs, make liberals angry about AGW inaction, make everyone think earmarks are a big part of their taxes, etc.


By maugrimtr on 3/1/2013 7:29:10 AM , Rating: 2
It doesn't let wind generation off the hook though. It's an industry in its infancy. What happens when it doubles and triples from its current size? How many endangered eagles are killed by window collisions anyway?

Yes, Fox used the numbers out of context and in their eagerness to paint wind as a problem neglected to some...you know...real journalism, but their point is valid despite being poorly presented. Turbines do kill protected bird species and wind power companies are not held accountable for it.

I like the concept of renewable energy but we shouldn't kid ourselves. It has unwelcome side effects and there should be a motivation to reduce those.


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By Theguynextdoor on 2/27/2013 11:49:39 AM , Rating: 4
LOL

Let's put it into context...

How many billion of windows are there in the world?

How many billion cats are their in the world?

Are cats no longer a part of the ecosystem?

Now how many bil - erh...million wind turbines are in the world? Now muliply that by the number that it would take to get to at least a billion, which is the ultimate goal of to meeting power demands. Now muliply that by the number of deaths of births. Oh but don't forget that it's no linear, because the higher number of turbines mean greater density, which leads to higher rate of deaths.

Your 'context' is on par with saying, well Stalin killed 30million of his own people, why's everyone making a big deal that Hitler killed ONLY 6 million people that he didn't even like!

The point is, you can refute the findings as insignificant, but it is. Wind turnbines aren't going away any time soon and there are plans for much much more. But that doesn't mean we should stop thinking of ways to make them safer.


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By Mint on 2/27/2013 11:58:45 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Your 'context' is on par with saying, well Stalin killed 30million of his own people, why's everyone making a big deal that Hitler killed ONLY 6 million people that he didn't even like!
You are obviously sorely lacking in ability to process context as well.

A 1/5 is a slightly different fraction than 1/10,000, genius.


By Theguynextdoor on 2/27/2013 12:02:09 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, way to go, high-five on completly missing the point!


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By Theguynextdoor on 2/27/2013 12:12:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, way to go, high-five on completly missing the point!

I mean, the OP only compared data from something that exists in the BILLIONS to something that barely over a million exists (Now put that in fractions math genius) and then compares it to another statistic that is a part of the ecology before wind turbines and people existed and you'll see my 'context' is just as ridiculous as his. I mean half a million birth deaths caused by humans is a not a big deal, and 30 million human deaths wasn't a big deal to Stalin, why should 6 million be a big deal for anyone else?


By Theguynextdoor on 2/27/2013 12:14:20 PM , Rating: 2
Damn it, I keep misspelling birds. LoL.


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By Mint on 2/27/2013 3:28:48 PM , Rating: 1
First of all, asshole, a human life is worth a more than a bird's. It's a joke that you're even making this comparison.

Secondly, 6 million deaths is a lot in context . It's 60%+ of jews, and even ~2% of the European population. Both figures are orders of magnitude larger than 1/10,000th of natural deaths, which would be about 400/yr. The latter would NOT have started a world war.

Your analogy is therefore complete garbage.


By Theguynextdoor on 2/27/2013 4:09:22 PM , Rating: 3
LoL,

I don't know if you're just dense or you just like making asinine comments.

I know 6 million deaths is a lot. And I know it is out of context, that is my point . Since you want to play this little statistics game, let's break it down.

He's belittling the fact that 440k bird deaths from wind turbines. That's almost 1 bird death for EVERY 2 WIND TURBINES, that's also data collected ONLY from the wind farms not even small industrial buildings. There are over ~200 billion windows in existance around the world. Now do the math. How is the data that out of context and not important. Another important fact that is also overlooked is that the birds being killed are not small birds that are normally killed by windows and cats, but medium to large sized birds whom do not produce en masse.

Now *think* about what would happen if we produced 1 billion wind turbines. I don't think I can explain it any more simply then this. That 1/10000 isn't quite the same now is it? This is a problem. To say that this is insignificant is to the same as saying 6 million deaths is nothing to 30 million deaths, I mean clearly the 30 million deaths should be looked at first! That is the point that the OP is trying to refute and I am pointing out his folly.

Second, I am really am laughing that you are taking this so personally and think I really am a souless human because I made this comparison. Go ahead and assume I am an asshole to compare human life to a bird's (I'm not, but you already clearly missed that point).

