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December 26, 2006

Comments

Beek

The eco-fascists are now threatening to shut down wind power in Canada because a few dead bats have been found around certain wind turbines, and because transmission lines are so "visually ugly". Like as if there is no other threat to bats ever, except for wind turbines.

Just shows the reactionary tendencies prevalent in the environmental movement that has lost its ability to scientifically discern what is good and what is bad for the future of humanity.

Green, renewable, and sustainable energy is condemned as not being a "perfect" solution (10 or so bats dead over the course of a year), and therefore humanity must submit to the eco-fascistas god of ecological nationalism and supremacy, at the cost of higher energy prices, carbon emissions, and dependency on foreign oil produced by freeloading despotic societies and cultures.

amazingdrx

EXCELLENT NEWS!! Along with the new study that indicates that at least 60% of our energy could be supplied by wind. With very little backup.

Thanks birders!!

amazingdrx

Latest backup power source? Water power that collects energy from river currents (like the mighty Mississippi) without interfering with navigation, fish, or wildlife. No more dams.

And it can collect energy all the way down a river.

Greg Woulf

Why hate?

The Audubon has done some great things preserving species that would have died.

I agree that at some times people go too far, but they're not doing it out of malice or for power, just because they're trying to save what they love.

I hope that we do get our wind power infrastructure moving in the right direction. It seems like an immediately cost effective way to offset energy usage.

Nucbuddy

Greg Woulf wrote: wind power [...] seems like an immediately cost effective

Could you show your math?


Greg Woulf wrote: way to offset energy usage.

How could supplying power or generating energy offset energy usage?

Rosa

Being small creatures, their corpses quickly scavenged, bats die in much greater numbers than the few bodies found by (company-owned) researchers. As for birds, does the Audubon Society have a formula for deciding how many local deaths are justified by the theoretical global benefits of a wind facility?

Even more important, Greg notes a crucially missing step in Flicker's argument: the unproven assumption that wind energy does or will mitigate climate change to any measurable degree.

Paul Dietz

Birds are over 10,000 times more likely -- at least -- to be killed by other human-related causes (e.g., by buildings, vehicles, pet cats, pesticides, etc.) than by a wind turbine.

And wind turbines are supplying what fraction of global human primary energy demand? About 1/2,000th, right? So if wind makes a substantial contribution to global energy demand, particularly as that demand increases, the bird deaths could become quite significant.

marcus

One thing to note is that its been estimated that wind combined with energy storage such as V2G has the potential to satisfy at least 50% of current energy demand. We might just need serious committment to the BEV and PHEV side of things and it could make a big difference to climate change world wide. What might something like that do to bird deaths? I would imagine it could be bad or not so bad depending on how carefully things are done.

kent beuchert

The bird issue avoids the main problem with wind - it is quite expensive because of its bad habit of never being there when its needed. The idea of 60% of power from wind is a total pipe dream. The total output from wind at this point, after the greatest build of turbines in history, is pathetically small - how about 2500 megawatts output from wind to a system of more than 1 million megawatts capacity? Estimates of wind costs are often rather shamelessly understated, since they fail to take into account the fact that controllable power generation capacity must be available matching any wind generated capacity. On hot summer days, the power demand peaks, and wind is nowhere to be found, as several investigative reporters discovered. In this country peak supply and peak demand are running neck and nexk. We
will be adding new capacity each year, and any wind capacity added doesn't allow us to construct fewer controllable power plants.
Wind capacity is in no way shape or form comparable to controllable power geerating capacity. Studies that showed that a system, UNDER THE RIGHT CONDITIONS, AND WITH THE RIGHT FACILITIES can accept up to 25% wind power with minimal charge per kilowatt hour,
not only fails to describe what happens when all of those conditions are not met (they will never all be met), but completely sidesteps and ignores the issue that arises because wind cannot be counted on when it's
most needed, wind power's nasty little secret that wind advocates carefully avoid, and often delete when mentioned on their
forums. Wind has a lot of money behind it these days, and utilities are charging their "conscientiously green" customers a premium for wind generated electricity, so they can feel free of guilt, further distorting the true cost of wind power.
So our demand increased by 16,800 megawatts last year and all but 800 megawatts was provided by new natural gas power plants. New wind power (actual capacity, not bogus nameplate capacity which wind proponents have a very bad habit of using) didn't even account for 5% of the new additional capacity. There are far better and more efficent energy programs to invest in than wind power - geoexchange, for example, is 4 to 8 times more effective and fills the pockets of the homeowners to boot. It sure beats errecting more turbines that control us rather than vice versa, providing power when they feel like it. Wind generated megawatt hours are by far the least valued power units. All variations of solar power towers are also far superior technologies
conceptually.

marcus

Kent the main problem with wind that you point out is its intermittency. This is precisely the problem that is addressed by V2G is it not?

