I don’t hate wind turbine generators!

Discussion in 'ex-Rag Chew Central' started by KW4MW, May 4, 2012.

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  1. KW4MW

    KW4MW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ok – instead of piling onto the “other thread” lets just say my approach to the uses of alternate energy forms is simply to be pragmatic. I have and always will be a conservationist but I’ll never be an environmentalist.

    The different IMHO is that a conservationist takes a look at all the issues and makes the best choice based upon all the available data and from that data they implement the best course of action instead of knee jerk reactions and emotional outpourings that are akin to a having a deeply religious experience.

    I think there are some good ideas out there for alternate energy us but they need continue development to increase efficiency along with cost reduction. Also, one must realize that alternate energy sources like wind and solar vary with weather conditions and that a method must be provided to store excess energy when available and switching to the grid when necessary. Otherwise you will have to watch TV by candlelight :D

    At one time I considered adding a solar water heater to my home and I think that the cost at that time was well over $1000 to have it installed and at $400 for me to by the materials and install it my self. I realized that my investment, even if I did the install would not be recouped for ~8 years. I also realized that both my wife and I were away from home for at least 10 hours a day and slept for another 6 -8 and so instead I installed an electrical timer that shut off the water heater while we were away and again while we slept, having it come on 1 hour before we used it for showering and washing dishes and overriding the timer when washing clothes. The timer cost me $29.95 at Ace.

    I also considered installing a solar water heater for my pool, here in FL, latitude 30N a pool solar heater actually extends the pool use for only 6 – 8 weeks and is idle the rest of the year. I solve that problem by using about 200 feet of dark green 5/8” garden hose that I had on hand, connecting one end of the hose to a pool jet, flaking the hose out on the pool deck and allowing the other end to drain back into the pool. The water temp coming out of the hose was about 8 degrees warmer than what was going in.

    Here in this adult community some folks consider me a pariah because I opposed our community paying for recyclables pickup. The city does not provide refuse pickup for multi-family dwellings and we pay a private contractor to empty the compactor of MSW once a week. The added cost to the community would be $165/mo. to pick up recyclables. I don’t oppose recycling but the reality is that this county only achieves a 45% recycling rate, the rest is land filled. The national recycling average BTW is around 34%. My premise is simply that the county is already saturated with over twice as much recyclables as they can ever dispose of and we would just be paying for the privilege of adding recyclables to landfill stream.

    Ironically, the three major proponents for our community recycling all own and maintain two homes and are using energy to maintain both of them 24/7/365. Notwithstanding the fact that the weather has been pleasant these last few weeks, all three are keeping their homes closed up and the A/C turned on. Our recreational center is less than ½ mile away along a scenic nature path however these same individuals will each drive their vehicles over there and back at least once a day. Unfortunately this seems to be the norm for a lot of green advocates, the "do as I say, not as I do crowd".

    I guess my point is this – sure, there are alternate energy sources but until I start seeing a lot of solar panels on commercial buildings (instead of gov’t bldgs) I’ll know the cost is still too prohibitive for the average consumer. The same goes for wind turbines, when corporations begin investing them as energy sources to provide power to office buildings or factories I’ll sit up and take notice. In both cases without gov't subsidies.

    And also, if you really want to make alternate energy systems work, you are going to have to make some sacrifices yourselves. For example do you really need whole house CH&A or need to take a shower for twenty minutes? How about walking or bicycling to the Mini-mart instead of driving?

    Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

    Ok – Rant over and ducking for cover.
  2. KG4NEL

    KG4NEL Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's a question of priorities - just as ham radio ops we spend can spend thousands to do the same thing that a cell phone can do, a lot of people out there spend thousands to do what the local utility can do for pennies in comparison. Given that parallel, I'm surprised to see the reaction I do on here.

