Pragmatic 106: Wind Farming

30 January, 2022


Wind Farms are getting bigger and spreading throughout the world both on and off-shore. Vic joins John to talk about Wind Turbines, John’s new Tesla and the launch of the new Video podcast/vodcast Pragmatic Electric.

Transcript available
Welcome to Pragmatic. Pragmatic is a show about technology and contemplating the finer details in their practical application. By exploring the real-world trade-offs, we dive into how great ideas can be transformed into products and services that impact our lives. This episode is brought to you by ManyTricks, makers of helpful apps for the Mac. Visit for more information about their amazingly useful apps. We'll talk more about them during the show. Pragmatic is supported by you, our listeners. If you'd like to support the show, you can by supporting our sponsor or by becoming a Premium Supporter. Premium Support is available via Patreon and through the Apple Podcasts channel subscription. Premium Supporters have access to early release, high quality, ad-free episodes, episodes as well as bonus material from all of our shows not available anywhere else. We're edging closer to our monthly goal to go advertising-free across the network, we're nearly there, but we can only do that with your help. Pragmatic is also a Podcasting 2.0 enhanced show and, with the right podcast player, you can also stream Satoshis and boost with a message as you listen. Just visit to learn how you can can help this show to continue to be made. Thank you. Pragmatic Electric has recently launched as a video edition of this podcast. You can watch that in Podfriend, CurioCaster, the Apple Podcasts app, Downcast, or if you're into YouTube, it's there too. Make sure you check it out today. I'm your host, Jon Chidjie, and today I'm joined once again by my good friend, Vic Hudson. How you doing, Vic? I am good, Jon. How are you, man? I am awesome. I've been looking forward to talking about this one for a little while. I had a trip to a wind farm. - That's cool. Hey, first up, let me say congratulations on the video show. I like it. - Oh, thank you. - I enjoyed watching it. I look forward to more of them. I think you got a good personality for it and I like watching you on there. And also congratulations, you are the first person that ever actually made me question Marco's decision not to support video podcasts and overcast. (laughing) Yeah, I know. Right. I was really annoyed by that because I'm like, yeah, just listening over on a car. No, never mind. I can't watch it. Okay. So I was madly testing all these different apps to see what would work. And yeah, so I think basically anything but overcast. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's not quite that good. Like Downcast, I think, supported video podcasts back in the day. Oh, Downcast has been supporting it forever. As far as I know, as long as I can remember anyhow. So yeah, Downcast works really well. The Apple Podcasts app also, it plays just fine. Curacaster is a web-based one and it plays it really well. PodFriends web interface plays it perfectly well too. And I think on Android as well, but there's an issue on the iOS PodFriend that the developer's working on something to do with some, some way that he instantiates the video player within the application on iOS. but anyway, not going into the details, but the truth is the vast majority of people will be watching it on YouTube anyway. So it's posted on all of them, but obviously if you subscribe in Downcast and you wanna watch it in Downcast or Apple Podcast or what have you, you don't have to deal with all the advertising that YouTube shoves over the top. Even though I say don't advertise on my stuff, they'll still do it because they're YouTube. 'Cause I've flagged a bunch of my content as, no, this is not. Google's well known for respecting other people's decisions about their content. - Well, they are. Yes, they are, aren't they? Sarcasm noted. - I think the only people that respect it more are Facebook. - Oh, yes, that's true. Yes, they're very respectful. Hmm, moving right along. Okay. So, getting a little bit ahead of that, but I do want to... We'll get to that in a minute as to what that project is, so Pragmatic Electric, what it is, and we'll talk about it in a minute. I did want to talk, actually kick off before we get stuck into that and wind farming, talking a little bit about what's happened on the, since we last spoke on Pragmatic. So in episode 103, we talked about my retro Mac Pro, the 2013 trashcan. And I said to you at the time, I threatened, I said, you know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna upgrade this thing 'cause I can do that. It's not one of those things that doesn't have soldered on components on it. Okay, it does, but it does, you can upgrade the RAM and then the solid state drive and CPU if you really game. So anyway, so since then I've upgraded both the solid state drive. I've gone from the 256 gig that it came with, the Apple original, and I've gone to an M.2 NVMe with an adapter board to adapt it to the Apple specific standard to fit in the Mac Pro. And I now have a two terabyte drive and that thing is a screamer. It is so much quicker than the original one. Oh, it's awesome. And I've got space to burn. He says as he's half filled it. Anyway. - It happens. You get space, you'll find crap to put in it. - That is very true. So it had space to burn. Now I'm halfway through that space. I'm feeling a little bit less giddy about it, but that's all right. And the one I did most recently was upgrade the RAM. And I got sucked in by one of those Boxing Day deals. And when I say Boxing Day, it was more like boxing week and a half. It's like Black Friday's a whole week anymore. Cyber Monday's a whole week anymore. Yeah, I know, right? It's like, what the hell? And they're giving me hot cross buns a week after Christmas. And it's like, when is Easter? Come on now. Stop it, people. Hey, don't give them ideas. There's going to be an Easter week sale now. Oh, damn it. You're right. There will be. But I mean, I actually did seriously get like 15% off. And when you're spending 400 bucks on a non-trivial amount of money. Yeah, it's worth having in my pocket rather than there. So I'm like, yeah, I either you can look at it like that, or you can say I got sucked in by marketing. I don't care. I got slightly cheaper RAM fine. But it's this AWC stuff. I've got 64 gig and it can take 128. But when you dig into the detail, if you actually go to 128, that's 32 gig sticks. And in order for the back end bus to handle that data throughput in the dressing space for 128 for 32 gig dims. It slows down the bus to handle the volume, doesn't it? Yes, it does. That's exactly what it does. Yeah. Yeah. So you can do it, but the trade off may not be worth it. No. And for my case, it certainly wasn't. So I looked at, you know, I had 16 gig and I'm like, you know, I think it depends on your use case, which is the higher priority for you. You want fast memory or do you need bulk memory? Well, not being needy, I wanted both. But I understand that as you do. I mean, the general person, you know, that's the trade off to consider. Do I need more or do I need fast? Yes. And of course, I wanted both. But yes, I saw in the end I chose the speed at the maximum amount of RAM I could get without sacrificing speed. So I was 64 gig. That's a nice, healthy amount of RAM. Oh, it's beautiful. It's a thing of beauty. I tweeted about it. And Ronnie, our mutual friend, Ronnie Lutz, came back and sort of like said he had 40 gig on his iMac and it is a beautiful thing. So I've got to admit it is a beautiful thing. Yes. I mean, I just I haven't hit the wall. I haven't needed swap. I haven't needed compressed RAM. It's just been and everything is just like if you have one window open, it's just a snappy if you have 50 windows open because it's all just in RAM and it's just like so fast. It's great. So anyway, even the windows of Syracuse County couldn't make it sweat. Something like that. Yes. And when you see the biggest processes, because I use the brave browser these days, because I just like the way I could just turn off all this other gunk and, and scripts and crap using it. Sometimes it's a bit sometimes it breaks stuff. But generally, it's better than it is not. Anyway, so let's say I've got like 20 or 30 tabs open on this one window, and it's taken up something like eight gig of RAM. Yeah, I'm like, Yep, it's not a problem. It's not even breaking a sweat. It's like getting warm. I'm like, yeah, that's what I'm talking about. So I've got virtual machines, I've now got a Parallels virtual machine for Windows for work purposes, running constantly, just sitting there waiting to be used because I can. You know, and I've got like five Alpine Linux virtual machines running in VirtualBox, running all sorts of different things from my Pleroma instance to my cross poster to my GoHugo builder, GitT repository, just you name it. I've got all these VMs just running constantly in the background. So yeah, and I can do it because I got all that RAM now. So fantastic. Anyway, so yeah, that was just a little bit of an update on that. I thought you might find that interesting. And I also heard a rumor about you and your computer. Apparently, you may have got yourself a new laptop. You know, tell me a bit about what you got. I did. But before we do, I want to touch on a couple of these links you've got here in the notes. I was looking at your blog post about this upgrading process, and I don't want you to take this the wrong way, because I really enjoyed what you wrote and what you said about it. But I just got to say the coolest thing, and this is the pictures of the Mac book, of not the Mac book, but the Mac pro taken apart. Do you remember that scene in Empire Strikes Back that we were all floored by of Darth Vader's helmet off? Oh, yeah, this is that's the first thing that come to mind is just say whatever you want about this machine, and I'm not going to lie, I still question you going all in on a machine this old, but say whatever you want about this machine. It is honestly a thing of beauty to look at that thing with the case off and just to admire the way it's all put together and stuff. It really is a truly beautiful piece of engineering. It's just a shame that they designed themselves into a thermal corner. But I mean, damn. Yeah, you're right. It is gorgeous. It really is. It's quite impressive. I just they had issues with it, and it didn't survive the cut, so to speak. But man, it really was a thing to marvel at at the time. And it still is. Don't don't get me wrong, but it just it's it's nice. Well, the closing point, well, I mean, yeah, I mean, I agree with that wholeheartedly, but I mean, that's not the reason I got it. Although I will admit sometimes when I take the cover off to blow the dust out of it, sometimes it's more of an excuse just to take the cover off of it and look at it maybe. But I'll just, oh, there's a bit of dust there, I'll just blow that out. Are you blowing the dust out daily, Chidgy? I am not doing that just yet, but that's a slippery slope. I've got it down to once a month. I don't think any more frequently than that is bad. would be a sign of a problem. Anyway, hmm, but it'd be the cleanest Mac Pro ever. Next thing you know, you get a whole kitchen full of cast iron and things happen. For the record, the outer case of this thing is not made out of cast iron. The outer case I'm pretty sure is not made. Terribly disappointing. I know, I can't season this thing. I'm sorry. Anyhow, never mind. But I mean, the reason I got this and just to close out on the point is that it meets my needs simply because I needed a Mac desktop that was currently supported and that could drive three 4K displays at 60 Hertz. And admittedly, you know, that 30 Hertz display, I'd had to do a bit of a kernel tweak on that using switch res X, but it does also display at 60 and it does work. That's cool. So honestly it does everything I need. And I specifically got the model that had the best reliability which is the D300. Right. The best I could tell anyhow. So the only thing that's left to upgrade now in this thing is the CPU and then I've maxed it out as much as I can and I don't think I'll be doing the CPU anytime soon because I don't know if you've seen any videos about how to replace the CPU with Mac Pro 2013. I would imagine that's pretty intense. Don't look. It's bad. It's really bad. So everything is all perfectly beautiful and pretty and it's got nice screws and nice little ribbon cables but oh my god You disassemble pretty much the whole bloody thing just to get to this. Yeah. It's beautifully engineered, but it is not user replaceable. Right. Like the solid state drive, the RAM, absolutely. But the CPU, noob. Yeah. Don't, I mean, I could do it. Yes. But I'm also worried with a 10 year old computer. Oh, not 10, but it's getting close to it. Right. If I pull it apart, will it still work when I put it back together? Things sometimes happen during those surgical procedures. - Well, we had some server upgrades we're doing on site. These machines are 10 years old and these 10 year old machines, they turned them off and moved them from one rack to the next rack and turn them back on again. And some of them didn't want it to start. Okay, so if John pulls apart Humpty Dumpty, I'm not sure I'll be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again in a way that works. So yeah, probably not gonna do that. I'll leave that CPU where it is. It's fine really. - Actually, no, think about it. Humpty Dumpty is a good name for that computer. (laughs) - Oi, oi, no, no, no. That was an analogy, not a nickname. - Okay, all right, carry on. - Enough about the Humpty Dumpty trash can. Let's talk about your computer. You got a new one. - I did, I got the brand new, well, it's not brand new anymore. Well, it's still brand new, isn't it? It's the newest thing they sell, but I've had it for about just under two months now. I got the new 16 inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Max processor in it. I debated around for a long time whether to upgrade the RAM or the one terabyte. Part of me still kind of wishes that I'd at least done the storage. I don't really bump up against the 32 gigabytes of RAM very often. Actually, I'm not sure if I ever have, but I don't anticipate that being a complaint. Part of me still wishes maybe I'd gotten two terabytes worth of storage, but basically if I'd specced either of those up, I would have pushed delivery on the machine back another month and a half. Whoa. Over the month that I had to wait just for the base config with the Max chip in it. Okay. I definitely wanted the M1 Max because I