How would you like to climb up the stairs of a 20-story building every day to get to work?
You wouldn’t. Yet windmill service technicians must do it every day, often multiple times a day.
The big 1.5 megawatt windmills are up to 400 feet tall, including the span of the blades. Their generators are mounted 250 feet off the ground at the top of the steel tower, or the equivalent of a 20-story building. To service the generator, the technician must climb straight up a vertical ladder inside the tower, to a height of 250 feet. This takes a lot of time and energy, particularly when heavy tools must be taken along.
These generators must be serviced regularly, both as part of routine maintenance and also when they break down or shut down automatically for technical reasons.
On the other hand the generators at coal-fired or nuclear power plants are installed on the plant floor where they can be approached and worked on easily at ground level, with all tools readily available.
Consider a 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactor, the standard large reactor. It consists of a nuclear reactor to generate heat, and a steam turbine to convert that heat to steam, which, under pressure, spins the generators that create electricity. The reactor usually has five separate generators each making 200 megawatts of electricity (5 generators X 200 megawatts each = 1,000 megawatts).
The plant does not have one single 1,000 megawatt electrical generator out of simple common sense. If that one generator broke down, or had to be taken out of service for routine maintenance, the whole plant would have to be shut down. This is a complicated process for a big nuclear reactor.
But if one 200 megawatt generator is shut down then the other four generators creating 800 megawatts can continue running and the plant can continue operating, but just at reduced output.
Since all machines require regular maintenance, or even major repair after a failure, you have to constantly care for those 5 generators in order to make 1,000 megawatts of nuclear power.
Wind power works when the windmill blades spin in the wind and in turn spin a generator. If you generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity with 1.5 megawatt windmills – some of the biggest ones available at 400 feet tall – it would appears that you would need 667 generators since 667 generators X 1.5 megawatts = 1,000 megawatts. A 1.5 megawatt generator is very large, up to 10 feet in diameter.
But 667 generators is the wrong answer. Wind power is only one-third as efficient as nuclear power, and so you would need to install three times as many windmills, or 2,000 separate windmills.
That means that you would have to maintain 2,000 windmill generators rather than 5 generators at the nuclear plant for the same 1,000 megawatts of power. For this alone you would need 400 times as much labor(!) to keep up the windmills since there are 400 times as many of them required for the same amount of power.
But we should be so lucky. In fact those windmills could require up to 2,000 times as much labor. This is one of the many reasons that windmills are pushing our electricity bills through the roof. Here is why so much labor would be required:
As mentioned above the generators at a nuclear power station are situated on the plant floor, indoors. They are easily accessible. They can be worked on any time in any weather.
Windmills, on the other hand, are distributed all across the landscape – those 2,000 windmills would have to be spread over hundreds of miles of mountaintops or farm land.
At the nuclear plant, the technician punches in to work at 8 AM and immediately could go to work on a generator on the main floor of the plant.
But imagine that you are part of a team of technicians in charge of maintenance on 2,000 windmills. Imagine windmill #898, located 97 miles away from the utility headquarters, needs to have routine maintenance done like testing, electronics, lubricants, etc., or that it has shut itself down automatically for technical reasons and has to be checked and reset, or possibly repaired for a major failure.
In order to service windmill #898 a technician punches in at 8 AM and then has to drive 97 miles to get to the windmill. If the windmill is on a mountaintop, he has to drive up a dirt road to the mountaintop. It might take him 3 hours or more just to get there. And that dirt road has to be kept open throughout the year, which requires great expense and energy, like for snow plowing. These repeated trips up the mountain also consume large amounts of fuel, and they wear out the service trucks prematurely.
Then when the windmill technician (or multiple technicians, all paid by the hour) finally arrives at windmill #898 he has to climb up the 20-story vertical ladder before he can even start his work. This climb is very tiring and it cuts down on that worker’s efficiency. The more he climbs, the less efficient he becomes, and every climb wastes even more time and labor.
