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The Forum > Article Comments > Windpower and Sydney to Hobart: reaching the limits > Comments

Windpower and Sydney to Hobart: reaching the limits : Comments

By Graham Young, published 4/1/2019

The race combines disdain for cost with leading edge technology so has to be at one of the pinnacles of windpower.

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I think the telling analogy is that when small yachts are caught in a storm they advised to take down sail and motor to a safe harbour. That seems to confirm that wind power is merely adventitious but heat engines are reliable. Nobody is saying that batteries can replace the backup engine in a sailboat.

By my reckoning electricity sector emissions declined just 2% between 2001 and mid 2018 despite billions ($20bn ?) in subsidies. Most electricity came from thermal plant just like the engine in the sailboat.
Posted by Taswegian, Friday, 4 January 2019 11:25:24 AM
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Some well made points.

It is also worth noting that even the most advanced racing yachts can't gain any speed whatever, if there is no wind.

Maybe the rules could be changed to allow them to use battery power in a calm! Such a rule change of course would lead to the installation of money-no-object batteries. Maybe they could be made in SA assisted by green subsidies.
Posted by Bren, Friday, 4 January 2019 12:39:50 PM
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A clever way to scotch the wild claims of windmill makers and users who rabbit on about a wonderful future for wind power.
Posted by ttbn, Friday, 4 January 2019 12:58:02 PM
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>I think the same is also likely to be true for wind turbines. Physics and budgets are not infinitely elastic.
A quite illogical conclusion to an otherwise logical article.

Unlike racing yachts, which are up against hard physical limits and designed to make maximum use of the wind at virtually any cost, wind turbine improvements generally aren't improvements in performance efficiency. Instead they make:
Improvements in size (bigger wind turbines generate more electricity)
Improvements in cost (cheaper wind turbines are more cost effective for the same output)

There is no reason to suppose those two factors won't continue.

It's even possible there could be bigger improvements in wind turbine design, as those we have in commercial operation are all based on a Danish design. Vertical axis wind turbines are theoretically more efficient, though not as cost effective. But that could change if more work is done on developing them.

It's solar power, not wind, that's revolutionising Australia's electricity industry. But wind power still has a significant role to play, and there's plenty of scope for it to get cheaper.

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Taswegian,
What's the significance of using 2001 as a basis for your reckoning? The peak was around 2007.
Posted by Aidan, Friday, 4 January 2019 2:45:06 PM
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It is not only windmills that have to get bigger to produce more power. The racing yachts are much bigger today than the cruising yachts that started in 46. They are also totally different.

Those early yachts were designed to be safe sea kindly boats. In really nasty conditions you could go below, batten down the hatches & the boat would lie ahull safely, & look after the crew.

Todays boats are so much faster as sea kindly hull shapes are no longer used. Todays racing boasts need their large crew to look after them, they are unsafe left to their own devices in really rough weather.

The hull shape has forsaken safety for speed, as have the rigs become better at extracting every bit of power from the wind, at the cost of safety. These rigs do fall over much more often due to this.

A bit like windmills really. They can produce more, but for how long is doubtful subject.
Posted by Hasbeen, Friday, 4 January 2019 3:10:10 PM
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Aiden 2001 was the start of the RET or MRET as it was called and the beginning of the STC and LGC subsidies. I'm fairly sure its architects thought it would force emissions to rapidly plummet now they want the subsidies extended to 2030. That's all the while saying they are cheaper than alternatives. A convenient form of the sectoral emissions figures is the lower bar chart in
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/dec/13/australias-carbon-emissions-highest-on-record-data-shows
Posted by Taswegian, Friday, 4 January 2019 3:47:55 PM
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