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March 26, 2006



And what do we get from the dark forces of oily nuclear empire?

More nukes, "clean" coal, and soil destroying, heavily subsidized, agribizz as usual,ethanol farming. Disgusting.

If renewables had half the capital and subsidy levels of fossil and buclear, global climate change, the US econpomy, and US foreign policy would all be headed in a much better direction.

This bushco inc wrecking crew of neocorporate princes of the divine right of capital is killing the planet and grinning all the way to the graveyard.

Wake up and smell the alternative! Clean air and water, sustainable technology, and a thriving nation on a thriving planet. A USA that leads a peaceful, green revolution to economic and social freedom is still possible.



The equivalent land area of a 130 mile circle of the northern great plains high wind speed in North Dakota and Montana as a huge wind farm would solve so many problems at once.

And why not partner up with Canada on this project as well? An international prairie restoration wind energy park.

Put the hundreds of billions wasted in oil wars to a better use. Peace and clean energy.



The market will decide. And as you can see, it's doing quite well thank you.

And... prarie restoration energy park? Isn't that an oxymoron? Enviromental groups will fight tooth and nail to prevent a few thousand turbines dotting the Plains. After all, think of all the birds they'd kill.

Oh, and the wind doesn't blow all the time. You cannot depend on it like you can a chunk of uranium.


Whatever happened to the study that showed wind farms increase regional and thus global warming? What happened to the court actions in California and Colorado by environmentalists against wind farms because wind generators kill birds?

You can't power your car with a wind turbine, so you need batteries. Batteries cause environmental destruction in manufactoring and disposal. Same goes with solar cells. Everything has a trade off.

It may be that the cleanest energy source would be (nuclear) breeder reactors coupled with RTG's.


Nonsense and propaganda, shame on you both.

Now go sit in the corner, and drink your tritium. Try not to glow in the dark, it's rude.



Why are we stuck with these ancient reactors? NIMBYism and environmentalists preventing building newer, safer designs for thirty years.


Better reactor designs?

You mean like the pebble bed reactor? Or do you mean waste recycling water cooled reactors, that contaminate the groundwater with tritium?

These new safer reactors are many times the cost per watt of generating capacity of wind. plus they are unproven.

It would take a decade of testing to prove they are safe and economical to build, operate, and retire. Rumors on wall street gave nuclear fuel soaring in price as many nations go to nukes.

wind is proven the low cost, zero pollution alternative. With NO fuel to soar in cost.

We know present nuclear plants are not safe and economical. And we know waste recycling reactors encourage nuclear weapons proliferation, as in Iran.

BTW, on the pebble bed? Ask a nuclear engineer why the pebbles must be inspected after every cycle through the reactor. Because they might crack? Exposing the highly flammable graphite protecting the reactor from meltdown? Enquiring minds.


It's nice to see a mature and informed discussion...

Your rethoric is not helpful to the advancement of renewable energy. Quite the contrary, it prolongs the unfortunate trench war between corporate America and the so-called left-wing-environmentalists. We who desire the clean energy from renewables need to accept that even something as pristine as this has to make money...

We need to form alliances with the money people to the benefit of both (and the environment)

Your comment about wind being unreliable because wind doesn't blow all the time is so outdated that I almost thought you were being ironic. You need to spend more time reading this blog :-)

Many of the perceived drawbacks of wind energy are artifacts of the way things happen to be done today in the power industry and the way we use and pay for electricity.

There is no technical problem in shifting the time of electricity consumption and usage of the outcome of the electricity, such as deep freezers, air conditioning, heating, laundry, etc.

While a stronger electrical grid is required to allow very high fractions of wind power (above 10-20% average production), a stronger grid has many other benefits, such as fewer black-outs, better power quality (no more costly power conditioners), keeping energy companies (Enron...) from cornering the market, etc. It may very well be a huge socio-economic benefit.

The wind always blows somewhere! We just need to be able to transport power from regions of excess to regions of shortage. Hence the reinforced power grid.

Where did you get the information that battery production destroys the environment? Obviously, you shouldn't throw used car batteries in nature, but recycle them responsibly, which I'm sure is done in most cases. A used battery is an excellent source of the materials required to make new batteries...

