Does anybody here know how to break into this industry, working on a mobile, on-site basis? Maybe with embedded tech?
They are. Like living sculptures. There's just something extremely dignified about them. Like finally growing up after the childishness of strip-mining. The adults are here.
I for one can't wait until we develop a way to live without them - the only condolence is that they move us away from the coal and gas industries. I do hope that solar leaves them in its wake and we can be done with the monstrosities.
I guess you've never seen them blow the top off a West Virginia mountain to get the coal out. Windmills can be replaced by solar, but that mountain isn't coming back. (Caveat: don't know if that's still done or not, but it was done plenty in the past.) If feel ya on the aesthetics (though I personally like them), but if you're complaining about windmills "littering the coastline", then maybe blowing the tops off mountains doesn't happen in your backyard. Instead you got windmills. Consider it your aesthetic tax for having reliable, inexpensive electricity.
Or consider nuclear, which is much cleaner, safer and lower coast than all other energy sources
No, according to the US Energy Information Administration the levelized cost of nuclear has been comparable or less than coal (without the massive negative externalities of coal)
"not typically included in levelised cost of electricity assessments is the cost of decommissioning a reactor and disposing nuclear waste, says Roula Inglesi-Lotz an energy economist and associate professor at the University of Pretoria. This would further increase the price of nuclear energy. Even when these costs are not included in calculations, the cost of nuclear investment remains high."
>..."not typically included in levelised cost of electricity assessments is the cost of decommissioning a reactor and disposing nuclear waste
Maybe in other countries, but not the US. Every nuclear power plant in the United States is required, by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as part of its licensing to set aside sufficient funds to decommission the plant when it reaches the end of its useful life.
>...(The USA is an exception, because the cost of decommissioning is included in the price of electricity, per the Nuclear Waste Policy Act),
Also there is a tax on electricity produced by nuclear power in the US to cover eventual long term waste disposal so it is priced into the cost - though ideally this high level waste will eventually be burned in a 4th gen reactor so the volume of waste will be a small fraction of what it would otherwise be.
scroll to the bottom image. Nuclear is the lowest cost along with hydro. If you want to argue against nuclear, you have to find another argument (which shouldn't be too hard).
Note that nuclear isn't getting any better, while other sources are improving every year. Would you rather plonk down a massive capital payment for a very average nuclear plant for the next 50-80 years, or gradually add more and more efficient sources of energy over that same time period?
Nuclear power is still the better cost/production method we have for now. It's safe (yes, the stats include deaths while building which puts wind/ocean at a disadvantage, but overall it is just as safe as renewable energy), it's efficient.
Just don't pull a Chernobyl and actually follow security measures.
We have uranium, yes, but if happenstance is our only criteria we should also be building nuclear weapons and burning lots of coal. Sadly we're doing the latter with great alacrity.
We also don't have a good place to store the waste. I don't think there's (m)any places on the planet that could be good places to store waste of this nature. It's probably telling that people often refer to nuclear waste needing to be stored or managed, rather than recycled, rendered safe, disposed of, etc.
We've got tons of space to store the waste. The country is right in the middle of a tectonic plate, so little worry about earthquakes, and large swathes of the country are uninhabited by anyone, even mythical 'lost tribes'. Even if nowhere else, we could store waste in the giant area cordoned off for nuclear testing in the '50s.
In my opinion, it's hard to find somewhere better suited for storing nuclear waste than 'somewhere in Australia'. Stable, first-world government, a fair few places where we can put it where even leaks wouldn't be a problem, skilled populace, etc etc.
In any case, it looks like they're discussing it: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-08/should-south-australia...
This makes sense only if your starting position is that creating nuclear waste makes sense.
> Stable, first-world government, a fair few places where we can put it where even leaks wouldn't be a problem, skilled populace, etc etc.
How long does nuclear (fission) waste need to be managed?
How long do you believe that AU has had a stable, first-world government?
> This makes sense only if your starting position is that creating nuclear waste makes sense.
The waste is being created, regardless of whether or not you think it makes sense. You can pretend that there's some fantasy world where there's no nuclear waste, but in the meantime here in the real world, there is such stuff and it needs to be managed.
> How long does nuclear (fission) waste need to be managed?
> How long do you believe that AU has had a stable, first-world government?
Federation was (to a rounding error) a century ago. Some would argue that it's been stable since then -- I'd argue it hasn't, but the boom/bust left/right vacillation so common in western ersatz democracies evidently is what counts as stable these days.
It's kind of besides the point, though, since it's a comparative exercise.
