May 24, 2008

Wind Power Efficiency Update

Enormous crane in an Iowa farm field
This post is an update to Wind power: not just stupid, but dangerous, in which I noted the inefficiency of wind power generation plants. The post featured a shattered wind generator I saw in NW Iowa. The cats that maintain these evil eyesores must read the Plains Feeder, because as I drove past the same wind farm again this weekend, repairs were started on the broken monstrosity. I stopped and snapped these pictures.

Repairing a small portion of the generating plant
At least two semi trucks were required to haul this giant crane into the unfortunate cornfield. When part of a hydrocarbon or nuclear power plant needs repair, an economically compact physical plant makes these costly, polluting machinations unnecessary.

All this travel and expense to restore only a tiny fraction of the wind farm's generating capacity. If that isn't stupid, I don't know what is. What a sorry situation for electric rate-payers and yet another nasty trick on farmers.

From the very same intersection where the photos above were taken, I saw yet another broken wind turbine just over the rise. One of the generators next to it was feathered. Probably a bad gearbox or something else that would be quick and easy to fix if it wasn't up on a tower in the middle of a cornfield.

Broken (left) and out of service (right)
If you still don't think these grotesque affronts to the wind spirits are dangerous, watch this frightening video at Small Dead Animals. It shows a turbine as it flies apart. Some of the Iowa pinwheels are located so close to occupied farmsteads that I'm sure they can hear the eerie "whup whup whup" of the blades as they lie awake in bed worrying if the contraption is going to break apart and kill them.

Where is the "green"? In the pockets of the hucksters selling and servicing these pieces of junk.
Addendum: Click to watch eco-nuts actually enjoying their wind farm. How smart can you get?
After Some Reflection: One of the comments to the linked post at Small Dead Animals makes exceptional sense.
Until we can build giant batteries or capacitors to store the power, wind power will be nothing more than a curiosity feeding into a power grid. Maybe it could be used to supply electricity to crack water to make hydrogen gas? (Posted by: holdfast)
Face it, giant capacitors and batteries would be even worse than the windmills. I see dangerous voltages and poisonous chemicals. The hydrogen generation idea has merit. As long as the wind blows, hydrogen and oxygen will be produced. All we need to do is locate them on windy but otherwise worthless land currently owned and occupied by poor Americans with no political clout. The wind farms in Iowa were foisted off on gullible farm land owners. The problem with this approach is that suckers can come to their senses; farmers get ornery when you trick 'em. They have a bit of clout in Washington and some of them are rich.

Why not infest the the native reservations with these nasty machines? Red Indians are mostly poor and cloutless. Besides, it is traditional. If hydrogen-produced energy, either from 'fuel cells' or conventional combustion, lives up to the hype, American's Red Indians would again have something worth taking.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should take note. When the Red Chinese buy up all the world's oil with our Wal-Mart sneaker money, and Americans stop buying gasoline, the US "Big Oil" industry won't be worth nationalizing. Colorful beads, blankets, and beer sound like "just compensation" to me.
Seriously, the government needs to get out of the energy business; leave it alone. But nobody sells plain vanilla Constitutional government any more.

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