The Stupidity of Windmills

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V's picture
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The Stupidity of Windmills

There are some sacred cows in the world of the liberal minded "Green Energy" folks which need to be sacrificed on the altar of practicality and truth. One of these that should be the first to go is Windmills. 

There are four things to consider when thinking about our energy needs. First is power density, second is energy density, third is cost and last is scale.

Power density is measured in horsepower per cubic inch, watts per sq. meter, and watts per kilogram.                                                                                    Energy density is measured in btu per gallon and joules per kilogram                                                                                                                                             

The big problems with wind power are it is diffuse, the inability to store it and it is intermittent. The same is also true of solar.

It is useful to compare power density in various energy sources to get an idea of how not green wind and solar are.                                                              Nuclear- 300 hp per acre , 56 watts per sq. meter.                                                                                                                                                                            US nat gas well(producing 115,000 cubic ft. per day)- 287.5 hp per acre, 53 watts per sq. meter                                                                                          Nat gas stripper well (producing 60,000 cubic ft. per day )- 153.5 hp per acre, 5.5 watts per sq. meter.                                                                                Oil stripper well ( producing 10 barrels per day)- 150 hp per acre, 27 watts per sq. meter.                                                                                                      Solar PV - 36 hp per acre, 6.7 watts per sq. meter.                                                                                                                                                                            Wind turbines-6.4 hp per acre, 1.2 watts per sq. meter.                                                                                                                                                                    Bio mass fueled power plant- 2.1 hp per acre, 0.4 watts per sq. meter.                                                                                                                                        Corn ethanol- 0.26 hp per acre, 0.05 watts per sq. meter.

 

The warm fuzzy feelings people get when they see a wind farm are in all likelihood due to the gross misperception that the power is non- polluting, good for the environment, and free. Very little if anything is further from the truth. The less dense a source of energy is the more resources it uses. The US has about a million megawatts of electric generating capacity. Much of this comes from coal, natural gas and nuclear. if we compare natural gas nuclear and wind we will get a much clearer picture of how damaging windmills are to the environment.

Each megawatt of power from a windmill requires 870 cubic meters of concrete and 460 tons of steel

Each megawatt of power from natural gas requires 27 cubic meters of concrete and 3.3 tons of steel

Each megawatt of power from a nuclear plant requires 90 cubic meters of concrete and 40 tons  of steel

If this is still not convincing of the environmental impact of wind then I suggest instead of driving by a wind farm you stop your car which is powered by hydrocarbons and walk over to the base of a few towers and do a survey of the birds and bats that no longer have a warm and fuzzy feeling. I think it is also instructive to note that the biggest promoter of wind power Boone Pickens will not have one windmill on his 68, 000 acre ranch in one of the windiest places in the country. 

The other considerations which are contraindications are the cost and scale. The deferred maintenance on windmills is huge. The scale will require dedicating huge areas of land which will not be able to be used for anything else.

To put in terms Davos would appreciate; morons are promoting ethanol and biomass and idiots are promoting wind.

Let the games begin

V

PS If one were truly "green" one would be promoting nuclear and cleaner safer methods of extracting natural gas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills
V wrote:

There are four things to consider when thinking about our energy needs. First is power density, second is energy density, third is cost and last is scale.

I count six.

5. What are we trying to do?

6. Who's included in we?

David

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Re: The Smartness Windmills In Some Circumstances

 

There are good cases for windmills. Think of grinding grain and pumping water with the old-style wood and stone windmills.

And vertical windmills for home generation can spin even at low wind speeds. The generators are housed on the ground for easier servicing, don't have to be as high, and are better for birds:
http://www.generate-wind-power.com/Vertical-Windmills.php

I really like this Mariah Power wind spire - much more pleasing to the eye and less of a beacon for strangers from miles around.

Poet

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

Speaking of stupidity, I wonder what power or energy density has to do with anything. Certainly not much to do with determining a source of energy for our future.

Both natural gas and Uranium are depleting resources, so I fail to see how they are anything more than a stopgap measure while we find a real answer.

I agree that our current technologies for wind and solar are not a perfect answers, but until we come up with something better, we need to work on developing and improving all energy sources (including gas & nuclear) or we will be soon be shivering in the dark

V, What are you doing to lessen your use of energy. Personally, I produce more power than I use every day from what you call idiotic power sources.

Jim

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

Windmills? Do you grist electricity? Smile

You have to start somewhere to find new energy sources. I think 'Wind turbines' are a valid field of exploration.

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

 

Interesting comparison, I’ve never seen all the metrics side by side. I do feel like challenging the concrete and steel values for the 1 MW windmill, it does seem a little hard to fathom that they are an order of magnitude larger than nuclear- particularly as modern windmills are of composite (non-metallic) construction.

Any details on how and where all this steel and concrete is used in large scale composite structures?

The above point about renewable (and inexhaustible) energy sources does seem much more relevant in choosing an energy source than power density- in fact I would look for strong arguments to choose any energy source that was not infinite.

Perhaps another criteria is that some groups would like very much to choose an energy source that can only be deployed in a centralized manner, the general public can never create “personal” nuclear power plants, nor coal fired gas, but they can create individual scaled windmills and solar generation.

An annuity style profit model can be built from it, as well as issue some degree of control by virtue of this centralization requirement.

