New Oahu 30 megawatt wind farm breaks ground

Ground was broken today for a new 30 megawatt wind farm to be built on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.   This wind project, which is being built by Kahuka Wind Power LLC, a division of First Wind, Inc, will consist of a dozen 2.5 megawatt wind turbines and should be completed early next year.  It will produce enough electricity to power about 7,700 homes.

The new Hawaiian windmill farm will also contain a battery system that will help stabilize the output of the wind farm.    One interesting note is that since Hawaii relies on imported oil to generate about 90% of its electricity, this new  wind farm will have a direct impact on the amount of oil that Hawaii uses.   The amount of electricity predicted to be produced by these new turbines will allow Hawaii to reduce the amount of its imported oil by about 139,500 barrels per year.   While the company acknowledges that the 30 megawatts is only a small part of the overall amount of electricity generated on the island, it represents one of the first moves towards decreasing Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil.

Location of Kahuka Hills wind farm
Location of Kahuka Hills wind farm

One thought on “New Oahu 30 megawatt wind farm breaks ground

  1. The tragic renewable energy fad amounts to an unwitting genocide against the poor worldwide. Renewable energy schemes are not sustainable environmentally, economically, and politically. There is a far better energy solution that is low in cost, safe, and carbon free.

    EXAMPLE: To provide 100% of New York City with electricity from wind power would require impossible around-the-clock winds within a limited speed range, and a wind farm the size of the entire state of Connecticut. To meet 100% of United States electricity demand with wind power would require the same impossible weather conditions and a wind farm covering an area larger than Texas and Louisiana combined. [Source – Scientist Jesse H. Ausubel, Director of the Program for the Human Environment, and author of “Renewable and nuclear heresies“]

    It is mathematically impossible to replace oil, coal, and natural gas with windmills, solar panels, and biofuels. Renewable energy schemes will cause even more food price hyperinflation, starvation, greater environmental damage, and economic collapse. Hobbits may be able to live poetically, generating energy from the wind, the sun, and the soil. Real human beings living in an industrialized civilization need highly concentrated nonrenewable energy sources to survive.

    Renewable energy leads to food supply collapse

    Renewable energy schemes other than hydroelectric power take up too much land area and produce too little energy to be of any economic value. Biofuels are the worst disaster of the 21st century, causing the starvation deaths of millions of people worldwide by displacing food production. Biofuel farming erodes topsoil, causes water pollution and water shortages, skyrockets the cost of fertilizer, and has accelerated global warning by increasing the release of greenhouse gases. Nitrogen fertilizers used to grow biofuel crops unleash large amounts of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas estimated to be 296 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Indonesia is now the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, because burning down forests to grow biofuels releases their carbon content into the atmosphere. Liquid biofuels made from switchgrass, wood chips, or food products are so costly and inefficient to manufacture that they provide little, if any, net energy gain, and cellulosic ethanol is even more expensive to produce than corn ethanol. William Jaeger, an Oregon Science University agricultural economics professor who has studied biofuels extensively, spoke out against biofuel production to the Oregon State Legislature and stated that “Given currently available technologies it is difficult to see the net contribution of biofuels rising above 1% of our current fossil fuel energy consumption – for either Oregon or the U.S.”

    Solar and wind power schemes are inherently inefficient and expensive because they rely on natural energy sources that are too diffuse and fluctuating to power an advanced civilization. You don’t get any solar energy at night; you get less on cloudy days, less in the morning, and less in the late afternoon. That makes large scale solar power schemes horribly inefficient no matter how high we can pump up the theoretical peak output of solar panels. The cost of energy storage systems, batteries and other complex systems on top of high panel costs makes solar impossibly expensive for large scale use. Solar advocates have suggested that we could satisfy 69% of U.S. daytime electricity needs for the year 2050 by covering 34,000 square miles of our Southwestern desert with solar panels, transforming it into a vast DEAD ZONE. Solar and wind power schemes are like unreliable employees who only show up for work part of the time, and only when they feel like it.

