A wind powered Wellington

July 1st, 2008 at 11:10 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports on a proposed third wind farm for , which would mean the 140 would be enough to power every home in the city.

The proposed location is on the south west coast of Wellington – near Oteranga Bay by the look of it.

I am a big fan of wind power and think that wind turbines look wonderful dotted on the hills. Sure they shouldn’t be within a few metres of people’s homes, but they should not be blocked just because someone doesn’t want them in their line of sight.

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52 Responses to “A wind powered Wellington”

  1. Ryan Sproull (6,641 comments) says:

    What do you think about microgeneration, DPF? Like, small turbines and solar panels on many individual houses?

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  2. Bryan Spondre (554 comments) says:

    “Carrick Lewis of Action for the Environment, one of the groups that opposed the Makara development in the Environment Court, said Long Gully would suffer environmental damage from turbines.” After fifteen years working in the electricity industry including two managing outage response I can predict that “Carrick Lewis” would be the first to complain if the lights went off due to insufficient capacity.

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  3. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    What’s say we just get all of the politicians to run on treadmills with electricity generators attached? At least then we’d get some small benefit from having 120 of the useless interfering regulating over taxing profligate spending bastards.

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  4. David Farrar (1,808 comments) says:

    Ryan – it seemed to work well on Great Barrier Island and would be a sensible addition IMO to many new subdivisions and houses.

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  5. Ryan Sproull (6,641 comments) says:

    Yeah, makes sense to me, too. If I owned a house, I’m pretty sure I’d invest in microgeneration for it.

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  6. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    I think if there was any one place in the nation, where ‘wind-generation’ was guaranteed, it would have to be Wellington.

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  7. Ryan Sproull (6,641 comments) says:

    Yes, being in Auckland, I should be thinking more of rain-generated power.

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  8. Bryan Spondre (554 comments) says:

    Ryan: thats called ‘hydro’ and the Greens hate it because it kills all the cute fluffy creatures. That kind of thinking is anthropomorphic.

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  9. Bryan Spondre (554 comments) says:

    Ryan: “small turbines and solar panels on many individual houses”

    small turbines: not in my street please, the neighbours swimming pool filtration motor is annoying enough without a constant ” whoop,whoop”.

    solar panels: great idea though it probably makes sense to use them to heat hot water directly rather than generate electricity.

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  10. bearhunter (859 comments) says:

    “I think if there was any one place in the nation, where ‘wind-generation’ was guaranteed, it would have to be Wellington.’

    Lee, if that’s the case could you get someone to remove the ones in the tararuas/ruahines above palmy? The locals are worried they might make the place look interesting…

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  11. brucehoult (185 comments) says:

    I’ve been to Mojave in California and the masses of turbines on the Tehachapi hills are quite a sight.

    http://www.hobbyspace.com/AAdmin/Images/RLV/Scaled/WIND-SPACE-4_comp.jpg

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  12. infused (612 comments) says:

    “small turbines: not in my street please, the neighbours swimming pool filtration motor is annoying enough without a constant ” whoop,whoop”.”

    The new ones hardly make a noise. The problem is, they are expensive.

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  13. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    Another socialist boondoggle built to address a non-existent problem. Doubtless the ‘businesses’ building these wastes of space will all be owned by Labour party donors, what a surprise…

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  14. RRM (8,987 comments) says:

    Excellent. The human race is always going to make marks on the landscape – let’s be thankful there’s now a new technology that allows us to put up reasonably worthy marks. Wind farms look stunning and they wring electricity out of thin air – something the whole country should be proud of.

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  15. Ryan Sproull (6,641 comments) says:

    Plus, decentralising power generation takes the load off transmission (and reduces the amount of energy lost in transit).

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  16. RRM (8,987 comments) says:

    “Doubtless the ‘businesses’ building these wastes of space will all be owned by Labour party donors, what a surprise…”

    What a stupid and ignorant thing to say!

    There is a very large number of different sub-contractors supplying the various elements of the current West Wind project – and I doubt many of them would suffer you for long if you turned up at one of their site meetings and started telling them they were all corrupt cronies of Aunty Helen’s Socialist government…

    Even if Meridian themselves were corrupt and in the Clark Govt’s pocket, on a project of this size I imagine they simply could not afford to pick subbies and suppliers on political allegiance rather than price and reputation!

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  17. Steve Withers (98 comments) says:

    DPF: Absolutely agree. having lived in the Manawatu for several years and watched the many wind turbines above Palmerston North I think they are great. All practical considerations aside, esthetically they bring a dynamic energy to the horizon that I find pleasing to the eye, especially at sunrise when the first red-gold drops of solar fire appear behind a spinning turbine, the miles-long shadow thus thrown magnifying it for a few seconds before it consumed in the growing glare.

    Pure visual magic.

    Having said that, the turbines used in some places in the US can be ugly up close. They look like fans on top of oil derricks and convert an opportunity to enhance into something resembling an oil field with pinwheels. You have to be much further away before these, too, become attractive to the eye.

    Much more appealing are the white Danish-made ones like that over Brooklyn in Wellington. They look great standing right next to them.

    I’m not worried about the noise. We have some young lads with “boy racer” cars in the street and I’d probably never hear anything as quiet as a wind turbine over the (legal and inconsiderate) loud SHOOSHING gear changes and tire spinning.

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  18. Ed Snack (1,533 comments) says:

    Power generation is, as far as I am aware, one area where generally speaking size really does matter. It is far more economic to generate power in large dollops and to distribute it than to generate lots of small amounts. It is also true that a highly distributed grid would require a very significant change to the current distribution system, a change with very significant costs associated.

    Micro generation “works” on Great Barrier for two main reasons, most homes are holiday homes are not occupied permanently, and because there ain’t no alternative. The costs however are significant. Interestingly I recall a suggestion made some years ago to establish a small geothermal plant on GB using the heat associated with the hot springs area near the centre of the island, however this fell through over the disposal of the acidic waste water.

    The wind farm for Wellington might theoretically power all the homes, but only when sufficient wind is blowing, a problem even for Wellington. Although the power can be used to offset hydro generation (for example), the peak power requirements are still an issue. Wind is not a cure-all, and should normally account for no more than 10 – 15% of total capacity. Greater amounts apparently leads to grid instability because of the variable nature of the power. Denmark has significant issues with this.

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  19. RRM (8,987 comments) says:

    I can endorse Ed’s 15% – this figure was mentioned when Meridian’s chief electrical engineer (or whatever) gave a talk about the Te Apiti wind farm, at Auckland Uni a couple of years ago.

    Apparently there is an issue with the “stability” of power from wind farms – I don’t understand it enough to know if this is from second to second as individual wind gusts roll through the farm, or from minute to minute, or longer, but it does go up and down, and this starts to jeopardise the stability of the power supply to huge areas of the country if too much of the generation has this instability in it.

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  20. 103PapPap (116 comments) says:

    What the government should do is purchase all the farms on Makara under the Public Works act, build the wind farm and build a modern prison underneath. Kill two birds with one plan.

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  21. dave strings (608 comments) says:

    103pappap

    A wonderful suggestion and onethat I’m sure many of us Wellingtonians would empathise with and appreciate.

    Problem is, there are a lot of greenies live out Makara way, and they are always the first to convert to being NIMBYs

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  22. PhilBest (5,112 comments) says:

    THIS is one of the best things I have read on this in the last few days. This is just the first one-sixth of the article; do look it up and read it all……..

    “THE REGISTER”

    Heavyweight physics prof weighs into climate/energy scrap

    By Lewis Page
    Published Friday 20th June 2008 12:01 GMT

    Analysis: A topflight science brainbox at Cambridge University has weighed into the ever-louder and more unruly climate/energy debate with several things that so far have been mostly lacking: hard numbers, willingness to upset all sides, and an attempt to see whether the various agendas put forward would actually stack up.

