Wind Turbines in Taiwan?


#21

[quote=“headhonchoII”]They have sprouted all along the West Coast, I can’t say they have made the place look any worse. Taipower built a coal power plant beside Tongxiao Beach resort…which is now closed. They can do worse you know.
The government should plant these things all over Penghu and in the Taiwan strait, that is where they will generate serious power, Penghu is going to be the richest county in Taiwan I bet ya.[/quote]

and then lose most of it trying to get it back to the mainland?


#22

Where do you get that idea? People choose to use lots of energy to do things that could be done with very little energy (or with different forms of energy). They also choose to allow corporations to use fuckin’ huge amounts of energy to do things that often don’t need doing in the first place. There are other choices, and they don’t necessarily involve wearing birkenstocks and not washing your hair.

I’m not especially keen on wind turbines, but in the right location they can be a good solution … and as pretty much everyone else has pointed out, if you make that choice to waste energy, how are the other options better? If anything, the OPs post is a symptom of the poor quality of debate in Taiwan about energy economics and environment issues.

Icon, VAWTs are good (and some of the more recent designs look really nice, I think) but at the moment they have a problem with longevity. Basically, because they’re top-heavy, the bearings get a lot of abuse and it’s a real pain to pull them out and replace them. There are innovations coming along all the time, of course, and the more people buy them the more the developers will be encouraged to invest in R&D.


#23

Where do you get that idea? People choose to use lots of energy to do things that could be done with very little energy (or with different forms of energy). They also choose to allow corporations to use fuckin’ huge amounts of energy to do things that often don’t need doing in the first place. There are other choices, and they don’t necessarily involve wearing birkenstocks and not washing your hair.

I’m not especially keen on wind turbines, but in the right location they can be a good solution … and as pretty much everyone else has pointed out, if you make that choice to waste energy, how are the other options better? If anything, the OPs post is a symptom of the poor quality of debate in Taiwan about energy economics and environment issues.

Icon, VAWTs are good (and some of the more recent designs look really nice, I think) but at the moment they have a problem with longevity. Basically, because they’re top-heavy, the bearings get a lot of abuse and it’s a real pain to pull them out and replace them. There are innovations coming along all the time, of course, and the more people buy them the more the developers will be encouraged to invest in R&D.[/quote]

I have to agree with you.
I like modern conveniences as much as the next guy, but you would be surprised at you can get along fine with adjustments.

Last year I spent more than 6 months off the grid. Loved every minute of it. I had an Android phone to keep up with e-mails, and I also tethered my laptop to it to watch movies and surf the net. I used a small wind generator and a few solar panels to keep it going. I also had a propane generator to power my larger power tools, but found I didn’t need it very much.
For cooking, I used a parabolic solar stove, a rocket stove fueled by pine cones, and a good old-fashioned pit BBQ.
Been back in the world now for 6 months, and I can’t wait to get back to the outback.


#24

[quote=“monkey”]
The real issue with these in-city mini turbines is that half of the time they won’t be spinning at all because there’s no wind. Wind power really only makes sense on the coast or offshore where there’s an almost constant breeze.[/quote]

If they spin half of the time and can provide half of the electricity needed at the time they are spinning then they save over the year about a quarter in electricity.
Since the wind is for free, you do not really have to consider efficiency when proposing a wind turbine. The only thing you have to look at is; will the wind turbine regenerate its investment and will there be an energy surplus?


#25

Exactly … unless you’re providing a large fraction of your grid demand from wind (in Taiwan it’s like 0.5% or something) then the stop-start issue is irrelevant. It’s purely an economic argument. Unfortunately it all gets screwed when the government is subsidising this and offering tax breaks for that. Nobody knows where they stand anymore when there’s a tax rebate this year (but possibly not next year) for installing a wind turbine, a grant for coal-mining or oil-drilling (as in most of the world), and a completely unpredictable wholesale price for electricity because the government is interfering with the tariffs.

Energy policy is one area where governments really need to just butt out and let pure economics set the scene; sadly, its one of the things they just can’t help fiddling with, even though they’re clueless about the issues. The reason renewable power hasn’t already taken over the world is not that it isn’t cost-competitive (solar is already cheaper than both nuclear and gas) but because governments worldwide pour billions into life-support for the dirty technology.