Look, I don't know who you are and what you done for your fellow human, therefore I cannot judge you on that. But I can say that I am not the best human being, but I know and my friends know what I am and what type of person I am. I'm just not understanding why you're so butthurt about my response to the OP's post, or maybe is it because you took it personally that you and him both tried to claim that your "data" makes his meaningless, when in truth it only makes it more serious.

So cheers mate, go ahead and downrate my posts and bury it to oblivion. But remember, that just like the point you both were making, you need to dig deeper.


By Reclaimer77 on 2/27/2013 3:35:03 PM , Rating: 2
That's not "context", that's a freaking retarded comparison.

Last time I checked "cats" weren't man-made. In fact the only thing keeping the common house cat from taking over the world, is man.


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By Arsynic on 2/27/2013 11:11:28 AM , Rating: 2
Fear >>>> Facts

Especially when you're dealing with the political class, most of who can barely function in the real world.


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By GotThumbs on 2/27/2013 11:50:43 AM , Rating: 2
Sure, but just look at who was elected. A lawyer who never built/owned a business was elected over a man who has spent years in the business world.

If the business was failing and couldn't be fixed/saved...break it up and sell it for what he could. If it could be saved, He save them and make millions.

At the end of the day, a business exists to make a profit and people (smart ones) only invest in profitable businesses. Would you rather work in Obama's office or Romney's?

Anyway, we got what we got.

Best wishes on surviving the next four years and keeping your head above the water line.


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By Paj on 2/27/2013 12:59:27 PM , Rating: 2
Governments are not businesses. You could put a businessman in charge of an economic portfolio, sure, but you dont want one running a country. Those who study economics, politics or law make better choices.

Not every single government activity has to make a direct profit in order to be valuable for society.


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By GotThumbs on 2/27/2013 2:20:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not every single government activity has to make a direct profit


Agreed, but when the government INVESTS in companies (AIG, chrysler, solyndra, ....wouldn't it be nice if they at least tried to break even, come out ahead or at least not looking like twits?

I'm not speaking about government profiting...but being more efficient in it's operations and thus saving US money by taxing those of US who do pay taxes by taxing US less.

Best Wishes,


By tng on 2/27/2013 2:53:39 PM , Rating: 5
I think that while making sure that GM, Chrysler, Solyndra and others are good investments/loans and we get our money back, that really is not what government is for.

I also think that in the effort to become more "business like" our government has let corporate interests have to much of a say in decision making.

The US is in danger not from some cabal, the Trilateral commission or CFR looking to make it a one world government, but from places like GE, JP Morgan Chase, and the like that are looking out for corporate interests.

You did notice that GE paid no taxes on ~14 billion Dollars income? That is purely because the tax codes were written so they could take advantage, that crap has to stop.


By Paj on 2/28/2013 8:16:37 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed, but you cant predict external market events. A big part of the failure of Solyndra was due to 2 things - natural gas becoming much cheaper, and the massive investment the Chinese govt made in their domestic solar industry, which brought prices crashing down.

Businessmen make shoddy deals all the time. Trading of dodgy securities was one of the contributing causes to the GFC, purely in the pursuit of profitability. When governments spend money in the market, they are held to far higher standards than some hotshot Wall St banker chasing a bonus.


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By ven1ger on 2/27/2013 4:47:06 PM , Rating: 2
If the businessman was elected, we would be shipping more jobs overseas, we would be leveraging the assets of failing companies to bankrupt those businesses and lay the cost of the bankruptcies all on the taxpayer. A businessman that put most of his money in overseas accounts to avoid the paying taxes. A businessman that would put women in binders...


By JediJeb on 2/28/2013 12:15:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If the businessman was elected, we would be shipping more jobs overseas


Maybe we should be shipping jobs overseas, say government jobs, and how about we start with Congress :)

Heck, China pays our bills, might as well let them run the government as well the way it is headed.

Seriously though, with the lack of knowledge of how our government works among the rank and file citizens we could let China take over running our government and 80% of the people would never know it happened. The only way to correct the ineptness and corruption in government is to better educate the citizens of the country on how our government works and how people have a responsibility in making it work correctly by electing proper public servants. Problem is that will never happen because the inept, corrupt government is who is in charge of our education system. As long as they keep everyone ignorant, satisfied and entertained they will never bother keeping government under control.


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By steedsrva87 on 2/27/2013 11:18:19 AM , Rating: 4
Isn't Three Mile Island a more relevant consideration than Chernobyl?