Not sure if you’ve seen any articles by John Michael Greer, he has some well thought out views that examine this subject of power density in more detail:

With alternative energy sources, though, you have to care. That’s why the difference between diffuse and concentrated energies matters so crucially; not only specific technologies, but whole classes of technologies on which the modern industrial world depends, embody such massive inefficiencies that diffuse energy sources won’t do the job. Lose 75% of the energy in a gallon of gasoline to waste heat, and you can shrug and pour another gallon in the tank; lose 75% of the energy coming out of a solar collector, and you may well have passed the point at which the solar collector no longer does enough work to be worth the energy and money cost to build and maintain it. The one kind of energy into which you can transform other kinds of energy at high efficiencies — sometimes approaching 100% – is relatively diffuse heat. This is why using sunlight to heat water, air, food, or what have you to temperatures in the low three digits on the Fahrenheit scale is among the most useful things you can do with it, and why, when you’re starting out with diffuse heat, the most useful thing you can do with it is generally to use the energy in that form.

What this means, ultimately, is that the difference between an industrial civilization and what I’ve called an ecotechnic civilization isn’t simply a matter of plugging some other energy source in place of petroleum or other fossil fuels. It’s not even a matter of downscaling existing technologies to fit within a sparser energy budget. It’s a matter of reconceiving our entire approach to technology, starting with the paired recognitions that the very modest supply of concentrated energy sources we can expect to have after the end of the fossil fuel age will have to be reserved for those tasks that still need to be done and can’t be done any other way, and that anything that can be done with a diffuse energy source needs to be done with a diffuse energy source if it’s going to be done at all.

 

Link

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills
darbikrash wrote:

 

I do feel like challenging the concrete and steel values for the 1 MW windmill, it does seem a little hard to fathom that they are an order of magnitude larger than nuclear- particularly as modern windmills are of composite (non-metallic) construction.

I concur.  V, what is your source for these numbers?  I do appreciate the argument, I think far too many people have jumped on the bandwagon without thinking, but I think those of us that do support wind/solar do so because we see it as "the most promising".  You can't deny that we've come a long way in terms of efficiency- do you really think this would have happened without mass participation, or if we would have just stayed the course?  I think we all realize that these are baby steps- it is the potential that excites me more than anything.

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

Sorry I must have posted this to the wrong site. This is the site where we are supposed to back up our opinions and beliefs with facts. I listed a lot of facts. The numbers come from the 2007 journal APPEA.  I seem to recall some concepts like time scale and cost in the crash course. I think I addressed those in my post. I eagerly await something besides opinion and belief based on touchy feely green washing illusions.

Once again the less dense the energy source the more resources it requires form somewhere else. This is precisely why oil and gas and nuclear are more green than solar and wind. Individual anecdotes are irrelevant on a planet of 7 billion people. I guess  I should get a windmill to grind my wheat berries for my bread making that I will make in an oven powered by ?. Of course the best use of wind is to pump water. The  Great Plains would not have been settled and farmed without the windmill. That does not provide electricity to New York however. It may seem I am not open but I am if I get facts proving otherwise. I just hope someone will cite Denmark as an example of how wonderful windmills are. The following is a PM I got from Damnthe Matrix. It is an email he posted here a while back. Since he carries more "tails " than I do perhaps it will get the idea across to those who don't get it.