    “Professor David J C MacKay of the Cambridge University Department of Physics holds a PhD in computation from Cal Tech and a starred first in Physics, so we can take it that he knows his numbers. And, as he points out, numbers are typically lacking in current discussion around carbon emissions and energy use.

    MacKay tells The Reg that he was first drawn into this field by the constant suggestion — from the Beeb, parts of the government etc — that we can seriously impact our personal energy consumption by doing such things as turning our TVs off standby or unplugging our mobile-phone chargers.

    Anyone with even a slight grasp of energy units should know that this is madness. Skipping one bath saves a much energy as leaving your TV off standby for over six months. People who wash regularly, wear clean clothes, consume hot food or drink, use powered transport of any kind and live in warm houses have no need to worry about the energy they use to power their electronics; it’s insignificant compared to the other things.

    Most of us don’t see basic hygiene, decent food and warm houses as sinful luxuries, but as things we can reasonably expect to have. This means that society as a whole needs a lot of energy, which led MacKay to consider how this might realistically be supplied in a low-carbon fashion. He’s coming at the issues from a green/ecological viewpoint, but climate-change sceptics who are nonetheless concerned about Blighty becoming dependent on Russian gas and Saudi oil — as the North Sea starts to play out — will also find his analysis interesting. Eliminating carbon largely equates to eliminating gas and oil use.

    “I don’t really mind too much what your plan is,” MacKay told The Reg this week. “But it’s got to add up.”

    He says he’s largely letting his machine-learning lab at Cambridge run itself these days, and is personally spending most of his time on trying out different energy scenarios.

    MacKay sets out his calculations in a book, Sustainable Energy — Without the hot air. You can download it here. As he says:

    The one thing I am sure of is that the answers to our sustainable energy questions will involve numbers; any sane discussion of sustainable energy requires numbers. This book’s got ’em, and it shows how to handle them.

    He emphasises that the book isn’t quite finished yet, and says he’s always glad to hear from someone who has something to add or has spotted a mistake.

    In Without the hot air, MacKay examines our total energy usage in the UK, and then tries to provide a similar amount of energy but without using any oil and gas. He’s willing to consider windpower on a thoroughly heroic scale, as it is probably the renewable technology best suited to the UK climate. As a benchmark for wind, he writes:

    Our conclusion: if we covered the windiest 10 per cent of the country with windmills, we might be able to generate half of the energy used by driving a car 50 km per day each. Britain’s onshore wind energy resource may be “huge,” but it’s not as huge as our huge consumption. I should emphasize how audacious an assumption I’m making. … The windmills required … are fifty times the entire wind hardware of Denmark; seven times all the windfarms of Germany; and double the entire fleet of all wind turbines in the world. This conclusion – that the greatest that onshore wind could add up to, albeit ‘huge’, is much less than our consumption – is important ……”

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  23. PhilBest (5,112 comments) says:

    By the way, Ryan Sproull, I agree with you on the “microgeneration” thing. I am deeply suspicious of the political obstacles likely to be mounted in the way of this, given the vested interest of government in making money out of selling energy and raising taxes on the same…………

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  24. Chris S (109 comments) says:

    “I am a big fan of wind power”

    Hah!

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  25. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    RB rather than treadmills all we gotta do is pipe all the wind out of the Chamber Trouble is the windmills wouldnt be able to cope with the air pressure from the 120 tossers

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  26. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Good that someone (Mackay post) is doing the numbers on this stuff, especially since the UK is similar to NZ in terms of its energy resources (minus sun, geothermal), but this doesn’t really change the fact that it makes a lot of sense to build wind farms in windy places…

    edit: if that was the point of that post within the context of this particular thread, not sure.