    Economist Michael J. Trebilcock studied wind power and found that wind power is a complete disaster. He points out that the U.S. Government subsidizes wind power at a rate of $23.34 per MWh compared to just $.25 for natural gas, $.44 for coal, $.67 for hydroelectric power, and $1.59 for nuclear power (2008 EIA statistics). Trebilcock discovered that Denmark has over 6,000 wind turbines that supplement its energy grid, but has not been able to close even a single fossil fuel power plant as a result, because extra fossil energy is needed when the wind stops blowing. In 2006 carbon dioxide emissions in Denmark rose by a whopping 36%, showing that large scale wind power projects do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions in real-world situations. Because of wind power, Denmark now has the highest electricity rates in Europe. A recent study of Spain’s energy program found that for every job created by state funded wind power schemes, 2.2 jobs were lost due to higher energy costs, and each new wind power job cost almost $2,000,000. in government subsidies.

    It is currently politically correct to condemn fossil fuels as evil, but if humans never used fossil fuels there would be no modern medicine, no efficient transportation system, no electronics or modern conveniences, and no large scale human food supply. In a fossil fuel free world we would be stuck in a primitive, stone age society based on subsistence farming, domestic animal grazing, hunting and fishing. That may sound like wholesome bucolic fun until you realize that the average human lifespan would be somewhere between 20 to 35 years, and the total world population would be a billion people at most.

    The human food supply was built on highly concentrated fossil fuel energy and cannot be maintained and expanded as needed with weak and inefficient renewable energy schemes. It takes enormous amounts of energy to produce food, and in the largest sense one could say that FOOD EQUALS ENERGY AND ENERGY EQUALS FOOD. The higher we pump up energy costs with idealistic renewable energy schemes, the higher the price we pay for food. Food price inflation has caused climbing death rates around the world, and it is currently estimated that approximately 20,000 children die of malnutrition and related illness every day. The humane way to curb world population growth is to provide universal family planning education and financial incentives for people to have fewer children, not through the intentional starvation of the poor.

    It is a mathematically provable fact that the only energy source that is big enough and concentrated enough to practically replace our vast fossil fuel energy reservoir is nuclear power, and carbon free nuclear energy is our only hope for limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The United States Congress is planning to legislate high taxes on CO2 emissions, but if we do not have sufficient nuclear energy capacity to provide us with carbon free energy, such draconian tax schemes will collapse our economy. Instead of taxing already expensive energy and food, our leaders should reduce the red tape required to build nuclear power plants and limit lawsuits against power plant construction. France relies heavily on nuclear power and has the cleanest air and lowest electricity rates in Europe. You often hear unjustified scare stories about nuclear power, but it has a far better safety record than any fossil fuel and will not produce the kind of massive ecological and food supply destruction caused by biofuels, wind, and solar power schemes.

    The revolutionary Earth friendly Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor

    The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) solves all of the major problems associated with nuclear power. LFTRs transform thorium into fissionable uranium-233, which then produces heat through controlled nuclear fission. LFTRs only requires input of uranium or plutonium to kick-start the initial nuclear reaction, and as the fissionable material can come from either spent fuel rods or old nuclear warheads, LFTRs will inevitably be used as janitors to clean up old nuclear waste. Once started, the controlled nuclear reactions are self-perpetuating as long as the reactor is fed thorium. LFTRs are highly fuel efficient and burn up 100% of the thorium fed them. Light water reactors typically burn only about 3% of their loaded fuel, or about .7% of the fundamental raw uranium which must be enriched to become fissionable. As LFTR fuel is a molten liquid salt, it can be cleansed of impurities and refortified with thorium through elaborate plumbing even while the reactor maintains full power operation. The cost savings of using a liquid fuel is like the difference between making soup vs. baking a wedding cake. Soup is cheap, and you can change ingredients very easily. The reactor works like a Crock-Pot; you keep the fuel cooking in the pot until it is over 99% burned, so LFTRs produce less than 1% of the long-lived radioactive waste of light water reactors, making Yucca Mountain waste storage unnecessary.