As for your objections about wind turbines. It was true 15 years ago that wind turbines consumed more energy to produce, maintain and dispose of than they could produce in their lifetime. This is no longer true, in fact they pay back this energy in just 6-10 months (which I'm sure no nuclear power plant can do).

There are few bird fatalities cause by wind turbines, but not many, according to recent studies, because the birds can both see and hear them. Migrating birds in Denmark simply fly around wind farms instead of through them. Windows in houses are much more dangerous to birds, but I doubt they will be banned.

Btw I definitely see a future for nuclear energy alongside renewable energy such as wind and solar. We'll need all we can get, maybe even coal with carbon sequestration.



Ah, Denmark, the highly subsidized holy grail of alternative energy. The article I read about the environmental damage that wind farms cause discussed the higher temperatures produced by the turbulence in the wake of large scale wind farms.

The production of batteries, the production of solar cells, the production fo fuel cells, the production of anything in modern society; uses, produces, consumes, and releases caustic chemicals. Likewise on their disposal and/or remanufactoring upon the end of their lifecycle. While it may not be visual in the form of smokestacks, it is still there and measurable.

There is a trade off to any energy source. It is ridiculous to assume that these unseen pollutants would not be a problem when production is scaled up to meet world wide energy needs.


Here's a question:

What's the energy return on these newer wind turbines?

Robert McLeod


I believe the energy payback period for nuclear reactors like the CANDU-6 is on the order of 4 months. AECL (www.aecl.ca) will have more exact figures if you want to ask them. Ask your question to be directed to Dr. Miller.

Golden Boy

"This bushco inc wrecking crew of neocorporate princes of the divine right of capital is killing the planet and grinning all the way to the graveyard.."

I was not aware that all pollution began the day Bush took office. Thanks for clearing that up for me.


"I definitely see a future for nuclear energy alongside renewable energy such as wind and solar. We'll need all we can get, maybe even coal with carbon sequestration."

Shilling for nukes, coal, and agribizz biofuel won't get it done. The time is short to concentrate all our efforts on renewables.

And here is why.


The permafrost melting is a time bomb.

Your politeness is politick, but is it wise to be concillatory with those who still parrot industry/bush administration talking points? The voting public has no respect for wimpiness.

This is an emergency on the order of WW 2. It needs to be addressed that way, with a massive war production-like effort to build out wind, solar, electric vehicles, and geothermal heat pump heating and cooling.


I'm curious...which companies are leading the charge in developing wind turbines and utilizing wind energy?


I'm glad you asked. The latest Vestas V90 turbine takes 7.7 months to break even and has a life expentancy of 20 years, so I guess that's an energy return of 31:


I'm surprised to hear, if a nuclear reactor only takes four months, but that's certainly a good thing! I guess I wasn't so sure after all... Thank you for correcting me.

You're right that renewable energy is subsidised in Denmark. Very much so at first, but not much now. Certainly not as much as the tax breaks in USA. Right now, it's hard to break even with investment in new wind turbines in Denmark, except if you scrap old ones first.

At the moment, our conservative government has pulled the plug on subsidies, partly for ideological reasons, partly because we have a lot of excess capacity. However, they plan to improve power infrastructure and expect that most new-build of power capacity will be renewable, mostly wind. The Danish board of energy project that we will reach 80% renewable electricity by 2025 if oil price remains at $50 and CO2 allowances (a Kyoto mechanism used in EU) are expensive.

Of course there are side-effects of all industrial production. But that's a non-argument, unless you can quantify the relative environmental impact of, say, plug-in-hybrid production and operation vs. gasoline powered cars. Of course, if there's some fundamental reason why the former consume more energy and put out more pollution than the latter, then we need to know about it! At the moment, I doubt anyone knows. Besides, technology changes very fast, and studies on this subject can be very political - on both sides...

