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'The Fight Is Not Over,' Say Groups, as Coal Lover Wins Re-Election in Australia

'The Fight Is Not Over,' Say Groups, as Coal Lover Wins Re-Election in Australia

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Climate activists in Australia called for escalated pressure after the surprise re-election of conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison over the weekend

"The fight is not over," said Greenpeace Australia.

It must piss off Trumpenstein that they have developed so called wind mills without blades. He won’t be able to sell sick jokes about dead birds anymore, except to the really, really stupid ones of MAGA town.

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If they don’t have blades, how do they generate torque?

I’m not sure which bladeless design is being referred to. Doing a search brought up https://www.wired.com/2015/05/future-wind-turbines-no-blades/ which calls out a cheaper less efficient design but even factoring in higher density of units, it seems like the design isn’t a winner yet on cost or efficiency per acre. Seems creative though assuming their claims are accurate.

The efficiency figures mean nothing without the effective cross-section to the wind, which I presume will be tiny for a mast relative to the area swept by turbine blades. And they must have some sort of magical generator to turn a small-amplitude wobble into large amounts of electricity–to say nothing of the fact that as soon as you start taking energy out of a wobble, you essentially have a wobble suppressor.

This looks like it has scam written all over it–despite the gushing and uncritical articles about it from serious tech and engineering publications. I guess in an age of tech wonders, even magical claims can seem plausible, if they sound sciency enough.

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I agree, looks like a scam - just looking at the top picture on that article suggests a density of towers where the wind is just going to blow right through - I can’t believe the wind is slowed at all with 10x as many mast-heads as a conventional farm let alone 2x the author suggests.

I probably shouldn’t have linked to Wired which I don’t have that much respect for, but Technology Review also has a story (https://www.technologyreview.com/s/537721/bladeless-wind-turbines-may-offer-more-form-than-function/) which rightfully says skeptics are not optimistic regardless of any cost advantages to lay down enough towers to make up for massive efficiency differences. And still the TR story doesn’t give any actual numbers - have they not prototyped a smaller version of this thing? What did it do? Did they try putting 10 together at a density for which they are planning and see what that did? It’s kind of annoying for Technology Review not to have done better.

It’s too bad a mechanical connection from the top of the mast head of a conventional turbine to the base isn’t practical since that would probably result in a lighter tower with perhaps less maintenance to do up high. But the cost and/or losses must not have worked out - I’m sure it’s been considered.

Unrelated (except in trying for an unusual solution), did you tell me what you thought of the grid storage system using concrete blocks and a crane? That looks like it has more potential than this to be a real system that could compete with batteries (until they get a lot better if they do). I worry that articles I read on that were also hype and thin on any technical detail.

And most of that slowing would not be to produce power. The dominant vector will be to try to bend the poles in the direction of airflow, which is just useless drag. Power supposedly comes from lateral oscillation, and the lateral vector that drives that will be tiny compared to the drag vector.

A much more physically-plausible design would be to replace the cylindrical tower with a flattened blade, and then to angle the blade to make it swing to one side, then rotate it so the angle swings it back the other direction, like a wind-powered metronome. That would give you some real swing arc and some real torque to work with at the ground. But you’d still need a mechanical transmission to convert that swinging motion into generator motion, and the energy losses from arresting each swing and reversing direction would be huge in comparison to continuous rotary motion. So if they had proposed such a system, it would have been easy to see how it is inferior to a standard 3-blade propeller. But somehow, their black box “linear” generator adds just enough mystery and magic to make the concept sound great to tech sorts who, I’m guessing, are going along and just echoing the promo material because they don’t want to reveal that they don’t understand how in principle it could actually work.

“It’s too bad a mechanical connection from the top of the mast head of a conventional turbine to the base isn’t practical since that would probably result in a lighter tower with perhaps less maintenance to do up high. But the cost and/or losses must not have worked out - I’m sure it’s been considered.”

The most efficient transfer system would be a chain drive, which would still be heavy, would add a variable compressive force to the tower, and would introduce more things to break down and probably would not save many worker lives. Converting to electricity right in the nacelle is the simplest, cheapest, most reliable option.

“did you tell me what you thought of the grid storage system using concrete blocks and a crane? That looks like it has more potential than this to be a real system that could compete with batteries (until they get a lot better if they do).”

For their large system, it looked like they might have around 100 meters peak working height for their blocks. And they are talking about 35 tonne blocks, so if they manage a descent rate of, say, 5 meters per second, that would give them about 1.7 megawatts of available energy to work with–for 20 seconds. Then the crane has to uncouple, reposition to a new high-block, latch on, lift and swing before it can start its next descent. As the concrete tower gets shorter, the descent time would decrease, but the reset time between cycles would not decrease by as much. Overall, to get the 20 megawatt-hours capacity they are talking about, they’d need over 4000 working blocks (not including base blocks), and as the concrete tower is disassembled, its area footprint increases, so they would probably need some sort of rail system for transporting blocks out of the working zone as the towers came down, and to reverse that as the towers went up. And using a single swing boom crane involves swing and rotation control issues, which adds time if you want reasonably accurate block placement–and if you are trying to minimize acceleration strain on the crane structure

Gravity storage is pretty weak, which is why it is tough to make it cost-effective, and easiest if you can use water. Concrete stacking might be one of the better gravity storage options where it is pan-flat and water resources are poor, but even then, I wouldn’t use a tower-mast swing-boom crane. I think I would use a gantry crane. In schematic form, this would look like a giant saw-horse or swingset frame, with the crane carriage traveling along the top bar, and then I would put the whole crane on rails (with the cross-boom straddling the space between track lines) and the working area would become the whole space between the track lines. Want more space? Just add more track length. There would be the energy it takes to move the whole crane structure, but with regen braking, a lot of that energy could be recovered. The crane would be more costly, but it would be well triangulated, and should have much better fatigue resistance and longer service life, and with a four-cable lift, you could do swing and rotation damping (and have protection against a cable failure) and reset times would be reduced, which means fewer additional crane systems would be needed for continuous power. It would also mean a lot fewer rail cars, since you’d be moving the crane instead of the blocks.

But still, this would be a lot of work and expense for such meager output. It would probably take at least three crane systems to manage continuous power, and even then you’d be talking about less than 2 megawatts–what one wind turbine can put out these days. Compare this to much cheaper thermal storage, where one fairly conventional tank (such as the kind Moltex is looking to use) can hold about 200 MWhe worth of energy (ten times what the large Energy Vault system would be trying for) with a discharge rate that could be up to a thousand times what the crane storage system could deliver. All the thermal storage system approach needs is a source of heat.

It may seem counterintuitive that the potential energy in massive concrete blocks at dizzying heights could be so much less than the energy in some molecules bouncing around in an excited state, but if you drop a large rock off a five-story building, you’d basically need a thermographic camera to be able to detect the small amount of temperature increase that would impart to the rock and ground. It would scarcely be noticeable by touch.