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Danish Goal: 50% of Electricity from Wind 523

tres3 writes "The Danes have an ambitious plan of producing 50% of their national electrical needs from wind by 2030. The website has tutorials on everything related to wind energy you can imagine. The index gives you an idea of the detail of the site. It includes land and sea wind turbines as well as details about the machinery needed and where to locate it. There are over 100 pages so I didn't link to them all. [ed. note: thanks] A picture says it all."
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Danish Goal: 50% of Electricity from Wind

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  • this idea blows...
    • the vacuum, but as it turns out that idea sucked.

      My carpet is clean and fresh though.

      So instead I started working on transportation. I figured out a way to travel between NY City and LA for free. Just build a big tube between them, LA Sucks and NYC blows. It only works one way though, so that idea was down the tube.

      Let's face it, all of my ideas just seem to break like the wind.

  • Ireland (Score:3, Informative)

    by asavage ( 548758 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @12:29AM (#4218657)
    Ireland also plans to get 10% of their power by wind. You can read a BBC article here [].
  • The main problem with wind power is that it is mostly available during the spring and fall (during temperature changes).

    Unfortunately, we need our electricity mostly during the summer and Winter months. Now if only we could cheaply store this energy in 3 month blocks.
    • Re:optimistic? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Soko ( 17987 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @12:44AM (#4218707) Homepage
      Actually, the interaction of the ocean and land generates wind quite frequently.

      The land tends to be warmer than the ocean during the day, so an on-shore breeze is generated (air warmed by the land rises, air from the ocean rushes in to replace it). The opposite effect is seen when the land cools off in the evening - an off shore breeze is generated.

      Since Denmark is surrounded by ocean on 3 sides, one could assume that they have an abundance of breeze to make this work. I wish them success.

    • Wind is caused by a lot of factors, but mostly by sun. So generally the strongest winds occur at mid-day, which is generally the peak usage hours for electricity. Yes, there is a degree of unpredictability to wind power... however, wind does not every completely stop blowing, and when properly sited you can have a fairly consistant power supply.
      The wind swept plains of North dakota alone could produce 45% of all the power of the US, and most of that power would be produced at mid-day. So yes, there is the wind power available to produce the electricity they want. the 50% figure may be a bit optimistic, but wind power can easilly scale to producing at least 1/3 of all power consumed. Also, keep in mind that idling a 'conventional' power plant costs signifigant power overhead. Since wind power naturally idles itself, a properly sited installation can greatly reduce the energy wasted by powering up conventional plants 'just for peak' operation.
      BTW, part of the reason idling a conventional plant wastes so much energy is the time it takes to build up the heat enough to generate steam, and then the wasted energy as it cools back down again.
      • This seems off. Oil fired power plants don't take much time to get up to speed and on the grid... a few minutes is generally fine.

        What I think you are talking about is called "spinning reserve," which is not idling; it is there to back up a plant that goes down, or a circuit tripping. Spinning reserve would be even more important (regionally) when dealing with wind power.

        Just to nitpick, I have never lived somewhere where the wind picks up during the day. The peak windspeed is almost always early to late evening.

        There is a lot of potential for wind power, especially when it is combined with other forms-- tidal power or solar come to mind.
    • It's easy to store and transport energy cleanly on a large scale: using hydrogen. In fact, in addition to locally generated wind energy, solar energy generated in the Sahara and other deserts and shipped around the world as hydrogen could also contribute to a clean, renewable energy infrastructure.

      (Besides, your premise is wrong: wind is not limited to spring and fall in many places.)

    • Your comments are true of large continental land masses like North America, but Europe is a different story.

      Remember that countries like France, UK, Denmark, Germany, are at a higher latitude than even Newfoundland.. yet those countries enjoy much higher temperatures than the average Canadian will get.

      London's (51oN 00' lat) temperatures are generally similar to those of New York (40oN 42' lat) even though London is over ten degrees 'higher'.

      This is because of the Gulf Stream, but also because the land masses in Europe are, generally, quite small and broken up with lots of lakes, fjords, rivers, and seas (North Sea, Baltic Sea, Mediterranean Sea).

      This gives Europe cooler summers and mild winters, and a climate that remains quite the same throughout six months of the year. We don't get many 'surprise' weather events, like the US. Nor is our weather as extreme as that in the US.

      Therefore, we might not get big hurricanes and sudden gales like the US can experience.. but.. we get a metered regulated amount of wind, that is perfect for generating electricity.
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @12:34AM (#4218678) Journal
    The rotational pollution caused by windmills is unacceptable! The rotational energy will throw the rotational axis of the Earth out of kilter, and penguins will be in Equidor within hundreds of years. Sure, Linux fans will love that, but I don't think Equidorians could harvest their frozen bananas that way.

    Stop this nonsense, it is killing our planet's life! Save the poles!
    • Ok, I think your warning is a little drastic, but seriously, what are the negative consequences of capturing the wind's energy? Where would that energy have gone had we not captured it and converted it to electricity? Are we going to alter micro-climates by doing this, or as you suggest, throw the whole earth off kilter?
      • They're certainly going to pollute the visual enviroment, as well as shred birds and insects by the hundredweight.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          They are also pretty loud as well. Wildlife also is pretty picky about living anywhere in the vacinity of items that produce noise.
        • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @01:00AM (#4218759)
          as well as shred birds and insects by the hundredweight.