You're right, battery production sounds like something dirty

About turbulence heating in the wake of wind turbines. If general heating is concerned, I'd just like to point out that all condensing steam turbines (except CHP [combined heat and power]) put out about as much direct waste heat the electrical power. Condensing steam turbines

The discussion of wake turbulence is obviously very involved and highly technical (and I'm no expert although trained in the field of aerodynamics), but I'll have a go anyway. According to Betz' law, the maximum fraction of energy that can be extracted from the rotor circle is 59%. On the link below is an example of a power coefficient curve:


The maximum theoretical turbulence energy is the interval between 0.59 and the curve. Quickly eyeballing the curve in the most commom production interval (5 - 20 m/s) leads me to conclude that turbulence heating will be hard-pressed to exceed energy extraction to electricity. But really, a wind turbine *extracts* energy, thereby lowering the temperature, only to produce heat at the point of electricity consumption...

Bird killings, re-iterated. Here's a little more info:


It seems you are right in the case of California. Of course excessive bird killings should be avoided. (I will refrain from speculating about how many birds die each year from smoke inhalation ;-) I doubt they live long enough?)

This comment was way too long... If you bothered to read all of it, you deserve a prize :-)




Vestas: www.vestas.com

GE: http://www.gepower.com/home/index.htm

Siemens: http://www.powergeneration.siemens.com/en/windpower/solutions/index.cfm
(recently aquired from Danish Bonus Energy)

There are other large companies in Germany, Spain, India etc. but I don't remember their names.




Thank you for taking the time to address questions rather than talking down to people who disagree with you. When I said "the wind doesn't blow all the time" it was based on an article that said that wind generators will only produce their peak rate 35% of the time.

I'm glad to hear that there's a net energy return on the wind turbines. And I'm glad that the industry has reached a technical and economical point where it can pay for itself. That's why I say the market will decide.

Here in San Diego we recently got 50mw of wind power late last year.

As far as alternative electricity sources are concerned, I prefer solar thermal. Stirling Energy Systems will start building their two massive projects here in SoCal very soon.


Thank you very much, Cervus, for appreciating exactly what I'm trying to accomplish :-)

The SoCal project is very interesting. I would love to work for that company. Their technology encompassses all of my engineering training as well as serving as a mean toward my ambition to steer energy production to something (I don't care which) sustainable.

There's no questing in my mind that solar is the future. Wind is just a minor side-effect. Besides, solar power coincides with peak power consumption across most the the inhabited part of the world (certainly San Diego - here in Denmark it's mostly cold and windy.. :-( )

Personally, I like the highly efficient concentrating PVs because they are small and could easily fit on the roofs of shopping malls, office buildings and factories.



Personally, I'd rather live under warmer temperatures than under a Nazi regime...

Seriously, global warming is a serious threat to status quo and I'd rather get my energy while not doing anything to tilt the climate balance. But we need to work together, not against each other. I don't mean that in the "let's build a camp-fire and sing songs together" way but rather that we need everyone behind this challenge. That includes people with money to pay for/invest in it!

You need to practice some new words for promoting renewables (if that is your mission): business potential, untapped markets, dividend, double digit growth etc.

People react negatively, if you're negative. And vice versa.

So here's a smile from me to you :-)



My point is that everything has a trade off environmentally speaking. That your plug-in electric hybrid doesn't produce much pollution at the tailpipe doesn't negate the pollution at the coal fired power plant (which we're not running away from anytime soon). Take all the cars on the road and convert them to electric and we have that much more coal being burned. All you've succeded in doing is moving the pollution out of your direct line of sight, unless you live next door to a power plant.

There is nothing that will ever be 100% environmentally sound. Everything requires infrastructure. Even a wind farm, you have composite materials which are produced using toxic chemicals (or steal which still requires a coal fired foundrey) and oil filled generators. Then you have to discuss visual pollution, I personally find the sight of a hundred wind turbines strewn across the prairy more distastefull than a nuclear power plant. I like my horizons unobstructed. To me it's just as disgusting as oil wells planted all over the place.

Plug those electric cars into a PV covered car port and you have the added problems of toxic chemicals that are used to produce those PV cells in the first place.

There is nothing you can use to produce energy on a large scale that won't in one form or another do some kind of damage to the environment.


Wind is useless.

You will never build enough wind mills to power anything more than a few environmentalists huts.

Do you realise it will take at least 300 state of the art windmills spread across a vast area with all the extra expense of a massive grid, just to take the place of a single small 250 mw coal fire generating station?

ie: 250mw = 100 * 2.5 mw windmill * 3
(Windmills peak output = 3 times average output)

Now you have to understand that 250 mw is a drop in the 'ol bucket energy wise. hardly worth mentioning.

