Windmill feasibility

Windmill feasibility

Is this really what we want?

Thanks to Benjamin Napier for this graphic

31 thoughts on “Windmill feasibility”

  1. excellent pic and wording, even the silliest agw devotee should be able to get that!
    and it didnt even get to the rare earth minerals in the magnets around the motor coil 😉

  2. And let’s not forget the enormous blades which cannot be recycled but will end up in land fill when the windmill reaches end of life; the huge concrete pads beneath the monstrosities delivered by hydrocarbon fuelled concrete trucks with only the top one meter of the concrete pads mandated removed when the industrial wind turbines reach EOL; the heavy metals in the turbines which must be reprocessed as toxic waste; the millions of birds, bats, and insects decimated by these rotating choppers; infrasound waves causing health issues due to insufficient setbacks; and visually spoiling the natural beauty and optics of landscape everywhere.

  3. ‘Cold snap’ brings -9C temperatures to New Zealand 19/05/2019
    New Zealand is going through freezing period as a “cold snap” strikes with strong winds, snow and showers.
    “We have a colder surge of air heading northwards today with windier south to south west winds bringing in showers to sea level and snow to the mountains,” WeatherWatch says.
    “Parts of northern Southland and central Otago do have a chance of single-digit daytime highs on Sunday, which is below average.”
    Cooler temperatures have already seen places in the South Island drop below freezing overnight.
    “Places at higher elevation in the South Island have been dropping well below 0C, with a ski field reporting as low as -9C, and more populated areas such as Pukaki and Tekapo dropping to about -2C or -3C over the last few days,” says MetService meteorologist Kyle Lee.
    MetService says a ridge of high pressure is building in the Tasman Sea, which will bring more settled weather and cooler temperatures. This cooler air flow will be more noticeable overnight Sunday and into Monday morning as winds ease further, meaning the colder air can sink and settle better.
    “Overnight temperatures are likely to continue to drop below 0C with frosts possible for many inland spots as we expect clearer skies over the next few days,” Lee says.

  4. To ensure voting in Lahaul, BRO cuts through 30ft of snow in Rohtang Pass. India, May 19, 2019
    MANALI: After remaining blocked for over five months, tribal Lahaul valley has finally connected with Manali as Border Roads Organization (BRO) on Saturday late night cleared snow from north face of Rohtang. Vehicular traffic would be allowed on the highway on Sunday to facilitate voters of Lahaul. Working under pressure to connect Lahaul valley by road before election on May 19, BRO jawans had to work over 12-hour shift under extreme weather conditions. This season, compared with previous years, the entire area received extremely heavy snow. Earlier, it was assumed that the road will not open before May 25, as BRO on Friday had to cut through 20 to 30ft high mountains of snow in a 5 km stretch. Last year traffic on Manali-Keylong highway was resumed on April 5, while it opened on April 28 in 2017.

  5. I read this while looking south, just a few miles from my home, at the east edge of the Windfall Indiana windmill field. There are hundreds of the beasts, it’s a God awful sight…

  6. Are there any quantitative studies of the EROEI for wind power? I’m aware large wind turbines are almost certainly net energy drains (especially the ones at sea), but it would be nice to be able to prove it.

    I’d hope such a study would also include the energy expenditure required in the rest of the grid, building storage systems and spare capacity in other energy sources, to compensate for wind power’s intermittent nature.

  7. Sounds like an underwhelming return on energy investment, if those numbers are accurate, although it would be interesting to see a complete energy cost breakdown, and comparison to the estimated amount of energy to be generated during the windmill’s useful life.

    Would also be of interest to see a similar analysis on solar panels. I have solar panels on my home, and the financial return on investment is decent — about 7 or 8% (tax-free) if I ignore depreciation, or about half that, if I amortize my net cost over the estimated 25-year useful life of the panels (which may be optimistic), although if electricity costs that I am avoiding rise over time, which is likely, the rate of return would be considerably better. However, the panels are only economically feasible at present electric rates because state and federal tax credits reduced my net cost by over 40%.

  8. You forgot all the concrete, rare earth, transmission lines, maintenance. Backup power and downtime. These eyesores will litter the landscape in a few years.

  9. As a true sceptic I emotionally would like to agree with this; but reserve judgement until I see the validated figures. Somehow I feel it is perhaps not true and is dependent upon how the figures are interpreted and manipulated.

