Does Wind Power Create Greenhouse Gases

Robert asks…

what are alternative source of energy?

Windmill Farms answers:

In an age of increasing fossil fuel prices, uncertainty of energy supplies and concern over the effect of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, the role of hydrogen fuel as an alternative energy source is being reexamined.
Plentiful Supply of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe. David L. Heiserman, in his Exploring Chemical Elements and their Compounds, published by TAB Books in 1992, lists hydrogen as the most common element in the universe. On Earth, according to Basic Research Needs for the Hydrogen Economy. Published by Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, in May 2003, hydrogen is the third most abundant element. However this hydrogen does not exist as the pure element, but as part of other compounds, mainly water and fossil fuels.
Hydrogen is Not a Source of Energy

Commercially, hydrogen is mainly produced from fossil fuel and to a lesser extent by electrolysis using energy produced from fossil fuels. Basic Research Needs for the Hydrogen Economy states, “Hydrogen is currently produced on an industrial scale (9 Mtons/yr in the U.S.) through steam reforming of natural gas.”

Hydrogen produced from either fossil fuels or by electrolysis involves a loss of energy and results in high emissions of greenhouse gases. In the Future of the Hydrogen Economy: Bright or Bleak? Published on April 15 2003, Ulf Bossel says on page 13, “The efficiency of hydrogen production by autothermal reforming is about 90%, but may be less”, and further on says, “Also, more CO2 is released by this indirect process than by direct use of the hydrocarbon precursors.”
Hydrogen as a Fuel

Hydrogen burns cleanly, producing little or no harmful emissions or CO2. According to the Fact SheetHydrogen Fuel: a Clean and Secure Energy Future produced by the White House Press Office in February 2006:
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* It has the highest energy content per unit of weight of any known fuel.

* When burned in an engine, hydrogen produces effectively zero emissions; when powering a fuel cell, its only waste is water.

* Hydrogen can be produced from abundant domestic resources including natural gas, coal, biomass, and even water.

Due to the increasing price of gasoline and the heightened awareness of the dangers of greenhouse gases, there are more hydrogen fueled automobiles being produced now than ever before.

* In a report carried in the Greenwich Time, Dave Buchko, spokesman for BMW North America said, “We’re close to a point where if the fuel (hydrogen) became (widely) available tomorrow, we would be able to make the cars available”.

* The Los Angeles Times, in a report titled “Stars test the waters with Hydrogen cars” on June 15, 2008 reported that Honda has produced the FCX Clarity which can get 270 miles to the tank. It also says that GM has developed its hydrogen car, the Chevy Equinox .

Marking Hydrogen a Renewable Fuel

To make hydrogen a renewable fuel it should use renewable energy, such as wind power or solar power, for production. A report carried on Solar Today by Susan Hock, Carolyn Elam and Debra Sandor, titled “Can We Get There” states, “Due to the relatively low cost of wind power, along with recent dramatic growth in wind energy, wind/electrolysis is well positioned to become the first economical renewable hydrogen production system.”

Another example of using wind to make hydrogen was reported in the UK Daily Telegraph of June 21 2008. The Isle of Unst, Britain’s most northerly settlement, uses two wind turbines to “create hydrogen gas to run a hydrogen-powered car and cooking facilities while the rest is captured as hydrogen fuel cells to provide back-up when the wind dies.”

As an alternative fuel hydrogen is ideal, producing little or no emissions, with a plentiful supply available. But hydrogen produced by conventional means is not renewable or carbon neutral. Wind power is a totally renewable energy source with no greenhouse gas emissions, but due to its unpredictability, has problems integrating with national grids. Combined together, wind and hydrogen can cancel out their inherent defects and be an effective tool in the battle against carbon dioxide and global warming.

Ken asks…

How are reducing electricity use and reducing fossil fuel use related?

For science. I understand how each of these help reduce greenhouse gases and climate change but I do not understand how they are related?

Windmill Farms answers:

Electricity can not easily be stored, so generation and use must always be balanced.
Nuclear power plants don’t turn up and down in power level easily, and don’t save money when turned down, so they always on full for “base” loads.
Wind turbines are also difficult to control, to they are there generating essentially what ever power they do when the wind is blowing correctly.
Same for solar, they produce a set amount of power when the sun is directly on them.
Hydroelectric power is so cheap, it’s always desirable to create as much as possible. Same for geothermal.

So as power use goes up and down, the generators which go up and down with it are essentially are fossil plants, which are both quicker to turn up and down and save money (from fuel) when they are turned down, natural gas is the fastest response, followed by coal.

So when you turn off an unused light, somewhere, a little less natural gas or coal is being burned.

John asks…

How does the energy creaton process work in hydrogen cars?

I read in an old Wired Magazine that California is gearing up to create an infrastructure to allow cars that run on hydrogen to run on the road and have “filling stations” along the highway that runs north to south. How does the process of making energy from water for these cars work?

