Is Wind Power Green

Carol asks…

Explaining green chemistry?

I have to do a presentation to a group of half non-science students about green chemistry. I’m having trouble finding information that I can understand enough to simplify (I’m not that good at chemistry) and yet that’s informative. I just need to stand up and explain what green chemistry is and give a couple of examples for four minutes. I was thinking of using two real world examples and one or two examples from the lab. Does that sound alright?
Thank you :)
It’s sustainable chemistry. Hence the ‘green‘.

Windmill Farms answers:

Wow. Green Chemistry. That has to be plants, right?

Wind powered.

Donna asks…

Are we kidding ourselves about wind power?

Are you sitting around thinking wind power is part of our future? Maybe it’s time to think again. GE, Siemens, Vestas et. al. have raped European taxpayers and are doing the same in the United States. You just don’t hear about it.

“The voices of Kamaoa cry out their warning as a new batch of colonists, having looted the taxpayers of Spain, Portugal, and Greece, seeks to expand upon their multi-billion-dollar foothold half a world away on the shores of the distant Potomac River. European wind developers are fleeing the EU’s expiring wind subsidies, shuttering factories, laying off workers, and leaving billions of Euros of sovereign debt and a continent-wide financial crisis in their wake. But their game is not over. Already they are tapping a new vein of lucre from the taxpayers and ratepayers of the United States.”

From “Wind Energy’s Ghosts”:

Are wind farms financially sustainable on their own?

Should wind be permitted on the grid in places where winds are not strong or sustainable enough to support it? Can wind support the voltage level required for the grid to be stable? What happens when wind speeds are low, causing farms to act like capacitors and exposing the transmission system to failures? Is it even a viable base load source – and what quick response generators must be used when the wind dies down?

Before you get upset about this being some sort of ideological rant, please note that I have invested my own time, energy and some money into wind power, and attended Windpower 2009 in Chicago last year.

Windmill Farms answers:

As much as we are kidding ourselves about solar power in the north. Such as the $700,000 total green house they built in the Detroit area but couldn’t open because the solar panels didn’t get enough sun. Well gee….it’s not like Michigan weather has changed much …so you wonder why someone didn’t think that one through a bit more.

Maria asks…

Green power Questions!?

What isgreen power“?
Do you believe that we need to find alternate, environmentally friendly energy sources?
How many possible “green power” options did you find in your research?
What were the options you found?
Are any of these options being used today?
Which, if any, do you feel are viable energy sources for the future? Why?

Which, if any, do you feel are not viable energy sources for the future? Why?

Windmill Farms answers:

There is only one type of truly green power, and that is what has been energizing life on earth for 3.5 billion years: solar power.

Plants, algae and certain bacteria absorb solar energy and, through photosynthesis, turn it into food for themselves and for all the creatures which eat them. As creatures die, some of their energy gets recycled into new life while the carbon in their bodies gets stored away deep in the earth to keep it from disturbing the chemical balance of the atmosphere and oceans which controls earth’s temperature.

The reason that we’re facing the crisis of global warming today is because we’ve dug up that “ancient sunlight” in the form of fossil fuels and burned it, thereby releasing all that stored carbon into the atmosphere and oceans, changing the chemical balance and raising the earth’s temperature. So using these fuels may have been a terrible mistake.

For this reason, and because of all the other pollution and environmental damage that’s been caused by the use of such fuels, we have to return to using what life on earth has always used for energy: the sun.

We can harvest solar energy through photovoltaic panels, or solar water heaters or just by facing our houses toward the sun. OR we can harvest solar energy with wind turbines (the sun’s heat makes winds blow) or with hydropower or tidal power (the sun makes water turn to rain and fall into rivers and flow downhill, and the moon’s gravity makes the tides rise and fall). We can also use the geothermal energy from deep in the earth, which was left over from when our solar system was formed.

These are forms of green energy, but even those have to be used carefully, responsibly and conservatively so we don’t continue to do more damage to the ecology around us.

