With wind power, bigger is definitely better.....

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,311
SE PA
As the turbines get taller, they tap into faster winds at higher altitudes, and those winds are steadier, increasing capacity factor. Capacity factor can also be improved by blade design and throttling. And of course, the cost per kWh also falls with bigger machines due to 'economy of scale'.

There are many tales in the Green Room of boondoggle wind turbines (mostly in New England). The common factor: they were all way too small.

Meet the biggest turbine in the world in 2021:



Starting in 2026, a fleet of just 190 of these guys will provide up to 4% of the UK's total electricity needs. As a single project.


Thomas Edison would be impressed by what his company has wrought. So long as they are AC. :rolleyes:
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,372
Downeast Maine
As the turbines get taller, they tap into faster winds at higher altitudes, and those winds are steadier, increasing capacity factor. Capacity factor can also be improved by blade design and throttling. And of course, the cost per kWh also falls with bigger machines due to 'economy of scale'.

There are many tales in the Green Room of boondoggle wind turbines (mostly in New England). The common factor: they were all way too small.

Meet the biggest turbine in the world in 2021:



Starting in 2026, a fleet of just 190 of these guys will provide up to 4% of the UK's total electricity needs. As a single project.


Thomas Edison would be impressed by what his company has wrought. So long as they are AC. :rolleyes:
Would the New England boondogle be the offshore wind in Rhode Island and other places?
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,311
SE PA
Would the New England boondogle be the offshore wind in Rhode Island and other places?
Driving through NE on I-95, I see all these tiny, single turbines in suburban areas... and I think "WTF were they thinking?"

And then there are posters here that tell stories about their town 'putting one up' with a little bond, and it never paying. OK, anecdata on bad investements.

Cape Wind had a lot of bad actors...including the MA politicians getting paid off to write in very spendy power purchase contracts. Ugh.

Block Island is a special case... the folks there wanted a $$$ submarine power line to the mainland, and it got folded into the offshore project. Whatever.

But over in the EU, offshore wind is BIG and maturing rapidly. The UK is ALREADY at 10% electrical ENERGY from offshore wind.

Given the I-95 metroplex's lousy solar resource in the winter, and population density (the only part of the US that 'looks' like Europe in terms of development), offshore wind power is a no-brainer for a future sustainable energy system.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,372
Downeast Maine
Driving through NE on I-95, I see all these tiny, single turbines in suburban areas... and I think "WTF were they thinking?"

And then there are posters here that tell stories about their town 'putting one up' with a little bond, and it never paying. OK, anecdata on bad investements.

Cape Wind had a lot of bad actors...including the MA politicians getting paid off to write in very spendy power purchase contracts. Ugh.

Block Island is a special case... the folks there wanted a $$$ submarine power line to the mainland, and it got folded into the offshore project. Whatever.

But over in the EU, offshore wind is BIG and maturing rapidly. The UK is ALREADY at 10% electrical ENERGY from offshore wind.

Given the I-95 metroplex's lousy solar resource in the winter, and population density (the only part of the US that 'looks' like Europe in terms of development), offshore wind power is a no-brainer for a future sustainable energy system.
One of my neighbors has a small turbine mounted maybe 50' above the ground, and the ground level being about 215' above sea level. I cringe every time I see or hear it. Down the road in Cutler there is a business selling 100' wind turbines and I have an ever bigger cringe when I see that. I can't imagine the costs for all of this and all the marital fights that must be involved.
 
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jatoxico

Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
4,334
Long Island NY
Those things are amazing. I wonder how you service such a thing.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,311
SE PA
Those things are amazing. I wonder how you service such a thing.
My understanding is you need a big special purpose boat with a big crane to assemble the thing, or to do any serious hardware replacement. With one machine, that equipment is a parasitic cost, with hundreds of them not so much. This is one of the issues between the EU and US right now.... they have the ship/port infrastructure, and we don't.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Not sure how accurate this is, but says $400 million to manufacture and install one of these.

That's a lot of dough. Utilities will need a source of long term low-cost lending to make the switch to offshore wind a reality.

.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,311
SE PA
Not sure how accurate this is, but says $400 million to manufacture and install one of these.

That's a lot of dough. Utilities will need a source of long term low-cost lending to make the switch to offshore wind a reality.

.
$400M each seems a bit high.