How long does nuclear fission waste need to be managed, and how does that compare to 'around a hundred years'?
You also make a less than compelling case that we have no choice but to have waste from nuclear fission -- we have plenty of options that don't involve nuclear fission.
Consider, for example, the fact that Australia has no nuclear fission plants generating electricity.
But just because we have access to relatively cheap Uranium doesn't mean we should be digging it up and processing it.
One of the reasons I rail against the suggestion that AU has a 'stable long term government' (ie. that could be said to be sufficiently grown up to handle fissile waste) is that right now that same government is very publicly committed to fossil fuels, despite the leader of same being on record only a few years ago asserting - loud and wide - that green energy should be our priority, and we should be moving away from fossil fuels. Append usual concerns about the various people involved in getting us to, and then maintaining, this unfortunate situation.
Oh, give me a goddamn break. You've got how much desert that's sparsely inhabited?
Personally however, still support solar. Especially solar house tiles, they look good, pay for themselves after a few years and can be placed on every house.
Also, there's that "Not laying waste to huge areas and making them uninhabitable" thing.
Nukes would be fine for a species that was capable of acting intelligently and responsibly over long periods.
Humans are not (yet) that species.
Typo or pun?
Still not as bad as a plastic bottle on the ground.
Normally talking about aesthetic experiences as if they are universal is frowned upon, because the judgment of beauty is taken by many people to have an intrinsic quality of subjectivity to it. But that appears not to be a problem in the community of people that oppose wind turbines.
If you look at parent's comment:
"They are. Like living sculptures. There's just something extremely dignified about them. Like finally growing up after the childishness of strip-mining. The adults are here.
You can see that the judgement of beauty here is tainted by social implications, energy concerns, and possibly political environment.
This is only my reading of it though so maybe the parent meant something else.
I personally find them attractive but I haven't spent much time around them at all.
And yet if you were to make the same argument about a coal or even nuclear plant, you'd be considered a loon. Coal plants don't just look awful, they also stink up the surrounding areas. And while I've heard plenty of people say they like the look of windmills (I'm one myself), I've never heard anyone say they like the smell of coal plants.
And yet a number of old coal plants are being preserved and repurposed given that industrial chic is rather in vogue these days. See the Tate Modern for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tate_Modern
(These are admittedly not working plants but still.)
For example, I can put a few wind turbines or the classic towers from a nuclear plant into artwork and folks get the reference. I paint in a coal plant, and folks just think factory.
Nuclear plants, the Simpson-esque version I picture, are beautiful in their own right, btw, as are nearly all factories. It just depends on framing.
Which really just goes to show how good wind is. The worst complaints aren't actually a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
Also, it + solar will not meet needs.
As a bridge fuel natural gas is also perfectly capable for base load and peaking, and due to pricing has already been rapidly supplanting coal and oil. Longer term, pumped hydro where available, or even technologies like syngas could be used to store peak wind/solar capacity to generate when the resource does not meet need. Along with a better long-distance grid, it takes no stretch of the imagination for renewables to meet virtually all current demand, without even accounting for huge advances in new technologies.
Peak population is coming, and with increasing energy efficiency/conservation, we can very well expect peak energy usage to precede peak population.
The population will peak. What causes the peak? Lifting from poverty. What results? Much higher energy demand.
Regardless, current demand cannot be sustained by wind and solar. Not even speaking about future demand.
Gas is fossil. I prefer nuclear to meet demand for the foreseeable future.
Stop quoting this bullshit "fact." It is a meme made up by conservative think tanks to discredit wind farms. As other posters have already pointed out, other human-related factors such as domestic cats, buildings and towers, and most importantly pollution and loss of habitat are far more significant dangers to birds. If you actually care about birds, take your cats to the vet and put them down (this will also help save the oceans: a large part of fish in cat food comes from massive and illegal trawling in South-east Asia often done with slave labor), and donate any rural/suburban property you own to a land trust, to be given back to natural habitat.
It's not necessarily the raw numbers of birds killed, it's the type and the impact on their population. If your cat kills 1000 pigeons, the pigeon population won't notice. A handful of golden eagles every year or two though, and we get closer to losing another species.
At least over here in Germany the organisations working to get more renewables deployed and studying these things massively overlap (e.g. nature clubs lobbying/advertising for renewables, and at the same time providing the boots on the ground counting dead birds). It has been recognized as a problem and is now managed, just as other environmental influences of new construction projects are (e.g. evaluating a new location includes a comparison with known migratory patterns/populations and restrictions and monitoring requirements can be set accordingly)
> Some say just 10,000 birds a year meet their end at the hands (blades) of the wind industry. Others ramp that number up to 600,000
But the economic alternative is not coal but natural gas. What is you opinion in this context?
