inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #26 of 317: windblown (satyr) Sat 24 Feb 01 16:38
    
> Worldwide capacity to date is 17,000 MW, generating some 34 billion
> kilowatt hours

I'm guessing that's 34 billion kilowatt hours _per_day_

(Still smarting from recent media mangling of energy-related units of
measure...)

Within the last week, NPR ran a report on the large scale development
of wind power in west Texas, by Florida Light and Power.  This seems
hopeful.

Globally, what are some of the prime locales for wind power, either in
sheer potential or potential in proximity to a market and infrastructure?
I'd be surprised if southern Chile and Argentina and New Zealand weren't
near the top of the list.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #27 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Sat 24 Feb 01 16:46
    
        While we're waiting for Peter to return from the bar, let me jump in
here.
        Enron Wind is of course huge in the industry, but the various Florida
Power & Light subsidiaries are developing new projects at an equal
level.  SeaWest also has substantial new developments, as do others.
        In fact, FPL is currently in construction using another Enron
subsidiary's turbines, the Tacke 1.5 MW machine.  Tacke is a German
manufacturer, and i believe the first phase of construction is 130 MWs.
 The project is in West Texas, so of course these are the largest
commercial turbines ever installed in the U.S.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #28 of 317: windblown (satyr) Sat 24 Feb 01 18:50
    
Another question...what's been driving the trend towards larger and
larger windplants?  I assume it's economics, but why are the larger
ones more cost-effective than more smaller ones?
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #29 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Sat 24 Feb 01 20:33
    
Howdy folks.

While I did have a beer, I was not at the bar. I was at a Friends of
The River event about -- energy deregulation! And they wanted to hear
info (being most concerned, of course, about hydro issues).

It was an interesting scene. Bob Schlichting (sp) from the California
Energy Commission basically told everyone what a great job they were
doing. The hottest points of the debate were the proposed purchase of
the transmission grid from the utilities and how Davis is expanding the
role our state government is performing as a power purchaser.
Implications for public power and distributed small solar and wind
systems may be the topic for a forthcoming op-ed.



But to the questions.

Enron. Well, these guys have been painted the bad guys because of
their links to Bush and because they are playing some manipulation
games with natural gas supplies.

I remeber writing a story for Windpower Monthly, the leading
international wind power magazine, when Enron bought Zond. Windpower
Monthly has always hated Zond because they were so uncooperative as a
company in terms of being candid with the press. The gist of the story
was whether this purchase was good or bad for the industry. Up until
that point, most purchases of wind companies by big oil, gas or
military industrial complex companies ended up being bummers for
everybody.

I know Jim Dehlsen well. A section cut out of the book was that his
nickname was "No Deal Dehlsen." I talked to a video prpducer who worked
with him. I tried to write a book with him, too. Very hard man to work
with. A visionary, yes. A business manager, no.

But I have to say I've been pleasantly surprised. The fact that Enron
bought out all of the original stock holders speaks about how they must
think wind is part of the future. I'm amazed at how many folks,
ranging from groups representing appliance contractors to the very
power generators reaming we consumers (and the hated utilities) in the
process, are talking renewable energy. 

This power crisis could be the best damn thing to happen to this
country. HELLO. WAKE UP. Its time to end our fossil fuel addiction. It
is time to invest BIG TIME in renewables and begin the transition to
the hydrogen economy. 

Enron will make billions in natural gas and oil. But they are no
dummies. They are a lot smarter than PG&E, SCE and SDG&E. Enron has
also invested in solar. British Petroleum is now Beyond Petroleum. THat
is worth a snicker, but this is the sing of the times.

Do I trust them? Hell no. But the fact that free market Republicans
from Texas see a winner in wind should tell Davis and the rest of the
California Legislature something.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #30 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Sat 24 Feb 01 20:44
    
Wow -- that last one was a long one.

There are many parts of the world that have great wind. Ironically
enough, California ranks right in the middle of the US states. Germany
doesn't have great winds -- less than many states here. YEt they lead
the world. Why?  Public policies.

Argentina and CHile have incredible winds. The winds they are called
"Zonda," by the way. 

THe UK has excellent wind resources. But NIMBY problems there are far
worse than the US. Why? Public Guardian, a front group for the nuclear
industry.

