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WIND

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2009/4/1 21:52
From Johnstown, PA
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With all the recent discussion about the drilling i just thought maybe i'd ask y'all for an up date on how you feel about the windmills , that are still going up , is there anything as flyfishers we need to know or do about the windmill projects? I just did this so we don't miss anything important.

Posted on: 2010/4/27 17:50


Re: WIND

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From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
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Of the immediate issues of a windmill, they are much the same as gas. Wind is land intensive, moreso than any other source of power other than solar. So land use issues are going to be magnified beyond that at which gas has been. You have to have a "pad", which means clearing of land, the same sort of muddy mess as you see with gas wells. You have to have access, where huge trucks can bring in huge equipment to remote locations. The trucks of course also take a toll on the roadways. While the truck traffic for a given windmill is less than for a Marcellus gas well, and the pad is likely smaller, you have to keep in mind that it will take an awful lot of windmills to get equivalent energy of one gas well. Comparisons like that only work on a per GWhr basis, and wind is much, much more land intensive. But, also like gas wells, once the thing is up and running, much of the "pad" can be left to regrow, leaving only a small base and some sort of access road. Also, in that stage, heavy equipment traffic will decrease, though not totally disappear.

Of course, while wind is more land intensive, the factors behind choosing the locations are very different. PA will continue to get some windmills, but they don't necessarily have to be in our wilderness areas. And PA isn't exactly ground zero for the wind industry, Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas get that honor, and the whole of the great plains ranks above us. The most efficient winds are not in our backyards, they're in someone elses!

As far as pollution, windmills can and have spilled hydraulic fluid and oils, and contaminated waterways, and so has the equipment used to get it there. Like a gas well, it takes a screw up or a failure of some sort for this to occur. But windmills use a far lower volume of toxic chemicals, so I think its safe to say they would be far safer in this respect. Spills and failures are far less catastrophic, its hard to say if they're far less common (less common per windmill than per gaswell, but you'd need a lot more windmills than gas wells to produce the same energy).

So as far as immediate impact. Land use = much worse. Chemical pollution concerns = much better.

If CO2 is your thing, windmills are very good, although not as good as believed. They essentially take a whole lot more manufactured material per GWhr than fossil fuels, so there's a much higher penalty on the supply end. Any estimates are still very rough, as wind hasn't been around long enough to get a feel for the final reality. But the estimates I've seen, in CO2 per GWhr, say it produces roughly twice as much CO2 as nuclear, half as much as gas, and a third of that of coal.

One other issue with them is the need for rare earth magnets. Several tons are needed per windmill, and a lot of windmills are needed to make a dent in the power gen. As the name implies, rare earth elements are rare. They are, of course, mined, usually open pit mines. There is a worldwide shortage of it, and this somewhat limits the rate windmills can be built (which is one reason why it struggles to keep up with demand increases). Right now, China supplies about 95% of the rare earth minerals needed, but they are threatening to cut back their supply, which could prove disastrous for the wind industry (not necessarily for reasons of economics, more supply availability). If the U.S. is to get serious about wind energy, and get it close to the ambitious goals set, we need to locate rare earth deposits in the ground here, and vastly expand our mining operations. That, of course, brings with it a whole host of environmental issues.

In a cruel twist of fate, it so happens that electric motors and batteries for electric and hybrid cars use the very same rare-earth materials. That's a main reason why hybrid batteries cost so much. Expanding wind power puts wind energy and hybrid and electric car industries in direct economic and material avialability competition.

More likely, we won't, we'll just continue buying from China at the rate they can supply it at. This will mean that while wind will still expand rapidly, it won't be able to keep up with increased energy demand of the U.S., we won't meet our goals. And we'll still have to continue to add more coal, gas, and nuclear plants. I suppose my opinion is to be real careful about the new mining. In as much as we can get rare earth's, do it. Eveen if it can't wean us off gas and coal,every windmill means we have to add less coal and gas, and thats ultimately a good thing.