[quote]Last year I spent more than 6 months off the grid. Loved every minute of it. I had an Android phone to keep up with e-mails, and I also tethered my laptop to it to watch movies and surf the net. I used a small wind generator and a few solar panels to keep it going. I also had a propane generator to power my larger power tools, but found I didn’t need it very much.
For cooking, I used a parabolic solar stove, a rocket stove fueled by pine cones, and a good old-fashioned pit BBQ.
Been back in the world now for 6 months, and I can’t wait to get back to the outback.[/quote]
Ah, but did you wash your hair? :wink:

Sounds a lot of fun, was this in Taiwan? How about the solar stove? I’m guessing it only worked on certain sunny days?

You hit the nail on the head, though - the trick is to use the correct energy source for the job in hand. For cooking and high-quality heat, biomass is the most obvious, sensible solution. Low- and medium-quality heat from solar radiation (water, space heating and cooling, some cooking). Electricity from PV. Generators when you’ve got no other choice. If the entire energy-supply industry could be rebuilt that way, we’d not only be more-or-less carbon-neutral, we’d be a lot more efficient, a lot happier, independent of oil suppliers, and with a lot more money left in our pockets after paying the bills.

It would be bloody expensive, certainly … but power loss isn’t an issue. 3-5% maybe.


#26

Finley has got it right, what Taiwan and Taiwanese often miss is the big picture, they are very poor at getting a handle on that.

For instance

-How much power will the wind turbines generate and at what point will they actually allow a reliable reduction in fossil fuel use?
-Is the government currently promoting energy usage by it’s cheap energy policy?
-Is the government encouraging huge energy hungry industrial projects to be maintained or start operations?
-Would it be better both economically and environmentally to site all the turbines on one giant field e.g. Penghu/Taiwan straits rather than stringing a few all the way around the coast of Taiwan?

Obviously throwing up a few hundred wind turbines is not going to make any difference to overall supply/demand compared to other factors mentioned above…this is what annoys me most.

A good illustration is the 3 wind turbines sitting outside the nuclear power station in Kenting or the small solar panel field behind it. Why? What difference are they going to make in THAT location.


#27

[quote=“Deuce Dropper”][quote=“headhonchoII”]They have sprouted all along the West Coast, I can’t say they have made the place look any worse. Taipower built a coal power plant beside Tongxiao Beach resort…which is now closed. They can do worse you know.
The government should plant these things all over Penghu and in the Taiwan strait, that is where they will generate serious power, Penghu is going to be the richest county in Taiwan I bet ya.[/quote]

and then lose most of it trying to get it back to the mainland?[/quote]

Penghu is only a quick boat ride off the coast of Taiwan and roughly in the middle between Taiwan and China. As such it is in an IDEAL position to sell electricity to both Taiwan and China. China has a voarcious appetite for energy and huge pockets to invest in these resources. Every land owner on Penghu is now being compensated with shares in the local wind energy company for allowing wind turbines to be placed on their land, now you might get a clearer picture of what is happening there.

taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/ … 2003498988

Did you know that Penghu is one of the places on earth with the most reliable strongest winds, it blows a gale there for pretty much 6 months of the year! Did you know that the Taiwan straits only have an average depth of 100ms?

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwan_Strait


#28

You know, putting windfarms offshore from Penghu will create a radar shadow beyond which the ROC military won’t be able to see what low-flying PLA Air Force planes are up to.


#29

Oh, headhoncho … how long did you say you’ve been in Taiwan?

The token turbines/PV panels are there so that politicans can take photos beside them (possibly making the fist or two-fingers gesture) for their election-campaign bumpf; so that building companies can doctor those photos and put them in their 200-page glossy A3 brochures for energy-intensive apartments; and so that local industrial Poobahs can say “look how green we are!”. Whether those installations actually produce any payback is completely beside the point.

Or am I just being cynical? I think not:

I was at the renewables show in Taipei a while back; one stand had one of those ‘domestic’ wind turbines. It was built like a tank, about 150kg of aluminium alloy. I was fiddling about with it and the sales girl came up to sing its praises; I was expecting something that size to have a peak output of several kilowatts, but apparently it was rated for ~600W. I said it was too big and heavy. “Yes, yes, too heavy”, said clueless salesgirl with a smile. Translation - we don’t care as long as you buy one.