me again..... Here's an email Pedro Prieto sent me. Oh, and his English is waaaaay better than my Spanish! 1. Ken Zweibel, James Mason and Vasilis Fthenakis have recently wrote an article about solar energy in Scientific American. They claim that by 2050, the US could get some 100% of its electricity needs, by installing a combination of 2.9 TW PV fed into the grid, 7.5 TW to cumulate energy with compressed air; 2.3 TW in concentrated solar plants; 1.3 TW of distributed solar plants and just to fill the gap, some 1 TW of wind fields. This 'just' is ten times more than today is installed in all the world, just to satisfy a small, collateral portion of the electricity needs in 2050 of the US. 2. If we succeed in growing at 27% cumulative per year, and we reach, as the report of Science & Technology says, the 3 TW of wind installed power landmark by 2020, this will represent the production of, let us say and maximizing sizes and minimizing costs, some 1,500,000 times 2 MW wind generators in the period. Considering each generator has 150 tons of steel; that every ton of steel requires at least 1.5 tons of coal to be produced; between 500 and 1,000 tons of concrete in the foundations; 30 tons of glass fibre and some 5 tons of copper; the "clean" wind industry will demand from now to 2020 (12 years) 225 million tons of steel, some 350 million tons of coke coal; 45 million tons of glass fibre; some 7.5 million tons of copper and some 1 billion tons of concrete. I am not counting the energy spent in building up factories; transporting the huge wind generators, most of the time at big distances, using heavy weight cranes or huge crane ships when offshore; opening pathways to the generally inaccessible places where the wind blows regularly (in mountain passes, plateau's edges, etc.) It is neither included the steel to make long evacuating lines (in Spain, a small country with a dense electric network) generally 10 to 25 km of evacuating high tension line, per each 150 MW wind field average), or the copper or aluminium wires used in the power lines; the additional power stations required, etc. Nor it is included the maintenance or the infrastructure needed to stabilize an intermitent source of energy. 3. This installation of some 1.5 million generators of 2 MW each, from now -2008- till 2020, will require, for your information and order of magnitude, some 2 times the present world annual production of steel; about 30 times the present glass fibre world production and almost the annual concrete world production. I strongly recommend to read the article "Coal Can't Fill World's Burning Appetite With Supplies Short, Price Rise Surpasses Oil and U.S. Exporters Profit" By Steven Mufson and Blaine Harden. Washington Post Staff Writers of last Thursday, March 20, 2008; It exemplifies very well how the industry is struggling to get coal and steel and the effect of prices of coal and oil on them. Who says this is a `green' or non polluting industry? I would ask the people to keep in mind that these are NON RENEWABLE SYSTEMS, able to capture some renewable energies. These systems have a short life cycle, specially when in offshore, or in dusty places, subject to heavy corrosion or grinding of their mechanical parts. They have to be maintained very much and are heavily underpinned in the fossil fuel society (helicopters for maintenance, huge and heavy cranes and ships, long and heavy trucks, maintenance of compacted gravel roads in mountains, the gravel in itself, metallic piece parts, lubricants, high level (hence highly consumerist) people in maintenance tasks with fossil consuming SUVS going everywhere, etc. etc. 4. All the above assumption of 3 TW of installed wind power by 2020, to generate some 1.5 TW times 2,000 hours/year nominal (if these fields are available for the new parks; in Spain, for instance, they could hardly find onshore fields and from now onwards with this load factor); that is, to generate 3,000 TWh; that is a 15% of today present world electricity consumption. (Not primary energy; just electricity. Not in 2020: today). 5. When going to global figures and potential increase of wind energy worldwide to cope with the ever growing electricity (or primary) energy needs, I think it is time to make wind energy prospects top down, rather than we make them now as usual: bottom up. I am amazed that supercomputers are not used to simulate these huge dreams of wind installations. An anemometer in Tarifa, close to the Gibraltar Strait gives 2,500 nominal hours a year. Another anemometer offshore in the Cadiz Gulf, some 100 miles of distance from Gibraltar, gives some 2,500 nominal hours. If I put 1 GW in Tarifa and 1 GW in the Cadiz Gulf, perhaps both of them will run at 2,500 hours/year. But what if I put 100, or 500 GW in both places? Is the wind obliged to go the same usual path, if friction reaches certain levels, or could perhaps divert to the natural lowest effort path, leaving the magnificent parks idle or with 1,000 hours/year? When trying to get conclusions from wind maximum capacity, one should remember that all winds at all altitudes in the globe represent some 70 times the present human energy consumption. This is apparently too much, enough for us all. But from that we could hardly capture a small fraction (with a huge use of non renewable and polluting materials) of the energy of wind flows of up to 150 m. over the surface and those in offshore relatively close to the mainland. That a big portion of these winds are at speeds that wind parks could not profit form them (over 80-100 km/h or lower than 5 to 9 km./h). Then, we could perhaps note that these are going to be just a drop of relief in the ocean of the insatiable human consumption. Not to consider the effect of being able to change some wind traditional patterns, when reaching certain values of friction/interception. 6. All the World wind installed park from the beginning up to 2007 (93,212 MW) produces 5 times less electricity than JUST the increase of electricity consumption worldwide between 2005 and 2006 (765 TWh) and represented just 0.8 of the world electricity consumed. 7. The increase of the electric consumption worldwide (some 4% annual) goes 25 times faster than the production of the installed capacity in 2007. The industrial kart goes 25 times faster than the ecologic horses. And ecologists still pretend to win that unbalanced and crazy Ben Hur race, without saying a word of the insatiable energy consumption increase that the Caesar Roman model is imposing into the arena of this unbelievable circus!! Sorry if I have poured on optimistic and enthusiastic people a cold jug of water. The above are available worldwide data. I just wanted to put the article in the context and in front of the challenges we are going to face. Pedro from Madrid P.D. I have not said a word about birds, or about the financial possibilities and sensible timings for these megaprojects in 180 of the 195 countries I see in the UN list.

V

 

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

Using a comparison of concrete inputs and steels inputs into the these energy sources doesn't paint the entire picture and is misleading. Wind doesn't take as much labor capital or ongoing fuel costs to operate as those others. It has advantages and disadvantages like any of the other sources. Also, wind is not a store of energy like gas and oil so comparing them is not apples to apples.

I don’t think people who are in favor of wind are not in favor of nuclear as you imply either. It’s not one or the other. It’s going to take numerous sources of energy going forward. Nuclear power faces significant hurdles as well. It takes 10-20 years to build a plant and many believe there’s not even close to enough uranium on the planet for a massive nuclear endeavor (CM talks about peak uranium if I remember correctly in the CC and you can read a good post here about it: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2379). I support nuclear if it makes any difference.

For many countries natural gas isn’t an option. Also, new methods of extraction are proving to destroy local water supplies. There’s also a worldwide NG Peak expected by many in the next 15 years (http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/11/27/61031/618). It appears Europe is already there: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4933

Wind is not a cure all, but there's no doubt it will me a major player in meeting future energy needs for countries that have naturally wind rich regions. Some countries already generate more than 20% of their power from wind.

Wind certainly has some hurdles (intermittency, not a store of energy, etc). It seems, at this point, there’s just nothing that replaces the store of energy that is oil. The stuff really is special.

If readers are interested in reading the in’s and out’s of wind power I would suggest theoildrum.com. I’ve read numerous post concerning wind from those that study energy and found many to be very enlightening.  

The EROI of wind: http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/10/17/18478/085

A good recent post on energy source EROI (notice wind is second): http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6854

There’s countless others, just do a search over there. Well, that’s my two cents…

 

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

Your point about energy density is one I have heard before most recently on an interesting Financial Sense Newshour-

http://www.financialsense.com/financial-sense-newshour/broadcast/2010/06...

The general idea was that continuous growth in reasonably priced energy supply is key to the economic recovery and long term health of the US (and world at large).  He made the point that it was all about energy density and really the only option was nuclear and/or hydro.  While I understand the argument of energy density and the idea that neverending availability of cheap energy would be a good thing I think it is a fantasy.  I don't think people get just how historically cheap, available, portable and ubiquitous oil/gas has become to us.  When you compare it to the historic human or animal labour for much of history this stuff in my gas tank is essentially magic.  In the last century we have had access to an energy source unprecedented to anything before it and to assume it can  continue in its truly exponential assent is hubris.  We've recently put 5kW of solar panels on our roof and while they are intermittent in their output and don't supply all our energy needs (because we live in a home that like most western homes squanders power... but we are working on that) that amount of renewable energy has become the yardstick for the energy use we would like to live within.  Like it or not I think we are headed for a lower energy future and I think rather than put our effort into trying to maintain the historically exponential energy curve of large centralized energy, we had better individually and collectively work towards reducing our energy use and figure out how not to fall off an energy cliff economically and societally.  The mantra around here is: reduce, reuse, recycle, resilience.  Yes my solar panels are ridiculously low energy density but they happily spin the meter backwards when the sun shines, have no moving parts and will (hopefully) churn out the electrons for at least the next 25 years.  They are far from the complete solution but I at least think they are the right direction.

Chip

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills
RNR wrote:

I don’t think people who are in favor of wind are not in favor of nuclear as you imply either. It’s not one or the other. It’s going to take numerous sources of energy going forward. Nuclear power faces significant hurdles as well. It takes 10-20 years to build a plant and many believe there’s not even close to enough uranium on the planet for a massive nuclear endeavor (CM talks about peak uranium if I remember correctly in the CC and you can read a good post here about it: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2379). I support nuclear if it makes any difference.

Concur.  

I nearly didn't even bother jumping into this thread, since the title of it IMO implies this is simply a space where if you're of a mind to, you can jump in and bash the concept of wind power.  And if folks are paying any attention around here, they know I'm a lover, not a fighter.  <smile>

Having said that, yah, I concur w/the general thrust of what RNR said above, and will simply add one point.

Before we all get down on our knees and worship nuke power as our savior, I'd had to wonder out loud what we'd be doing with all the spent fuel.  We already are unable to deal -- in any systematic and long-term way -- with the spent nuke fuel we have.  If we're going to increase our nuke usage by 10x or more, then what?  

I'm down w/some increased nuke (esp. new generation of reactors) but at this point I believe we ought to be pursuing every avenue of power generation that is not coal/gas/oil.  

Viva -- Sager

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills
SagerXX wrote:
RNR wrote:

I don’t think people who are in favor of wind are not in favor of nuclear as you imply either. It’s not one or the other. It’s going to take numerous sources of energy going forward. Nuclear power faces significant hurdles as well. It takes 10-20 years to build a plant and many believe there’s not even close to enough uranium on the planet for a massive nuclear endeavor (CM talks about peak uranium if I remember correctly in the CC and you can read a good post here about it: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2379). I support nuclear if it makes any difference.

Concur.  

I nearly didn't even bother jumping into this thread, since the title of it IMO implies this is simply a space where if you're of a mind to, you can jump in and bash the concept of wind power.  And if folks are paying any attention around here, they know I'm a lover, not a fighter.  <smile>

Having said that, yah, I concur w/the general thrust of what RNR said above, and will simply add one point.

Before we all get down on our knees and worship nuke power as our savior, I'd had to wonder out loud what we'd be doing with all the spent fuel.  We already are unable to deal -- in any systematic and long-term way -- with the spent nuke fuel we have.  If we're going to increase our nuke usage by 10x or more, then what?  

I'm down w/some increased nuke (esp. new generation of reactors) but at this point I believe we ought to be pursuing every avenue of power generation that is not coal/gas/oil.  

Viva -- Sager

 i am sure you have facts to rationalize your beliefs. I would love to hear them. Or at least address the facts as presented.

V

PS I still await the facts. Maybe something in regards to Scale, Cost, Density etc. BTW In regards to belief I still believe in the tooth fairie

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills
V wrote:
SagerXX wrote:
RNR wrote:

I don’t think people who are in favor of wind are not in favor of nuclear as you imply either. It’s not one or the other. It’s going to take numerous sources of energy going forward. Nuclear power faces significant hurdles as well. It takes 10-20 years to build a plant and many believe there’s not even close to enough uranium on the planet for a massive nuclear endeavor (CM talks about peak uranium if I remember correctly in the CC and you can read a good post here about it: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2379). I support nuclear if it makes any difference.

Concur.  

I nearly didn't even bother jumping into this thread, since the title of it IMO implies this is simply a space where if you're of a mind to, you can jump in and bash the concept of wind power.  And if folks are paying any attention around here, they know I'm a lover, not a fighter.  <smile>

Having said that, yah, I concur w/the general thrust of what RNR said above, and will simply add one point.

Before we all get down on our knees and worship nuke power as our savior, I'd had to wonder out loud what we'd be doing with all the spent fuel.  We already are unable to deal -- in any systematic and long-term way -- with the spent nuke fuel we have.  If we're going to increase our nuke usage by 10x or more, then what?  

I'm down w/some increased nuke (esp. new generation of reactors) but at this point I believe we ought to be pursuing every avenue of power generation that is not coal/gas/oil.  

Viva -- Sager

 i am sure you have facts to rationalize your beliefs. I would love to hear them. Or at least address the facts as presented.

V

PS I still await the facts. Maybe something in regards to Scale, Cost, Density etc. BTW In regards to belief I still believe in the tooth fairie

 

What facts are you in doubt of? Did you read the links I posted? Those are papers are from professionals, professors, and energy experts that study energy for a living. Many have hashed and rehashed the ins and outs of wind and the EROI of wind power many times. They understand that wind is a low energy per area source. But wind makes up for that with many other advantages. Why don't you go and debate those that study wind and energy on the theoildrum? You might learn a thing or two.

I’m sorry, but the last info you posted isn't even readable.

Are you in dispute of the oncoming uranium depletion? If so, why? Do you also dispute oil depletion? Or natural gas? Did you read the links I posted about those resources depleting? It doesn’t look like there’s even close to enough uranium to power the world by nuclear. And natural gas will peak by 2020-25. Furthermore, nuclear energy, like wind, is still not a store of energy.

