Tivoli: Powered by wind

Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 11:55 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Tivoli has traditionally made strong efforts at recycling and energy efficiency — and early next year it will be powered by a wind turbine. The turbine — which is undergoing final tests now — is supposed to provide enough energy to power the park, including its many restaurants and shops. But of course, the wind does not blow all the time, so Tivoli is plugged into the Danish electricity grid — which still relies heavily on coal-fired plants (though it is also 20 percent wind, the highest share in Europe).

Read more from The New York Times.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 1:19 AM
a_hoffman50's avatar

Thinking is too hard. I'll stick with slacking!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 1:49 AM
Jeff's avatar

GoBucks89 said:
Who cares about the cost of getting wind generated power to end users? How about investors, lenders, regulators and consumer/watchdog groups who appear at rate case hearings?

And you can view the costs of transmission lines as not being expensive relative to the costs of contructing energy producing facilities if you want.

Thanks for giving me permission!

You're still over-simplifying things. Or perhaps I am. My point stands that the one-time cost (understanding maintenance is ongoing, of course) may in fact be a reasonable trade off. I mean, you never have to buy fuel for turbines. That's what's so cool about it, in that it's like hydro. Build the dam and maintain it, but you won't be buying something to burn, fission, grope after that. That's probably why electricity is so damn cheap up here.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 9:49 AM

You need to look at all of the costs/savings but also when they will be realized. Costs are all going to be up front. Savings will be over a number of years. So the breakeven point (after accounting for the timing of the cash flows, interest costs, etc.) will be down the road and depending on the up front costs it may be a 10-20 years or more down the road. The further down the road it is the more risks the project has. Wind power has uncertainties associated with it because it doesn't have the history that other power sources do. And turbines won't have an indefinite service life. And at this point there is a lot of tweaking being done in terms of size of installations and locations. Do you want to go with one large farm or smaller installations spread out over a broader area. Do you want to go with installations in the best locations for wind and incur higher transmission costs or installations in less than ideal locations closer to where the power is needed which will decrease transmission costs but also produce lower returns (less power generation, more bad wind days, etc.). Those issues are not easy to analyze but the costs of being wrong are huge (and investors/lenders know that as well).

And much of that is true for other power sources in terms of costs being upfront and returns over time but at this point, the upfront costs for wind/solar are significantly higher (in large part because of transmission issues) and there is more of a history/certainty with tradition sources (though the reality of some type of carbon legislation is creating a lot of uncertainty with respect to carbon based sources and as a result, some planned coal plants have been put on hold recently). One of the things that has historically scared away investors in wind/solar and other renewables are fluctuations in the costs of other power sources. What you see is a fuel cost spike and everyone gets on the bandwagon for renewables (at that point, the economics are much easier to justify). Then in a year or so, the price of the other fuels drops and the renewables don't look as attractive. None of that is to say that wind and solar power aren't viable options going forward. But in both government and business, we tend to have very short term focusses at this point which makes long term solutions difficult to adopt.

My guess is that part of the reason your costs are lower is because of the generation source but there are other factors at play as well. Though I don't see a lot of info on energy systems west of the Mississippi so I don't know for sure. Hydro is great but there are a limited number of locations where its feasible. One benefit is that it isn't intermittent like solar/wind.

As for operations of wind farms compared with other traditional plants, I have talked with a few people who believe that the current disfavor of nuclear in DC will change once people start to focus more on the fact that wind farms (once operational) have significantly fewer employees than a nuclear plant. View, cynical/realistic as it may be, is that DC folks will lean more toward having more voters (most of whom will likely be in unions). Don't know about that though I put nothing past politicians.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 12:06 PM
Jeff's avatar

GoBucks89 said:
So the breakeven point (after accounting for the timing of the cash flows, interest costs, etc.) will be down the road and depending on the up front costs it may be a 10-20 years or more down the road.

Isn't that exactly what I said? From various articles I've read, nuclear costs are about 70 to 90% up front in construction as well. Again, I don't see your point.

My guess is that part of the reason your costs are lower is because of the generation source but there are other factors at play as well.

