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  Topic Review (Newest First)
02-10-2008 06:15 PM
sailaway21 BTW,
The Gulf of Mexico, where all those oil platforms are, has shipping lanes set up so as to avoid striking them or submerged well heads. You cannot just set any course you want on an ocean-going ship when transitting the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, I'm not sure that you can count on all of them even being charted. The problems of offshore windfarms are certainly surmountable if the efficiencies are there.
02-10-2008 06:10 PM
sailaway21 Energy storage is an obvious problem with most alternative energy sources. We all know the problems with battery storage. One of the nuclear power plants on the west coast of Michigan has an innovative idea that might lend itself to alternative energy as well.

The plant has an optimum operational range wherein it is most efficient. ideally one would like to run in that range continuously but the demands for power have peaks and valleys. What is done at this plant, along the lakeshore, is use the excess power to run pumps. Water in pumped many miles north to a huge man made lake where it is stored. When energy demands rise the flow is reversed and the water flows south where it turns turbines to generate additional power.

The obvious benefit is that you need a proportionally smaller power plant that you are able to run at peak efficiency continuously.

A note on conservation. It doesn't work. I should say that it doesn't work on other than a personal basis. It sounds great as a plan and yes, I'm one of those types who is always turning off the lights and see's no reason why a five foot sixteen year old girl needs more than 7 minutes in the shower once a day to complete her ablutions. (I thought five minutes appropriate but the energy czar was feeling particularly beneficent towards the daughter the day that regulation was drawn up.) I'd add, as a personal note, if you do not have a programmable thermostat on your furnace you're really missing out on some savings. They even come in versions that will lie. You can adjust the stat so that it will display 80 degrees when it's 75, so grandma "feels" warmer.

The history of energy consumption is that when products become more efficient, people use more of them. Fuel efficient cars in the 1970's through the 1980's are a case in point. There was a dip in miles driven in the seventies, along with increased car-pooling. Once energy efficient cars arrived, the miles driven not only went back up, it climbed even more rapidly. The same is true in water usage. As a water well driller I can tell you that the demand for residential water volume continues to climb each year. Low capacity toilets and water outlet restrictors have done nothing to decrease the overall water used. I've heard of a study done in an Iowa town where they installed energy efficient light bulbs in 50% of the towns houses and energy consumption actually went up. People spend the savings in increased usage whether it's water or energy. Homes are increasingly run with either the windows never opened or even no provision for opening the windows. Actual usage in homes that wouldn't have even had air-conditioning equipment 30 years ago is to run heat in the winter and transition into a/c immediately, with some homes running both systems within the same day. it's far more common than you'd think. That's why I say "conservation" doesn't work. What does?

Well, the market does. The only thing that will reduce energy consumption is cost. I live on the "Dutch" side of my street. My neighbor across the street must not share my cultural leanings. His a/c system runs all summer long. I do not have an a/c system, even though I work for a company that has a whole division devoted to heating and cooling. I could get a deal. I thought of installing a/c but I found that the trees I planted 15 years ago have taken me out of the market. I now enjoy enough shade that there are only a few days a year where I'd want a/c. I bought a window shaker unit some three years ago and have used it for one week, during one summer, since purchase. It's in the garage if Al Gore turns out to be right. The reason I did not take my company up on "the deal" is that I could envision my family using it when they were "uncomfortable", ie...if we had it we'd use it. I decided to save not only the capital cost but reap the energy savings as well. My neighbor built his house and what trees that weren't cut down during building he removed afterwards, for reasons that escape me. What will cause him to shut the a/c down and open a window? Cost, nothing less.

Everybody is in favor of energy conservation, particularly someone else's energy conservation. Mandating it though is a wrong headed policy. Let the market do it. As stated in an earlier post, you're not going to see much in the way of nukes or wind farms until the cost of energy rises to overcome public opposition. It'd be nice to think that we could centrally plan a wind farm or nuclear plant evey so many square miles but that's not how the market or the real world works. If certain areas are demonstrably superior for wind generation, wind generation will happen when the price of the energy supplied reaches a level where the acquisition of the land is such that the current owners cannot afford not to sell. Nothing else really works on a societal scale.
02-10-2008 12:50 PM
T37Chef I'm late to this discussion, but there has been allot of chat about the use of public land for Wind Farms in Western Maryland.

