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Old 05-15-2013, 11:24 AM   #1
Pumpkin QAAD
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Wind Power: The number 1 predator of Bald Eagles

As with any energy source, there are major environmental side effects to wind power. Besides the pollution cost in creating the parts, over 500,000 birds are killed every year by wind turbines. Most susceptible appear to be eagles who are looking down (probably at all the dead birds as bait) and can't avoid the 170mph turbine.

http://www.livescience.com/31995-how...ill-birds.html

Lest we think it is the perfect energy source.
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Old 05-15-2013, 12:56 PM   #2
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That's what's so nice about solar. The sun is always out (to some degree) and AFAIK, it doesn't kill anything. You can put a solar panel in an old farmers field and not on a mountaintop.
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Old 05-15-2013, 02:50 PM   #3
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Solar is not so nice. See what the manufacturing process for solar cells involves.

And what do we do with them when they quit?

Nobody wants to hear this but the TRUE GREEN solution is just for eveyone to use less power. And for the population to decline. Everything else has its drawbacks.
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Old 05-15-2013, 06:37 PM   #4
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Solar is not so nice. See what the manufacturing process for solar cells involves.

And what do we do with them when they quit?

Nobody wants to hear this but the TRUE GREEN solution is just for eveyone to use less power. And for the population to decline. Everything else has its drawbacks.
Didn't know solar cells were a problem.

So I take it that solar cells are like the digital v film debate? Film has silver in it and uses nasty chems for processing, but digital uses ink jet and many of those get chucked. And who knows what's in the ink.

Agree, use less and stop squirting out babies.
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Old 05-15-2013, 06:55 PM   #5
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Funny thing is that nothing in excess is good for anything... you can poison yourself drinking water yet it is fundamental for life as we know it.

The environment is no different as I see it.

We're going to do stuff that affects birds and other wildlife... if we do those things to extremes then it will probably have a really bad effect.

Recycle, compost, and use less manufactured energy and more natural energy i.e. open the shades during the day instead of turning on a light, collect rain water and use it to do dishes, etc. It is stuff like that. It can add up...

We all have so much dependence on energy right now it is crazy. You almost can't get away from it. We get locked into this vicious cycle and engineers and scientists keep trying to come up with new solutions. Well they are just solutions to things that were solutions before. We just keep compounding the problems.

I love science but when science and consumerism meet is where we get in to trouble as a species.

The other thing I wonder is why some of us are drawn to nature? Why do we want to get away? If we aren't hunting or gathering it isn't any use to us biologically but somehow we crave it. I'm not a hunter or a farmer but I love being outside in nature. It makes me feel real.

And sometimes I wonder what animals must think seeing me come into the woods with all this gear and hooplah. My dogs even... I couldn't survive very long without it. Or at least that is what I've always been taught. Even our pursuits into the wild are such a disconnect from reality.

Oh well... back to the birds...
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:48 PM   #6
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Wind turbines also kill a lot of bats. Europe has regulations regarding the location of wind turbines due to that issue.

And they produce a lot of energy. The last quarter of 2012 wind turbines in Spain produced more energy that either coal or nuclear plants did in Spain, which also has a lot of solar energy production.
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Old 05-16-2013, 10:49 AM   #7
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Wind is a terrible energy alternative. In addition to the killing of birds and bats it is very inefficient. Studies have found that turbines generate less than 30% of the nameplate ratings. Britain cited 28% and China just 22%.
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Old 05-16-2013, 11:52 AM   #8
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Problem with nameplate ratings is not the low(er) efficiency but the lack of standardization of manufacturers to determine rated output.
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Old 05-16-2013, 12:13 PM   #9
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Problem with nameplate ratings is not the low(er) efficiency but the lack of standardization of manufacturers to determine rated output.
Even with standardization this can be an issue. Look at EPA fuel economy ratings for vehicles.

All vehicles are tested on a known, standardized cycle with very clear and precise conditions laid out, yet...

Users will report incredible hyper-mileage claims from certain vehicles and complain that they can't meet the quoted FE ratings for others.

Even with standards it is hard to capture real life usage in a laboratory. A lot depends on conditions that the system will encounter in the real world.

Vehicles obviously encounter much different driving patterns which contribute to wildly different values even on the same route.

Lab ratings and efficiency are always a rough estimate of actual field performance.

And lastly who's to say the studies weren't done by the oil companies? Or someone in support of nuclear power. Be careful when reading such because whomever funded that research may have fudged some numbers in the final report. It is not uncommon, especially when competing business is involved.
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Old 05-16-2013, 12:32 PM   #10
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It's not a tech problem with the turbine's efficiency, it's the fact that it isn't windy all the time. A wind turbine will run near or at its rated power when it's windy enough, but when the wind stops the power output drops to 0.
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:00 PM   #11
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Well that doesn't exactly define efficiency.

