[ExI] Efficiency of wind power.

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Sat Apr 9 05:03:23 UTC 2011

On Fri, Apr 8, 2011 at 10:11 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
> There are some places where wind power definitely does pay and does make
> sense.  These are often not near population centers, so the cost of
> transporting the power is too great, such as out in Wyoming for instance.
> What I envision is that they will be used to do stuff like electroplating
> metals out of solution which takes a buttload of energy, or in making
> synthetic octane from coal.  I haven't done the numbers on these processes,
> so I don't know if it out-pencils.

I can think of an analogous historical and a current example.

In the 1930s, they build a load of hydroelectric dams in the Tennessee
Valley. In spite of being one of the most socialist and heavy handed
endeavors in US history, it was overall a good project from an
engineering standpoint. The electricity was primarily used to extract
aluminum from bauxite, which takes a LOT of electricity. It was ready
just in time to build the aluminum aircraft that helped to win WWII.
When you can find industries that use a LOT of electricity like this,
and you can locate them close to the source of the electricity, that
is a good thing. I am not a big fan of the social aspects of the TVA
(Tennessee Valley Authority), but it is hard to argue with the success
of the resulting technological achievements.

A few years back, Google built a very large data processing center
right next to one of the really big dams (The Dalles) on the Columbia
river. Considering that Google is a huge user of electricity, and that
electricity is sold at a discount that close to the source, this was a
really good move.

One of the most important high energy processes in the future may be
desalinization of sea water. In some places in the Middle East, I
understand this is done today mostly with petroleum. Too bad they
didn't do more with solar, as it is a very hot very sunny region. I
suspect that in the future more of these projects will be done with
solar power.

One of the windiest places on earth is in Antarctica. There is a
valley there that I understand has six months of just unbelievable
wind nearly constantly. It is a terribly difficult place to build ,
maintain and inhabit. Perhaps this is a good job for specialized
robotics some day... but what could you do with virtually unlimited
electricity in Antarctica that would make it all worth while? Perhaps
extracting gold from sea water? There has to be something.


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