Take whatever the enviro-propagandists say a wind farm will generate and divide it by three for the real number. Factor in the problem that the turbines don't run below -25. Include the fact that the only wind farms that are 'breaking even' were built using massive government subsidies from your very own tax dollars.

Why not take all that wasted time, energy and most importantly money, and use it to build clean, efficient coal fire generating stations and candu reactors. We have a supply of coal capable of sustaining us for HUNDREDS OF YEARS.

In 2018 the international fusion project (ITER) is firing up their first full scale test reactor.

The coal and nuclear plants we build now will carry us through to the point where fusion power starts coming online in 2040-2050.

So why make a big mess by listening to the enviro crackpots who will lead you down a path to grass huts, 3kw home wind turbines,
'hybid' cars jam packed with batteries made of some of the most environmentally toxic materials in use today?

Luckily alot of people are seeing past the crazies who have suspended the building of nuclear power plants for 30 years, and we are getting on with the real business of providing safe, RELIABLE, electric power for people everywhere.



meh...nuclear is subsidized just as much as wind in this country...


Scientific American said it best, that mid-west America is the OPEC of wind energy.


"So why make a big mess by listening to the enviro crackpots who will lead you down a path to grass huts, 3kw home wind turbines,
'hybid' cars..."

I think this is where the climate change element of the debate needs to get mentioned again. Though, of course, nobody has mentioned grass huts. And I'm still looking for the word 'hybid' in my dictionary (made from recycled paper, of course).


Well thanks Thomas, hehey.

Some are not here to make friends and solve problems though. A smile and a handshake will not stop war for oily empire. I wish it could.


Joe's infantile rhetoric invalidates any point he might at some point in the distant past have had.


Well, I don't like enviro-wackos either. I'm more of a conservationist, though the enviro-wackos have coopted that word and now I have to call myself a wise use proponent, whatever. Political rhetoric aside the only thing "best" that the hippies have is weed. Their homegrown strawbale/rammed earth/barely held together with hemp rope solar heating schemes is crap.

I come here because I like the tech. Those running this blog seem to be environmentally concerned technologists who would use cutting edge technology to the benefit of the environment. I haven't seen anything on this blog that would even remotely equate to enviro-wackos. Or even strict environmentalists.

I do like taking a contrarian view however. You should see the crap I get from politically right blogs and forum boards.


I wouldn't mind living in a grass hut if the environment was a little more conducive to that style of home. Say, if the earth were to warm in the temperate zone a few degrees celsius over the next few decades, I could retire to my carribbean lifestyle without leaving the US.


"Then you have to discuss visual pollution, I personally find the sight of a hundred wind turbines strewn across the prairy more distastefull than a nuclear power plant. I like my horizons unobstructed."
What the hell are you talking about? I like my skies clear of smog, and if it means having a wind turbine, let them biuld it!


Nuclear power plants don't produce smog and wind turbines are ugly.



I love telling the facts to these wanna be earth saviours. In return the best argument that they come back with is "hybid" and "Joe's infantile rhetoric invalidates any point he might at some point in the distant past have had."

Ok I can play that game:

"Alex is just silly"

Feel better now?

But it doesnt change the facts. Sorry. Here let me hand you a carefully constructed 30% hemp pseudo napkin made from partially recycled diapers...

Now back to my infantile arguments.

Here is an excellent article which explains in detail the point I was making above:


Now compare this to the story at the top of this blog.
"During the fall of 2005, climbing natural gas prices pulled conventional electricity costs above those of wind-generated electricity, the source of most green power."

This is typical of the misleading statements regarding wind energy. They make it seem to the casual reader that we can create wind power cheaper and more efficiently than power from other sources such as natural gas.

Joe user says to himself "We should just build lots of windmills and have cheaper power and no global warming, then we wouldn't be so dependent on mid east oil"

-What the article doesnt tell you is that the cost per kwh is a subsidized value, and bears no relation to the real cost of the project. In fact the subsidies given for wind power will quite often be worth more than the power created.
-It doesnt mention that the real power production numbers for a windmill are 22% to 33% of the nameplate value.
-It quotes misleading numbers about the "number of houses served" by wind power, when in reality, there are no houses served by wind power. (Unless you want to tell me one of your neighbours has power only 25% of the time...)