I don't consider myself to be an expert, but that radiation still has to dissipate somehow even if it has contaminated tools. I will also assume that the rods the fuel that Nuclear Power Plants become useless after a given time and become waste. I will not assume that I know what that time period is, it could very well be the equivalent of the half life of uranium.

My point is, if we rely much more heavily on Nuclear power, we may reduce CO2 emission, but there will be a trade off. There will certainly be an increase in by-products and risk, regardless of the number of safety measures in place, human error is always possible.

Personally, I am all for Wind, Solar, and Hydrogen. I have studied and worked on solar for a few years, and I think it is a viable alternative. But with the US and European economies as they are, I feel like a stepping stone is needed, so to speak, before we can truly rely on any of these 3


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By FITCamaro on 2/27/2013 11:24:48 AM , Rating: 2
Modern plants don't have to worry about the problems that occurred on 3 Mile Island. That accident did not cause any health problems either. It was a partial meltdown, not a full one. Even if it did, are we going to live in fear of what might happen from something over 30 years ago?

Modern nuclear designs and thorium reactors don't have the waste problem. Reprocessing may result in weapons grade material, but I think if the French can handle it, we can.

Wind and solar will never be able to be our only source of power no matter how good it is. It's too variable, requires vast tracks of land (which upsets the environmentalists just as much as nuclear), and still requires back up plants to be on standby when they're not generating enough. Why double build?


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By GotThumbs on 2/27/2013 11:43:28 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with your comment.

I don't feel there is a single solution for our/the worlds needs, but each solution should be considered based on the region and populous needs.

In time, scientists may very well develop new solutions that are cleaner and have fewer waste/pollutants.

We just need to keep open minds to meeting today's needs and tomorrows as well.

Anything is possible if we work together and don't wear blinders to current and future solutions.

Just wish we could get the president and congress to actually try to work together. Of course He would need to stop his campaigning. Does someone need to tell him hes in for another four years and can now start doing the job? Sorry, had to at least get a dig in. It's not all one persons fault, but leadership is grossly absent in Washington IMO.

Best wishes for all,


By FITCamaro on 2/28/2013 7:50:50 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. I don't think homeowners using solar to offset energy needs are a bad idea at all if their geographic location makes sense for it. But I do not agree with taxpayers helping to pay for those installations.

Wind is just a dumb idea all around given the cost, variability, and land required.

Yes it's not one person or parties fault for gridlock in Washington, but the President going around saying the other side pretty much wants to kill people doesn't help.


By johnsmith9875 on 3/4/2013 1:38:35 AM , Rating: 2
TMI was a full meltdown. To this very day journalists report that it was a partial meltdown. It took years before they could peer into the reactor core and when they did they were surprised to find the core gone, and a puddle of melted nuclear material at the bottom of the containment vessel.
Harrisburg, PA was also blanketed with a huge radioactive steam release.
They were getting ready to evacuate the entire city at one point, but I can't imagine that would have worked because the idea of hundreds of thousands of people fleeting at the same time, that would take days or even weeks, too slow for a reactor accident.


By johnsmith9875 on 3/4/2013 1:47:32 AM , Rating: 2
True, solar power is unreliable, the sun only comes out every day.


RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By mjv.theory on 2/27/2013 11:36:36 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
My point is, if we rely much more heavily on Nuclear power, we may reduce CO2 emission, but there will be a trade off. There will certainly be an increase in by-products and risk, regardless of the number of safety measures in place, human error is always possible.


The presently prevalent nuclear technology that is based on solid fuel and pressurised water reactors in vunerable to accident and produces meaningful amounts of "waste". Nuclear power based on molten salt reactor technology is orders of magnitude safer, cleaner, more efficient and more easily expanded to replace coal and oil. Large scale wind generation is a bad joke, solar is geographically and time of day limited and the only realistic way to develop a hydrogen economy would be to have a significant increase in nuclear power stations to extract said hydrogen, at which point the hydrogen is unnecessary. MSRs using thorium and/or uranium are cleaner, easier, more scalable and cheaper than oil, coal, natural gas, fusion, wind, wave, tidal and solar.


By chromal on 2/28/2013 12:42:11 AM , Rating: 2
There are a lot of practical problems that have yet to be solved in a production scale molten salt reactor nuclear power plant. Turns out, molten salts are extremely corrosive to metals, moreso when hot. I'm not saying they shouldn't be pursued, developed, and perfected, but they aren't there, yet.

I do agree that the uranium fuel cycle in the US is a problem, if only because it isn't being centrally stored in isolation somewhere.


