New study on wind energy

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Warning: It's not pretty. Summary of a report based on power usage by about 1/3rd of the nation's consumers (110 million) over three years.
"For years, it's been an article of faith among advocates of renewables that increased use of wind energy can provide a cost-effective method of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The reality: wind energy's carbon dioxide-cutting benefits are vastly overstated. Furthermore, if wind energy does help reduce carbon emissions, those reductions are too expensive to be used on any kind of scale. "
And in conclusion:
"The wind energy business is the electric sector's equivalent of the corn ethanol scam: it's an over-subsidized industry that depends wholly on taxpayer dollars to remain solvent while providing an inferior product to consumers that does little, if anything, to reduce our need for hydrocarbons or cut carbon dioxide emissions. The latest Bentek study should be required reading for policymakers. It's a much-needed reminder of how the pesky facts about wind energy have been obscured by the tsunami of hype about green energy."
http://www.forbes.com/2011/07/19/wind-energy-carbon_2.html
The report overlooks the fact that wind energy is for the children.
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On 7/19/2011 6:12 PM, HeyBub wrote:

Nice, clean windmill sound nice but energy consumed in building them and the need for back-up diesel generators are not considered. They may or may not be putting them offshore here in Delaware and you can imagine the compounding cost of installation and effect of salt water on them, They don't use above ground transmission lines either and cables have to be run under the sea surface.
http://www.delmarvanow.com/article/20110717/BUSINESS/107170308
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wrote:

do you think that the energy consumed in building any power plant is considered?
It's just a guess, but if we actually did that I would imagine the balance point would shift considerably towards all renewables
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On 7/19/2011 7:20 PM, Malcom "Mal" Reynolds wrote:

Of course. You have to do complete studies of all of the factors involved.
The green energy projects all depend on subsidies. Lot of them are being sucked into Delaware and I strongly suspect when subsidies dry up, so will the companies. The government is being snookered by them.
There is a new one with direct conversion of natural gas to electricity with fuel cells. Opponents have pointed out that there are gas burning turbines with the same efficiency that put out the same amount of carbon dioxide but cost far less.
Who do you trust more, engineers or politicians?
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wrote:

As do nukes and to some extent coal

Probably the same argument was used on gas burning turbines when they were first being used.
FWIW and I'm not suggesting this is practical in all cases, but when the price comes down I could put a fuel cell in my back yard to generate my electrical needs with less hoopla than I could with even a very efficient ICE/genset

I certainly don't trust engineers with a vested interest in the outcome
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All power plants have maintenance costs.
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Limited life span then the cells have to be replaced. Supports, controls, etc all require maintenance.
Nothing wrong with the government subsidizing renewable. Economies of scale will reduce the costs and at the same time the costs of non- renewable fuels will continue to rise. At some point the scale tips and the renewables become cheaper. Until then the government accelerates the growth with subsidies. Just makes the inevitable happen a few years sooner.
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jamesgangnc wrote:

Uh, there are many things wrong with a government subsidizing anything. I don't have much problem with research grants, but subsidizing production is an outrage. Poor Mexicans are almost starving because the cost of tortillas is almost prohibitive, thanks to our ethanol subsidies!
You said: "... the costs of non-renewable fuels will continue to rise." Er, no. The cost of natural gas has dropped from ~$6.50 per 1000 cu ft in 2007 to about $4.00 today. In 2008, USA bituminous coal sold for a high of $175/ton. Today it is $75/ton.
Oil, and its derivative, gasoline is still pretty high (although it gasoline is cheaper today than it was during the Carther administration), but oil is used primarily for transportation - and chemicals. "Renewables" are not involved in transportation, with the exception of corn which I've already dissed (poor Messicans).
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Not true. The corn used to produce ethanol is what is fed to beef and pork (as well as poultry)
which is then fed to them as DDGS
If the poor Mexicans are almost starving because of the cost of tortillas, it's because they aren't growing enough corn...they aren't producing ethanol
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Malcom "Mal" Reynolds wrote:

It was my understanding that, before the ethanol cultists took over the U.S. government, we exported corn to Mexico. Now, corn growers turn their corn into fuel, much to the despair of Mexicans.
As a result, literally millions of Mexicans are crossing our borders in what has become known as "The Great Tortilla Quest"!
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On 7/21/2011 6:32 AM, HeyBub wrote: ...