Windblown dude. Why big better than small. Randy can give a better
answer than I, but here is the context.

In the beginning, the feds built huge monster turbines. All of them
were failures. They were designed by out-of-work aerospace engineers,
folks froma  culture that were not used to designing things that had to
work in market setting. Boeing, General Electric -- companies that had
made millions doing work for the Defense Department. 

Anyways, none of them worked. In fact, they were such a fiasco that
California decided to take a different approach. Plant dozens of
smaller wind turbines in farms and gradually scale up in size as one
learns how to address the intense stress wind places on machines sited
in spots that are blessed with the wildest weather on the planet!

To make a long story short, today's turbines are the same size as the
monster machines orginally put in the ground by the Department of
Energy. We've learned enough about gust structures and turbulence and
long-term wear-and-tear to design machines as large as 1.5 to 3 MW!

The size of the original US Windpower turbines planted in the Altamont
Pass -- 50 kW. 

But small wind turbines in the 10 kW size are also extremely
economical for on-site applications. The only distributed generation
source that is cheaper is mini-hydro.

Large and small distributed generation turbines are the answer. 

Did you know the state will pay half of the installation costs of a
small wind turbine? 
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #31 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Sat 24 Feb 01 21:24
    
        First, yes, 34 Billion! kwhs per year.  i dexterously boggled my
magnitudes, dude, thanks for catching me.
        Turbines get larger and larger according to perceived economies of
scale.  But loads and stresses increase as well.  At some point moving
huge blades or using huge cranes become prohibitive.  The ideal has not
been reached, and may differ depending on the installation site.
        We may be lucky later in the week to have a turbine designer or two
pitch in.  i'll only say there are theoretical analyses which show
arrays of smaller turbines may be less costly and more efficient,
particularly in areas with strong wind shear, where the windspeed
increases with height.  Or perhaps if you were using the ocean for your
yaw bearing.
        But in general the economies produced by scaling up to the current
750 kW to 1500 kW are thought by most in the industry to have been a
wise design direction.  How much larger remains to be seen.  Current
plans in Europe contemplate 5 MW scale, or greater than a rotating
football field.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #32 of 317: Call me Fishmeal (pk) Sat 24 Feb 01 22:55
    
Part of it is a Reynolds number thing. Air is relatively less sticky when
it's moving over faster/bigger objects, so things like airfoils work better.

Then there's the obvious r-squared relationship between size and area. Double
size, and available power goes up by a factor of four. Of course, bending
moment on the tower base goes up by a factor of eight (twice as high times
four times the force) so there's a limit to how big these things can grow. 

The higher turbine is also going to be up in stronger wind, and available
power varies by speed cubed (kinetic energy per mass of air is V-squared, but
amount of air flowing through the device is V, so you get V-cubed). But wind
shear is a problem, and I imagine that when the wind is much stronger at the
top of the blades' arc than at the bottom, things done work so well. 

I'm guessing it's the vertically stable marine air that drives the arguments
for offshore. It's also why I'd like to investigate long piers and causeways
as a much cheaper way to get into that same stable air.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #33 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Sun 25 Feb 01 10:46
    
        You obviously have a grasp of the basics, fishmeal, but i'm a bit
hesitant to discuss reynolds numbers before a web audience.  For
discussions like this, it's always tough to balance engineering with
keeping people happy whose eyes glaze over at the mere mention of
microstrain and the family joules, a great band.
        But of course readers could imagine that with a seventy meter rotor
(that's the circular area swept by the blades which capture the wind,
in this case some 2/3 the length of the left field line at the Giants
new ballyard at McCovey Cove) and the wind at a particular moment is
50% stronger or more near the top of the arc than the bottom, there are
unequal forces which must be taken into account.
        Imagine building a reverse helicopter that's bolted to a tower.