Posted on: 2010/4/27 22:53


Re: WIND

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2009/4/1 21:52
From Johnstown, PA
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pcray.........I appreciate you taking the time to answer so , that post tells me that you are informed and alert as to what is going around you , to me that is the best thing we could do , on both the windmill and the drilling issues , keep the info flowing , keep our eyes and ears open , and when a red flag goes up , respond in the appropriate manner , very good post. THANK YOU.

Posted on: 2010/4/28 7:49


Re: WIND

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2009/5/29 6:40
From harlansburg
Posts: 4474
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don't get your line stuck in the blades!!
seriously, I feel that as our oil/gas reserves dry up, we will be forced to turn to renewables, wind, solar, nuclear,etc.
honestly, there is no reason why every home built in the southwestern part of our country shouldn't have solar panels on the roofs. the technology is there, costs keep coming down. and if you happen to live in a windy place and have the room, you'd be crazy not to have a windmill.
personally, I will add solar panels to my garage when I have the available funds. will it be enough to power my house, no, it might not even provide 20 percent of what I use, but it's a start. I think our society has gotten to a point where we just don't care where the power comes from, as long the lights come on and the tv works.
what about stream/riverside generators? there has to be ways to get power out of our waters without building dams.
we need to start supplementing our power supplies, even if it's a small percentage, it all adds up. I'm sure people will chime in and say I'm full of crap and I don't have a clue what I'm talking about, but what's thier plan for when the oil and gas runs out? and it will run out.

Posted on: 2010/4/28 8:17


Re: WIND

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2009/4/1 21:52
From Johnstown, PA
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bikerfish..........according to a friend that works at Gamesa in Ebensburg , they plan on marketing a "Home version" of their windpower system , that and solar panels might get you what you need. Seriously , the newest theory from the science end is that the earth is abiotic , it manufactures oil consistantly , and replenishes oil over time , even if this is true , and they find we'll never run out of oil , if we can serve our power needs without creating pollution to do it then we should. If we can get electricity from sources that don't create pollution even though coal and oil may be cheaper spending a little more so we don't destroy the place is ok with me.

Posted on: 2010/4/28 8:42


Re: WIND

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2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
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biker,

As far as streamside generators, without a dam, yes, you could still make power, like a water wheel. But the power needed to manufacture the generator would be more than the generator would ever produce. To make the efficiency high enough that its worthwhile, you have to have enough potential energy, and divert a certain percetage of the water so that it has to go through the turbine (can't give it much room to go around the blades, cause it will). No, they need dams.

However, there are a number of existing dams that don't have hydro generators attached, and even on many that do, you can add more capacity. I suppose the issue here is simply cost, it is expensive to modify dams. Most view the hydro industry as important and big, but saturated. Of course, throwin enough money at it could change that.

Solar is certainly worthwhile, but at least so far, it's only worthwhile on an industrial/generation scale in areas that see a lot of sun, like Arizona. Again, if the efficiency is too low, it will take as much or more energy to make and service them than what they will ever produce. However, from a home economics perspective, with the subsidies in place to lower the cost of solar panels, even if they're not ultimately energy efficient, they certainly can be cost efficient on a home use scale in many areas. i.e. if you put them on your roof in PA, you may not be saving the world the way you think you are. Just instead of you using power from the electric company, you're asking the solar panel manufacturers to use it instead, and they're happy to oblige since Uncle Sam helps cover their costs. But you might be saving yourself money, and in the process you'd be diverting more money into research to make more efficient solar panels, which would make them worthwhile in more areas, so in that sense you'd be helping the industry.

What's my plan? Well, thats why its a problem, there is no "good" solution, every source has negatives. If there were a perfect solution, we'd have done it long ago. Currently, I think, nuclear is the best. It has the least problems per GWhr produced, and those problems SHOULD be even less if we were smarter about how we go about it. I do favor using as much wind and solar as possible in the places they are currently energy efficient, and keeping the research going to expand those areas. Geothermal holds promise, especially on the west coast for electric generation but even here on a household scale for heat pumps. Those are all better options than gas, coal, and oil. However, if forced to choose from those 3, I'll take gas over coal or oil. It's cleaner (though PA is ground zero for the problems it does have) and safer than coal, and unlike oil, we have it here.