By johnsmith9875 on 3/4/2013 1:42:54 AM , Rating: 2
Molten sodium has its own problems. One reactor accident occurred when the sodium began depositing gunk on the fuel rods, clogging the cooling channels and eventually the reactor overheated and had to be shut down permanently due to all the damage.


By Omega215D on 2/27/2013 2:14:00 PM , Rating: 2
Not just this country but in other developed countries as well there are masses of people protesting nuclear power. The annoying group FEMEN comes to mind considering their damn retarded signs.


By rudolphna on 2/28/2013 1:57:06 AM , Rating: 3
Ahhh, something I very much enjoy talking about. That is to say, why the chernobyl disaster happened.

As this guy said.

The soviet RBMK1000 reactors, like those used at Chernobyl, were actually quite impressive in many ways. They were cheap to build, and easy to operate compared to most other reactors at the time. However, it had some major flaws, that, coupled with operators who weren't aware of those flaws because it was kept hidden, meant that the disaster was inevitable.

Prior to the accident, the operators of the Chernobyl NPP were planning to run a test on the Unit #4 to see how long the turbines would continue to generate power to power the reactors main coolant pumps, before the diesel generators kicked in. For the test, they wanted the reactor to be in a certain power range. As they decreased power by inserting the control rods, a side effect of the design of the reactor meant that with lower power, a certain element was produced that "poisoned" the core, further lowering output.

After a time, the reactor reached a dangerously low ~30MW output, practically in a shutdown state. In order to compensate for this, and try to bring it back up to the roughly 700MW they needed for the test, and to combat the core poisoning, they fully retracted almost all of the 200+ control rods. The design of the reactor was unique, it used graphite as a neutron modulator, along with light water, to keep the reaction under control. This is similar to a Boiling water reactor in terms of operation, but the steam doesn't all go through the generator, some steam and water that go through the steam seperator go back through the main coolant pumps and into the reactor.

The temperature of the coolant inlet greaty affected the power output of the reactor. So at the time the test began, the reactor was very unstable, the control rods fully retracted, the reaction being kept under control by the cooler water, as the steam/heat was being used to drive the turbines.

When they began the test and shut down the turbine, heat was no longer being dissapated by the turbines, and the coolant inlet temperature of the reactor increased dramatically, which in turn increased the reactivity. As this happened, the water in the core started to boil, generating steam bubbles, or "voids"

This is where the Soviet design was quite bad. The RBMK reactors had a very, very high positive void coefficient. Compare that to pretty much all reactors elsewhere, including our own here int he states. What that means is, as bubbles, or "Voids" are created, the rate of reaction increases, versus in a negative void coefficient reactor, which means that voids DECREASE the reaction. So as the water boiled, the reaction increased, increasing steam generation, a positive feedback loop.

The power output of the reactor increased to ridiculous levels, and the unit operators SCRAMed the reactor, inserting the control rods. This is where the other major flaw of the RBMK reactors lay. The control rods had graphite tips, which cleared water out of the channels as they were inserted. This had the unintended effect of actually increasing the reaction rate in the bottom of the core, which was what caused the initial steam explosion inside the core.

That explosion damaged and cracked the control rods, preventing them from fully inserting, only being inserted partway at the time. The reaction continued to increase as the water boiled away. The pressure inside the vessel grew and grew, until the 1000ton pressure vessel head literally blew off, damaging the building, and exposing the reactor core to the outside. In the explosion, tons of highly radioactive fuel and graphite moderator were scattered, and caught on fire, sending radiation into the atmosphere.

If they had figured out what happened sooner, and had evacuated sooner, it wouldn't have been so bad. But the dosimeters/geiger coutners they had at the time only measued up to 3.6mRoentegens/hr. So they decided that was as high as it was and chose not to inform the public about it. It wasn't until later, after firement and others had died from the radiation trying to put out the fire, that they found out that the radiation levels were actually over 10,000Roentegens/hr.

And thus you have the Chernobyl disaster. I'm not a nuclear engineer myself, but I have a very good ability to understand and comphrehend how things work by reading and looking at it. It wouldn't have been nearly so bad if the reactor operators had known about the flaws, but they were told that it was perfect and there couldn't be any design flaws. The RBMK1000 was perfect, as far as they knew.


By johnsmith9875 on 3/4/2013 1:40:20 AM , Rating: 2
The question has to be asked though, if 1st world nations like Russia, the USA, and Japan can't control nuclear power....how will 2nd and 3rd world nations be able to deal with reactor accidents?

BTW China is building 29 new nuclear reactors, sleep tight.


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