wanted to get in on the M1, the Apple Silicon, and making this transition. These things are freaking expensive, so I wanted the best I could get with the intention that it will hopefully last me for years and years and years. Apple actually surprisingly offered me a $1,500 trade-in value, almost $1,500 trade-in value. I was going to say, that's exceptionally good. It is, especially considering, you know, my previous MacBook Pro was the latest generation, you know, it was the first, I think there might have been one iteration since, just a tiny spec bump or something, but it was the first 16-inch. I did have the Intel Core i9 in it, so it was the best processor you could get at the time. a terabyte of storage and 32 gigabytes of RAM as well. But I was surprised to see they were offering that much of a trade-in value. And like in the time I was mulling it over, just over the course of a couple of weeks, the trade-in value dropped by about 15 or 20 bucks. So I was like, that's only gonna go down. It's, you know, it's at its peak right now and it's only gonna go down the more of them they get traded in. So if I wanna do this thing and I wanna, you know, capture that savings toward the new one, then I really need to act on this. So that's what I ended up doing. But I absolutely love this laptop. It is, in my opinion, the best computer, just period. Like Apple's ever made. It's a dream. I have yet to do anything that pushes the fans up. I've never heard them, not one time, you know? And I've been playing with SwiftUI and Xcode even. (laughs) - Well, that'll do it. If anything, you'll do it, that'll do it. - Well, it did the old one, man. You could have fried eggs on that thing. I didn't need cast iron. - Yeah, no kidding. - Yeah, but I just, I love this machine. It's a dream. I really like the new form factor. It's a, it feels kind of a little bit bulkier than the previous generation in some ways, but at the same time, it kind of feels a little bit slimmer. Like the footprint did get any bigger. And it's honestly, like, I know that like, if you look at the specs, it's a little bit thicker, but it doesn't feel thicker in the hand, but I just, I like the new form factor, the way things are kind of flat on the top and rounded it at the bottom. And it's just really nice. I just really love it. - That's awesome. - I like using it. And of course it's got the good keyboards in it, nice backlit keys and nice and clicky. And they don't get doomed by a piece of dust like the old butterfly keys did. - Yeah, it's funny you should say that because I've had a MacBook Pro since 2018 with those supposedly dodgy keys. I never had a problem. - Yeah. - But I mean, I'm not saying that it wasn't a problem. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that I liked those keys because I didn't. But, you know, so how long have you had it now? I got it midway through December, I think is when it finally came in. About the second week of December. OK, so and I had ordered it earlier in November. It took it. It was it was somewhere right around a month. And it would have been well after the new year before it came in if I had got it with if I had upgraded the RAM or the drive in it at all. I guess what I was trying to get at is that you've had a good chance - Oh yeah. - Six, seven weeks to really sink your teeth in and just see what it can do. And yeah, I mean, it's an amazing laptop. And I looked at that and I also then looked at the price and I'm like, yeah, no. So the other piece of news on my side is that, so my daughter has been accepted into university. So she's going off to uni starting in another month's time. I say going off to uni. - Congratulations. - Thank you. So proud of my girl. But the thing is that, you know, when should I say going off to uni, we live near enough to the uni, she'll just commute. She's not gonna live on res or on campus, as they say in America. - But it's still a big step and a big emotional thing when they start college. - Oh, totally. And when she finished high school, she had to hand back the school laptop, which is a somewhat, I think calling it an old dodgy MacBook Air 13 inch, 13.3 inch or whatever, would be generous. It was beyond dodgy. It was so old, it was something like a six year old laptop. The battery held no charge at all. If you disconnected it for more than 60 seconds, it would die kind of battery. Yeah, it was just horrific. So slow, so terrible. So she had to hand it back, but that left her laptop-less. Laptop, yeah, laptop-less. Anyway, and so I gave her my MacBook Pro until we knew she'd be get accepted into university. So she used my MacBook Pro for over the November, December through January when she was accepting to uni, we're like, right, that's it. Getting your laptop. So she wanted a, ah, well, I got her the entry level MacBook Air M1, which is basically, you know, more than enough for her needs. She absolutely loves it. Honestly, that machine's a beast, man. Clay loves his. I know. He when when I was ordering my MacBook Pro, he and I were both talking about it. And I think he still toys with the idea a little bit of upgrading to the MacBook Pro. But ultimately, at the end of the day, every time we're discussing it, he was like, man, this air is still so good. It really is all I need. I'm happy with it. Yeah. Well, see, so Kirsten, my wife, she got she got the M1 MacBook Air literally just after it came out. And it's a bit of a long, sad story behind it. But never mind. She ended up with one and it was gold. So it's the gold M1 13 inch MacBook Air. And and she's the first thing she said to me, she used it for a day. And she said, it's not burning my legs. Yes. When I'm using it, it's not burning my legs. And she said, it's really fast and it's lighter. And I'm like, yeah. She said, I like this laptop. It's very nice. I'm like, oh, good. That's the best I'm ever going to get as how much she's in love with that laptop. That's the best I'll get from her. So, anyway, so Maddie, my daughter, got exactly the same model, except she got hers in space grey, not silver. Yeah, space gray looks better, dad. I'm like, I love space gray, man. I don't know whether we can like be father and daughter anymore. I'm sorry. Wow. Thanks. You know, space gray. So it's your laptop. You can have space gray if you want space. Don't be hating on the space gray, man. I loves me some space gray. Mm hmm. Well, I love myself. I'm a boring nerd. I just love my silver. It just looks so natural. The silver is nice, too. Yeah, it doesn't it doesn't flake off after extended use. - Although I think the space gray finishes that Apple are using recently are far better than anyway, what I saw in the past. Anyway, nevermind. So I got my MacBook Pro back and I looked at it and I'm like, you know what? I want it on some M1 action. So I currently have my MacBook Pro listed for sale. So once it sells, I'm gonna put the money that I make from that into getting a M1 MacBook. I don't know if it'll be a MacBook Air a MacBook Pro, I'm going to try and bridge the gap to a MacBook Pro, but I do not think I can bridge all the way up to an M1 Max. You know what I mean? That's like a bridge too far. Yeah. Well, with it being a secondary machine, I don't know that I'd ever advocate for the Max. Yeah. Honestly, the M1 Pro, even just the base M1 is really all most people need on a consumer level. I really wish, I'd like to find a good consumer display option for this thing, because I'll I'll tell you what's happening now is I frequently find myself sitting at my desk using my MacBook Pro on its 16-inch display, which is a beautiful display. The only thing that's hurting that display is a little bit of screen real estate. And right behind it, my iMac sits dark and cries. Because I just want to use the MacBook Pro. So I'm really... I was about ready to maybe pull the trigger on an external display for it, but then I had some cat vet issues that cost me a lot of money. I don't regret them, and I would repeat the decision in a heartbeat, because if I have it, I'm going to do whatever it takes, because those cats are my babies, and they get what they need. But I don't have a budget for anything else for a little while now. The iMac's going to stick around for a while longer, I guess, and I'll probably just spend more time using my laptop than anything. But for a few moments I was entertaining the dream of like just relegating this iMac to a desk in the guest room so that it could like service and you know network attached storage and backup and stuff like that and going back to just a single machine you know for most of my primary use and just docking it at home and taking it with me. And I still probably will do that one day. That's the part where I kind of wished maybe I'd done a little bit more in storage and RAM but I'll be fine. I think you'll be fine. In the end, my driver for wanting to go to the not the air, go to the pro is going to be the number of external screens it can drive. So I want to be able to in the event that my beautiful Humpty Dumpty trashcan Mac Pro, which is now going to stick, thank you by the way, is if it dies for one reason, if it dies for some reason, then I'll I'll be able to plug in a Thunderbolt dock and away I go with two external displays again, which you can't do on an M1 Mac mini or M1 MacBook Air, which is exactly why I hadn't got one before. And that was exactly what drove me. - So you might wanna consider at least the M1 Pro. - Yeah, exactly. And if you recall our conversation, episode 103, the M1, the Mac Pro M1s went out at that point. So anyway, all right, enough about Macs and so on, but I'm glad you're happy with your purchase. I am envious and I will be getting my own M1 MacBook Pro at some point, but you know, must sell one first, finances recover second, and then act. - What model was your MacBook Pro? I'm assuming you don't have a good trade in value. Well, that's not much older than mine was. Did you look at the trade in value from Apple? - Max trade in, I hadn't put in the serial number. I literally only listed today. So this is all pretty fresh, but the maximum listed value they would give you for any MacBook Pro was 1,050. So I don't know- - Wow. - In Australia- - That's for any of them? - Okay, two problems. Yeah, two problems. One, that's Australian dollars. And two, the market in Australia for used Apple products is not as strong, so the trade-ins aren't as good. So in the US, it's a massive market. It's enormous market. And so when you've got that kind of scale, you can offer more 'cause you know you're gonna turn your product pretty quick. - Yeah, well, it sounds like I really made the right decision 'cause it sounds like that trade-in value has plummeted pretty quickly. - I think you did. - Like I said, I've had the thing for almost two months now, but relatively speaking, that wasn't that long ago. - So yeah, well, that's true. But I mean, so mine was a 2018, so it is, I haven't sold it yet. So it's a 2.7 gigahertz quad core i7, and it's got 16 gig of RAM, and which was and 512 gig solid state drive. So it's a 13 inch of touch bar with the keys that everyone hated, but I didn't mind them to be honest. So whatever. Four Thunderbolt, three ports on it. And yeah, it's a beautiful machine. There's nothing wrong with it. It's been well cared for and just hasn't had a hell of a lot of use for the last two years, thank you COVID. But you know, hey, anyway. If I may interject a slightly controversial opinion here. I, every now and then I must confess that I kind of missed the touch bar. Yeah. I, um, I'm not going to miss it. I can't wait for it to die forever. And I'm aware of how you feel. My thoughts have not changed on the subject. Okay. So moving on, changing, changing gears. Then you know what really sold me on the touch bar before we changed gears really quickly. (laughing) - Sure, go on. - So there's this Apple service extension item that you can use called Quick Actions. And I was able to add buttons into the touch bar for HomeKit. That's what I really used it for more than anything. That's what I kind of missed. 'Cause like I just, there was always a touch bar button there to turn on my desk lamp and stuff like that. - Yeah, okay. No, I can understand that. I mean, I did have ones there as well for things like, I had one for activating the mute on all the applications. So let's say I'm using Teams or Skype or whatever it was, 'cause there was a while there where we were using Skype for Business and Teams. So I had a global mute, which was an Apple script, and I was triggering that from a button that I linked to an action that was on the touch bar. So from any application, it was displayable on there, I just tap the button away. - Things like that are what make me miss it. - Yeah, mind you, once it was docked and I had an external keyboard plugged into it. It was much easier to map that to F19 because within the Apple extended keyboard, I get function keys, you know, and I can just do that. But anyway, swings and roundabouts, I get it. I understand why you like the touch bar. I still hate it and I will always hate it forever and it needs to die. Anyhow, moving on. - Well, it has. - Yes, I know, but I won't be truly satisfied until it's gone from Apple's website and all the (beep) they ever sell. Are they still selling something with it? Yeah, pretty sure they are. Oh yeah, there was the M1 MacBook Pro. One model. The 13 inch, I think it's still got it, doesn't it? It does. Yeah. I'm like, what, what, Apple, why? The MacBook Air never had it, right? You have the perfect excuse. No. So it's just that one MacBook Pro they're still selling. Correct, that's mine, that's what I think, yeah. And you're gonna dance a jig when it's finally gone. Damn right I am. I suspect probably-- I suspect probably this year. - Yeah, I think so too, yeah. I think it'll be gone by the end of this year. Mind you, we're only in January, so it's not that bold a prediction. - Well, I think that we're gonna get, I think they're gonna do something about the large iMac, or at least I hope they will do something about the large iMac, although I won't be able to get one. Like I had originally toyed with the idea of possibly getting one, but I think they're gonna address that and maybe possibly address the Mac Pro. - Yeah. - And then I think we're gonna be moving into like M2 territory, and I doubt the Touch Bar will survive M2. No, I don't think it will either. And I'm really curious to see, I don't know if excited is the word, but I'm gonna go with curious, what they're gonna do with the Mac Pro because the 2019 Mac Pro had just enough oddities to it that has me concerned. So it's like, yeah, it's upgradable. Like you can upgrade the hard drives in it, but you need this other Pegasus