Letter - Windmills turning aren’t necessarily generating

Advertisement

Thanks to Chris Gibbar for reading my letter, and for getting windmills’ embarrassing failures into print a second time.

But the retelling has a hugely important error: “Turning” does not necessarily mean “generating power.” If you are the pilot in your thrice-weekly jaunts back and forth to Portland, you would already know this; if not, get a pilot to explain how a constant-speed propeller works.

Basically, big commercial windmills always turn at one of only two speeds: Stopped or full-bore. When the wind blows really hard, the windmills turn full-bore, with their blades set to accept the greatest wind force, putting lots of power onto the grid.

When the wind blows sorta hard, the windmills turn full-bore, with their blades set to accept a little wind force, putting a little bit of power onto the grid.

When the wind blows gently, the windmills turn full-bore, with their blades set to accept no wind force, putting no power whatsoever onto the grid. When the wind barely blows, the windmills cannot turn at all without help, and so would drift to a stop, except for the fact that windmills cannot remain stopped for very long or their blades will warp, and their shafts will droop, and their bearings will develop flat spots and their hydraulic oil will turn to glop. (Not a very scientific term, I know, but anybody who has left their lawn mower outdoors over the winter will understand.)

During those long windless periods when electricity demand is high, it is necessary to remove power from the grid by using the generators as electric motors, to keep the windmills turning full-bore, with their blades set to exert no force on the wind.

There you have it. If windmills are turning full-bore, they may be putting power onto the grid, or they may be drawing power off the grid. The only way to know which is to measure the wind speed.

Of all the ways of getting out of town, flying expells by far the most air pollution.

I think Chris Gibbar should look at Doppler weather radar maps, where he can confirm from the pollution-free comfort of his living room chair, that yes, indeed, the Columbia Gorge windmills are turning virtually all of the time, consuming the power faithfully generated by the local area’s coal- and gas-fired plants during periods of extreme heat and cold.

Remember: “Turning” is not “generating.”

Jim Thorn

Dayton

Comments

tpeacock 1 year, 2 months ago

A reader doesn't even have to guess when an anti windmill letter/post is in the U-B, the author is 99% of the time the same person. What a load of nonsense, what kind of mechanical mind do you work with. 'windmills cannot remain stopped for very long or their blades will warp, and their shafts will droop, and their bearings will develop flat spots and their hydraulic oil will turn to glop' What a complete load of nonsense to claim windmills are designed any different that say car, motorcycle, heavy and farm equipment, or any other type of engine. A motor not running does not cause the effects pointed out here, otherwise, any and all engines could never sit idle for long periods of time, including lawn mowers as stated in this letter. Allowing spite to cloud judgment is commonplace these days as several entities employ any and all forms on nonsense to fight that which they so obviously disapprove of.

1

namvet60 1 year, 2 months ago

If your taking the letter in the context of propulsion and what the writer is saying it definitely makes sense. But obviously the comment is just to denigrate the person without much input on the subject itself?

0

downhillracer 1 year, 2 months ago

Taking the letter in "context" has nothing to do with accurately representing factual information, versus ideological hypocrisy and downright nonsense. The comments challenge the assertion facts are being presented, which they are not.

While respecting everyone's right to speak their mind, immunity from being called out on spreading misinformation is not also granted.

Mr. Peacocks rebuttal is, as they say, "spot on". Bill Anderson

0

PearlY 1 year, 2 months ago

Well, I'm not Mr. Thorn, and here's an "anti-windmill" post: They're ugly as sin, and the only way they'll contribute appreciably to our energy needs is if they visually pollute every natural vista in our State. Funny how people who freak out about visually polluting ANWR (where only the caribou will see it) have no problem despoiling the natural beauty millions depend on to refresh their souls.

1

GeneandCassie 1 year, 2 months ago

Link regarding Wind Turbine Design:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_turbine_design

Nothing immediately noted about 'temperature issues,' but I can understand the concern.

Onboard ships, we slowly rotated the turbines and shafts for perhaps 1-2 days, using an electric motor, after main propulsion plant shutdown, to prevent warping of the propulsion turbine blades.

1

namvet60 1 year, 2 months ago

Funny you brought that up on board ships (only took a few hops). When you got down to the sleeping quarters and tried for some shuteye the hum from the bowels of the ship were deafening. Don't know if you got used to it in any length of time or not?

0

GeneandCassie 1 year, 2 months ago

Here is truly a success story:

http://www.capewind.org/index.php

Following this concept, we could have Wine EcoTours among the wind farms...... it just don't get no better.....

That singing group summed it all up best, 'the answer my friend is blowing in the wind....'

0

GeneandCassie 1 year, 2 months ago

Interestingly, the 'Cape Wind' site no longer works.....

It worked when the link was first posted here but has since been 'suspended'......

Here is more information on the project:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Wind_Project

0

Sign in to comment

Click here to sign in