          Sure. Tell me more. You have some information or statistics that involve modern windmill technology?

          You're familiar with modern wind technology, correct? Large blades, turning slowly. Certainly some birds might smack into them (the same way they do to buildings and cars), but we're not talking about the little, fast-moving windmills of the 1970s and 80s.

          I'm tired of hearing this one trotted out every time somebody talks about wind. Show me the numbers, dammit!

          They're certainly going to pollute the visual enviroment

          Maybe we can disguise them as trees. Or put Budwiser advertising on them. Then they'll fit right in with the rest of the country :)

          • by DAldredge ( 2353 )
            Now you know what those who support fission power feel every time the "environmentalists" say something about fission power based on what the tech was in the 1970s and 80s.
          • What about smaller wind gennys? I've got a AIR 403 sitting in the garage, with those sharp carbon-fiber blades. I haven't put it up yet because I haven't installed the inverter/battery setup, but I have worried about complaints of noise from the generator at night, and about possible injury to birds (I live in an urban/suburban area). After all, these generators only have a 3 ft dia, so they tend to spin fairly quickly. On the other hand, they do present a smaller cross-area, so if I stick lights on it (LEDs along a vane), maybe that will warn any flying creatures off.

            On the topic of advertising, has anyone seen the billboards with the horizontal wind generators, the ones that look like ultra-thin, slowly rotating helicopter blades?
          • by Anonymous Coward
            Well birds have been chopped up in these things so it's no use pretending it's not a concern. That's why the U.S. DOE initiated research into the environmental impacts of wind farms and attempted to identify the optimal locations for wind farm placements.

            The National Wind Technology Center has a pretty thorough collection of research on the topic, which you can access here [].

            And about "polluting the visual environment," yeah that sounds dorky, but it's the kind of argument you hear in opposition to wind farm proposals in places like Nantucket. Personally I think they're kind of majestic, but that's just one man's opinion. Supporters of renewable energy really need to have some ready answers for these kinds of arguments.

          • Windmills != Dams? (Score:2, Interesting)

            by jcsehak ( 559709 )
            I'd be less worried about birds smacking into them than their presence screwing up jetstream patterns or something. I don't know much about wind streams, but way back when we started putting dams in rivers we thought it was the greatest thing in the world, and now we have to deal with things like metallic sediments and screwed-up salmon runs. I can't imagine even a huge number of windmills affecting wind patterns to any noticable degree, but it still might not be a bad idea to keep an eye out for weird things like screwy migration patterns, or something.
            • by kevin lyda ( 4803 )
              windmills affecting jet streams? fascinating. the jet stream's like 30,000 feet up in the air sport.

              god i never thought how many of you non-ap students were going to speak and reproduce and vote when i went to high school in america. and that was over a decade ago before ronald reagan's gutting of america's public education could really have an effect. it's freakin' scary. no wonder kyoto didn't make it in america.

              windmills affecting jet streams. dear god.
          • They're actually dressing up cell phone towers as trees here in the nicer suburban areas of New York. While, I must say that it's nicer than some grey metal monster, they certainly aren't fooling anyone either...

            Take a look [].
        • by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @01:13AM (#4218806) Homepage
          They're certainly going to pollute the visual enviroment

          I suppose you prefer the visual beauty of a strip mine?

        • They're certainly going to pollute the visual enviroment,

          Maybe.. but will they 'pollute' it as much as catastrophic flooding caused by global warming.. or will they 'pollute' it as much as smog, fumes and nasty smells coming off of power stations?
      • The wind is lcoally slowed down by about 2/3 for an efficient system. Absorption of the wind energy will likely slow the earth's rotation down on the order of a few seconds a decade.

        You would change microclimates, but... I have no idea how you would calculate the real impact.

        Typically, windmills are not supposed to affect birds, but there are some notable exceptions (especially at Altamont Pass).

        What I fail to understand, though, is why there not much effort at slow-wind generation systems-- I know that the payback is harder to achieve, but why can't these things go on buildings?
        • Windmills in rough areas such as on buildings do not generate very much electricity. The wind is not even enough. They are also subject to large stresses from the turbulent flow, which reduces the lifetime. The site in the article has more details.
      • Batteries.

        Lots of them.

        With lots of chemical pollution.

        Unless they're planning on lots of dangerous fly-wheels (windmills feeding flywheels)... As the cliche goes, you never get something for nothing.

        Oh, and there's the mechanical maintenance headaches of Lots Of Moving Parts.

      • Give every nation a surface "resistance" allotment or budget. For every windmill you put up you can cut down several trees :)
  • by mutende ( 13564 ) <> on Monday September 09, 2002 @12:35AM (#4218681) Homepage Journal
    The AERO [] concert with Jean Michel Jarre two days ago was staged in a windmill park in the north-western part of Denmark.
  • Sure, wind power is non-polluting from a chemical standpoint, but it certainly disrupts the environment significantly. Producing any decent amount of power takes a lot of windmills. California's been experimenting with it a bit, and if you drive along I-10 in the desert east of L.A., you'll see acres and acres covered with windmills every 10 feet or so. Certainly ugly, and probably has an impact on the native wildlife as well. Now multiply that by 100x or so to get enough windmills to actually power California, and you'll have most of the state covered in ugly white towers...
    • I think the subject says it all. While impacting native wildlife is a differnet issue, if it was simply staring at white towers vs. not being able to breathe, I know what *i'd* choose...