Sager, in his post, also brings up a very good point. Hansford,  an older nuclear weapons manufacturing site in my area, has contaminated some of the ground water. Many scientists believe this contamination may eventually leak into the Columbia. The West’s largest source of fresh water and energy. That’s a really big issue to think about. Water is undoubtedly the most import of all resources.  I’m all for nuclear, but it needs to be done with the upmost regard for water. This goes for NG drilling as well.  

You’re not breaking any new ground and you’re not telling anybody anything they don't know about wind. As I said before, metals inputs comparison doesn’t even take into account of ongoing inputs with all energy sources. That’s not a very informative way to look at the total picture.

Wind has its flaws, but guess what? All energy sources do. I’m not sure about tooth fairies, but some countries already do get 20% of power from wind right now - today.

No one is saying that we must be all wind power tomorrow (maybe Al Gore? lol). No doubt this is a fantasy as the way things stand. We’re going to need to invest in many from of energy going forward. But to call a very good sources of energy, for many, ‘silly’ is to cheapen the discussion.

I’m sorry, but I had hoped for more on CM. The title of your original post is inflammatory and doesn’t do justice to the complex problems we face concerning energy. I will not talk about wind any further as I can have much more civil, informed, and objective talks concerning energy elsewhere.

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

V,

I think this is close to Sager's thinking ...

~ VF ~

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land2341
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

Far from simply warm and fuzzy feelings about wind,  many people who are very concerned about man’s impact on the ecosystem have grave misgivings.  However,  for the most part,  the downside and looming crisis of availability of petroleum products behooves us to initiate best possible practice in alternative energy sources.  For the most part we cannot let perfection be the enemy of good.

 

 

EROI and Turbine Size

One of the striking features of the studies is that the EROI generally increases with the power rating of the turbine (Figure 2). This is probably due to several reasons: first, smaller wind turbines represent older, less efficient technologies. The new turbines in the megawatt (MW) range embody many important technical advances that improve the overall effectiveness of energy conversion. Although larger turbines require greater initial energy investments in materials, the increase in power output more than compensates for this.

 

Second, larger turbines have a greater rotor diameter, which determines its swept area, which probably is the single most important determinant of a turbine's potential to generate power. A turbine with respectable power rating but a rotor diameter so small that it can't capture that power until the wind speed reaches very high velocities will not produce a reasonable annual energy output. Again, larger rotors require greater initial energy investments in materials, but the increase in power output more than compensates for this.

These conclusions are consistent with the finding that commercial wind farms have moved towards larger turbines that are less expensive with regard to installation, operation, and maintenance. The greater cost efficiency of larger turbines is largely attributed to economies of scale and learning by doing. Accordingly, under a similar assumption, larger turbines have a greater efficiency in respect to EROI.

Another reason that larger turbines have a larger EROI is the well-known "cube rule" of wind power, i.e., that the power available from the wind varies as the cube of the wind speed. Thus, if the wind speed doubles, the power of the wind increases 8 times. New turbines are taller than earlier technologies, and thus extract energy from the higher winds that exist at greater heights. Surface roughness — roughness determined mainly by the height and type of vegetation and buildings — reduces wind velocity near the surface. Over flat, open terrain in particular, the wind speed increases relatively fast with height.

http://www.eoearth.org/article/Energy_return_on_investment_(EROI)_for_wind_energy

 

 

 

 

 

There are significant issues of resource depletion in the materials required to construct wind turbines,  copper especially,  but alternative are already being explored.  

 

 http://www.windpowerengineering.com/maintenance/safety/an-alternative-to-copper-based-grounding/

 

Additionally there are many different methods being explored to store energy to compensate for the intermittent nature of many alternative sources.  There have been programs in which the energy is turned into compressed air which is pumped into storage tanks and released to turn the turbines when the wind has died.  Some solar corporations are also exploring compressed air.  Some water based systems are utilizing excess energy to pump water back up the dam to run it through the system again.  (I do not have good EROI on this last one so I cannot speak to its effectiveness.)

 

Currently, the city of Newark DE is using electric cars to store the energy that is not used in cars that are charging(ed) and take it back as the grid needs it.  

 

http://www.energyefficiencynews.com/transport/i/1797/ 

 

I think most of us see that there are no alternative energy sources that can or will answer all of our issues.  Wind has become more efficient in the last decade,  solar has made real leaps,  and most importantly grids themselves are becoming more dynamic with power able to flow in and around the grid in many directions.  As this evolves the technology will advance,  but none of us benefit from refusing to explore options that do not immediately provide the EROI that oil does.  

 

Oil’s EROI is already dropping.  Alternatives EROI will increase.  We could have crossed this bridge years ago but for the power behind those determined to prevent the change.

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Vanityfox451
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

V,

I have absolutely no doubt at your frustration in dealing with all that is wrong with the way in which our lives (7 Billion of them!) are impacting upon the planet, yet it is more about distribution and the fair share of those resources, plus the way in which parasites prosper over profiteering on others resources than pretty much anything else. This includes how wind turbines are distributed to land owners by commisions and tax breaks, while those surrounding these fields complain about the view being destroyed while not taking into account what it would be like living next to an open cast coal mine.

For the size and scope of this delusion called modern society, the metaphor of the Titanic and of altering the position of the chairs on deck is, to most here, almost a cliche. What of the bulk of this vessel, with what I and others would describe as a journey's end of utter catastophy? Not everyone escaped under the circumstances surrounding the Titanic, and who would suppose that the two and half billion people that are supported by this western ideology have any rights to survive? In the majority, they average about two generations gone since their previous generations had a clue about self sustaining in a crisis.