Then there was the guy with the domestic-size plasma-reforming machine. Garbage in, syngas out. All very clever. “But where does the electricity come from to drive the plasma torch?”, I ask. “Over there”, he says, pointing to a cable a thick as your thumb disappearing into the hall’s power feed. It turned out that you got about 2 joules out (as gas) for every 1 joule of electricity that you put in, but back at the power station they’re turning coal into electricity at ~50% efficiency. This guy with a dozen PhDs had simply invented a machine for turning coal into syngas: 1 joule in, 1 joule out. Just compost the garbage already, and if you really want syngas from coal, well, there are factories for that.


#30

OT but are any of you Forumosans in Taiwan (specifically located here) involved in any kind of alternative / renewable energy fields or industries?


#31

I install solar systems as well as small scale wind turbines.


#32

Exactly … unless you’re providing a large fraction of your grid demand from wind (in Taiwan it’s like 0.5% or something) then the stop-start issue is irrelevant. It’s purely an economic argument. Unfortunately it all gets screwed when the government is subsidising this and offering tax breaks for that. Nobody knows where they stand anymore when there’s a tax rebate this year (but possibly not next year) for installing a wind turbine, a grant for coal-mining or oil-drilling (as in most of the world), and a completely unpredictable wholesale price for electricity because the government is interfering with the tariffs.

Energy policy is one area where governments really need to just butt out and let pure economics set the scene; sadly, its one of the things they just can’t help fiddling with, even though they’re clueless about the issues. The reason renewable power hasn’t already taken over the world is not that it isn’t cost-competitive (solar is already cheaper than both nuclear and gas) but because governments worldwide pour billions into life-support for the dirty technology.

[quote]Last year I spent more than 6 months off the grid. Loved every minute of it. I had an Android phone to keep up with e-mails, and I also tethered my laptop to it to watch movies and surf the net. I used a small wind generator and a few solar panels to keep it going. I also had a propane generator to power my larger power tools, but found I didn’t need it very much.
For cooking, I used a parabolic solar stove, a rocket stove fueled by pine cones, and a good old-fashioned pit BBQ.
Been back in the world now for 6 months, and I can’t wait to get back to the outback.[/quote]
Ah, but did you wash your hair? :wink:

Sounds a lot of fun, was this in Taiwan? How about the solar stove? I’m guessing it only worked on certain sunny days?

You hit the nail on the head, though - the trick is to use the correct energy source for the job in hand. For cooking and high-quality heat, biomass is the most obvious, sensible solution. Low- and medium-quality heat from solar radiation (water, space heating and cooling, some cooking). Electricity from PV. Generators when you’ve got no other choice. If the entire energy-supply industry could be rebuilt that way, we’d not only be more-or-less carbon-neutral, we’d be a lot more efficient, a lot happier, independent of oil suppliers, and with a lot more money left in our pockets after paying the bills.

It would be bloody expensive, certainly … but power loss isn’t an issue. 3-5% maybe.[/quote]

No, it was in the USA, but I am back in Taiwan now. I did wash my hair, using a solar camp shower, basically a bag that is clear on one side and black on the other, it holds 6 gallons of water, and you just hang it up facing the sun until the temp. indicator turns the right color. Yes, the stove only worked on sunny days, but in AZ, that is about 90% of the time. Oviously, I had to cook before dusk as well. The rocket stove is really cool. You can get plans for both using google.


#33

I design power management and metering systems for mid-scale, off-grid solar … also have an unusual vehicle/infrastructure design which might be prototyped sometime this century, when I can be bothered.

Sounds great … always wanted to do that when I was younger but will probably never get the chance now (can’t face another encounter with US airport staff, for one thing). Yeah, rocket stoves are great - classic example of how a little technology and common-sense engineering can make a massive difference. I was tinkering with a similar concept using forced air and torrified biomass for fuel but got bored with it :slight_smile:


#34

I’m not sure it’s a cost effective solution to transport electricity across significant oceanic distances (Penghu to Taiwan). Are there any worldwide examples of deep ocean energy transmission? I do find it hard to believe that the losses would be 3-5% although I haven’t studied typical transmission losses.

But if Taiwan is going to use wind energy then it needs to be on the scale that the US has finally started installing. California has two big valleys (among several others) where they are/have installed 300-500 turbines. And MN and IA (my home) has numerous windfarms going up with 100+ turbines. The key however is using the latest tech turbines which I think are 1-2MW for land (2-3MW offshore). And it is worth mentioning that in MN they also build a natural gas plant near the wind farms that can be used on low wind or peak demand times. But it is typically unused AFAIK.