  10. When you stop to consider that the steel in that windmill isn’t the only thing it is made of, it becomes even more ludicrous. there are many other metals that have to be mined, refined, and formed into whatever is needed, the concrete in the anchoring block and the supporting structure, that needs to be considered, and of course the copper in the cabling that has to be brought to it as an individual unit, the amount of energy invested in it is enormous. I would like to see the true cost in energy it will cost to create its lifetime output. In fact, I would like to see an analysis of all the alternative power sources power in/power out ratio as well as the conventional power sources. My guess is it would paint a very ugly picture, and demonstrate a very huge waste of energy.

  11. Unless and until Western countries ( I don’t see many socialist/communist countries embracing this catastrophic course to ruin) take a strong stand on the educational expertise of future leaders, we are done. Ideology is just fine,but in the face of the obvious, even the most insistent and convinced ideologue’s platform collapses. Yes, we have, and have had ‘scientists’ who have been the bedfellows of these crazed leaders. They too need to be held to account for deliberately misleading all concerned in the matter of Global warming AKA Climate Change.

  12. Back in the 1970’s, I recall reading a brief piece in counterculture publication, the kind of magazine that would you would expect to support wind power, that quoted a scientist as saying that windmills would never produce any net energy. To their credit, the magazine reported this objectively without sneering or trying to refute it. Ask yourself, if this has been known for 40 years, how did we wind up with giant windmills, and equally giant windfarms?

  13. Wind turbines and the products just to anchor said turbine to mother earth are not green nor clean. 2,8000 cubic yards of earth needs to be removed to 12 feet below grade. Foundation is a gravity base that is a 56 foot wide octagon shape. Then 65 tons of reinforced steel rebar is layed out, not very green. Finally over 2.3 million pounds of concrete is poured. Carbon dioxide released into atmosphere, during the mixing and transportation of concrete is massive. All that non green product for one 443 foot 2.5 megawatt turbine.

  14. This looks fishy. Does anyone have some numbers?

    Melting one ton of steel, 3MWh?
    A windmill operating at 10% produces that in under a day. Less than a year for the full 260 tons?

    • Your numbers completely discount the fact that the iron ore must be mined, then shipped to the foundry, then purified, then combined with coking coal to make steel, then shipped to a manufacturing plant to remelt and formed into the various pieces for the windmill, then those various pieces shipped to the assembly location, then assembled using a variety of large construction equipment.

    • It’s sensible to check the facts, as Mr Gubbe has begun to do here.
      And Mr Schmitt, of course, is right to ask questions as well. That’s how science works – someone claims to know something and everyone else’s job is to put them on the spot by interrogating every part of their claim.

      I don’t have the full facts at hand to falsify Benjamin Napier’s graphic but I have found information at:
      which I think is helpful in evaluating his claims.

      To begin with, the claim that the steel in a 2MW wind turbine masses 260 tons is supported independently.
      The Danish-built 1.8MW Vestas V90, for example – nacelle, blades, and tower – weighs 267 tons.
      (Actually, the 2MW Gamesa G87 from Spain requires 334 tons of steel!)

      So, immediately, we have at least partial corroboration of Mr Napier’s graphic.
      Only partial, but a good start. And it implies the rest of the graphic may also be based on facts.

      The foundations of these massive structures need to be considered as well. The reference site I’ve provided says: “The base of the steel tower is anchored in a platform of more than a thousand tons of concrete and steel rebar, 30 to 50 feet across and anywhere from 6 to 30 feet deep. Pylons may be driven down farther to help anchor the platform.”
      The materials for this have to be mined, processed and transported to the site also. And since hydrocarbons (fossil fuels) are used in every part of that process, we have to include that cost in the overall bill for each wind turbine.

      And there are other big costs which most people never stop to consider:-

      1) First of all, new roads have to be built, or existing ones need to be extensively “upgraded.” It requires more than an old dirt logging track to get a 150-ft blade, a 70-ton nacelle, or the huge crane needed to put it all together, up a mountain. The road needs to be wide, straight, and very strong.

      2) Expensive land clearing (an environmental issue in itself) is another issue – the 1.8MW Vestas V90 needs 111 unobstructed acres around it for best performance.

      3) Miles of security fencing are required – access to the area around the turbines must be strictly limited because of physical danger.

      4) A facility may also require a new substation or two, as well as new transmission lines. In some cases, the new power lines could be hundreds of miles long.

