EyesWideOpen wrote:Anyone can go buy a Wind Turbine for their own house. The technology is very simple and using wind for power has been around since Wind Mills and Sales on Ships were invented.
Yes, but would your wind turbine turn when there was no wind?
Back in the 1930's, some people built a huge windmill on Grandpa's Knob. General Electric made the generator. It was connected to the power grid, and was the first wind power turbine to be connected to the power grid. It ran for a few years, until one rotor blade came off. It generated up to about 2 megawatts, and ran in winds up to about 70 mph, so it was equivalent to today's wind turbines. It was in fact the prototype of today's wind turbines. If you search for 'wind power Grandpa's knob' you can find out about this turbine and some pictures of it.
They found out that it wasn't cost effective. The reason being that it was cheaper to make electricity from coal. At that time coal was like $1.50 a ton. So they calculated that when coal got more expensive, that this turbine would be cost effective.
Now coal is several times more expensive then it was in 1940, but the wind energy still can't compete with coal. Why?
There was a man that looked into this, except his interest was shale oil, I believe. He came up with a concept he called eMergy. Emergy means 'embodied energy'. He wrote a college textbook about it, and his concept is taught in some colleges, I think. But maybe not. You can search for 'emergy' and come up with many articles.
What the emergy concept explains is that as the cost of energy goes up, the cost of making anything using that energy also goes up, which it wouldn't seem you need a college degree to understand.
In the case of the wind turbine on Grandpa's knob: The tower was made of steel by a bridge company. Since most steel is made by the burning of coke, which is made from coal, guess what happens to the price of steel as the price of coal goes up? Well, naturally, it goes up also. So these guys were standing around Grandpa's Knob sixty years ago saying, If the price of coal goes up, then this will be economical to generate power from wind energy. But guess what? As the price of coal goes up, the cost of building that windmill goes up, and it becomes a cat chasing its tail.
Now these windmills near me have a tower that is covered with aluminum. How do you make aluminum? We were discussing this in another thread. It takes electricity to make aluminum, and lots of electricity. And how do you make the electricity? Well, in the USA, half of electricity is made from coal. In fact, coal is still the cheapest way to make electricity. So the chances are about fifty fifty that the electricity used to make this aluminum was made with coal power. It's doubtful to me that you could ever get enough electricity out of all those windmills, and get it reliably enough, to run an electric furnace in order to make the aluminum that covers them.