    Personally, I'd produce my own power simply because I'm a geek for that kind of thing, and it'd be worth it to stop being a "consumer" in that regard :)
  3. 2E0OZI

    2E0OZI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Dude you need to be ducking for cover - you actually suggested that people walk or cycle instead of driving! Sure you ain't been having too many qsos with us European hams??? :cool:

    But seriously thats a well thought out contribution, with one exception the subsidies. I think its been pointed out that the competitors to green /renewable energy sorces either are, or have been massively subsidised. In the UK (first place to get nuclear power on the grid at Calder Hall) the power generation industry was in part a by-product of MASSIVE investment in an atomic weapons program independant of the US. Same in the US, the Govt gave breaks to nuclear power and probably still do for all I know in the interests of national security. Oil have been given tax breaks etc...

    So we cant really have a level playing field anytime - billions have already been given in subsidies and breaks to the established coal, gas and nuclear industries. But I digress;

    I do like where you are coming from - instead of building more power stations we should be using our energy more efficiently, insulating our homes, using CF lights or LEDs where possible, passive solar design of new houses should be encouraged vigourously. And many more measures...

    And 4 minute "Navy" showers as a former submariner friend of mine calls them. I admit I'm a 10 minute guy at the moment, but for a long time there I kept it down to 4.
  4. N0SYA

    N0SYA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Could one not take a radiator fan/motor unit from any recent make of car and add a wind vane, mount it on a pole via a bearing and feed the output to a battery for a cheap windgen?
  5. K8MHZ

    K8MHZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Probably just as easy as one could use a fan motor in place of an alternator.

    Why not just start with an alternator and put a propeller on that? A car alternator can put out 1200 watts.
  6. W7JZE

    W7JZE QRZ Lifetime Member #84 Life Member Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Me too. But, I used to have a 4 minute sized body. Now I have a 10 minute sized body. Energy used per square inch is still the same [​IMG].

    On topic: I don't hate windmills / windmill farms either. Actually, I rather like the look of them, but maybe I have a warped sense of esthetics? Lot's of other stuff about me is warped too [​IMG].

    Esthetics aside... I also enjoy watching the blades go round and round knowing that for each revolution, it is another gallon* of oil that did not get imported. A gallon here, a gallon there, pretty soon you're talkin' real tankage!

    Also, the cost of oil should not just be measured in dollars and compared to windmills / solar / other green. The cost of oil (regretfully) also needs to include the political cost and the cost of our young people's blood.

    So sad, but it is more than just the money.

    (* Gallon, pint, barrel... whatever, you get the point.)
  7. KG4NEL

    KG4NEL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Lots of wind turbine homebrewers have tried. The problem is that car alternators are built to be efficient at high RPM; makes sense as they're turned off the belt that's moving pretty fast. If you had wind speeds that were going that fast, I'd be running underground :D

    Low-speed generators are much larger:

  8. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nuclear Power Plants/ Natural Gas/Our Crude Oil Drilling/Refineries and Hydroelectric Dams the smart way to go, finally Washington is seeing something with Nuclear Plants getting the go ahead by the President Finally.
  9. N2EY

    N2EY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I hate to tell you this, but....

    Here in the USA, very little oil is used to make electricity.



    the figures in 2009 were:

    Coal - 44.9%
    Natural Gas - 23.4%
    Nuclear - 20.3%
    Conventional Hydroelectric - 6.9%
    Renewable (wind, solar, tidal, biomass, etc.) - 3.6%
    Petroleum - 1%

    Remember, those are figures from 2009. The trend has been to use more natural gas, solar and wind, less oil.

    Much of the use of petroleum for electricity generation is in old standby systems and in Alaska. Oil is just too expensive to use for making electricity.

    And in the cost to the environment from things like Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizons. And in the trade deficit. And in the long-term economic effects.

    This is what I mean by a hidden subsidy. Imagine if the cost of, say, the Gulf Wars was paid directly from the price of gasoline, heating oil, etc....

    Fun fact: The USA now imports less than half its oil:


    The uses of oil in the USA by sector are:

    Transportation - 72%
    Industrial - 22%
    Residential & Commercial - 5%
    Electricity - 1%


    73 de Jim, N2EY
  10. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page


    Where are the magnets ? Do you have a picture of them ?

    Last I checked the magnets were a big part of the homebrew cost. They are very strong and expensive.
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