Efficiency in the broadest terms can be defined as:

Useful Output / Price Paid

So in terms of a electrical wind turbine generator that would be:

Electrical Output / Mechanical Input

Efficiency in a unit-less measure and it usually makes sense to use terms of work or power to define, so:

Electrical Power is the product of voltage and current.

Mechanical power can be defined in a number of different, but equal ways. In order to capture the efficiency of a wind turbine we would want to quantify the available power in the wind. In simplest terms mechanical power is often define as the product of force and velocity.

Wind velocity is a simple enough measure and that makes sense but what about force? What is the force of the wind? When you feel wind force it is actually a stagnation pressure acting against a surface. So in this sense we could use an alternative method of calculating mechanical power.

This would be the product of pressure and volumetric flow rate. Pressure being a force acting over an area.

Either way the true measure of efficiency of the turbine would be it's ability to convert mechanical power (or work) into electrical power. It has nothing to do with whether or not the wind is blowing because...

what is 0/0 equal to?

Really it comes down to the efficiency of the prop. That is, how effective is the prop at converting the linear power of the wind into shaft power? After that the generator is not (or need not be) different than one that would be used in any other power plant.

A hydroelectric, coal, or nuclear power plant all rely on converting some other form of energy into shaft work which is converted by a generator to electrical energy. In terms of coal and nuclear it is heat energy which creates and uses steam to drive turbines, much like the wind drives the prop.

So what really are we losing by saying wind power is 'less efficient'. Less efficient than what? What is that price paid I talked about in the beginning of my essay? We are borrowing energy that earth stored in the wind via the sun heating the oceans. It all comes from fusion in the sun, fission in the Earth's radioactive materials, or that stored in the Earth's core.

Wind is as free as solar in that sense, and the only efficiency really comes in where we place them and how good our prop or ducted fan or turbine is at capturing that energy. If we captured 100% of wind energy we would surely screw up weather patterns and the ecosystem of the earth...

So in summary, it is actually A GOOD THING that wind energy is not very efficiently captured.
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:08 PM   #12
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Wind Power: The number 1 predator of Bald Eagles

Efficiency is relative.

In your home, you want a very efficient furnace so more of the money you spend on fuel (typically natural gas) goes to heat your house and not up and out your chimney. Most modern furnaces are probably 80% to 95% efficient.

Wind turbines will never approach that level. To be 100% efficient no wind would pass downwind of the rotor. The wind speed is not always constant. Sometimes it is windy and other times it is not. If a wind turbine is rated at a max power of 2.5 MW, it would have to generate that amount of power continuously to be 100% efficient.

In reality, wind speeds only permit about one third of that power to be generated, as wind speeds vary from zero to max cut out speed. For example, a wind turbine may have a cut in wind speed of 4 m/s and a cut out of 25 m/s. The wind turbine is essentially off at wind speeds below or above this range.

However, the fuel (wind) is free.

In my personal opinion, wind power is one small piece of our energy puzzle.
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:34 PM   #13
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To be 100% efficient no wind would pass downwind of the rotor.
This is correct, kind of. One could also look at energy absorbed into the system as change in kinetic energy of the wind from inlet of the prop to outlet. But that would only be the prop efficiency.

The geartrain, bearings, generator, and wiring all contribute to the overall system efficiency.

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The wind speed is not always constant. Sometimes it is windy and other times it is not. If a wind turbine is rated at a max power of 2.5 MW, it would have to generate that amount of power continuously to be 100% efficient.
Maximum output has nothing to do with efficiency. This is where people get off track.

Take your car for example, easy because everyone has one.

Where does peak power output occur?

High engine speeds. Right? Put your foot to the floor and rev higher to accelerate faster.

Where is the peak efficiency of the engine?

It is typically at medium to light loads and lower engine RPMs. Where you would cruise at. This is typically where you get the best fuel economy.

Does that occur where the peak power output occurs?

I think it should be obvious that the answer is no.

So in this example you are much more efficient when operating at less than your maximum output. This function is different for every system but typically maximum output and maximum efficiency do not coincide.


