back to article UK gov greenlights 450MW wind farm

UK energy minister Malcolm Wicks (who did a brief turn as science minister just before Mr. Blair got his eviction notice from No. 11 stepped down) has given his blessing for a 450MW wind farm to be built off the coast of Cumbria, 14km from Walney Island. Wicks also gave the nod to the overhead connection line that will link a …

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Boffin

Energy saving

My math(s) may be wrong here, but sharing 450mw across 360,000 households equates to 1250 watts a piece, now that's less than a single kettle per house.

That's some serious energy saving we'll have to be doing by 2013

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Thumb Up

CF lightbulbs

Whoopie doo, now can I continue to use tungsten light bulbs please?

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Stop

...and when the 'wind don't blow'

Am I missing something, 24x7x52x30 nuclear power stations are coming to the end of their life, and were investing in windy millers 1900 technology.

Neither is a windmills generating guaranteed (for all intents and purposes) for 30 years, or 52 weeks, or 7 days or even 24 hours. You cant even guarantee that in the next hour power will be flowing.

At least the juice wont be reliable enough for the governments fantastic, alice in wonderland, databases.

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Gates Horns

Windfarsm are a gross waste of money

I hear it costs a lot more to build and maintain a standard propeller-like wind turbine, for its limited lifespan, than the revenue generated by the turbine (given the narrow range of compatible wind speeds), so this looks like a gross waste of tax payers money. I doubt even much higher oil prices will even out the difference, because then Nuclear power becomes more economical.

... however ...

There are alternative turbine designs available, some of which can cope with a much wider range of speed winds, from any direction, without having to be braked, for high winds, these could be better for the variable wind conditions in the UK.

A key problem with electricity generating turbines, of all designs, is you can't just dump the raw electricity on the national grid, you have to synchronize the frequency, phase and voltage output, of the many wind turbines, to the national grid; crude power conversion solutions could waste massive amounts of power. A proper solution would probably need several power conversion stages, to inject power onto the grid, with minimal waste.

It may even be a better idea to have all the wind turbines drive gas, fluid or heat pumps, or even electrolysis cells, then drive a one or more regulated turbines off the stored energy, for the whole site, it could be a lot more efficient and reliable than electrical power converters in the turbines.

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Happy

Tea

It is important that we have all the kettles on constantly.

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Re: "wind turbines drive gas, fluid or heat pumps, or even electrolysis cells.."

Rather than have "wind turbines drive gas, fluid or heat pumps, or even electrolysis cells", if they are located close to a river or ocean (as they said they were in the article) it would make more sense to use them to pump water up to a reservoir and then during windless times let the water generate electricity.

That way, they can use old-fashioned windmill pumps to do the work. Hah-hah...

Talk about Don Quixote...

But then everyone needs another multi-billion dollar nuclear power plant. I think not...

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You can't store the wind...

When the wind does blow, any electrical generation excess to needs cannot simply be stored... Wind power is a constantr variable in a world where energy demand is actually quite predictable. Wind generation ranges from gluttony to famine, with a (hopefully) broad middle range or 'more-or-less right.' Rather often 'less' than 'more,' sadly.

Part of what's needed is an capacity to convert excess to storable resources... Say, using generation surplus to needs to pump water, run desalinization plants, and the like. Or, as suggested above, run electrolysis plants, or some such. then, even when the wind doesn't blow, the stored resource is still there.

Wind power can never be more than a 'nice to have' element of the power grid, barring sudden development of reliable tradewinds off the English coast.

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A paltry 450MW?

450MW is less than the output of one coal fired generator (i.e. < 1/4 of one power station). I totally agree that we need to move to clean and renewable forms of energy, but wind hasn't really been harnessed very well yet.

It takes up huge amounts of space and doesn't make that much electricity. It's also expensive.

The thing to remember is you will always get a lot less energy out of a generator than you put in. Coal runs around 30% efficient if you are *very* lucky, gas is a bit better. Unless you can find an energy source that has a least 3 times the energy in it that we can extract in some form than we need, then we're going to have a problem.

Cutting energy usage will probably have to be the priority for now until we get hydrogen based technologies working.

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Go

20 percent

The electricity system in this country can cope with 20% of it's generation from wind. After that we need to think about storage, smart electricity systems etc. Currently we are at less than 1%.

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Title

of course you can store excess energy - you just stick it into a reservoir. The majority of hydroelectric systems are partially closed systems that use the excess overnight energy production of the coal/nuclear/wind farms to pump water back up into the top lake. It can then be released when it's wanted.

Nuclear power is the ideal - we just need to get past the whole "poison that last a billion years" issue...

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Storing wind power

"You can't store wind power"

Not easily, although there are options (batteries, pumping water uphill, flywheels, heat and insulate), none of which are very efficient.

On the other hand, wind power is MORE reliable than nuclear power at present. Currently 50% of British nuclear power stations are offline, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7082518.stm

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Dead Vulture

Closing the mouth of Morecambe Bay

Yet another nail in the coffin for the wildlife of Morecambe Bay. With the existing Barrow Windfarm, this Walney one, the Shell Flats site recently approved off Cleveleys, the pending Ormonde and West Duddon wind farm projects, and the exisitng gas rigs, there will effectively be a fence across the mouth of Morecambe Bay creating a serious barrier for migrating seabirds. Morecambe Bay is an internationally recognised RAMSAR site for wildlife, yet the goverment appears to be prepared to allow it to be seriously degraded by allowing these developments.

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