Windmill Farms answers:

A “hydrogen economy” is required to eliminate our growing dependence on foreign oil.

Hydrogen fuelled cars use something called a fuel cell. Fuel cells generate electricity from hydrogen. The electricity generated from the fuel cell is used to power the car. Fuel cells emit pure drinkable water instead of “greenhouse gases” like engines do.

Hydrogen is created using a process called electrolysis. Electrolysis is basically splitting up the water(H2O) into both hydrogen and oxygen by the use of electricity. There are other ways to generate hydrogen, but the extraction from water is the cheapest and most effective way. The use of electricity or heat from nuclear reactors are the most inexpensive and effective ways to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. And during off peak hours, idle nuclear reactors can be generating hydrogen for use in fuel cells inside of cars.

New technology allows hydrogen to be stored safely without the risk of explosion. In many ways, hydrogen is already far less dangerous to store than gasoline.

Another answerer mentioned solar power and wind power. Both are a waste of time. It is impracticle to use either one to power all of the cars in the U.S.. It would take uncountless thousands of wind mills to generate enough electricity to power all of the cars in the U.S.. And solar cells are a waste of time and energy for the generation of hydrogen. Hundreds of square miles of land would have to be covered with solar cells just to generate enough electricity to power the cars for one large state. Also, solar cells would need to be changed after X number of years since solar cells become less and less efficient each year they are used. Another thing, most people fail to know that it requires a lot of energy to just to make solar cells.

William asks…

Low-Carbon Fuels?

Burning one gallon of gasoline produces 19.6 pounds of CO2. Ethanol isn’t much better, it produces 18.9 pounds of CO2 per energy equivalent to fossil fuel. What are the near-term alternatives (5-10 years) and what type of gallon-to-CO2 savings do they offer?

Windmill Farms answers:

The near-term transportation alternatives are hybrids and electric cars. A Prius creates 73% fewer emissions than the average new car, for example.

Electric car emissions depend on the power grid, but even if the electricity is supplied entirely by coal (which is never the case), electric cars still produce less greenhouse gas emissions than burning gas.

Plug-in hybrids will hopefully be available within the next decade, and will rival the emissions of electric cars.

PHEV = plug-in electric hybrid
ICE = internal combustion engine vehicle
HEV = hybrid-electric vehicle
EV = electric vehicle

“PHEVs reduce CO2 emissions by 37%-67% compared with ICEs and by 19%-54% compared with HEVs in well-to-wheels (W2W) analyses assuming fueling with gasoline and electricity from the U.S. Mix of power plants (and ignoring one or two outliers in the data). PHEVs reduce all other greenhouse gas emissions too.

EVs reduce CO2 by 11%-100% compared with ICEs and by 24%-54% compared with HEVs, and significantly reduce all other greenhouse gas emissions, using the U.S. Grid
mix. If all U.S. Cars were EVs, we’d reduce global warming emissions. Using electricity strictly from coal, EVs still would reduce CO2 by 0%-59% compared with ICEs (one analysis found 0% change; six others found reductions of 17%-59%) and might produce 30%-49% more CO2 than HEVs (based on only two analyses). On the other hand, if electricity comes from solar or wind power, EVs eliminate all emissions. Using natural gas to make electricity, emissions fall in between those from coal and renewable power.”

Charles asks…

what are the cons for coal,natural gas,hydroelectric,geothermal,hydrogen,fuel cell,wind,nuclear,and,solar?

Windmill Farms answers:

Coal produces CO2 and global warming/ fumes that create air polution(mercury and such) it is also a fossil fuel, meaning that it cannot be renewed

nuclear produces nuclear waste that can be made into weapons although we now have technology that can use 99% of the fuel and the remaining waste will be of such low grade not even a dirty bomb can be made. This is promising for nuclear power since it lasts the longest and is highly productive

solar is that the panels take up lots of space and that space would be unusuable for anything else(solar fields)

geothermal is that it can be only placed in certain areas and fumes from the inside of the earth such as Hydrogen Sulfide have to be taken care of otherwise air polution will result.

Wind is that there is no constant wind, you have to sit and wait for the wind to come, these also take up lots of space but technology has made it even more efficient

hydroelectric energy is that dams damage the enviroment, fish cannot migrate upstream as a result, and tidal versions are still in development.

I think you might have wanted to say fuel cell so ill answer anyway- fuel cells (hydrogen) currently take more energy to create the hydrogen than the energy the hydrogen can actually release, GM is currently testing wind as a potential energy generator for the hydrogen to be split from water to make hydrogen fuel, however hydrogen technology has become more efficient, currently some machines can generate 70-80% efficiency

natrual gas is abundant, but there are risks such as explosions involved, it also releases greenhouse gasses such as CO2 when burned although it is cleaner than gasoline and desiel when properly used. Like coal natrual gas is also unrenewable since it too is a fossil fuel

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