Tilting at Windmills

With the global warming hoax collapsing around the world, this is an opportune time to reveal another inconvenient truth about the green revolution.

A disturbing and underreported trend has revealed itself to the wind power industry in the form of burning windmills. The gear oil lubricating windmill generator transmissions can’t withstand the tremendous pressures to which it is exposed, resulting in fires from the heat buildup and catastrophic equipment loss.

No company has been able to solve this problem, but the government recently awarded Dow-Corning a grant to work on a solution.

This seems to be further proof that environmentalists’ dreams of an energy utopia are going up in smoke as they continue to tilt at proverbial alternative energy windmills.

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10 Responses to Tilting at Windmills

  1. Shirley A Raney says:

    Interesting and of course always problems with every industry. We will have to wait and see as with many many other problems.

  2. SiGraybeard says:

    Linked back to from my blog. Thanks.

  3. Roy Gilson says:

    Thank you for posting these pictures. I recently got into an argument with some of my friends about global warming and how anyone with half a brain can see that it is just a lie. I tried explaining to them our point of view but it fell on deaf ears. I actually even got into how poor “green” technology is. To argue their point, they showed me a few different websites and presented some pretty interesting evidence backed by some fairly prestigious scientists. I wasn’t going to be satisfied until I proved that I knew more than my friends and thus could terminate the argument. So I made them look up the scientists backgrounds…and you know what I saw? One scientist who was perpetuating the myth that is global warming /climate change was a hardcore liberal and two others had spoken in support of teaching the “myth” of evolution in school. It really goes to show you can’t trust educated people anymore. The way I see it, G-d gave us this planet as a gift and He won’t let anything bad happen to it (or us). Maybe if people had more faith they could see that. It’s a shame really. Just that it’s a shame that we are spending so much money trying to live in harmony with the planet. So what? Just because every other living organism on this planet lives in harmony with their environment and that’s working out great for “them” doesn’t mean humans have to. So maybe we won’t have the rain forests in X decades, and we won’t have the coral reefs to look at anymore, who cares? I didn’t care to see them now, so I won’t miss them when there gone. If anything, the destruction of the rain forest will be a blessing. It will drive out the indigenous tribes that have lived so long in harmony and peace with the environment. Then and only then, can we begin teaching them about Jesus Christ and how his mother was a virgin when she gave birth to him. Wait, that doesn’t make sense. Wait, and neither does your post. Wait, what are you arguing? Just because there have been a few fires with wind turbines that proves global warming is a hoax? That we shouldn’t strive to develop clean energy? Because you know, even if global warming turns out to be comparable to past generations claiming the world is flat, pollution is still awful for living organisms, and we really should work together to live in harmony with the environment. I’m going to go hang out with my liberal friends and have open intercourse with fellow human beings now. They get it.

  4. Stephen Besch says:

    Roy, I am going to try very hard to not get abusive in my response. I can see why you are getting into so many arguments about the environment, evolution, etc. You are failing to distinguish between data – that is, things that can be observed – and the interpretation of that data. I understand that you have very strong religious beliefs and that is wonderful. My advice, on the otherhand, is that you make an effort to leave matters of the secular interpretation of the world we live in to those who have bothered to accumulate real knowledge of the facts. First, on global warming, the real evidence is overwhelming. Before you respond – read the 20,000 pages or so of available evidence on the subject. Read the real scientific articles, not the re-interpreted palaver that is so often trotted out by climate deniers. After you’ve made a real study of the subject – 4 or 5 years of hard work – then your opinion will mean something. As for your discounting of the experts based on their political positions, I suspect that you don’t actually know any scientists at all. I personally know dozens of them and I am yet to meet one – even one – whose politacal persuasion affects their scientific judgement. I wish I could say the same for the climate deniers! Moving on to your criticism of any scientist for their views on evolution, I will simply repeat my advice regarding climate science. READ – and read real stuff, not the opinions only of poeple who think just like you. Read the science not the make believe. But- before you start, learn the difference between data and opinion. Evolution is not an opinion or a theory that is subject to question. It is data – that is, it is observation. You can see it (if you bother to look). It’s right before your eyes – in the fossil record, in the fact of bacterial resistance to antbiotics, etc. There are countless examples. You can question the theories that seek to explain all this data. They are flawed and incomplete – virtually everyone agrees about this. What you cannot question is the data. You can ignore it, you can pretend that it’s not there, but you do so at your peril. Denying evolution only makes you look like a fool. However, denying the very real climate issues that man has encumbered upon himself is foolish and dangerous.
    By the way, none of this in contrary to your believe in God or Jesus. If God in fact came up with the “method” of biological and chemical evolution to permit “intelligent” life to arise and flourish then one would have to consider him the most brilliant scintist in the history of the universe! The only thing that I have left to say, is that if God did in fact “gift” this planet to us, does that in any way mitigate our responsibility to husband it properly. God gives you the gift of children too. Would you even for an instant consider trashing them the way we are trashing the earth?

