Let's ignore the current high capital design, which assumes they will never be damaged badly in 80 years. They are in fact, high maintenance, and at 50 cents per kilowatt hour subsidy(a massive premium. They are nos sustainable. So the question I will answer, how do I expect wind will look at when we make it work.
-It will look humble in comparison, we are not making massive projects to convert collected chemical energy into electric power, we are passively collecting energy from the elements. It will have to be low intensity and small in scale to keep the cost of a kilowatt hour down.
-The first limitation is the Betz Limit, a wind blade can not collect more then 59.3% of the wind energy that goes through it, this assumes it is the perfect wind blade, the real number is less. As turbines are expensive and high maintenance, it means we will have to have more then one blade per turbine. Something like the sky serpent.
-The biggest subsidy provided to wind is the non-enforcement of wildlife laws. If a coal fired plant killed as many bald eagles as a certain wind farm did there will be hell to pay. To offset this they need to find a bird-friendly alternatives to blades. It will have to be cost effective.
-Size, or amount of energy per turbine captured, do not matter. In a mass project all that matters is cost per output. It doesn't matter tiny and only captures a kW a day if it does so a less then 10 dollar per megawatt hour(10 cents a kilowatt hour). It will have to cost less then fossil fuels because of the intermittent nature, we will have to build infrastructure to store power. I we can create enough it would be possible to use this extra power to collect hydrogen, but this is well in the future.
Such options may become available in the future, but this will require time and come slowly. It is a fascinating consideration and is probably the future, but to build policies for here and now on technology that is expensive and unproductive is not realistic. Oil gets less subsidies and shale exploitation is going to make the US an energy exporter within a decade. Wind now we need to ramp up and down fired steam plants. This is like driving highway vs city driving in a car, the highway driving does more with less emissions. A modern steam plant today with controls would decrease carbon emissions per megawatt hour for a fraction of the price. The saved subsidies can assist in balancing the budget, as well as promoting consumer side energy efficiency. The technology to cheaply turn off lights and turn down heater and AC via your cellphone now exists. As well as new types of polyester based insulation. This would be a wiser choice in my eyes for here and now.
Any effort now, however lame or costly, is better than any kind of status-quo reliance on stuff that eventually won't be there for us to exploit. Never mind cleanliness or environmental impact, people in energy departments (and company boardrooms) across the planet need to cope with the disappearance of their concern (or profit centers).
We're not talking about budget balances here. Budgets won't matter when fossil fuels are depleted.
Michel, it is when the money is at a 5x premium and can be spent on stuff like reforestation, consumer side efficiency, ocean protection. When you waste so much capital, you sacrifice yourself from many options.
Think of how much money'll be worth when there's nothing left to buy with it.
Business isnt about making money, money is merely a mean to an end. Please stop the emotional angle, you wish to reduce carbon output per kilowatt-hour, Im saying wind isnt the best option at this very moment. You have 1.2 trillion dollars, you wish to pour it into what are essentially super weapons, Hannibal's elephants or Hitler's V-2 rockets. Im saying use a fraction to improve energy output with steam(coal or natural gas), improve insulation, higher efficiency, and better environmental care. With a big sum of money left over to repair highways, and help balance our budget. You effectively reduce carbon output the same way as that giant project in New England is claimed to do, the risk is lower from environmental disaster damaging your investments, and time is won for green energy to improve. Dont give me the whole doomsday scenerio if I dont follow your approach bullshit, and dont lecture me like im a greedy child on abstract about a field I am highly skilled in. Energy is to me what molecular biology is to Adriana.
Im saying use a fraction to improve energy output with steam(coal or natural gas), improve insulation, higher efficiency, and better environmental care. With a big sum of money left over to repair highways, and help balance our budget.
I follow you. You think short term, it's perfectly OK, we need people like this. But I personally won't care since I'll die way before what I'm talking about happens. That's why I can afford to think about the long term perhaps more clearly than you.
Would you be kind enough to tell us what makes you such an expert in "energy?" What field exactly?
Electricity generation and disbursement(via steam) is my current field, and I am currently top of my class pursuing a second degree. Im also a member of the energy club(a private club for people in the industry field). It is building on my chemistry degree(first degree). It buys time for technology to improve, till then it's a waste of of capital resources.
But how can technology improve without an investment? Most technology generates either at universities or companies through research grants from the government or private sector foundations, "angels" or investors.
So it may be a waste to implement it fully if it's not efficient, but investing money in new technology development and innovation is not a waste of money, quite the opposite. Research cannot be done without money.
And as a complete aside, do you have any background on hydroelectricity? I'm fascinated by it because of the awesome power of nature; it's renewable, unless we screw up the planet completely, and produces much less CO2 than fossil fuel burning. I'm from a land of huge rivers and I loved as a child to visit the dams (there are 4 big dams on the rivers Uruguay and Río Negro). The only problem with this kind of projects is destruction of ecosystems, but in Uruguay they were built after significant ecological studies (I know several people involved in them, who went to college with me) to reduce the environmental impact.
There is a negative aspect to hydro electric schemes. That being that it drowns valleys and lessens the habitats that animals and insects have in those valleys.
Point in case is the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric scheme which diverted the water from the Snowy river to supply water to the Murrumbidgee river system and on the way generate electricity from the dams they built.
Here is a picture showing the difference between the water level in the river before the construction of the system and after they constructed the system.
The yellow line was the depth and width of the river before the Snowy mountains Hydro scheme imposed on a photo of the river as it is today.
They actually had to increase the amount of water flowing down the Snowy River.
Then you have in China the Three Gorges Dam.
Yes, the ecological impact needs to be measured and cpmpared with other ways to produce energy. In Uruguay the rivers are HUGE so their level does not change like the Snowy Mountains case, also, there are no valleys to flood because Uruguay is not a mountainous country. Every ecosystem is of course different.
@ A How is the hydro power plant set-up to extract the energy from the water flow of the rivers?
@Davy: I'm not an engineer, I have no idea. I only know they made a dam so the fast flowing water produces energy. The dam creates a big "lake" of course. Let me look for pictures. The rivers are so gigantic that they are a special case.