  • They need more power before they can survive a Slashdotting.

  • by Brian_Ellenberger ( 308720 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @12:51AM (#4218729)

    Now if we can only convince Environmentalists that wind power is a good idea.

    Think I'm smoking crack? Well check out this story from the NY Times about the enviro fight against windmills in Cherry Valley, NY: html?ex=1031568343&ei=1&en=0920b9cbdc48601 9 []

    And there is this story about enviros against wind power in Moosic Mountain Ridge, Philadelphia []

    If you want a good site to view on how the Enviromentalists have shifted from Science to Socialistic Demigogery check out this site from GreenPeace co-founder Patrick Moore: rickmoore.html []

    I love this quote from Dr. Moore:
    "Many factors including a lack of science education, a need to perpetuate themselves and "means justifies the end" thinking. The worst aspect is what I describe as the environmental movement has been hijacked by political activists who are using green rhetoric to cloak agendas that have more to do with anti-corporatism and class warfare than with ecology or the environment."

    Remember this is the co-founder of Greenpeace. Not exactly your average "evil right-wing" nutcase.

    Brian Ellenberger

    • I'll skip the "painting with one brush" comment and jump straight to: If you are in favour of, on balance, reducing the human race's negative impact on the environment, what should you call yourself?

      I would tend to still think that I'm an environmentalist, although my current hobbies and work requirements do have me disposing of a lot more plastic than I'd like.

    • I think it's a bit of a leap from: "residents against 400foot windmills in there backyard's" too: "left-wing dogooders out to hijack any green idea for their own commie agenda!"

      These protests are occuring all over the world, the simple fact is a few dozen 400 foot windmills is no prettier than your run of the mill nuclear power plant. :) What makes it worse is effective 'wind farms' generally need the highest most visible and valuable property. :(

      There are disadvantages to everything, wind power is no exception!
      • Actually, if they ever get them into production, helium-cooled graphite-moderated pebble-bed fission reactors could occupy less space than your local transformer station, and blend in better to boot. Of course, with the paranoia about radioactive materials, you'd end up with a huge-ass security perimeter with guards and a fence, and then a huge-ass saftey perimeter for the populace, thus negating that any size/concealment advantage.

        On the other hand, you can cram probably a half dozen pebble-bed reactors on the same amount of space as an older US-style water-cooled reactor, so we could reuse some of that contaminated land. Hell, why not turn certain superfund sites (as long as they're geologically suitable) into reactor sites? As long as you're going to keep people from the area, might as well turn that to your advantage.
    • by Swaffs ( 470184 ) <> on Monday September 09, 2002 @02:02AM (#4218967) Homepage
      I found this quote to be fascinating:

      "The more wood we use the more incentive to plant trees and produce more wood. It is no different than tomatoes, if no one buys tomatoes no one will grow them, if the tomatoes sell out there will be more grown the next year. If no one buys wood the land will be cleared of forest to grow something else. Even in mountainous regions like BC we could clear vast areas of forest for sheep and other livestock, as they did in New Zealand and Scotland. So long as demand for wood remains strong we will continue to reforest land after it is logged."

      A backwards way of looking at it, but completely true. How enlightening.
    • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @02:57AM (#4219090)
      First of all, if you actually read both of the stories you have linked, you'd see that your demonized "Environmentalists" have nothing to do with the opposition to the windmill plans. The only people raising protest are those who live directly under the structures and the rest who will see them through their windows. Hardly an occasion to attack Greenpeace. Anyway, ask to have the shit built outside your living room window if you think these people are so nuts.

      Your citation of Dr. Moore shows what, exactly? That some in the left wing disagree with some others in the left wing? Oooh! Just because Greenpeace gets more involved in politics in the process of protecting the environment, and this old-schooler thinks they should proceed a different way, that doesn't mean Greenpeace is doing anything wrong. The thing about the lacking science education is true up to a point, but exactly how many science Ph.D.'s are memebers of Greenpeace? One that I know personally, and I bet you there are tons more. Yes the average environmentalist hippy doesn't know much about science, that's unfortunately a fair observation, but why should we hold them to a special standard regarding this? After all, only a right-wing nutcase could possibly think the average Greenpeace hippy knows less about science than the President of the United States.

    • Just about all new large structures get some opposition from locals, who believe their view will be ruined. And the modern wind mills are huge. This has nothing to do with the traditional environmental groups, it is more a "not in my back yard" thing.

      There have been one case in Denmark where a (rather moderate) environmental organization protested, in that case the park was proposed in a protected wildlife area. In general, the environmental organization support wind power, but it is not clear how much more than the current 15% can be derived from that source, both for technical reasons (we need energy when the wind doesn't blow too), and because of the increasing impact on landscape.

      The 50% mentioned in the Auken sounds unrealistic.
  • ... the amount of energy required to manufacture and erect such an array of wind turbines?

    With the turbines running at full-pelt, how long will it take them to break even?