That's what the consortium of the food manufacturers and processors would like you to think; they're spending millions in a campaign to demonize ethanol as the convenient whipping boy to justify higher consumer costs.
From a USDA brief...
...The United States experienced record demand and corn production during 2007/08 that pushed U.S corn exports to 61 million metric tons. However, a slowing world economy and reduced demand for corn are projected to dampen corn exports in the near future. Nonetheless, global population increases and consumer demand for meat products will continue to support expanding feed grain exports in the long term.
World Corn Trade
While the United States dominates world corn trade, exports account for only a relatively small portion of demand for U.S. cornabout 15 percent. ...
From a (somewhat) surprising source; an Indian analysis...

As for the Mexican imports, they've gone up as well, significantly. However, as another noted, all corn for ethanol production is yellow field corn, not white or sweet corn for (direct) human consumption.
It's a complex, global economic system now and the interplay between competing governments various policies are certainly factors but there's far more going on that simply US ethanol. The rise of the EU and their protective and restrictive policies combined w/ the demise of the former Soviet Union has markedly changed the European marketplace. Brazil and Argentina being in the southern hemisphere can play the US weather patterns and target export markets specifically for those years when prices are high owing to poor weather in the US (and, to a far lesser degree, the US can try to anticipate in the other direction).
China has become a wild card; they oscillate between a large importer to a significant exporter depending on current conditions there and the whims of their central government regarding trade and subsidies.
It's all tied together...
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n

FOr example (and example only as this is n=1 "study", some of the farmers in our area changed from growing sweet corn to yellow field corn precisely because of the extra money they could get.

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On 7/21/2011 8:08 AM, Kurt Ullman wrote:

Nationally, no I don't have any (altho I'm sure it's available in the detailed USDA production statistics data). If I think I'll ask when go into FSA office this afternoon if they have convenient way to get statistics internally that would take me quite some time digging for since don't know where that would be readily accessible (and I don't have high speed connection so random surfing isn't much fun... :( ).
There's never been any sweet/white corn in this area (except for the strip or two planted for own use in regular field that isn't for production anyway) so there's not been any shift here in that direction. We've never irrigated and have only tried dryland corn a few years; it's never been reliable on our ground so we stay w/ milo for the summer grain crop (a shorter corn-like plant w/ a bushing single grain head w/ round orange to red/orange seed; very attractive but much more drought tolerant than even the dryland corn hybrids). Unless this weather breaks very soon, though (and there's no indication that's going to happen), what there is isn't going to make a crop; it's severely stressed already and won't last long w/o some rain...
What there has been in this area this year has been a sizable shift to cotton on dryland and even some irrigated owing to the extended drought and requiring far less water and also more sunflowers; we're marginal bean country and virtually no beans were planted. It's been so hot and dry that many have abandoned irrigated corn or cut back to half or even quarter of circle to try to salvage at least a partial crop letting rest burn up.
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On 7/21/2011 1:14 PM, dpb wrote:

See the other posting...note that if all the sweet corn production went to field corn it would only be a blip in the total acres planted that would be well within the statistical uncertainty of total acres planted (650,000 out of some 92,000,000 is <1%).
Also, production data indicates fresh corn production has double over the last 30 years on slightly reduced acres while the processed sweet corn production is up some 25% on roughly the same acreage so what transferring to field corn there has been has been more than made up for in increased yields.
I'm curious as to the size, location and general type of operation of your sample--is this a large producer of sweet corn that switched or a small producer? Does the operation generally raise commodity products or is it primarily (or all) perishables? My (admittedly pretty limited as everything out here is large operation commodity grains and/or cattle) experience w/ those who have perishables is that they're (relatively) smaller operations and concentrate on those to the (near) exclusion of commodities owing to the required intensive labor and operational differences between the two types of production.
Hmmmm....another thought--wonder how much of the acreage lost is owing to the shutting down/off of water to sizable areas in CA over the conservation and endangered species fights as well as the diversion to S CA (LA)??? I wonder if in fact a major portion of the production acreage might not have gone away in that move altho I don't know exactly how to find that out in that detail.
Well, what I can see in the data at hand is that in the early 90's roughly 20,000A, then nearly 30,000A in late 90's thru early 2000s, and then down to 25,000A in 2007. That isn't strong enough to know for certain but timing is somewhat coincidental...
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Then your understanding is wrong. Once again and slowly: corn used as feedstock for ethanol is corn that was used as animal feed...and is still used as a higher protein feedstock in the form of DDGS.

