Rethinking wind power – Harvard study shows it to be overestimated

Tehachapi wind farm 4

Tehachapi wind farm 4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Harvard research suggests real-world generating capacity of wind farms at large scales has been overestimated

Cambridge, Mass. – February 25, 2013 – “People have often thought there’s no upper bound for wind power—that it’s one of the most scalable power sources,” says Harvard applied physicist David Keith. After all, gusts and breezes don’t seem likely to “run out” on a global scale in the way oil wells might run dry.

Yet the latest research in mesoscale atmospheric modeling, published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, suggests that the generating capacity of large-scale wind farms has been overestimated.

Each wind turbine creates behind it a “wind shadow” in which the air has been slowed down by drag on the turbine’s blades. The ideal wind farm strikes a balance, packing as many turbines onto the land as possible, while also spacing them enough to reduce the impact of these wind shadows. But as wind farms grow larger, they start to interact, and the regional-scale wind patterns matter more.

Keith’s research has shown that the generating capacity of very large wind power installations (larger than 100 square kilometers) may peak at between 0.5 and 1 watts per square meter. Previous estimates, which ignored the turbines’ slowing effect on the wind, had put that figure at between 2 and 7 watts per square meter.

In short, we may not have access to as much wind power as scientists thought.

An internationally renowned expert on climate science and technology policy, Keith holds appointments as Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and as Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Coauthor Amanda S. Adams was formerly a postdoctoral fellow with Keith and is now assistant professor of geography and Earth sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“One of the inherent challenges of wind energy is that as soon as you start to develop wind farms and harvest the resource, you change the resource, making it difficult to assess what’s really available,” says Adams.

But having a truly accurate estimate matters, of course, in the pursuit of carbon-neutral energy sources. Solar, wind, and hydro power, for example, could all play roles in fulfilling energy needs that are currently met by coal or oil.

“If wind power’s going to make a contribution to global energy requirements that’s serious, 10 or 20 percent or more, then it really has to contribute on the scale of terawatts in the next half-century or less,” says Keith.

If we were to cover the entire Earth with wind farms, he notes, “the system could potentially generate enormous amounts of power, well in excess of 100 terawatts, but at that point my guess, based on our climate modeling, is that the effect of that on global winds, and therefore on climate, would be severe—perhaps bigger than the impact of doubling CO2.”

“Our findings don’t mean that we shouldn’t pursue wind power—wind is much better for the environment than conventional coal—but these geophysical limits may be meaningful if we really want to scale wind power up to supply a third, let’s say, of our primary energy,” Keith adds.

And the climatic effect of turbine drag is not the only constraint; geography and economics matter too.

“It’s clear the theoretical upper limit to wind power is huge, if you don’t care about the impacts of covering the whole world with wind turbines,” says Keith. “What’s not clear—and this is a topic for future research—is what the practical limit to wind power would be if you consider all of the real-world constraints. You’d have to assume that wind turbines need to be located relatively close to where people actually live and where there’s a fairly constant wind supply, and that they have to deal with environmental constraints. You can’t just put them everywhere.”

“The real punch line,” he adds, “is that if you can’t get much more than half a watt out, and you accept that you can’t put them everywhere, then you may start to reach a limit that matters.”

In order to stabilize the Earth’s climate, Keith estimates, the world will need to identify sources for several tens of terawatts of carbon-free power within a human lifetime. In the meantime, policymakers must also decide how to allocate resources to develop new technologies to harness that energy.

In doing so, Keith says, “It’s worth asking about the scalability of each potential energy source—whether it can supply, say, 3 terawatts, which would be 10 percent of our global energy need, or whether it’s more like 0.3 terawatts and 1 percent.”

“Wind power is in a middle ground,” he says. “It is still one of the most scalable renewables, but our research suggests that we will need to pay attention to its limits and climatic impacts if we try to scale it beyond a few terawatts.”

The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

###

A video abstract by David Keith is available for viewing and download here.

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100 Responses to Rethinking wind power – Harvard study shows it to be overestimated

  1. steve says:

    something and nothing really.

    ‘wind could produce lots of power but not as much as if the laws of physics were suspended and downstream windspeeds weren’t the same as upstream ones’

    something to be vaguely interested about in 2050 perhaps.

    this bit was odd…

    “If we were to cover the entire Earth with wind farms, he notes, “the system could potentially generate enormous amounts of power, well in excess of 100 terawatts, but at that point my guess, based on our climate modeling, is that the effect of that on global winds, and therefore on climate, would be severe—perhaps bigger than the impact of doubling CO2.””

    but would it be a good, bad or indifferent effect on climate?