If the problem is a minor one, then all of that labor, travel, cost, fuel and effort was expended for a very small problem. This is extremely expensive. That small problem (like re-setting a circuit switch) would hardly be a blip in the work day back at the nuclear plant but it could take a windmill technician all day long to get to it, detect it and fix it.
Then after the repair the windmill technician has to climb back down the ladder and drive 3 or more hours back to the utility headquarters at the end of the day. This further squeezes the amount of work that can even be done within a day. If the problem is bigger, then he may have to stay in a nearby motel (very expensive for lodging and meals) and return to the windmill the next day, or for many days.
Only 1,999 windmills to go!
All added up this represents massive amounts of labor, time and fuel for the service trucks, and even overtime pay, which is very expensive. It also would require dozens or hundreds of separate service trucks which would not even be needed at the nuclear plant.
In short this whole system is grossly inefficient and this high cost is passed along to the utility’s customers. This system is economically “unsustainable” while environmentalists tell us that windmills are “sustainable” energy. That is why wind power keeps driving up our power bills and requires more and more taxpayer subsidies.
If the utility uses helicopters to fly in the technician – yes, friends, some of these windmills are so huge that they actually have helicopter landing pads on them – then the utility has to pay hundreds of dollars per hour for helicopters and pilots. And that cost also is passed on to utility customers.
Now imagine that the windmill needs a major repair, like a new bearing assembly that weighs 400 lbs., which is as much as a big car engine weighs. The technician is not likely to have that in his truck and he could not get it out of the truck and up the ladder anyway. He wouldn’t have the machinery on the mountaintop to do that.
At the nuclear plant, the bearing might be in the inventory or could be trucked in the same day, or the next day. The crane inside the building could hoist it and install it quickly and easily. Bingo. Done.
Way up on the windmill, the heavy bearing has to be flown in by helicopter, or installed by a mobile crane, but the timing depends on when the helicopter or crane can get to the remote site and do the work. It might be the next day. Or a week later. Or weeks later. In the meantime the windmill produces zero power, one of the thousands of windmills that are out of service on any given day across the US.
This obviously becomes extremely expensive particularly when the technician then has to go all the way out there again for the repair. Maybe he needs an assistant or two to help with installing the bearing, each getting the same pay and overtime pay for driving 6 hours or more. Or flying in a helicopter. Or staying in hotels.
There is even a video on YouTube of two windmill technicians who first had to climb up to the generator, then climb down from the generator on a complex spider-web of ropes to the tip of a windmill blade to fix a problem there. They are seen in the video hanging 100 feet off the ground. They look like ants compared to this huge windmill. This is extremely dangerous work. And these are not just everyday windmill technicians; they certainly are rope-work specialists, paid at very high rates, another huge costs of windmills.
There are no such blades at a nuclear power plant; that repair cost is exclusive to windmills. Meanwhile the 2,000 windmills with 3 blades each would have 6,000 blades total. Every blade could eventually need repair or at least inspection, another steep cost that nuclear plants do not even have.
These windmill blades suffer enormously in the weather with winter ice and snow loads that can shut down the windmill for long periods, or worse throw it off balance; ice and snow damage to the blades; repeated freezing and thawing (expansion and contraction), or heating in Summer, of the blades and other parts of the system like the central shaft, causing mechanical anomalies; thickening of lubricants in ultra-cold weather that significantly reduces the windmill’s efficiency, etc.
Meanwhile the generators in a nuclear plant are indoors, easily accessible and maintained at a steady working temperature year round.
If you watch videos on the internet of landscapes with windmills, or if you pass by windmills in your car, you will notice that they often are not spinning. This is for a variety of reasons – either there is no wind, or the windmill is shut down, perhaps for maintenance, waiting for a part. Multiply this by 2,000 windmills and you have a major problem with the energy supply from these windmills. That supply is inconsistent. This is unacceptable for our modern standard of living. We cannot live with an intermittent energy supply.