  • The only problem is: what if there's a storm (requiring that most windmill blades be secured), or a lull in the wind? Denmark's a small country, and therefore most sites are likely to be getting roughly the same weather.

    Now, the US, with it's vast spaces and enormous power grids. That'd be a great place to use wind...

    • I would hope that these turbines have a control system that would "feather" the blades (turn them to their point of least wind resistance) in extreme conditions. I imagine that this would also be varied to keep a constant angular velocity. (Are these turbines AC or DC?)

      On the other hand, here's [] a US company that makes turbines using a flexible design that they say can "shed excessive wind loads".

  • by Anonymous Coward
    He provides all the wind they need in Denmark...
  • by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @01:01AM (#4218762) Journal
    This is nice. They are in fact implementing known technology for the benefit of all, AND DOING SO IN an aggressive visionary project. It is unfortunate that most of the industrialized world is not as nimble in implementing technology, when the benifits don't neccessarily fit neatly in an accountant's bookkeeping. We admire ourselves as humans with descriptions such as adaptive, modular etc. But our culture is not, when it comes in conflict with immediate rewards like profit. This Danish wind power project is an example of human culture rising to the challenge and becoming, indeed, an adaptive and modular culture. Now if we just had an aggressive program for developing cheap, clean and abundant energy.
  • by joneshenry ( 9497 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @01:01AM (#4218763)
    From the Danish perspective I would think whether or not wind power's merits will cause an energy revolution are irrelevant. The important thing is that the Danes aren't just using wind power, they are manufacturing the turbines and selling the technology abroad. This brings in cold cash and gives the country a niche in the global economy. That is the point.

    By having a focus, Danish industry can seek to acquire the IP such as patents to build up a top industry. As in other industries the idea is to go so far down the learning curve that it becomes more economical for other countries to buy the technology from you rather than develop it themselves.

    That is why conservatives who bash alternative energy are stupid. Any reading of US history shows massive government involvement to nurture any industry whether through protective tariffs, cash for infrastructure, land grants, whatever. To make money you have to spend money. A so-called conservative who espouses capitalism should understand that.

    • Why would they expect to sell their technology abroad before it's in the best interest of others to buy from them?

      I guess you are assuming that Denmark's effort will result in wind eventually becoming economically viable elsewhere (if they use Danish products), through increased efficiency due to the Danes' investment and expertise. This is still a long way off, if it happens at all. They're probably better off simply putting the money in a bank for the thirty to fifty years it will take for wind to be the power source of choice, at which time they could buy all the wind tech they needed.

      I will refrain from making sweeping comments about the intelligence of certain idealogues who bash market economics. Making money takes money, yes. But more importantly it takes timing.

  • Santa Clara, CA (Score:5, Informative)

    by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @01:01AM (#4218766) Journal
    Silicon Valley's city of Santa Clara [] is very environmentally conscious. There are "Tree City USA" signs up all over the place, and the city-owned utility proudly trumpets the breakdown of its energy sources:

    It gets 43% of its electricity from hydroelectric dams, 22% from geothermal, and another 4% from other renewable sources.

    The city really focuses on finding plausible, cost-effective power sources, but for some reason it doesn't get any of its power from the wind. Perhaps the Santa Clarans know something the Danish don't?

    • Maybe Santa Clara can't get any power from wind, but I think Washington D.C. should try this Danish idea out. They might even shoot for more than 50% given their plentiful supply.
      • Santa Clara's not a very windy place, but that doesn't affect its choice of power sources [].

        Even if it were a factor, Santa Clara is better geographically-suited for wind-generated power than DC (I've lived in both places).

        1. Santa Clara is about 50 miles from an existing farm of thousands of wind turbines, which are situated on the eastern ridge of the Santa Clara Valley (a.k.a. Silicon Valley)
        2. If Santa Clara wanted to build its own turbines, it could probably enter a joint agreement with nearby Santa Cruz county to build turbines on the western ridge that separates the valley from the Pacific Ocean. You won't find such strong, consistent winds anywhere near DC (hurricanes and tornados tend to be pretty sporadic).
        Still, they've apparently decided not to use wind power.
      • You totally missed the joke. The "plentiful supply" was the politicians.
    • Well, maybe the Danish can't build too many dams?

      Denmark, basic facts []:

      Terrain: low and flat to gently rolling plains
      Highest point: Yding Skovhøj, 173 m (568 ft)

    • Re:Santa Clara, CA (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mesocyclone ( 80188 )
      Tree City USA
      The little town of Paradise Valley, AZ - near where I live - is also a "Tree City, USA" - in the middle of the upper sonoran desert.

      What they did is plant ugly desert foliage in the street medians (natural desert foliage, like I have in my yard) is much nicer.

      Every time I see the "tree city" sign I snicker.

      As far as Santa Clara gettings X% of its power from this and that source... nonsense! It gets its power off the grid like everybody else does.
      • As far as Santa Clara gettings X% of its power from this and that source... nonsense! It gets its power off the grid like everybody else does.

        What a pointless statement. This is like me saying "I get money for writing code." and you saying "Nonsense! You get money from a bank like everybody else does."

        A software company puts some money into the bank because I did some work for them.
        A hydro-electric generation company puts some power into the grid because the Santa Clara retailer pays them to do so.