      5) Neodymium, a rare-earth element, is used in every wind turbine. On average, 1 ton of the metal is needed for every 1MW of wind turbine electricity output. The current price of pure neodymium oxide is around $US100,000 per ton and rising. Its mining and refining are heavily dependent on coal-fired power – mainly in the Chinese region called Baotou, where the-thirds of the world’s rare-earth elements are produced at hideous environmental cost. (Look it up.)

      6) Fossil-fuel power stations provide base-load power. Wind turbines do not. So back-up fossil-fuel power stations must be kept ticking over for the frequent occasions on which wind (and solar) fail to deliver.
      The wild swings in wind-turbine output mean the spinning base-load plants, kept constantly at the ready, must be brought in and out of production. These plants therefore continue to burn their fossil fuel. And the continual fluctuations of wind power add enormously to the cost and inefficiency of that burning.

      7) Two more problems, usually overlooked by wind farm advocates, involve the high cost of wind turbine maintenance – especially the offshore units, which are subject to swift degradation in the salty marine environment – and the cost of the decommissioning of wind farms at the end of their 20-year lifespan.
      It’s difficult to get figures for maintenance, since the wind farm lobbyists are reluctant to publish that information. But the fact that many of the larger turbines have helicopter landing pads on their nacelles gives us some idea of the problem and the expense involved.
      Decommissioning of 20-year-old turbines is a burgeoning problem in Germany, which was among the first countries to embrace wind-power. Over 7000 of their units are due for dismantling next year at a cost of €30,000 each. Offshore units will cost vastly more to dismantle, since their towers must be detached from the sea floor and all components brought ashore for disposal.
      And what of the disposal costs themselves?
      What do you do with millions of tons of rusted steel blades … melt them down? What with? … Fossil-fuel energy?
      What about the cost of disposing of millions of gallons of high-pressure gear oil used in the gearboxes? What about the cost of recycling expensive rare-earth metals from the electrical systems?
      What about the cost of building and erecting the new or reconditioned turbines?

      And the above is not necessarily an exhaustive list.
      The total costs involved in the wind energy experiment are colossal and are mostly kept low-key by vested interests.
      The price of the electricity produced MUST include the amortisation of ALL these costs over the complete life of the wind farms to obtain a fair comparison.

      If we include all these costs honestly, it seems more than likely that Benjamin Napier’s graphic is entirely plausible.

  15. Could you leave the source to these statistics because everywhere I’ve looked says they pay for themselves in around 8 months. Thanks

    • The post is talking about the energy required to build is more than the energy produced. Money is not the subject.

  16. Robert: I hope you get a chance to print this. I know it is a long winded one, but maybe it will help others to decide what they should do, and vote.
    Thank you,
    My point of view is: “Our country, any country, needs low cost power to continue life and liberty”. “To do otherwise sends humanity back 1,000 years into poverty”!

    I have been studying solar off and on since the early 1970’s. My first “Dream” system of the 1970’s would break even around 25 years after completion providing everything worked perfectly for the 25 years. Of course, I know better than that, so the real “Break- even point” would end up past 30 years. Obviously, way too expensive and long past any part warranty.

    Today they claim that solar is cheaper than coal. (Less than 4 cents per kilowatt-hour) I say: “Bull-Puckey ”, for I have run the numbers. My Nevada location is using up to 70KW per day since it is all electric including heating and air conditioning. It will take two solar kits costing about $17,500 plus tax to generate around 14KW per hour that I would need for my location. (About 47 — 300 watt Panels from South Korea – Not china) Fortunately, I live in a location where I will get the most Sunlight per day in the USA of 5.5 hours. Note: The farther north you are, the less time the Sun will shine on your panels. Robert just moved from one of the worst lower states that generally gets only about 1.5 hours. Of course, a tracking system can improve the systems total output per day, but at extra cost, installation time, and maintenance. I have not determined the value at this time, since I have more space than most city people, and can add more panels and inverters as needed until I exceed the interconnect power rating. Generally speaking, most people that get solar usually increase their daily power usage that ends up increasing their utility bill and extending their “Break-even point”!