  5. Matt Whiney says:

    If a windmill is such a great source of electrical energy, why is it that the government has to subsidise wind turbines for them to be profitable.
    Global warming is a theory, it is not a law like the law of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics. When you try asking the question; why is CO2 such a strong insulator of heat in the atmosphere? I never seem to find the answer, maybe I need to a special degree to understand this. I mean, it makes up currently a whopping 388 parts per million of the compostion of our atmosphere, that’s one amazing insulator, why don’t we use that magic gas in between window panes to create super insulting windows for your house. That would be green, but maybe Obama’s window buddy in Ohio isn’t smart enough to figure out how to do that at his window factory.
    But, I am a simple minded person who has to pay the electric bill and the taxes that make these worthless windmills a realty when they should simply be a fantasy. Look up how much it costs per megawatt hr to just operate a windmill vs. a coal power plant, not to mention the capital outlay used to build the eyesoars.
    To be fair, don’t you think the government should also offer subsidies to coal burning electricity producers to help “clean up” the 83 types of “toxins” the EPA claims are coming from coal burners. But I imagine all the cronies like Jeffery Immel at GE, and John Rowe at Exelon, and so fourth wouldn’t gain as much profits on “cleaning up” the cheapest most abundant form of energy on the planet, COAL, instead go for the retarded solution; wind, after all wind just sounds better when spoken with a lisp.

  6. Stephen Besch says:

    Mat, it’s good that you are at least thinking about these things. I think that I can answer a few of your questions, at least partially. “If a windmill is such a great source of electrical energy, why is it that the government has to subsidise wind turbines for them to be profitable?” For the same reason that the government subsidised (and still does) the coal, oil and gas industries: profitability depends upon infrastructure cost as well as resource cost. If you do full cost accounting (ie. add in the cost of everything needed to deliver 1 watt equivalent energy, including subsidies,clean-up, environmental, etc, etc) then oil, gas and coal don’t look nearly so profitable. The secret is simply that the big profit making entities don’t usually have to pay any of the associated costs – we do.

    “Global warming is a theory, it is not a law like the law of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics. When you try asking the question; why is CO2 such a strong insulator of heat in the atmosphere?” This is not all that hard. CO2 is not an insulator. The problem is that it is a really strong absorber of heat radiation (i.e. infrared light). The volume of the atmosphere is so huge that it doesn’t take very much additional CO2 to trap a rather significant amount of additional energy (as heat), thereby upsetting the balance of heat-loss to heat-gain. What’s more is that it really isn’t just “warming” per-se that’s the problem – it’s the added energy. That additional energy increases climate instability, just as it would in any system. Think about what happens when too much energy is added to a stick of dynamite – not pretty is it. And, by the way, Global Warming is NOT A THEORY, it’s an observation. The theories are about explaining it and thereby understanding it and it’s consequences.

    “why don’t we use that magic gas in between window panes to create super insulting windows for your house?” Reiterating that CO2 is not an insulator, in fact it actually has a rather high thermal conductivity. But, to be fair, there are double pane windows that are filled with gasses of relatively low thermal conductivity (e.g., argon) for just this purpose. It doesn’t work that great, but it helps.

    So, what’s the real problem with Coal, Oil, and Gas? That’s a tough question, but here’s something you won’t hear much about, but it does bear consideration. Let’s go back 3.5 billion years. Earth’s atmosphere was essentially CO2, Methane and Ammonia – not a very pleasant place and utterly incompatible with life as we know it. Nature “invented” tricks to get rid most of this stuff which then allowed life to flourish. 1) A lot of the methane was dissolved in the oceans and crystallized into methane hydrates down deep as the earth cooled(still there today). Estimates run into the thousands of gigatons of methane. 2) The ammonia was converted into Nitrogen. 3) The CO2 was reduced to Carbon (in several forms) and Oxygen by early life forms. Not until most of the carbon was sequestered did life really take off. This process took nearly 3 billion years. Now, we are hell bent on digging up all this sequestered carbon and converting it back into CO2 as fast as we possibly can. How much warming is necessary before we start melting all those methane hydrates and converting our oxygen rich atmosphere into one giant methane bomb? Have you ever watched what happens to a person breathing too much CO2? It’s not pretty. I don’t know if this scares you, but it sure as hell scares me. I don’t want to find this out by waiting to see what happens. Do you?

    Based on this line of thinking, I would have to say that the only proper place for all that carbon is just where nature put it. It’s there for a reason – being there made our life possible. Seems to me that solar and wind power is starting to look pretty cheap by comparison.

