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Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/25/2006 11:34 PM

I am visiting Chicago and surprisingly I dt see any wind turbines there. Where as there are thousands of these turbines generating gigawatts of power in California.

Is it becaue we have givenup wind as a resource in the urban and semi-urban areas? Is it because of our concern for the birds which may get killed by these huge rotating monsters?

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Anonymous Poster
#1

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/26/2006 10:51 PM

Not to take away from the understanding as Chicago being called the "Windy City", as I have been there Many times, and the wind does indeed blow there off of Lake Michigan, however, I saw a documentary on TV that said that the "Long Winded Politicians" of years ago caused people to coin the term 'Windy City"....

Just a thought....

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Anonymous Poster
#2

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/26/2006 11:15 PM

For the same reason that there are no solar farms in Sahara Desert. In extreme south of Chile, in Magallanes tundra prairies you can also found winds above 100 Km/h year round.

These huge rotating monsters should have a metal mesh painted with reflective colors and equipped with lights and high frequency flutes to warn migratory birds in impact trajectory towards the blades. It is suspected that some migratory birds species fly sleeping after the leader, just keeping minimum awareness for any new order for slight direction or altitude error corrections. However I have never heard about birds impacting those monster blades.

Jaime Soto Figueroa

http://www.matharts.cl/

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#7
In reply to #2

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/27/2006 9:12 AM

I've always been impressed with the "V" formation of geese in flight. I noticed that one side always seems longer than the other. After many inquiries I found that is because "There are more Geese on that side!"

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Anonymous Poster
#3

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/26/2006 11:30 PM

Doesn't Chicago's reputation as the "Windy City" have political, rather than meteorological, origins? Whatever the reason, well-scrubbed, washed-out white middle-class suburbanites have a congenital aversion to such things here in the Midwest and wouldn't stand for it. When you think of the furor raised over suburban cell towers, can you imagine the sheer havoc a 60-meter-high wind turbine would wreak on psyche of White Nirvana? Good Gawd! Every psychotherapist and group counsellor from Pittsburgh to Fargo would be drowning in hordes of frenzied, traumatized Trophy Wives, Soccer Moms, Lawn Nazis, Casper Milquetoast/Mr. Hyde Corporate Suits and every other Master-Planned-Community denizen and cul-de-sac dweller imaginable; all seeking immediate relief from the latest threat to Universal Conformity!

Leave Innovation to somebody else. We're all fat, dumb, and happy here in the The Land of Missed Opportunity.

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Anonymous Poster
#4

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/26/2006 11:48 PM

The wind blows pretty much constantly along the Lake Michigan shoreline from Washington Island (near Green Bay) all the way to Chicago. The entire shoreline is pretty heavily populated so the only place to put windmills is in the lake itself, and they would have to be reasonably close to shore to catch the land and see breezes. Of course, no one wants them in their back yard (just like the Kennedys in Mass.) to obscure their view of the lake.

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#5

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/27/2006 12:04 AM

Its basically simple economics. Outside of paid off hydroelectric facilities, the cheapest power is from coal fired power plants, and the midwest is full of them. Barring political pressure and subsidies of one form or another, wind power is still not competitive economically. The answer may be to place a cost on pollution to take the harm to the environment into account in the economics of it all but barring that, coal, oil and gas still have the edge.

I fully expect that someone will do a followup post claiming that such and such a facility or study or breakthrough etc is wildly cost effective or that its a conspiracy by the energy companies, but its just dollars and cents. Yes there is some inertia to keep the status quo, but as soon as there is money to be made off of generating electricity from wind farms, they will be all over the place. Like solar power, the wind is free, but the investment, land, maintenance, and integration of the power into the grid when the wind is blowing or the sun shining and the power can be used are not.

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Associate

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/27/2006 6:03 AM

why dos'nt some one invent a rain farm to produce electricity,a large inverted funnel would probably do it,its been raining here every day since june apart apart from a tropical heatwave for 2 weeks in august.im in ireland of course

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#8

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/27/2006 9:29 AM

For siting Wind turbines one generally looks for wind that is reasonbly constant in velocity (remember that includes direction) and this requires unobstructed wind streams. The skyline of Chicago would reak havoc on wind direction so you would need to place them far enough away (or above) the city to avoid that effect.