    LFTRs produce electric power via a waterless gas turbine system that can use helium, carbon dioxide, or nitrogen gas. The reactors are small and air cooled, so they can be installed anywhere, even in a desert. Robert Hargraves, an LFTR advocate, states that “Liquid fluoride thorium reactors operate at high temperature for 50% thermal/electrical conversion efficiency, thus they need only half of the cooling required by today’s coal or nuclear plant cooling towers.” LFTRs will be manufactured on an assembly line, dramatically lowering costs and enabling electricity generation at a projected rate of about 3 cents per kilowatt hour, which is cheaper than burning coal for power. It has been estimated that a physically small 100 megawatt LFTR could be built for less than 200 million dollars, which is a bargain. Multiple reactors can be installed at one location and connected to a single control room. With convenient modular design, LFTRs can be transported in pieces by truck or barge for easy assembly on site. This allows for swift construction with reliable results, avoiding delays and cost overruns. Rapid assembly line construction also allows for easy updating of the design, which will improve over time like the dramatic evolution of automobiles, airplanes, and computer chips.

    A LFTR can never meltdown, because its fuel is already in a molten state by design. Any terrorists who obtained forceful entry into the reactor complex could not realistically remove any of the hot molten fissionable fuel. Coolant in LFTRs is not pressurized as in light water reactors, and the fuel arrives at the plant pre-burned with fluorine, a powerful oxidizer. This makes a reactor fire or a coolant explosion impossible. LFTRs do not require large, cavernous pressure vessels designed to contain an internal explosion of superheated steam, so LFTR enclosures are tightly fitting and compact, which makes them less expensive. The reactors will be installed underground with a thick reinforced concrete cap, making an attack by a kamikaze airplane pilot ineffective. Overheating of a LFTR expands the molten salt fuel past its criticality point, making the design intrinsically safe due to the unchangeable laws of physics. Even a total loss of operational reactor control would not cause disaster. In addition to the fuel’s natural safety, any excess heat in the reactor core would automatically melt built-in freeze-plugs, causing the liquid fuel to drain via gravity into underground storage compartments where the fuel would then cool into a harmless, noncritical mass.

    Thorium is more abundant in the earth’s crust than tin, and only slightly less abundant than lead. The United States alone has hundreds, if not thousands of years worth of low cost thorium fuel available from domestic sources, and total world thorium supplies are enormous, with estimates ranging from a 10,000 year supply, to a supply lasting millions of years. Until now thorium has been a waste product that has been thrown away by burying it in deserts and in old mine shafts. If we really wanted to find thorium with the same interest we have in finding oil, we could probably obtain more thorium than the human race will ever need to use. NASA rocket scientist Kirk Sorensen stated that “The amount of thorium it would take to power my whole life is the size of a marble that would fit in my hand. The amount of coal that would power my life would bury my yard to 30 or 40 feet.”

    France’s Reactor Physics Group is currently leading in LFTR research. If the United States committed a relatively modest amount of money to develop LFTRs in cooperation with France, a fully operational TOTAL ENERGY SOLUTION might be possible within as little as 5 years, because most of the basic research has already been accomplished and is well proven. LFTR research at the United States Oak Ridge National Laboratory was ended in 1976 because LFTRs cannot practically produce usable nuclear weapons materials.

    The Energy Information Administration (EIA), which provides official energy statistics from the U.S. Government, has projected the estimated cost of electricity from U.S. power plants of different varieties that will come into service in the year 2016. These average levelized costs, expressed in 2007 valued dollars, includes all costs of construction, financing, fuel, and all other operating and decommissioning costs. The EIA also listed the expected Capacity Factor (CF) for each power plant type. A power plant with a CF of 85 generates energy at its rated capacity an average of 85% of the time during a given year. The ideal power plant would have a CF of 100, meaning it could output energy at full power 100% of the time. As capacity factor drops, economic efficiency drops, usefulness drops, and real-world costs increase. In the comparison below I have inflated the projected cost of electricity produced by LFTRs from the projected 3 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 6 cents per kWh in order to allow for unexpected cost overruns.

    Natural Gas in Conventional Combined Cycle @ 8.34 cents per kWh (87 CF) – Not carbon free; small footprint, cost effective and cleanest fossil fuel available.

    Conventional Coal @ 9.3 per cents per kWh (85 CF) – Not carbon free; medium footprint, causes approximately 24,000 U.S. deaths per year due to air pollution, which also damages buildings. Judged in total, coal is not cost effective due to the environmental damage it creates.

    3rd Generation Light Water Reactor Nuclear Power @ 10.48 cents per kWh (90 CF) – Carbon free; small footprint, very high CF, and cost effective. ***Note – As previously stated, these figures are for new construction projects coming on-line in 2016. Our older legacy light water reactors currently produce electricity at a cost of about 2 cents per kWh.

    Geothermal @ 11.67 cents per kWh (90 CF) – Carbon free; high CF, small footprint and cost effective. Geothermal energy is not classified as a renewable energy source because geothermal wells eventually run cold.

    Wind @ 11.55 cents per kWh not including the cost of needed energy storage systems (35.1 CF) – Carbon free; extremely large footprint, not cost effective due to unreliability and very low CF. Most wind turbines shut down when wind speeds drop below 3 to 4 meters per second or rise above 25 meters per second, greatly reducing their total average energy output and making their contribution to our nation’s energy grid unreliable, unpredictable, and unnecessarily costly.

    Solar Thermal Mirror Oven @ 25.75 cents per kWh not including the cost of needed energy storage systems (31.2 CF) – Carbon free, extremely large footprint, not cost effective due to unreliability, high construction cost, and a CF even lower than wind power.

    Solar Photovoltaic Panel Power Plant @ 38.54 cents per kWh not including the cost of needed energy storage systems (21.7 CF) – Carbon free; extremely large footprint; very high construction cost; cannot be updated after manufacture, relatively short lifespan, the lowest CF of all. Solar panels are not cost effective for large scale power production.

    Liquid Fluoride Thorium Nuclear Reactor @ 6.0 cents per kWh (over 90 CF) – Carbon free, smallest ecological footprint; highest CF available; highest cost effectiveness. If things go well, the actual eventual cost per kWh may be at or even lower than the original 3 cents per kWh projection.

    We can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by creating an infrastructure based on thorium power, improved electric car battery technology, and the use of new technology called Green Freedom. The Green Freedom process can create superior quality, sulfur free gasoline and jet fuel made from atmospheric carbon dioxide and hydrogen extracted from water. This energy scheme is cheaper than using pure hydrogen gas as fuel because it is completely compatible with current vehicles and our existing energy distribution infrastructure. Green Freedom can also be used to make much needed synthetic fertilizers. The Green Freedom process demands low cost nuclear energy to work economically, and as the LFTR design can produce energy at a fraction of the cost of traditional light water nuclear reactors, we can have an endless supply of affordable, superior quality synthetic gasoline produced domestically without using any imported oil.

    If you want the world to progress to the kind of wealthy, poverty free civilization portrayed in optimistic science fiction movies, realize that nuclear power is the only way to get there. The appeal of solar and wind power is largely about poetry and symbolism, sending a love letter to mother nature saying that we care. Poetry is fine, but billions will starve if governments try to rely on poetically correct energy sources as a replacement for fossil fuels.

    For links to resources on the Green Freedom synthetic fuel process and the LFTR, see:

    http://thorium.50webs.com/

    For more information about the global biofuel disaster, see:

    http://biofuel.50webs.com/

    Please see the Wired Magazine article on thorium power at:

    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/ff_new_nukes/

    Christopher Calder – nonprofit food security advocate, not in any energy business

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