Again, isn't that what I said? Yeah, the Puget Sound area in 90% hydro, according to Wikipedia.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 12:57 PM

GoBucks89 said:
As for operations of wind farms compared with other traditional plants, I have talked with a few people who believe that the current disfavor of nuclear in DC will change once people start to focus more on the fact that wind farms (once operational) have significantly fewer employees than a nuclear plant. View, cynical/realistic as it may be, is that DC folks will lean more toward having more voters (most of whom will likely be in unions). Don't know about that though I put nothing past politicians.

You fogot about the fact that if a wind turbine fails, there aren't half as many problems as a nuke plant. None of the materials require special handeling (except for the normal precautions when working around ANY piece of heavy equipment). Plus, unlike a nuke plant, there isn't any toxic radioatcive waste we have to worry about storing for the next bazillion years.


Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 2:30 PM
Jeff's avatar

There wouldn't be any radioactive waste (not in appreciable quantities) if we'd recycle/reprocess the crap either.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 2:49 PM

Jeff -- Over the past several posts I have gone into detail with respect to some of the issues facing wind power. I am not going to go through it again to respond to a 4 line quote you took out of the context of that detail.

Hopman -- I think you are being a little conservative. The sun is expected to burn out in 5 billion years. So we won't need to worry about storing nuclear waste for the next bazillion years. :)

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 4:14 PM

You get the idea. Most of the cost in building a wind turbine (besides the actual unit itself) comes from the transport. Plus, you don't need as many specalists as you do with a nuke plant. The special skills in constructing a winf unit are are roughly the same any nearly building erection (erection... heh heh ;) ), such as heavy rigging and iron workers.


Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 4:33 PM
Jeff's avatar

I'm not taking anything out of context. Your whole argument is that it's expensive. My point continues to be that relative to other forms of energy production, it's not, or more to the point, it's not cost prohibitive. You make it sound like there's no market for more energy. I haven't even gone down the road about when there won't be any choice but what's currently considered the alternative.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 7:10 PM
a_hoffman50's avatar

I'll second that the quote was not taken out of context.

GoBucks89, your posts have a whole lot of hearsay that you try to pass as facts. Just because Jack over at the nuclear power plant in Rockport says that nuclear energy is cheaper, that does not make it so.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 10:04 PM
rollergator's avatar

I haven't read everything up to this point (probably will later, I'm a green freak who just finished the semester's final) - but the innovators like those trying to grow algae-based fuels in the Pacific understand they must be cost-competitive to become a viable alternative. Fossil fuels are critically underpriced due to the lack of a price on emissions (the so-called "Tragedy of the Commons"). Wind, hydroelectric, nuclear, biofuels - all very promising, none are magic bullets. In the meantime, we can "buy time" by conserving, and moving to cleaner alternatives. Even changing from coal to natural gas is an improvement.

There are no "quick fixes" to the energy problem in the short term. Do what you can, where you can. Every light turned off helps a little. Be green to the extent feasible, and raise awareness, your own and others. Peace. :)

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Thursday, December 17, 2009 1:10 AM

I started typing a response to the recent posts (spurious as they are ;)) but at this point it seems to me its an argument which on boards like this are pointless and dumb (unless the subject is such that its set up to be a debate/argument which this one clearly isn't). If the quote/statements weren't out of context then maybe too much is trying to be made out of what I have said. To the extent I played a part in that, I apologize. At this point I have to say I just don't care. And it certainly doesn't matter.

Though for the record, I have never visited a nuclear plant (in Indiana or otherwise) or talked with anyone who works at one and I only know one person named Jack and he works for a software company and we have definitely never talked about the costs of nuclear versus wind. :)

Nice post roller. I agree.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009 1:12 AM
Jeff's avatar

I have been in a nuclear plant, and talked to people who build them. What do I win?

The reason I was jumping all over you is that I get tired of hearing about what "can't" be done. That seems to be our MO in this country.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, December 17, 2009 1:38 AM

Maybe that was the problem. I never said that wind can't be done (pretty sure I said just the opposite). In the initial post that got the back and forth started, I indicated that "right now" transmission/distribution are issues for wind. Never said that would always be the case. And I don't have a problem with a "never say can't attitude" but I think its also important to be realistic. Though maybe thats just the accountant/attorney talking.

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