        In Europe there are existing offshore windpower projects built in the
shallow depths of the coastal North Sea, and plans for several hundred
megawatts in depths up to forty meters, all built on the seabed. 
Floating wind ships are a different concept we'll discuss later.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #34 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Sun 25 Feb 01 10:59
    
        For a brief respite from engineering, here's something a writer
friend sent me, apparently from SNL's Weekend News: 

        Stunning weekend developments.
        PG&E has thrown in the white towel.  The transmission system
will be donated to a non-profit established by Bay Guardian publisher
Bruce Bruggman.  Gas from the Arizona-Cali border will be piped
directly to the Capitol, with the pipeline facilites donated to the
INS.  The Diablo Canyon reactor vessel will be donated to Bin Laden,
and PG&E will turn the containment vessel into an IMAX multi-plex.
        Enron bought the remains of all three utilities.  CEO Ken Lay
stated, "We knew the California utility executives needed to spend a
few years in the Permian Basin to understand cowboy energy business,
for it's been more than a hundred years since any of them ever used
small arms to take over a hydro plant."
        Governor Davis at his bi-annual press conference announced
that Cauliflornia will install several state of the art power plants to
burn exceptionally cheap depleted uranium shell casings donated by
NATO forces in Kosovo.
        The Republican minority in the Legislature announced it is
investigating new sources of power, focusing on the seemingly
inexhaustible supply of glow sticks at late night raves.  They further
denied any investigation into burning Condoleeza Rice straw for power,
despite thick smoke hanging over the Central Valley.
        Edison Chairman John Bryson announced he's replacing the
mercury vapor lights illuminating his tennis court with standard
flourescents, saying "We can't find glow sticks anywhere, but we will
conserve.  I continue to use green balls."
        Senator John Burton, apparently unaware of today's
developments, announced he was bringing in XFL executives to mediate
the utility disputes.  "No fucking fair catches, period," he denied
categorically.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #35 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Sun 25 Feb 01 11:06
    
Well, I hope everyone had a good time at church this morning. 

I think this technical discussion about the nature of the wind is very
important -- but I want to focus more on the human drama behind wind
power, which is the focus of my book. What drew me to the wind power
story were people like Randy Tinkerman. People like Bob Thomas, who had
a mysterious dream about a red star. Sam Francis, a famous painter
whose old art studio in Pt. Reyes Station now serves as a writer's
retreat, gave him a million or so, and he came up with a wind turbine
design. Very unorthodox vertical axis turbine.

I ended up staying at Mr. Francis' place -- now called The Mesa Refuge
-- and encountered the ghost of Sam Francis. I'm sure it had something
do do with my wind book.

Then there is John Eckland, the CIA dude who did the forecasts showing
that oil prices might reach $100 barrel. He quit his job to start up a
wind power company in the Altamont Pass. His firm ended up being one
of the biggest embarrassments of all.

Then there was Hutter, the Nazi, whose pioneering work on gliders was
incorproated into some of the world's first light-weight wind turbines
after WW II. He died a few years ago and is a hero in Germany, now the
world's leader in wind power.

The US equivalent to Hutter was William Heronemus, a former US nuclear
navy designer who first spoke about the needs for massive wind farms
way back in the '70s. He even spoke about fuel cells and many of the
technologies that could help California get out of this current wind
power mess.

Heronemus hasn't received a dime in federal research money since 1980.
It was the students of his class at U-Mass that formed the core of the
American wind power industry. That is why I dedicated my book to him.

Why are there so many crooks in the power business? HAs any other
industry brought together such idealists and such cut-throat
capitalists?
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #36 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Sun 25 Feb 01 11:08
    
Where is renewable raver Phred? Is he too busy trying to make a bundle
off of the Bonneville Power Administration's huge solicitation for new
wind power?

Phred? PHRED!!!! Were you up all night????
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #37 of 317: windblown (satyr) Sun 25 Feb 01 11:15
    
> Windpower Monthly

   <http://www.wpm.co.nz/>   (Now THAT figures!)
                      ^^

<18> Worldwide capacity to date is 17,000 MW, generating some 34 billion
     kilowatt hours

<31> First, yes, 34 Billion! kwhs per year.

Not per day, of course!  I was the one who let the magnitudes slip.
Thanks for supplying the time scale.

(For any who might not have followed that, 17,000 MW = 17,000,000 kW
and 17,000,000 kW X 2,000 hours = 34,000,000,000 kWh.)
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #38 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Sun 25 Feb 01 11:22
    
That is an awful lot of electricity.

To put those numbers in perspective, consider that California in the
late '80s had roughly 1,600 MW on line, which represented about 95
percent of the world's wind power. Today, California gets about the
same amount of its electricity from the wind. But that number only
represents about 10 percent of the world's wind power.