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  27. Ryan Sproull (6,641 comments) says:

    .By the way, Ryan Sproull, I agree with you on the “microgeneration” thing. I am deeply suspicious of the political obstacles likely to be mounted in the way of this, given the vested interest of government in making money out of selling energy and raising taxes on the same…………

    Yes, I recall a case in the UK where a man was putting more energy into the grid than he was using, and because the meter went both ways, the power company owed him money. Legislation was quickly put through making that impossible. Which is insane, because it’s rather the perfect incentive to invest in microgeneration and cut down on consumption.

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  28. riki (234 comments) says:

    I agree 110 % with this post. The windmills are attractive, non radio active and beneficial.

    Complaints that wild stock get annoyed by them is simple Stirring. The animals get used to them.

    The most impt thing is, they look like they are achieving something, which certainly beats the present occupiers of the treasury seats.

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  29. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Like it or not, a very successful legislative approach:

    Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbaren-Energien-Gesetz, or EEG) requires electricity companies to buy a certain amount of electricity derived from renewable sources such as solar power and to pay above market rates for it. The effect of this law has been to enable solar electricity companies to compete with those providing electricity from fossil fuels and to help push the adoption of this electricity source by consumers.

    http://spie.org/x17246.xml

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  30. RRM (8,987 comments) says:

    And yet – West Wind when it is complete in a couple of years time will apparently have a peak output equal to 100% of Wellington’s current electricity demand. Not some piffling little amount that will barely impact on the national supply/demand.

    So PhilBest I wonder if your Oxford Don is saying in his last paragraph there that wind farms are a waste of time…?

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  31. RRM (8,987 comments) says:

    And FFS, people, how does my 1:10pm on this thread earn a thumbs down?

    Not that I could personally care less, but it is a sad indication when simple facts that are true and are presented un-emotively are disapproved of by y’all. Learn to debate the TOPIC peeps! :-)

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  32. PhilBest (5,112 comments) says:

    RRM, I think the whole point of the Oxford Don’s book is to provide the actual, measurable realities by which we can compare the alternatives for power generation and emissions reductions. I hope to obtain the whole book, but meanwhile the article above is very informative. Did you read it? I recommend it.

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  33. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Not so much into micro generation. Not because of it being bad – it isn’t. If you want one, by all means buy one, and I’ll defend your right to do so. However, they don’t make economic sense. Even with all the subsidies most countries offer, they still have a payback around 50 years. If the oil price goes up enough, and technology drives the cost down enough, the payback could come down to 5-10 years, at which point they’d be a good idea. But I suspect that at that point, you’d be able to build centralised facilities (wind farms, nuclear, whatever) at a lower cost than the microgeneration.

    For NZ, there is fiddling around the edges (wind, solar, wave), all of which need to be backed up by some sort of ultra reliable base load. And then there are the real bulk providers of energy: hydro, coal, oil, nuclear. All of these are proven at country scale, and economic at electricity prices close to our current ones. If we’re being realistic, we have to pick which of these we want. All have their downsides. I’m happy with hydro or nuclear, NZ can easily do either.

    The only other option I am aware of is mass storage technologies – of which there aren’t any proven. But if someone can deliver one to market, we could build lots of the unreliable technologies above, and so long as we have enough storage (which may be an awful lot), we can smooth out the peaks and troughs, and the stability question. This isn’t happening any time soon though.

    The French get 80% of their power from Nuclear, they don’t seem to have two heads each. Although many of their women are inordinately hot – perhaps if we got Nuclear here…..

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  34. reid (15,493 comments) says:

    Personally I’m quite interested in the various water and hydrogen solutions coming out. I think they hold promise and if we don’t burn so much oil in combustion engines we don’t need to worry about dangerous levels of ruminant farting.

    Some people seem to think most such technology is bullshit and breaks the first law of thermodynamics. In my view, such people have closed minds.

    I’m not talking about hydrogen fuelcells which pass electrons through a platinum membrane to generate power, I’m talking about extracting the hydrogen from water. Have a look at this and this and this video.