The best bet really is in the great lakes themselves, very steady high wind velocities. There is no reason they need to be close to shore other than the already large expense of sub-marine construction gets larger the deeper you go (I've never heard of catching "land" and "sea" breezes as a reason for keeping them close to shore).

And I would argue that it isn't just Midwesterners that are resistant to this stuff, seems to me the Nantucket windfarm met a bit of resistance as well.

All in all it does come down to economics. Although it is very close it actually needs to get cheaper than everything else to overcome the indirect negative costs such as aesthetic concerns and other negative feelings not to mention the technical challenges not the least of which is balancing a constantly changing supply into the grid. (birds are not a problem, that was an issue only with older small very high-speed turbine blades placed in raptor mating grounds many times more birds are killed by house windows, domestic cats, and cars than will ever ever be killed by wind turbines)

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/27/2006 9:54 AM

Thanks for the clear and rational comment. There is a "right place" for these wind machines. I have driven by extensive wind farms in northern Iowa just west of Hwy 35. They are actually beautiful, OK maybe a bit of a stretch, but it feels good to see the commitment to something sustainable.

Let's keep supporting whats important for the future.

Thanks

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Anonymous Poster
#10

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/27/2006 10:22 AM

Actually, if you go directly west of Chicago on I-90 and south from Rockford on I-39 you will see a wind farm.

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Anonymous Poster
#18
In reply to #10

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/28/2006 4:15 PM

It's quicker and shorter to go west of Chicago on I-88 and South on I-39 to see this wind farm.

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Anonymous Poster
#11

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/27/2006 10:33 AM

Seshkanuri:

You ask a very good question regarding wind generation near Chicago. The lack of wind generators probably has more to do with economics than any technical or political reason. The cost of land around Chicago is at a premium price. To produce even a small fraction of the enormous electricity demands of the Chicago area would require a large area with hundreds of large wind turbines. The cost of the land and the cost to purchase and maintain the wind turbines outweighes the practical application in the Chicago metro area. If you saw the movie "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", you would have noted that when Chicago resident Clark Griswold plugged in his thousands of Christmas lights, a reserve nuclear plant was brought online to power his lights. All kidding aside, in recent years, approximately 70 percent of the electricity used in Chicago and distributed by Comed has been generated by 11 nuclear reactors in Illinois operated by Exelon, with a capacity of approximately 11,000 Megawatts per hour. The rest has come from coal fired plants or purchased from other utilities. The electricity market in Illinois is currently being deregulated to allow competition of suppliers. If it were profitable to produce electricity using wind near Chicago, you can bet that someone like Comed or Exelon would be doing it right now, but it is currently cheaper to produce electricity in bulk using nuclear and coal fired generation.

Throughout the state of Illinois, there are several small scale wind generators operating in rural areas where the land is cheap, and the generators can produce enough average power to run a small community. There is currently a project underway to build a wind generator to power a small rural school district in Illinois. I believe it is the Erie, IL school district.

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Commentator

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#14
In reply to #11

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/27/2006 2:45 PM

I agree with the economic aspects of the power generation using Windturbines in urban areas. But I am of the opinion that there is no will on the part of the politicians and other polcy making entities to make a difference in the current situation. There are no subsidies given to the owners of these installations be they the homw owners or industries. If a third of their cost can be given as incentive to the buyers spreading across tax write offs, cash incentives and other such goodies, I am sure they will take off.

In Urban areas of Chicago, there are these large corporations who currently own large swathes of land as "Office Campuses" containing a few buildings but keeping 50 to 80 percent of the land vacant. This space can be used to generate power using Vertical Axis turbines, who may not be as efficient as the big HAWT monsters, but surely can generate 20 to 50% of the power requirements of such offices. I have several examples of such office locations - ex: Discover Office on Lake Cook Road, which can potentially generate 150KW to 500KW on any day.

I do not have exact numbers but Vertical Axis Turbines are available in the price range of $1.5 per Watt to about $2.5 Per Watt of rated power. This is a fraction of the cost of large HAWT Turbines and is a lot lesser than the Solar Photovoltaic systems, which cost about $5 to $7 Per watt. Moreover VAWTs eco friendly and do not kill birds as they rotate at much lesser speed and are visible at any speed.

