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About those windmills
Posted by: McQ on Friday, August 22, 2008

T. Boone Pickens has decided that windmills are the energy panacea, and the desperate Dems are buying in literally (Nancy Pelosi's investment in his effort) and figuratively (Obama's meeting with Picken's and parroting of Picken's talking points).

All of that said, sure, windmills may indeed be part of the solution, but to the extent Pickens and the Dems would like you to believe?

Well it is always helpful, when fanciful ideas are tossed out there, to attempt to apply some numbers to them. And that just what some folks have done. Ernest Istook brings us the story:
At, Kurt Cobb worked the numbers. Generously, he presumed the windmills would use 5-megawatt turbines – generating three times the output of a typical 1.5-megawatt turbine. He compared that with a 500-megawatt fossil-fuel (coal) power plant needed to power a city of 300,000 people. A typical power plant, he noted, would cover 300 acres, but use only 30 of those for the actual facility.

Cobb calculated it would take 233 5-megawatt wind turbines to equal the coal plant's output, since the wind doesn't blow constantly. Each would need to be spaced 2,065 feet away from the others (five times the diameter of their 413-foot rotors). Adding the rotor diameters to the spacing requirement equates to a 110-mile long line of windmills, half a mile in width.

It comes to 55 square miles. That's to provide electricity for a town of 300,000 people.

New York City has 8.1 million residents. Manhattan Island totals 23 square miles. So, based on Cobb's calculations, it would take six and a half Manhattan Islands, each covered totally with windmills, to power one-tenth of New York City. And if standard 1.5-megawatt wind turbines were used, they would take three times more space.
You get the point. Wind power requires space. Lots of space. That means acquisition of land. That means building an infrastructure and easements to move the power. That means it is no closer to providing a solution in 10 years than is drilling for oil.

And then there's the dead bird problem as well as the Teddy Kennedy "eye-sore" problem.

Something to keep in mind when Pickens and the boys and girls tout it as something from which we can benefit from immediately.

Oh, and one other thing to think about - the windpower advocates see no problem with putting thousands of windmills on hundreds of square miles of land. Yet they are adamantly opposed to drilling on 2,000 acres of ANWR. Tell me, which do you think would pose more of a threat to wildlife - an oil rig on 2,000 acres or thousands of spinning windmill blades on hundreds of square miles?

Just askin'.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

First let me emphasize, I MOSTLY agree with you. Having said that my question is- have you ever been to the Banning Pass along I-10 in CA?
There are places in the country where the wind blows nearly all the time. At some of them it blows like Hell. I don’t know how many windmills there are around Banning, but they are practically on top of one another, and they spin like dervishes.
Windmills aren’t the answer... photo cells aren’t the answer, etc.. They are part of the answer, and alongside drilling can help free us from our present situation.

Drill now. Drill here.
Do all the rest too.
Written By: Greybeard
"They are part of the answer" - but who cares if they’re only .1% of the answer, right? Don’t build more coal plants (or better yet nuclear plants), we’ve got a plan in hand that can replace .25 of them! Most of the time!

Greybeard, it’s not a question of "do windmills generate power?". That’s a dumb question. It’s entirely a question of how much? And the answer is, nowhere near enough to do any good.

Windmills are just a less efficient solar installation that’s even less reliable.
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
Oh, and one other thing to think about - the windpower advocates see no problem with putting thousands of windmills on hundreds of square miles of land. Yet they are adamantly opposed to drilling on 2,000 acres of ANWR.
Well...Duh! the only people we’re going to inconvenience with this scheme live in the fly over states in the middle of the country, that always vote WRONG anyway, harm done to any cute fuzzy animals, on with the project!
They have their bibles and their guns that they can cling to for comfort and
they should be made to sacrifice for electing George Bush for two terms!
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I believe Pickens is using the Windmill part of his plan as the sugar coating. It gets him air time and political attention he wouldn’t normally get.

The part he’s serious about it probably the Natural Gas use in vehicles. And the fact he’s heavily involved in NG infrastructure isn’t a coincidence but also isn’t a bad thing, either. But caveat emptor (or however its spelled).

Its an interesting plan if you deleted the Windmills and replaced them with Nuclear Powerplants. Vehicle fuel diversity is in our national and economic interest.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
The real hazard from windmills isn’t to the birds, it’s to the loopy middle-aged gents in rusty armor tilting at them with makeshift lances.

(Sorry, my kids are reading Don Quixote, so I couldn’t resist.)
Written By: Wacky Hermit
How much power would be consumed in the production of all of the windmills. How long would each tower need to operate before it had even offset its own carbon footprint?
Written By: DMac
URL: http://
Pickens has come out in favor of the "all of the above/kitchen sink" approach some of the Republicans have proposed.
Written By: Keith_Indy
So NOW the Dems are all in on wind energy? Good...I propose the first of these wind farms go up off Nantucket, just to prove how serious they are about it.
Written By: shark
URL: http://
The electricity that windmills produce is perfectly good, well, electricity.

If you had a 500-acre windfarm you could probably keep the juice flowing in Escondido (that’s just outside San Diego).

If you had a 500-acre complex of nuclear power plants you could probably keep the juice flowing on the entire West coast (also just outside San Diego).

