Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by hubie on Friday September 23, @01:53AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the tilting-at-windmills dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Even as more offshore wind projects launch and the turbines they use get bigger, there are questions around offshore wind’s economic viability. Unsurprisingly, hauling huge equipment with multiple moving parts out to deep, windy sections of ocean, setting them up, and building lines to transmit the electricity they generate back to land is expensive. Really expensive. In our profit-driven capitalist economy, companies aren’t going to sink money into technologies that don’t deliver worthwhile returns.

A Swedish energy company called SeaTwirl is flipping the offshore wind model on its head—not quite literally, but almost—and betting it will be able to deliver cheap renewable energy and make a profit along the way. SeaTwirl is one of several companies developing vertical-axis wind turbines, and one of just a couple developing them for offshore use.

A quick refresher on what vertical axis means: the turbines we’re used to seeing (that is, on land, at a distance, often from an interstate highway or rural road), have horizontal axes; like windmills, their blades spin between parallel and perpendicular to the ground, anchored by a support column that’s taller than the diameter covered by the spinning blades.

[...] The generator in a vertical-axis turbine, on the other hand, can be placed anywhere on said vertical axis; in an offshore context, this means it can be at the waterline or below, adding weight where weight is needed.

Vertical-axis turbines can also use wind coming from any direction. Since their rotation doesn’t take up as much space as that of horizontal-axis turbines nor create as much of a blocking effect on downwind turbines, they can be placed closer together, generating more electricity in a given footprint.

[...] The turbine will rise 180 feet (55 meters) out of the water, and its weighted central pole will reach 262 feet (80 meters) below the surface. That’s a total height of 442 feet. For perspective, the Statue of Liberty is 305 feet tall including the base and foundation. The vertical-axis turbine is still dwarfed by its horizontal-axis counterparts, though; GE’s Haliade-X is 853 feet tall, and Chinese MingYang Smart Energy Group is building a turbine that’s even a few feet taller.

Why are all the wind generators of the windmill design? This design is not novel and it has very clear engineering advantages that I'm surprised it isn't the most common design. [hubie]


Original Submission

This discussion was created by hubie (1068) for logged-in users only. Log in and try again!
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by MostCynical on Friday September 23, @03:06AM (2 children)

    by MostCynical (2589) on Friday September 23, @03:06AM (#1273081) Journal

    Why are all the wind generators of the windmill design?

    Some reasons:
            ground effect - "cleaner" wind higher up.
            The blade’s angle of attack varies during a rotation and is a poor compromise most of the time
            The downstream blade operates in the wake of the upstream blade
            Blades are on average closer to the ground where the wind speed is lower
            The wind-shielding effect causes fatigue damage

    Many of these are not actually true. [windturbinestar.com]

    Mainly, there is massive momentum in current technology (construction, erection, and maintenance are all known and understood for horizontal designs)

    It is not dissimilar to Thorium/molten salt reactors.. known vs unknown, perceived risk vs actual (which directly impacts finance and insurance)

    --
    "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    • (Score: 2) by bussdriver on Friday September 23, @04:15AM (1 child)

      by bussdriver (6876) on Friday September 23, @04:15AM (#1273088)

      These are pretty well known and failure after failure and scam after scam it never seems to end. They never get to scale because so far nobody is foolish enough to dump that kind of money before finding out smaller versions fail. They can look cool and do produce power but never are good at it; especially at large sizes.

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by kazzie on Friday September 23, @04:39AM

        by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Friday September 23, @04:39AM (#1273093)

        One firm that went to market with vertical axis turbines was QuietRevolution: their qr5 model was installed in a few places round here, generally assisted by grants or to enhance a construction project's green credentials. They marketed it on the fact that it could be fitted nearer buildings without needing as buch clearance, because of the smaller sweep of the rotor. Of course, sticking a wind turbine in the lee of a building also cust down on the force of the wind blowing through it.

        Sadly their numbers didn't add up, and the power output was far less than predicted/claimed. They were also fitted with a sprung safety brake that was disengaged by an electromagnet operated from mains power: the power drawn to release the brake was often more than that generated.

        QuietRevolution went bankrupt and/or were bought out by a competitor. When one of the qr5 turbines had a major safety fault, the new company decided they couldn't or didn't want to develop a fix for the old model, and just had them all condemed.

        Source: a local firm had theirs pulled down: I got to hear the backstory, and dig through the turbine as we took it to pieces.

  • (Score: 2) by ChrisMaple on Friday September 23, @03:26AM (1 child)

    by ChrisMaple (6964) on Friday September 23, @03:26AM (#1273082)

    According to verticalwindturbineinfo.com, the vertical design kills fewer birds.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by bussdriver on Friday September 23, @04:17AM

      by bussdriver (6876) on Friday September 23, @04:17AM (#1273090)

      Birds were NEVER a real problem. BATs however are a real problem (not out in the ocean.) Want to save the birds? ban outdoor cats. paint things birds can see on windows-- smacking into glass kills orders of magnitude more birds.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by khallow on Friday September 23, @04:03AM (5 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday September 23, @04:03AM (#1273087) Journal

    Even as more offshore wind projects launch and the turbines they use get bigger, there are questions around offshore wind’s economic viability. Unsurprisingly, hauling huge equipment with multiple moving parts out to deep, windy sections of ocean, setting them up, and building lines to transmit the electricity they generate back to land is expensive. Really expensive. In our profit-driven capitalist economy, companies aren’t going to sink money into technologies that don’t deliver worthwhile returns.

    Adverse economics doesn't get better if you abandon capitalism. This paragraph treats "worthwhile returns" as if it's only things that deliver a strict monetary profit. But in reality, it's anything, action/good/whatever, that generates sufficient value for the cost of the thing to be considered worthwhile to the party paying the cost. My take is that it's foolish to desire an economic system that does large scale unworthwhile things.

    And what's also missed is that capitalist economies are good at turning technologies into worthwhile returns. Even if offshore wind really is not viable at this time doesn't mean it'll stay so for long. Capitalist economies means private parties can aggressively investigate this with their own, often considerable resources.

    • (Score: 2) by MIRV888 on Friday September 23, @04:17AM (4 children)

      by MIRV888 (11376) on Friday September 23, @04:17AM (#1273089)

      You left out greed, and standing on the backs of the workers.
      How many satellites do you need before we might wanna kick down some to the plebes?
      Not enough apparently.
      It will sell well with the 'Mad Max' crowd though.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Friday September 23, @05:07AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday September 23, @05:07AM (#1273099) Journal

        You left out greed, and standing on the backs of the workers.

        Sounds like it would be a waste of time to include those. Neither is magically exclusive to capitalist systems.

        How many satellites do you need before we might wanna kick down some to the plebes?

        Do you need to exist? When we start talking "need" rather than something objective, we open the door to all kinds of interesting mayhem.

      • (Score: 2) by SomeRandomGeek on Friday September 23, @07:34PM (2 children)

        by SomeRandomGeek (856) on Friday September 23, @07:34PM (#1273244)

        Capitalism is the worst form of economic system - except for all the others that have been tried.
        (Apologies to Winston Churchill)

        • (Score: 2) by MIRV888 on Saturday September 24, @05:07AM (1 child)

          by MIRV888 (11376) on Saturday September 24, @05:07AM (#1273330)

          That doesn't mean we should stop looking for one. There are technologies coming online that are going to make a large swath of the workforce unneeded. What happens to those people when they are 'not economically viable'? We're gonna need an answer to that question and soon.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday September 26, @01:47AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 26, @01:47AM (#1273669) Journal

            That doesn't mean we should stop looking for one.

            There's a huge difference between looking for a better system, and making up shit about the present capitalist systems. Let's review what was said just in this thread:

            • companies aren’t going to sink money into technologies that don’t deliver worthwhile returns: ignoring that nobody would invest their own resources into something they know doesn't deliver worthwhile returns.
            • greed: human greed has been around forever so it's not particular to capitalist systems, and what's missed here is that capitalist systems actually do a good job of dealing with human greed such as court systems, regulation, and just the fact that the greedy person can make vast amounts of wealth without having to harm society in the process.
            • standing on the backs of the workers: point to the modern society that doesn't do that.
            • technologies coming online that are going to make a large swath of the workforce unneeded: If everyone has access to these technologies, then it's an insignificant issue. If not, then everyone who doesn't will still be employing humans to do the work they need done. I'll note also that societies that interfere with employment via onerous regulation and taxation are the ones presently with this technology problem. My take is that if you don't punish employers, you won't have a serious problem with technology replacing people.

            Some of these will be similar problems in any system. Others, particularly "greed", are put forth even though capitalism actually does a good job of dealing with the problem.

(1)