But we have to remember the non-economic aspects of this power which is free and for life and it obviates the green gases and other eco-unfriendly stuff.

Seshu Kanuri

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#12

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/27/2006 12:39 PM

Traditionally the local utility was not receptive of customer generation of electricity. Its requirements and rate structure greatly decreased the attractiveness of such installations.

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#13

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/27/2006 12:43 PM

Ses- As said numerous times already it comes down to cost- Why would people want to spend more per KW/Hour? Your comment regarding California and 'gigawatts of power' amuses me considering they are the ones forced (rolling-blackouts) to sit in the dark. Most states realize that new technology comes at a price, and their state governments are wise enough not to jump on every new band wagon just because the tune is new. CA is one exception, and it has nothing to do with Democrat or Republican. The current Governor (supposedly a conservative) posed billions be spent on a 'hydrogen highway' Why not build 2 nuclear, or high efficiency coal burning plants for the same cost? This could allow your citizens to literally be enlightened and avoid the blackouts.

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Anonymous Poster
#15

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/27/2006 3:03 PM

The reason that there are large wind power projects in California and Washington is because these states have many liberal voters that have voted to pass laws requiring development of renewable energy regardless of cost. Ironically many of these people also want to breach hydroelectric dams supposedly to save salmon, but the hundreds of nets that are in the rivers bays and ocean have a far greater impact on the population of the species.

The short answer is POLITICS

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#16

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/28/2006 2:44 PM

The "Windy City" got its name from its boasts over the 1893 World's Fair. And the last poster was right...this is all about politics (still...politics has always been at the heart of all big problems). Taxes versus subsidies, regulations versus rights and ecology-du-jour versus preference is what determines policy.

One thing nobody mentioned, however, is where all that energy comes from and what happens to the environment as a result. Do we really believe in free energy? Do we suppose that there is no consequence of soaking up wind energy when we're proposing to do this on an enormous scale?

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/28/2006 3:25 PM

andyhorning wrote: "One thing nobody mentioned, however, is where all that energy comes from and what happens to the environment as a result."

and

"...this is all about politics (still...politics has always been at the heart of all big problems)."

-----------

Bingo. The answer is all about politics (and always has been), and so what better answer to our dilemma than to use politicians directly?

And so we arrange a large number of wind turbines in a rectangular array such that one of the array's axes is aligned with the direction of the prevailing winds. Duct-tape an outward-facing politician to the backside of each wind turbine, except for those turbines in the back row. The prevailing winds only have to drive the turbines in the front row and the politicians - who've been ordered to fillibuster (on pain of death, or worse, political exposure) - drive the rest.

On second thought, arrange the turbines in a straight line (less impact on the prevailing winds and, therefore, the environment).

Either way, this implies that politicians are now good for three things:

1) They're an important source of protein,

2) They make excellent Bad Examples,

and

3) They're a renewable energy source.

As with Death, Taxes, and Poverty, we'll always have Politicians, so why not?

-e

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#19
In reply to #17

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/29/2006 6:29 PM

Easily the most entertaining post in the entire thread! Thank you europium. You have prevented the reading of this thread from being a completely fruitless exercise.

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#20
In reply to #17

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/29/2006 6:45 PM

No, this won't work. Politicians always go with the wind, and they're far too slippery for duct tape.

If we get rid of politicians, we'd also be done with taxes, poverty, and maybe even death.

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

12/31/2006 12:13 AM

ROFLMAO!

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Anonymous Poster
#22

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

01/02/2007 5:07 AM

Why is it presupposed that birds crash into monstrous wind turbines, though not into other monstrous objects, like the Sears Tower for example? Now, there's a good elevation for a wind turbine...

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

01/02/2007 5:08 AM

Planes have been known to crash into objects this size...

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#24

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

01/02/2007 6:05 AM

The reason is quite simple: human rigidity.

We don't need those turbines to survive, so why place them?

A nice turbine farm was planned for the coast of Belgium, could only be seen with binoculars on a clear day, but a lady in her 80's has stopped the whole project. It would have spoiled the view on the sea she had paid for.

Look in the poor regions of the world: a turbine makes a whole difference in life quality and surprisingly they make it from what they have, pumping water, grinding, ...