Lets look at the numbers required to replace some of your favorite US powerplants with 750 kW windmills.

Seabrook (NH) 1120 MW
1-unit nuclear plant
1997 kWh: 7,979,448,000
# Windmills = 4,416

Brayton Point (MA) 1533 MW,
4-unit plant using coal,oil, & gas
1997 kwh: 8,936,579,000
# Windmills = 4,946

Four Corners (NM) 2040 MW,
5-unit plant using coal (+ some gas)
1997 kwh = 13,660,969,000
# Windmills = 7,562

Alamitos (CA) 1950 MW,
6-unit plant using gas (+some oil)
1997 kwh = 4,257,579,000
# Windmills = 2,356

Prarie Island (MN) 1064-MW,
2-unit nuclear plant
1997 kwh = 7,162,427,000
# Windmills= 3,964

If the number of windmills in those quotes doesnt get your starbucks double mocha churning, you likely have an arts degree.

Where exactly do you think you will put 7000 windmills, 300 feet high, and all the transmission lines required to connect them?
And that to replace a single power plant...

Here are some other excellent articles:




So instead of wasting all this time, energy and money on power production that isn't going to work, why not spend it on the research for a power solution that will work.


p.s. please copy and paste my arguments into your Mac to search for any typos. Maybe you can get the wife & kids to peddle really hard to keep the screen lit up long enough.


Funny stuff joe, hehehehey.


Why 750KW ones when we've got 5MW ones? (Tip: because it makes your numbers look better)


I like the 50 mw continuous equivalent wind plant. No 33% capacity fudge factor.

Just the equivalent number of kwh per year that a 50 mw continuously operating source would produce.

8760 hours per year x 50,000 kw. One unit per square mile.

It looks to be technically feasible and lower cost per watt than any other source. Suitable for the great plains or offshore on a floating wavepower platform.


I often see this sentiment in the Energy Blog: "So instead of wasting all this time, energy and money on power production that isn't going to work, why not spend it on the research for a power solution that will work."

Two reasons why not: None of us can dictate how investors spend their money, thank goodness. And putting all of our energy development eggs in one technology basket is a bad idea.


"None of us can dictate how investors spend their money"

But the men who control capital allocation from corporate boardrooms can and DO.

For instance, even though coal gasification plants are far more efficient and cost effective than regular coal fired plants in the long run, investment policy forbids investing in anything but the least expensive technology. They cost 20% more to build so they are not funded.

Will that change now that wind is the least expensive? No. Because that policy does not consider anything but initial cost.

What we can do as a nation of, bt, and for we the people is to decide to subsidize renewable energy with direct tax incentives to consumers for wind, solar, geothermal great pumps, plugin hybrids and electric cars.

Then let consumers decide with their choices which companies win in the market place. According to the article Jim linked, consumers are already choosing wind power in texas.

Corporate welfare (15 billion per year for oil alone, which made a record 134 billion in profits last year) should be taken away from fossil and nuclear power and auto companies that make gas guzzlers in order to fund these incentives to consumers.

After 10 years drop all incentives. Now there's a way out of government subsidies that will work to fix global climate disaster, the US economy, and end these oil wars.


1. 750 kw because the typical new windmill installed is 2.2 - 2.5 mw / 3.0 = ~ 750kw

2. "None of us can dictate how investors spend their money, thank goodness. And putting all of our energy development eggs in one technology basket is a bad idea."

As I mentioned above, we are the investors whether we want to be or not because its government subsidies IE:YOUR TAX DOLLARS, paying for these projects. Furthermore they are 'pulling an enron' on the investors in articles like the one above by making it seem there is a value and efficiency which does not exist.

3. I never said to put it in one basket. I said to put it into Nuclear and Coal Fire plants (Proven, efficient, reliable technology which is improving daily) and to use the rest for research on Fusion.

The cost of wind generation (in both economic and environmental damage/waste) is too high for a periodic, low output power source.



Why did you divide by 3?


