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Wind Power - Reliable? vs Nuclear? Effect on Grid.

  1. Jan 13, 2006 #1
    Could not find a thread on this particular topic, but I want to verify my thoughts.

    I emailed my local Green Party rep in Canada here regarding his partys take on Nuclear Power. Our particular area of Canada is facing a bit of a situation where more megawatts NEEDS to be available in the next few years, so big decisions are underway. We are also having an election, and I was looking into Green party which is on the rise and thier take on nuclear power. Seems they are set against any new nuclear builds in favour of investing in Wind Power.

    Wind power would be great when the wind is blowing. A grid system has a 'base load' (the grids minimum consumption of power) Nuke plants provide this because they cant keep lowering and raising power, so they put out a steady amount all the time. 'Peak Power' like in the morning when industrial plants all fire up is provided by hydro and thermal power who can supply more power in a moments notice. So consider adding 10%of the total grid as Wind power. What happens when the wind stops?: Well, the grid is now consuming more power than supplying. So, it needs more instant generation. Where would this come from?? Thermal!!! Burn more oil or natural gas! To me it just doesnt add up. Add more nuclear is the only answer right now. The Base Load is on the rise and this needs to be supplied, and wind can not do it unless backed up by an equivilant amount of thermal generation.

    Ok, question time. Why do these political people insist on ignoring this? Is it they who are not educated on the subject or is my take on it all wrong??? They stir up public frenzy for no reason. I cant count the amount of times Ive heard people say: "Why are we wasting our money on Nuclear when we could have free wind power??" They only say this because some political group is feeding them a fantasy.
     
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  3. Jan 13, 2006 #2

    Pengwuino

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    Nuclear power is not a steady flow, it's just less flexible then the other methods we have of creating energy.

    People who are blindly against nuclear power are such loons. It really comes down to the fact that they know absolutely nothing about nuclear power outside of the idea that you can replace "power" with "bomb" and you have these images of mushroom clouds and radiation poisoning and stuff like that. I mean who really wants to go out and LEARN the actual physics involved? How many want to learn physics period? All they know is radiation is bad and they don't want to hear anyone elses opinions on the subject. You also have that Chernobyl incident. It was like that kid in elementary school that stole the teachers watch and the whole class got in trouble for it. It doesn't matter that the western world uses vastly safer reactors, it doesn't matter that chernobyl was caused by a design feature that's completely banned in western countries, it doesn't matter how safe you make our reactors, that incident will keep the nuclear power industry down. People just do not want to hear about it, people are paranoid, ignorant, etc etc. I find it amazing that trains crashed all over the place in the 1800's but we still use them today! :surprised :surprised

    The one real concern is nuclear waste. The hype is pretty much true on that issue. The thing is, for example in the US, we know how to solve that problem and maybe its not the best solution, but it's a solution (Yucca Mountain) none the less.

    I'd also wonder what the heck "free wind power" is. Turbines don't grow on trees. They tend to be where industry isn't... at least thats my impression i got off of looking at wind trends in north america.
     
  4. Jan 13, 2006 #3

    brewnog

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    Agree completely with pro-nuclear arguments, and realise that it's impossible to rely completely on wind power without significant backup.

    However, don't be so quick to dismiss wind power. Locations can be chosen where backup requirements are minimal, - many offshore installations (and some land-based) can be extremely reliable, in terms of having steady, predictable windy conditions. Also, small wind turbines are being increasingly used in cities over here to supplement the baseload requirements of offices and flats, can't find the numbers right now but one up the road from where I used to live had cut an office block's electricity bill by a third, and had paid for itself within a year. Sure, they're still burning a load of coal, but a third less coal than before. It all helps!

    What I would like to see more development into tidal power. That, we can rely on!
     
  5. Jan 13, 2006 #4
    Its true that an individual building or other load could greatly benifit from this. When the wind is blowing they can throw the switch over to wind supply. But when the wind stops, if they want the lights on, they have to throw the switch over to the grid. Imagine though if every building did this. When the wind stops, they all have to throw the switch over to draw from the grid. The grid then has to supply a huge load. Hopefully they have a lot of water at that time held up behind some dams to produce some megawatts.

    When these wind turbines are added to the grid, the problem is with having a large percentage of the grid supplied from a non-reliable source. The areas heavily supplied by wind will have to rely on drawing from thier neighbours to supply thier dips when the wind calms. So thier neighbours turn up the coal/gas/oil production to supply.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2006
  6. Jan 13, 2006 #5

    Pengwuino

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    Oh yah I did completely forget about coastal regions. People DEFINITELY live in coastal regions and off-shore wind farms can really give you some power. The problem is that they are ugly and the yuppies and hippies that live on the coast don't want their precious view ruined so you have council members always blocking the production of the wind farms. It's a pitty really.
     