What does that say about leadership, deregulation and progress?

For those of you pre-occupied by Napster, the Internet, the New
Economy. Does anyone see parallels between what is going on with the
evolution of the electricity industry and telecomm?
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #39 of 317: windblown (satyr) Sun 25 Feb 01 11:36
    
> Heronemus hasn't received a dime in federal research money since 1980.
> It was the students of his class at U-Mass that formed the core of the
> American wind power industry.

I attended the Social Ecology Summer Program at Goddard College (VT) in
1976, and there was a course on wind power offerred.  I imagine there's
a connection.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #40 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Sun 25 Feb 01 11:44
    
        Now we're rolling.
        First i'll reminisce about that CIA guy, Ecklund.  i know in your
book i'm quoted saying, that guy belongs in joil, or some such.  Truly,
i could never figure out if he was just a shyster, if he and his
company were merely incompetent, or if he was planted by the CIA to
destroy the credibility of the newly emerging wind industry.   Our
plates were full of trying to keep the rotors attached to the hub while
convincing arrogant utility executives and insulated investment
bankers that we were for real, and he didn't make it any easier.  It's
his derelict turbines which still litter Interstate 580 through the
Altamont Pass, and which gave us such bad press.
        Thank gopod for some of the Danish turbines, which showed the world
windpower worked, right next door to Ecklund.
        Bob Thomas' machine seemed at first to be a strong contender for a
successful village power design for developing countries, where you
could pack in the components on a donkey.  But he began to focus on the
windplant money, he may have gotten off-center.  i still think he has
a great design for low cost applications.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #41 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Sun 25 Feb 01 11:56
    
        One thing about Bob Thomas that bears repeating, when he headed the
Cali Energy Commission's wind program, that financial conference he
organized was absolutely seminal.  He put together a board of advisors,
on which i sat, and we schemed to get serious investment bankers to a
conference in Palm Springs, naturally, to show off the new industry. 
The deals that began there created the industry.
        Oh-oh, memories flooding back here.
        The showpiece of the conference was the huge vertical axis Alcoa
turbine installed on Edison's test site, completed just days before the
meeting.  i flew in early, and saw Alcoa's Paul Vosburgh holding up
the lobby bar, midday.  Dropped my luggage, greeted, saw his face,
what's up?  The machine destroyed itself yesterday.
        In my entire life i have never seen such grace under pressure as that
man's performance for the rest of the conference.  He didn't try to
hide anything, he was open about the believed causes of the failure,
and he didn't hide in his room.  amazing.  Paul, if you're out there,
miss you, sorry about the variable axis jokes.
        But that conference was the true merger of Governor Brown's vision
and Wall Street money.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #42 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Sun 25 Feb 01 12:04
    
        Windblown, do you remember the Towards Tomorrow fairs in Amherst
about the same time.  A Fran Koster brainchild, if me remember
correctly.  He was the guy who developed community energy planning
during those oil embargo days, quantifying how much money local
communities wre shipping to Saudi Arabia.  Likened it to having a
bucket that needed to be kept full, but had huge holes that were always
leaking.  He quantified the benefit to the community by keeping the
holes plugged.
        Something about Cali shipping off annual education budgets to Texas
each month enters my mind.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #43 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Sun 25 Feb 01 12:20
    
That must have been some scene -- when the Alcoa turbine blew up in
Palm Springs in '81. I have visuals -- even though I wasn't there.

One thing about Wind Harvest. They are one of the few American firms
to survive. And I heard as recently as yesterday that they may have
some real projects.

Everytime I talked to these guys, they were on the verge of falling
apart, but then some investor would step in the last moment. 

The guy to save there ass more than once was Ty Cashman, a Catholic
Zen Buddhist Anarchist who dreamt up the idea of tax credits based on
the ability of English longbow men to beat French mounted knights. The
long bow was developed thanks to a policy of exempting them from taxes.

Cashman (nice name, huh?) used this little bit of history to justify
tax credits for wind. Cashman sunk over a $100,000 into Wind HArvest in
the mid-90s.

He lives up on Mt Tam. Maybe we could get him to check in. His new
thing is the hydrogen economy. He also like hsi wine. 
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #44 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Sun 25 Feb 01 12:21
    
That must have been some scene -- when the Alcoa turbine blew up in
Palm Springs in '81. I have visuals -- even though I wasn't there.

One thing about Wind Harvest. They are one of the few American firms
to survive. And I heard as recently as yesterday that they may have
some real projects.

Everytime I talked to these guys, they were on the verge of falling
apart, but then some investor would step in the last moment. 

The guy to save there ass more than once was Ty Cashman, a Catholic
Zen Buddhist Anarchist who dreamt up the idea of tax credits based on
the ability of English longbow men to beat French mounted knights. The
long bow was developed thanks to a policy of exempting them from taxes.

Cashman (nice name, huh?) used this little bit of history to justify
tax credits for wind. Cashman sunk over a $100,000 into Wind HArvest in
the mid-90s.

He lives up on Mt Tam. Maybe we could get him to check in. His new
thing is the hydrogen economy. He also like hsi wine. 
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #45 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Sun 25 Feb 01 12:22
    
I guess I'm repeating myself. Way too much coffee......
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #46 of 317: windblown (satyr) Sun 25 Feb 01 12:23
    
Yeah.  A bunch of us played hooky for a day to go check out the fair in
Amherst.  Some more than a day, I'm sure.  I remember sitting in on a
discussion with the fellow who'd sawed through or uncoupled (forget which)
the cables holding vertical a weather sampling tower on a proposed nuclear
site.  Also remember an impressive coop grocery right in the student
center at U-Mass!
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #47 of 317: windblown (satyr) Sun 25 Feb 01 12:23
    
slippage
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #48 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Sun 25 Feb 01 12:49
    
        i remember that story, what was his name?  Though of course it's
against my religion to destroy the sacred meteorological towers which
are the center of our industry.
        The ability to quantify the wind resource at a given site, both from
a perspective of getting enough data over a long period of time to
accurately predict overall windpower, and the art/science of
micrositing in complex terrain, is key to the establishment of viable
and financeable projects, whether at the scale of hundreds of
megawatts, or on the hill above your ranch.
        Reaping the Wind II will be devoted to the amazing meteorologists who
shaped the history of windpower, right Peter?
        I mean, we all know how easy it is to predict the wind.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #49 of 317: Call me Fishmeal (pk) Sun 25 Feb 01 13:48
    
I think it's useful to work out a measure of "capacity" that compares more
directly with fossil-fired plants, and to adjust our units to a more
appropriate scale.

California's total installed generating capacity is what, 55 Gigawatts?
Winter demand peak is around 30 or 32 GW, as I understand it. That puts the
total worldwide wind capacity of 17 GW in perspective - half of the
California winter peak demand. 

But the annual worldwide wind power production appears to be based on a 2,000
hour year, because most of the time the turbine is operating at something
less than rated capacity. There are 8766 hours in a year. So you really have
to multiply wind capacity by 0.228 to compare with a power source that
operates continuously. Okay, conventional plants don't operate continuously
either, so let's call it 0.3 for the comparison factor. (That's being
generous, I think, giving conventional plants only 75% up-time.)

On this basis, the 17 GW installed worldwide represents only about 5 GW of
fossil-fired equivalent.

And, the rule-of-thumb that wind costs $1/Watt to install changes to about
$3/watt for comparison to fossil-fired first-cost. That's $3 billion per GW,
when we start talking on a state-wide scale. 

(Still might be a good deal, though.)
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #50 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Sun 25 Feb 01 14:13
    
You raise some good points. 

Remember, wind power is so dependent upon the wind resource. In
California, it is true that wind turbines may only generate power for a
third of the year. In the Great Plains, it could get closer to 50
percent in the best wind regions.

The thing to remember that increases the valeu of the power produced
froma  wind turbine is that the power generated -- at least in parts of
California -- is during peak, when we need the power the most. Makes a
lot mroe sense to based a strategy on solar and wind for peaks, than
to spend all of this money on gas plants that might only operate as
little as 100 hours in an entire year. 

YEt that is still the focus. Gas peakers in the 50 MW size. 

Wind si not the only answer. Other renewables, such as geothermal and
biomass, need to play a role because they can pretty much operate
around the clock. 
  

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