tomclarke wrote:Probably most of the bad things about wind turbines were said about roads, electricity pylons, ...
But wind power is not great - average output much smaller than peak and difficult to see how technology can do much to improve efficiency. Whereas solar is still up for grabs. Even if installation/maintenance cost is more or less fixed, increases in efficiency can win, and are hapenning. No fundamental reason with printed thin-film why they should cost much at all.
I wish ppl were not so prejudiced about fission - it has got a lot better than it used to be...
Road noise is a problem. However, it can be ameliorated with noise barriers. I don't see that possibility with wind turbines. What can be done is to design the turbines with low noise blades. However, the scam nature of the wind industry probably prevents that due to the fact that the scam runs its course in about 5 years and low noise blades are probably less efficient in energy collection. By the time the issue is decided in the courts the issue is moot due to the failure of the turbines.
It is your standard design problem. The turbines are designed just well enough to last until the scam money is collected and after that who cares?
I think the wind subsidy has been a good idea in order to get experience with a lot of wind turbines. Now that we see what the results are it is time to phase out the subsidy.
BTW for every doubling of turbine size the cost per KWh is reduced by a factor of .66 or so. So larger turbines are more economically efficient. This is the same learning curve conventional power plants went through from 1900 to about 1950 when the size of plants reached 1 GW. It seems that diseconomies of scale then set in. Since then maximum power plant size has only marginally increased. In fact, currently the preferred plant size is on the order of 50 to 100 MW.
As Vincent Page of GE has pointed out - even if ITER works - the utility companies have no use for 15 GW plants that would be required for economical power generation. And ITER itself is already at the 500 MW level.
So should we quit working on ITER? Not yet. It is still the fusion energy plant design most likely to succeed. Maybe in 2 years we will have a better alternative.
If ITER was located near the ocean, excess power could be used for water desalinization. Given that desalinization is a thermal process only a fraction of plant power need be converted to electricity. What could be done is to use turbines with high exhaust temps (lowering the cost of turbines) and using the exhaust for desalinization. However, that limits where the plants can be located. Considering that most of the US population is near the coasts it could work out. If we ever get 2 MDVC transmission lines even that might not be a serious limitation.
In any case a lot of the research being done on ITER has application for Polywell. The first wall problem and large high B field magnets being a couple of cases.