  7. Jan 13, 2006 #6

    brewnog

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    Yes, but backup requirements are pretty obvious and well understood. Dinorwig can go from producing zero to 1320MW in 12 seconds, without a single lump of coal being burnt. Backup doesn't have to be from conventional fossil fuel burning sources.

    I was interested to discover that a recent study (Professional Engineer, sometime around August this year) found that people living near to wind farms were more likely to support their construction than people living elsewhere. It almost seemed that they were proud for their communities to be associated with 'green power'. I realise that many people wouldn't (and think they're fugly/noisy), but I'd love to have a wind farm on my doorstep, I think they make dull scenery look fascinating!
     
  8. Jan 13, 2006 #7

    russ_watters

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    Well, that is largely a political question - I'll probably end up moving this thread.

    My take on it, though, is just plain ordinary irrational environmentalism. I think a lot of environmentalists base their opinions on knee-jerk reactions and never do the studies to determine viability of certain options or even more simply, think about the viability of certain options. The equating of nuclear anything with nuclear bombs is also a big issue: it's the reason MRI was changed from NMR. I also blame the media for feeding the fear for ratings.
    I don't agree with that. We've discussed it before (though not for a while) and I don't want to hijack, but "problem" with the waste is also mostly political. Consider that the other forms of pollution that are actually reaching the environment (as opposed to the nuclear waste, which doesn't) that are both in it now and will be for milenia and the requirement of 10,000 year storage becomes absurd. And that's even before you consider that that requirement is a bet/hedge against technology halting or society crumbling. We already have a "temporary" solution (storage on-site) that is working fine now and will continue to work fine for the next 50 years or so - why not just require extending that "temporary" solution for the next 100? If technology doesn't allow us to use/recycle the waste then, then we can just store it "temporarily" for the next 100 after that!

    I also agree that wind power has some potential, but I too am wary of reliability issues. Still, even if it needs to be backed up with a gas-turbine, it's probably still worth doing it to leave that GT unsued half the time.
     
  9. Jan 13, 2006 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    Let's not forget about potentially new frontiers for wind... I don't know if this checks out but the idea is interesting.

    http://www.skywindpower.com/ww/
     
  10. Jan 13, 2006 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    In fact, now that I think about it, if we can tether a space elevator to a mass in geosynchronous orbit... could we do the same for wind power? Please don't crucify me...I had never thought about it before....
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2006
  11. Jan 14, 2006 #10

    russ_watters

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    Yeah, that would work (if I understand what you mean...), but the space elevator part is still pretty daunting, technology-wise. The power generating kite idea is relatively straightforward.
     
  12. Jan 14, 2006 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    I wonder how much more efficient it would be... that is, once the technology [the cable] is available.
     
  13. Jan 29, 2007 #12
    Power Generating Kites

    I am new to this forum, and not very well versed in the lingo...but after searching on the title phrase: "Power Generating Kites", I wanted to weigh in...

    We at American Windfarms are actively research the collaboration between the companies that are pursuing High-Altitude - Such as Sky Windpower and the Space Elevator companies, to promote the idea of using kites to lift small generators, attached to a power cable. We are organizing a kite building competition, to be launched on Earth Day 2007, to test the laddermill concept of Professor Ockels of the Delft University, Netherlands, with one modification - we are planning to put the generators on the kites, and use the smaller kites to lift the larger ones, to achieve high-altitude, by connecting the energy kites in series, for greater lifting power.

    Check out the videos at www.myspace.com/americanwindfarms/ search on "energy kite".

    Most of what we plan to use is already available, from companies that are using kites to move cargo ships, or the local energy companies or colleges can become sponsors. Delft University has already issued the "kiteplane challenge"; we are simply adopting it to test several ideas related to collecting energy from wind and sun power, at medium and high altitudes, using a series of energy kites attached to a single power cable. Any Takers?
     
  14. Jan 30, 2007 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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  15. Jan 30, 2007 #14

    Too true about people not wanting windmills uglying up "their" skyline. But then they also want clean power. I love watching knee-jerk psudo-environmentalists whining and trying to have it both ways :rolleyes:
    If you want to see another typical battle about off shore wind farms or wind farms in general look up the Cape Wind project for the state of Mass.
    The closest they are is 4 miles off shore and they stand about 400 feet high from blade tip to water line.
    No joke, I'm curious as to how obtrusive that is visually, really?
    Because after all the enviornmental studies have been done from what I've read the impact doesn't look like it outweights the benifits. So it looks like it comes down to the NIMBY principle again.
     
  16. Jan 30, 2007 #15
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