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posted by Cactus on Friday February 28 2014, @03:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the breaking-wind dept.

Fluffeh writes:

"At the recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford, spoke in a session on renewable energy.

Jacobson was invited to speak at the conference because he has developed a roadmap to convert the entire U.S. to renewable energy using primarily wind, water, and solar generated energy. His detailed analysis includes looking at costs and benefits on a per-state basis, including the obvious benefits to human health from reduced pollution. One of his slides showed a very unexpected benefit, however: taming of destructive hurricanes with the help of offshore wind farms.

Jakobson's study, co-authored by Cristina L. Archer and Willett Kempton, has been published in Nature Climate Change (full text available here)."

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Common Joe on Friday February 28 2014, @06:54AM

    by Common Joe (33) Subscriber Badge <> on Friday February 28 2014, @06:54AM (#8336) Journal

    130 turbines, at an estimated cost of $2.6 billion ($20 million per turbine)

    I'm glad you hit this point, because I didn't know that. It completely nullifies his argument. Here's another one: where is all of that energy going to go? Into the electrical grid? Wind is too unstable to use as a main source of energy. There's a reason why nuclear and coal energy does the heavy lifting of the electrical grid. Wind energy is an after thought compared to those two.

    As a person who has personally watched a number of hurricanes go by my house and seen the effects that Katrina had on my family and friends, I seriously question this study. No, I'm no expert in energy nor climate, but I do know that under the right conditions, hurricanes can push water up the Mississippi River. (This was known even before Katrina []. Hurricane Katrina almost did that, but veered at the last moment in a better direction. It was shoddy levees which caused all the damage.)

    We're talking about windmills that will stop the kind of energy that pushes massive amounts of water. Katrina had a 25 foot storm surge []. And it's normal for hurricanes to cycle between stronger and weaker. Katrina came ashore as a cat 3 hurricane []. Think about how much energy it takes to push water in swimming pool. Yes, I know, the windmills involve a complicated set of variables and it isn't just "stopping the energy" because wind mills would supposedly prevent momentum from gaining. Still, hurricanes have a mind of their own and absorbing energy on something so powerful and unpredictable [] seems absurd to me from my personal experience.

    I'd need to see additional studies followed by some kind of test before I'd be willing to spend a lot of money to try something like this. Speaking of money, where did this guy get his funding anyway? Combined with regift_of_the_gods' finding, I am beginning to wonder if this is legit or just an excuse to go build things and grease palms.

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by mojo chan on Friday February 28 2014, @08:34AM

    by mojo chan (266) on Friday February 28 2014, @08:34AM (#8375)

    I'm glad you hit this point, because I didn't know that. It completely nullifies his argument.

    In what way? They pay for themselves after a while, then it's all profit. The mooring points can be recycled at the end of their lifetime too with a new, better turbine.

    Wind is too unstable to use as a main source of energy.

    The UK National Grid considers it more stable than nuclear, because there is almost zero chance that all turbines in a wind farm will fail at the same time. Wind speed is very predictable over the short term (a few hours). Also, the Japanese have developed large (50MW+) batteries for smoothing out wind power which are installed and working at a few locations. They are low temperature sodium sulphur based.

    We're talking about windmills that will stop the kind of energy that pushes massive amounts of water.

    No. Go read TFA, it points out that a large number of turbines will sap energy from the storm and reduce its intensity to a safer level. They won't "stop" all that energy, merely syphon some of it off, enough to make a difference.

    const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2014, @12:55PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28 2014, @12:55PM (#8453)

      Except for water there is no green energy source that is predictable and scalable for use in a national size grid. The main reason for that is that we lack the technology to store energy in a big and efficient way. (Excpet for hydroplants that are extremely location dependent)
      If 80% of your energy comes from wind and solar, then what are you going to do on a calm winter night? Your fucked, unless you were able to build big energy reserves. When we have that tech, we can go all green on most of the planet, except for just in Iceland now. (loads of hydroplants + geothermal + big area with small population makes that possible)

      Furthermore, the cost is a big deal. Even if (a big if) the windmills can soak energy out of a hurricane, I doubt the windmill farm can withstand a hurricane without damage. Repairing that damage in the ocean is likely to be more costly than on land.

      One more big problem for windmills (this is a few year old knowledge, might be improved at this time): Their peak generation is at windspeeds around 60 km/h. If the wind goes much faster then that, they actually shut down the windmills, turn them in a direction they catch least wind and lock them in place. Apparently, something in the windmill can't take it if the blades spin to fast. So that pretty much invalidates the entire idea that they can draw energy from hurricanes.

    • (Score: 1) by sidd on Friday February 28 2014, @09:48PM

      by sidd (2201) on Friday February 28 2014, @09:48PM (#8816)

      1) they will be injecting sustained 1TW into the grid, (instantaneous demand in USA about 3 times that at max i think.) Storing it will be interesting.

      2)They seem to be extracting just about as much energy as is naturally dissipated by surface drag in a stable Atlantic hurricane.

      3)I suspect that the hurricane path will change in the presence of the windmill array. I don't see that their model allows for such a feedback. I have in mind phenomena such as change in precipitation patters around a city.


  • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Friday February 28 2014, @11:44AM

    by TheRaven (270) on Friday February 28 2014, @11:44AM (#8428) Journal
    Note that it doesn't have to drain all of the energy from a hurricane, and it certainly doesn't have to do it all at once. Hurricanes build gradually over time, and constantly sapping a little bit of the energy from the wind over this time may prevent it from building to the threshold where it can draw energy more quickly (as I recall, the rapid cycling of the air between hot and cold allows the weather system absorb energy increasingly quickly and become a hurricane - if you slow it down early enough, it may not).
    sudo mod me up