The next generation windmills were less ugly, but still too small. I always found them rather unobjectionable, but I could see one quibbling with that.
The current giants being put up though? They look great! They have these 90 foot blades that look like they were designed by an advanced alien race, their size makes them operate with a slow graceful sweep, and the relatively low density of them leaves the hillsides more visible as well.
Here in upstate New York there are planned wind and solar farms in the region and every one of both brings out a certain crowd of torches and pitchforks.
There's no pleasing some people. The energy has to come from somewhere, and right now coal, gas, and nuclear together make up most of the fuel mix.
We need nuclear, solar and wind, or 90% of people to die and the rest live in caves.
I assume you don't know much about strip mining, because strip mines in first world countries reclaim the land they mine as they follow the seam.
Your word choice is interesting.
Although I guess beauty is subjective.
Embedded software is extremely hard to do mobile, and anyways all of the electronics tech is designed in Germany.
Getting a entry level job in wind is about being nearby and willing to work. If you have a college degree you can always be a field Engineer.
I'm an Electrical Engineer in the wind industry now, previously I was in the field, and previously I was an embedded software/hardware engineer.
So like, if I see people working at a wind farm, just go up and introduce myself?
(I have a full-time gig at the moment right now until September, so it'll be a little while).
If you want to know where they are building go through Abilene, TX and ask.
I'm curious about this kind of work, could you share more of your experience? What exactly did you do, how hard was it to find job, was it with one company, how often did you move from farm to farm?
There are maybe 5 major EPC Engineer Procure Construct companies all of them are very similar.
Lots of military types find the field work similar their previous experience.
You get to meet people from all walks of life, rural farmer to execs of S&P 500 companies.
Lots of driving.
More project management then Engineering if you're in the field.
I've also been a part of a few large scale solar farms 20-100MW
Same companies and same work situation, but less cranes.
That would be an awesome job.
I'd love if you could share a couple of lines on the economics of that, like what your setup and ongoing expenses are like, and what's the biggest headache it involves. If you prefer, my gmail address is the same as my username. Thanks.
In addition to his superior craftsmanship, we also treat our bus like an engineering and teaching platform; we leave a lot of things taken apart (or in a raw, visible form) to use as teaching tools.
It's a balance; though - we have an almost-2-year-old, so we have to have a certain order and steadiness to things so he can't (or doesn't want to) take them apart all the time.
Here in Germany we traditionally have more water than we need, but recently the weather is more extreme. We get stronger rains in shorter times, leading to flooding and times with less than usual water. More dam capacity is the obvious solution to that.
Preferably, dams should not be built in the middle of a living river system, but higher up in the mountains, capturing the seasonal water. Also, where needed, small bypass rivers should be kept, allowing fish to migrate freely.
Even modern say SF offices still use that line: "They were eager to show us how, they say, the reservoir actually enhanced the beauty of the valley,"
I didn't say it was the motivation of the project, just that it has been claimed and used to buttress other arguments.
I am 100% in support of renewables. However, I also know several home owners near wind-rich areas. And, the noise pollution from the turbines is awful. Unfortunately, my friends are poor (as typical) and have little say in the matter.
I expect it is a particular manufacturer or unit, and quite possibly one built a long time ago, that is causing the trouble that some experience. But I haven't been able to track down which one. Sadly, it seems most just see 'tall white things with blades' and think they are all identical, which makes getting reliable information fairly difficult.
Just out of curiosity here's the noise profile (spectrogram) of a turbine at 1,37 km (0.85 miles), measured inside a home, where we can see the base frequency and several harmonic multiples:
Here's the same turbine at 5km (3.1 miles), again inside a house, where the turbine is shut off at 11 a.m.:
As we can see this low frequency noise can travel very long distances, and when you have wind farms with multiple turbines they can even create interference patterns, that could amplify the problems further.
To put it another way, a car on the NASCAR circuit looks a lot like a road suitable car anyone can buy at the dealer's lot, but the sound is completely different. It pays to be specific.
Anyway, I'm not sure of the model. abut, I could try to find out. Let me know.
Example article of some work going on in this space:
If there is anything which have been debated in Denmark it's the pros and cons of windmills, what the technology is, where the money are, what markets are interesting.
My point wasn't that you can't optimize just that it's not a field where that's a competitive advantage.
So it's the opposite in my case. I know the industry from the inside and know what matters in it and it's not technological advances.