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In reality, wind speeds only permit about one third of that power to be generated, as wind speeds vary from zero to max cut out speed. For example, a wind turbine may have a cut in wind speed of 4 m/s and a cut out of 25 m/s. The wind turbine is essentially off at wind speeds below or above this range.
Again this has nothing to with efficiency. The efficiency of the prop is different for different wind speeds but when the system is producing no power the efficiency is not defined. It just isn't doing anything. It is like asking what is the efficiency of your furnace or car when it is turned off. There is no useful output but the input is not coupled, so efficiency as a metric doesn't make sense.
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:41 PM   #14
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Loiseau is precisely correct. Also missing in the discussion is the efficiency of other forms of electrical production which could then be compared to the efficiency of said turbine. There was a significant paper published about 10 years ago which provided all the efficiencies fordifferent types of electric producing plants. There was one form which was significantly morevefficient than the rest. It wasnt wind which was in the middle of pack.
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:50 PM   #15
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Again this has nothing to with efficiency. The efficiency of the prop is different for different wind speeds but when the system is producing no power the efficiency is not defined. It just isn't doing anything. It is like asking what is the efficiency of your furnace or car when it is turned off. There is no useful output but the input is not coupled, so efficiency as a metric doesn't make sense.
That's the point I was trying to make in my last post. The poster who claimed turbines are only 30% efficient was using the word efficiency when he was referring to something completely different.
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:58 PM   #16
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Wind Power: The number 1 predator of Bald Eagles

Technically, the term is capacity factor. Most turbines will generate about one third of their rated power, which would equate to a 33% capacity factor.
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Old 05-16-2013, 02:11 PM   #17
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That's the point I was trying to make in my last post. The poster who claimed turbines are only 30% efficient was using the word efficiency when he was referring to something completely different.
OK - just making sure we all understand the physics here

Off on a tangent here is another one I hear a lot and it always gets me...

"What the heck is wrong with cars today? I used to have a carbureted 1984 Honda Civic that got 40mpg. Now I can't even get a Civic now that gets 35mpg. Why can't they make these cars more efficient with all this fuel injection and stuff?"



Engines themselves have become vastly cleaner and more efficient in the last 30 years since the gas sippers of the early 80's.

What has not went in the right direction is our obsessive need for heavy safety gear and creature comforts.

That '84 Civic probably didn't even have AC let alone airbags, nav, climate control, head rest tv's, etc, etc...

Most people would be outraged if a vehicle didn't have AC as standard equipment today.

If you want a fuel efficient vehicle, buy the lightest, most stripped down version you can buy. It still will weigh a good 500 lbs more than those of the 80's and despite having a better drag coefficient due to aerodynamics optimization, it will most likely have a larger frontal area due the need for more interior space and now pedestrian safety constraints.

I'm not saying safety is a bad thing. But at what cost? And who, among the average Americans, will be willing to go backwards in terms of creature comforts?

And whatever you may think, no new automotive technology is going to solve environmental issues - at these volumes there will be some impact.

My only hope for the future is an increase in efficient mass transit in this country. Planes are not efficient. They are fast. That is it.

I for one would love nothing more than to be able to sit back on a train on the way to work and sip my coffee. Or ride my bike if there was a way to do that and not be run off the road.

I hope people wake up and smell the physics... because the way we are going no wind turbine or solar cell (even though they have significant environmental implications) will be able to save us from ourselves. Do the math. We can't continue on like this... I hope I'm not the only one that realizes it...

Last edited by l'oiseau; 05-16-2013 at 04:52 PM.. Reason: grammar and spelling
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Old 05-16-2013, 07:37 PM   #18
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All I know is that I've sat on a lot of mountaintops with my ass being chewed by black flies and there ain't NO WIND! However, the sun was shining.

Scientific, isn't it?
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Old 05-17-2013, 05:27 AM   #19
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Wow that is awful. You always hear about the positive aspects of alternative energy sources but it makes sense that their are drawbacks to wind power. I didn't realize there is a lot of pollution in order to make the parts for windmills. It makes you wonder if it really is that environmentally safe. Obviously not for bald eagles...
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Old 05-17-2013, 11:26 AM   #20
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I think all the talk about efficiency of the windmills is second to the fact that there is no source for storing the wind generated power. If the consumption level isn't high on the windy days the energy produced is wasted. there is no giant battery sitting under the turbines waiting for the summer months when every one is using their AC.

On the vehicle topic I'm sad to admit that in my college days i owned an 87' Chevy Sprint (Geo Metro) with a 3 cyl. 993CC motor. I averaged 40+ MPG.
On the highway i could get close to 50MPG. and that car was made 26 years ago. It wasn't winning any drag races, but down hill with a tail wind i could get 80 MPH out of it.

I find it hard to believe that with all the technological advances in the last quarter century that we get excited about cars that get 25% less MPG than a car build 26 year ago.
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