enclosure thing and it's like really expensive. And these expansion modules, they're like, - Those upgrades are possible, but they're costly. - Yeah, exactly. And there are these MPX modules, and it's like, it's not really the same thing as slapping in a 2.5 inch drive. You need another module before you can do that. It's like, so I was like, if that's the way they're going to approach it, and they're happy to do that, and people have accepted that, 'cause it was better than what they were given previously, and that beautiful computer sitting in front of me, let's say, fine. Anyway, it's just, I think that they may take that to the next, that next step again with the revised M1 based Mac Pro. We'll see if I'm right. Like, I mean, they may do some, what I'm getting as I think they might do certain upgrades but there'll be proprietary cards. - Right. - And it'll be like, well, is that really the upgrade ability we're looking for or have you missed the point Apple? I don't know. - Yeah. - But we'll see, we'll see. And I probably won't be able to afford one anyway. So it's a moot point. - Hey, you can upgrade any component you want as long as you buy it from us. - That's great, that is. Isn't that awesome though, that all of the bits that I've upgraded my Mac Pro are non-Apple. - Yeah. (laughing) - What does it tell you, Apple? - I do miss the days that like, just recently I upgraded my iMac from the, it shames me to admit that I rocked this beautiful 27 inch iMac for years with the original stock eight gigabytes of RAM. I did recently, not too long ago, late summer I think it was, I upgraded it to 40GB because I bought 32GB to add to that 8GB from OWC. This is probably the last machine I'll ever have I can do that with. That is kind of sad. Because I'll never buy a Mac Pro. Well, I didn't think I would either. - Well, okay. I actually did have an a Halem MacBook Pro back in the day, 2009, but yeah. So I did want, I ridiculed the Mac Pro 2013 when it first came out, but it was still the best option for me last year when I got it. Anyway, all right, we are now gonna change gears. - Okay. - If that's okay. - I'm ready. - So I wanna talk about something else that's happened in the intervening little while, And that is what I've been doing with audiobook, narrating audiobooks. So, some listeners may know, some may not, but about a year and a half ago, I did a book called The Knack of Selling, which was... So, The Knack of Selling is 10 Steps to Selling the Australian Way. So, it's an Australian book, basically, for people that are in the sales industry, any kind of selling. I did a couple of auditions, but was not successful until recently. So, I got, I just completed my second audio book as a narrator. And it's called Shoot Like a Ninja, which is essentially a book about how to make your photography business more successful. So, when I did finish this and it was then publicly available, obviously, the links are all up on the Engineering Network website. And I put up my hire page again. I hid it there for a while. Wasn't sure I'd put it up again. I thought maybe it'd be a one-off, but it wasn't. So obviously someone out there still thinks that my voice is worth listening to for narrating their book. And this one I did, I think from my own personal, like the end product was the same level of quality, more or less as knack of selling, but I did a much better job personally in managing it. So, like the first one I had all sorts of issues with equipment. I had to re-record almost two-thirds of the book because I had like cable issues and microphone issues and I'd learnt my lesson first from doing that last time is you record in stages, edit in stages, you don't do it all in one hit just to make sure you don't have issues with equipment. And anyway, so I did a much better job. You don't do like a pro rapper and just step in the booth and get it in one take? Yeah, no. No, doesn't work so good with a four hour book. I got to admit, I'm a little less impressed now. Oh, well, I'm sorry. That's OK. I'll forgive you. I'm sorry. Not sorry. I mean, we have the joy of editing for a reason. Well, yes, but I mean, the fact is that you will, no matter how much you like to pretend that you can read it word for word, your brain will reword it. It's just the way it is. way it works. And it's extremely difficult. It takes a lot of practice and clearly I need more. I've gotten a lot better at it though, this time around. I had far fewer edits in shoot like a ninja than I did in knack of selling. That's cool. I mean, knack of selling, like I said, I re-recorded two thirds of it. But yeah, in any case, it was made with the mic I'm talking on right now, which is an RE20, my Electro Voice RE20, which I have come to love this microphone. I still haven't got around to getting a shock mount for it. But you know, to be honest, it hasn't really needed it too badly at this point, but then I'm, you know, I've got a boom arm that's separate from the table and it's independently mounted and all that. So a lot of that depends on your habits. I have a tendency to be very animated while I sit in here and beat on the desk and I could imagine going without a shock mount, but that's just me. Yeah. Well, yeah. And that's fair enough. With, with when I'm recording the audio books, I tend to, for better acoustics, record it and you know, I'm standing, standing, in my walk-in wardrobe, which is not a very big walk-in wardrobe. You know, it's not. I mean, I have a big house, in a manner of speaking. It's a five bedroom house. But honestly, the rooms are enormous. And it's not like it's a mansion or something. So the walk-in wardrobe is therefore appropriately sized. You walk in that door and then you try and close that door. You have to turn in order to make space for the door to close. Right. So it's pretty tight in there. I'll bet the clothes and stuff hanging in there, they'll make for great acoustics. That's exactly right. And that's exactly why I use it. Yeah. So, the acoustics are so good, it's hard to ignore a space like that, except there's one problem. I know that you're not really sweltering at the moment, but we are because it's the middle of summer. Yeah, no, I got a nice balmy 14 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I hate you right now. And snow. But I see. Oh, now I doubly hate you now. Yeah. So, I love snow and I love the cold. That's why I didn't mind living in Calgary for two and a half years, but never mind that. Anyhow, the point is that recording an audio book when it is, you know, in the in the 90s in Fahrenheit. Yeah. In that walk in wardrobe is a special kind of hell. Yeah. And torture that you have not known. So, I could imagine. I recorded. Yeah, I recorded in 15 minutes maximum stints. So, what I did was I would, by the time I got to about the 13 minute mark and I was drenched in my own sweat, I would, I would more or less, I'd pause at a at a very appropriate moment. I would go out, stand in front of a fan, gulp down a whole bunch of water, use a towel to dry off all the sweat, and then I'd put the headphones back on. I'd go back in, close the door again. Round two. And I'd do another 10, 15 minutes. And I would do it. So, the whole book was recorded in 15 minute chunks, much like that on repeat over and over and over until I finished it. Yeah. There's about four hours of unedited audio, and that edited down to about three hours and 15 minutes. So, all in all, that was the most difficult recording session I have ever done in my life because of the temperature. And I've just convinced myself that if I get more audio books with long recording sessions, I'm just going to build myself a podcasting booth in the shed and I'm just going to podcast from there and I'm going to get a ducted, because you can get cheap air conditioners, like you know the portable air conditioners that have got the little hot air vent that goes out the window? Yep. You know what I mean? Yep. So I can get one of those and pipe that in through a series of sound dampened ducts that's actually not as expensive as you might think. You know, you're looking at like 300 bucks, 400 bucks. So you don't hear the machine running. No, you won't hear the machine running and you can get isolation, you know, like 15 dB of isolation. So what I'd do is I'd actually probably put it like outside the shed and then run it in through into the shed. So you get insulation through the wall as well as through the walls of the sound booth. I reckon it probably cost me about one and a half grand to two grand to do it and do it properly and just build it myself with all the materials. So it's not going to be a cheap exercise, but it's the sort of thing that then becomes my recording studio for anything. I'm only going to do that if I get more audiobooks because it's really with podcasting I can live with it yeah but for an audiobook when you're talking about multiple hours and all it's gonna take is someone to come to me with a novel and say hey can you do this novel and how many hours is that 20 hours oh yeah I would be I would be beyond dead I'd be dead become a zombie and then killed again anyway so um there you go so and again just to be clear these are not audio books that I wrote. I just narrated them. So, and if you have anything you want narration for, reach out, get in touch and we'll see what we can do. All right. - Sweet. - And yeah, that's it on the audio book thing. So, right. Next bit of news. And this now leads into the main topic more directly and more obviously, so we're going to talk about farms but I bought my first new car in eight years. So my previous car was my favourite fun little manual Honda Jazz Vibe and it's been a fantastically reliable, solid, beautiful car to drive. I mean I know it's a hatchback and I know it's manual but you know what, I love driving that thing. It's funny, you know, because my wife would sometimes say, "Oh, you prefer driving the Fortuner because it's much bigger. It's certainly top of the line. It's all had all the nice leather seats and everything and so on and so forth. The big Fortuner four-wheel drive." To be honest, I actually preferred driving the Jazz. I mean, I would drive the Fortuner, but I preferred driving the Jazz. And I prefer the Jazz because it was easy to park and it was faster than the Fortuner, which to be honest for a big four wheel drive is not, you know, when you've got a diesel, is not that hard to be faster than that off the line. It was just more fun to drive, you know? So anyway, but it had done its time. It had served its purpose and eight years, I'd long since paid it out and owned it. And we still have it. In fact, I'm gonna be giving that car to my oldest son when he gets his license in a few months time, fingers crossed, hopefully he passes the test. We'll see how we go. Anyway, so I decided to buy my first new car. So I some people are going to have a reaction and that's fine. But I bought myself a Tesla and I got one of the cheapest builds you could get, which is the standard range plus a Model three. I can't afford a Model S. I can't afford a Model X. And even if I could afford a Model Y, they still don't sell them in Australia. So I couldn't get a Model Y. So it was basically the cheapest one that I could get. And I could only really just afford to get that in the color that I wanted, which was red. And I always wanted a white interior. And so, you know, I got those two bits. So you could argue it wasn't the cheapest but it was close enough to it. - Right. You know what though? I say good on you for the Model 3. I'm kind of pleased to hear that you bought it. Cause like, you know, as far as green initiatives go and trying to clean up the environment and our energy impact and stuff like that with the electric cars. I really like the idea. I really look forward to hopefully myself having one one day but to be honest, until they make these things more accessible to the average Joe, they're really honestly primarily still just a toy for the very upper middle class and the rich. And so I applaud anybody that pushes their wallet to speak toward the... seems kind of weird to call a car with that price tag, the economy model. That is, yeah, you're not wrong. I think everybody that does is going to slowly but surely eat away at that price tag and make more affordable options viable. So good on you for that. Yeah, I... My problem is that, you know, here's the funny thing, right? Tesla in Australia, all of the other models are so much more expensive, Not in the States, but they are here because they attract, they cross a price threshold and they get hit with an additional tax they call, the Australian government called the luxury car tax. So, the Tesla Model 3 is essentially a straight currency conversion. There's some other certification, state taxes, federal taxes and so on and so forth. But the price is actually like, and import duty is not a BS. So it's like, it's actually a relatively good reflection of what that car should probably be worth in Australia. - Right. - And it's priced, so anyway, so it's not classed as a luxury car, despite the fact that I believe that it is, honestly, if that's the measure of what a luxury car is like, then, you know, having those sort of, I don't know they're not leather seats, but having a really nice comfortable leather seats, the way this thing drives, first of all, yes it's a sports car and yes it's a luxury sports car. Yeah. In my opinion. But then again, I haven't driven a lot of luxury sports cars so what would I know? Right. I haven't even driven a BMW in my whole life. I haven't driven a BMW. I haven't even been in a BMW. I've been in a Mercedes but I haven't driven one very far. You know, like 20 meters is not far. Call it how many yards that is. That's the thing though. It's all a relative perspective. And if you're happy with it and you consider it sporty for you, that's all that matters. - Well, I think the problem is that the insurance companies count it as a sports car. - Oh yeah, that's a problem. - Yeah, that's why I say it's a sports car because the insurance on it is painful. All right, so just to be fair, the only way I can afford this car is on a seven year loan and the bank's gonna own it for a long time, basically, until I can pay them back. And so- - Well, you own it, but they have a spare set of keys, right? - I think the bank would look at it like this. They own it. I'm just allowed to drive it from time to time. But anyway, let's not go there. Okay. So, the point is that it's funnily enough, though, and this is the thing that melts some people's brains. We sold our Toyota Fortuna because it was six, seven years old and six and a bit years old. And it was, yeah, we needed we used that money to get my daughter a car, which was more fitting for her, like better fuel economy, smaller, just more suitable for her at this stage of her life, right? 