» posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 at 12:06 am by Woody Wilson viewed 191 times
Review this very strong video on solar energy from Earth4Energy: Solar Video
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Commentary Robert Bryce, 05.11.10, 02:55 PM EDT
Hint: It’s physics.
The growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has, predictably, resulted in a new chorus of voices calling for increased use of renewable energy sources. But over the past five decades renewables have actually been losing market share.
In 1949 nearly 91% of America’s total primary energy came from coal, oil, and natural gas. The balance came from renewables, with hydropower being a dominant contributor. By 2008 the market share for coal, oil and natural gas, along with nuclear, had grown to 92.5% of total primary energy in the U.S. with the remainder coming from renewables.
In other words, despite these huge investments, renewables’ share of the energy market has been shrinking. What’s happening? While conspiracy theorists may want to believe that Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Nuclear are stifling the growth of renewables, the simple truth is that coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear can satisfy the Four Imperatives: power density, energy density, cost and scale.
The Four Imperatives provide a simplified way to analyze the physics and math that rule our energy and its delivery, the latter better known as power. Before going further we must differentiate between energy and power. If you recall your high school physics, the definitions are straightforward: Energy is the ability to do work; power is the rate at which work gets done. Put another way, energy is an amount; power is a rate. And rates are more telling than amounts.
The first of the Four Imperatives, power density, is the most telling of the rates. Power density refers to the energy flow that can be harnessed from a given unit of volume, area or mass. Common metrics of power density include: horsepower per cubic inch, watts per square meter and watts per kilogram. And given the current infatuation with renewable energy sources like wind and solar, the essential metric for power density is watts per square meter (W/m2), which shows how much power can be derived from a given piece of real estate. It is also the metric that exposes the inherent weakness of sources like corn ethanol, wind energy and solar energy. If a source has low power density, then it will likely require too much real estate, material or space to provide the power that we demand at prices we can afford or in the vast quantities that the world needs.
The production of corn ethanol is a loser for many reasons. Just a quick glance at corn ethanol’s power density–just 0.05 W/m2–shows why the fuel makes no sense from a physics standpoint. Corn ethanol’s low power density is inherent in all biomass, which leads us to the second of the Four Imperatives. Energy density refers to the quantity of energy that can be contained in a given unit of volume, area, or mass. And the low energy density of biomass–corn, switchgrass, wood, etc.–makes it difficult to produce sufficient amounts of energy without occupying huge swaths of land.
Now let’s consider the power density of wind energy, which is about 1.2 W/m2, and solar photovoltaic, which can produce about 6.7 W/m2. Both sources are superior to corn ethanol (nearly everything is), but they are incurably intermittent, which makes them of marginal value in a world that demands always-available power. Nor can they compare to the power density of sources like natural gas, oil and nuclear. For instance, a marginal natural gas well, producing 60,000 cubic feet per day, has a power density of about 28 W/m2. An oil well, producing 10 barrels per day, has a power density of about 27 W/m2. Meanwhile, a nuclear power plant like the South Texas Project–even if you include the entire 19 square-mile tract upon which the project is sited–produces about 56 W/m2.
Simple math shows that a marginal gas or oil well has a power density at least 22 times that of a wind turbine while a nuclear power plant has a power density that is more than 8 times that of a solar photovoltaic facility. Those numbers explain why power density matters so much: if you start with a source that has low power density, you have to compensate for that low density by utilizing more resources such as land, steel, and ultra-long transmission lines. Those additional inputs then reduce the project’s economic viability and its ability to scale.
That can be understood by comparing the land use needs of a nuclear plant with those of a wind energy project or a corn ethanol operation. The two reactors at the South Texas Project produce 2,700 megawatts of power. The plant covers about 19 square miles, an area slightly smaller than the island of Manhattan. To match that output using wind energy, you’d need a land area nearly the size of Rhode Island. Matching that power output with corn ethanol would require intensive farming on more than 21,000 square miles, an area nearly the size of West Virginia.
Environmental groups and many politicians in Washington insist that the U.S. must lead the effort to develop renewable energy sources, with wind, solar and biomass being the lead components. But doing so will mean replacing high-power-density sources that are reliable and low cost with low-power-density sources that are highly variable and high cost.
in the Gulf may continue growing in size. In response the Obama administration may approve more projects like Cape Wind, the controversial offshore wind energy project in Massachusetts. And Congress may pass another energy bill that gives yet more mandates and subsidies for renewables, but try as it might, Congress cannot repeal the laws of physics.
Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His newest book, Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future, was released last month.
(editor’s comment. I think Robert Bryce has made good comments as it applies to social and communal engineerging (i.e. the inner city). However; when you look a power from an individual persons point of view where energy can be made for free, Wind and Solar make more sense than any public utility. see discussion http://www.ResidentialEnergyKit.com )
As the title suggests, this version of Chelsea Green’s original 1999 version expands the scope to include commercial-scale wind turbines used in distributed applications. As such, this book includes wind turbines of all sizes. This edition makes a distinction between large numbers of commercial-scale wind turbines used in central-station power plants, or wind farms, and wind turbines used singly or in small clusters both on and off the grid.