        It's not the same electrons in the grid, and it's not the same dollars in the bank, but in both cases the net effect is a transfer of something from one party to another. Just because the medium is shared doesn't mean that there is not a transaction going on between the parties at either end of it.

    • Re:Santa Clara, CA (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Simon Brooke ( 45012 ) <> on Monday September 09, 2002 @04:59AM (#4219360) Homepage Journal
      It gets 43% of its electricity from hydroelectric dams, 22% from geothermal, and another 4% from other renewable sources.

      The city really focuses on finding plausible, cost-effective power sources, but for some reason it doesn't get any of its power from the wind. Perhaps the Santa Clarans know something the Danish don't?


      They know they've got mountains, with rivers descending gradients thus making suitable sites for hydro schemes. Denmark has no mountains.

      They know they're sitting on a tectonic fault line, where geothermal energy can be tapped. Denmark has no tectonic faults.

      I can't help getting irritated with the ignorant American assumption that what works for them in their particular location will work for everyone everwhere. It won't. In Iceland, where they have plenty of geothermal energy, they power domestic heating, aluminium smelters and spa baths directly from geothermal sources. Works for them. Here in Scotland (and also in Norway) we have a lot of rain and a lot of mountains, so we have a lot of hydro-electric power. Works for us. There are places in the world that have lots of sunlight, and can realistically expect to generate some proportion of their energy needs from solar power.

      The Danes don't have any of these advantages, so they have to do the best they can with what they've got. Which happens to be wind. The Danes aren't stupid. They aren't perverse, or ignorant, or backward. They live on a flat sandbar with few mineral resources in a cool sea, and they're doing it well.

      • Re:Santa Clara, CA (Score:4, Insightful)

        by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @05:23AM (#4219415) Journal
        I can't help getting irritated that a veteran slashdotter doesn't read the rest of the thread before posting. See my earlier response [] to the other people who pointed out the difference in the geography of the two locations.

        You shouldn't be so defensive -- nothing in my post implied that Americans are smarter or more advanced than people in other countries. Simply that I knew of an organization that had an interest in pursuing wind power but chose not to use it.

        The great irony here is that as you were sitting in Scotland writing about my American arrogance, I was lying awake in bed late at night in America avidly reading a novel by an author who resides in Edinburgh. I have plenty of respect for the intelligence, abilities and achievements of people outside the U.S.

    • Re:Santa Clara, CA (Score:3, Informative)

      by amorsen ( 7485 )
      Denmark is flat. There is only one hydroelectric dam, and it is only run as a museum. Geothermal is a possibility, but so far it has proved to be a troublesome source of energy. Wind is plentiful in Denmark, and windmills are becoming relatively cheap.

      If Denmark is to live up to its very aggressive emission targets in the Kyoto protocol, wind power is definitely the most cost effective solution to get there. (The 1990 reference year happens to be a year where most of the electricity came from Swedish and Norwegian hydro plants, and therefore the emission were very low. These days Denmark is a net exporter of electricity, so emissions will naturally be higher. Yet the target is 22% below the 1990 level.)
  • by sting3r ( 519844 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @01:09AM (#4218796) Homepage
    I went on a tour of my condo with my trusty Fluke ampmeter today, wondering why my power bills are so high and why my air conditioner runs constantly despite the fact that it's only set for 80 degrees. I was shocked and appalled at all of the energy that my electronic toys waste while they are in their idle states. Let's take a look at the numbers and see:
    • TV setup. My television, amplifier, and Tivo alone took up 1.6 Amps = 185 watts, while they were completely idle. The Tivo was not recording anything, and I verified that it was not doing anything by telnetting in and observing that the load average was 0.00. Does it really require 1.6 amps just to spin a hard drive and wait for a 10mW infrared signal??
    • Computer monitors. I run XFree86 4 in dual-head mode. My two monitors take up 2.6 Amps = 300 watts while they are on, and a whopping 70 watts when they are turned off at the switch. It's worth noting that they produce about a third of the light, and twice the heat, of two 150W light bulbs.
    • Computer hardware. The power strip supporting my 1.6Ghz Athlon and 1Ghz Duron draws a whopping 4.4 Amps, or 500 watts, while both systems sit at zero load! Apparently, AMD expended significantly more effort making sure their processors were well-equipped to start house fires when the heatsink falls off, rather than making those Linux kernel "CPU idle" calls actually do anything.
    • Uninterruptable power supplies. These were the sleeper hit of my power measurement experiment: with full batteries and no devices on the load side, my UPSes drew 50-80 watts of power each. I understand that filtering power comes at a cost, but these things really should be designed to be at least a little bit more efficient than the average space heater.
    So, this brings me to my main point: why is it that my cell phone can run for two weeks without a recharge, my digital scale can run for 10 years (guaranteed) on a single battery, my thermostat, analog clocks, and smoke detectors can run for 2-3 years between battery changes, but my computers and consumer electronics have to suck up as much power as my toaster while they are completely idle?

    As long as our toys are designed to waste as much energy as legally possible, even the most well-intentioned power conservation efforts are doomed to utter failure.