See here,5615429.story

I am not against the farms, just not on public land designated as park land.
02-10-2008 12:44 PM
wind power update

Sorry, meant to get this up sooner. On January 17, the province of Ontario lifted a one-year moratorium on considering applications for wind farm installations in Great lakes waters. The province was apparently goaded into doing so by initiatives in Ohio to put wind farms in lake Erie. Georgian Bay is a highly logical place, from a power generation point of view, but it's said that because of concerns over winter ice, we're more likely to see offshore wind farms first on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
I've been trying to keep pace with this issue on my website,
Much thanks again for all who contributed opinions and experiences to this discussion earlier.
01-03-2008 10:11 PM
Diva27 Besides a Honda Civic?
Energy Probe, the nonprofit NGO I mentioned above, analyses utility initiatives in the province, looking for clean solutions that will also be reliable and meet consumer demands. It does think there's a place for windpower, or at least is cautiously supportive, with caveats. It doesn't like nuclear, but interestingly is very big on "clean coal."
Another note/update. The Georgian Bay Asssociation, an org of cottage associations on the east shore of the bay, claims it talked Ontario Power Authority out of laying a new transmission corridor up the shore to handle proposed wind power input to the grid. The Wikwemikong reserve on western manitoulin island has been talking about a massive wind farm which I now realize is supposed to go on property they own on the mainland, at Point Grondine on the east side of Beaverstone Bay. But I haven't a clue how they'd ever get all that juice to market.
Toronto Intl Boat Show opens i think Jan 12. I may have to dig myself out of the snow and go look at yacht stuff. Spring launch is still four months away.
01-03-2008 09:10 PM
slocum2 Today oil reached $100/barrel. Alternatives anyone?
12-17-2007 03:45 PM
Diva27 Much thanks for the tip
12-17-2007 02:28 PM
Johnrb Diva 27:

I've also read the Energy Probe report and reliability of wind is a problem. Unfortunately for Ontario, wind resources aren't often in the right places when it comes to grid efficiency, demand, etc. Another constraint is known in the business the "Orange Blob" (link below). This is area where the Ontario Power Authority has placed restrictions on new projects due to transmission constraints. This area also conforms to many areas where there are decent wind resources.

With respect to wind turbine variability, check the work being done with vanadium redox batteries. I've provided some links below. See the Sorne Hill wind farm in Ireland where there is a large scale pilot project to load shift using this type of battery (built by VRB power in Vancouver).
12-17-2007 01:57 PM
Diva27 An additional comment from me on the Ontario situation. In November 06 the NGO Energy Probe (which by nature is sympathetic to clean energy solutions) released a study of wind power performance in Ontario from May to OCtober 06. It was troubled to see the following issues:

Capacity factor so far is 22.3% (not including results from a wind farm apparently experiencing start-up problems);
Periods of very low or no production were particularly common during high-demand periods;
High but highly variable wind production during low demand periods was common;
The hourly production pattern in most months demonstrated a declining average output during the 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. period a period when consumer power usage consistently increases.

So the solution is not perfect. I believe the wind farms need to function at least at 30 percent capacity to be economically viable (or sensible). Energy Probe was also concerned that siting decisions were being made without paying much attention to grid demands, energy loss in transmission, and the possibility for coordinating with neighboring jurisdictions (ie Quebec, Manitoba, border states) to ensure that the the infrastructure was built in the right place for the broader needs of the integrated grid. I've demonstrated my impatience with the NIMBY crowd, but I must say I'm also sympathetic to the possibility that large wind farms could end up being installed in entirely the wrong places (above and beyond wind).
One of the things the Energy Probe study underscored was a potential for meaningless "feel-good" installations. The single wind generator on the Toronto waterfront looks lovely, but the operator, Windshare, wouldn't even provide Energy Probe with its full capacity and operating figures for the months of the study. Energy Probe did learn that in its first 42 months of operation, the turbine's average capacity was a dismal 14.7%. Toronto is just not a place to go spending money on wind farms. Local sailors know all too well why Humber Bay right offshore is called the Humber Hole, especially in August, when all those air conditioners need juice.
12-16-2007 02:08 PM
conrat66 Very interesting thread; the size of some of the machines is pretty amazing. As all things there are negative and positive factors and most of these were pretty well presented here. Some of the same mindless who gives a **** about tree huggers and the enviroment remarks and some actual thoughtful options. The location is very important and should be tested and investigated to not have the same negative effect that the Altamont site caused in a narrow flyway. With thoughtful planning and more research hopefully wind will contrubute positivly to our energy problems......... learning to conserve is a very good start and long term cruisers seem to be very good at using eneryg wisely. Thank you for this thread and all the useful information.
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