Reading back I realized I forgot to ask. Was that a post consumer recycled napkin?


Joe, I find your article tantalizing, but frustrating. You raise a lot of possible problems with wind, but you don't quantify any of them. Review of the web site you reference by Glenn Schleede finds the same thing: a lot of points which sound suggestive, but very few of which are quantified or compared to other electrical generation sources.

Granted, quantification isn't easy, but it's hard to find this analysis meaningful otherwise.

Specifically, what do you think the costs of wind generation really are? Natural gas is clearly much more expensive than it used to be (Schleede's discussion is from August 03, before gas jumped dramatically in cost to a $7-10/decatherm level which appears dramatically higher than the $2 historical level, and probably costs about $.08 per therm. I've seen a number of analyses of wind costs, none of which were this high.


Yep nick all old info. And completely biased with no verification. Like I said, he's a funny guy.

I guess he is here to amuse us..to paraphrase Joe Pesci in "Goodfellas".

That Cato stuff is really hilarious, they were caught taking money from administration propaganda programs.

It is not worth addressing unsupported claims like this, it only feeds attention to talking points. It is like arguing about global climate change and more severe hurricanes.

So-called experts can still be found that claim they have nothing to do with one another.

You'll notice the goodfella mentions coal and nukes as our salvation. What a comedian!


I'm a little short on time today but let me say this:

What facts have you offered to counter my points?
If you want to prove YOUR point, go and research the power company in question above, find out what it cost to build the windmills. (generating budget) what it cost to get the power to the grid (transmission budget) What government subsidies were given for both halves of the construction mentioned above, what ongoing government subsidies are being given for power produced and operating costs, how many actual kwh have been produced by the windmills since startup, how that compares to the name plate value on the windmills, what the plants cost per kwh is for the windmill power, natural gas plant power and coal plant power, and then YOU get back to ME.

Why do I have to spend my day debunking your idiocy? Typical greenies.

Pull that trans organic tofu & sunflower seed wrap out of your yap and give me some numbers Larry! (or was that Moe? Curly?)

There is nothing comical happening here. Windmills are a crime.




To answer the above question:
Divide by 3 because:
If the nameplate value on a windmill is 5 mw, its actual output is .25 to .33 that value.
The name plate value is the maximum value a windmill can produce if it is in sustained constant perfect windspeed 100% of the time.
So to get a real 5 mw you could take 15 mw of windmills and get them in 3 different weather locales so that 1/3 of them are always producing at any given time. Of course there is no guarantee so you still need real power. coal/gas/nuke/hydro to support all the times none of the windmills are turning.



Aah what to add today?
A little more education perhaps?

Here is an interesting link:




You're a FUNNY guy!! Hehehehey.





Your #'s are wrong. For example:
"Lets look at the numbers required to replace some of your favorite US powerplants with 750 kW windmills.

Seabrook (NH) 1120 MW
1-unit nuclear plant
1997 kWh: 7,979,448,000
# Windmills = 4,416"

If the windmills are actually 2.5mW/3= 750kW
at 24 hr/day and 365 days/yr then you're producing 6,570,000 kWh per year and you need only 1214 turbines to produce Seabrook's equivalent. Did you divide by 3 twice?



"Wind energy is one of the cheapest, most widespread, and fastest-growing forms of renewable energy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory projects wind energy costs an average of $0.02 per kilowatt hour this year."

A summer 2005 NREL prediction.


I stumbled across your blog while I was doing some online research. There definitely needs to be a push in this direction, especially with conventionally-generated electrical costs rising steadily. Soon only the affluent will be able to afford electric lights!


A few points:

The installed cost of wind turbines on free-of-cost land is currently $2,400 per production-factor-adjusted kwh. If large wind turbines are only to be located at deep sea, the installed cost will be higher. Generation III nuclear power plants only cost $1,500 per kwh.

Generation III nuclear power plants -- such as those that are already tested and currently being installed in Asia -- last 100 years minimum. Wind turbines do not last 100 years. Many times during a single lifetime of a nuclear power plant, those wind turbines will require new investment to decommission and replace.

Millions of lives will be lost every century building, maintaining and decommissioning these wind turbines. The nuclear power plants will likely cost no lives at all.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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