Posted on: 2010/4/28 8:48


Re: WIND

Joined:
2010/1/27 16:05
From cool, dark, damp crevices
Posts: 14
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The Lake Erie Wind Farm has been on the table for awhile. With the current admin signing off on the Cape Wind Project, maybe the current PA House Bill will allow PA to explore Lake Erie's potential, as well.

Posted on: 2010/4/30 11:42


Re: WIND

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2009/4/1 21:52
From Johnstown, PA
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FruitingBodies............imagine the smallies and walleyes around "that" structure.

Posted on: 2010/5/17 10:18


Re: WIND

Joined:
2008/1/21 19:15
From Pittsburgh
Posts: 2752
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Thank you for that response, Pat. Great info!!!

Posted on: 2010/5/18 9:00


Re: WIND

Joined:
2006/9/10 21:53
From Greensburg, PA
Posts: 13629
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Posted on: 2010/5/18 9:25


Re: WIND

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13667
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Quote:
Seriously , the newest theory from the science end is that the earth is abiotic , it manufactures oil consistantly , and replenishes oil over time.


Thats not exactly a new theory, it's a fact, and I don't remember a time when that wasn't known. Coal, oil, and gas all three are formed from decaying plant matter. And yes, this process is happening as we speak to make more coal, oil, and gas.

That doesn't escape the fact that its a slow process. There's not much question that we're using it at a much faster rate than the Earth can replenish it at. Now, as far as when we'll run out, thats a heck of a question. The Earth has a huge inventory of the stuff, enough to last probably thousands of years. The problem is that all of it is not easy, or even feasible to get, we've gotten most of the low hanging fruit. Thats why there's the terminology of "recoverable" resources. I've seen estimates that at the current techology our supply will start to diminish significantly in x number of years (estimates vary, but usually less than 100). But those estimates usually ignore the increases in technology which are occurring, and allowing us to get at more resource. So x doesn't seem to change much with time, we are constantly moving some reserves from "unrecoverable' to "recoverable". It's most likely that, if we wanted to, we could use fossil fuels for a very long time.

The question is whether we want to. We are butting up against climate change issues, importation issues (esp. oil), and as we go after more difficult reserves, the immediate environmental impact also increases. Even if we could get by with fossil fuels for hundreds of years, it is in our best interest to use them sparingly and increase cleaner and safer types of energy. Plus, thats like leaving a large bank account as a safety net for later generations.

Posted on: 2010/5/18 9:32


Re: WIND

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2006/9/9 17:18
From lancaster county
Posts: 6489
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Quote:
Thats not exactly a new theory, it's a fact, and I don't remember a time when that wasn't known. Coal, oil, and gas all three are formed from decaying plant matter. And yes, this process is happening as we speak to make more coal, oil, and gas. That doesn't escape the fact that its a slow process. There's not much question that we're using it at a much faster rate than the Earth can replenish it at. Now, as far as when we'll run out, thats a heck of a question. The Earth has a huge inventory of the stuff, enough to last probably thousands of years. The problem is that all of it is not easy, or even feasible to get, we've gotten most of the low hanging fruit. Thats why there's the terminology of "recoverable" resources. I've seen estimates that at the current techology our supply will start to diminish significantly in x number of years (estimates vary, but usually less than 100). But those estimates usually ignore the increases in technology which are occurring, and allowing us to get at more resource. So x doesn't seem to change much with time, we are constantly moving some reserves from "unrecoverable' to "recoverable". It's most likely that, if we wanted to, we could use fossil fuels for a very long time. The question is whether we want to. We are butting up against climate change issues, importation issues (esp. oil), and as we go after more difficult reserves, the immediate environmental impact also increases. Even if we could get by with fossil fuels for hundreds of years, it is in our best interest to use them sparingly and increase cleaner and safer types of energy. Plus, thats like leaving a large bank account as a safety net for later generations.


pcray,

A well thought out post and I do agree with you except for just one thing.

