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NIMBY Proof Wind Farm

Use national grid pylons
  (+24, -1)(+24, -1)(+24, -1)
(+24, -1)
  [vote for,

One of the main problems with wind farms is objections from local residents who don't want their views spoiled.

[rant]Their homes may be about to be washed away by rising sea levels or their children have asthma caused by polution but as long as they can see their nice view through their chemical suits it's okay. [/rant]

Anyway I digress. It seems to me that the answer is to put wind turbines where the view has already been spoilt. Why not put a small turbine on top of every pylon? There must be thousands of them in the UK alone.

The towers might have to be strengthened to accomodate the additional weight of a turbine, I have no idea how much they weigh.

The equipment to convert the power produced by the windmills into the correct voltage A.C. for distribution could be shared among adjacent installations for example, 10 windmills.

Also no new distribution grid would be needed as it is sitting right on top of existing infrastructure.

Yes I know that the sights probably are not the windiest and that big wind mills are more efficient but it would be better than nothing.

rambling_sid, Dec 05 2004

Vertical-axis windmills http://images.googl...p&ct=title&resnum=4
As mentioned in an annotation [Vernon, Jul 21 2009]

(?) Vertical-axis windmills feed transmission grid http://www.popsci.c...ions-greener-future
Noticed this in PopSci Aug09 issue [csea, Jul 22 2009]

Idea Stolen! http://www.metropol...harvesting-the-wind
Idea stolen and $10K awarded [DrFever, Sep 15 2009]


       What is a pylon there? Here it is a road cone.   

       Big metal things for holding up electrical wires.
harderthanjesus, Dec 05 2004

       [2 fries] pylons are the large metal towers that carry high voltage electricity cables across country. Generally located right in the middle of beautiful countryside.   

       [rambling sid] nice idea, but yes you would have to rebuild the pylons. The electricity companies would use the investment as a chance to bury the cables, so you wouldn't have anywhere to put the wind turbines. Catch 22.
Belfry, Dec 05 2004

       Wouldn't this just make the ordinary persons view that much worse while leaving the better off people to enjoy their scenic vistas? Power lines typically run past the back yards of the little guy. NIMBY is typically the cry of the upper crust. The lower crust is too busy earning a living. This idea is equivalent to the proposal to burn the rubber tires where the garbage dump is because the people there already have bad smells in the air.
hangingchad, Dec 05 2004

       At least in England pylons are positioned in an egalitarian fashion: they screw up the views of everybody, rich and poor alike. Viva la revolution!
Belfry, Dec 05 2004

       Millions of small propellers could spin on the high voltage cables.
FarmerJohn, Dec 05 2004

       Not being an expert in electical engineering, is there any way the turbines could be connected straight into the national grid? Or would they become ridiculously heavy and expensive?   

       [Belfry], if the UK is aiming to get 10% of its power from renewables there might be very good financial incentives for an energy company to do this. As for the premise that wind turbines "spoil the view", I find them rather impressive and uplifting structures in what is already a heavily industrialised countryside. Nobody complains about the rampant deforestation of pretty much all of Scotland over the last 300 years for example.
suctionpad, Dec 05 2004

       I agree with you. I like wind farms. <begin rant>The simple fact is that the UK government is bulls***ing about that 10%. About 6 months before the deadline they will reduce the commitment to what has actually been achieved. Mark my words, we will very soon see the start of massive reinvestment in nuclear in this country cos it is the easiest option and won't threaten a reduction in power available so we don't have to actually improve effiency at all. Ditto for the USA, but 10 times worse. <end rant>
Belfry, Dec 05 2004

       I suspect that the wind don't blow to a good enough degree in all those pylon locations. Also, [suctionpad]'s first question is significant. How do you incorporate this small amount of power at (millions) of disparate locations?.
gnomethang, Dec 05 2004

       I like [FJ]'s idea. Think of those fairground windmills that are strung out on a piece of string like bunting. I think the power lines would look lovely like that. Multicoloured.
wagster, Dec 05 2004

       i really like the idea of stringing lots of little windmills on the HT cable itself. Perhaps they could rotate around the cable (think horizontal Savonius rotors), and use permanent magnets to dump power straight into the line by induction.   

       Sorry, it's late at night and the internal geometry of generators temporarily escapes me.   

       (right hand rule? left hand rule?)
BunsenHoneydew, Dec 07 2004

       Alternatively, you could try and divert the wind into either an artificial or natural wind-tunnel, and mix it up with some art. Something like the Gugenheim-Bilboa, the Sydney Opera House or Tokyo Airport building would be nifty.
RayfordSteele, Dec 08 2004

       It's not the weight of the turbine (and generator) that's the problem (well, mostly not) - it's mainly the force of the wind on the blades of the turbine. You can't get away from that; it's the reaction to it that's generating your electricity.   

       The other big problem is that you have to make the pylons taller than they are already, by an amount greater than the radius of the blades...
Cosh i Pi, Apr 11 2007

       Hows about a windy proof NIMB farm?
wagster, Apr 12 2007

       // nice idea, but yes you would have to rebuild the pylons. The electricity companies would use the investment as a chance to bury the cables, so you wouldn't have anywhere to put the wind turbines. Catch 22.   

       um, let's just forget that statement, shall we? The capacitance losses associated with under-ground high voltage ac power transfer have been known as long as the pylons have been around, and the best ways round it are expensive and naff (Pump pressurised oil in a pipe around the cable, if memory serves). Unless I've missed something, that is, it's been 10 years since I studied it.   