There are so many areas that can be attacked out of sheer frustration. This one blew my mind the other day, considering how much suffering is going on elsewhere in the States. Think of all those billions of dollars being blown on the military expenditure, and then think what would happen to those places if the military wasn't funded? Virtually overnight, all of the people within them would end up hungry, angry, homeless and dangerous.

In truth, I don't want this fantasy I'm surrounded by to continue. I'm finding more and more adults that act like children who've never needed to grow the f*ck up. They're in the process of bringing more just like them to this dwindling party, and the shock is going to literally kill them.

I have a total sum of zero control over the outcome of the larger picture, but I do have some control over what choices I make and to help a few realise they do have a choice - that's it in a nutshell - I don't own a nuclear plant or a wind farm, and neither do you - now, which direction shall we yell in next?

Your Faithful Cub Scout ... Foot in mouth...

~ VF ~

 

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V
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

In an effort to obtain some clarity. I have implied nothing RNR that happens to be a projection on your part. It is not possible to have critical thinking if there is no critical reading. Wind is not a renewable resource for one reason, it relies entirely ( outside of the wind itself of course) on oil and other forms of energy. Once oil gas and coal are gone large scale wind will be a fond memory. It is a fantasy to think that huge windmills will be able to be maintained   without the external inputs.

As a further measure to gain some clarity I am aware of Peak Everything. I am also aware having been on this site for quite awhile that what we have is a predicament in regards to energy. It is not a problem. Predicaments only have coping responses, whereas problems have solutions. I did not say I was in favor of nuclear nor did I say I was in favor of natural gas or anything else. If you would read my post a little more carefully you would see that. Wind power as well as solar on an kind of scale will not get any traction without Government subsidies. If it is such a good thing why don't all those venture capitalists jump on the bandwagon?

We in the US and the world are becoming more urban. Putting solar collectors and windmills on roofs of apartment won't cut it. There will be a great deal of social unrest. Think water supply and sanitation.

I am glad someone did bring up a country that uses wind for 20 % of its energy. I will address Denmark in another post as I am a little pressed for time at the moment.

V

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jturbo68
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

It is clear that there is no way that we can even come close to replacing current levels of Energy use with renewables.

If we do use renewables, it will be on a small, small scale and probably on a personal level and even then as a transition mechanism to a simpler way of life.

Nuclear worries me in that it seems to need the greatest technological know how and industrial coordination to run safely at a time when our collective stability and pool of technological know how will be declining.  What happens when we have these massive polluting sites that will remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years?  Seems like a silly trade off for heating water.

Given peak uranium, it seems futile to double down on this technology.

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills
V wrote:

Once oil gas and coal are gone large scale wind will be a fond memory. It is a fantasy to think that huge windmills will be able to be maintained   without the external inputs.

oil gas and coal will never actually run out- as I'm sure you know, therefore wind will never just wither away as you imply.  They will instead become increasingly difficult to find and harvest, and consequently more expensive, etc.  Of course we still need external inputs.  We just need to stop pissing these resources away for "single use" purposes such as heating and transportation.

 

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ericg
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

What about Nuclear Fusion power ?

DEMO

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see demo.

DEMO (DEMOnstration Power Plant) is a proposed nuclear fusion power plant that is intended to build upon the expected success of the ITER (originally an acronym for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) experimental nuclear fusion reactor. Whereas ITER's goal is to produce 500 million watts of fusion power for at least 500 seconds, the goal of DEMO will be to produce at least four times that much fusion power on a continual basis. Moreover, while ITER's goal is to produce 10 times as much power as is required for breakeven, DEMO's goal is to produce 25 times as much power. DEMO's 2 to 4 gigawatts of thermal output will be on the scale of a modern electric power plant.[1] Also notably, DEMO is intended to be the first fusion reactor to generate electrical power. Earlier experiments, such as ITER, merely dissipate the thermal power they produce into the atmosphere as steam.

To achieve its goals, DEMO must have linear dimensions about 15% larger than ITER and a plasma density about 30% greater than ITER. As a prototype commercial fusion reactor DEMO could make fusion energy (which does not have the problems associated with fossil fuels or fission energy) available within 20 years. Subsequent commercial fusion reactors could be built for nearly a quarter of the cost of DEMO if things go according to plan.[2][3]

While fusion reactors like ITER and DEMO will not produce transuranic wastes, some of the components of the ITER and DEMO reactors will become radioactive due to neutrons impinging upon them. It is hoped that careful material choice will mean that the wastes produced in this way will have much shorter half lives than the waste from fission reactors, with wastes remaining harmful for less than one century. The process of manufacturing tritium currently produces long-lived waste, but both ITER and DEMO, it is hoped, will produce their own tritium, dispensing with the fission reactor currently used for this purpose.[4]

[edit] Timeline

The following timetable was presented at the IAEA Fusion Energy Conference in 2004 by Prof. Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith.[2] These dates are conceptual and as such are subject to change.

  • Conceptual design is to be complete by 2017
  • Engineering design is to be complete by 2024
  • The first 'Construction Phase' is to last from 2024 to 2033
  • The first phase of operation is to last from 2033 to 2038
  • The plant is then to be expanded/updated
  • The second phase of operation is to last from 2040 onwards

[edit] How the reactor will work

The deuterium-tritium (D-T) fusion reaction is considered the most promising for producing fusion power.

When deuterium and tritium fuse, the two nuclei come together to form a helium nucleus (an alpha particle) and a high energy neutron.

{}^{2}_{1}\mbox{H} + {}^{3}_{1}\mbox{H}  \rightarrow {}^{4}_{2}\mbox{He} + {}^{1}_{0}\mbox{n} + 17.6 \mbox{ MeV}

DEMO will be constructed once designs which solve the many problems of current fusion reactors are engineered. These problems include: containing the plasma fuel at high temperatures, maintaining a great enough density of reacting ions, and capturing high-energy neutrons from the reaction without melting the walls of the reactor.