    So, what’s the problem? It’s a “Solar Kit”. That means I do all the installation work. Most of the “Greenies” think they can just throw the panels on the roof and forget about it. Nothing is further from the truth. I have already spent many weeks in the planning stage, and the real hard work and extra costs will be installing poles for the ground mount, mounting panels, trenching for underground wiring and conduit, and building power boxes/ buildings while providing for possible future battery back-up systems. Besides obtaining the permit to build solar, one will need permission of the electric utility and a certified electrical person to inspect your system and do the final utility interconnect. Please be aware that other government agencies may have their own rules as to how your system may be built, and of course the extra $$$$$ to have them show up to inspect your operation.

    After spending about $25,000 to $30,000 on this system I can sit down and enjoy? Not really! I will need to verify the systems operation and performance daily at first, then weekly after things appear to work normally. Not done yet, for dust and dirt can reduce the output by as much as 25% so, a cleaning schedule is in order. My information source informs me that rooftop solar is usually dirtier due to lack of cleaning. It seems the owners don’t want to go on the roof to clean them. BTW: Roofing is one of the most hazardous lines of work, and yes, I don’t care to break my neck, hence ground mount! Naturally, nothing lasts forever, and problems WILL occur. Heavy winds can rip at the wires or panels. Large power inverters usually last about 5 to 7 years while some last longer. If you have battery back-up, then expect to replace all those expensive batteries in 7 years or less. BTW: Battery back-up systems almost doubles the cost of the solar system as we speak. Hopefully they will do better soon. If you have a roof top system the panels are close together, so if one breaks or degrades, then replacing it will be “Lots of Fun”! The solar industry is not “Plug and Play”! Panel sizes constantly change as well as their wattage output and voltage output. Also, the panel you bought a few years ago could be “Discontinued” and could be very expensive once you find it. Single inverter style designed systems have limited range for voltage and wattage output changes. (Opt for the micro-inverter style If you are planning a system or having it built by a professional.) It does cost more, but allows for panel changes when problems occur.

    While many parts have a warranty, they don’t cover damage from hail, sand storms, or the neighbor’s baseball. Don’t forget that solar panels degrade at a rate of about 1% per year, so 10 years later a 14K system may only deliver 13k of maximum output.

    Now for the “Kick in the pants”; the system I am considering will generate electricity at a rate of a bit more than $0.07 per Kilo-watt hour, not counting my labor, and a break-even point of 10 and a half years providing everything works perfect and Mother Nature doesn’t give me too many cloudy days. Cloudy days reduce output by up to 75%! — Not enough to run my place! Yes, Solar has many limitations which is why I am in favor of reliable 24/7/365 coal, nuclear, and gas! For “Off Grid” systems, you need battery back-up, so expect the “Break-even point” to jump to 20 years or more! Not sure I will live that long!

    Again, 7 cents per kilowatt? — I am paying only $0.11697 per kilo-watt hour up to 25KV per hour. So, where is that “4 cents” they are talking about? Remember, I have to put in a lot of sweat let alone a bunch of $$$ to get this price per kilowatt, and I get to pay for all the problems that could occur! BTW: If you have to borrow money to pay for this system, the “Break-even point” will be at least 15 years or more. Obviously, I question planting $25 to $30 thousand dollars in an area of about ¼ acre, and praying it grows, and I wonder if I planted corn instead that I would save more money! Oh yes! I don’t care about CO2! If you care, then plant a tree! BTW: I am planting fruit trees and shade trees for my convenience, and if they die, they will be firewood for the woodstove I am planning to install to reduce heating costs. — Check with a local woodstove sales/installation business for city/county/state rules and restrictions. Many cities have been banning wood burning as well as wind power (Bird killers).

    I have not said a word about solar water heating. At least they came up with one good idea. Actually solar water heating is more efficient than solar electric. My water comes from a well, so it is very cold. (In the low 40F degrees) The electric water heater has to warm up that water by about 100 degrees, and that takes a bunch of energy. Naturally, if I build a solar heating system, it can drastically reduce the amount of energy needed to warm the inlet water. In reality, during the summer, I could take a shower with water straight off the solar water heating system on my roof. (No electric needed) Of course, during the winter, the system will need to be drained or broken pipes from freezing could happen. Note: The “Professional” systems use a separate heating system that pumps coolant that won’t freeze unless it get colder than -40F degrees. The system uses a larger tank with heat exchanger pipes inside. My design uses manual shut off and drain valves and a second heater tank, but with extra $$$ I could later convert it to an electronic system based upon temperature thereby gaining some extra savings.

