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Old 02-11-2014, 08:28 AM
 
Location: Denver
3,195 posts, read 2,646,753 times
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These are some things I've heard over the years about wind power:
1. They produce very very loud subsonic waves that have been thought to cause migraines or even cancer.
2. They kill birds. I believe I heard something like 600 eagles in the state of Iowa.
3. They don't live as long as the manufacturer claims, at least before needing significant maintenance.
4. They require 500lbs of rare earth minerals. I though I heard rare earth mineral mining is some of the most environmentally damaging.
5. They jolt the grid. I beleive a electrical grid is supposed to have 99% consistency in power supply. Wind power is no way near that consistent. Therefore, it will be exponentially more expensive the more wind we have on our grid. If wind constitutes 25% of the entire grid, then it becomes ridiculously expensive due to the costs required to regulate the grid back to 99%.

Are they true or what's the whole story on them?

 
Old 02-11-2014, 08:45 AM
 
Location: West Orange, NJ
12,545 posts, read 18,449,199 times
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A windfarm was installed in Northeast Pennsylvania (Info for Pennsylvanians: PA Wind Farms - see the Waymart one for what I'm specifically referencing) in 2003. almost 9.5 years, and 100% visible from the house in which I grew up. I've been very close to them and never hear loud sounds. I think the migraine/cancer stuff has been largely disproven.

They do kill birds, as does any structure. A bird flew into our picture window and died, I've seen birds fly into car windows, etc. So yes, birds do fly into them sometimes.

They require periodic maintenance, but these in Waymart have been there for, like I said, 9.5 years.

I'm not sure what you're talking about with jolting the grid. I've never heard that before. All I know is since FPL installed these, PPL has been able to take numerous plant generation offline and take substations out of service that are no longer necessary.
 
Old 02-11-2014, 09:56 AM
 
Location: DC
6,530 posts, read 6,464,732 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil P View Post
These are some things I've heard over the years about wind power:
1. They produce very very loud subsonic waves that have been thought to cause migraines or even cancer. Fiction
2. They kill birds. I believe I heard something like 600 eagles in the state of Iowa.Fiction
3. They don't live as long as the manufacturer claims, at least before needing significant maintenance. Speculation
4. They require 500lbs of rare earth minerals. I though I heard rare earth mineral mining is some of the most environmentally damaging. Rare Earths are not rare nor is mining them any more damaging than mining coal
5. They jolt the grid. I beleive a electrical grid is supposed to have 99% consistency in power supply. Wind power is no way near that consistent. Therefore, it will be exponentially more expensive the more wind we have on our grid. If wind constitutes 25% of the entire grid, then it becomes ridiculously expensive due to the costs required to regulate the grid back to 99%.
Fiction
Are they true or what's the whole story on them?
Try again.
 
Old 02-11-2014, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Bend Or.
1,126 posts, read 2,459,763 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCforever View Post
Try again.
I would agree with one exception, Rare earth ores are indeed rare, in concentrations enough to make mining profitable.
In fact, there is only one Rare earth Mine in the US, in Mountain Pass CA., Owned by Molycorp. They are struggling due to low Rare earth prices, which are manipulated by Chinese production. The Chinese hold the vast majority of the Rare Earth production in the world. The mining is no more damaging than coal except to the workers if it is not done responsibly, which has also given the Chinese the edge. Our labor force protects the workers better.

Many US companies have opened plants in China in order to get access to their rare earths, mostly magnet manufacturers.

DCforever is correct on all other points
I have been around wind generators quite a bit and the only sound is a whoosh when the blade goes by, and I have never seen a dead bird. they do not spin very fast. they are remotely controlled so production is controlled.
 
Old 02-11-2014, 02:32 PM
 
Location: Idaho
836 posts, read 1,378,153 times
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I've driven by that wind farm at Palm Springs, Calif and never more than a few turning. Are they doing any good?
cuz they're quite a spectacle.
 
Old 02-11-2014, 02:46 PM
 
Location: Bend Or.
1,126 posts, read 2,459,763 times
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The only time I drove past it almost every one was crankin.
 
Old 02-11-2014, 03:10 PM
 
Location: DC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whirnot View Post
I would agree with one exception, Rare earth ores are indeed rare, in concentrations enough to make mining profitable.
In fact, there is only one Rare earth Mine in the US, in Mountain Pass CA., Owned by Molycorp. They are struggling due to low Rare earth prices, which are manipulated by Chinese production. The Chinese hold the vast majority of the Rare Earth production in the world. The mining is no more damaging than coal except to the workers if it is not done responsibly, which has also given the Chinese the edge. Our labor force protects the workers better.

Many US companies have opened plants in China in order to get access to their rare earths, mostly magnet manufacturers.

DCforever is correct on all other points
I have been around wind generators quite a bit and the only sound is a whoosh when the blade goes by, and I have never seen a dead bird. they do not spin very fast. they are remotely controlled so production is controlled.
There are rare earth deposits in at least 1/2 dozen countries that aren't being worked because the Chinese have swamped the market with low price product. The demand has stretched current production but there is really little concern in the medium to long term supply. In addition, users are starting to recycle.

Older lattice framed, high speed blade turbine have been a bird problem in areas of the west where some were sited poorly. Modern turbines turn at about 12 RPM. That's too slow to cause bird problems, but siting studies always address bird and bat issues.
 
Old 02-11-2014, 03:34 PM
 
Location: Denver
3,195 posts, read 2,646,753 times
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Ok, thanks for clearing up the bird issue. It would make sense that the modern ones move slower. But it was on NPR that I heard about 500 eagles being killed, so it wasn't some made up statistic.

And I guess you could recycle the Rare earth elements, but it is bothering that they are extracted in such a harmful way.

The jolt in the grid is actually my main concern though. Wind power doesn't operate with 99% consistency, so how does the grid compensate for that?
 
Old 02-11-2014, 03:57 PM
 
Location: Bend Or.
1,126 posts, read 2,459,763 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCforever View Post
There are rare earth deposits in at least 1/2 dozen countries that aren't being worked because the Chinese have swamped the market with low price product. The demand has stretched current production but there is really little concern in the medium to long term supply. In addition, users are starting to recycle.

.
I would have to disagree, I have followed the industry for quite some time, and am a Molycorp stock holder. The chinese are able to control the prices, but they have not swamped the market. In fact the opposite is true. A few years ago they cut export, causing prices to skyrocket. That is why MolyCorp and other producers ramped up their efforts. Then many of the big users opened plants in China, which is just what the Chinese wanted. Export of finished goods with manufacturing at home. They have since relaxed a bit causing the prices to return to a more normal level.

China controls 95% of the world Market. There is some recycling taking place but not enough to make a dent. Lynas Corpration used to have a lot of this information on their site but it doesn't look like it is there anymore. The reason the deposits are not being worked is because the rare earth minerals are so rare in high enough concentrations to make it profitable. It will take a return to very high prices to pay the bill for development. That can cause many other problems as these elements are used a lot around the world.

As far as a jolt to the grid, the turbines can be started and stopped remotely, so they can be "ramped up" or shut off if need be.
 
Old 02-11-2014, 04:46 PM
 
Location: DC
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Reputation: 3137



1.5 MW machines are too small to "jolt the grid."

Best estimate of eagle deaths in the US is about 10-20 per year nationwide. Wind farms killed at least 67 eagles in last five years - NBC News
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