  • The activation energy for fusion is very large because the protons in each nucleus strongly repel one another; they are both positively charged. In order to fuse, the nuclei must be within 1 femtometre (1 × 10−15 metres) of each other, which is achievable using very high temperatures.
  • DEMO, a tokamak reactor, requires both dense plasma and high temperatures for the fusion reaction to be sustained.
  • High temperatures give the nuclei enough energy to overcome their electrostatic repulsion. This requires temperatures in the region of 100,000,000 °C, perhaps using energy from microwaves, ion beams, or neutral beam injection.
  • Containment vessels melt at these temperatures, so the plasma is to be kept away from the walls using magnetic confinement.

Once fusion has begun, high energy neutrons will pour out of the plasma, not affected by the strong magnetic fields (see neutron flux). Since the neutrons receive the majority of the energy from the fusion, they will be the fusion reactor's source of energy output.

  • The tokamak containment vessel will have a lining composed of ceramic or composite tiles containing tubes in which low temperature liquid lithium will flow.
  • Lithium readily absorbs high speed neutrons to form helium and tritium.
  • The lithium is processed to remove the helium and tritium.
  • The deuterium and tritium are added in carefully measured amounts to the plasma.
  • This increase in temperature is passed on to (pressurized) liquid water in a sealed, pressurized pipe.
  • The hot water from the pipe will be used to boil water under lower pressure in a heat exchanger.
  • The steam from the heat exchanger will be used to drive the turbine of a generator, to create an electrical current.

The DEMO project is planned to build upon and improve the concepts of ITER. Since it is only proposed at this time, many of the details, including heating methods and the method for the capture of high energy neutrons, are still undetermined.

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Demonstration Fusion Reactors". Fusion for Energy. European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy. http://fusionforenergy.europa.eu/3_4_demo_en.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  2. ^ a b "Beyond ITER". The ITER Project. Information Services, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. http://www.iter.org/Future-beyond.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-11. 
  3. ^ "Overview of EFDA Activities". EFDA. European Fusion Development Agreement. http://www.efda.org/about_efda/downloads/EFDAoverview.ppt. Retrieved 2006-11-11. 
  4. ^ "ITER-Fuelling the Fusion Reaction". ITER. ITER Team. http://www.iter.org/sci/fusionfuels. Retrieved 2010-07-28

It's clean, efficient, and it seems to be doable in about twenty years....

My 0.02

Ericg

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grondeau
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

And yet wind power is priced close to competitive with fossil fuels.  Your arguments about scaling, etc. retreat a bit if you consider High Altitude Wind.   Here is my review: 

http://squashpractice.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/high-altitude-wind-power-...

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land2341
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

The biggest problems right now with alternative energy sources lie in the grid and human will.

When this country decided we needed to create a need for cars the gov't created roads.  Hundreds of them.  When it decided that airlines would be good fo the economy it created airports.  When we decided to eradicate small pox and polio we did both of those with massive mobilizations of both gov't and citizens.  

This is the same.  Imagine how far we could have come in advancing the technology of solar had we started when Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House?  If the gov't had subsidized their development or distribution of the power??  

We developed one of the world's best train systems through unadulterated capitalism and destroyed it when the gov't decided to build roads and encourage people to buy cars.  They decided that the auto and oil industries were potentially better for the economy.   And they wanted to break the grip of the railroads.  Government intervention is fraught with pitfalls,  but some large tasks need gov't assistance to get started.  With this,  the people refuse to believe and the industries involved are too strong  this is another road case.  We need a new grid.  If we could get cable to every house in the country in less than a decade we should be able to upgrade the grid in the same time frame.  A few stronger gov't gooses to the system and then let the market take its run.  But, the gov't edge now goes to keeping the status quo so nothing moves.

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V
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills
grondeau wrote:

And yet wind power is priced close to competitive with fossil fuels.  Your arguments about scaling, etc. retreat a bit if you consider High Altitude Wind.   Here is my review: 

http://squashpractice.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/high-altitude-wind-power-...

Now we are getting somewhere.

Uh grondeau just how much of your money are you investing in any of these schemes

V

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earthwise
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

Okay, I've got a stupid question, which is appropriate when you consider the source. Also, it's consistant with the title of this thread.

Has anybody, anywhere considered instead of using windmills to capture energy from air currents, that the same 'windmill' type aparatus be used underwater to capture energy from ocean currents? Water, being much denser, would yield more energy with a smaller machine. Coastal currents exist near the most densely populated areas so transportation inefficiencies would be reduced.

Okay, so stop laughing and tell me why that wouldn't work.

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ao
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

ericg,

I've been interested in nuclear fusion power since the 1960s.  There're tremendous technological hurdles to overcome but there's also been tremendous foot dragging on this endeavor.  It will far surpass any form of power we presently have but it will also bring a whole new set of challenges.  Thermal pollution will be enormous.  As an example, one pound of plasma generates sufficient heat to kill an exposed individual 60 miles away.  I'm not sure how they plan on addressing that issue.

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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills
earthwise wrote:

Okay, I've got a stupid question, which is appropriate when you consider the source. Also, it's consistant with the title of this thread.

Has anybody, anywhere considered instead of using windmills to capture energy from air currents, that the same 'windmill' type aparatus be used underwater to capture energy from ocean currents? Water, being much denser, would yield more energy with a smaller machine. Coastal currents exist near the most densely populated areas so transportation inefficiencies would be reduced.

Okay, so stop laughing and tell me why that wouldn't work.

