With the global shift toward renewable energy sources gaining traction, the demand for qualified contractors and capable equipment to efficiently and safely construct wind turbines of all sizes in a variety of locations and environments is expanding.
Wind energy projects, whether on land or offshore, have one thing in common: high-powered diesel engines are required at every step of the process, from the transportation of turbine and tower components by water, rail, and land, to site preparation and installation. Diesel is the preferred option because it offers the power, performance, dependability, and portability required to develop the wind energy future.
Germany, Spain, and China are the primary producers of wind turbines. They are transported to installation sites using heavy-duty diesel trucks and specialized trailers after arriving in the United States on diesel-powered ocean-going boats that arrive at U.S. ports for unloading.
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy sources accounted for roughly 17 percent of electricity generated in the US in 2018, with wind power accounting for about 6%. Electricity output from wind is predicted to increase to 20% by 2020 and to 35% by 2050.
According to the United States Wind Turbine Database, there are 59,884 land-based wind turbines in operation throughout 43 states and territories in the United States today (USWTDB). In six states: Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Maine, wind energy now provides more than 20% of the electricity generated. Texas generates the most wind energy in the United States, accounting for about a quarter of all wind energy produced in the country.
Bulldozers, excavators, scrapers, trenchers, dump trucks, concrete mixers, backhoes, and skid steer loaders are just a few of the heavy-duty diesel construction equipment used to prepare a land-based site for wind turbine installation.
A recent video of a site installation for MidAmerican Energy Company demonstrates the importance of diesel technology, from the construction machines – bulldozers and excavators preparing the site, delivering equipment, providing mobile on-site electrical power through diesel generators, and heavy-duty diesel trucks delivering the turbine components, including the huge blades.
Derrick and telescopic cranes are also used in the construction, installing base, mid, and top tower parts, as well as the rotor assembly, nacelle, and rotor blades, which can weigh 100,000 lbs. or more. All of the specialized lifting equipment used to reach the requisite heights for the towers, nacelle, and rotor blade installation is diesel-powered.
In 1991, the first offshore wind farms arose off the coast of Denmark. According to data from the Global Wind Energy Council, the offshore wind sector has developed at a rate of 21% per year on average since 2013, with a total installed capacity of 23 GW. Offshore wind energy is growing in popularity in the United States, with a technical resource potential of more than 2,000 GW of capacity, or 7,200 TWh of annual generation. To put this in perspective, this is nearly double the country’s current electricity use.
The Block Island Wind Farm, the United States’ first offshore wind farm, began operations in December 2016. It’s a five-turbine offshore wind farm off Block Island, Rhode Island, with the capacity to power 17,000 residences. The United States’ second offshore wind farm will be built 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project will have two 6-megawatt wind turbines that will be operational in late 2020, generating more than 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy. That’s enough to supply electricity to 500,000 houses.
The results of the largest offshore wind power procurement in US history were just unveiled in New York. The two projects, which are anticipated to be completed in 2024, will have enough electricity to power over a million homes.
Marine construction has its own set of difficulties. Everything relies on diesel-powered vessels and diesel-powered cranes, drills, electrical generators, and other equipment, from transporting materials and crew to the site, technical construction of foundations and moorings on the ocean floor, cable laying, and erection of the wind turbines and substation. The majority of ships contain main and auxiliary engines, as well as many diesel engines specialized to generating electricity.
Offshore wind construction necessitates a diverse range of workboats, including familiar tug boats and barges, as well as specially equipped construction vessels such as supply vessels, lift boats, turbine installation vessels, cable lay vessels, personnel transport vessels, heavy-lift vessels, and jack-up vessels, which can be towed or self-propelled to the construction site and then transition to stationary construction platforms once the mechanized jack-up legs are deployed.
See America’s First Offshore Wind Farm in this video from the US Department of Energy.
Due to attempts to decarbonize the electrical power production industry and diversify reliance on traditional power sources, wind energy will play a larger part in global electrical power generation. Without diesel technology, no wind turbine project, whether on land or offshore, could be completed. The latest generation of diesel-powered machines and equipment emits almost no pollutants and will be critical in achieving a future where renewable energy is used more frequently.
Wind turbines run on what kind of fuel?
Before committing Australia to a 50% renewable energy target, Bill Shorten should have asked a few questions. Is it possible to build or start a wind turbine without using fossil fuels?
The answer is no, and you will not be able to do so. So, what’s the point of burdening Australia with a growing number of wind turbines? (The same can be said for solar.)
What is the sense of investing hard-earned funds on expensive and inadequate-for-purpose equipment, regardless of one’s beliefs about the authenticity and magnitude of harm posed by climate change?
Wind power has an energy density of just over one watt per square metre. According to Robert Bryce, author of Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper, if all of the coal-fired generation capacity in the United States were to be replaced by wind, the country would need to set aside area the size of Italy. Hydrocarbons are a more dense kind of energy than wind. Nothing will ever be able to change that fact.
