How promising is the future of wind power? Will it always be a minor source of energy, or will it play an important role in the future?
Great article thanks. I like the way this "plant" addresses alot of the old problems of Wind power.
The space consumed per megawatt generated is likely higher than traditional power plants. Land is valuable. The "not in my backyard" crowd would crow over any large-scale placement of these turbines
Actually, I think that is addressed well with this program. The towers can be built on farms and ranches without limiting the land use under them (for farming and ranching). They pay the farmers annually for the use of the land as well.
Also, Farms and Ranches tend to be on more open / flat land which allows for more wind.
the windiest places tend to be a very long way from where most people live and work, so the physics of electricity transmission are a barrier
Going back to transmission, I can't help but wonder if there isn't some mileage in investigating another way to transmit energy in bulk over long distances. At the moment, electric cables (be they overhead or underground) dissipate a lot of the energy generated as heat. And transporting the fuels themselves to power stations closer to the point of use itself uses a lot of energy (road and rail transport, pumps for pipelines, etc.).
This is a problem. However, even if this program is limited to distributing power to rural areas it is significant in that it takes large areas of the country and effectively makes them independent of the old power grid (they are still connected, but their power has a local source).
Now, if we can develop tidal power (which is interesting as well) we might be able to make large sections of the coast lines independent as well.
Different alternative sources can address different needs and areas of the country.
Perhaps something based on fibre-optic principles could do the job more efficiently and mean that we could all use solar power transmitted from wherever on the planet happened to be sunny at the time. (A pipedream, I know, but it can't hurt to ask the question).
Maybe in the future. Right now, fiber can't care the level of power needed to be viable for this use. I have heard of the concept of microwave transmissions as a possibility. One theory is that we could use giant solar collectors in space to get the power and transmit it to the surface via microwave. This type of technology is along way off (heck can you imagine what would happen if such a beam was mis-targeted?). But it sound promising. It also has the promise of being able to deliver power to anywhere, even the most remote spots on the planet.
Geothermal is interesting. I have only read about this as an alternative source of heating and cooling for homes. Anyone have a link for the use of this alternative for energy production?
When it comes to alternative energy development, we have the ability to do this on a house by house level now. You could build a house with solar and / or wind power and geothermal heating right now. One problem is, municipal codes and HOAs for one thing. They tend to dislike large things like windmills. Another problem is cost.
A friend and I saw a show detailing different types of alternative energy homes. We also learned that if you generate more then you use (or can store) the excess end up back at the power company and they have to pay YOU for it.
We figured out a house using available tech 6 years ago that generated enough energy in excess to storage that the power company payments would pay the property taxes and water / sewer fees (depending on where you live) and be completely self-sufficient. We even took an idea we saw where gray water in the house was filtered and then fed into an in the home irrigation system for tons of small plants intergraded into the home. The small plants looked good and helped clean the homes air. We also used geothermal for the heating and cooling, supplementing it with electric heat / cooling.
The problem with out project was cost. In the middle of missouri, where land is very cheap the project would have cost us about 600,000.00 to build a 4 bed, 2 bath, 3 car garage home that had these systems. For some that doesn't sound like much but in Lynn Missouri (where we looked at doing it) a 4 bed 3 bath house was on 3 acres was listing for $38,000.00 at the time and in move in condition. What that means is that the bulk of the project cost (about $550,000.00) was the cost of construction, not the land.
People are willing to examine these things for their own homes until the sticker shock hits. We could majorly reduce the need for power plants if we could get more homeowners and businesses to generate their own power. But the startup cost of that program has to come down for it to be viable. We figured our start up costs would be paid for in abut 20 years. But the average person stays in a home for 7 years or less. We have to get that cost down significantly before the majority of America will consider it for their homes.
People want to be environmentally conscience in general, but not if the cost of it keep them from eating regularly (the morgage for that project would have been about 4000.00 a month!!).