'Cause you know, you need to car, yada, yada, yada. - Yeah. - So anyway, but that Fortuna, when I bought it, that cost more than the Model 3 does. So a big four-wheel drive, and this is the thing that I find interesting, is the perspective you get from people. If I bought like a top of the line Fortuna, it costs more than this. If I were to get even a mid-level Land Cruiser Prado or a Land Cruiser GXL 100, yeah, these are all Toyota prices. They are all more expensive and some of them significantly more than the Model 3. So I find it ironic, you know, you rock up in a Tesla and people think you made a money. You rock up in a Land Cruiser 100 GXL, people don't think you made it money. It's like, well, hang on a minute. Do you do realize that that car is worth $25,000 more than this one. People are like, what? What? No, really? Like, yeah, really, actually. So anyway, it is affordable, in a sense. But calling it a car that anyone can afford is absolute BS. And to your point, that is, you know, so a car that can actually, that most people could afford, it is not. Yeah. I admit that. I absolutely admit that. Yeah, but still you're driving every purchase of it drives that price just a little lower for future generations Yeah, and exactly right and one further bit of my justification to myself more than anything is that I'm also 45 years old I have a house. It's gone up a lot in value You know, I've got that there's reasons the bank will lend me the money to get a car like that. Yeah So in any case There will be listeners listening right now and believe me I've considered this possibility already that this is my midlife crisis thing So you're supposed to buy a sports car as a guy and you mean like crisis. That's what I've been told That's the script that's written for me of the other things you could supposedly be doing in your midlife crisis. This is pretty harmless That's what I figured yeah, and I also think that that is an absolute trope It's absolute BS as well. And I think that that is that is a it's a horrible almost It's not toxic masculinity, but it is a toxic Stereotype that's pushed on middle-aged men and I think it's absolutely I will not disagree. Yeah, it's just anyway So spare me anyone who's thinking that please anyway, alright, so Long long story short and maybe that's another episode about what I think about what the Tesla was like to drive Let's just summarize it by simply saying You know, I love this car. It's an amazing car. It is by far and away the best car I have ever driven. Having said that, it's not like I'm a car professional car reviewer. I haven't driven a hundred cars of different cars. I've probably driven at probably 30 different cars in my life. If I were to think carefully about all the ones I've driven, but none of them was a Bentley, none of them was a Rolls Royce, none of them was a BMW for example. So, you know, limited sample set. - What I'm hearing here is we shouldn't expect a Chinchilla on Cars channel anytime soon. I think that's a reference to Casey on Cars, for which he did four reviews and hasn't done any more and says he's selling all his gear or something. No, probably not. There are people out there that really do love their cars far more than I do, but I will be doing more reviews of it. But I want to do them more in pieces. And so this is what basically drove me down this path. I'm trying to be funny and it ended up being almost funny. So, what pushed me down this path was the fact that I'm like, you know what, I'm going to get myself a DJI Osmo Action, which I got, you know, secondhand, of course, because I spent all the money on the car. Anyway, couldn't afford a new camera. Anyway, so I I got an action camera and cause I'd never owned one before. And I did my research and these things were competitively priced and it's better than a GoPro in some respects, that's probably flame worthy. I'm sure I'll get flame for that one, but nevermind that. Please email me, no, I'm just kidding. I don't mind, you can if you want. But anyway, so I decided to start a branch, if you will of this podcast, but a video version of it called that I've called Pragmatic Electric. So the whole idea of Pragmatic Electric is some content, I've just got to be honest, it's better in video form. So to be clear what it isn't, Pragmatic Electric is not gonna be a replication of this show. Pragmatic Electric is not going to take over and Pragmatic will then stop as a podcast. That is also not gonna happen because of Pragmatic Electric. It is simply a, think of it as a supplement to things that I can't as easily cover in audio form, it's better in a video form. Having said that, I'm also gonna have a little bit of fun with it. I'm gonna do some things that I like doing, which is oddly enough, drive the car places. So for the moment, I've over the Christmas holidays, which have ended of course, at this point, we're now almost by the time this episode gets released, it'll be, it will be in February, just a bit first week of February. So over my Christmas holidays, I took a month off from work 'cause I needed a break. And I did a whole bunch of recording and editing and I have created five episodes. So the first two episodes are live at the moment of recording and third one will be up next week. So when this goes live, there'll be three episodes live. And the way I've done this, because I'm a podcaster and I believe in an open podcasting ecosystem, like it sounds a little bit like podcasting 2.0, but I mean, the fact is that podcasting has always been an open ecosystem and I wanna see that continue. So I'm not gonna just upload it to YouTube. Yes, I have got the Engineering Network channel on YouTube. So yes, you can in fact go and watch it on YouTube if you want to, that's totally okay. But I wasn't gonna just put it on YouTube. So I've created a video podcast or vodcast if you wanna call it that. And it is also linked on the Engineering Network website. So if you want, you can just go to and have a look and there it is, it's just listed. What I've done is I've updated the front of the webpage now So there's a little icon showing a movie camera if it's video or a podcast icon if it's audio. So you can tell, you know, for new people coming to the website, they can see, oh, this is a video. All right, have a look at that. And it's got a different player. It's got an embedded YouTube player and it has links to the YouTube channel as well as to the individual videos, or you can play them in the embedded player on the actual episode itself. And it has its own RSS feed. So if you want, and this is more the intention, is you can actually watch it in podcast apps that support video. So those are the ones that I've tried it in. Downcast, which I find is really nice. Apple Podcasts app is also quite acceptable. And the Podcasting 2.0 apps, you can actually also watch the video and stream Satoshis as well, supporting all that extra chapter markers and all the extra good stuff that you get in Podcasting 2.0 enhanced apps. So one of them is CurioCaster, which is a web app, and the other one is PodFriend. and the PodFriend web app works well. It also works on Android. But anyway, the point is that you can watch it without having to deal with YouTube if you don't wanna deal with YouTube and that's totally cool with me. So look for that. There's links in the show notes and please check it out and let me know what you think. It's sort of the whole video podcasting, vodcasting thing was a little bit interesting to set up because I'd never done it before. Turns out it's really not that different and extending the website to handle it was really not that hard. So I found a couple of example feeds from the ABC and SBS here locally. And just did a check to make sure it would work before I went live. I'm hosting the video on my own virtual private server for the moment. I've already transitioned my first file across to Libsyn based on quota availability 'cause yeah. Yeah, 'cause it's, yeah. The problem with that is, So, when Libsyn did their upgrade, I logged in today just to, it's a long story, but I logged in, I had a look and it's like, oh, you've got 160 meg of quota. I'm like, really? Okay, interesting. I didn't think I'd have that much left. And I'm like, ooh, the 720p versions of all these, one of the episodes, which we're going to talk about the wind farm one, that would fit. So, I threw that up there, but all the rest of them are hosted on the VPS. I may end up, if people, a lot of people prefer watching it on that rather than YouTube, I may end up putting all of them on their own dedicated VPS, perhaps like a storage VPS that's got more upload bandwidth than my current VPS. So we'll see what happens. We'll see. I have looked into storage VPSs and everything. And they're actually, it's funny, if you add up how much it costs, it's actually a quarter of the price to have a storage VPS that would do the job at the sort of traffic volumes if it really took off, it would still be okay. It's a quarter of the price of Libsyn. Of course, that's one storage VPS. It's not a CDN and I know that. So, you know, but I'm watching my downloads and it's not tracked. So I'm watching my download bandwidth actually getting up. And you can always tell because you'll see a little precisely the same size megabytes for the same time period. so you can see when people are watching the episode through that, but I'm keeping an eye on it. So I've done five episodes. The first episode I've covered, well, in no particular order, I've done an episode with my initial impressions of the Tesla and I mean more so about people's reactions to it, which has been very interesting. Feel free to watch the video for the thoughts on that. That one's live. That was the first episode. There's an episode coming out shortly that talking about the challenges of driving long distances in Australia in an electric car, which is a different proposition to Europe and to the United States. - Yeah. Well, to most of the United States. - Well, yeah, to most of the United States. - Probably pretty similar to like trying to drive in Texas. - Potentially. - Yeah. - I mean, the difference is that Tesla have been active putting in superchargers all over the place. Whereas in Australia, the northernmost supercharger is about 120 Ks north of where I live in Gympie. And north- - And what's your range on that? - Well, okay, so I get a 350 roughly kilometers of range. - Okay, so that's doable. - Kilometers, it's doable. Oh yeah, of course. But I mean, after that, you're on your own. You don't have any more Tesla superchargers. You've got the Queensland government installed these things called the Queensland Electric Superhighway. but these chargers aren't like superchargers. These are shown like the entry level, they're like 50 kilowatts. Whereas the superchargers like, you know, can be a hundred plus kilowatts and you'll be in and out inside 30 minutes on a Tesla supercharger. Whereas these ones are like 45 minutes to an hour if you wanna go completely full. And the problem with that is because, and when they did the installation originally, these, the Queensland Electric Superhighway goes all the way from the border of New South Wales, all the way up to Port Douglas, which is something ridiculous like 1,800 kilometers, which is something like, I don't know, 1,200 miles. It's, or a thousand miles plus, whatever. It's a very, very long way. And there's enough of those super, those charges to get you from one end to the other, but there's only one of them. So, you'll go to like Childers, for example, and there's one charger. There's another car charging, too bad. you gotta wait for it to finish. So all the Tesla superchargers have always got at least three or four that you could use, whereas not the case with the government ones. So anyway, I cover a lot of that in the video anyway. For something different, I did a country road drive. So I actually drove up and back down one of my, a winding road that I thought was particularly scenic. but I thought that was different to something different. Give a little bit of history of the area and stuff like that. And then I also reviewed the sunshade that I got because the glass roof is awfully nice, but it's also awfully hot in the summer in Australia. I suspect people in Florida would have a similar complaint. Anyway. And then finally, I did an episode about a wind farm and that's what we're gonna talk about here. - Excellent. - This episode is brought to you by ManyTricks, makers of helpful apps for the Mac, whose apps do, well, you guessed it, many tricks. Their apps include Butler, Keymail, Leech, Desktop Curtain, TimeSync, Usher 2, Menuware, Moom, NameMangler, Witch, and Resolutionator. There's so much to talk about for each app that they make, so we're just gonna touch on some highlights. 