But hey each to their own. I certainly wasn't implying he shouldn't get into the field just that there is a lot less going on than what it looks like on the surface.
A lot of them are made in facilities that were built to make railcars (including big tank cars).
And a lot of engineering is involved to optimize that design, to build the towers as strong as is necessary to survive high wind loads while using as little material as possible so as to minimize cost. You're trivializing something that has a lot of thought put into it just because you don't really understand it well. I can guarantee you that more thought, simulation, and calculation goes into the design of windmill towers than goes into the average software project.
If it helps, I'm not a software engineer and have an unused degree in mechanical engineering.
They are pretty damn sure it is strong enough. It isn't the minimum material necessary to ensure that.
Concrete doesn't seem like the right material for this job.
The brochure of one company: https://www.max-boegl.de/en/downloads-en/116-max-boegl-hybri...
(Disclaimer: I know nothing about this and just report back what I read on industry associations' and manufacturers' websites)
Cost is the killer of so many renewable energy sources. There is tons of optimization going on for cost.
Having worked with raw EIA data I can say that the inputs are not very reliable: a) a lot of smaller farms are not included in EIA data b) reporting is voluntary and 30%+ of wind sites stopped reporting data in 2016, for example , and c) reporting is based on surveys which means errors, delays, etc.
The US is really lagging behind when it comes instrumenting and monitoring its energy infrastructure.
The UK has a live feed of the makeup of the power plants that is updated on this website every 15 minutes.
* in fucking Lotus 1-2-3, of all things
I always hate how projects are touted as 'bringing X many jobs to the region' when a majority of cited jobs are in the construction or building of whatever the project is, and then evaporate away once it's built.
*Except for the Sagrada Familia building in Spain which started construction in 1982 and is expected to be finished in 2026.
I think you mean 1882.
Of course, less employees per unit of energy could equate to more total employees if the increase in energy produced is greater than the increases in efficiency.
As far as I can tell, the types of energy policies we have in the US do a pretty good job of incentivizing increased efficiency in all types of energy, including renewables. I'm definitely not knowledgeable about this though, so maybe someone can correct me if I'm wrong.
This is a pretty good point, and it also leads in to an argument to be made for an important distinction between productivity and jobs.
People like jobs. Politicians and corporations talk about creating jobs. They're seen as universally good, but that is not necessarily the case. Especially as tech becomes more capable of automating more tasks, which may displace labor at a rate in which people have increasing difficulty in retraining quickly enough, it's appropriate to have a cultural shift in perhaps still valuing jobs, but not over valuing human dignity and economic productivity. An example I witnessed: The very grumpy woman in Paris who took a Euro from me to use the toilet could be given the same amount of money generated by an automated toll while she does something productive. Or even she could just do something which she enjoys and would be happier doing, but is non-productive, and that would still be Pareto efficient: it makes one better off without making anyone else worse off.
Policy should not seek to create jobs just for the sake of creating jobs. With appropriate, just and fair economic policies, it really shouldn't matter how many jobs an industry creates: it matters how much utility, and at what utility per dollar the industry is capable of. That is, assuming you care most about human welfare. I think most politicians care most about money and power.
Having seen several headlines about high employment in renewable energy industries, I must admit that I'm sort of prepped for headlines about it declining. Companies will always start looking for some sort of efficiency when they keep having to add more and more employees.
Wind has an issue where it is most productive during the night the grid doesn't really need power. So it will be priced lower.
In fact you could raise mushrooms under the solar panels and get triple use of the land.
Building the solar farm on the same location as the windfarm meant 20% could be saved from the construction costs of the solar farm, said Ivor Frischknecht, the chief executive of Arena.
Arena recently commissioned an investigation into the costs and benefits of hybrid solar and windfarms.
It found that besides huge cost savings – achieved mostly because the grid connection was able to be shared by the two generators – the two energy sources were often complementary, producing peak outputs at different times of both the day and year. That meant they combined to create a more reliable energy source.
“Co-location provides more continuous energy generation as windfarms tend to generate more energy overnight whilst solar only generates during the day,” Frischknecht said. “Gullen windfarm generates more power in winter and the new solar farm will generate more in summer.”
I would say we are in a similar position as the 1980's, everyone is active in this huge growth market of making proprietary networking software and hardware, almost nobody sees it will all be obsolete in a few years when the internet arrives. Our startup will be ready with the tools needed when this transition happens (in renewables).
If you are interested to work on this, email merik at fiberhood.nl
On the other hand, ignoring integration and installation costs, solar panels scale linearly with size. So small solar makes much more sense than small wind.