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  35. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    PaulL, you forgot geothermal! Hydro is also a form of mass storage…

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  36. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    PaulL, you forgot baseload geothermal! Hydro is also a form of mass storage…

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  37. thehawkreturns (162 comments) says:

    Solar power should be the future. No moving parts. 30year plus panel life expectancy. NZ has plenty of sunlight.

    The inhibitors are minimal installation infrastructure and the grid companies wanting us, willing us, bribing us to
    buy into – - grid based – - wind power. Once you cut the shackles to the grid the big generators are in real trouble except for industrial customers. Most homes can run on the roof area and be net contributors via a reversing meter into the grid if they wish to use grid electricity when it is dark. Charging batteries in the basement is currently very expensive but will fall in time. Kiwis tend to move house frequently also reducing the tendency to invest for the long term. In many ways actually…

    The Japs Germans and Californians are leading the world in solar. I suspect that payback for household solar is getting close to 10 years already. A friend of mine installed $6000 of solar for his outdoor pool – a good sized one. The water was so hot at the inflow spa area that he had to turn off the solar for hours at a time. In terms of use of the pool by his family he reckons it was worth it for just one summer!

    NZ is too small to support nukes. It can barely support anyone with an advanced degree.

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  38. dad4justice (7,406 comments) says:

    Good idea Hawk, solar power might teach the moronic public a thing or two.

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  39. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Solar for swimming pool – all for that. Very different than solar for power. The batteries and everything else you need to be truly independent are a hell of a lot more expensive than a few grand – try $60K or so. You’d need to save a shitload of power to have a payback on $60K, nobody in NZ pays more than $2K a year in power, and even with no interest cost you’d see 30 year payback.

    The most efficient solar are those enormous mirrors focused on a Stirling engine, running pure molten sodium or some such. Works great (or could) in outback Australia where it’s sunny every day. In NZ what we have is rain. We should be using hydro.

    Geothermal, I put it in the fringe ones, only because nobody makes money at it. When it’s economic over a 30 year life cycle I’ll believe.

    Part of the economies of scale may be ability to invest. As a residential property owner today I find it hard to invest on a 30 year payback. As an institutional investor in the infrastructure market, I’m pretty comfortable buying a few shares in something that has a 30 year life span and market returns. Central infrastructure is a very different beast than personal infrastructure. And has a very different tax treatment.

    Nuclear is the go, thorium fuel cycle, which has very few radioactive byproducts (unlike coal, which releases enormous quantities of uranium into the atmosphere along with the carbon emissions).

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  40. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Hydrogen from water. Yep, absolutely, but only with more energy input than you get back when you burn the hydrogen. That’s a basic law of physics. Sorry, no evidence at all that this is possible, and physics says it isn’t. Physics has been wrong before, but it didn’t happen on You Tube, it happened in a laboratory and published in a scientific journal. It’s crap.

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  41. reid (15,493 comments) says:

    Elucidate please Paul.

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  42. getstaffed (9,188 comments) says:

    Nuclear is the go, thorium fuel cycle

    Seems pretty sensible to me. Perhaps the nauseous, blind homage paid to our ‘nuclear free’ badge of honour could be suspended just long enough for a sensible evaluation of this option.

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  43. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,784 comments) says:

    Wind turbines are ugly.

    Just as well they don’t have a long life cycle. Nothing quite like the sight of nature ripping a wind turbine to shreds, all adding to the bloated capital cost. Talk about tilting at windmills. When people eventually come to their senses at least the wind turbines can all be bulldozed over and melted for scrap.

    Long term Fusion power is the answer. Physics will solve humanities problems. It just requires people to think, do the research and apply the results. It will be a world changing event.

    On the other hand people do demonstrate a propensity to disengage the brain. Witness the idiots that believe Climate Change is some how human induced. If only. Over the passage of time the Earth warms up and the Earth cools down, no humans required.

    Has anyone ever done cost benefit analysis on wind turbines versus conventional power generation? My understanding is that wind turbines are inefficient on a cost per unit of power generated. It’s consumers that end up paying through the nose for this fad.

