$100,000 turbines to create $1.50 in electricity monthly

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/06/100000-turbines-to-create-1.html

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Here’s a link to the news article cited:


On the face of it, this does sound ridiculous, but I wonder if they’re accounting for all the possible costs. For instance, trenching an electricity cable over to the lampposts isn’t free.

Battery-backed solar power would probably be more appropriate for this application.


Ugh. Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs). Maybe someday they will actually work, but right now they are pure snake oil. Like thorium reactors, they are always just about to change everything, but never actually seem to live up to the hype.


25 years x 12 months x $1.50/month = $450 =/= $24,145. Someone’s numbers are wrong.


Oh well. Not a great investment for the town. That being said, the turbines are meant to do other things than simply generate electricity. They are meant to be aesthetically pleasing as well as a way to educate people about the potential for renewable energy.

Is this a horrific boondoggle as I’m sure some Wingers would have you believe? I don’t think so, but then again it’s not a good investment either.


Good intentions aside, I have to wonder what sort of expert advice they sought, beyond that of those who stood to profit from the construction? This reminds me too much of the school districts in the '90s who would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on computer equipment no one knew how to use or integrate into a coherent education plan.


3 kilowatts an hour but under normal conditions will generate a quarter of that, Shere said.

Google says 1 kWh was 12c in 2011.

So this would be making about $3 a day, which would be about $25K over 25 years?


From the source article, it’s “$1.50 per month in savings”. Whatever that means.

The whole article is an embarrasement to maths.

“They can generate up to 3 kilowatts an hour but under normal conditions will generate a quarter of that, Shere said.”

What? What?


…Correct me if I’m wrong, but kW/h is not a standard measurement.

Either you measure output at a point in time (kW) or over a period of time (kWh). kW/h sounds like you’d be measuring the change in output over a period of time.

But, let’s interpret it in a way that makes sense. That they expect it to average an output of .75 kW, which means that it’d be 18 kWh/day. At the current Washington electric rate (8.53¢/kWh), that would be about $1.50/day. That brings us up to ~$14,000 over 25 years. Which is at least in the right order of magnitude.


The math is embarrassing. KW/h is a nonsense unit, since the kW already includes a “per hour” element - the Watt is 1 Joule/Second. kW/h would really be a form of acceleration of energy use.

They are probably thinking about the confusing but real unit kWh, which is a kW*h, aka 1000 Joules * Hour/Second. Despite having the “hour” in the name, it is a quantity of Joules, which is the actual measure of energy, the energy you would use if you consumed energy at a rate of 1 kW for one hour. It is analogous to the fact that if you drive at 60 miles per hour for 1 hour, you go 60 miles.

In the US, kWhs of energy (a quantity, not a rate), are worth 8-25 cents, depending on where you are, and what rate structure you are under with your utility. Projections of future savings usually include two big factors - a degradation of the equipment, and increases in energy prices, which is why a savings projection is rarely just an arithmetic product of the energy value and the years. If it is a commercial deal, you probably will also see numbers calculated by the Net Present Value method, which discounts future revenue (future money is worth less than today money), making the math even trickier.


I used a slightly lower published rate for Port Washington, and got a bit less than $12K over 25 years, so I think we know where the ballpark is. It’s still a lot less than $100K.

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Does this picture from Flickr show the wind turbines? Am I not seeing them? Is it a view from the wind turbines? A picture to draw me in? Everything about this post is slightly unclear, starting with the fact that @Dexterious had to supply the link to an article so bad that it actually removed information from my mind rather than adding it. Or perhaps am I missing the crowd sourcing, community aspect of this post? I hate to complain but every so often my confusion rises to comment level. I guess I shouldn’t talk, my own blog is dead.


o_0 Unless you are referring to the quaint ones often found on the prairies of the Midwest to pump water, I am afraid I have no idea what you are talking about. They are eyesores for the most part.

You could buy a mess of solar garden lights for $100,000.


Does this help? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilowatt_hour

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Thank you I was guestimating at about 10000 years. So was kind of confused.


They look cool though.

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We’ve got a similar rig in Sydney, although the turbine powers a lighting/art installation and is itself intended as a part of the art.


Looks nice to me, but each to their own.


Ah, well lacking a pic of the actual turbine, I was going off of the typical 3 bladed variety. Yeah, that isn’t bad. Not really great, but not as bad.