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Topic Title: Wind Energy and the butterfly effect
Topic Summary: Has anyone researched the effect of removing large amounts of energy from the wind
Created On: 18 June 2009 06:00 PM
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 18 June 2009 06:00 PM
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shepherdd

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With reference to wind energy and the great expansion of this energy conversion, world wide and the 'butterfly effect' that is:a butterfly moving its wings could eventually have a far-reaching ripple effect on subsequent events.
How then will the conversion of large amounts of wind energy affect the world climate?
Is there any research on how this effect may change the climate and if there is any limit to the amount of energy that can be removed from the world wind source without having detrimental effects.
There must be some effect but at what stage will this be noticiable and how will it appear and where will it occur?
 19 June 2009 11:28 AM
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ArthurHall

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I think shepherdd has raised a very good question. Basic physics says it is unreasonable to extract vast quantities of energy and that not to have any effect.
There was research into the effect of extracting power from the waves which showed that as power was extracted, the waves flattened. This reduction in the waves had a detremental effect on the ecology systems that live on shores.
Sailing ships were relativly few and small compared to modern wind farms.
I am currently working on an offshore wind project which has 100 machines each with a swept area of 9,852 square meters. ie 985,200 square meters to extract 300MW.
Hunterston A nuclear power station had an output of 300MW.
 20 June 2009 06:56 PM
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shepherdd

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Thanks Arthur,
I just have a feeling that in years to come we may realise that there were effect. So I was questioning if, with the complex computer models that now exist, anyone has modelled the effects and determined if there is a limit beyond which detrimental results may occur. I guess someone somewhere has looked into this and may have published their thoughts / findings.
 20 June 2009 10:37 PM
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ectophile

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Don't lost sight of just how big the atmosphere is - it's about 100Km deep, and wind turbines only sit in the bottom 100m or so.

A few windmills won't make much difference.

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S P Barker BSc PhD MIET
 22 June 2009 10:55 AM
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irevans

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ectophile, you are right, a few windmills probably won't make much difference; but shepherdd's question is valid - how many windmills is a few and how many are a few too many?

After all, burning a few fossil fuels won't make much difference until that few becomes too many!

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irevans
 22 June 2009 01:23 PM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: irevans

ectophile, you are right, a few windmills probably won't make much difference; but shepherdd's question is valid - how many windmills is a few and how many are a few too many?

After all, burning a few fossil fuels won't make much difference until that few becomes too many!


All these things have to be considered together and not in isolation and in this respect the accurate computer modelling required is not possible at this time.

For example burning fossil fuels, cutting down of trees, increasing numbers of livestock and humans, wind turbines, volcanic activity, global temperatures, wind, sea currents, sun activity, levels of cloud cover, etc., etc.

Shepherdd raises a good question and of course by default there will be some cause and effect but any answer in relation to the overall global effect will be unreliable due to the possibilities and variables involved.

Regards.
 16 July 2009 10:05 PM
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whansen02

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Fascinating question. Tide and temperature essentially create most of the wind currents don't they? Perhaps magnetic fields play into it more than we currently know as well.

So you're not immediately interfering with the source of the wind as far as I can tell but by taking energy out of the wind you are interfering with the natural wind currents of the planet which have an effect in storms, erosion, convection/distribution of temperature.

The wind also helps seeds spread and who knows if larger amounts of turbines could significantly impact distribution of particles in the air that we may not yet realize are important until one day we wonder why the trees or the grasslands are dying and it's because something is missing from the air or remote areas aren't being reached by as much fresh air as they would otherwise.

While these are just random theories I do agree that the basic laws of physics when paraphrased tell us there will be repercussions when it comes to tapping natures energy in any way. Everything in moderation.

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catia jobs
 28 July 2009 03:00 PM
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shepherdd

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Thank you all for your interesting comments.

Here is another thought. If the main problem is Global Warming, should we not be employing technology that takes heat out of the atmosphere, eg. solar panels that heat water tubes or ground water tube heating? As far as I can see it all other forms generate more heat waste, albeit in smaller quantaties than the technology they replace.

If someone can come up with an invention that converts high volume-low temperature into low volume-high temperature, then we will be getting somewhere.
 28 July 2009 05:41 PM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: shepherdd

Thank you all for your interesting comments.



Here is another thought. If the main problem is Global Warming, should we not be employing technology that takes heat out of the atmosphere, eg. solar panels that heat water tubes or ground water tube heating? As far as I can see it all other forms generate more heat waste, albeit in smaller quantaties than the technology they replace.