“Suggesting that renewables will allow us to phase out fossil fuels quickly is virtually the equivalent of believing in the Easter bunny,” stated James Hansen, a former NASA climate scientist, in 2011.
Another disadvantage of renewables is that they are unable to generate the high levels of heat required to manufacture turbines, as well as virtually everything else that makes the contemporary world modern.
The US Geological Survey examined the material needs of a modern wind turbine (Wind Energy in the United States and Materials Required for the Land-Based Turbine Industry From 2010 Through 2030). A megawatt of wind power requires on average 103 tonnes of stainless steel, 402 tonnes of concrete, 6.8 tonnes of fiberglass, three tonnes of copper, and 20 tonnes of cast iron. The blades are constructed of fiberglass, the tower is built of steel, and the foundation is made of concrete.
Carbon Counter’s Robert Wilson walks us through the science. Because fibreglass is formed from petrochemicals, a wind turbine cannot be built without the use of oil and natural gas. Iron ore is used to make steel. Ore mining necessitates the use of high-energy density fuels, such as diesel. Diesel is required to transport ore to steel plants.
A blast furnace is needed to convert iron ore into steel, which requires a lot of coal or natural gas. The blast furnace is used to make the majority of steel.
Coal is necessary not only for steel production’s energy requirements, but also for iron ore smelting’s chemical requirements.
Cement is manufactured in a kiln with kiln fuel like coal, natural gas, or recycled tires. Chemical reactions in the cement manufacturing process account for around half of the emissions.
Then there’s the issue of windmill priming. The operation of huge wind turbines necessitates a significant quantity of energy. Wind farms must rely on the grid for power, which is generated by coal, gas, or nuclear power.
Blade-pitch control, lights, controllers, communication, sensors, metering, data gathering, oil heater, pump, cooler, filtration system in gearboxes, and many other functions of wind turbines rely on electricity that the turbine cannot generate.
Without fossil fuels, wind turbines cannot be manufactured or operated on a big scale.
Wind and solar, on the other hand, do not have the energy density to support an economy. Forget trains, aircraft, and automobiles; your iPhones, laptops, and other digital devices demand enormous quantities of electricity and cannot be produced using renewable energy sources. The computing cloud, the most recent of new economy developments, necessitates vast amounts of electricity.
“The cloud begins with coal,” wrote Mark Mills. Greens who got into the ears of Labor leaders to persuade them that the fossil fuel age is finished should reconsider.
Methane hydrate reservoirs, which are freezing deposits in which methane molecules are trapped in a water lattice, are thought to hold more energy than all other fossil fuels combined.
As Nature reported in April 2013, the Japanese, among others, believe that the reservoirs will become an important element of the country’s energy profile. A experimental project 80 kilometers off the coast of the country yielded tens of thousands of cubic meters of gas.
There are risks with any new resource, and much work needs to be done to ensure safe extraction, but the UN Environmental Program’s Frozen Heat: A Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates report from March was eager to “explore the potential impact of this untapped natural gas source on the future global energy mix.”
Bill, you’re afflicted by Big Wind. You’ve betrayed the party and the country.
Is it true that windmills have diesel generators?
- Large wind turbines range in size from 100 kilowatts to several megawatts, and are most commonly utilized by utilities to deliver power to the grid. To generate huge amounts of electricity, utility-scale turbines are sometimes placed together in wind farms. Wind farms can have tens of thousands of turbines and provide enough energy to power tens of thousands of homes.
- Small wind turbines with a capacity of up to 100 kW are often located near where the generated electricity will be needed, such as near houses, telecommunications dishes, or water pumping facilities. Diesel generators, batteries, and photovoltaic systems are all common connections for small turbines. These systems are known as hybrid wind systems, and they are often employed in remote, off-grid places where there is no access to the utility grid.
- Many countries employ offshore wind turbines to capture the energy of strong, persistent winds found off their coasts. The technological resource potential of the winds above US coastal waters is adequate to generate over 4,000 gigawatts of energy, or almost four times the current US electric power system’s generating capacity. Even if not all of these resources are utilized, they represent a significant opportunity to deliver power to densely populated coastal communities. The Department is investing in three offshore wind demonstration projects, with the goal of deploying offshore wind systems in federal and state waters by 2017.
Is it possible for a wind turbine to run on oil?
Another aspect of wind turbine operation and maintenance that differs from that of fossil and nuclear power plants is lubrication. A significant quantity of lubricating oil is placed in the gearbox of a typical wind turbine. The lubrication system incorporates oil filters, and lubricant is either pumped through the system or gravity fed, depending on the turbine type. The smaller turbines built in the mid-1980s had gearboxes that held about 10 gallons of oil or less. Newer, larger devices may handle up to 60 gallons of liquid.
According to Brogna, one school of thinking maintains that lubrication should not be an issue provided the unit is designed correctly. According to him, a second school of thought contends that lubricants must be changed and upgraded to satisfy the specific needs of wind turbines.
How do large wind turbines get their energy?