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Thank you once again to ManyTricks for for sponsoring the Engineered Network. We're finally made to our main topic and hour in, or thereabouts. (both laughing) All right. - Hey, we made it. - We did, we did. All right, so, Wind Farms. All right, here we go. So, here's the story as to how this happened first, 'cause it wasn't entirely planned to be a video, but I had the camera with me, I'm like, you know what? Why don't we just do this? So, my oldest son, I mentioned before, going to get the my Honda Jazz as a hand-me-down when he gets his driving license, driver's license. But in Australia, you need to get, or at least in Queensland, you need 100 hours of recorded logged driving time before you can sit for your, to go from a learner's permit to a provisional license, which means when you have a provisional license, you can drive alone. You don't need to have someone with an open license with you. So, anyway, so in order to get his hours up to driving hours, he said, "Oh, yeah, do you like peanuts?" And I'm like, "Yeah, totally. Yeah, I love peanuts. What are you getting at?" He said, "Well, we should go for a drive to Kingaroy because Kingaroy is famous in Australia at least for peanuts. Like, they're one of the largest peanut growing areas in Australia. The soil out there is just perfect for growing peanuts." So, okay, cool. So, let's go and let's go to Kingaroy, go get some peanuts. Fine, whatever. I mean, I could go down to the local supermarket and get a pack of peanuts, but the ones from Kingaroy are much nicer 'cause there's a place they call the peanut van and they have 101 different kinds of peanuts, flavored peanuts, boiled peanuts, and all sorts of different peanuts. Anyway, so on the drive down out to Kingaroy, we got ourselves our requisite peanuts and so on. And then we head south towards Dolby to check out this wind farm that I'd heard about at a place called Cooper's Gap. So, this is the second episode on the channel. Have you actually, have you seen that episode? - Yeah. - Yeah. - Yeah. - Cool. I just thought it might be fun. And I know I have an odd idea of fun. We've established this previously. I understand that, it's fine. Hopefully. So, anyway, I thought, you know what? I did talk a lot about the specifics of Cooper's Gap, But what I didn't want to go on for about half an hour potentially was, well, okay, that's all well and good. And there's, it's a massive wind farm. And I'll talk a little bit about the specifics here. And I cover that in the video and you get a good idea of what they look like, what they sound like. But wind farms are a lot more than just one at Cooper's Gap. So I thought it'd be a good idea to do a bit of a deep dive into this. Now we did briefly touch on wind generators back in very, very long time ago, back in 2014, it was on one of the battery problem. So episode two, the battery problem, we had four follow-up episodes about it. So it was one of those follow-up episodes we did. I did talk a little bit about it, but this is different and things have come a long way in the last nearly 10 years since we did that. So biggest question with a wind farm is, where are you gonna put them? And as I learned, it gets very windy at a wind farm. Who would have thought? That's the point, right? Oh, okay. So I probably should have had my dead cat on a lapel microphone. So apologies, the video has a little bit of wind noise in a few bits of it, where unfortunately, yeah, it's swirled around a little bit. As I did my best to hide behind the car to cut the wind out, but I didn't fully succeed. Anyway. - I think we need some behind the scenes footage. No, no. I've only got the one cameraman. I hear you there. Anyway. All right. So where do you put them? First of all, when they want to site a wind farm, the first thing I do is figure out if it's viable. And I used to think, oh, well, I guess they just put up like an anemometer, some wind totalizers, you know, up on a hillside or something like that. And I just put up there for a couple of years because, I mean, you'd want to be sure, right? You don't want to spend millions and millions of dollars putting all these wind turbines up for a half-baked wind survey, I guess you'd call it. Yeah. So, I figured, yeah, that's what they do. But truth is, no, they don't. It's only really a couple of months, like a few months, maybe three or four months. Generally not a full year, generally not longer than that. And the reason is because they've got software modeling packages now that can take historical weather data, everything from, you know, like temperatures and pressures at ground level and various things. So, you know, the synoptic charts and so on and so forth, that how many hectopascals or oh, God, what are those in hectopascals, kilopascals, North America is millibars, I think still, isn't it? I think so, yeah. You think so? Yeah. So, it's like air pressure. So, all of that, because of course, the lines of the gradients, they're more compressed indicate high wind. And so, they can pull all that information into a model. So, they can predict where the winds will be. Yes. a sample on the ground at that height and then they can overlay that historical information and they can figure out before and after they recorded data what the wind speeds would be like and determine if the spot is suitable. So that's basically how they do it. It's just more economical. Software package, you know, saves them a hell of a lot of time. And of course with that, that means that they can assess more areas over broader areas more accurately. So yeah, that's kind of cool. So anyway, what they then do is they figure out, well, this is the absolute wind capacity for an ideal design. But the funny thing that I learned when I was reading up on this is I had heard, because you know, engineering is the art of trade-off. You can't win everything. Either you optimize for one thing, which hurts you in another area, or you optimize for another thing and it hurts you in a different area. So there's no such thing as a perfect solution. There is only a solution that is optimized for a certain set of variables or a certain end outcome. So when it comes to putting up a wind farm, it's no different. Your final capacity factor is actually not just based on the wind capacity on the hillside. It's also by how you design your turbines. So you can actually improve your capacity factor, but you will not get as much energy generated, let's say. So yeah, that's one of those sorts of trade-offs. We'll dig into that a little bit more in a minute. I would think a nice big gear on the backside of the blade and small gears on the generator. It's funny the way they do the gearboxing, which we will talk about a little bit. But yeah, you're not wrong. are gear boxes that are used a lot and there's issues with coupling to the grid and all sorts of stuff. But yeah, the size of the turbine is more the thing I'm talking about. It's like how big is big enough or how big is too big? Like where's that trade-off end? So having said that, I just keep on talking about hillsides and obviously I'm talking about hillsides because while Cooper's Gap is, well, you know, it's a bunch of hills and valleys. Onshore, and so as in, you know, onshore wind farms, a lot of people have traditionally gone for them simply because they're easier to maintain and access. You're generally in a less corrosive environment. I say generally, so you should need less maintenance because of corrosion. Having said that, that's not always true, because there's a lot of wind farms that are actually close to the coastline. Yeah. Like right up on the on headlands and bluffs and so on. So they still get some of that salt air. Yeah, they do. So I don't think it's fair for me to sort of characterize and say, well, that's always a probe. It's generally it can be a probe, not always. Some interesting cons, though, if it's on shore, it doesn't mean it's necessarily easy to build it, because those massive turbine blades. Those things are enormous. They're enormous. And- They really are. I mean, we've got some of these wind farms in the States and I've had occasion to drive by them in a few different locations and stuff. And you could tell when you're looking at them, you know, from the roadway or whatever, that they're really big and they're really massive, but nothing really puts the scale of these things into your head until you actually drive by the big oversized tractor trailer apparatus they've set up to transport just a single blade. And it's the length of three standard tractor trailers. Yeah. It's... That sounds about right. It's insane. Yeah. And it's like... It really puts the scale of the size into perspective. 100%. Absolutely. And the thing that I found was most interesting for me is this one at Cooper's Gap, well, I mean, it's in mountains and mountain ranges, right? So what do you have in mountain ranges? You've got winding roads. So not only do you have a ridiculously long fan blade that you're trying to get to this, to where you need to put the actual turbine, you have to somehow get this thing up a winding road with hairpin bends all over the place. - That thing don't bend in the middle to turn curves. - Yeah, and these things aren't designed to bend. So I had some video, not some video, sorry. I found a website that had pictures of some of these fan blades traversing some of these winding roads. And it's truly, you know, what's that game where you slide all the little squares around, you got one spare spot, you got to slide the puzzle around to make a picture. It really seriously- - I know what you're talking about, but I can't remember the name of it. - It's just like that. - Yeah. - It's like one of those games, it's like a sliding jigsaw puzzle. It's just crazy, right? you'd have to go up a little way and move it a little this way, move it a little that way, pull it forward six inches, move it a little more. Yeah. So, yeah. So literally that some of those corners and double switchbacks, they'd have to do stuff like you go forward around one corner, you get the back end slightly forward, and then you reverse the front end slightly. And then you jack up one end slightly to clear a rock and then you go forward again. It's like, it's like, this thing is insane how they did it anyway. So that's a con. The next thing you know, the tractor sitting parallel with the trailer tail end and the blades of big bridge going across the curve. Yeah, basically, yeah, it's kind of insane. So there's a couple of links in the show notes if you're interested and you can check it out, it's kind of crazy. The obvious next con is the one that most people I think think of, which is, well, people live there. And you might think, well, yeah, but you know, you're up in the mountains and no one lives up there. And they're like, well, yeah, they do. Maybe not as many. they have a multi-story building, 250 kilometers inland from Brisbane, you're going to have farmers, okay? And farmers are people too, right? So yeah, you do have people living out there. It's low density populations, but they have to listen to the sound that those turbines make. And I tell you what, listen to the video, well, watch the video, but listen to the audio of the video. I actually got a really good sound grab of what they sound like. And I used to think, like based on all the videos I'd seen and so on, like current affairs, reporting programs, like the sound that these turbines made was more like a whoop, whoop, whoop kind of sound. - Yeah. - But this did not sound like that. - You could describe it sort of like that, but it doesn't do it justice. - No, it really doesn't, hey. The best thing I could, best analogy I could come up with is it sounded like someone was strangling a jet engine. - Yeah. - It was just very, very unnatural, very unnatural. And I cannot imagine how you would like in air quotes, get used to it. I just, that's just- - If you're living practically right underneath that thing, it's gonna be ever present. - Yes, exactly. Yeah. So that's definitely a con for those people that are living nearby and they're compensated. Don't get me wrong, but I mean, you know, how much compensation are you gonna take in financially for never been able to sleep a decent amount of sleep again? Don't know. It's like, I mean, I'm... It's hard to put a dollar value on that one. It's like, I've been, I haven't slept in six months. I've made $5,000, but I'm ready to go postal. Yeah. A pin dropped and then I start going, anyway, never mind. All right, so visually is another con. Some people look at these things on the mountainside and say, "Well, this is what it looked like before and afterwards." And they're like, "Ugh, these things are really ugly." And they destroy the look of it. And it's just like, "Ugh, I don't like how they look." look, you know, kind of thing. Some people look at them and say, I don't think like that. I see the engineering. If they're on every single hillside, maybe I'd have an issue. So maybe that is the answer. Maybe I do deep down inside do find that they're not visually that appealing. But in any case, that's subjective, but it's a con. And the other con, which is one that I didn't immediately think of, is that wind over land may not be as reliable in some parts of the world. Yeah. So, why that is makes sense, but we'll get to it in a minute. So, that's the cons that I could think of. Any other cons you can come to mind? No, I think you hit pretty much most of the big ones. Like here in the States, you know, as far as wind availability goes, you'll mostly see them in plains areas. Yeah, that's true. Places that are large and flat. Yeah. You can watch your dog run away for three days. That's an interesting way of putting it. All right, cool. All right, so let's talk about offshore because offshore is like, offshore is all the rage in wind turbines at the moment and there's good reasons why. So, the pros are you have got a lot of real estate to choose from and by lots of real estate, I think, is it two-thirds of the planet's surface is covered in water? Something like that. Something like that. A very large percentage. And with ice melting and so on and so forth, it's gonna be more. We're getting more ocean every day. It's like, yeah, bring that ocean, I guess, whether you want to or not, it's gonna happen, it seems. So you got lots of real estate to choose from. And that therefore means you can be a long way from any permanent neighbors. I mean, fair enough. There may be boats that go past every now and then if you're on a ship passing by. But other than that, no one's going to see him and no one's going to hear him. Yeah. So that's a big pro. So, interesting fact, wind studies from different parts of the world have demonstrated consistently that you will get more consistent and stronger winds offshore than you will get from most onshore locations. Yeah. In fact, many of the very best onshore locations, in fact, that are the best, they're already in use. Yeah. So, it's like in many of the onshore spots have already been taken. but offshore, not the case. Now there's the cons, 'cause obviously, well, if this was better, then why didn't we just do this from the beginning? Well, obviously, if you wanna fix pylons to the ocean floor, there's only so deep you can go. So currently the deepest offshore wind farm that has a fixed pylons in the bedrock underwater is about 60 meters, that's about 200 feet deep water, Which is still, don't get me wrong, that's still pretty deep and certainly deeper than I've ever swam. But then, you know, I can't really swim very well despite the fact that I'm supposedly, well, everyone seems to think every Australian can swim. I can sort of swim, but let's not test that. Going down 60 meters, definitely not done that and definitely don't want to do that. I don't know. I don't think I'd freak out that deep. Anyway, so that's the deepest one that I have at the moment. And going deeper than that becomes a problem with supports, rigidity of the structure, currents, and so on and so forth, it gets difficult. - Yeah. - So another con, just looking at Europe as an example where I could get some good stats, because of course, offshore has become the most popular in Europe at the moment. It's spreading through other parts of the world though. 80% of the offshore high wind locations are in depths greater than 60 meters. So, whatever ones that are out there at best will only ever capture 20% of what's able to be captured offshore in terms of wind energy. So, there's a massive problem if you want to go out deeper. So, offshore has a limit. All right. There's also some legality and some disputes over, and this is going to sound strange, but mining wind, like capturing wind is probably a better way of saying it. I think mining wind is actually kind of a good term for it. I like it. Well, I guess. Okay, well, let's just, we'll go with that. I think listeners know what I mean. The fact is that you're harnessing, mining it, whatever. But if you're doing that, X number of miles offshore, you're in international waters, right? You've also got sovereign borders and claims and people sometimes will say, "Well, let's build an island here and then we can say where our shoreline is now further out. Dutch have been doing that for ages too, by the way, reclaiming ocean and saying, "Hey, yeah, guess what? Another five miles out from the new line here. That's ours too." So very clever, the Dutch, you know, they're creeping up on the ocean. Anyway, we did a whole episode on that one anyway. But yes, so then of course, when you're connecting that electricity to different countries' grids, if there's a sovereign border, it could be an interesting challenge, let's just say, legally and politically. Yeah. So, it's like, hang on, man, that's my wind. You can't have that. Yeah. Or I want a 30% split of the energy because that's my wind. Yeah. Or something. I mean, I... And we haven't even discussed the possibility that some hostile foreign power could come and just take the thing out. Hey, it's in international waters. Exactly right. So, there's... Yeah, true. And so, there's the whole sabotage angle, pirates and yeah, it's an interesting little area. Shall we say? - Yeah. - So, but that's a human problem, not a technical problem. So I'm not gonna go any more about that, but you know, it would be remiss for me not to mention something about it. - Yeah. - Let's just say you wanna go into deeper water. So how would you do it? Obviously floating is the answer because we've already had decades of experience in the oil and gas industry with deep water rigs like Ocean Ranger and Deepwater Horizon. And it did occur to me that the two that I just gave examples for are ones that both sank. I'm not getting at anything when I say that. (laughing) They were really, really bad examples, but other than them, it works fine. Anyway, and I did two episodes of Causality, by the way. There's an episode about Ocean Ranger there's an episode about Deepwater Horizon. So if you haven't checked those out, you're not listening to Causality, you really should be. But in any case, check those out if you're interested. But bottom line is the technology has been around for 30 years, 40 years nearly. It's well established and it can work. So you just have something that floats. It's essentially a semi-submersible so that you have these essentially massive pontoons filled with ballast water and they They keep the whole thing steady, but there's enough air in them in order to essentially keep it floating above sea level. But it's surprisingly stable. If there's big swells, you would have to stop operations and so on. But generally speaking, unless it's the biggest of storms, these things can be incredibly stable. You wouldn't even think being on one of those things that it was actually not anchored to the ground. So you have anchor rope, you have anchor chains and so on and so forth, but they're all, they're loose, they're slack. And in the case of something like Deep Water Horizon, there wasn't that. There was essentially, they have small propellers underneath that keep a GPS locked in position. But in any case, the technology exists. So there's no reason why you can't put a wind turbine on it, except of course, the added challenge of the torsion effect and turning moment of having something so tall above the water level. Because whilst it's true that the derrick, it goes quite high, the majority of the mass above an oil rig, a deep water rig at least, is not in the derrick. When you're loading pipe and unloading pipe and all that sort of stuff, it's like, well, this case, the turbine and the blades and they're rotating way above the water level. So that creates an upside down pendulum in a sense, which is really not stable. So you've got to be a bit smarter about the design. So rather than going into too much of the complexities, so people have done it. There was a pilot plant built off the coast of Scotland and that was built in 2018, 2019. And they called it the High Wind 5 pilot plant. It only makes 30 megawatts. I say only 30 megawatts. That's still pretty decent. That's still pretty That's a lot more than my solar panels. They tap out at five kilowatts. So, you know, hey, 30 megawatts, that's pretty good. But they did the cost comparison and they know that it costs twice as much than if they'll build the same capacity on shore. But it proves it can work. - Yeah. - And it does work. So anyway, having said all of that, you know, if a wind turbine sinks offshore, they're unmanned. So no one's probably gonna get hurt. So I guess that's a plus probably. Hopefully no fish are hurt as it sinks. Anyway, I think costs will come down over time. That much is a certainty. And ultimately it's that 60% capacity factor that they really want. And we'll talk about capacity factor a little bit more. That'll make sense. But that's actually really exceptionally good. - Okay. - All right. So far so good? - Yeah. - All right. So let's have a look about, look at some of the different popular types of turbines. And honestly, I'm not going to go into them all because you'd be stunned just how many different kinds of wind turbines that exist. So the large scale turbines, they're dominated by the most popular, which is the tri-blade. And they're essentially a tail finless, that is to say they have no tail fin. So the tail finless design and seems to hit the sweet spot for lowest cost per size, balancing the rotor, operating at scale. But that's large scale turbines. If we talk about domestic turbines, and I know we aren't, but just to mention them, there's a weird split between three, four and five blade. They generally have tail fins in their designs. - Yeah. - And that's probably historically been the majority, but now the more the vertical, and there's also the orb style that I talked about on that episode of "Pragmatic" years ago. And they rotate on the horizontal axis in a sense, in terms of how I think about it. So yeah, they rotate around horizontally for a vertical shaft. - Like if you laid a bicycle down and spun the wheel. - Yeah, basically, yeah, that. And the advantages of those turbines is, I say the advantages, sorry, the design goal of those is to be quiet and to work in lower wind speeds with more turbulent air. Whereas with the large wind turbines, they're specifically put in locations where there is very minimal air turbulence and where there is consistent wind-- - Just a nice steady constant flow. - Nice, yes. And they don't pick the sites with lower wind speeds, so they don't need to optimize for lower wind speeds. So that means you can have a more efficient turbine that operates at high wind speeds, which is one of the reasons they go for the bigger turbines. So as I've said before, it's all about trade-offs. You know, speed versus energy. And when I say speed, I mean like wind speed. So the minimum wind speed to start rotating is one of the measures that they have for any wind turbine. So for large turbines, that's about eight kilometers an hour, which is about two meters a second. Sorry, I don't have what these are in knots, which I know some people like to talk in knots, but still. There's also a cut in speed. And the cut in speed is when the turbine just starts to actually generate power. So for large turbines, you're looking at about 12 and a half kilometers an hour, which is 3.5 meters per second. And they will then reach a maximum power generated for large turbines. And that varies between 10 to 15 meters per second, which is about 36 to 54 kilometers per hour. So in terms of, you know, like miles per hour, so, you know, like, so 35 miles per hour is 50 kilometers per hour. - Right. Yeah. - Roughly. - So that's a pretty good wind. - It's pretty decent. Yeah, exactly. Right. So, but these of course have been specifically put in areas where they will get those sorts of winds. So that's maximum power generated, but here's the thing. Storms are a thing, you know, like hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, whatever you want to call them. - The twist. unlucky a twister. That's right. Tornado. We got ourselves a tornado. Yeah. Unfortunately, therefore, you have to have a maximum speed, and they call that the cut out speed. And that's when the turbine has to be stopped or braked or both, you know, like braked or the fins have to be put in out of the wind. Right. And for most large turbines, they're cutting out at 90 kilometres an hour winds, which is very, yeah, it's basically storms. Yeah, that's, they let them go. That's, that's a pretty good high, high level cutoff. It's higher than I would have expected. That's it. I mean, I think that you, you'll find that these are so average numbers based on wind turbines made in the last 10 years. I think, I think the truth is that it'd be based on the manufacturer's recommendation. I think some models might have a higher cutout, a lower cutout speed. So these are just sort of rough numbers. Lower, so smaller domestic turbines will have a lower cut in speed. like they'll cut in and start generating at only three meters a second. So the difference between three meters a second and three and a half meters a second is not as trivial as you might think. But then the cutout speed of, you know, like 27 meters a second, you know, that's the small turbines, you know, they're optimized to make much less noise. So ultimately they can also be more linear. So when you're going from low wind speed to high wind speed, like between the eight to 14 meters a second, let's say I looked at a couple of them and it's relatively linear profile. So as the speed increases, your power linearly increases. But you know, having said that you'll get like 750 Watts from some of these little turbines, like that's 750 Watts. - That's pretty impressive. - Well, yeah, but you know, this is a domestic. And then five kilowatts is probably the biggest domestic model you'll get. And that's borderline on, that's really not gonna be a quiet wind turbine, right? - Yeah. - So anyway, but larger turbines on the other hand, their power efficiency increases dramatically as your wind speed moves up. So it's more of an exponential curve and then it starts to flatten. So it's, I think the preferred term is an S curve. So it's like, it's practically nothing, practically nothing. you reach your cutting speed and then it starts to ramp up and then it really ramps up and then it flattens off towards the top and peters out. Yeah, exactly. It plateaus at the top. Exactly right. So just to give you a little bit of a comparative, the turbines at Cooper's Gap, there were two different kinds. One is 3.6 megawatts and the other is 3.8 megawatts. each of those at optimum wind speed would be making 3.6 or 3.8 megawatts per turbine. Yeah. Which is a lot, obviously. All right, so the few little rules of thumb, larger blades will harness more energy, but they make more noise, they're harder to transport, they're harder to construct, and they will take more wind speed before they cut in. Right. Smaller blades will take less speed to cut in, make less noise and are limited in their maximum power output. So you need a lot more of them to be viable at a large scale. Yeah. And I think that's kind of intuitive, right? Because if you've got big blades, they're going to be bigger, they're going to be heavier. So the heavier they are, the more energy you need in order to start them. But of course, you've also got more surface area. So you're going to get more of that, you know, our Aileron sort of effect, going as the wind's going over the top of them, creating a negative pressure to create the force you need to turn it. But it's like, you know, it's not an easy equation, but it's clearly larger blades will harness more energy, which is why they use them. So large scale, three blade, tail finless. So I was thinking, okay, well, why three blades? Because I genuinely didn't know this until I start digging into it. And it turns out that obviously they're the most popular because they're the best trade off. But the trade offs between the contact area with the wind and the diminishing returns and cost of adding a fourth or fifth blade. And I thought, well, OK, well, wouldn't you go one better and go with a two blade unit? So, it turns out that you can by adding a third blade, you do get more energy from adding a third blade. But beyond that, the efficiencies drop. So I'm not sure how much you know about the math behind three phase power, three phase electricity. Not a whole lot. Well, that's OK. The idea behind it is it's basically it's the same kind of idea. So right now, if you have any three phase power system, each of the phases of electricity are out of step by 120 degrees so that they don't, they have minimal interference with each other. - Right. - So you can then essentially group them together and you can carry more power over the same power corridor or cable, depending on what we're talking about. Then you could with a single phase. I'm not talking about bundling conductors, I'm just talking about like three independent phases. But if you had all of them in the same phase, then they would cause more interference and cross coupling with each other. But by putting them out of phase, you minimize that and you create what they refer to a balanced transmission line. So each of them therefore cancels each other out in a manner of speaking. So they're balanced. And balanced loads in the electrical sense is... I'm going to talk about unbalanced loads. No, I'm not. But what I'm going to say is there were some proponents early on for adding a fourth phase and a fifth phase, because you could do the same kind of thing again, but they found that the extra costs involved in doing that were were not, it was not worthwhile because you needed extra insulators and extra conductors and so on. And essentially the interaction between the phases was therefore not cost economical. So it turns out that it's a similar kind of argument with that third blade. Like it's worth adding a third. It's at scale, at scale, that's the key point, at scale. turbines, you'll often see with four or five. So then the last thing comes down to balance. So it's easier to balance three blades than four, apparently. And I sort of