If someone can come up with an invention that converts high volume-low temperature into low volume-high temperature, then we will be getting somewhere.


Maybe global warming is not the main problem. Maybe over population is the main problem.
Maybe inefficient energy delivery systems and equipment are the main problem, especially with regards to electricity.
Maybe some of us are just too greedy and wasteful with regards to our use of resources.
Maybe politicians, big businesses and some scientists have a self interest in telling us global warming is a problem, i.e., to take more of our money and make themselves seem more important.

Regards.
 04 August 2009 11:36 PM
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scottseedell

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There is another similar topic that i have discussed with people of varying degrees of experience and very contrasting opinions. Would us using more and more solar energy have an effect on the sun? For instance, if we all began to use solar energy as a primary energy source, would this cause the sun to burn out quicker? As you're all aware, it is impossible to create energy from nothing and so by us using more solar energy than ever before, would this place extra load on the sun causing it to use its resources quicker? Imagine a portable generator having to cope with a kettle being plugged in and turned on for instance, this then causes more hydrocarbons in the fuel within the combustion chamber to be consumed in order to provide the necessary energy for the kettle and cope with the extra load. I know that on the grand scale of things this would prove to be virtually negligible if indeed it were true, but it is something i find myself considering. Sorry if this seems fairly trivial to you lot.

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Scott Seedell - BSc(Hons) IEng MIET
 05 August 2009 12:08 AM
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diviner

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Originally posted by: scottseedell

There is another similar topic that i have discussed with people of varying degrees of experience and very contrasting opinions. Would us using more and more solar energy have an effect on the sun?


Absolutely not.

Crude analogy:-

Someone is spraying you, and everything else within reach, with a hose. You are thirsty, so you catch some of the water in your hands and drink it. Does this increase the amount of water being sprayed? Of couse not.

Your "generator" analogy is faulty because it posits a direct coupling between the energy source and potential energy sinks. No such coupling exists in the sun/earth system.

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Ian Gordon, MIET CITP MBCS
 05 August 2009 09:15 AM
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ectophile

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Originally posted by: shepherdd
If someone can come up with an invention that converts high volume-low temperature into low volume-high temperature, then we will be getting somewhere.


It's called a heat pump, and you can already get them. The most common sort is the ground source heat pump, which sucks heat out of your back garden, through a long buried pipe, and pushes it out into the house. Air and water source pumps are also possible.

The principle is similar to that of a fridge or freezer - it uses a compressor to transfer heat from one place to another.

The reason that most of us don't have them is that they are so expensive to install.

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S P Barker BSc PhD MIET
 05 August 2009 07:47 PM
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scottseedell

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Originally posted by: diviner

Originally posted by: scottseedell



There is another similar topic that i have discussed with people of varying degrees of experience and very contrasting opinions. Would us using more and more solar energy have an effect on the sun?




Absolutely not.



Crude analogy:-



Someone is spraying you, and everything else within reach, with a hose. You are thirsty, so you catch some of the water in your hands and drink it. Does this increase the amount of water being sprayed? Of couse not.



Your "generator" analogy is faulty because it posits a direct coupling between the energy source and potential energy sinks. No such coupling exists in the sun/earth system.








Thanks for the reply but im not so sure that there is no direct coupling between the sun and the earth. For instance, imagine our sun burning away but is somehow scooped out of the solar system and placed into a vast, pitch black infinite void of nothingness(this is theoretical obviously as no such place can exist). There is absolutely nothing to absorb any of the sun's energy, no matter or substance whatsoever and no reflective material either. Going by very basic engineering science, energy cannot be 'lost' or disappear and so the sun must stop producing energy and the nuclear fission reactions inside it must cease to occur. This has to happen, right? Surely if nothing at all is around to absorb its energy, none will be spent.
So picture now that something has been placed inside this infinite void, a ball of matter of some description. This ball of matter will absorb some of the sun's energy and as it is the only thing around which can do, the sun begins to spend some of its fuel again. Is this not exactly what is happening within our solar system? Im not saying im right, and respect your analogy about the hosepipe but there must be a link between the sun and any matter absorbing its energy, whether its a tangible physicality or not. Any feedback would be welcomed.

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Scott Seedell - BSc(Hons) IEng MIET
 05 August 2009 09:40 PM
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westonpa

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scottseedell,

The sun puts its energy out regardless and we on Earth neither increase or decrease what it puts out.