Wind turbines absorb kinetic energy from the wind by using blades. Wind creates lift on the blades, which causes the blades to turn (similar to the effect on airplane wings). The blades are attached to a drive shaft that rotates an electric generator, which provides power.
A windmill consumes how many liters of oil?
It takes 80 gallons of oil to lubricate each wind turbine, and this isn’t vegetable oil; it’s PAO synthetic oil based on crude oil. It weighed in at 12,000 gallons. That oil must be replaced once a year.
Is it true that wind turbines are harmful to the environment?
Wind energy, like all energy sources, has the potential to harm the environment by reducing, fragmenting, or degrading habitat for wildlife, fish, and plants. Additionally, rotating turbine blades might endanger flying fauna such as birds and bats. Because of the potential for wind power to have a negative impact on wildlife, and because these difficulties could delay or prevent wind development in high-quality wind resource areas, impact reduction, siting, and permitting issues are among the wind industry’s top goals.
WETO supports in projects that strive to describe and understand the impact of wind on wildlife on land and offshore to address these concerns and encourage environmentally sustainable growth of wind power in the United States. Furthermore, through centralized information hubs like Tethys, WETO engages in operations to collect and disseminate scientifically rigorous peer-reviewed studies on environmental consequences. The office also invests in scientific research that allows for the development of cost-effective technology to reduce wildlife impacts at both onshore and offshore wind farms.
WETO strives to foster interagency collaboration on wind energy impacts and siting research in order to ensure that taxpayer monies are used wisely to solve environmental challenges associated with wind deployment in the United States.
- For more than 24 years, the office has supported peer-reviewed research, in part through collaborative relationships with the wind industry and environmental groups including the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC) and the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative.
- The NWCC was established in 1994 by the DOE’s wind office in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to investigate a wide range of issues related to wind energy development, such as transmission, power markets, and wildlife impacts. The NWCC’s focus has evolved over the last decade to addressing and disseminating high-quality information about environmental impacts and remedies.
- In May 2009, the Department of Energy’s wind office announced approximately $2 million in environmental research awards aimed at decreasing the hazards of wind power development to vital species and habitats. Researchers from Kansas State University and the NWCC’s Grassland Community Collaborative published a paper in 2013 that revealed wind development in Kansas had no significant impact on the population and reproduction of larger prairie chickens.
- The Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative has been involved in numerous research projects funded by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory since its inception in 2003, including studies evaluating the impact of changing the cut-in-speed of wind turbines (the minimum wind speed at which wind turbines begin producing power) and the use of ultrasonic acoustic deterrents to reduce bat impacts at wind turbines.
- Through a competitive funding opportunity, WETO is also financing research and development projects that increase the technical preparedness of bat impact mitigation and minimization solutions. Bat Conservation International, Frontier Wind, General Electric, Texas Christian University, and the University of Massachusetts are among the companies, universities, and organizations receiving funding from the Energy Department to field test and evaluate near-commercial bat impact mitigation technologies, which will provide regulators and wind facility owners-operators with viable and cost-effective tools to reduce bat impacts.
- Through a competitive funding opportunity, WETO is also financing research and development projects that increase the technical preparedness of bat impact mitigation and minimization solutions. Bat Conservation International, Frontier Wind, General Electric, Texas Christian University, and the University of Massachusetts are among the companies, universities, and organizations receiving funding from the Energy Department to field test and evaluate near-commercial bat impact mitigation technologies, which will provide regulators and wind facility owners-operators with viable and cost-effective tools to reduce bat impacts. The Status and Findings of Developing Technologies for Bat Detection and Deterrence at Wind Facilities webinars hosted by the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative provide project updates and testing findings as of March 2018.
- WETO chose six teams in 2016 to work on improving solutions that will safeguard eagles that share airspace with wind turbines. For breakthrough, vital eagle-impact minimization technology research and development projects, more nearly $3 million was allocated across the six teams. The research financed by this grant will equip wind farm owners and operators with practical and cost-effective strategies for reducing potential eagle impacts. This important study expands on the Energy Department’s efforts to facilitate wind energy deployment while also ensuring animal coexistence by addressing siting and environmental concerns. If the study is successful, it will safeguard wildlife while also giving new tools for the wind industry to reduce regulatory and financial concerns.
- WETO is a supporter of research on biological interactions with offshore wind turbines. With this funding, researchers are gathering crucial data on marine life, offshore bird and bat behavior, and other factors that influence the deployment of offshore wind turbines in the United States. The Biodiversity Research Institute and a diverse group of collaborators, for example, completed the largest ecological study ever conducted in the Mid-Atlantic to produce a detailed picture of the environment in Mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Areas, which will aid permitting and environmental compliance for offshore wind projects.
WETO also collaborates with other federal agencies to create recommendations to help developers comply with statutory, regulatory, and administrative requirements for wildlife protection, national security, and public safety. The Wind Energy Technologies Office, for example, collaborated with the Department of the Interior on the Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines and Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance.