This post is about how absurd it is to suppose that windmills can maintain an ever-increasing prosperity on earth by providing sufficient energy. It cannot be done!

The title I gave this post is my assertion that we MUST burn fuel to have enough energy to live without slaves. Specifically, inexpensive and freely available energy is what allows all of us westerners to live like kings of old. We accomplish with fuel and electricity what used to be accomplished only with grueling human labor.

We must burn our carbon fuels, we must burn our nuclear fissile fuel, and we must harness the power of the stars, hydrogen. We cannot burn hydrogen in air the way we burn carbon fuels. We must fuse it to make helium.

Regarding hydrogen, you are probably aware enough to have noticed that hydrogen-burning cars are cyclically touted then forgotten. Hydrogen seems like such good fuel, but it is not. There is no hydrogen gas on earth. We have no reserves. We must make it, primarily from carbon fuels. (How dumb is that?) Hydrogen must be considered the same as a battery. Hydrogen cars have far more problems than electric (battery) cars. Thus, no one is actually dumb enough to throw money at hydrogen-based vehicles.

Fusion is twenty years away, just as it has been for about 70 years now. So, let’s not worry about it for the moment. We have at least 100 years of reserves in the carbon fuels, probably 300 years, even if we need to depend on them that long with ever-increasing fuel consumption rates.

Nuclear fission, the regular kind we’ve done safely for decades, and the newer kinds yet to be developed to full commercial application, will last several centuries. We can reasonably suppose nuclear fission power production will be a human activity on earth for millenia.

So, back to the “renewables”.

Plain and simple, energy production methods politically defined as renewable are pipe-dream. All of them! Ethanol is simply welfare for farmers, and it has recently fallen into disfavor with even the environmentalists. Solar, well, solar will continue, because we keep finding better and cheaper ways to do it. It has many useful niche applications, and solar is here to stay, but do the math. Solar cannot do what we need to replace the solar energy stored over eons in the form of fossil fuels. So, we must burn that stored solar energy.

Water is great. We have some significant potential there, but we have already tapped most of it, and the greens, championed by the likes of AlGore, want to tear down the damns we already have. Tides have potential (see reference below), but we probably will never figure out how to do enough with it to matter.

So, to windmills.

In approximately 1979 (±3 years), I became convinced that windmills were the way to save the world. (Youthful exuberance.) I don’t recall what spurred me, but it was probably something in Grandpa’s Scientific American and Popular Science issues. (SciAm politicized some years back, and I consider it worthless now.) Regardless of the impetus, I spent several hours over a few days at the public library looking up references in the big books and in the periodicals and literature indexed, and at first I grew more enthusiastic. The wind patterns are not positioned quite right, but the amount of wind energy potentially harnessable is awesome. However, as I researched what would be involved with the harnessing and the infrastructure to do it, I realized how impossible it all was. Note, this was before any training in physics and engineering. I know why now, but I could still tell it was impossible back then.

In the late 1990s I was spurred to optimism again by the astonishing advances made in windmill technology at that time. 20 years made a big difference, but when I started researching again, this time with the extra reach and easy of the internet, I again became completely convinced that wind will never contribute significantly to the weal of mankind.

This simple approach to envisioning the problem should suffice for everyone willing to try. Windmills are rotating machines. Consider what it takes to make good, reliable, efficient, durable rotating machines. The primary requirement is mass. The bigger the better. The big-block Chevy engine comes to mind, but think factories with the huge, multiton machines running around the clock for years at a time, tended only by a small crew who mainly just kept everything greased and oiled. A little tightening here, a replaced part there.

Such straightforward, proven practice is not possible on top of stories-tall poles. Accordingly, modern industrial fans employ many compromises in their designs, compromises that detract from durability and reliability, increasing maintenance requirements and downtime.

The bottom line is that windmills require too much maintenance and are too unreliable to ever provide a significant portion of our electrical energy requirements.

Note, straight up, the end result of making energy high-priced or unavailable is to increase the suffering and death of some people, starting with the poorest.

Regarding that pain and suffering, I can do no better than refer you to an autobiographical sketch by Willis Eschenbach,  http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/01/13/we-have-met-the-1-and-he-is-us/, where he describes some of the true poverty he has personally encountered. He makes the point that the only real hope for the poor at that level is for more abundance of inexpensive power. He also says in an update added after some comments, “a reader has pointed out that I am not describing the poorest of the poor, and he is quite correct. Helena had her job. The African farmer had a house and land, and not to mention originally two, but lately only one, chicken. The people in the Solomons had their bush gardens and the bountiful ocean.