Found some numbers for the existing offshore wind in the UK:

This is a skeptical report BTW that says offshore costs are increasing, and maintenance is a big problem.

Sounds like install costs for existing projects are (if I converted correctly) $5.50 per Watt capacity. For the 13 MW GE machine, that comes out $71 M per turbine, installed. Of course, this is spitballed relative to the existing installed machines.

But if the GE machine were 6X more expensive ($400M) than what they already have in the field, I doubt they would've gotten the contract.

If that cost seems high, keep in mind that the capacity factor is >60%, or three times the energy harvest per watt per year of a comparable solar unit in a good site. So it would compete with roughly $2/W installed solar.

Same report says that operating costs are $0.25/W in year one, and climb to $0.50/W over the 25 year life of the project. On 67 Million kWh's annual production, that $0.50/W.yr operating expense is a theoretical $0.09/kWh in year 25.

Overall, I estimate that if it cost $71M to install, and $113M over 25 years to operate, then the simple payback (0% interest) cost would be: $0.11/kWh. That is, the $184M lifetime cost, divided by the 1.675 billion kWh it would produce.

And again, those are conservative numbers and projections from the actual costs of the current UK offshore fleet. Presumably, the bigger GE machine will do better than that.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,993
Northern NH
BTW I used to work for Northern Power that made many of those smaller turbines in communities. One of their claims to fame was they built a small turbien for small subbase in Antartica. At the end of the season the crew stripped out the place and disconnected the batteries from the turbine.It sat through an entire winter and when they went back the next year they just hooked up new batteriies and it went right back to working. They sold them for small wind systems fo awhile and are acknowledged to be on of the best smal wind turbines out there. Many of the community towers you see along I 95 are 100 KW units designed for service in Alaskan communities to displace diesel fuel generation (Called wind diesel systems). They are very robust and very overbuilt. A couple of them have survived hurricane force winds. What they cant do is make wind. They are fine out on the Alaska Tundra next to an airport but not so good with a gentle seabreeze. I have mentioned before that they have a small turning motor built into them for moving the blades around for inspection and service. They had an option available to turn the blades when the wind was not blowing enough to generate power.The service techs mentioned that it was popular option to turn on for PR purposes.

Sadly Northern Power finally went bankrupt for the second time and their IP was sold offshore, I think to an Italian Firm. Not sure who services them anymore. One of their big claims to fame was these were permanent magnet machines, no need for gearbox. Most wind turbines are induction machines and they need speed up gearboxes, they are notoriously unreliable.

I think the big offshore turbines have helipads on the nacelles and the nacelles have doors on top that can open up to get stuff in and out. If they need big service there are special ships built with cranes to service them. I have friend who occasional works on the standard on shore 3 MW turbines and he has to climb the towers on occasion, he is in his sixties and tries to avoid it if at all possible as it long climb up and down.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,372
Downeast Maine
I enjoyed seeing the big turbines near Mt. Washington. We sat right under one of them and just listened to it turn, really incredible. No idea what it was rated for in terms of generation, but it was impressive.
 

CaptSpiff

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2014
538
Long Island, NY
Block Island is a special case... the folks there wanted a $$$ submarine power line to the mainland, and it got folded into the offshore project. Whatever.
Block Island Wind Farm is indeed very special. Mostly because it actually got built.

The folks on Block Island had no electrical connection to the mainland. Powered by one of these aforementioned "tiny wind turbines" which made them feel good, but mostly powered from a group of aging industrial diesel generators running 24/7, islanders paid about $0.55/kwh. And with the price volatility of ocean barge delivered fuel, sometimes much more than that.

Their holy grail was getting the Rhode Island electric utility to install an under water power cable to the mainland, but nobody could come up with an economic plan. Not even close.

The magic came when the Governor's ex-chief of staff gets a top job with a "Wind Turbine Project Firm" looking for a place to build. Lots of talking, back slapping and probably some glad handing, and the Firm gets a pilot project for the first 5 commercial offshore wind turbines in the USA. The project includes a collector substation on Block Island, and an underwater cable to the mainland power grid.

Generally the project is viewed positively. My friend says his electric bill is half what it was, and when I ask him about living next to the turbines he shrugs and says "the tourists keep coming".

My personal guess is in 15 years about 25% of the electrical energy used in New England will be from offshore turbines. And the cost of that energy will be lower than we pay today (adjusting for inflation that is).
 
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