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View Diary: The simple innovation that could make wind power a big player (230 comments)

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  •  Heck no (9+ / 0-)

    You'd have to size the blades to avoid hitting the lines, in all wind directions. That means they'd be so small it would hardly be worth the effort.

    Wind power works best when we utilize economies of scale: in other words, make 'em big.

    We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

    by Keith Pickering on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:08:57 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  However, couldn't they be big enough... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, loftT

      to account for power loss?  Improving each section to zero or even slightly less than zero loss?  Smaller windmills may be more economical to manufacture with cheaper materials, cheaper delivery and could be installed at the same time as the insulated crossarms.

      I am not saying for sure it would work but I do not think askyron's question should be so readily dismissed.

      "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

      by Buckeye Nut Schell on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:37:20 AM PST

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      •  It's more complicated (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee, docmidwest, Hayate Yagami, loftT

        Most wind turbines generate DC, not AC and to convert the ouptut to the kiloVolt or megaVolt levels on the lines and do it at each tower would be extremely expensive.  The scheme would also introduce more maintenance problems - just maintaining the lines themselves is already complex and dangerous.

        The blades on a typical wind turbine are about 200 feet long (from the hub - radius).

        Modern revolutions have succeeded because of solidarity, not force.

        by badger on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 01:29:05 PM PST

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        •  I remember when... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Nebraskablue, MRA NY

          I was in an electronics technology class back in the early eighties and had an older teacher who said that we would never have a stereo television signal.  He said that there were too many issues to overcome.

          I am sure he meant what he said and believed it.  He was extremely intelligent and knew electronics (of the day) inside and out but did not have the forsight to see beyond his understanding of technology.  

          I am sure you know a lot more than I do on this and I am not arguing that it is a valid or efficient solution to anything but...  I have found that it is easier to dismiss an idea that sounds different or too easy or simple than to try to come up with new ideas that work.  How many people would have viscerally rejected the idea of insulated cross arms without ever really giving the idea a chance?  I bet this wasn't the first time it was proposed.

          "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

          by Buckeye Nut Schell on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 01:48:57 PM PST

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          •  was that the 1880s? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badger, Hayate Yagami

            sorry, just poking fun. Multichannel TV sound was developed in the 70s and adopted by the FCC in 1984.

            The primary issue is that the voltage levels are vastly different. output of a small wind turbine is typically in the hundreds of volts. T-lines are in the hundreds of thousands of volts.

            It's a great idea on distribution systems, electrified railways, etc. I just don't think it is feasible in the foreseeable future on t-lines.

            Javelin, Jockey details, all posts, discontinue

            by jam on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 02:01:48 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  It's entirely possible to do (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hayate Yagami

            It's just not economically feasible or worthwhile with current technology. Anything's possible in the future, as you point out, but it would seem to me that if we had technology to make this feasible, we would be so advanced in our energy technology it would no longer be necessary.

            Stereo sound on even a standard analog TV signal wouldn't have been hard to do in the 1960s - not that much different that stereo FM radio (TV sound is AM, but the same principle - multiplexing - could be applied)

            Modern revolutions have succeeded because of solidarity, not force.

            by badger on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 02:21:15 PM PST

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            •  I don't know why... (0+ / 0-)

              Mr. Kendell believed the way he did.  It was 1983 and he was in his 60's.  He taught us basic electricity and transistor logic.  He was (from my prospective at the time) big and old and mean.  He was unable to use his right hand for some reason and it was tensed and curled up and would twitch fairly violently at all times.  We would laugh at anyone who got caught at the urinal when he would come in because he would stand next to you and that twitching hand would repeatedly bump into you.  That is how I remember Mr. Kendell and I remember him telling me there would never be stereo television.  I did not believe it even then but he was adament for whatever reason.

              The point was that people believe something for good reason or not and they seldom consider obvious or simple solutions later because they see easy, "insurmountable" problems and dismiss ideas before looking at them critically and trying to see if they can work or lead to something new.  

              It is human nature and not an indictment against you.  Ideas that were once considered cost prohibitive remain cost prohibitive in thought even after new technology or production methods reduce that cost considerably.  The mind says, "I have already considered that and it does not work so I will not consider it again".  

              I am what some people would call a professional problem solver.  I teach people how to solve problems in manufacturing settings.  You would be amazed at how often good ideas are dismissed as impossible, "we have already tried that", "it won't work because X,Y and Z".  These are intelligent people who are experts in their field.  They hate when guys like me come in and point to an obvious solution and then, after they fight it tooth and nail, prove that the idea works.  They are not stupid people.  Usually, they had tried it before and for whatever reason, it didn't work so they dismissed it and never tried it again.  

              I am not arguing that the idea will work.  However, I do know that the top of these huge towers are underutilized space and there are advantages in green power for unrestricted access to wind and sunlight.  I also know that if a major project is being planned, such as replacing the existing cross arms with insulated ones, it would be cheaper to combine any additional projects together to minimize labor, equipment and downtime.  

              I bet that if someone like you, who is a lot smarter than me about these kinds of things, put their mind to thinking of someway to better utilize those advantageous aspects of the towers, you could come up with something that would be cost effective and worthwhile.  I usually think something is impossible before I figure out a way to solve it.  It makes it more exciting and rewarding that way.

              "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

              by Buckeye Nut Schell on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:40:16 AM PST

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    •  Keith Pickering: for the "new hotness" but really (9+ / 0-)

      they work fine in sizes from 6 ft to 10 ft if you're generating power per user -- if we all had windmills in our backyards, as used to be common on Plains farms from Texas to Alberta, and from Iowa to Oregon, we wouldn't need these big towers or these long lines. Our national power system would be, in some ways, far more robust.

      It's harder for e.g. a terrorist (or a tree branch) to take out all the power in five states if that power's not centrally generated and then parceled out over non-hardened lines.

      ("Hardened" power generation means keeping the means of sending the power out of harm's way. The simplest means is burying the lines, but as IT folks know, this makes you subject to the ravages of the fiber-seeking backhoe.)

      REA and Co-op lights changed the world. Now, the big power companies have changed it again. Maybe one of the things we need to do, going forward, is to change it still another time -- from big, central, corporate controlled vulnerable coal / gas / oil-fired plants to wind and solar "off the grid" sources sized for homes / city blocks / neighborhoods.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:52:28 AM PST

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    •  I was thinking of something like (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nina Katarina

      Verticle wind turbine
      No overhang, weight centralized, power output reasonable to scale

      •  Civil/Mechanical Considerations Might Dominate (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hayate Yagami

        Putting a wind turbine system on the top of transmission tower will exert considerable rotation moment on the base of the tower, trying to topple it over.  The tower design would have to be considerably modified to enable the tower to resist those forces, which makes it less than a zero-cost option from the transmission engineers viewpoint.  Further, the wind generators would not be producing power at the same voltage as was being transmitted on the tower, so transformers would need to be mounted on each tower to boost the generated voltage to equal the transmission voltage.  It would seem that everything done to adapt the wind generator increases mass at the position on the tower which exerts the most moment on the tower.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:35:13 PM PST

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    •  Also, if one broke (0+ / 0-)

      it could shear line lines. Ewww.

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 08:43:01 PM PST

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