    • by Anonymous Coward
      You fail to take into account the power factor of your equipement. You need an rms phase angle amp meter and an rms volt meter. Actually, what you need is a power meter. Unless you take power factor and wave form into account, you are going to get errors. Measuring amps is OK for a resistive load, but for a complex load drawing power in pulses (as with switching power supplies), your method is going to have errors causing your calculations to be too high.
    • Whenever you design any electrical product, you have to make priorities. Those priorities should be close or identical to the features that will cause consumers to pick your product over others. For all of the devices you mentioned at the bottom of your post, cell phones being #1, power consumption is a high design priority. For all of the devices you list at the top, power comes from a wall outlet. As far as the guys who designed your Tivo and UPS are concerned, your wall outlet is an unending source of free power. They don't pay your bills. And they can get away with that because not one person has ever looked a monitor salesman in the eye and said, "Well, I like that big Sony...but it draws and aweful lot of current...I'll go with the smaller one."

      CPUs are a special case because they do care about power consumption but not really. They care in the sense that power turns into heat, and heat is bad. But again, nobody bases a CPU buying decision on power consumption per se.

      And realistically, nothing is going to change until electricity gets many many times more expensive than it is now and power consumption moves up that priority list. But considering how short sighted US energy policy is since we elected Texas oilmen to the top two jobs in the country, it may not take that long.

    • Idling AMD chips (Score:4, Informative)

      by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Monday September 09, 2002 @02:54AM (#4219083)
      Athlons have circuitry to disconnect from the system bus when idle (on a signal from the Northbridge, which gives the signal when the OS enters the ACPI C2 idle state), reducing clock rate and essentially going into a standby mode (~5W power consumption). Unfortunately, it's not enabled by default, partly due to minor performance problems (~3% is the normal performance hit), and partly due to intermittent problems with some motherboards, especially when using PCI bus-mastering cards that require low latency (such as video capture cards). I'm not sure why it's not available as a BIOS option though.

      In any case, you can enable it manually by setting the relevant bit in the Northbridge. For Linux, see the Athlon Powersaving HOWTO [] for a variety of methods to enable it.

      For Windows, there's a utility called VCool, whose site was at [], but it appears to have disappeared in the past week or two.

      When idled using the setpci trick mentioned in the HOWTO, my Athlon 1.33 GHz, which used to idle at 57 C, now idles at 33 C (case temp is 31 C, so it's generating very little heat and by extension using very little power, especially compared to what it used to do).
    • "Computer monitors. I run XFree86 4 in dual-head mode. My two monitors take up 2.6 Amps = 300 watts while they are on, and a whopping 70 watts when they are turned off at the switch. It's worth noting that they produce about a third of the light, and twice the heat, of two 150W light bulbs."

      How old are your monitors? My Sony G400 is a TCO99 compliant monitor and it (according to the manual) takes a maximum of 1.5W when powered down.

      "Computer hardware. The power strip supporting my 1.6Ghz Athlon and 1Ghz Duron draws a whopping 4.4 Amps, or 500 watts, while both systems sit at zero load! Apparently, AMD expended significantly more effort making sure their processors were well-equipped to start house fires when the heatsink falls off, rather than making those Linux kernel "CPU idle" calls actually do anything."

      The Athlon is simply more power-hungry than the P4. Of course you get more bang-per cycle. Perhaps in the winter (assuming winter exists where you are) this could be used in place of a furnace for some of the time. I know that many a dorm-dweller here in Canada gets all the heating they need from their trusty 19" monitor.

      And back in the day, my dad heated his lunch at work on his computer case which had a defective power supply that generated exess heat. Alas, there was a power outage and the PSU died. No more warm lunch for him. (This was back in the days before microwaves were commonplace.)

      Damn I'm tired ... some of the text on the screen looks like it's blinking red but it's not...

    • by Oestergaard ( 3005 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @04:28AM (#4219282) Homepage
      A device running at 120VAC can consume 4 Amps *without* consuming 480 Watts.

      How? Well, most real-world devices are slightly (or sometimes not so slightly) inductive loads - this causes the current draw to lag after the voltage "peak" supplied.

      In the DC world, your formula is valid: P = U * I, effect equals voltage times current.

      In the AC world, it is still valid but it cannot be used the way that you used it. You multiplied the voltage with a current that was drawn at a different time - what you need to do is to find out the "power factor", the phase distortion (or whatever the english word for that is), of your devices.

      The formula becomes:
      P = U * I * cos(d)
      where d in most household devices would be anywhere from near-zero to 0.3 or so.

      The minimum cos(d) is regulated by law, at least in Denmark and probably everywhere else, since the power companies have a hard time measuring and correcting phase distortion.

      Anyway, what this all means is, that your devices probably only consume 60-80% of what you *think* you measured.

      It's still a lot though, I'll give you that :)
      • In the Netherlands, the legal minimum power factor for any aparatus is 0.8.

        That means that is you have 220 V and 1 Amp, there should be at least 176 W of power consumption.
        What is the reason behind this regulation.
        Well imagine that same 176 W of consumption with a power factor of 0.1. This would imply an 8 Ampere current. This current does move through the wires, say 10 metres in your house and 100km in the utilities wires (ok transformed up, but still). These wires have resistance, so this current produces heat. Apart from the question of who pays for these losses, there is something more important:
        The maximum energy transfer capacity along a line is mainly limited by its thermal capacity. (Crudely said: As long as the lines don't melt, they function).
        At a power factor of 0.1 the real capacity (I.E. the number of W transfered to the other side) of a line would be at least a factor of 64 lower than at a power factor of 0.8 minimum (losses are relative to the current squared).

