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View Diary: DK GreenRoots: the economics of wind power (114 comments)

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  •  Thats a lot of information (2+ / 0-)
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    RunawayRose, Gravedugger

    I'm wondering what would happen if we went back to transporting cargo by sail.

    I'll grant that wind power converted to electricity beats the hell out of coal converted to electricity. That said so does hydro, geothermal, photovoltaic and tidal converted to electricity.

    I can imagine that conservation would play some role in this if for example we learned to telecommute instead of drive outr cars to work.

    Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

    by rktect on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 01:24:52 PM PDT

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    •  If we went back to transporting ... (6+ / 0-)

      ... cargo entirely by sail, we would go back to being at the mercy of the winds ... but there is work on supplementing engines with wind, for a substantial reduction in energy consumption ... 20%-30% in the navy cargo vessel pictured in the link.

      Progressive Economics Shortcut: just read the billy blog

      by BruceMcF on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 01:45:31 PM PDT

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      •  It's a good idea... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        It is a good idea, but there are a few issues with supply-chain variability when relaying on wind for transportation. There are also issues with the skysail system. It is an amazing piece of engineering, but the duty/repair cycle hasn't been fully established. We also don't know what would happen in a full-scale catastrophic event, especially on a retrofitted ship.

        At any rate, I think the Skysails system will probably be a very popular retrofit for bulk carriers when bunker fuel is above $300/ton again. Bulkers often don't need exact scheduling as container ships require.

        It is curious to see the periodical disuse and perishing of means and machinery, which were introduced with loud laudation a few years or centuries before. -RWE

        by Gravedugger on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 02:48:05 PM PDT

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        •  Why would it affect scheduling? (0+ / 0-)

          The engines do not work as hard when the wind is providing more driving force ... but there's no need to wait for wind to move the ship.

          It is a good idea, but there are a few issues with supply-chain variability when relaying on wind for transportation. There are also issues with the skysail system.

          ... as I said:

          there is work on supplementing engines with wind, ...

          ... which is to say, its a work in progress.

          Progressive Economics Shortcut: just read the billy blog

          by BruceMcF on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 02:58:49 PM PDT

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          •  Cash trumps timing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BruceMcF

            The most fuel-intensive part of the engine power band is the upper 10-20%. According to an ex-merchant marine officer I know, using that last 20% can almost double your fuel consumption, which wind energy would mitigate greatly. You are completely correct in that it is possible to rev up the engine if there is no wind.

            However, do not underestimate the power of greed. Already, Maersk and others are slowing their ships down to save on fuel. Days have been added to transpac or Asia-Suez-EU routes. This is the supply chain variability I was referring to.  I suspect that companies would rather keep the engines at 80% all the time, rather than running the engines up when the wind is down. If they fit in fewer voyages, they will take that hit, rather than losing money due to high fuel costs. The customer would have to take the scheduling variability into account.

            I guess what I should have said was that it would be more practical to use sails on ships whose cargos allow for variable speeds, rather than creating more supply chain issues by varying the speed of higher-value-per-ton container ships. I think installs of renewable propulsion will happen on bulkers first...Grain, ore, coal, certain low value oils.

            I hadn't looked at bunker prices for months. Already this year, prices are above $400/ton. Ships that were routed around the Cape of Good Hope are now routed through the Suez, and are again taking a piracy risk, all because fuel has skyrocketed.

            The good news is that at a steady $500/ton or higher, The skysails and other similar systems become extremely viable. Those prices are coming as soon as the economy recovers in the slightest.

            It is curious to see the periodical disuse and perishing of means and machinery, which were introduced with loud laudation a few years or centuries before. -RWE

            by Gravedugger on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 10:02:04 PM PDT

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            •  By the same token, ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Gravedugger

              ... the money saved on fuel on the schedule sensitive ships will be that much more important.

              So some ships will be using them to harvest what savings are available on their schedule, and others will be letting their schedule slip when there is not wind available.

              Progressive Economics Shortcut: just read the billy blog

              by BruceMcF on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 09:59:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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