Helen asks…

I want to get a wind turbine to help power my house?

I’m only 16 now, but I plan on my home being as green as I can make it when I am old enough to even have a home. I want to know how much it costs to actually get a wind turbine, or make one, etc. How exactly I would hook it up to my house, how tall it has to be, how much space it needs, all that kind of stuff. Any additional information would be greatly appreciated. Anything else I need to know about wind turbines would be great! Thanks!

Windmill Farms answers:

Hey Chris, good for you getting involved in this. About 12 years ago we looked into wind and solar power for our home. We used to have frequent power outages and just wanted a reliable backup source. Well today our home is completely powered by the wind and sun, we heat with wood, solar and propane, heat water with solar and propane and collect rainwater.

When it comes to wind or solar power you have 2 questions to answer. First, how much are you trying to produce. You said, “help power my house?” In this case, any size you are comfortable purchasing and installing will help. If you want to run everything most of the time like we do, then you have some more math to do. The second question is, “Do I want a stand alone system that can operate without grid power, or just produce some power to dump into the grid.” This is important. We had a stand alone system for years, meaning if we produced too much for our home and our batteries were full, then the rest was wasted. But it also means if the grid power goes down, we still have power. Grid tied systems need the grid to operate, they use it like a battery. They are less expensive and simpler to install, but cannot operate if the utility company has an outage, they simply shut down. There is a third type system just coming out, a hybrid. It has a battery bank, but ties to the grid at the same time. If the grid fails, it will power your home until the battery runs down. If you have wind or sun, this might be all week. These systems are the most expensive to purchase and operate, and more complicated than the other two, and are less efficient because they use some power keeping the batteries charged all the time.

For most people that want to get started, I recommend they build up a small system first and experiment with it. We did 11 years ago, it had one small panel, a 50 watt size, 4 golf cart batteries, and a 300 watt wind turbine from Southwest Windpower that was designed for a boat. Everything cost us $1,100 USD, and everything except the turbine is still operating today. We use the 12 volt power for kitchen lights, small electronics, like cell phone chargers and flashlights, and a radio and fan. There is a great magazine called Home Power that gets into doing all these things, and it doesn’t cost much to subscribe. They even ran 2 articles on our home, one on our small system, and another on our full sized one several years later. If you subscribe, you can use their online search to look for those articles, search for, “Small System First.” There are also some great websites, I will list some below.

As far as building your own wind turbine, it can certainly be done, but look for instructions first. And shy away from the vertical axis types, they look really cool and people say they are better because they can take wind from any direction. Wind only blows one way at a time, and the horizontal units have no problem with this because of thier tail. The real reason is because the vertical units are horribly inefficient. Generally they convert about 5 to 8 % of the incoming wind to electricity, horizontals run closer to 30%, this is why all the power companies are using the horizontal types. Check out Mick Sagrillos article about them in the AWEA website to learn more. Do some more reading, and if you can, get to one of the energy fairs listed in the back of Home Power, we did 12 years ago, and that is how we got here today. Good luck Chris, and take care, Rudydoo

Sharon asks…

Do the economics of wind power justify the visual and sound damage to the environment ?

Windmill Farms answers:

The Economics of Wind power are none existent, they don’t make much noise ( I worked next to one for a few months) however I take it as a personal insult they were constructed as it is near Top Withens (Wuthering Heights to everyone) they do have some minor affect on Birds (who can’t always see the blades)

But they are the most inefficient way fo generating Electricity apart from having Guinea pigs running around a wheel that has been devised.

They are the Green idiots way of propounding how Green they are while trying to destroy a better life for the poor of the World. Communists (the Greens) hate the idea that the poor will get out of their poverty, so this is an ideal way for them, to waste money instead of investing in Clean Safe Nuclear.

No one has died from Fukishima, even when hit by a Quake over 100 times more severe than it was designed for.

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