    Although I have given a bunch of information, there are many engineering parts left out. For instance: the panel mounted inverters take low voltage of the panel and convert it to 220 volts. If you don’t know how to handle high voltage, then have a professional install a system. In some areas the electric prices are “Outrageous” a solar system may save you money. Looney California is one of those places that have a tier based electric costs. The highest tier is $0.40 per kilowatt hour. I expect the prices to increase as more solar and wind machines come on line. Before you buy a solar system, please do your own calculations, for the “Sales Person” will always tell you it will break even much earlier than reality.

    So, what do you think, folks, should “We the People” waste at least $100 Trillion on solar and wind systems that may last 25 to 30 years? Just think, after the systems degrade to the point of no return, “We the People” will need to spend another $100 Trillion to build another? Now compare this to some coal plants that have been in operation for about 100 years, or the nuclear plants that have been forcefully decommissioned at 40 plus years, yet could last another 40 years. Furthermore, the USA has enough natural gas available to power us into the next century, but the “Green monsters” don’t want it!

    I repeat my point of view: “Our country, any country, needs low cost power to continue life and liberty”. “To do otherwise sends humanity back 1,000 years into poverty”!

  17. Nice and very informative, but a bit confusing. Since we deal in electric matters, it will be very helpful if you use proper units, such as V=volts, kW =kilo Watt kWh=kilo Watt hour. In the text you say: “25KV per hour.” What is this? In terms of units of measurement KV is Kelvin Volt, not much sense…..

    • Opps! That should read 25 KW . The maximum output of the transformer that supplies power to my house.

  18. Yes thank you for your cost analysis. Here in South Australia we probably have the most solar panels and wind turbines anywhere and our energy costs are the highest in the world, plus when they don’t work during storms the whole state can black out. We have so much gas here and coal but they are pulling down our coal stations that were paid off years ago!. People also complain about illness if they are located too near wind farms – it reduces the cost of the their properties when they want to sell. hate to think how many birds are killed by the turbines annually also. Bad idea all these!!!

  19. Hello Marcus, I live in northern NJ. A friend has an eleven-acre farm, and she and her husband put in a large solar array to run the place.

    They were one of the many households that were without power for ten days after Hurricane Sandy hit us four years ago. Because we are inland from the coast, we had a mostly wind event that took down dozens of miles of power lines. I asked why her solar didn’t work, and she told me it did but that they weren’t allowed to use it during the outage because the power they were generating would backfeed into the system, placing the linemen’s lives in danger.

    I asked why they didn’t just disconnect from the grid altogether. She told me that to do so, they would need a huge battery array. Their neighbor bought one to the tune of $80,000 for about the same size system. That’s $80,000 for just the batteries. Yup.

  20. In the UK , wind turbines on land generate only 25 per cent of installed capacity on average.So a 400 ft x 2 megawatt wind “turbine” [ not really a turbine, is it?] generates only 0.5MW.
    The UK uses 60,000 MW in very cold weather, so , if the UK was totally reliable on “green” energy as greenies want, and many politicians propose, then it would need 120,000 x 400 ft wind turbines. BUT, the UK is only 94,500 square miles in area ……and much of England, with 54 million population of the total UK’s 65 million, is built up with towns and cities.
    Not only that, Michael Gove, a leading Tory wants to scrap manufacture of diesel and gasoline /petrol cars very soon.
    That would mean AT LEAST another 30,000 MW of electricity to charge them.
    So where does 90,000 MW come from ?
    On windless days with a HIGH Pressure over UK, our thousands of UK wind turbines can generate only 300 MW…….IN TOTAL !!
    CRAZY !!

    • Yes it is crazy, Lyn. I can’t find the article, but in Germany their wind power generates too much at the wrong time, and they have to sell it to other countries at a loss.
      Same in California USA. Here is a little section from another article:
      While Germany’s grid wrestles with handling abundant amounts of wind generation, California’s operators deal with excess solar production.
      So much solar is produced at peak periods that wholesale energy prices can drop to zero or into negative territory. That puts strain on the grid, and the California Independent System Operator (the organization which oversees the operation of about 80 percent of the state’s electric power system) often has to send the excess solar to neighboring states like Arizona or curtail it altogether.
      Apparently even solar causes problems at times!

  21. I recall reading a quote from a scientist in an alternative publication back in the late 70’s or early 80’s, saying that windmills would never produce any net energy.

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