OPM, other people’s money

Often I have made some uncomplimentary remarks in my blogs about alternative energy but these remarks are nothing compared to the utter nonsense that’s written everyday about solar panels, wind energy and global warming. Let’s get one thing straight right away: to have a solar panel on your house for your hot water works well if you’ve enough sun. Another panel to make electricity, coupled with a windmill often works fine as well as long as the price and the short life of batteries don’t hammer you too much financially. For me, any of these solutions are useless because the municipality slams me with a fixed rate of 3 times my electricity use. OPM again! 

Although we don’t understand it, electricity is the handiest form of energy to use and to produce it without power stations we can use sun-, wind- or water-power. The power of wind I know quite well as my old schooner “Artemis’ taught me a fair amount. When I had all sail set in a 20knot breeze, these sails generated a theoretical 800hp and, considering the deficiencies, left me with 500 horses and a speed of a good 12knots. 300 tons of ship at close to 300miles/24hrs compares favourably to 10x30ton trucks chewing up the road with guzzling 400hp diesel engines each. So, yes, there’s power in wind when we have it. You must not forget that the skippers of sailing vessels chase the wind, when you want to sail from Europe to Cape Town you first go close to South America, then south a long way before turning left to make your harbour. Resolution; wind is fine to move sailing vessels because you can go where the wind is. 

Last Monday a 40m trimaran, Banque Populaire, left France to try and beat the record of 48 days for the world’s circumnavigation. Today, Thursday the vessel has already passed the Canary Islands and they might sail that 45000km distance in a month and a half. No motor-driven vessel exists that can equal such a performance but the crew must know where the wind is. In my book ‘Ocean Advocate you can read how these sailing vessels attain such tremendous speeds. 

Windmills cannot go where the wind is, often they will be becalmed. All the same, the old Dutch ones did a fine job, they dried out half the country and cut the timber for the shipyards. They were designed to produce ‘Torque’ from the central shaft driven by 4 sail-spanned heavy wings in order to drive slowly turning Archimedes pumps or wood working machines. 

Today’s design of 3bladed windmills to produce electricity is inefficient. To make electricity you need speedily changing magnetic fields. Where do you get speed in a revolving wheel? At the rim, evidently! A properly designed windmill should have the rotor and stator situated at the extremity of the blades and not at the shaft where rotational speed is the lowest. I won’t go into details here but many advantages appear with this design, smaller size of the wheel being the first one. 

Yesterday I read that 300 of these 3bladed abortions are going to be put into the sea around Scotland with foundations in 200meters of seawater. Some OPM minister must have gone berserk again. If you do want those things there, don’t fix them to the bottom, moor them with 3 or 4 20ton anchors. It’ll be a lot cheaper, particularly when ships start to collide with them. I was once of that coast, three days in a calm, what are the tricity blokes going to do, make a coal fire? Will these windmill operators work without subsidies? Key questions, as yet unanswered by the greenies and the OPM grabbers. 

When you realize that to produce one litre of ethanol from plants you need more than the energy contained in one litre of ethanol you should know you’ve been scammed. Never mind, the subsidized greenies are still at it. Bio-diesel from maize is not much better but is sure to make a lot more hungry people. 

Land-wide solar produced electricity is also a subsidy scam, it might work with heat producing plants to heat and melt salt to sustain the night hours but either the Sahara or the Kalahari would be their workable situation. Want to start an aluminium smelter there? 

Now we’re left with waterpower. Water is about 700x denser than air so whatever device you want to use in water can be a lot smaller than an air-device. Look at a ship’s propeller, it won’t do much good spinning in air. 

Wind and sunlight are not always there, water is always there. You can set your watch to changes in tidal currants and these currants have been measured in Europe for hundreds of years. Mariners knew how to use them, many times I’ve used them to get an additional 4-5 knots in making my destination. The seaman’s book of tides is an exact work, hours, minutes, strengths and directions of currents are carefully written down. Of course, these currents have mostly been measured for the use of surface ships, it’s not difficult to measure more and find out where energy producing devices could be placed to work permanently. Neither is it difficult to design a device that produces electricity for a given site because the site and the current are dependable. 

In an earlier blog I proposed to dam the Mediterranean. It might not be necessary, a decent study of the surface- and deep currents could allow us to put devices in place to produce all the power we want. 

The French, with their nuclear power stations are the best served today for their electricity needs. They have good rivers for water mills, most of which were destroyed or abandoned 50 years ago and strong tidal currents around the coast. In years to come they might even be able to reduce the amount of nuclear power stations but that would necessitate an unknown phenomena, clever and honest politicians.


Category: Uncategorized

One Response to To use the Wind you must catch it.

  1. Marcus Dekker says:

    True, true!
    Funny you mention the trimaran “banque populaire”: talking about OPM!!! Doing more then 31 knots, on OPM!

    They are also doing tests in Norway, getting energy out of the collision between salt and sweet water; the mouth of a river, using the osmosis principle

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmotic_power

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18204-first-osmosis-power-plant-goes-on-stream-in-norway.html

    Interesting what you say about the construction of wind mills, build to produce electricity; post some links, please.

    The french still buy energy abroad, (as europa as a whole and the states, hence our intrest in the midle east) i’ve been told, amongst others from Portugal, which makes it’s energy from hydropower (artificial lakes).

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