thought through that and I'm like, I'm not entirely sure, but I've read a few, there's a few sites that talk about balances when it comes to, interestingly, yeah, propellers. Balance in this perspective, we're talking about so that your rotation maintains a smooth circle like balancing a tire, right? Yeah, exactly. Because if you have one propeller or one, you know, fin that is... Then it wobbles. Exactly. And that wobble creates a vibration. The faster it rotates, the worse the vibration. Vibration means... Stress, breakage. Stress. Stress means it breaks. So basically you're trying to avoid that. Yeah. So there's an interesting site I found that talked about propeller balance, if you're interested in that. It's more meant for boating, but still. So four-blade props are more in that boating industry are more popular because they're easier to make even though they're less efficient. But rather than three-blade, funnily enough, when it comes to wind, it's three blades. So yeah, I figure. Anyway, all right. Why no fin? That was the other thing that I always had always wondered. I suspected I knew and it turns out I was my suspicion was correct. But it was always nice to get that validated by just doing my research. And that is that at scale, a fin causes more turbulence. You're trying to avoid turbulence. Yeah. So the action of the fin is to keep it pointing into the wind. Right. Well, guess what? You've got, well, this is modern technology, so you've got all sorts of different pressure sensors on this thing. So, in fact, if you have pressure sensors and velocity sensors for the rotational rate and everything and the position of each of the blades, then you don't need to actually detect the direction. You can detect it using the sensors. You don't need a tail fin to mechanically point in the breeze. So what they do is I'll add either a servo motor or a stepper motor or a hydraulic system with a positioner, and they'll computationally determine the correct direction based on feedback from the sensors on the turbine. And it works just as well as a tail fin with none of the downsides of a tail fin. The tail fin is just a drag, man. Yes it is. The blades themselves have also got motors in them, on them, to change their angle of attack. I was there when I write the base. I didn't realize that. That's cool. Yeah. I was actually at the base of one and I was listening to one of these things start. And you'd see each of the, you'd hear each of the blades go crank, crank, crank slightly. And then it would stop and it would slowly start to rotate. And then you'd wait five minutes and you hear crank, crank, crank again. And then it would, all the fan blades would turn to a different angle of attack. And that's pretty cool. And so, so they optimized the blade angles to get the optimum startup speeds and optimal power generation once it's rotating. Very cool. And when they're parked, probably goes without saying, they keep them trailing as much as possible to prevent drag from the prevailing wind direction. When you've got too much wind or you're doing some kind of maintenance or whatever, you're locking them and stopping them. It's actually a little bit more complicated than you might think, the whole thing, but the technology itself has been around now for actually several decades. The only thing that's different is that it's making them bigger. So the basic concepts are much the same. And in that respect, you could consider wind turbines at that scale to be a solved problem. All right. A few design considerations. The height. I said before turbulence, right? So they talk about wind that's clean and I don't think they mean like soot or I don't know, whatever else might be carried on the wind, microplastics. No, no, no. No, cleanliness of the wind is just a measure of turbulence. So the more turbulent the air, the less efficient the turbine is going to be. enough. Hence, they need to be a minimum height above the ground to avoid turbulence, because turbulence at the ground air barrier where they join, where they touch, all it takes is wind going over an object like a tree, a rock, obviously a mountain, you know, like any of those undulations that you're going to find. It's like that just creates air turbulence and that's bad. You don't want to be in that turbulence. Yeah. So generally, and even over flat ground, like really completely flat desert, you will still get turbulence at that boundary because of the skin effect from that air and the friction over the top of that ground. I mean, if that didn't happen, you wouldn't get like surface waves, for example, in the ocean, and you wouldn't get sand dunes with that ripple effect. So it's like you still get turbulence even if the ground is perfectly flat. Just that's just physics. Yeah. So that's why when they put these wind turbines in, they're generally at least 10 meters or 30 feet as a starting point off the ground. And that's the lowest point of the blade in its lowest vertical position. If you know what I mean, not the pivot point of the turbine, the lowest point the blade reaches. All right, so far so good. All right, getting through it. So I've talked a few times about different measurements that they've got. So it's worth mentioning just some of them quickly they use in the business. Wind power density. So that's watts per square meter of airspace. So they use that as a way of trying to project and calculate how much wind power you can get for a certain area. Next is capacity factor. I've mentioned that a few times. So what the heck is capacity factor? It's really simple, in sense. It's the nameplate capacity. So let's say you put in a turbine like the ones at Cooper's Gap, 3.6 or 3.8 megawatts. So that's the maximum nameplate capacity that this thing can produce. It can produce 3.6 megawatts or 3.8 depending on which one we're talking about. Yeah. So the capacity factor therefore is the maximum rated nameplate capacity of that turbine averaged against the expected wind in the installation location. So I say expected wind. You could also argue actual wind once you've installed it. So it's one or the other. Right. And that's your capacity effect. So if you've got a three megawatt turbine and it runs with enough wind to generate enough power 30 percent of the time to meet that in total, like if you would have able to run that turbine for 365 days of the year, let's say, at exactly generating 33 megawatts, then you'd have 100% capacity factor, but that's never gonna happen 'cause wind isn't constant. - It's two variables. - That's right. So the capacity factor is generally the factor that they use to determine whether or not it's a good or bad place, and a design for the turbines is the right design for that place, which is why I said earlier, offshore wind farms, some of the offshore sites can have capacity factors of 60%. And on land, 30% is considered good. So the attraction of going out offshore to get that high capacity factor simply because the wind is more consistent and there's less turbulence. It's like that is worth chasing. So the other things I do is I break wind down into classes because of course they do. There's an I see standards there's too because of course there is you know, because why wouldn't there be? Because obviously, right? A class four is considered to be very low wind. And that's reference speed is 30 meters per second. Average maximum is six meters per second. So it doesn't sound like, it sounds like, oh, that's actually quite good. It's really not. The average max is the one you care about the most. An average maximum of only six meters a second is not that great. So a class three, it has an average max of seven and a half meters per second. That's with a reference of 37.5 meters per second. Class two is getting a little bit more impressive, an average max of 8.5 meters per second. So that's pretty solid, pretty consistent. And that's got a reference of 42.5 meters a second. And then finally a class one, which is of course what you really, really want, high wind area. It's reference is 50 meters a second. Average max is 10 meters per second. So if your average, you're gusting at 10 meters a second, that is some seriously good wind, which I just realized is an interesting expression. Anyway, so generators, when you go and buy one of these turbines with a generator, it's often described by its wind class. So you'll say, well, this turbine is designed for a class three area or a class two area. So if you've got a class three turbine, it'll have a larger rotor to capture the same amount of energy that you would otherwise need in a class two area because you have less wind, so you need a larger rotor. In a class two area, you don't to capture the same amount of energy. This is a little bit more about the technical on the electrical side, and then we'll talk about some of the maintenance issues. - Okay. - Okay, so DC versus AC, you know, Westinghouse, Tesla, all that other good stuff, you know, whatever. Preferred generator types. Okay, so I thought about it. If I was putting up a generator, what would I put up? Now, obviously, I say obviously, for the electrical engineers listening, obviously a permanent magnet synchronous generator, that's gonna be your best efficiency that you're gonna get. But there's a reason that we don't have permanent magnets on large scale equipment electrically, is because having permanent magnets at that size for multi-megawatt turbines and stuff, that's really expensive and it just becomes problematic. You're never ever gonna get that. So for larger ones, they are more commonly, in fact, like 80% of them will use external excitation of their rotor. So an externally excited rotor is really not unusual. Like for example, when I worked at the Stenel Power Station they 350, 350 megawatt generators and they were all externally excited. Right. So it just means that you've got to pass power onto the rotor, onto the rotor windings, sorry, the name escaped me, the rotor windings via slip rings or what have you. Yeah. So with wind turbines, what they have is they prefer a doubly fed induction generator. I'm not going to go into describing what doubly fed means, just trust me. And there's links in the show notes if you really want to learn about what that means. But basically, it's not a permanent magnet. Yeah. Now, obviously, one of those things I actually just wanted to mention, one of the things that I find funny about external excitation is that you need power to make power, which just to my brain is just seems a bit funny in my mind for some reason. So, because the idea is that, you know, when you have like at the coal-fired power station, a stale power station, I worked there for six months when I was still doing my degree, long time ago, 25, 27 years ago. Wow, time flies and you're having fun. Anyway, that's why they had, so baseload plants typically will have a blackstart generator because in order to actually start the plant, you need electricity. How are you going to do that? Well, you have a bunch of diesel generators at the front. Those diesel generators, you start them up just like a diesel engine. They provide electricity to then start the actual electrical plant, which is kind of ... I always found that funny. I don't know why it's funny. You need power to make power. Same kind of thing with these. They'll draw their excitation power from the grid and then once the turbine's generating power, they don't need to anymore. I mean, they still might, but they don't need to. They become self-sustaining as it were. So they tap off some of the power that they then generate. Anyway, so either way you go with a PSMG or a DFIG, whichever generator, it doesn't really matter, you get AC. That's fine, AC is okay. So how do you bring that back to the grid is the real interesting question. Obviously from a cable perspective, undersea cables have been around for a long time. So that's not surprising, you just dangle a cable down onto the floor of the ocean and pops back up and it's all good. And then you go from an AC to DC conversion and you might think, well, okay, why would you do an AC to DC conversion? The interesting thing is, if you think about it makes perfect sense and this gets back to your gearbox point, you don't know how fast that turbine's gonna be generating. You're spinning. It's gonna spin at the speed it's gonna spin at. And I mean, you can control it up to a point but you really can't be that precise. It depends on the wind. So what happens when your grid is 50 Hertz or 60 Hertz AC and your wind turbines generating power at seven Hertz? So you can put in like multi-pole machines, you can put in, there's a whole bunch of different things you can do and gear boxes to try and gear that up, gear that down and so on and so forth. But they don't bother, generally speaking. What they'll do is they'll change it to DC. And then if they go back to AC again, they'll then be able to essentially convert it back to AC and reconstruct it at 50 Hertz. And power electronics makes that, well, these days at scale, makes that quite possible. So like 20 years ago, no way. But these days, having DC, high voltage DC and power electronics doing all this stuff, it absolutely works. It's really cool. So in any case, and the other thing, of course, you can't get away from beyond the whole AC to DC thing. Sometimes I do DC transmission because it's got less loss. And obviously if you're offshore, you're gonna be further away from the electrical grid. So the further you go, the more power you're gonna lose with longer cables, longer power drop. But you know, this is not gonna be a massive problem until you're going hundreds of miles out to sea, which we're not there yet, but you know, eventually probably. All right, that's the electrical part. So finally, finally, finally, we're gonna talk a little bit about maintenance and then I'll just recap Cooper's Gap and that's it. Okay. So, okay. Maintenance. The other thing I love about solar panels is they just sit there and work. I mean, fair enough. You go to like, you know, give them a scrub and clean every now and then to pick up that last five or 6% of efficiency you're losing with dirt and grit forming on them. Yeah. Bit of, you know, more or less, but they just sit there. They make power. And you're like, thanks. Thanks guys. That's like really solid. That's a solid effort, you know, solar panels, you're my friend. Until, of course, it's overcast, until, of course, you live in a climate where it's like six months of the year, you don't get very much sunlight. Like in Calgary, solar panels really in the wintertime aren't going to help much. They're going to look awfully pretty. Well, maybe they won't, but they're going to look the way they look anyway. All right. So, but