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  44. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    OK, I’ll elaborate.

    You can get hydrogen from water, it’s called electrolysis. The energy input to get hydrogen from water (that is to say, turning H2O into 2xH + O) is slightly more than the energy you get returned when you burn hydrogen in oxygen to get water back (that is to say, turning 2xH + O into H2O again).

    The first and second laws of thermodynamics tell us this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics

    The first basically says that in a closed system, energy cannot be created or destroyed. Imagine that I have a box that entirely isolates everything inside it from the rest of the environment. In that box I put a device that starts with water, splits that water into hydrogen and oxygen with a particular energy input from a battery. I then burn the hydrogen in a small engine, and get back water, plus some energy returned which I use to recharge the battery. I then put the water back where it started, so things are as they were before I began. The first law of thermodynamics tells me that it is impossible for the battery to end up with more charge in it – the energy input to make hydrogen cannot be less than the resultant energy when I burn the hydrogen. Of course, the energy can move around within the box – the engine might get warmer, the splitting device might get cooler or whatever, but the total energy inside the box cannot change (at least, not without using nuclear power and E=MC^2).

    The second law of thermodynamics tells me that, further to law one, the natural tendency in reality is that energy becomes disordered. When I burn hydrogen in an engine, I don’t get 100% efficiency, some turns into heat, some gets lost in friction etc etc. In other words, not only will my box not end up with more energy, but if I take the device out of the box, some of the energy will leak off into the environment somewhere as wastage. So running this process must, by the laws of thermodynamics, leave me with less usable energy than I started with.

    Like I say, all science has been wrong before – most science is still treated as theory. The laws of thermodynamics have been called that because unlike most scientific theories, they’ve been around for donkey’s years and there is no suggestion at all of even the sniff of a gap in them. So they are taken as absolutes.

    If anybody had any evidence at all that they could be broken they’d be celebrities, it’d be the biggest scientific breakthrough in decades. Not to mention being exceptionally rich. I find it incredibly unlikely that someone who had worked out how to do this is on YouTube and not being given job offers at MIT or somewhere. These stories have been around for years, and there has never been substance to them – they are confidence tricks and conspiracy theories. Unless someone has real evidence in a demonstrated laboratory situation (not some video of a car driving around and being claimed to run on water), I wouldn’t waste my time even considering them.

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  45. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Comment lost? Hmm, only had one link, and that to Wikipedia. I’ll try again without.

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  46. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    OK, I’ll elaborate (but not elucidate).

    You can get hydrogen from water, it’s called electrolysis. The energy input to get hydrogen from water (that is to say, turning H2O into 2xH + O) is slightly more than the energy you get returned when you burn hydrogen in oxygen to get water back (that is to say, turning 2xH + O into H2O again).

    The first and second laws of thermodynamics tell us this: wikipedia – Laws_of_thermodynamics (link not working well)

    The first law basically says that in a closed system, energy cannot be created or destroyed. Imagine that I have a box that entirely isolates everything inside it from the rest of the environment. In that box I put a device that starts with water, splits that water into hydrogen and oxygen with a particular energy input from a battery. I then burn the hydrogen in a small engine, and get back water, plus some energy returned which I use to recharge the battery. I then put the water back where it started, so things are as they were before I began. The first law of thermodynamics tells me that it is impossible for the battery to end up with more charge in it – the energy input to make hydrogen cannot be less than the resultant energy when I burn the hydrogen. Of course, the energy can move around within the box – the engine might get warmer, the splitting device might get cooler or whatever, but the total energy inside the box cannot change (at least, not without using nuclear power and E=MC^2).

    The second law of thermodynamics tells me that, further to law one, the natural tendency in reality is that energy becomes disordered. When I burn hydrogen in an engine, I don’t get 100% efficiency, some turns into heat, some gets lost in friction etc etc. In other words, not only will my box not end up with more energy, but if I take the device out of the box, some of the energy will leak off into the environment somewhere as wastage. So running this process must, by the laws of thermodynamics, leave me with less usable energy than I started with.