Nucbuddy

Marcus,


Whether or not V2G addresses intermittency depends upon the time-spans considered. If your storage system can hold a day's worth of power, what happens when there is a bad production week of a bad production month? If your storage system can hold a week's worth of power, what happens when there is a bad production month of a bad production year?
phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter14.html

In general, the amount of back-up or storage capacity needed to overcome the variable nature of sunshine and wind depends on how much inconvenience we are willing to endure.


If your storage system can hold a month's worth of power, what happens when there is a bad production year of a bad production decade?
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maunder_minimum#Little_Ice_Age


Would any such storage system not work better for nuclear power than it would for wind power?
phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter14.html

Of course, if electricity storage should become really cheap, nuclear power would be in a position to compete for peak and intermediate load service.
Harrison

As far as I'm concerned any time a wind turbine can spin out a mega-watt of power for the grid regardless of the time of day, week, or year, that's one less precious CO2-producing hydrocarbon being used.

A couple of years ago I happened upon the 40-some turbines in northern West Virgina. Awesome. Later on the web, I learned some folks didn't like them because they ruined their mountain scenery. And this is a state that chops down whole mountains for coal. Give me a break. They used the bats too as an excuse.

Most wind turbine farm development is not being done by the utilities. My life-long experience with utilities is that they are some of the most conservative bunch of naysay whiners out there. They still are fighting the Clean Air Act of 1979. They should be embracing wind turbine power so they can turndown their ancient coal-fired boilers and delay maintenance.

The argument that wind isn't predictable is one of those made-up excuses. Yes, wind power doesn't come during peak need for the most part, but it's hardly not predictable -- just like the daily high temp. That's usually guessed pretty darn close a day or two in advance. Wind turbine developers take lots of wind data before they invest in million dollar turbines.

Now power production during peak need is a whole other discussion. I wouldn't count on natural gas long. Conservation may be the only way out of that one in the end.

amazingdrx

That's right Marcus. V2G can backup the grid, even without vehicles operating as generators. Using batteries in the vehicles would do it, given the new data on the effect of widely distributing wind generators. The wind hardly ever stops blowing everywhere at the same time.

Then there is solar, wave, and hydroelectric power as well. And biogas fuel cell backup that can run on natural gas also.

Paul Dietz

V2G can backup the grid, even without vehicles operating as generators.

If you deplete the batteries in the PHEVs, then they are indirectly operating as generators -- they operate on their engines when they otherwise could have been operating on energy supplied from the grid.

amazingdrx

"If you deplete the batteries in the PHEVs, then they are indirectly operating as generators.."

With quick charge batteries the PHEV can be charged up to full charge before commuting in as little as 15 minutes. So that won't pose any problem.

Give it up and join our side Paul. It's all over for nuclear power. The lobbyists for nukes will find deafer ears now that power is shifting back to the left.

The sorry record of corporate kleptocracy in the past few years by the very companies that benefit the most from nuclear power says it all.

They will no doubt build a few more in the faithbased regions of the uS and in various dictatorships around the world, but wherever the people have any informed voice at all it will become increasingly difficult to build more chernobyls and three mile islands.

Will Halliburton get into the wind business? Hehehey. GE is in a big way, they even bought Enron's wind assets at fire sale prices.

The best nuclear advocates can expect now is experimental reactors to neutralize nuclear waste. RIPieces nukes. Until the pieces are sent through these waste processing reactors.

Engineer-Poet

Unlike the amazingly flameworthy soi-disant doctor, I don't have anything bad to say about nuclear.  It'll be far easier to fix our carbon-emissions problem with a healthy supply of nuclear-electric power than without, and I wouldn't be surprised to see nuclear double to about 200 GW in the US over the next 20 years.