        So depending on your legislation (how it defines power factor, just under load conditions or all conditions) the computed power use by these apparatus may well be close to the values you computed.
    • Am I just stating the bleeding obvious when I ask why you don't just turn these things off?

      I work in Europe, but travel to the US and one thing I instantly notice in their offices is no one turns their machines or monitors off when they go home. Is it any wonder there is an energy shortage with this kind of attitude?

    • Note that you could work around most of these problems by buying and using a laptop computer:
      • They have built-in batteries, and need no UPS.
      • They have built-in monitors (though they're small, and you still may wish to use an external one at times).
      • Their processors are usually slower than the current state of the art, but they're typically only a year or so behind.
      • A price differential of $300 will pay for itself in a year of continuous uptime, just from savings on power bills. (If we assume inflated power prices such as we're seeing now in California, and that the alternative is your current powerhog system, the payback period is only three months.)
      • Best of all... they're quiet.

      The big drawback to laptops is you can't mess around with them to anything like the same extent. You're pretty much stuck with the same video card for the life of the computer, for example, and processor or memory upgrades are difficult, and *ix support can be spotty. But I find the tradeoffs well worthwhile.

      What I find frustrating is that there's nothing in the world preventing a computer manufacturer from building a desktop system as power-frugal (and as quiet) as a laptop, but none of them do it. Grrr!
  • by Camel Pilot ( 78781 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @01:20AM (#4218827) Homepage Journal
    I applaud the Danes for their bold, foward thinking Energy 21 energy policy. Bush's policy on the other hand, involves meddling in the middle east or drilling in our national parks and preserves.

    Being the man of vision that he is, Bush, should reconsider our depenence on oil from the middle east and its impact of our foriegn policy. Like a drug addicted individual the US governments choices sometimes are far from rational.

    For example, we call the Saudi's "our fiends". Bullshit! They would slice our thoat in a heart beat if we were not their biggest customer. They are a twisted theocracy that rejects womens rights, democracy, personal liberty, religious freedom, etc. We have nothing in common.

    If the man would come out with a Kennedy like vision and plan of developing renewable technologies such as wind, solar, geothermal, wave, conservation, etc. and even clean and safe nuclear we would be much further down road to world stability, peace and prosperity. Instead he wants to start another war and one which has the potential of being a messy urban war where civilian casualities are unavoidable if you want to win.
    • by hazem ( 472289 )
      Don't you know? Humans are creatures that would much rather react to a crisis than plan for a better future. As long as oil is cheap and plentiful there's no "crisis" to push us into better mothods.

      With that in mind, I say lets drill it all, suck it out and burn it as fast as possible so we can finally have a decent crisis that will force us to look at better energy systems!
    • One of the stated goals of Osama Bin Laden was to drive a wedge between the US and Saudi Dictatorship. He is offended that US soldiers are stationed on holy ground and wanted the Saudi govt to kick the American out. To achieve this end he recruited saudis to ride along on the airplanes and act as strongmen (keeping the passangers scared) while other arabs actually planned the attack and drove the planes (mostly egyptians).

      it was no accident that the bulk of the terrorist on 9-11 were saudis and egyptians, those two countries are by and large friendly with the US and Osama wanted to to end that. He nows full well that americans will not be able to differentiate the actions of a dozen terrorists with the actions of the countries those terrorists were born in.

      He had basically two main goals. Break any alliances between the US and the arab world, and incite a religous war between the US and the Arabs.

      On both of those he succeeded brilliantly. As comments like yours and many others on the media demonstrate there has been a severe strain on US saudi relations post 9-11. After all Saudis have been opressive theocracy for ever yet only post 9-11 are americans bringing it up. I of course need not mention that we are about to start a religous war with iraq any day now and that iraq, libya, somalia, and yemen will not be too far behind.

      When Iraq is attacked by the US Saddam knows he is going to die so he will attack Israel with all he has and this time there is no way in hell israel under sharon will stand on the sidelines. Once Israel starts droping bombs on iraqis Osama is hoping there will be massive riots in the arab world and the current spate of govts will fall only to be replaced by more radical fundamentalist govts.

      I think so far his plan is working great.
  • US Wind Power... (Score:2, Informative)

    by gnuDaruma ( 599237 )
    In the United States, about 10 billion kiloWattHours are produced and distributed per year. That's about enough for 1 million standard US households.

    The Danes plan to have 2.5 times this number of households provided for by 2030. I would imagine the US could match them in number of homes covered in the same time period. The fact that this represents 50% of their total needs is something very ambitious indeed!

    In order for the US to match the Danish goal, approximately 250 billion kilowatt hours would have to be produced for half the 100 million (approximate) US homes occupied today.

  • Here [] is the picture that "says it all," since it's being Slashdotted.
  • by phkamp ( 524380 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @01:37AM (#4218883) Homepage
    I don't know where the 50% figure comes from, but it is certainly not official Danish policy.

    We're currently producing 10-15% of all electricity in Denmark with wind-energy and nobody wants that number to increase currently due to the problems we are facing.

    The main problem is that we actually get so much wind-generated electricity during a storm that we cannot get rid of it, this unbalances the power-grid and results in voltage and frequency instabilities.