  2. _Jim says:

    Each wind turbine creates behind it a “wind shadow” in which the air has been slowed down by drag on the turbine’s blades.

    For the same reason that TREES are often planted up near a house out on the plains; ‘break up’ the wind – protection against same …

    .

  3. Flood control engineer says:

    I have designed roads for several wind farms in the Midwest US. I can typically get about 3MW sited in a square mile of farm land. This is about 1 watt per SM for a good wind site. In hilly or mountains the density goes down significantly. The individual turbines are more productive but the overall site uses more land.

  4. kim says:

    Because of efficiency losses, the energy taken from the wind is always worth less than that same energy left in the wind. Those who suffer are downwind, and we are all downwind. We make a large class.
    ===================

  5. Justthinkin says:

    And you have to be an engineer to know that wind power sucks? Do these guys get their sheepskins off of the net?

  6. David Wells says:

    Germany have tried harder than any country to try and make wind and solar work and that is why they are buying brown coal generated electricity from Czechoslovakia and Poland to balance their grid until they build more coal and gas fired capacity because German households cant afford to pay compensation and subsidy to larger electricity users when the wind doesn’t blow to stop them leaving Germany for good. Someone has realised that without BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, VW, Audi Germany doesn’t have any future of any description. America can put a man on the moon – so they say – but politics and nostalgia govern reality and that is why they make rotten cars and see coal as the black death or at least Obama does. Funny thing about Australia, they are inflicting all degree of environmental taxes on their own people to save the planet whilst at the same time their second biggest export by revenue is coal which they export to Japan, China and South Korea and 28 other countries as well so if coal is the black death the harbinger of our doom they are making absolutely sure we all get a damn good dose of it, irony?

  7. kim says:

    Had there been a large population which could use electrical power near the mountain gap east of the Boedele Depression in Africa, and had wind farms been built there, then the Amazon rain forest might already be dying from lack of nutrients, because it is fertilized by dust from there.
    ==============================

  8. Mike Bromley the Canucklehead in Cowburg says:

    The whole idea of “stabilizing the climate” is repugnant.

  9. Jimbo says:

    In order to stabilize the Earth’s climate, Keith estimates, the world will need to identify sources for several tens of terawatts of carbon-free power within a human lifetime.

    And there I was thinking that France derives 75% of its electricity from nuclear. And there I was thinking that France is the world’s largest net exporter of electricity.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/readings/french.html
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf40.html

  10. kim says:

    This paper amuses me, because I’ve been saying the same thing for years, to general opprobrium. Mebbe I just didn’t have any numbers.
    =================================

  11. KevinM says:

    Steve, if you put 100 identical windmills in a row with 1 inch clearance, do they each generate equal power? If not, then what stops one from doing it?

  12. Venril says:

    The turbines at the in the mountains at the east end of Tehachapi pale in comparison to the forest of them west of Mojave. I drive by there every day.

    Another thing, although I have not attempted to substantiate it, I was told by a long-time resident that many of the turbines, like those shown, are not hooked up to the So Cal Edison grid. I was told they’ve been resisting running the lines because of the cost of the electricity they would have to buy. Have to do some research, I guess.

  13. nc says:

    “In order to stabilize the Earth’s climate” Baaaaaaaa

  14. Jardinero1 says:

    I am still waiting to hear about research on the long term climatic effects of solar generated power. Few have considered the deleterious effects of solar power. Large scale solar power changes the albedo of the earth, the local temperature, the local prevailing winds, and local rainfall and severely damages the local ecology. On a large enough scale, it would alter regional climate.

  15. Auto says:

    But tea-clipper masters knew that if you took the wind of a rival, downwind, ship, they lost ‘go-ahead’.
    No difference on land.
    Except wind speeds average out lower due to _ I guess _ friction.
    Still, congrats to Professor Keith for publicising this to a far wider audience than I could get – and the most excellent Anthony, too!

  16. R Jones says:

    The latest research from Scotland has identified another problem with upland wind farms – the construction work causes the peat to dry out, releasing CO2.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9889882/Wind-farms-will-create-more-carbon-dioxide-say-scientists.html

  17. DirkH says:

    Flood control engineer says:
    February 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm
    “I have designed roads for several wind farms in the Midwest US. I can typically get about 3MW sited in a square mile of farm land. This is about 1 watt per SM for a good wind site.”