That said, wind and PHEV's have enormous and complementary roles to play.  Wind supplies energy at near-zero GHG emissions, while PHEV's can supply enormous amounts of spinning reserve merely by dynamic control of chargers (V2G operation adds even more).  A PHEV can operate in all-electric mode so long as it has enough charge in the battery for the next leg.  For many drivers, this means that the energy to get home from work could be supplied to the battery that afternoon, that morning, the previous evening or even the previous day.  Having several hours or even a full day to fill a certain quota of GWHs allows the mix of generation to be very different.

A/C is another big part of the peak-load issue.  A/C can be evened out over a period of hours or even days using ice storage.  Playing off variable sources like wind against the DSM potential of ice and battery storage systems allows two things:

  1. The fraction of non-dispatchable generation to increase immensely.
  2. The need for conventional spinning reserve and fast-dispatching powerplants to shrink radically.
This gets rid of the gas-fired turbine peaking plants, the diesel peaking plants, and other types burning scarce and expensive fuel.  You're left with nuclear, some coal-fired baseload and some smaller coal-fired plants to fill lulls.  You don't need to be able to ramp generation up and down rapidly because you can level the bumps with DSM and V2G.  So far as the utility's finances go, the price of NatGas and fuel oil cease to matter once they no longer need them.

amazingdrx

It is not necessary to store that much air conditioning capacity poet. Better to use geothermal colling and simply drop conventional AC.

But I agree that storing heat and coolness in buildings during offpeak is a good way to store power. It could be used to absorb the large over-production in the grid when the sun shines and wind and wave power peak all at once. Rather than dumping the excess it can be stored in building heat, as well as desalinated water, refined products, recycled glass and metal, and so forth.

15 minute charge is the latest wrinkle, maybe you hadn't heard? Hours long charging will not be needed. The nanotech batteries have much extended life along with the quicker charge too. A necessary feature for V2G.

Hehehey, touting nukes now? Way too costly, even if you ignore the contamination and waste. this energy revolution is too important for ego games.

Stay on message. Renewables rule, nukes drool.

Nucbuddy

Dr. X wrote: nukes [...] Way too costly, even if you ignore the contamination and waste.

Could you show your math?


Dr. X wrote: this energy revolution is too important for ego games.

Could you show your math?


Dr. X wrote: Renewables rule, nukes drool.

Could you show your math?

Paul Dietz

A/C is another big part of the peak-load issue. A/C can be evened out over a period of hours or even days using ice storage.

A/C can be evened out even more simply. I have a radio-controlled box on my home A/C compressor that allows the utility to turn it off up to 3 hrs/day (the circulation fan continues to run). For this, I get a discount on the electric bill. The thermal inertia of the house keeps the temperature comfortable.

Beek

Dr. X wrote: nukes [...] Way too costly, even if you ignore the contamination and waste.

I second Nucbuddy - Dr. X pls. show the science and the empirical reasoning, or as it would be most respectful to the intelligence of others, pls. remain quiet. Chernobyl was a socialist (leftist) design that never worked to begin with. Even there, only a few people got killed.

Beek

Rosa says: Being small creatures, their corpses quickly scavenged, bats die in much greater numbers than the few bodies found by (company-owned) researchers.

Show your numbers. I showed mine. It was a science program on TV where University of Alberta researchers (hardly company owned) discovered approx. 10 bats per turbine over the course of a year in a wind farm in Alberta.

How many bats die hitting trees or other natural obstructions?

Provide numbers pls., and dont insult our intelligence.

Rosa says: As for birds, does the Audubon Society have a formula for deciding how many local deaths are justified by the theoretical global benefits of a wind facility?

What a silly question and you should have known better. Acceptable bat deaths due to wind turbines is a matter of values. It is not an empirical question.

I suppose you postmoderns wish to see humanity live in poverty complete with high energy prices just in order to save 10 bats while thousands others die hitting trees and obstacles (such as homes, water towers, transmission lines, etc.).

Rose says: Even more important, Greg notes a crucially missing step in Flicker's argument: the unproven assumption that wind energy does or will mitigate climate change to any measurable degree.

We have facts to back this up. Every giga watt hour generated by a wind turbine reduced carbon emissions to the atmosphere by 300 tons. This reduction in CO2 emissions is due to coal or natural gas plants consuming less feedstock. Can you provide us the emprical reasoning behind your general and apparently unfactual statement?

George

Chernobyl was a socialist (leftist) design that never worked to begin with.

The Exxon Valdez and a certain chemical plant in Bhopal were capitalist designs. Please obtain a clue.

Beek

George, dont change the subject. Within the space of nuclear plants, the socialist designs were all inferior in power and efficiency, and we had the scientifically proven inferior design of Chernobyl.

Regarding shipping and chemical plant mishaps, the Soviet Union is replete with horror stories a hundred times more tragic than Exxon Valdez, and which were covered up (or attempted to cover up) by the government.

In socialist designs, the government is not answerable to the population, and invariably takes shortcuts and skimps on safety, as there is no risk to the government.

amazingdrx

Half the reactor core at Three Mile Island melted Beek. It was a close call. Only luck prevented another Chernobyl, not better design or safety. No lessons were learned and nothing has changed in the nuclear power industry. The latest US reactors in the process of building are the Three Mile Island design, pressurized water reactors (PWRs).

Wether it's socialist dictatorship of the proletariat or corporate feudal neo-serfdome, the results are disastrous.

Real competitive capitalism, the kind small business here in the US embodies, promotes freedom, innovation, and efficiency. Monopoly capitalism, as practiced by multinational energy companies, is incompatible with our constitution.

It degrades representative democracy and human rights everywhere it pushes it's oily, radioactive empire. Why is Teddy Roosevelt's mug on Mt Rushmore? Mainly because he fought monopolies, especially big oil in the form of Standard Oil, John D's version of the exxonmob and opec.

Paul Dietz

Half the reactor core at Three Mile Island melted Beek. It was a close call. Only luck prevented another Chernobyl, not better design or safety.

Nonsense. TMI was not Chernobyl because of design, not luck. For example, LWRs can't experience the kind of runaway reactivity accident that occured at Chernobyl.

The design also featured defense in depth (fuel elements, reactor vessel, containment building) and that design worked as intended; indeed, it worked much better than had been conservatively predicted. It had been assumed that any accident in which half the core melted would also breach the reactor vessel, but the vessel escaped with only modest damage -- instead of melting through the structural steel on the bottom, just the thin stainless steel inner liner was wrinkled.

What TMI showed is how well-behaved LWRs can be in accidents, and how much less dangerous they are than had been assumed.

amazingdrx

Nope, what the robots finally sent into the core revealed, that half of it melted, shocked all the experts.

No one anticipated that much damage or how close to another Chernobyl, Three mile Island actually came.

Safety claims by nuclear industry experts are completely unverified by independent sources. It's a closed circle of nuclear "priests" operating in secrecy with the excuse of national security. Nuclear power contractor execs are recycled with DOE regulators routinely.

Musical chairs. Regulators do their time in government service, then get a comfortable "retirement" spot in the boardroom for their loyalty to the cause.

The nuclear industry lobbyists are second in the amount of corporate jet junket flights for congressmen. The business of the nuclear business is corruption and coverup of massive leakage and contamination.

Paul Dietz

Nope, what the robots finally sent into the core revealed, that half of it melted, shocked all the experts.

Yes, they were shocked because they had expected that if that had happened, the reactor vessel would have been breached. 'Why wasn't there core on the floor?', as the news article in Science asked at the time. Their preconception was that damage of that magnitude would have caused much worse consequences than actually occured.

But I notice you didn't try to defend your obviously false claim about design. The behavior of TMI in the accident is a direct consequence of its design and the conservative engineering philosophy behind it. You simply don't seem to be able to understand this, or to think rationally about nuclear power in general (vis your paranoid conspiracy-theoretic ramblings at the end there).

amazingdrx

TMI had a better design than chernobyl? But was it good enough? Obviouisly not.

The graphite moderator at Chernobyl was the same as the first Manhattan Project reactor in the Squash court under the chicago stadium had. Scientists that worked on it would wake up in the middle of the night worrying about the graphite catching fire.

It did at Chernobyl. Was TMI really less harmfull because of design? Hard to tell.

And we are supposed to just trust you all? I repeat Paul, let's compromise. Your side gets to build a few experimental reactors to prove the nuclear industry leopard has changed its spots. Waste treatment, failsafe passive safety, no leaks, costs under control, and so forth.