    The secondary problem is that you also need electricity when the wind does not blow. This could mean keeping large centralized power-plants around, paying a lot of maintenance costs, waiting for the wind to die.

    Various suggestions abound, and the Engineers weekly newspaper [] here in Denmark has been the home of a fierce debate for the last couple of months about the merits of these and wind-generation in general.

    The fact that all sorts of micro-plants and co-generation is popping up like mushrooms is in fact a very interesting problem for the electrical grids: How do you balance supply and demand, when you have almost as many suppliers as consumers ?

    • The secondary problem is that you also need electricity when the wind does not blow

      Exactly. You have to have enough means to produce power on the cold, dark and windless winter days. At that point energy demand is also highest.

  • McDonald's has signed a 50 year deal with the government of Denmark for the manufacturing of chicken McNuggets.

    yes, It's a joke, I know about modern windmills.
  • The Technology Review recently ran an article on wind power. It's an interesting read: 02.asp?p=0 []
  • Sorry this is a bit-off topic, but I was concerned when I tried to browse the site linked in this news.

    Windpower demo for Kids [] on rejects the Mozilla user agent by name, basically saying "Netscape 6 is broken, get Internet Explorer". It is quite apparent that this is in error because that site works fine in Konqueror. These scattered sites are a serious problem to alternate web browser adoption. When people try Mozilla for the first time, they expect all sites to work without problems. One of the greatest problems they run into is when sites like this reject their visit.

    Several months ago I discovered that my local bank [] was rejecting the Mozilla user agent by name at their online banking site. My LUG began a small letter writing and phone call campaign. After we spoke with a bank vice president, they were concerned enough to make sure that our needs were taken care of in their planned site rewrite coming later this month. I have confirmed with their site designer that their new site works properly with alternative web browsers.

    I have begun the "BrowserAdvocacy" discussion mailing list [] for the purpose of organizing advocacy campaigns in identifying these sites, analyzing the problem, and politely contacting the sites with reasoning and suggested fixes. Please join if you wish to help in this project, or if you know of sites that reject alternate web browsers like Mozilla/Galeon/Opera/Konqueror by name.

    I am looking for a volunteer to organize the web page of this project. This webmaster would simply need to keep a scoreboard showing the current status of the sites that we target. Please post to the list if you are interested in helping. Once we have some formal guidelines and infrastructure in place, I plan on making a formal announcement on Slashdot. (I hope my server can handle it!)

    Warren Togami
    Mid-Pacific Linux Users Group

  • by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @02:56AM (#4219086) Homepage
    The report was from Sven Auken, a leading member of the social democrats, and the primary hate figure for the then opposition, now current government.

    The new right wing government have basically stopped or severely reduced funding for all environmental programs, and the current "wisdom" is that the emphasis on wind power was a mistake, because it (despite Denmarks 50% markedshare of the world production of wind mills) hasn't been short term profitable.

    The new government appointed Bjørn Lomborg as head for the only new environmental institution.
  • by ebbe11 ( 121118 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @03:20AM (#4219134)
    The Danes have an ambitious plan of producing 50% of their national electrical needs from wind by 2030.

    If you had bothered to look on this page (same site) and read the second paragraph [] you would have found out that the goal is to get 35% of our energy from renewable sources, that is wind, waves, solar etc..

  • milk and sea wind turbines. What do you get when you combine these two? Cream. I see great synergy benefits in here!
  • This is not true (Score:4, Informative)

    by dybdahl ( 80720 ) <info&dybdahl,dk> on Monday September 09, 2002 @06:46AM (#4219536) Homepage Journal
    Denmark still has ambitions to increase the amount of energy produced by wind, but not to 50%. Please note, that this involves a reduction in the number of windmills... Small windmills that are less than 50 meters high will be removed in favor of windmills that are more than 100 meters high. In not too far future, windmills will go more than 200 meters into the sky - the size, efficiency and energy production per windmill is ever increasing.

    The big discussion right now is not using wind - it's about how to replace the current power grid with a new one, that better handles decentralized energy production. The efficiency of decentralized energy production has shown to be as good as the huge central coal plants, although Denmark has some world records in coal plant efficiency.

    Producing power decentralized introduces a lot of problems, because failure at one powerplant can destroy transmission on a big part of the current power grid. Therefore, a new power grid must be designed, that can handle a large amount of very small power producers - including corn burning facilities (instead of burning coal), windmills, wave energy facilities (at the ocean), biogas facilities etc.

    Some background information: Denmark is a coastal country where no place is more than 50km from the sea. Several reports have shown that windmills don't pay off economically, but they do pay off with regards to environment.

  • by klubar ( 591384 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @06:59AM (#4219582) Homepage
    I'm working with a company that is planning to build the first offshore wind park in the US. This project, about 5 miles off the coast of Cape Cod will generate enough electricity to power a half million homes--all without any pollution. I strongly urge you to learn about the value of the project, and help stop the NIMBY that is trying to kill the project. A handful of wealthy Cape Cod land owners are putting their view of the ocean in before the entire interests of the Cape, Massachusetts and the US. Read more at [] -- and write to your congressmen/legislators in support of wind energy (you can click on the support clean energy link on the upper right).

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson