Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Propellors in the fog.

Did you ever see that John Carpenter film 'The Fog'? Ghostly pirates come in with the sea-fog to take revenge on the descendants of their enemies. Great fun.

Now you can experience a creepy fog around the British coast, courtesy of modern garden ornaments posing as technology.

I'm all in favour of renewable energy but the simple fact is, these things don't work. The wind is not a reliable source. If there's no wind, there's no power. If there's too much wind, they have to be locked down or they'll break. That's why their power generation is always written as 'up to'. A lot of the time, it's zero. Much is made of Scandinavian use of these windmills but little is mentioned of their high cost of electricity, nor of how much they have to pay for imported power when the wind stops.

As for green credentials, has nobody ever wondered how a windmill on a 60-metre stick can stand up in the wind and not even sway? There is an enormous block of concrete under each and every one of them. Add that into the steel production to make and maintain them and they'll produce more emissions than they'll ever save.

There is one killer argument against these things that's rarely mentioned but there's a bit of a giveaway in the article. The fog forms because the rotating blades mix the warm wet air near the sea surface with the cold air above them. However, that can't happen when it's windy because the wind will just blow the fog away. How can they be rotating if there's no wind?

They are rotating because it's sunny. Those long blades will warp in the sun's heat so they have to rotate to even out the heating across their surfaces. When there's no wind they are rotated by powering them with electricity. Not only are they producing no power under those circumstances, they are actually using it!

Still, they do produce a very creepy fog.

I don't know why we aren't working more on tidal power. The tide is not variable, it happens all the time, never stops and never will. The UK isn't a particularly good place for solar power and wind is very variable, from weeks of no wind to gale-force blasts. The tide is the most reliable thing we have.

I wonder if anyone's thought of rain power? We do get an awful lot of that. Turbines in every downpipe, maybe?

Could be worth thinking about. I have some downpipes that will soon need to be replaced anyway. I wonder how hard it would be to fit a waterwheel?

2 comments:

Southern Writer said...

That's very pretty fog. Our wind farms are generally built in some pretty windy places.

Romulus Crowe said...

The UK can be windy in most places, but sometimes it's flat calm over pretty much all the country for weeks.

That's worst in summer. It gets to intolerable temperatures, over 80F, and opening a window does no good because the air isn't moving at all. We need powered fans but if the windmills don't turn, there'd be nothing to power the fans!

A flat calm in winter (it's balmy here at about 20F at the moment but it's been a lot lower) would mean no heating and no lighting.

I like the fog, but it does mean that the windmills aren't doing anything.

I can't find any mention of any research into rain power. I might have to do it myself.

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