I keep seeing we in your sentences. Like:
"It's most likely that, if we wanted to, we could use fossil fuels for a very long time. The question is whether we want to."

The American people and the people of the world are users of the product. I dont think any of us really want to use fossil fuels if we didnt have to. They are unclean and expensive. The truth of the matter is there is no we in that statement.

It should read:
It is most likely that, if they want to, they could make us use fossil fuels for a very long time. The question is whether they want us to.

They = big business/oil companies
And yes they want us to use the product as long as they can make us.

One could argue that everyone could stop driving but that is kind of not really realistic. One could also argue to change your heating unit to solar but that is also expensive and with everything going up in price......isnt realistic either.

"Even if we could get by with fossil fuels for hundreds of years, it is in our best interest to use them sparingly and increase cleaner and safer types of energy. "

Even if they could get by with fossil fuels for hundreds of years, it is their best interest to make us use them as much as they can until we find cleaner and safer types of energy.

Unfortunately .......money rules the world and we have not much of a choice but to buy at this point.

Posted on: 2010/5/19 1:46
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Re: WIND

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13667
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Quote:
They = big business/oil companies
And yes they want us to use the product as long as they can make us.

One could argue that everyone could stop driving but that is kind of not really realistic. One could also argue to change your heating unit to solar but that is also expensive and with everything going up in price......isnt realistic either.


See, thats just it. Your putting the onus on them, but they're in no different situation. These companies are energy suppliers. You say its not realistic to use renewables on the home scale. I am not sure I agree, but assuming thats true, then what makes you think its different on a larger scale? Both wind and solar have the drawback that the economy of scale really doesn't gain you a whole lot.

It's just not a feasible position to say:

I demand a lot of energy. I demand it be cheap. I am not willing to do it myself, I want it delivered to me. But its not my fault that the suppliers offer only large-scale, cheap sources of energy. It must be a conspiracy.

That's what you're doing. You act like we give them a choice. We don't. They offer what we demand, in the only way they can. They are not capable of offering clean energy in the amounts we demand, at the price we demand. It's not that they don't want to, it's that they can't. We like to say we want renewables, but we don't act the part, we're not willing to pay the price.

Posted on: 2010/5/19 8:51


Re: WIND

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From lancaster county
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Im not saying it isnt realistic to use renewable engery on the home scale. What Iam saying is the average Joe with kids, a wife and the average job can't afford to do so. Also a lot of people live in apartments and dont have the option to change the energy they use.

Also im not saying its a conspiracy. Im saying that CEO's of large companies could really careless. It wouldnt be cost effect to them to change how they supply us.

Again its not that we arent willing to pay the price. The average person just cant afford to pay it. There is a big difference.

Posted on: 2010/5/19 11:47
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Re: WIND

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2006/9/9 17:18
From lancaster county
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I had to go back and read the definition of conspiracy to see if that what I did.

con·spir·a·cy audio (kn-spîr-s) KEY

NOUN:
pl. con·spir·a·cies

1. An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.
2. A group of conspirators.
3. Law An agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action.
4. A joining or acting together, as if by sinister design: a conspiracy of wind and tide that devastated coastal areas.

1. does not fit because "they" are not doing anything wrong.
2 a conspirator is a person that takes part in a conspiracy. so not this either.
3. also does not fit.
4. Nothing sinister "they" are doing.

No I dont think at all Iam saying that the energy companies are doing anything illegal or wrongful act. You are correct that we ask and demand the energy we that we receive. But I stand on the position that people working average jobs can not afford to set up things like solar panels or windmills at their home.

Posted on: 2010/5/19 12:05
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