In addition to this the sun puts its energy out in all directions around its spherical shape and the Earth only catches about 0.5 of 1 billionth of that energy. In addition to that even that small part is currently about 15,000 times our total energy needs. We humans are completely insignificant with regards to the amount of energy the sun generates.

Regards.
 05 August 2009 10:28 PM
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scottseedell

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Originally posted by: westonpa

scottseedell,



The sun puts its energy out regardless and we on Earth neither increase or decrease what it puts out.



In addition to this the sun puts its energy out in all directions around its spherical shape and the Earth only catches about 0.5 of 1 billionth of that energy. In addition to that even that small part is currently about 15,000 times our total energy needs. We humans are completely insignificant with regards to the amount of energy the sun generates.



Regards.


Thank you. Im not disputing the fact that the earth uses a very insignificant amount of the total amount of the sun's energy but was just querying the possible effects(however minimal) that our planet could have on it. Glad to hear some informed opinion on this. As technology increases, i can foresee a massive increase in the amount of solar power that the planet uses and it was the original topic(about the effects on the environment from using wave power) that got me thinking about the possibility of sustained years of solar use having an effect on the sun. I think solar equipment will be engineered to absorb more and more of the sun's energy(i read somewhere that solar panels absorb 10 times less solar energy than plant life), will really take off and be a realistically viable solution to our energy requirements in a few years. This will hopefully help to decrease the amount of oil-related war on the planet, but that's another story!

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Scott Seedell - BSc(Hons) IEng MIET
 05 August 2009 11:59 PM
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westonpa

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scottseedell,

With regards to our future energy requirements the calculations have already been done and we humans cannot build any form of energy generation and/or conversion fast enough. Basically we started about 20 years to late and every day that passes puts us further behind which basically means we are all going to have to use less. Solar panels are ok in particular parts of the world but then there is the problem of getting the electricity to where it is needed. The big money is being invested in the means to improve energy efficiences and reduce human energy usage and nuclear fusion.

Regards.
 31 August 2009 05:22 AM
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EoinDonnellon

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The one to watch here which has quantifiable effects is small scale hydro power.
The energy extracted from rivers is energy the river no longer can use to shift sediment or scour the riverbed to generate fresh gravel for spawning redds etc. These effects are never included in any environmental impact assessment I have seen. I think this is a wilful rather than inadvertent 'oversight' by those involved in these schemes.

It seems many people think there's 'free energy' everywhere in nature and to extract it is always a green solution.
Unfortunately with small scale hydro this is only true if we close our eyes and stick our fingers in our ears.

As others indicate the future will judge us harshly for this negligence.
 31 August 2009 12:05 PM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: EoinDonnellon

The one to watch here which has quantifiable effects is small scale hydro power.

The energy extracted from rivers is energy the river no longer can use to shift sediment or scour the riverbed to generate fresh gravel for spawning redds etc. These effects are never included in any environmental impact assessment I have seen. I think this is a wilful rather than inadvertent 'oversight' by those involved in these schemes.



It seems many people think there's 'free energy' everywhere in nature and to extract it is always a green solution.

Unfortunately with small scale hydro this is only true if we close our eyes and stick our fingers in our ears.



As others indicate the future will judge us harshly for this negligence.


This is a good point because also the increasing sediment makes it more difficult for the river to move extra water during heavy rains which generally leads to flooding. The rush to fix one problem, without good planning and design, generally leads to other problems later on!

Regards.
 27 September 2009 09:39 AM
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sbdesign

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Trees also slow the wind speed at low levels, but does anyone consider this? The UK was covered in trees until a few centuries ago. The effect of that would have probably been much larger than the effect of wind turbines, -by a factor of a thousand times or more? Wouldn't the effect of pine plantations, buildings, (especially high-rise) have a much larger effect?
 29 September 2009 02:42 PM
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dvaidr

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I remember reading about Gladstone(?) passing comment on Stephenson's Rocket opining that humans would never be able withstand the forces on the body and the very bones will be shaken from the body at unnaturally high speeds.

Perhaps, it's just one of those.....

Chaos Theory is a relatively new idea. Perhaps, that's all it is. But when one take into account, the number of hurricanes, twisters, breezes, gales which are present daily at the earth's atmosphere, there must be Giga Watts of energy. There was in North Ayrshire last night!
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