    Like I say, all science has been wrong before – most science is still treated as theory. The laws of thermodynamics have been called that because unlike most scientific theories, they’ve been around for donkey’s years and there is no suggestion at all of even the sniff of a gap in them. So they are taken as absolutes.

    If anybody had any evidence at all that they could be broken they’d be celebrities, it’d be the biggest scientific breakthrough in decades. Not to mention being exceptionally rich. I find it incredibly unlikely that someone who had worked out how to do this is on YouTube and not being given job offers at MIT or somewhere. These stories have been around for years, and there has never been substance to them – they are confidence tricks and conspiracy theories. Unless someone has real evidence in a demonstrated laboratory situation (not some video of a car driving around and being claimed to run on water), I wouldn’t waste my time even considering them.

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  47. jcuknz (648 comments) says:

    Whatever, I think the Danish wind farms are beautiful results of modern technology and moving hydro gnerated power, assuming it rains properly, with the wastage involved is plain silly, or at least very inefficient. Power should be generated as close to the user as possible. This suggests to me that solar panels on city houses, wind turbines on hills away from houses and hydro power as the last resort to cover when the first pair are not producing the electricity needed … on calm nights when people want to watch TV and or run their electric blankets.

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  48. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Maybe. Do you have the numbers for the relative efficiencies between transmitting power long distances and storing power in batteries? I’m not at all convinced that the efficiencies are that different, and batteries generally have toxic stuff in them. Just making something distributed doesn’t make it good. Everyone would laugh at me if my business plan was to buy a gazillion lead acid batteries, enough to supply peaking power to everyone in Wellington. It isn’t economic to do so. But everybody in Wellington individually buying their own lead acid batteries (which is less efficient) is somehow a good idea. Someone needs to look at this based on the facts, not the spin.

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  49. thehawkreturns (162 comments) says:

    PaulL

    check out the NZ Solar house in Meadowbank, Auckland. On the net.

    Decent insulation makes it much easier to be almost independent financially of grid based power.
    Yes, as I said batteries are too expensive at present but by selling power into the grid during the day
    and taking power at night the possibility of such independence is a reality.

    I hate the idea of compulsion but the national insulation rules are coming into effect soon. Add in a compulsory
    amount of solar per sq. metre floor area of all new dwellings and off we go… the house value will reflect the solar
    power so the extra cost is recouped on sale. Just like a garage.

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  50. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,784 comments) says:

    Solar panels are a waste of time. They’re expensive penances for misguided middle class guilt. Far from “saving the planet” you’re actually giving it a good kicking (Not a bad thing in its self if that’s what tickles your fancy). The capital cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining solar panels just can’t be justified compared to standard mains power supply from the national grid. If it was justifiable then people would be digging into their own pockets to purchase solar panels and then advising their local power company that they are surplus to requirement. It’s not happening though is it?

    Subsidies distorting the market and leading to unintended and inefficient outcomes are not the answer either.

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  51. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Yes hawk, but in terms of total expenditure and power output, it is cheaper with more power if we build the solar centrally and push it down the existing power lines. Once you accept that then you’ve got to wonder why you’d want one on your own roof.

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  52. insider (990 comments) says:

    Does this solar house have 240v or 24v? Ever been in a house which relies on batteries for power. Here’s a hint, don’t try running the washing machine and fridge at the same time or switching on too many lights at night. there is a huge amount of inconvenience with such systems as they just cannot supply the raw amounts of power most people need for modern lives. If you want to go back to the future then fine.

    If a lot of people do this but remain hooked up to the grid, then reticulated energy costs will likely rise as costs will be spread over lower demand.

    I should add that there are new rules in place allowing home generators to sell into local grids. Just don’t be surprised if you are expected to meet the same standards and costs as other commercial generators.

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