wind power downside?

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by vhawk, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. vhawk Registered Member

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    101
    In my naive and unscientific way. I wonder if there is a law stating that for everything that has an upside there is an equal and opposite downside;
    applying said guessed-at law to wind power, obviously windmills can hurt the birdos;

    However if all the wind that blows round the world gives free energy, save for the capital and maintenance costs of windmills, ....

    could we, so to speak, use up the wind?(is at the heart of my question)

    Maybe the world needs winds and if we interfere with that might we do so at our peril?
    or am I being daft?
    it seems to me that wind power may break the upside/downside law, if such a law exists; - might it?
     
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  3. Sciencelovah Registered Senior Member

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    As far as I understand, the main downside of wind power is that the strength of the wind is not constant and unpredictable, means, when there is no wind, there is no electricity at all. Other disadvantages are just aesthetics aspects, such as noisy (from the ones that I've seen here in Germany, also those in Netherland and Chile) and 'interfering' the landscape (however, this is still much better compared to the environmental effect of fossil fuel). In addition to that, as far as I know, one wind turbine can only supplies electricity for few hundred houses, so this is not sufficient for cities. The city where I live, for example, has a population of around 500,000. Means, shall it be supplied by wind energy, it'd need thousands of them.

    And oh, welcome to the forum

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  5. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    One possible downside: we do not know what effect it will have on the weather.
    Windmills make power by taking energy out the wind - effectively slowing it down.
    Get enough windmills and weather patterns could be affected.
     
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  7. Xylene Valued Senior Member

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    I'd be extremely surprised if we ran out of wind power, vhawk. Wind-flow is caused by the rotation of the Earth, and also by the temperature differentials between the different latitudes. So as long as the Earth keeps spinning (which will be a while yet, I hope) and the sun keeps shining (ditto) we'll not have to worry about wind power becoming scarce. Wind works on the even distribution of solar heat.

    BTW, with increasing temperatures the wind speed increases, because there's more heat to be distributed. So with the greenhouse effect kicking in, expect more wind, not less.
     
  8. scorpius a realist Valued Senior Member

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    these vertical axis won't
    www.windside.com
     
  9. PieAreSquared Woo is resistant to reason Registered Senior Member

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    your average house cat kills more birds than any windmill
     
  10. vhawk Registered Member

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    thanks chaps- how sexist of me to think that only men know science- sorry Marie Curie
    so windmils +cats = dead birdos?
    is there an upside/ down side law?
    why not generate electricity from the earth's rotation?
     
  11. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    The law you are seeking is TANSTAAFL.

    The amount of change imposed on wind velocity by reducing it slightly is so small as to be insignificant. (Caveat: we used to say the same about polluting the ocean.)
     
  12. fedr808 1100101 Valued Senior Member

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    For one thing, from a distance windmills move pretty slowly and that means that they are easy to spot, and so long as we dont make them out of glass birds will see them and get out of the way.

    Also, they are really loud.
     
  13. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    Everyone else has dealt pretty well with the issue of windmills, I thought I'd address your proposed "law". I'd say your error is the "equal and opposite" bit. Clearly, anything you do has its downside, but if the downside were always "equal and opposite" we'd never make any progress. The trick is to try to ensure that, whatever actions you take, the upside outweighs the downside.
     
  14. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    Didn't you like the law I gave him?
     
  15. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Since windmills are often built where forests used to be, I don't see how there would be any negative effect on wind patterns. The downside, as I see it, is that windmills are built using an industrial infrastructure that is dependent on fossil fuels for energy. You can't build windmills using windmill power alone.
     
  16. Xylene Valued Senior Member

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    Windmills, as you know, are (or were) used in many countries to grind corn and wheat, and were also used to pump water. I don't see why we can't use modern-day windmills for some other purpose/s besides the supply of power.
     
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Not really - and not the same ones. It would be a very good idea to not build thousands of the highspeed horizontal axis hundred-footers in the major hawk, crane, trumpeter swan, etc, flyways.

    It's easy enough to avoid the migration flyways.
    You can, pretty much - with some human muscle thrown in, of course.

    Wind power is solar power once removed (hydro is solar power twice removed) - so there's an obvious direction to step in.
     
  18. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    Your use of the acronyn TANSTAAFL without any explanation almost certainly went right over his head. You might have elaborated a bit, or at least spelled it out for him (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch)
     
  19. draqon Banned Banned

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    you people forgot the main downside of wind power...maintenance costs and low efficiency
     
  20. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    You can make very small scale windmills, but nothing to power America with. We aren't talking about grinding a little flour here.
     
  21. PieAreSquared Woo is resistant to reason Registered Senior Member

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    Certainly it depends on which type bird your talking about and most of the windfarms are in rural areas and barn cats are pretty good killers...robins, jays etc... ... but don't take out many hawks

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    It's easy enough to avoid the migration flyways.

    Exactly, don't build a wind farm at the Bosque Del Apache

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  22. Dr Mabuse Percipient Thaumaturgist Registered Senior Member

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    The widespread use of wind farms poses a significant risk to the Raptors. These are often endangered species. They get killed by the windmills, they are apparently drawn to them but no one knows why.

    This is an aspect of this stuff the the 'green' crowd chooses not to publicize for obvious reasons. We don't have huge numbers of hawks, eagles, falcons and etc., so it's an issue worth noting.
     
  23. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I know that there must be a power loss of some type when the windmill must supply the electricity to a city via power lines. I wonder how much is lost , I know there is a formula about distances from the windmill to the destination but can't seem to locate it. Thanks in advance.

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