Debunks Fads & Fallacies
Calls for New Renewable Energy Policy in North America
In 1999, Wind Energy Basics introduced micro and mini wind turbines and explained how to install and use them. This version introduces the concept of “community wind” where groups of people invest in large wind turbines that produce commercial quantities of electricity for sale to the grid. While a seemingly novel concept in North America, it is quite common in Denmark, and Germany, and increasingly so in France. In community wind, farmers, small businesses, and groups of community-minded citizens band together to develop-for profit–”their” wind resources. It’s as if they’re saying, “Renewable energy is far too important to be left to the electric utilities alone. We have a responsibility for our own future. We can and will develop our own wind resources for our own benefit and for the benefit of our communities.” By proving that it can be done, Germans and Danes have served as models for us in North America.
This version of Wind Energy Basics has been extensively updated to include topics that are of increasing interest to North American consumers and wind energy advocates alike.
- Urban wind. Does it make sense?
- Building integrated wind. Is it real or not?
- Rooftop mounting. Should you avoid it?
- New vertical axis wind turbines. Are they ready?
- Fantasy wind turbines. How to spot them.
- Ducted turbines. Can they deliver?
- Community wind-a not so new way to harness the wind.
- Feed-in Tariffs. Can they power a renewables revolution?
The most significant change is the addition of a new chapter on community wind, and why this can be an exciting option for many who might otherwise struggle to put a small wind turbine in their back yards-or worse, on their roofs. Another departure from the earlier version is a concluding chapter on a policy option that can make all this possible: Advanced Renewable Tariffs and the feed-in tariffs that make them work.
Revision of Wind Energy Basics Released (more on the new book by Paul Gipe)
What’s Remained the Same
Wind energy–especially small wind turbines–have been plagued with hustlers and fast talkers “selling wind on hope and hype,” as one wag put it. The situation has only gotten worse as the use of the Internet has grown. It’s never been easier to pawn “fantasy wind turbines”–or as Mick Sagrillo, the wind sage of Wisconsin, likes to call them, “Internet wonders”–on an unsuspecting public. As in the previous version, this edition of Wind Energy Basics frankly tells you what works, what doesn’t, and what to avoid.
“This revision of Gipe’s Wind Energy Basics is a much needed critique of the state of small wind today. Gipe advances what will inevitably be a growth industry in the US, community wind projects, based on the successful models in many parts of Europe over the past three decades. Paul also advocates for equitable feed-in tariffs for wind to level the playing field for wind turbines that work. Finally, Gipe wades through the numerous internet wonders and surrounding hype that are doing more harm then help for prospective turbine owners. Wind Energy Basics is a must read, and reread.” –Mick Sagrillo, Wisconsin’s wind guru
“Without abandoning the needs of individuals aiming for energy independence, Gipe wisely promotes community-scale wind power in his new book. He is not only an unrivalled expert, but an excellent teacher as well.” –Peter Barnes, author of Climate Solutions
“If you want straight talk on wind electricity, with no bull, seek out Paul Gipe. Not beholden to any company or segment of the industry, Paul tells it like it is. His no-nonsense book will steer you in the right direction–away from fantasy and failure and toward a successful wind-electric system.”–Ian Woofenden, Senior Editor, Home Power magazine
“Gipe’s call for an ethical energy policy in Wind Energy Basics is a message that North American politicians should heed. The people deserve nothing less.”–Glen Estill, Past President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, and successful wind entrepreneur.
Paul Gipe is an independent, opinionated voice on wind energy, cutting right to the core on almost any wind energy topic. He analyzes the issues with uncompromising standards. With Paul’s journalistic background and years in the worldwide wind industry, he has no trouble sharing the story as he sees it, encouraging all to explore business models and policies that offer something more, something for all of us. Paul is a visionary on the energy front, presenting a compelling case for change.–Lisa Daniels, Executive Director, Windustry
Paul Gipe, the country’s leading expert on small scale and locally-owned wind energy, has written the how-to manual for those who want to literally bring power to the people.–David Morris, Vice President, Institute for Local Self Reliance, and author of Seeing the Light: Regaining Control of Our Electricity System.
Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, Vermont, available beginning April 2009, $29.95 USD, Paperback 8 x 10 inches, 224 pages, Color illustrations, charts, and tables, ISBN 978-1-60358-030-4, www.chelseagrean.com.
» posted on Friday, April 30th, 2010 at 5:15 pm by Woody Wilson viewed 175 times
WIND POWER BASICS
Copyright Year: 2010Availability: Usually ships within 24 to 48 hours unless otherwise noted in the product description.
Wind power is the fastest-growing source of energy in the world, and by the year 2020 it is projected to supply at least 12 percent of global electrical demand.
Wind Power Basics provides a clear understanding of wind and wind energy systems including turbines, towers, inverters and batteries, site assessment, installation, and maintenance requirements.
Whether you’re considering your own small-scale wind energy system or just want a straightforward, detailed introduction to the benefits and challenges of this rapidly emerging technology, Wind Power Basics is the guide for you.
About the author:
Dan Chiras is a respected educator and author who has published more than 25 books on residential renewable energy and green building including Power from the Wind. He is the director of the Evergreen Institute, where he teaches workshops on small wind energy systems, solar electricity, passive solar design, energy efficiency, and green and natural building. More…
post a comment | filed under Books · Wind Turbine | tags: and maintenance requirements., installation, inverters and batteries, site assessment, towers, Wind Power Basics provides a clear understanding of wind and wind energy systems including turbines