“The poorest of the poor have none of these things. They are a whole level below the people I talk about. You don’t want to consider where they sleep or what they eat. And yes, they are hit by rising energy prices like everyone else.”

Further, Willis supported his assertion with data, here, http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/15/james-hansens-policies-are-shafting-the-poor/

Still, let’s make it personal. If windmills were responsible for a significant chunk of our energy, what happens when the wind doesn’t blow? What if prevailing conditions of Pacific and northern oscillations converged such that the weather conspired to produce a super outbreak of tornadoes and high winds that devastated our fields of ugly, noisy industrial fans AND followed up with days of stillness due to a huge blocking pattern as is so common here in the central plains of the US? What will power our emergency systems through such devastation? We could have the same with another Katrina. Industrial fans are not that sturdy. They cannot be, or we cannot afford to put them up. Whose daughter will die in an unpowered operating room JUST because there is no coal-fired power plant available from which to pull power to the hospital?

Enviro-radicals like to call names. They like to claim that those who want more coal, oil, and natural gas usage are villains who conspire to kill future generations. However, it is their policies that will kill us and our children today. It is their policies that force people to use biofuel (dung) to heat their scant meals in cardboard shanties. The enviroes and greens are the violent, hostile ones. It is they who call for jailing of people like me. They are the religious radicals trying to provide sacrifices for their goddess Gaia, sacrifices that would make the priests of Moloch blush.

Not having seen the new Noah, I am only guessing, plus I cannot discern motives, but I wonder if the average green envisions himself in the role of Noah as [apparently] depicted in the latest epic. I have noticed that most greens seem to resemble Agent Smith as he first confronted Neo, viewing humanity as the scourge of the earth rather than the only reason we have for trying to care for the earth, our current home.

Far afield of windmills it seems. So, what prompted me to write was an article by the paid shill, Jeff Nesbit. He writes from fantasy land or worse, and LiveScience carried it here: http://www.livescience.com/44450-power-of-coastal-winds.html

Asserting that anything but fossil fuels can power “every single car” in the USA is just nonsense. It is impossible for the expectable future. (Eventually we will solve the battery problem, and then we will use electric cars, because electric motors have substantial advantages of the internal combustion engine. However, we will still be generating the electricity to charge those batteries with fossil fuels and nuclear fission power.

Nesbit utterly ignores the engineering required to do what he claims can be done. He makes hyperbolic claims and pretends we can take advantage of it. He’s talking about ocean based windmills, and he seems to be unaware of all the problems that hinder progress in that field, not to mention disrupting and killing fish, dolphins, and orca.

He stuffs in the claim that the fossil fuel industries and people like me are lying to you, but do the math. I never expect you to believe anything I say. Check for yourself. Question everything. Better yet, look at the billionaire who tried. T. Boone Pickens admitted to his lickin’, and he aint dumb enough to keep throwing money at a money loosing proposition.

Nesbit pretends I must not be considering recent information technology advances if I disagree with him. I think he is not considering what has actually held back most things lately, and that is government meddling.

I happened upon this nonsense article with a Google search for something related to what I’m writing here. http://www.businessinsider.com/citi-the-age-of-renewables-is-beginning–2014-3 The proof will be in the puddin’. When people lose their life savings on these sad schemes, how will these people sleep at night?

Here is a full explanation of why wind cannot work. https://www.mininginstitute.org.uk/papers/courtney.html While the article is technical, he keeps things basic. He is also rather fundamental, as in pointing out that all the energy we can use is simply taking advantage of the fact that the big bang happened, and the universe is running down to heat-death. Such fundamental statements help us keep things bounded in reality, not fantasy. BTW, how many windmills are dead and abandoned in the USA, particularly California and Hawaii?

He makes a few suggestions that might work. The problem is cost. Nesbit pooh-poohs that factor asserting it is almost only a matter of will. He ignores the fact that there is no will for spending money to totally reinvent our energy infrastructure when what we have works pretty well. The only way to accomplish what he wants is by government force and coercion, and lots of death and suffering.

 

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