wind turbines, they have moving parts, so they're going to have more problems. But the thing that's interesting and the thing that I found interesting when I was digging into this is because I thought it was going to be a bigger problem than it was. So clearly, they're going to require more maintenance and solar panels, but how much more? Because they're not going to degrade like solar will, because solar over time, like after 15 years, you're going to lose 20 percent of your capacity just through degradation and breakdown of the silicon junctions. So there's nothing you can do about that. That's just the way it is. So there's always gonna be ongoing costs as well. Let's just take those off the table. So land rental payments to landowners and so on and so forth. Offshore, obviously, it's probably less of a problem, but the biggest piece of maintaining a wind turbine is going to be moving parts that fail. So the way they do it is they say, the wind farming industry talk about incidents per 10 machine years or a machine decade, if you like. So, all the numbers below in that metric. So, they had I found a great website that broke it all down and said, this is our experience to date of wind turbines over the last 25 years. Yeah. So, electrics, 5.51 incidents per machine decade. Control units, 3.71. Anything sensor related, whether that's dirty sensors, broken sensors, whatever, 2.8. Hydraulics just behind a 2.7. The yaw system, 2.5. And the brakes, 2. Yeah. Then below that, at 1.3 or below, you've got gearbox, then generator, structure and the drivetrain. And those are each at 1.3 or less for each. Honestly, those numbers are lower than what I would have expected. Yeah, same. I was very pleasantly surprised. Yeah. It's just by the nature of what these things were, I would have been... I would have thought they were subjected to constant stress and I would have expected the failure rates to be much higher. Yeah, same. Absolutely. That's exactly what I thought I'd find out what's not true. So the interesting thing is the causes of damage are things like corrosion, debris, clogging, you know, sensors and components, which you'd expect accumulation of material on the blades, which could lead to imbalance, which in turn leads to vibration, which in turn leads to gearbox problems. But that's not high on their list of failures, which is interesting. So they found that if you keep a close eye on your measurements, like vibration, particularly vibration, you can see problems forming long before because they're very consistent. That all that will do is spin around in a circle. So they really don't do a hell of a lot. Right. And if you have a good preventative maintenance program, then you can really minimize that downtime. You can just, you know exactly what you need. You get in before it breaks, You have the parts. Every so often you take one turbine down, do a good PM on it, keep the rest of the field running, and then they don't all break down at the same time. Exactly. And that is turning out to be the winning strategy with these things. Yeah. And the funny thing is that most of the wind turbines are designed, have a design life of 20 years. But a lot of the turbines built in the early noughts are still running today and they're running just fine. - That's awesome. - I know. So, I mean, it could be 20 to 30 years with good maintenance. It could be like 40 to 50 years. We just don't know. So at this point in time, these huge turbines that are being built today, 'cause all the ones in the early noughts, they were around too much more than a megawatt. Three megawatts, four, five megawatt turbines are becoming commonplace, but this is new, right? These are huge. So, that we have no data to support how long they're going to run at scale, it may turn out that they're even more reliable. I don't know. No one does. So, it's interesting because you can't really accelerate a life test, something like a wind turbine. Not really. So, what are you going to do, put in a wind tunnel? It wouldn't fit in a wind tunnel for one thing, even if you could do that. It's like, hmm. Anyway. So, I was pleasantly surprised by that. Now, that is not to say that they're still not more expensive to maintain than solar panels. Of course they are, but just not as bad as I thought they'd be. And that's kind of a big deal if they're lasting 20 to 30 years, maybe 40 years, because a lot of people say, "Oh, these things, you know, we have to start pulling them down and recycling them." Well, apparently no, we're not. Not for a while yet. So that was interesting. Yeah. All right. Okay. So a little bit more about Cooper's Gap, just specifically. As I mentioned, I did a it's about three and a half minute long episode. So it's actually the shortest one. So again, if you haven't checked it out, make sure you check it out. It took about two years to build it from start to finish. And it was the biggest wind farm in Australia for about six months. And then it wasn't anymore. Well, that didn't last that long. No, I know, right. Total capacity, 453 megawatts for the entire farm. Now, as impressive as that sounds, that pales into insignificance, really, when you compare it to the largest offshore wind farm in Hornsea, that's Project One in the UK, 1.218 gigawatts. So that's nearly, what is that? Three times? Four, hang on, four, three, yeah, three times. The size. Yeah. That's a lot of power. And that's offshore. The largest group or area, if you prefer, because it's so huge, calling it a single farm is unfair. They call it a group of farms. It's a co-op. Is a co-op of farms. Yeah, that's it. Let's all let's all pull our wind resources together as a co-op. OK. Is it's in China and it's the Gansu wind farms and they combined generate eight gigawatts and they're still putting in more turbines. Eight gigawatts of wind power. Yeah. That's insane. Now, I thought to myself, you know what, this isn't, Cooper's Gap wasn't the first wind farm I actually saw. The first one I saw was actually when I was in America. Remember in 2019, I came over to Houston. I did a drive down to Corpus Christi for a day trip. Right. And that was the day that I eventually headed north to Austin. No, that was a different day, it doesn't matter. The point is on my trip where I went to Houston, Corpus Christi and Austin. Yes. In Texas. And I drove past, I think it's pronounced Paperloat Creek. I'm not sure. Wind Farm. And that thing, I thought that was huge. The nameplate capacity was 380 megawatts. So it wasn't as big as Cooper's Gap in terms of capacity, but it had more turbines because the turbines were smaller because it was built earlier. So it had smaller turbines. So it had more of them. So it looked visually more impressive. So, but that was the first one I saw. There's a picture in the show notes, a picture in the chapter art you'll see now. Yeah. So those are my two wind farms that I've seen. Oh, yeah. And, And honestly, the one at Cooper's Gap was more impressive, more for the fact that I could stand really close to the base of one of them, which was quite, yeah, scary. But anyway. - It's pretty impressive. - Or inspiring. - Yeah. - Very impressive. So what's the future? Thinking about it, I think one of the interesting concept plans that I came across was for an array of smaller turbines stacked in a structure. So like multiple turbines across, then multiple rows, them stacked on top of each other into a massive grid. And that's being developed, they're trying to commercialize it. It's being designed by a company called Wind Catching Systems, which is an apt name, since that's what they do, from Norway. And they claim that their wind catcher design would be five times more efficient for the same physical area as a conventional massive pylon wind turbine. We'll see, jury's out on that, but you know. There's also the ongoing debate of a vertical access versus horizontal access for efficiency versus cost. So I do think that we're gonna start seeing more large scale vertical access turbines, which will be interesting. And there's absolutely no doubt in my mind, none, that land-based turbines are gonna become maxed out in most or at least all the economically viable, environmentally viable locations will be tapped out very soon if they aren't already. There's just only so much usable land for that. Exactly. And then offshore will just become the future. And like floating will become standardized and more cost effective, and it'll provide more consistent power supply through the day and night, which obviously is another thing solar sucks at. Nighttime doesn't really do well with moonlight. And having said that, I did of course think of those countries that are landlocked. Yeah. So, it's no good saying to like Kazakhstan, maybe. Maybe that's a bad example. I guess I'm just thinking how close Kazakhstan is. Actually, there is a border that goes on to, not an ocean, but still. Never mind. Bad example. But there are so, yeah, landlocked countries will not be able to get the direct benefit from offshore, obviously. So they'll have to stick with onshore and solar or something else. The truth is that no one solution will fit all of your use cases. It just does not just not possible. So that's it. What do you think? Pretty cool. Going to put up a wind turbine in your backyard now? I don't know if I really have enough space for that, but it would be cool. It would be cool. I've actually considered the solar panels on the roof. OK, well, I've got there's actually a pretty big initiative in Kentucky right now. I think people are actually getting paid to have them installed on the roof. Yeah, we had a solar rebate scheme and it sort of comes and goes and ebbs and flows. They come and they go and sometimes they're better than others. So we got in at the tail end. We still had some rebate, not the best, but better than nothing. And it subsidized some of it, but our solar panels are now getting on a bit and they're losing efficiency. That were cheap panels too. So they tend to degrade quicker than the decent panels. So at some point in the next three or four years we'll probably just rip them up and... Yeah, well even at the best, that technology is still not terribly efficient. Solar panels? Yeah, from what I understand. Yeah, true. Yeah, no, you're absolutely right. No, and we covered that a lot in the battery problem episode. The highest efficiency solar panel that was only ever in the lab, never in real production was 53% efficient, which is exceptionally good, but they couldn't figure out how to mass manufacture it. It'll be really nice when they can finally get over that hurdle and we can have some nice high efficiency solar panels. Because we have plenty of nice green sunlight. Yeah, I think what you'll find is it'll just be the cost per square meter problem. So they'll say, well, the ultra, ultra high efficiency panels are extremely ultra expensive. So we'll put them on things that don't have much surface area. Whereas a household roof, well, there's plenty of surface area, so we'll put cheaper panels on there. They're not as efficient, but they're a hell of a lot cheaper. But you know, it's going to be an interesting progression. It's a balance. It's another topic for another episode. Yeah. Oh, of course. Absolutely. All right. Well, if you want to talk more about this, you can reach me on the Fediverse at [email protected], on Twitter at John Chigi, all one word, or the network at engineered_net. I'd personally like to thank ManyTricks for sponsoring the Engineered Network. If you're looking for some Mac software that can do many tricks, remember to specifically visit this URL, for more information about their amazingly useful apps. If you're enjoying Pragmatic and want to support the show, you can by supporting our sponsor or by becoming a premium supporter. We're urging closer to our monthly goal to get advertising free across the network, but we can only do that with your help. You can find details at about how you can help this show to continue to be made. A big thank you to all of our supporters. A special thank you to our silver producers, Bilger, John Whitlow, Kevin Kosch, Shane O'Neill, Oliver Steele, Lesley Law Chan, Hafthor, Jared, Bill, Joel Marr and Katharina Will. And an extra special thank you to both of our Gold Producers, Stephen Bridle and our Gold Producer known only as R. Pragmatic is a podcasting 2.0 enhanced show and with the right podcast player you'll have episode locations, enhanced chapters and real-time subtitles on selected episodes and you can also stream Satoshi's and Boost with a message if you like. There's details on how along with the Boostergram leaderboard on our website. Pragmatic Electric has recently launched as a video edition of this podcast as we talked about in this very episode. You can watch it in Podfriend, CurioCaster, the Apple Podcasts app, Downcast or if you're into YouTube it's there too. Make sure you check it out today. If you'd like to get in touch with Vic, what's the best way for them to get in touch with you, mate? Probably the easiest place to find me is on the Twitter is @vichudson1 and I'm pretty much on, if I'm on a social, it's probably going to be @vichudson1 as well. All right, no worries. Well, the first time I met you, I said, "Hey, is that @vichudson1?" Yeah. And you're like, "That's me." Anyway, all good. All right, fantastic. All right, thanks for that. And a special thank you to all of our supporters and a big thank you to everyone for listening And as always, thanks for coming on the show Vic. Always a pleasure. Yeah, thank you for having me. It's always fun. [MUSIC PLAYING] [Music] [MUSIC PLAYING] [MUSIC] [Music] (upbeat music) ♪ ♪ [Music] And I really do want a wind turbine. - Yeah. - But yeah, I just can't get clean enough air. The air's too dirty. - How would the fam feel about that in the backyard? - Well, if I can get one that goes whoop, whoop, whoop instead of like a strangled jet engine, maybe. (laughing) - Yeah. - They're like whoop, whoop, whoop. What's that noise? That's the sound of energy. - That's right. It's funny, the solar panels aren't making that noise. Are we getting energy out of them too? I don't know. You have to ask your mother. I'm an electrical engineer. I don't know. [LAUGHTER]
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Episode Gold Producers: 'r' and Steven Bridle.
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Vic Hudson

Vic Hudson

Vic is the host of the App Story Podcast and is the developer behind Money Pilot for iOS.

John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

Described as the David Attenborough of disasters, and a Dreamy Narrator with Great Pipes by the Podfather Adam Curry.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.