Sunday Morning Book Thread 06-21-2020 | Main | First-World Problems...Part Thirteen
June 21, 2020

The Glories Of A Post-Modern Society...Feel-Good Projects That Are Divorced From The Cold Reality Of Physics And Engineering And Actual Data

I'll bet most of us have driven through areas of this country that are dotted with wind turbines. You know...the bird-killing fantasies of every lunatic Green and soft Liberal whose brains simply can't fathom that facts trump feelings.

And I'll bet you noticed that lots of them weren't spinning; either there wasn't enough wind or they were broken, which is an all-too-frequent occurrence nowadays. Now just imagine the complexities of putting them out in the open ocean!

Virginia's latest folly -- offshore wind power

[...]Virginia’s green electric power plan calls for 5,000 MW of offshore wind generating capacity to be built in the next decade or so. This is a huge amount given that the worldwide total is just around 15,000 MW. We are talking about something like 800 giant windmills, embedded in the ocean floor and sticking hundreds of feet into the air above the water. They will be on the order of one and a half times taller than the Washington Monument, which is really tall. Let's look at too little wind first.
Wow...that's a lot of large equipment, miles from maintenance, exposed to some truly nasty weather, as anyone who has ever sailed on the Atlantic can confirm. At least salt water isn't bad for machinery...right?

But here is a new twist that hadn't even occurred to me. Obviously the wind doesn't blow all of the time, but imagine a week-long blackout in the heat of the summer! I wonder if it gets hot in Virginia during the summer?

Week long periods of no generation low wind occur fairly often in the Norfolk area, perhaps once every few years. In a hot summer they may occur more than once. But there are also many shorter periods of low wind, with a high need for electricity, that occur more frequently. Then too there are no doubt longer periods of low wind that occur less frequently. At the one in fifty year frequency we might get a month or more of low wind. I see no evidence that these possibilities have been addressed in the Virginia plan.

And there's more! Apparently no wind isn't the only thing that happens in the Atlantic.

Category five hurricanes have sustained winds over 156 mph with gusts that can exceed 200 mph. To date no offshore wind towers have been designed to withstand these sorts of winds. Most have been built in Europe where hurricanes do not occur. The force of the wind is a function of the square of the wind speed, so a 160 mph wind is four times as destructive as an 80 mph wind.
So let's get this straight...There are long periods of no wind, which would mean long blackouts. There are also significant threats of such high winds that it is problematic that sufficiently robust designs can be created (per the DoE study in the article).

I'll say it for the 18th time: America needs a crash program of standardized nuclear reactor design and building, along with three or four nuclear operator training facilities (jobs!). 200 reactors distributed across the country. And for every reactor that is retired we build 1.1 reactors. We will become energy independent and have excess fossil fuel to sell on the world markets, whether for the bottom line or for geopolitical considerations. We would also have the delectable bonus of decreasing our carbon footprint (about which I care less than nothing) and we can shove that in Europe's smug, sweaty faces (they don't air condition much during the summer...yuck!).

But destroying the natural beauty of great swaths of America while simultaneously reducing the standard of living of many Americans so that elitist asses in NY and DC and San Francisco can preen and crow and brag about how green they are while flying around in their private jets is simply a non starter.

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posted by CBD at 12:15 PM

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