 

Tidal Power

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_power

 

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Tycer
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills
earthwise wrote:

Okay, I've got a stupid question, which is appropriate when you consider the source. Also, it's consistant with the title of this thread.

Has anybody, anywhere considered instead of using windmills to capture energy from air currents, that the same 'windmill' type aparatus be used underwater to capture energy from ocean currents? Water, being much denser, would yield more energy with a smaller machine. Coastal currents exist near the most densely populated areas so transportation inefficiencies would be reduced.

Okay, so stop laughing and tell me why that wouldn't work.

It would certainly produce a quantity of expensive food. Sashimi. Yum!

 

[rant]

All this talk of wind is or wind isn't drives me nuts.

I think V's arguments are valid and I've been privy to a similar debate between green energy builders here in Asheville that argued the same points discussed here, with the "hidden" costs of wind (and other) energy all falling short of fossil fuels with regard to overall carbon footprint and EROI. 

The part that drives me nuts is that in my opinion we'll not have the available energy resources or capital to bring any of this debate to physical fruition and these type of debates are a waste of our most valuable resource of time. The time/scale curve is too steep for us to climb.

We're late to the party, the booze is all gone an we're arguing over whether Laphroaig or Highland Park is the better Scotch while we collapse from dehydration from not drinking the galss of water in front of us. We're about to enter the 19th century and we're having 21st century discussions

Build your windmills, but build them to pump water and grind grain and run belt systems......and be quick about it.

[/rant]

Sorry for the rant, but I'm very paranoid this week that the sheeple will be so far behind the curve that the Mad Max scenarios are a real possibility. I go up and down through the last of the six stages of awareness and this week is a doozy.

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V
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills
Tycer wrote:
earthwise wrote:

Okay, I've got a stupid question, which is appropriate when you consider the source. Also, it's consistant with the title of this thread.

Has anybody, anywhere considered instead of using windmills to capture energy from air currents, that the same 'windmill' type aparatus be used underwater to capture energy from ocean currents? Water, being much denser, would yield more energy with a smaller machine. Coastal currents exist near the most densely populated areas so transportation inefficiencies would be reduced.

Okay, so stop laughing and tell me why that wouldn't work.

It would certainly produce a quantity of expensive food. Sashimi. Yum!

 

[rant]

All this talk of wind is or wind isn't drives me nuts.

I think V's arguments are valid and I've been privy to a similar debate between green energy builders here in Asheville that argued the same points discussed here, with the "hidden" costs of wind (and other) energy all falling short of fossil fuels with regard to overall carbon footprint and EROI. 

The part that drives me nuts is that in my opinion we'll not have the available energy resources or capital to bring any of this debate to physical fruition and these type of debates are a waste of our most valuable resource of time. The time/scale curve is too steep for us to climb.

We're late to the party, the booze is all gone an we're arguing over whether Laphroaig or Highland Park is the better Scotch while we collapse from dehydration from not drinking the galss of water in front of us. We're about to enter the 19th century and we're having 21st century discussions

Build your windmills, but build them to pump water and grind grain and run belt systems......and be quick about it.

[/rant]

Sorry for the rant, but I'm very paranoid this week that the sheeple will be so far behind the curve that the Mad Max scenarios are a real possibility. I go up and down through the last of the six stages of awareness and this week is a doozy.

Tycer

I feel your pain. The problem is not the individual that is or wants to build a windmill for whatever purpose. That is that persons right, and if they have the money then go ahead and do it. I would hope that they would do it and look at all the advantages AND disadvantages. All the environmental consequences as well.

There is a mass hysteria building around "green energy" that is plum spooky. We have no engineers in Congress ( 60 lawyers ) who have no idea about any of this......but it sure as hell sounds good. Meanwhile they are spending our money on anything that quacks like a duck. Even the private money of venture capitalists in these projects is subsidized.

I put forward facts and numbers i nan effort to get some facts and numbers that would contradict the premise all I have seen so far is the Obama party line....." We need to develop a green economy" Well Duh!

There is a danger in thinking some new as yet undiscovered technology will enable us to live life as we have always known it. The danger exists in also putting it in projects which over the long term will turn out to be  a blind alley.

That danger will manifest in the form of increased poverty and social unrest. Just as they feed us cooked Inflation, Unemployment numbers and GDP, they are giving us palliatives of "green energy" I will find my own numbers thank you.

V

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Damnthematrix
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

The point here is.......  nothing we do is sustainable.

We got away with it when there were very very few of us because we could just move "some place else" once we'd ruined/depleted a particular area, but this option is now long gone......

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ericg
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Re: The Stupidity of Windmills

Tycer wrote:

We're late to the party, the booze is all gone an we're arguing over whether Laphroaig or Highland Park is the better Scotch while we collapse from dehydration from not drinking the galss of water in front of us. We're about to enter the 19th century and we're having 21st century discussions

I think you meant to say, "We're about to enter the 21st century and we're having 19th century discussions" no matter... I understood and totally agree.  

Time to start thinking outside the box (i know, i know another cliche')

ericg

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Tycer
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
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Posts: 610
Re: The Stupidity of Windmills
ericg wrote:

Tycer wrote:

We're late to the party, the booze is all gone an we're arguing over whether Laphroaig or Highland Park is the better Scotch while we collapse from dehydration from not drinking the galss of water in front of us. We're about to enter the 19th century and we're having 21st century discussions

I think you meant to say, "We're about to enter the 21st century and we're having 19th century discussions" no matter... I understood and totally agree.  

Time to start thinking outside the box (i know, i know another cliche')

ericg

Nope, I spoke what I meant. I think in our lifetimes the Cuban Diet will have come to America and we'll be using 19th Century tools to grow it.

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