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#25

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

01/02/2007 8:57 AM

The real solution is point-of-service generation, eliminating the cost and waste of the grid system. But batteries are necessary to this, and batteries are expensive and problematic. A secondary issue is looks. Nobody complains about Dutch windmills, or even the rusty, bent, but still copied windmills that still work on many USA farms.

I'm building a windmill to aerate my farm pond, which is a good use for this technology. But it has to look good or my wife will veto it.

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

01/02/2007 9:26 AM

Point of service or small but a lot.

Why does those wind turbines need to be so big, for the same price you can make a lot small turbines, with much less environmental impact.

Typical we have lighting poles along the roads, when we would put a small, vertical turbine on top of these poles we have everything on site: connection to the grid and a consumer. This consumer will not take every J that is supplied so you will have to introduce an energy storage.

A battery is of no use: first the transformation of AC to DC, then charging the battery over its own resistance, later discharging the battery over this resistance and the transformation of DC to AC. This is a waste of energy (most big UPS systems have battery power for some minutes, then the generator should be up and running)

Look to the use of energy in a family dwelling: a big portion goes into heating and heat is very easy to store. So if I would connect an insulated water tank heater to the grid and it only is functional when there is to much energy on my part of the grid I would use the "green" power to heat up water. Later when I need heat I can use an heat exchanger to make warm domestic water.

This type of grid regulation is already used to top of the energy generated by nuclear power generation and we can use it for wind power also. Small short time reaction turbines can do the necessary backup when wind power is to low to keep the grid powered. Modern techniques can make this basic idea more attractive.

This way of storing the excessive wind generated power is greener than all the other: have the energy form that people want and the storage medium has no pollutive effects. It will take down the usage of fossil fuels and so their price. Then we can use oil based energy where it is useful: for mobile system power (transportation,...) and we can drive along the road for years.

Another big advantage: when we would put a lighting pole every 30m along the highways the Russians can't use the highway as landing strip to invade.

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#27
In reply to #26

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

01/02/2007 12:01 PM

That all sounds good, but I've still not heard anyone prove that removing that much power from wind won't affect weather.

We should do the math. How much energy are we proposing we remove from other forms of generation, and what would this do as a result of draining wind energy from high-population areas?

We already know that cities affect the environment through reduced vapor column, wind and temperature moderation. What will windmills do?

You've no doubt heard the "butterfly" scenario. Well, a gazillion windmills amount to far more than a butterfly sneeze!

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#28
In reply to #27

Re: Why there are no windmills generating power in Chicago?

01/03/2007 3:58 AM

I also think that adding windmills is going to affect the wind speed.

You must see the global system as an energy system: the energy is present in the form of heat, wind speed and vaporized material. The heat is transformed in wind speed and back. So when the total energy is rising (global warming) it must reflect in a rise in wind speed.

Strangely, since we do a regular measurement, the average wind speed is gone down. What I don't know is the energy level in the wind as I don't have the exact figures.

The amount of energy in wind is rather low (compared to heat and vapor energy) so the windmill will affect the total system. Wind is also a high level energy that goes very easily over in other forms, the inverse is way less efficient.

So windmills could help to slow down global warming.

At the moment the excessive energy in the atmosphere is absorbed by melting ice, which keeps the temperature level rather constant. This effect hides the real problem that lies ahead. It is also difficult to know exactly how much the energy balance is wrong, that is why so much effort is put in the tracking of the ice thicknesses (who would bother the thickness of the south pole ice to be 3000 or 3005m or 2995m?)

This is also why so many sceptic meteorologists are now swapping to the side of the global warming adepts: they see that the acceleration in the global warming is making jumps, it is speeding up as more and more land bound ice is disappearing (look at Kilimanjaro and the Alpine glaciers)

My proposed system works only on a big scale, single point systems can't handle this. So only governmental driven initiatives could make it work.

But if you are only interested in the thermal energy that could be gained with a windmill fed thermal storage it is fairly easy to have warm domestic water, whole year round. Electric heaters are easy to make and maintain (no moving parts) and the generator can be as simple as possible, you don't need special electronics, except to monitor the thermal level of your tank, and even this could be left out when you would make that tank boiling resistant. So lets build a prototype.

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