My numbers are very ballpark, and to be frank I’ve never been a fan of nuclear power plants, but let’s be serious about how much electricity we need to make.
Written By: Martin McPhillips
Just be grateful these people don’t think human sacrifice is required (yet) to solve this problem.
Written By: looker
URL: http://
(getting on my hobby horse) There is an interstate highway interchange in Oregon that has developed a novel approach. A very good idea I think, that none the less stresses the fatal flaw in the wind/solar approach. ODOT has put in solar panels on the land to funnel energy into the grid during the day, and draws back from the grid the energy needed when the sun isn’t shinning.

Wind and solar energy are not demand driven sources - they are event provided. We do not have the technology today to store the energy produced by either wind or solar. As such (and as seen in the ODOT example) traditional demand driven energy sources have to exist in conjunction with wind/solar. In other words, until battery technology vastly improves to the point where we can store 200megawatts generated during wind events and daylight hours, we still need those nuclear/coal/oil/hydro power plants.
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Read this, and then the previous article linked from it:


Purchasing rights-of-way is often expensive and time-consuming — and what if landowners won’t sell? While private entities may be frustrated, governments can exercise eminent domain to compel sales. This is Pickens’ route of choice. But wait, you say, Pickens is not a government entity. How can he use eminent domain? Are you sitting down?
At Pickens’ behest, the Texas legislature changed state law to allow the two residents of an 8-acre parcel of land in Roberts County to vote to create a municipal water district, a government agency with eminent domain powers. Who were the voters? They were Pickens’ wife and the manager of Pickens’ nearby ranch. And who sits on the board of directors of this water district? They are the parcel’s three other non-resident landowners, all Pickens’ employees.

What’s this got to do with Pickens’ wind-power plan? Just as he needs pipelines to sell his water, he also needs transmission lines to sell his wind-generated power. Rights of way for transmission lines are also acquired through eminent domain — and, once again, the Texas legislature has come to Pickens’ aid.
Earlier this year, Texas changed its law to allow renewable energy projects (like Pickens’ wind farm) to obtain rights-of-way by piggybacking on a water district’s eminent domain power. So Pickens can now use his water district’s authority to also condemn land for his future wind farm’s transmission lines.
Who will pay for the rights-of-way and the transmission lines and pipelines? Thanks to another gift from Texas politicians, Pickens’ water district can sell tax-free, taxpayer-guaranteed municipal bonds to finance the $2.2 billion cost of the water pipeline. And then earlier this month, the Texas legislature voted to spend $4.93 billion for wind farm transmission lines. While Pickens has denied that this money is earmarked for him, he nevertheless is building the largest wind farm in the world.

It helps explain Pickens’ plan, and exactly how he plans to harvest tax dollars from it.
Written By: Blackwing1
URL: http://
People tend to underestimate the effect of the wind not blowing all the time on wind’s ability to replace coal. If it only blows 40% of the time, most folks will factor that into the capacity calculation. However what you don’t generally know is what 40% of the time it will blow.

The problem is that the coal plant you are replacing might require a full day or more to fully spin up to capacity from a cold start. This means that even with a new wind plant to replace it, you have to leave the coal plant running all the time as well, because it always has to be ready for the wind to die. The German public utility, which has more wind than any other utility in the world, has found that it took 24,000MW of nameplate wind capacity to replace 2,000 MW of coal plants:
Written By: coyote
Coyote makes a good point about the problem of the unreliable constancy of wind. And that also has implications for conventional power plants, which will have to compensate for the demand not met when the wind input drops. I don’t know how the conventional plant operators/engineers would feel about making unanticipated adjustments, but it would be interesting to hear what they to say about it. No problem? Or big problem?
Written By: Martin McPhillips
Texas had an incident like that this year I think.
Written By: looker
URL: http://
First the sites of the windmills have to be chosen. Then the routes for the transmission lines must be plotted. 233 windmills will require a lot of transmission lines. Then the permits must be obtained and the land acquired either by purchase or eminent domain before any construction begins. There will be lots of public hearings and lawsuits. Mr. Pickens will probably not live to see the completion of his project or make a dollar of profit.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Pickens wants a land corridor which coincides with his wind corridor to sell water from a water district he has conived with texas legislature to control. He wants to use large aquifers to distribute water thru the Southwest. He has also sponsored with 3.2 million a proposition 10 in California which would get 10billion in support for natural gas conversions which would benefit his company CLFE which Pelosi has invested up to $250,000. With all of the irons Boone has in the fire, it’s not entirely clear what his REAL plan is.
Written By: DJMELFI
My sense is that these corridors for transmission lines will get Pickens his corridor for his water pipelines, convenient NO? He gets public support and congressional support for this wind project while his real motivation is to sell water which only GOD can explain how he got control of.
Written By: DJMELFI
"... (also just outside San Diego)."

LOL. My compliments. It seems to me that the amount of electriciy generated by wind is pretty unstable. If the winds are too high or too low none is generated, and what is generated may not correspond to demand. There will have to be more ’peaker plants’ to fit supply to demand.

Written By: timactual
URL: http://
My main clue about how much of a climate crisis we have used to be the tendency for supporters of AGW to think it was less of a problem than nuclear power.

This month’s issue of Backpacker has an article about how awful it is that someone wants to put windmills atop a ridge in Maine that can be seen from the Appalachian Trail.

My new criteria is how much the placement of windmills seems to more of a problem than the climate crisis.
Written By: newshutz
URL: http://
lMM3uD ouyrmisvfozl, [url=]eibhatozbobm[/url], [link=]nnwsmjrmvrig[/link],
Written By: 4

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