But is it even possible to build offshore turbines in Taiwan? IIRC the east coast is pretty much a vertical dropoff in most spots so I don’t think it’s an option. but I’m not sure about the west coast. But imo there are a lot of ugly industrial complexes all over the west coast so it’s not a horrible option imo. The other issue that I’m unsure about is the prospect of typhoon damage. There are a lot of typhoons in Taiwan and this is something that most wind turbines areas that I can think of don’t need to deal with. Are there any areas worldwide that regularly get hit by typhoons?

But I’m all for wind energy. I love it but if you’re going to do it then you have to really do it. several wind farms of 200+ 1+MW turbines. That’s what is required to start considering replacing nuclear or coal plants. Otherwise you’re just making a symbolic effort that solves nothing.


#35

I agree with that. I think the lack of open space suitable for large scale deployment wind turbines in Taiwan and the smallness of Taiwan eventually makes any significant use of wind energy just a fantasy. And that’s really a shame. Unfortunately, as so often the solution to Taiwan’s environmental problems (and this includes the water shortage problem, IMHO) is limited by its topography which also often is the cause of the problems in the first place. I would think that’s also the verdict of the local experts.


#36

[quote=“GC Rider”]
I agree with that. I think the lack of open space suitable for large scale deployment wind turbines in Taiwan and the smallness of Taiwan eventually makes any significant use of wind energy just a fantasy. And that’s really a shame. Unfortunately, as so often the solution to Taiwan’s environmental problems (and this includes the water shortage problem, IMHO) is limited by its topography which also often is the cause of the problems in the first place. I would think that’s also the verdict of the local experts.[/quote]

Shouldn’t they build more hydro-power plants then. This way they could solve two problems at once.


#37

Where do you get that idea? People choose to use lots of energy to do things that could be done with very little energy (or with different forms of energy). …etc , see above… There are innovations coming along all the time, of course, and the more people buy them the more the developers will be encouraged to invest in R&D.[/quote]

I have to agree with you.
I like modern conveniences as much as the next guy, but you would be surprised at you can get along fine with adjustments.

Last year I spent more than 6 months off the grid. Loved every minute of it. I had an Android phone to keep up with e-mails, and I also tethered my laptop to it to watch movies and surf the net. I used a small wind generator and a few solar panels to keep it going. I also had a propane generator to power my larger power tools, but found I didn’t need it very much.
For cooking, I used a parabolic solar stove, a rocket stove fueled by pine cones, and a good old-fashioned pit BBQ.
Been back in the world now for 6 months, and I can’t wait to get back to the outback.[/quote]

Agreed. I don’t use much electricity here, but at work I sometimes need to use aircon, because the office is uninhabitable without it.

Not knocking or disputing your experience, but its a lot harder to improvise a non-grid substitute for aircon than it is for cooking, water-heating and a bit of electronics.

Bit OT but I’m wondering if you made or bought your “rocket stove”? Havn’t used one but I was given a “volcano kettle” in the UK.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly_Kettle

Great thing but I havn’t seen them for sale here and they’d be difficult to make.


#38

How about installing some solar panels outside of night-time 7-11’s? You can see them from space and enough power could be harnessed from them to power a small city.


#39

[quote]Agreed. I don’t use much electricity here, but at work I sometimes need to use aircon, because the office is uninhabitable without it.

Not knocking or disputing your experience, but its a lot harder to improvise a non-grid substitute for aircon than it is for cooking, water-heating and a bit of electronics.[/quote]

Well, the point is, one shouldn’t have to improvise. Absorption refrigeration technology is 50 years old. There are commercial companies making absorption refrigeration kit that could be installed in Taiwan’s oh-so-hi-tech-and-luxurious new build apartments, driven from solar heat collectors on the roof, with cold fluid piped around the entire building - as it is in Japan, for example. But it isn’t. Why? Firstly because the government subsidises electricity to such a ridiculously low price that it’s not economically sensible to install solar systems (even though Taiwan’s insolation is a comfortable 3.2-3.5 suns, on average); and secondly because building companies don’t give a rat’s ass about how expensive it is to cool their pisspoor buildings, because it’s the building management company that has to worry about that. They could also design less braindead buildings that don’t heat up like pizza ovens, but that’s probably asking too much.


#40

I research and simulate silicon solar cells.

I know solar needs government subsidies to offer competitive electricity prices, but I never considered that other sources such as nuclear and gas had even heavier subsidies. Can you give examples or good references for learning about government bias towards conventional electricity sources?