There is no scientific reporting in the media on the efficiency of windmills, including these high labor costs. We are simply supposed to accept the fact that windmills are abundantly producing “clean” energy. But if we really knew how inefficient windmills are we would never accept them. There is a big cover-up going on in the media about wind power as there is about all “green” energy including solar power and ethanol fuel.
Indeed environmentalists write thousands of treatises every year about so-called ‘global warming’ using ‘junk science’ chock full of thousands of real and fabricated facts and figures. But then the same ecologists apply no science or even common sense in reporting on the cost of windmills. Yet that reporting would be very simple to do – just write down the actual hours and the costs involved in maintaining the windmills.
It gets even worse. Imagine that today’s modern generators, whether at the nuclear plant or up in a windmill, have an average 20% major failure rate – like a bearing failure – every 10,000 hours of operation. This 20% and 10,000 hours are simply figures chosen for example. But since they are being applied equally to all generators in this hypothetical case, they demonstrate the point perfectly well.
And let’s say that this major failure is exclusive of the routine maintenance that needs to be done on generators anyway, as all machines need to be maintained on a routine basis like changing the oil in your car, or getting new tires or a new muffler.
This failure rate means that one out of the five generators at the nuclear plant (20% of 5 generators = 1 generator) will fail every 10,000 hours of operation and require a major repair.
This also means that 20% of 2,000 windmills would fail every 10,000 hours, or 400 windmills. And every single one of them would require the astronomical labor costs mentioned above to repair them.
But it gets even worse. Windmills are out in the elements, often on mountaintops. They suffer tremendous natural stresses that sometimes even destroy the windmill. On the other hand the stationary generators indoors on the nuclear plant floor are not subjected to these stresses.
Those huge 3-blade windmill rotors, weighing up to 40 tons per set, put great stress on the shaft, the generator and the tower itself as they spin, and so windmills have a vastly higher failure rate than the generators that sit anchored to the concrete floor of a nuclear plant. Thus the 20% failure rate is going to be much higher for windmills, maybe even two or three times the rate.
And the costs for wind power just keep skyrocketing…
This all is being covered up by the windmill industry and their ‘green’ media friends who write endless glowing reviews about “clean” energy and are too busy concocting their ‘climate change’ baloney and counting their profits to bother with telling us the simple economic truth about windmills.
Meanwhile the Windmill Robber Barons are defacing our natural countryside and mountaintops for their own profits. They are the real environmental destroyers. Obama even is allowing windmill utilities to kill all the endangered eagles that they want.
According to published figures those 2,000 windmills would consume a total of 320,000 tons of steel (for the towers), copper (for the generators) and composite material (for the blades). This would be the equivalent weight of 200,000 Toyota Camrys.
Mountaintop windmill sites must also be filled with up to 1,000 tons of concrete and steel reinforcement bar for each windmill’s foundation block, another disaster for the environment. That’s up to 2 million tons of concrete and steel for just the foundations of 2,000 big windmills. These blocks will exist into eternity. How ugly for the environment.
Then remember that mountaintop windmills needs to be connected by power lines to the electrical power grid in the valley below. This requires cutting new corridors through the forest to get the lines down the mountain. This requires cutting many trees, along with new power lines which consume large amounts of copper, and steel for the towers. Along with the roads that must be built up the mountainsides to get to the windmills, this is more proof that windmills are an economic disaster as well as an environmental disaster.
Nikitas3.com estimates that the total consumption of resources (steel, concrete, composite, copper) to build a nuclear reactor is less than one-tenth of 1% that for the same power output via windmills while we are told over and over that windmills are good for the environment. Yet if windmills consume so much more in resources, and the huge amounts of energy needed to produce, transform and transport those resources, then windmills are greatly damaging to both the environment and the economy.
Nuclear power is the answer for our future energy supply. It is the most efficient energy source ever developed by man. Windmills are the least efficient. But windmills make environmentalists rich, and so they are being put up all over the world at tremendous expense to the environment, and to the rest of us.
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