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Is there any sort of reason that wind power could become more difficult to use/utilize?

I'm trying to think of reasoning that a desperate earth based society would switch to using extremely reckless methods of geothermal power which would trigger massive earthquakes. I have the other major sources of power generation accounted for but can't really explain why wind wouldn't just work.

The reasons for this don't have to assume the earth is similar to how it is today. (Extreme global warming, climate change, nuclear fallout, etc are not out of the question for explaining why wind power is not viable for this society).

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    $\begingroup$ Inability to provide baseload power. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Aug 9 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ Just curiuos - what would it take for massive earthquakes to happen due geothermal energy extraction. I mean the process itself, so as scale of it. By asking I mean, you probably do not need some reason related to the wind farms, and most of your reasons are in that geothermal thing, may be. So understanding it more - what it is, what it can be - may help you to answer this one, the current q. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Aug 10 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ From the little I know It happens due to enhanced geothermal systems en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhanced_geothermal_system and they pump water into the earth in dry hot areas. When this is done near fault zones it can cause earthquakes en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_seismicity_in_Basel $\endgroup$ Aug 10 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ Because the reason is not given I feel the core of the question is asking why electrical energy is so highly valued that a government would knowingly risk destruction. Not really anything to do with wind power? The roman empire did just fine without the direct use of electricity. Please do correct me if I'm mistaken. $\endgroup$
    – Kezat
    Aug 10 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ I think in a world similar to our own that was being wracked with modern age war constantly any country that would do anything for its survival might turn to this. The need to keep weapon/ammunition factories and water desalination plants I believe would be enough for many countries. The roman empire did not face enemies with tanks or machine guns (at least as far as we know). $\endgroup$ Aug 11 at 13:31
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a desperate earth based society would switch to using extremely reckless methods

with most vegetation gone, winds will carry a lot of dust, dramatically increasing the wear and tear of anything exposed to them, including wind turbines, making it extremely uneconomical to run a wind farm.

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(image source)

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    $\begingroup$ I like it, simple and it works. Do you have any idea how long it takes for such damage to take place? I imagine sand/dust storms being triggered due to the extreme climate change would only take a few years. $\endgroup$ Aug 9 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ Or you could just make the leading edges of the blades out of a more resistant material. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Aug 10 at 5:51
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps the added weight of more resistant materials would cause the blades to weight too much? $\endgroup$ Aug 10 at 13:13
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It just isn't enough

Wind power is good, but with an ever increasing demand of energy you'll see difficulties arise. Windmills require specific areas to fully function, and this immediately reduces available space. High rise buildings would block wind and living close to windmills can be hazardous to your health (noise and vibration). Ocean building is also limited, as it can only be build in (relatively) shallow waters and forms difficulties for all maritime activities (tourism, shipping, fishing, etc.).

In the end, wind is severely limited in where you can build them and how many. Geothermal in comparison has a much larger energy potential for the surface area it covers. A single building can vastly outperform many windmills, as most of the work is done underground. With reckless methods, they can build anywhere or on the areas the hot inner earth is closer, like where the crust is moving away from each other. It also is a much more stable source, pumping out steady amounts of energy.

How such things might trigger earthquakes and the like is unknown to me, but it's out of the scope of the question.

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  • $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_seismicity_in_Basel as I understand it it happens due to pushing cold water down into the earth to increase the amount of geothermal power you can generate in certain parts of the world it can cause earthquakes. $\endgroup$ Aug 9 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ Especially if you have most of the world's population in cities still alive, but agriculture can no longer work due to blocked light from dust, water loss in irrigation, etc. Everything is grown in greenhouses, and possibly high demand for power from CO2 scrubbers trying to fix the problem of global warning. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Aug 10 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ That's a good point as well, I believe that turning ocean water drinkable also uses large amounts of power which would become a necessity for many cities. $\endgroup$ Aug 10 at 13:14
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Saboteurs.

Wind and water power must be generated where there is wind and water, and the power transmitted over powerlines to end users. The powerlines are vulnerable to saboteurs and in this desperate world, vandals / rebels / rebel vandals with drones and guns and very brave hawks sabotage the methods of power generation and transmission.

The desperate energy users need serious power right where they are. They realize that directly below them in their very nice and vandalproof sanctuary are enormous troves of magma which are very hot, by virtue of being magma. That magma can turn many turbines and generate limitless energy. They invite it up.

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  • $\begingroup$ A fair point, I imagine defending a single geothermal plant would be much easier than massive windfarms. $\endgroup$ Aug 10 at 13:22
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Since your allowing for the possibility of war and social disruption;

Inability to access and process enough supplies of dysprosium, neodymium and praseodymium to build all the permanent magnets needed for the number of conventional wind turbines required.

These rare earth elements are essential for construction of the permanent magnets used in all industrial scale wind turbines. Disrupt access to mines and or refineries of these elements and you render current generation, industrial grade wind turbines impossible to produce.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's cool I never would have thought of that. I'll have to look into where this stuff is found to write something like that in. $\endgroup$ Aug 10 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ No probs. Just return the favor and try to help other peoples scenarios. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Aug 10 at 13:36
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Would the wind power specifically need to be ineffective in and of it itself or could the geothermal power just be way better? One could have many various reasons geothermal energy is more useful. You could even have useful byproducts produced in the geothermal system such as minerals extracted from the waste water. Many systems could use the thermal energy directly, so it would be more efficient then converting electrical energy into heat. Even the low grade heat from the condensed water could be useful for heating.

Also large wind turbines would likely need some fairly advanced materials to construct, your going to need strong but light weight metals and fiberglass to make anything greater then a small single user system.

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    $\begingroup$ Hmm, well I imagine if a government was to go to such reckless lengths in experimental geothermal techniques to cause massive earthquakes they would have to be very reckless or very desperate. I was initially thinking desperate would be the cause but if wind was perfectly viable then there would be no reason to be desperate! $\endgroup$ Aug 10 at 13:16
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It doesn't matter if they do use wind - they'll still need their geothermal plants

Humans will likely never run 100% on wind and solar power because they are unreliable energy sources. With pumped hydro storage and other techniques we may approach this, but wind and solar simply aren't good enough to run heavy industry.

Imagine having a week or two of calm weather and being forced to shut down your entire countries engineering industries: No ore is being smelted into steel, no steel is being formed into sheets or bars. Car factories are halted, aluminium refineries are turned off. Silicon manufacture (eg computer chips) production is halted. Potentially large saw mills, textile mills and fabrication shops will also have to be shut down.

Note that in the current world most power companies load-shed residential areas before industrial areas (AFAIK). Many industrial processes cannot be turned on/off quickly without serious problems: That pool of molten steel glowing nicely in a crucible just set into a solid lump etc. etc.

So even if they use solar for most of their energy requirements, some of the time they will have to ramp up other sources such as their geothermal plants to take up the slack.


Side note that geothermal plants may have reasonably short lifespans if pushed hard. They cool down the earth underneath them and then can't extract much more power.

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  • $\begingroup$ Pointing out that wind isn't consistent is a good point. Especially in a world of constant warfare with most countries desperately trying to survive having their military factories being shutdown due to lack of wind would be unacceptable. $\endgroup$ Aug 10 at 13:23

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