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Old 29 June 2010, 09:31 PM
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Default Go green? Wind turbine failures

Comment: Nothing is Perfect. Gear oil failures in windmills.

Here are some photos of what happens when failures occur in windmills.















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  #2  
Old 29 June 2010, 09:45 PM
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Hello Kitty

I don't think anyone has ever said that windmills are perfect, but even if every single windmill in the world exploded it still probably wouldn't be nearly as bad as the giant oil spill going on right now.
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Old 29 June 2010, 09:53 PM
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You are most correct Aimee.

The comic strip "Sherman" has the sharks, the main characters in the strip, going to help friends in the Gulf.
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Old 29 June 2010, 10:19 PM
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Sherman's Lagoon is still in print? Wow.

Anyway, that last picture looks more like the truck drove into a turbine blade that was being carried on a trailer or a flatbed rather than the turbine falling on the truck.
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Old 29 June 2010, 10:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
Anyway, that last picture looks more like the truck drove into a turbine blade that was being carried on a trailer or a flatbed rather than the turbine falling on the truck.
Nah, that's far to simple, and likely. Clearly it was a catastrophic explosion that flung the blade in there.

There's a youTube video I've seen of a turbine exploding. Would not want to be close to that.
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Old 29 June 2010, 11:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
Anyway, that last picture looks more like the truck drove into a turbine blade that was being carried on a trailer or a flatbed rather than the turbine falling on the truck.
I don't know, the snowy conditions evident on the ground make me wonder if it was an unusual storm condition couple with a truck parking dangerously close. But unless very unusual weather was present in the situation, then your proposed situation is much more likely than 'KILLER WIND TURBINES! GLOBAL WARMING IS A SHAM OUT TO GET US ALL!'.

ETA: I've heard much of people complaining of the 'eye-sore' of wind turbines, but am I a rarity in that I find them beautiful? I think their structure is simple and slender enough not to blight the landscape, but they punctuate it with a diffused kind of grace that highlights the power of humanity without tarnishing the natural wonder of the land?

Last edited by Blatherskite; 29 June 2010 at 11:18 PM.
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  #7  
Old 29 June 2010, 11:15 PM
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Explosions and mech failures are irrelevant - the thing to look for is when you drive by, or happen upon a wind farm on your travels, and there they sit, not moving a smegging inch - therein lies the failure.
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Old 29 June 2010, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blatherskite View Post
I don't know, the snowy conditions evident on the ground make me wonder if it was an unusual storm condition couple with a truck parking dangerously close. But unless very unusual weather was present in the situation, then your proposed situation is much more likely than 'KILLER WIND TURBINES! GLOBAL WARMING IS A SHAM OUT TO GET US ALL!'.

ETA: I've heard much of people complaining of the 'eye-sore' of wind turbines, but am I a rarity in that I find them beautiful? I think their structure is simple and slender enough not to blight the landscape, but they punctuate it with a diffused kind of grace that highlights the power of humanity without tarnishing the natural wonder of the land?
I like them too. There's a couple of big fields of them north of here a few hours. I think they're lovely.

They are freaky at night though. We were driving through that area about 11pm one night. All the red airplane warning lights on them are synchronized. So it's hundreds of red lights dotting the sky then "fwoom" black. Then hundreds of red lights dotting the sky then "fwoom" black. If I hadn't been familiar with the area I would have freaked. The windmills are in no other way lighted so you couldn't see them at all. Just the fields of red lights blinking on and off in unison.

Gibbie
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Old 29 June 2010, 11:44 PM
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Gibbie, sometimes 'freaky' is also beauty. Sometimes natural events and constructions also loom on you suddenly at night or in poor sight conditions, and that's why I consider wind turbines one of the more nuanced structures built by man to aid man. At least it is less obstructive in the view than most fossil fuel plants, despite being more sprawled and relying on more isolated conditions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Tea View Post
Explosions and mech failures are irrelevant - the thing to look for is when you drive by, or happen upon a wind farm on your travels, and there they sit, not moving a smegging inch - therein lies the failure.
Wind energy is not my area of expertise, but does the usefulness of wind turbines really rely on perpetual motion? I would have thought that the time spent in stillness was made up for during the energy provided by high winds. Certainly, it won't be as efficient as fossil-fuelled energy but I would ask for more evidence before calling wind energy (at least for the miniscule proportion of the population that relies on the energy provided by wind turbines) a 'failure'.