With full accountability, environmentalists monitering the safety, no more industry self regulation and secret nuclear priesthood in charge. Given a pass because of national security.

In return your side gives up all your subsidies, and you need to buy insurance too. No more uninsured drivers on this energy policy freeway!

Engineer-Poet

TMI sustained serious damage without runaway failure and maintained substantial containment of fission products.  The fact that it had a containment at all (the RMBK design does not) accounts for a lot of this, but even without containment the escaped material would have been limited to volatiles.  The reactor vessel was, IIRC, inspected and cleared for return to service.

Contrast Middletown and Pripyat.

Your paranoid ravings are just that, and you still can't do math.  Why don't you play on Myspace or LiveJournal where the users may be ignorant enough to see you as amazing for something other than your cluelessness?

Bill Hannahan

The Chernobyl reactor could never have been licensed in the US, but if it had an appropriately designed containment building for that reactor design, the release would have been minor.

The TMI accident investigation showed that the fuel was not close to a complete melt down. Had it melted through the vessel, the core would have been contained by the 20 foot thick concrete and steel basematt.

The accident was driven by the decay heat of short lived fission products that decay away diminishing the heat source rapidly. Even if it melted through the basematt, it would be stopped by the even tougher bedrock which has resisted the erosion of the surrounding river for thousands of years, and the release would have been much the same.

New plants are being designed to take a meltdown without a significant release. See page 50 and 51 of this document.

http://www.areva-np.com/common/liblocal/docs/Brochure/BROCHURE_EPR_US_2.pdf


The stag field reactor had no cooling system, which is what initiated the accident, and no significant inventory of fission products to drive an accident.

Overregulation has forced the industry to spend a great deal of money for some very small risk reduction, resulting in higher energy prices and dependence on much riskier energy sources, reducing our safety and quality of life.

Any politician or regulator who proposes a law or regulation on the basis of safety should be required to submit a rigorous cost benefit analysis that shows an overall benefit to society, not just within the box of a particular agency. If this standard had been rigorously applied we would be enjoying a much safer, freer and more comfortable life with a higher percentage of nuclear energy, and more birds.


amazingdrx

Ok Bill, we'll take your word for all of that.

Let's proceeed on that basis and just trust the same old nuclear contractors, but this time with absolutely no regulation. Good plan.

After all no corporation would operate in an unsafe manner, that would be detrimental to their bottom line.

And look what happened to exxon after the Valdeze disaster. They had huge fines imposed!!

Oh wait, those fines were recently canceled. Oh well.

Back to the drawing board?

Engineer-Poet

Irony:  the Exxon Valdez was carrying oil, not uranium.  The competition for nuclear is coal (an industry which kills regularly) and as soon as EV's get big nuclear will be competition for oil as well.

theamazinglystupid is talking down the energy industry with arguably the best safety record of them all, and implicitly promoting the interests of the worst.

amazingdrx

The soi-disant (self-styled)poet misses my point.

Once again! And drops his snobish what-he-thought-was-an-insult for an actual (childish) insult. Hehehey.

My point was that there is virtually no regulation on monopoly corporations, like Exxon or the big nuclear contractors and operators. Fines are overturned once the media spotlight dims.

"arguably the best safety record of them all"

Riiight. Let's hear that argument again.

Beek

Regarding monopoly capitalism, I am 100% in agreement with Dr. X -- Monopoly capitalism has been destroying liberal capitalist democracy and there is little that is being done about it.

There is a very thin line between monopoly capitalism and state capitalism. Each and every leftist/fascist (2 sides of same coin) dreams of the state taking over these monopolies and keeping them intact.

Engineer-Poet

Beek, you miss one crucial point:  electricity from any source is interchangeable, but liquid fuels are 90+% dependent upon oil and gas for many years to come.  We can and have gotten rid of oil-fired generation (once about 30% of US consumption, now 3%) in favor of coal, gas and nuclear.  We're in the process of cutting gas consumption with wind.  You can't do that for liquid fuels.

As for lack of regulation, I'd like to see the multi-year construction setbacks imposed upon the nuclear industry about 25 years ago explained as "virtually no regulation".  Perhaps there is some Orwellian construction of this term that I have not encountered yet?

    Doctor of hogwash
Amazingly devoid of sense
Yup, that's him right there.

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