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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
It's near Needles, California. 394 Megawatts.

300,000 mirrors track the sun (heliostats) and beam the light towards a centralized boiler 450 feet in the air.

Unfortunate birds that venture anywhere near the central aim point become mere puffs of smoke.

I stopped in Kansas and took a panoramic photo where I could see windmills in every single direction. I thought THAT was the future of energy in the USA.

But having lived in the sunny Southwest for so long....THIS REALLY impresses me.





James Bond really should throw a villain out of a helicopter a few thousand feet above this facility and watch for the puff of smoke as he/she was vaporized in milliseconds APPROACHING the central aiming point. My guess: 100 feet above the central aim point one would sunburn rapidly, by 50 feet be charcoal, and by 10 feet...smoke.
 

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American Legion Rider
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Wind power is a joke. At least for the average individual. And I don't know if the large wind farms are any better. I heard but have no proof that once they get the government money to put one windmill into production, if it ever become unusable it isn't repaired. Deemed to costly. That may just be internet hype or anti-hype whichever you want to call it because I do know they do repair them all the time. Just don't know if they repair one if it's say wind damaged like by a tornado. But if they are worth it why wouldn't they repair that? So I wonder about the statement. I do know from personal experience that the small homeowner kind is worthless. Yep, I tried one of Obama's lies about the future of energy. What a waste!!!!!
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Yeah, the small homeowner sized wind turbines are an expensive, bad joke. Local solar guys installed a few, lightning strikes repeatedly took ALL of them offline despite massive grounding, etc. Until the homeowners, one at a time, gave up on them as they went out of warranty.

I dunno, as an electrical engineer, protecting a wind turbine from lightning strike damage doesn't sound all that challenging to me. Maybe my local installers just didn't know good practice.

The big turbines are about 1Megawatt apiece. The magnetos (turbines) themselves are made by GE, Siemens, etc. The big boys. You bet your azz they get repaired when they break, those things generate big amps AND big money.

But I too am surprised as whenever I drive past a modern wind farm at the # of windmills that are offline, blades feathered. Don't know if it's a shortage of skilled repair guys, parts, cranes, or what. I do know the 20 year old windmills are so inefficient compared to the newer ones they indeed abandon them in place.

The turbines themselves are pretty neat-o, they have a small PERMANENT MAGNET generator to create the field current for the larger "alternator" so they're essentially self-starting.

When I rode through the Laguna mountains (east of San Diego) a few days back and the winds were gusting above 50mph ALL of the windmills were feathered to prevent damage. Never seen that before.

Somewhere back east some investor was cryin' his eyes out.
 

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American Legion Rider
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18,544 Posts
I also don't understand the so called "run aways". We seem to get them here. Sounds like the somehow get spinning so fast they can't stop and are producing maximum output while doing it. The problem, they self destruct. So why don't they build them to withstand that speed and let them produce up a storm? Would seem like that's just what they would want. Turbo jets don't fly apart so why can't these wind turbines be built to produce maximum as "run aways" because it sounds like once it starts they have trouble stopping them. It just sounds like a good problem to have and no one is capitalizing on it. I know mine shuts down all the time just to keep it from getting into run away condition. And that's right when the darn thing actually starts to produce. Just makes no sense. Get it going and shut it down because now it is producing. Dumb!
 

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Driftless Rider
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A guy I went to college with has a job maintaining wind turbines out in the Dakotas. So they do repair them. They run a schedule to take a few offline and do periodic maintenance, and since some of the turbines are connected they need to stop several at a time to isolate the circuit, basically.

Wind and solar are still basically in the infancy of large scale use. They are becoming more efficient and effective as they progress. Do you think that the first coal, gas, nuclear, and hydro plants were perfect? Do you think we can keep burning fossil fuels indefinitely?
The coal and petrol industries are heavily subsidized also. Personally, I would rather have my tax dollars going to develop renewable sources than to line the pockets of oil barons and speculators.

I'd rather have a windfarm in my backyard than a nuclear reactor
 

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The store I work in spent close to a million dollars to install a fuel cell when they built the store. Another 100,000 spent getting all the bugs worked out when the fuel cell failed. The electrician I talked to said the store would need to operate for 75 years before they make up for the money they spent trying to save electricity. But it does have it's advantages, last major storm that took out power for days, most of the other stores where stripping their coolers and/or working with the nasty dry ice. I was sitting at my store laughing my butt off at them cause my compressors where still running the refrigeration. I still don't understand why generators cannot run compressors, but whatever....
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I still don't understand why generators cannot run compressors, but whatever....
It's strictly a matter of size. Most homes/businesses with backup generators have enough to run a few lights. Maybe keep the refrig going, TV.

Running industrial freezers/compressors requires enormous amounts of power and it's simply not economical to install generators that large.

However...as America becomes more and more of a 3rd world country, our electric grid becomes less and less able to keep up, and blackouts become more common, you WILL see more and more businesses adding the necessary generation capability. Esp for frozen food freezers.

At my cabin my grid-tied solar goes down when the grid goes down. I'll eventually install a big enough generator to be able to go 100% "off grid" when that happens. The inverter for the solar needs ANOTHER source of 110V to synch to, which a generator or battery powered inverter can supply.

I've now seen things starting get ugly TWICE when the power went out, for 3 days in San Diego, when food became scarce, and for a 7 days in Huntsville Alabama due to a tornado taking out the transmission lines to the nuclear plant. No fuel could be had; my brother/father evacuated to a NAshville motel.

IMHO that's only the beginning.
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Big Blowhards on MC Forums!

I also don't understand the so called "run aways".
It's like redlining your bike up a steep hill.

Not a 7% grade like we limit highways to in the USA, but like 30%.