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Malcom "Mal" Reynolds wrote:

farmer's switched corn types to feed corn, making both of you right.

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On 7/21/2011 2:47 PM, chaniarts wrote: ...

I don't believe that's so in any great acreage amounts (see other response that I don't have actual production numbers in hand but the areas that grow sweet corn aren't the areas that grow the large amounts of field corn). If you have actual production acreage data that shows otherwise, I'd like to see it.
OTOH, there has been some shifting of acres from beans and wheat, but overall not huge amounts; in the few percentage points kinds of numbers, not like in doubling or halving.
Again, individual growers are limited in what their production practices will tolerate; they can't just willy-nilly shift acres for a multitude of reasons including pest control (both plant and insect), ground fertility and crop rotation, inputs availability and field preparation, etc., etc., etc., ...
Despite the Green Acres appearances, farming is _not_ a vocation for the unskilled any longer... :) And, producers aren't going to risk their longer-term viability for one or two crop years; just ain't a'gonna' happen. Many of these folks have been on the same ground for 100 or more years in the family; they have very deep commitments and intentions their heirs are going to be there for another 100 or so.
We're in a relatively recent area in the US; iff'en I can hang on for another 3 years or so we'll be a "century farm", too...there are some around who got started a few years ahead of granddad that have already achieved that distinction. Of course, farther east (and west) they've been there a long time already.
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On 7/21/2011 3:25 PM, dpb wrote:

OK, so I shoulda' looked first... :)
What I found shows an 8% drop in harvested acres between 1978 and 2007, although the total acres peaked temporarily in the '90s. _BUT_, the total US sweet corn production acreage is <1M A (650,000, roughly) as compared to field corn acreage in the >90M A range or nearly a 100:1 ratio. Sweet corn is simply noise in the overall corn production market.
Also, if one looks at actual production instead of just acres, the fresh corn US production has doubled since 1978 from 14,000 to 28,000 and has continued to rise since 1990.
Sweet corn for production has also actually increased significantly despite the acreage drop; from roughly 2.5M T to 3.24M T in 2009. The increase has been continual w/ only a few yearly fluctuations that represent weather and other crop conditions, primarily, I'm certain.
So, worrying about ethanol diverting needed sweet corn acreage to feed/field corn production just isn't borne out by the data. While there might be some acres lost (altho I suspect the bulk of those aren't owing to switching to field corn but to things like urban expansion, other truck crops, etc. because the commodity grain producers don't do perishable crops in general), increased yields have more than made up for that.
Hmmm....that raises a question...I don't even know how sweet corn (canning, processing, freezing, etc.) is priced. Let's see--oh, ok, it's on a $/T basis, not $/bu. as field corn.
Wow!!!! Those are average of about $100/T --> $2.80/bu (corn is 56 lb/bu; wheat is 60). So, there's even more ammunition about the runup in corn not being real for consumer food prices--they're paying only a third of the bandied corn market price. While that's increased over the years it's only about 20% last year (annual average) as compare to 2007. It's really true in spades for those guys that the producer gets the short end of the stick for the commodity; the processor/retailer is the one making the money. I'll leave on that note--in the early 1990s farm fraction of food dollar was in the 24-27% range, it's now down to under 20%. Complain to somebody in the system other than the producer about the food cost.
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Pretty low maintenance costs.
Bell Labs just put up a PV farm not far from me. These are in a field about 4 feet from the ground. I'm curious about how they are going to cut the grass or keep plants from growing in there.
I thought they might use mulch or a ground cover, but so far it doesn't look like it.
They used to just mow the area with a big ride on mower. Now the panels are in the way. Maybe they can be tilted out of the way.
Anyway, it mostly just sits there and pours electricity into the grid. Pretty cool, especially with this heat, you can imagine all the air conditioners it's running.
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snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net wrote in wrote:

Nor the noise and dead birds. if in a cold weather place,they may freeze up or the blades may ice over and throw big chunks of ice when they break loose.

solar uses a lot of water,gotta keep the panels clean. then there's inverter maintenance,and if storage batteries used,battery maintenance. Plus,the hazards of battery chemicals and lead,along with fire hazard.
Wind turbines need more maintenance,being rotating machinery.

"POURS" electricity? how big a plant is it? how many MW?
It probably runs THEIR AC and maybe the building lights.
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