Last edited by Blatherskite; 29 June 2010 at 11:52 PM.
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  #10  
Old 30 June 2010, 12:04 AM
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It just doesn't cut the mustard Blatherskite, and i'm all for renewable energy. Wind has been given huge Govt incentive and shows precious little sign of being other than an expensive mistake. Waves? ignored for decades, even though the UK had cost effective generating means in the 70s. Politics, mostly... thousands of turbines where even I could tell you their dormancy would amount to pointless, huge-cost fail?

http://www.aweo.org/
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  #11  
Old 30 June 2010, 12:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blatherskite View Post
Wind energy is not my area of expertise, but does the usefulness of wind turbines really rely on perpetual motion? I would have thought that the time spent in stillness was made up for during the energy provided by high winds.
I don't have a cite after a quick search, but for most wind turbines, high winds can be deadly. They operate best when the wind is between 20-30 mph, IIRC. When you get above 40 mph, they tear up. At optimum operating speeds, the blade tops can be moving over 300 feet per second.
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Old 30 June 2010, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blatherskite View Post
Wind energy is not my area of expertise, but does the usefulness of wind turbines really rely on perpetual motion? I would have thought that the time spent in stillness was made up for during the energy provided by high winds. Certainly, it won't be as efficient as fossil-fuelled energy but I would ask for more evidence before calling wind energy (at least for the miniscule proportion of the population that relies on the energy provided by wind turbines) a 'failure'.

When someone builds a windfarm, the developer considers the net capacity factor, which means the amount of power actually produced as compared to if the facility was running at full capacity at all times. So when a company builds a windfarm, it generally feels pretty good if it's getting, say, a 40% net capacity factor depending on the wind conditions in a given area. Utility companies that then actually take the energy for distribution to residential customers also consider that, while they may have contracted with a 200 megawatt wind farm, they're probably only going to take an average of 80 megawatt over the year. From there, the utilities also plan on how to appropriately take the wind energy. Since there's no large-scale effective storage infrastructure, when the wind blows and it goes on the grid, you have to take it back off, you can't just shut wind down. So when the wind doesn't blow, you have to make sure you have something like a natural gas plant to fill in the holes.

Probably way more info than you wanted, but it's kinda my area.

So like you said, it's really not a failure, it just requires some workaround regarding dispatch times. Unlike other resources, you can't "dispatch" a wind facility (fire it up when you need it, shut it down when you don't). It requires resource planning.

And Jay Tea, the infrastructure is admittedly expensive. But so is the infrastructure, fuel and storage for a nuke plant,* which is one of the other low emissions alternatives. But a major infrastructure investment with a 20-year (minimum) service life with no fuel costs, regardless of the low net capacity factor, isn't too bad a deal, taking in the whole picture.

As far as hydro, the only problem I can potentially see with that is the same as is still being sorted out to some extent for wind - transmission infrastructure. Unless you can actually get it onto the grid in large quantities, you've not got a really viable option. But I don't work with hydro being in a landlocked state, so I really can't say more than that.


On another note, I knew a wind director who purchased a large amount of Vestas wind turbines shortly after I spotted this video on our very own snopes page. I sent her a note with the link and said, "You got the non-splodey kind, right?" I don't think she was entirely amused, oops!

Equipment failures can happen, though. But it seems that particular kink has been largely worked out. Most turbines now have better fault detection and mitigation.

*Which I am by no means advocating, I've just seen a lot of "green" groups pushing nukes over coal plants in recent years.
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  #13  
Old 30 June 2010, 12:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post
I don't have a cite after a quick search, but for most wind turbines, high winds can be deadly. They operate best when the wind is between 20-30 mph, IIRC. When you get above 40 mph, they tear up. At optimum operating speeds, the blade tops can be moving over 300 feet per second.
Depends on the size of the turbine and its rating. A 1.65 MW or lower turbine, yeah, you'll want low to medium winds. A 3.0 MW turbine could hold up in high winds, but that's definitely not something you'd throw up in your backyard to cut energy costs.