  7. Stephen Besch says:

    It’s been a while since the original post was made regarding burning windmills and almost as long since my last comment. I should have made this comment then, but was distracted by some of the other issues that I have already commented on. Nevertheless, I still feel that some comments are justified. First, the implication is given that this is a much worse problem than it really must be. The real incidence of burning windmills is extremely small relative to the number of installed machines. Of the several thousand I have personally seen, there has never been a single case of a burndown or, apparently, even a burnout. That puts incidence at well below 0.1%. Second, is speculation about the causes. The notion that modern lubricants cannot withstand the “pressures” generated is just silly. Pressures generated by large bulldozers are at least an order of magnitude larger, and, those are not exploding into flames. From a long distance analysis, which is more keeping with engineering reality, the problem is vastly more likely to be an electrical failure in the generator (rather common in all kinds of generators) which in turn ignited oil residues, leading to a full blown and catastrophic failure of the mill. In typical generating plants, such failures are handled quickly by on-site fire control measures. I would agree that such measures in free standing Windmills are more of a problem, but, a problem that is relatively easy to solve. Finally, I would bet the ranch that the Dow Lubricant grant is to find non-flammable lubricants to address exactly this problem, not lubricants that can “take the pressure”. If the lubricants can’t burn, then a winding fire in a generator would be essentially self-extinguishing and self-limiting, i.e., problem solved: repair the generator, just as would be done with any stationary generator in any power generating plant on the planet.

  8. Steven Dawson says:

    Cheers Stephen, May reason prevail !!

  9. Jp says:

    How about a generator which uses superconductivity. Magnetic force that requires no lubricant due to special housing that levitates the moving parts. Its been done on small scale, and the cost of the lubricant can go out the window saving yet another oil and environmental issue, which one would think, make the windmill more efficient and cost effective when building them. Or a complete rebuild of the windmill design altogether.
    I thought i saw someone create a wind generator that produces electricity without having any “blades” at all. It is just a ribbon that vibrates as wind passes over it. we just need large scale versions of this. No huge threatening blades spinning and killing birds , bats or stray airplane.

  10. Stephen Besch says:

    Steven, it’s is nice to know that there is someone out there paying attention. Thanks for taking the time to read what I’ve written! Now, here are some thoughts about Jp’s musings:

    First, a bit about superconductivity. It helps to now a bit about resistance and why it’s there in the first place. In metals at least, electrons can move about easily because they don’t really belong to any particular atom so that when a current is flowing they can drift along without losing much energy. However, thermal vibrations of the atoms means an occasional collision, which impedes the movement of electrons – hence producing electrical resistance. These collisions also impart some of their energy to the vibrating atoms, making them vibrate still more (that is, they heat up), increasing the collisions and therefore the resistance (semiconductors are a different story, but that’s another issue altogether). Now, if you cool the metal enough to essentially stop the vibrations, then resistance will be minimized – not to zero, but close enough. Nevertheless, there are a few odd-ball materials that have just the right quantum structure as to actually achieve a true “zero” resistance. These are the so-called superconductors.

    It has been the dream of physicists to create materials that superconduct at room temperatures, but such materials have remained more of a dream than a reality, they’ve gotten closer but not quite there – and this is the problem with your idea of using superconductors to make a super generator: More energy is used keeping the coils cool than is practical, making net efficiency very low. Furthermore, all known superconductors lose their superconductivity at high current densities – and this is very bad for your hypothetical generator. Someday we may have the technology to pull this off, but don’t expect anything soon.

    Lastly, the vibrating ribbon idea is rather cool. It’s based on the idea that any conductor moving in a magnetic field will generate an electric current. You can think of this as the magnetic field sort of “pulling” the electrons along as the wire moves and the field stays stationary. So, why not build a wind-generator this way? There are at least 3 technical obstacles: 1) Obtaining a high enough coupling efficiency of the ribbon to the wind is extremely difficult – windmill blades are much more efficient. 2) Generating sufficient energy would require thousands of these ribbons for each generator, all oscillating about in the wind. 3) For high efficiency, enormous magnetic fields would be required. These things make this an almost insoluble engineering problem – in fact, it is insoluble using today’s technology.

    Oh – about the oil issue. Using oils as lubricants is really rather benign. It’s burning oil that’s the problem. Also keep in mind where lubricants are used in a windmill. It’s not so much to lubricate the bearings for the blade axle – although certainly this is needed. The real lubricant issue is in the gear box that couples the slowly revolving blade to a much more rapidly rotating generator. In terms of amount, this is an infinitesimally insignificant amount of oil compared to what we burn up every day. You could very likely lubricate all the windmills on earth for thousands upon thousands of years with the oil we burn in one day! Things like this do tend to keep ones perspective a little more realistic.

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