AFAIK, in terms of number of birds, house cats kill about 1000 times as many birds as windmills, but cats of course prey on small birds and windmills kill large birds which are far lower in numbers.
I didn't realize that was such a big issue. Over time, humanity will figure out ways of making wind turbines less of a danger to birds.
In the mean time, I would assume that wind power still remains a net positive for the overall environment versus coal, etc.
Or the birds will evolve to dislike wind turbines.
The good thing windmills are very eco-friendly. Only water/hydro and photovoltaic/sun-energy falls in the very same category.
Upfront cost, liability and waste disposable with nuclear cannot be overlooked.
He also noted:
> A reactor has a 60-year service life.
Fukushima suggests otherwise. Holding on to old reactor designs has resulted in catastrophic failures.
Waste disposal is a non issue, and Fukashima was due to terrible planning. It wouldn't be solar's fault if someone put too many solar panels on a weak roof and they fell through.
Sorry, but that's just a ridiculous position. You can argue that it's a soluble issue, that the long-term hazard and security are manageable and affordable. You need storage that's going to stable over 10s of thousands of years, that will need to be protected for the foreseeable future (unless you want people to have plenty material for dirty bombs etc). That's not cheap, and the is cost that's very likely going to be externalized from the company running atomic plants, since there's obviously no guarantee said company is going to stick around for long enough.
I am perceiving an uptick in lay-people (more or less) advocating for fission power generation over the last 2-3 years. There are some good arguments. But in nearly all cases I end up being unconvinced because all the problems (waste, complexity, massive delays, security) are just waved away with arguments like "waste disposal is a non-issue", "cost overruns are due to political causes", "new reactor designs make the risks infinitesimally small", .... It's obviously a complex problem and just deflecting away the problems that have bogged nuclear power in a lot of quite different countries, isn't convincing unless you're already convinced.
The analogy you make to solar ignores that the failure modes of nuclear are much worse than solar.
Not so much with wind or solar, though ;)
As you suggest in your prior sentence, hydro is very disruptive environmentally in some cases. The Glen Canyon Dam (and the once proposed dams in the Grand Canyon) are particular cases in point. There's a general trend toward removing old dams in New England in part because of their environmental impact. Of course, small scale hydro like microturbines is far less disruptive but it generates far less power.
> About 599 million birds are killed annually in the U.S. when they fly into windows, trailing only loss of habitat and cats as the top causes of bird deaths, according to the National Audubon Society. Wind turbines account for about 234,000.
See page 29.
Solar, for example, employs 373,807.
Natural Gas: 362,118
I've also designed a super low cost wind power system anyone can just stick in their yard. Basically a flat wide pole you stick in the ground that the wind blows up and down. (Think wind blowing across a grassy field). I need help with engineering to make any more progress though.
From what I've heard, solar panels have a definite lifespan, but are maintenance free until then.
Wind could last longer provided you maintain it right.
The EIA thinks that the levelized cost of energy from utility scale solar PV in the US is still above wind. NREL and Lazard seem to think they're about at parity now. PV is lowering costs (both initial construction and O&M) faster than wind, so I expect it to start underpricing wind in the US. Of course there are going to be places where wind remains cheaper for a long time just because they have much better wind resources than sunshine resources.
Utility scale solar farms and wind farms both require maintenance labor, though little compared to coal, hydro, or nuclear facilities. Gas based power plants also require little maintenance relative to the power they produce.
I'd generally expect a PV module installed this year to have a longer useful lifespan than a wind turbine installed this year. Turbines have to endure much more mechanical stress. I'd say a typical rule of thumb right now is 20 years for a turbine and 25 years for a PV module. Both numbers are creeping up over time.
Not on the same scale as installation, but still a steady source of jobs.
Not sure if CAPEX as described below includes everything.
direct link to map
Reality is that most jobs, in most sectors, pay crap. Wind energy is no exception.
1. The link says average, which usually implies mean.
2. The mean yearly income for an individual in the US is ~$45,000, which, assuming 2080 working hours per year is ~$22/hr. That seems almost a little too coincidental.
3. The median yearly income is ~$30,000. If the median wage is truly $22/hr. it must be for part-time work, which still comes up about $20,000 per year short compared to the numbers from the article.
At what point will solar efficient enough to lay out massive solar grids in Texas, Arizona, and SE California?
It had EU funding, I'm not sure if you are wondering when something similar would be profitable without subsidy. (But could any big project be constructed in Morocco without government subsidy?)
Keep zooming in until you see cars and buildings. Then you'll realize how big this plant is (it's not even the largest such project, just the first one I could pinpoint on a map).