Since there's a Vestas turbine in the photos, I've pulled up its specs. This is where some of my expertise ends, though, when we get really technical about them.
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Old 30 June 2010, 12:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loyhargil View Post

And Jay Tea, the infrastructure is admittedly expensive. But so is the infrastructure, fuel and storage for a nuke plant,* which is one of the other low emissions alternatives. But a major infrastructure investment with a 20-year (minimum) service life with no fuel costs, regardless of the low net capacity factor, isn't too bad a deal, taking in the whole picture.
Well, i'm not inviting comparison with nuclear, and sniff haughtily at wave with my own sense of regret, but you'll see, over the years, how big the shortfall is. Windfarms are not working, and even if, say, Germany, turn 80% of their exposed land over to these things, power needs will not be met, and money best spent elsewhere, will be drained.

It's way beyond just building the things and maintaining them, it's about air pressure and how it shifts - silly turning fans will not solve anything, 20 years or otherwise. The power of the seas on the other hand? driven by tides,current, inexorable? We shun this at our peril, for even when we ruin the water quality, it will still move, ever, as we can predict.

Do I have shares in wave energy? Maybe
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Old 30 June 2010, 01:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Jay Tea View Post
Explosions and mech failures are irrelevant - the thing to look for is when you drive by, or happen upon a wind farm on your travels, and there they sit, not moving a smegging inch - therein lies the failure.
Plus, they kill bats.
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  #16  
Old 30 June 2010, 01:42 AM
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Wind, waves and tide all need to be considered. It is not a matter of one versus the others. All 3 rely on the same power of nature. All 3 have problems of some sort including the ability to get the power from where it is generated to where it is needed.

And I see I have left solar out of this. Make that all 4 etc.
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Old 30 June 2010, 02:12 AM
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There's a right way, and a wrong way, to do anything, including wind turbines. Imagine having a wind farm in, say, Kansas, and then seeing it after tornadoes come through town. That "right and wrong" way applies to nuclear power as well - if anybody wants a lesson on the right way, talk to the US Navy and the French, who have been operating nuclear reactors longer and better than anyone else, by far. The safety record in many places, like Canada, are good, but they don't stand up to the sheer number of hours of operation compared to either of those.
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Old 30 June 2010, 04:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blatherskite View Post
ETA: I've heard much of people complaining of the 'eye-sore' of wind turbines, but am I a rarity in that I find them beautiful?
No, you are not alone in this. I find them quite fascinating as well, and have photographed the farm near my home a few times recently.

[IMG]Wind Farm[/IMG]

A few more can be seen here.

-RB
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Old 30 June 2010, 05:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Tea View Post
Well, i'm not inviting comparison with nuclear, and sniff haughtily at wave with my own sense of regret, but you'll see, over the years, how big the shortfall is. Windfarms are not working, and even if, say, Germany, turn 80% of their exposed land over to these things, power needs will not be met, and money best spent elsewhere, will be drained.

It's way beyond just building the things and maintaining them, it's about air pressure and how it shifts - silly turning fans will not solve anything, 20 years or otherwise. The power of the seas on the other hand? driven by tides,current, inexorable? We shun this at our peril, for even when we ruin the water quality, it will still move, ever, as we can predict.

Do I have shares in wave energy? Maybe
Well, one thing I have to say - wind hasn't reached a great cost efficiency yet (once we get into carbon taxes and cap and trade, that will likely change), but it's not that they don't work, it's that they can't work on their own. Wind doesn't blow as much during the day, but more at night, which isn't a peak usage time. And wind doesn't blow consistently, so you can't use it as firm baseload. You still have to have natural gas generators during the day and coal/nuclear 24 hours for the baseload demand. But there are still definite environmental benefits. You can shut down a ton of natural gas generators when the wind is blowing. While gas doesn't has as much in the way as emissions as gas, it's certainly less of a train on a resource.

And if someone can just perfect large capacity renewable energy storage without too great a line loss, we'd be really set.

Right now, though, renewables are just better as offsets than as replacements.
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Old 30 June 2010, 05:06 PM
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Oh yeah, back to the OP -

I can't identify any of the incidenta above specifically, which is part of the reason I bring this up. These may not all be due to gear oil failures. There could be other equipment in the nacelle causing the problems. Some turbine manufacturers put the entire generator into the nacelle itself rather than on the ground next to the turbine, so it's possible some of those are generator failures.
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