If the hill were to VERY suddenly flatten out, even a little, you could over-rev and explode your motor.

You couldn't react fast enough, let off the throttle quick enough.

Wind gusts, they're not steady like a steep hill.

You know this from riding your bike. You get hit by a side gust that very nearly takes you down. Or the wind let's off because of some obstruction and you nearly go down because of how far you were already leaned over.

At some point it's safer just to get off the bike and wait it out.

So the controller that adjusts the pitch of the windmill blades has to leave some margin for safety, because IT can't react instantly to gusts either.

Eventually, above a certain windspeed, the margin for safety must become so large...it's just simpler to feather the blades and wait it out.

Especially for the manufacturer, who has to warranty the things after they overspeed.

As the software improves, the controllers run faster (just like PC's) and the servo's become more powerful AND faster, you'll see wind turbines able to deal with ever higher windspeeds before calling it a day.

Just like you or I getting more and more skilled, and able to ride safely in bigger blows.

HTH.
 

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American Legion Rider
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wadenelson said:
Your explanation makes sense. I think where they are blowing on the small units is they have cut offs based on wind differential as well. Mine shuts down all the time for finally producing, the wind changes direction, which brings the speed down to near nothing, the the wind switches back to the same direction it started at and tries to hit that same fast speed quickly. This happens 1,000 times faster than I can type what happened. But those differences in speed cause shut downs with lock out times. Not one time was the unit in jeopardy of run away. A simple software change could allow the unit to really produce. It has yet another "true" run away shut down point that it never come close to. But getting these people to see there isn't a "real" danger has become pointless and to me it makes these things useless.

Now what happens if I lose power? In my case the unit is locked out until power is restored. Why would I lose power? Wind. So the very thing I have the unit for becomes completely worthless in the very conditions it needs. So, I now have a transfer switch. Throw the generator on and I have power to get the wind turbine out of lock out. That's not why I got the transfer switch, this little feature was a side benefit. So while everyone else is letting a freezer full of meat turn into coyote food, I'm sitting back drinking a beer and not losing a thing.:D I'm rather rare in the number of licensed/documented transfer switches in Texas as you might well guess.
 

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Premium Member
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Wind

The wind generators need to turn in light wind, lets say 5 mph, and they need to generate power at that much wind speed. So the blades have to be big.
The blades could be smaller, but the generator might night make any power until it was blowing 15. So most of the time it would be a waste of money. They size the blades for the area they run in. They are slow turning blades on the big units. Another factor is noise from the blades. When the wind picks up they need to either feather the blades or apply a brake. If the feathering device fails there will be a runaway.
Airplane turbines spin up to 40,000 revs, so the blades ( Vanes ) are small. There can be 64 vanes about 1 1/4 inches long on the outer ring of a two foot hub. I am looking at one on the wall. The vanes slide in place, makes for an easy connection.

The first thing to do for generating electricity, is to reduce the amps required. We do this on the boats. LED lights, DA35 compressor for the fridge, and energy efficient stuff everywhere. Add solar panels, wind generators, towed generators and a variety of other nifty things.

The US coal burners make a good argument for why they should use it. But they never talk about acid rain, or why they have not applied the latest clean burning systems.
I have followed the hydrogen fuel cell program for a long time. It is not going to be easy to switch.
If we all drove a ( cage drivers ) a small Fiat, and reduced the size of our mansions, we could make a huge difference.

Driving a big truck to fetch groceries makes no sense to me.

unkle Crusty*
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #12
those differences in speed cause shut downs with lock out times. Not one time was the unit in jeopardy of run away. A simple software change could allow the unit to really produce.
I'd really like to see some images of your wind unit and an URL to the mfr's website, etc.

All of my windmill knowledge is theoretical, unlike my PV knowledge which is first hand.

I'd like to put up a small turbine....mostly as a learning experience. I do get strong afternoon breezes from some sort of lake effect.
 

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American Legion Rider
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18,544 Posts
Here ya go. We have some folks around here that have made their own. They produce just as much energy without the expense. This thing just produces an empty wallet.

We have now gone to solar. That's where you want to be. That stuff works.
 

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American Legion Rider
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18,544 Posts
Can't. I'm into it for the long haul now. You know, tax write offs and such against the ranch. I do know a guy that used to service them. He may know someone that wants to dump one and I'll discuss more with the chief financial officer. Might find something. I'd darn sure dump it. Anyone that is even remotely considering one should go solar though. One simple array will produce 10x what the yard ornament produces. And I'm shocked at how much solar panels produce on cloudy days. I'll get back to you.
 

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Female Rider
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We only have 10 Solar Panels and they don't face in the optimum direction. That being said, they were first started 07-12-14 and effective 12-31-14 they have produced 1014 kilowatt hours of electricity. Summer months we use about 900 kwh per month. In winter normally a little over 600. So, our panels have already given us 1+ month of electric.
 

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American Legion Rider
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18,544 Posts
We have a 10kph array and I've seen it produce that for several hours(6) per day for months(4). In fact one month this last year it popped the circuit breaker. I calculated what that array could possibly produce amp wise and thought they had put the absolute minimum breaker in. Contacted the makers of the panels and they agreed I should change breaker but increase by 10amp at least because they too knew in perfect conditions it would produce over the maximum rated. By the time I found that perfect breaker and replaced it, it had popped every day for a week between 1 and 3pm. So $30 later it stopped popping. They said I was the first to ever complain about their product producing too much and I assured them it wasn't a complaint. Just a verification of "safety feature".:D
 

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Troublemaker
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My electricity averages out to be less than $50 a month from the local utility. I see no reason to pay for another source. Good old clean burning coal fired plant saves me a ton of money. They even include a yard light to light up the property and maintain it too.
 
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