Large System Analysis
I have followed the genesis of these monsters since I designed and built experimental wind turbines 30 years ago. The system that is usually proposed uses wind turbines from Vestas, the same company starting to build the new plant in Pueblo. They started in Denmark and now have systems and offices all over the world.
The huge towers are an awesome sight, and even if you like how they look, it’s almost impossible NOT to see them. If the only other thing you have to look at is cotton or wheat fields then they aren’t to bad. The facts the salesmen will tell us about them are true, but they choose their facts very carefully. They do produce x amount of electricity, but only in winds of more than 12 MPH and less than 35MPH. They produce the rated output at 35 MPH. With winds over that they are designed to feather the blades to prevent the turbine from over speeding. You can go to
youtube and watch what happens when that governing system doesn’t work. I hope no one was up there in the nacelle trying to fix it when it destroyed itself. |
Wind power is an excellent choice for an off the grid household, but they are noisy. The batteries store the excess power from the high winds.
As a reformed engineer I have a different view of many things. I am awed by the engineering in these systems. But lets look at the facts from another perspective. These systems are a huge financial success for everyone involved except the consumers, but, considering them not as a product but as a design study, things look a little different. The typical system tower weighs 125 tons, and is 262 feet high. You can see how big that really is at youtube. The nacelles weighs 52 tons, the rotors 43 tons. This much steel takes a lot of truck loads of iron ore, and a lot of heat energy to refine. The costs in dollars does not reflect the true energy locked into the system, or the direct costs of installation, or the direct costs of the connections to the existing grid. I don’t believe they will ever provide the energy it requires to produce them! They are a net energy loss and carbon polluter. The whole sales effort reminds me of when nuclear fission was being touted as the answer to “almost free” energy. It turns out to be anything but, and the real costs of the nuclear plants are just being realized.