       I love the idea of mini turbines on the cables. They tend to be grouped in bunches of 3 or more (minimises capacitance losses, which are a factor even in air), so a turbine on a ring bearing around the lot would be necessary. Don't know how you could achieve the necessary voltage and frequency without a box, though.
TheLightsAreOnBut, Apr 12 2007

       They do bury cables, though. I believe the current best option technically for buried cables is DC, which reduces capacitance losses to zero, but introduces AC->DC and DC->AC conversion losses. Worthwhile for longer runs - it's certainly the technique used for the cross-channel link.   

       It's expensive - either in capital costs, or in running costs (including energy losses), or in a bit of both.   

       Incidentally, high voltage cables are often in groups of 4 rather than 3, and sometime 2. (I've never seen 5.) I can't see why parallel cables would reduce capacitance losses, but they certainly help with thermal dissipation. Temperature rises are a problem for two reasons: firstly, the cables sag as they warm up, and secondly, the electrical resistance rises as they warm up, increasing thermal losses.   

       You'd need to group your round-the-cable turbines in groups of three, too: a large one in the middle rotating in one direction, and a pair of smaller ones each side rotating the other way. Otherwise you'd tend to twist the cables.
Cosh i Pi, Apr 12 2007

       Thanks for the info - as I say, my memory is scratchy. Still, I reckon pylon technology is cheaper, or else they wouldn't have spent so much upgrading existing pylon routes (NIMBY stops them creating new ones in the UK) rather than digging new lines next to gas/water routes. Do they not have more resistive losses in DC?   

       I thought that I had seen 5 lines before. It's true they do two, too. The losses decrease in parallel lines as the electromagnetic field combines, resulting in less field "perimeter". How do they help with thermal dissipation? Is that as compared to one whopping great thick line?   

       Nice thought on the counter-rotating turbines.
TheLightsAreOnBut, Apr 12 2007

       The "less field perimeter" thing sounds strange, to me. As I see it, you're simply increasing the physical size of the "capacitor plate", which generally increases capacitance. The improvement in thermal dissipation is indeed as compared with a single cable of the equivalent cross section - and it's because of the increased surface area exposed to the coolant (air).   

       You might have seen 5, I don't know. My mental picture is of one with four, but I'm fairly sure I've seen both 3 and 2 as well.   

       And yes, I'm absolutely sure pylons are cheaper than undergrounding. And no, resistive losses are no worse with DC than with AC (assuming the same voltage); inductive and capacitive losses are 0. The problems are the conversion between AC and DC, and the fact that you can't use a transformer to convert between low and high voltage with DC.
Cosh i Pi, Apr 12 2007

       Ah yes, every time I see a power pylon it reminds me of man's ability to generate electricity
sprogga, Apr 14 2007

       This is a simple problem that can be easily solved with economics. Subsidize wind generated electricty and heavily tax power generated by fossil or nuclear fuels. NIMBYs will soon be screaming for wind farms ...
nuclear hobo, Apr 14 2007

       I thought about subscribing to green electricity, but it's a fraud. When you look down the end of the wire it's the same reddish colour it always was.
spidermother, Apr 14 2007

       Bun for the rant [+]
pertinax, Apr 16 2007

       How about twelve miles off of the coast? Just keep them out of the shippings lanes. Plenty of wind. Who would see them?
Garpoosy-cat, Apr 30 2007

       // tax power generated by fossil or nuclear fuels. NIMBYs will soon be screaming for wind farms ...// Yes, but not in our own backyards. I'd like them to be in your backyard, with a long wire running to my house with all that cheap electricity. However good windfarms are, they're better elsewhere.   

       Offshore is good, though nuclear is better.   

       In I also love FJ's idea of cable-mounted pinwheels, coupled with Bunsen's direct induction. Maybe one of them should think it out and post a "Power generating power line" idea.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 30 2007

       nulcear is good, as long as it's not in my backyard, or my neighbour's backyard, or indeed in any backyard within wire-running distance.   

       Err - so what's the point of it?
Cosh i Pi, May 02 2007

       Given the choice between (a) an oil- or coal-fired power-station (b) a nuclear power station or (c) a windfarm of sufficient size to match the output of a or b - I would go for (b) any day, on grounds of aesthetics and risk (environmental benefits are secondary).
MaxwellBuchanan, May 02 2007

       I think all pylons should be made to look like trees so they don't spoil the countryside. As long as you can make wind turbines that look like a flock of starlings I'm all for it.
marklar, May 02 2007

       They did that in Scotland, and it never did look quite right...
froglet, May 02 2007

       Probably forgot to put kilts on.
shapu, May 02 2007

       Existing pylons will probably be fine if the added windmills are of the vertical-axis variety (link). They don't weigh too much, and they can fit easily at the very top of each pylon --where, nicely enough, the wind tends to blow faster.
Vernon, Jul 21 2009

       Serendipitously, I ran across an article in PopSci in the library today that describes this idea (including vertical-axis Windmills) to a T. [link]
csea, Jul 22 2009

       My understanding of why 3 wires can have lower losses is that they are carrying 3 phase power; the average current in the three wires is sin(x) + sin(x+2pi/3) + sin(x+4pi/3) = 0, so at a distance from the wires, the electric field tends towards zero also. You see, [Cosh i Pi], sometimes a trigonometric function can simplify to zero. Amazing really.
spidermother, Jul 22 2009


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