    3 MW nameplate capacity don’t produce an average power of 3MW; for a good onshore wind site you might be able to get 25% capacity factor averaged over time. So that would be
    3000000.0*0.25/(1600*1600)= 0.29296875 W/m^2

  18. beesaman says:

    Just think of the ornithological damage these bird mincers are going to do! Especially offshore where the destruction is often hidden.

  19. Rob Potter says:

    Couple this with the report from the UK, which pointed out that windmills on peat land released more CO2 (from killing the peat bogs with the access roads) than the windmill would “save” in its lifeltime, and I think we are seeing the backtracking from large scale wind. We all know it is a complete waste of money and space, but because the alarmists already knew that from the start, they couldn’t admit it. The research here – from ostensible supporters of wind power – is giving governments a fig leaf to hide their embarrassment. Expect more of these and the winding back of plans to expand wind installations (to the general cheering of finance ministers world-wide).

  20. EW3 says:

    Facts will not get in the way.

    GE sells their 1.5MW unit for over $1M. 16000+ in the field, it’s a $16 Billion gravy train for GE who has a tax bill of $0 in the last year or two.

    As long as they support the Dems, their action is safe.

  21. Bob says:

    “In order to stabilize the earth’s climate…” How many of these folks who think they can control the climate are there? I guess the real question is how many deluded folks are there who believe that the climate can be controlled?

  22. Titus says:

    Covering the earth with bird choppers does not sound like something we should be considering. It’s very ugly to witness the harm being done and the knock on effects created.

    I’m amazed that this is something the environmental agitators do not protest about like they do at conventional power stations.

  23. Leo Danze says:

    Not farms, better named ‘wind factories’. Now suspected of 15 yr useful life, not 25.

  24. A.D. Everard says:

    If they ever managed to “stabilize” Earth’s climate (or ever claim to), it still – obviously – wouldn’t work. Then we’d get “Oh no! It’s worse than we thought!” – and we’d be back to square one, hyping up the panic because the climate would be seen as “out of control and it’s all our fault!”

    This is all so incredibly pathetic.

  25. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    @Steve and bessaman

    >>”…perhaps bigger than the impact of doubling CO2.””

    >but would it be a good, bad or indifferent effect on climate?

    Well it would kill all of the birds that still fly, I suppose. Does that matter? Perhaps it would cause the evolution of birds that prefer to walk south for the winter.

  26. CodeTech says:

    Wind is a direct part of the planet’s natural heat redistribution system. One thing that has always boggled me is that the same people who are stressing over a few ppm of a beneficial trace gas are so cavalier about the possible repercussions of altering an actual direct part of climate and weather.

    Wind farms extract energy from wind. They slow the overall wind speeds, and break up laminar flow of wind currents. They add turbulence. Unlike trees and other natural obstructions that slightly alter ground winds, these things are being built hundreds of feet high where they alter a part of the atmosphere that otherwise would never be interfered with.

    The grand windmill experiment has been performed without any apparent consideration to this fact, and apparently no concept of the overall potential for climate alteration. Energy to spin the giant blades comes from energy that was already in use for another purpose. You don’t simply extract energy that is currently performing a function without considering how extracting that energy could potentially alter things. In my opinion the reckless proliferation of wind farms has more potential to have directly harmful “climate” results than any sort of CO2 release,

    As kim says above, this is something I’ve been saying for years, but nobody seems to want to listen. I personally don’t see windmills as an icon of clean energy or stewardship or progress, I see them as icons of bad planning, reckless disregard for the environment (and birds), and a horrifying example of bad planning and poor understanding of nature.

  27. Betapug says:

    As Richard Lindsay points out in the Telegraph article: “The world’s peatlands have four times the amount of carbon than all the world’s rainforests.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9889882/Wind-farms-will-create-more-carbon-dioxide-say-scientists.html

    Storage is remains “sustainable” only as long as the peat remains wet and some of the observed effects of wind turbines are the drying effects of the wakes.

    It is amusing to read that the potential benefits of wind turbines on crops include drying, warming and stimulating the release of CO2 and its uptake by crops.
    http://www.ameslab.gov/news/news-releases/wind-turbines

    Any signs of a grassroots movement to save the peat bogs?

  28. Kevin Kilty says:

    The Denver area has poor air quality at times, and as nearly as I can tell by eye-ball measurements, the pollution often drifts north along the front range until it reaches north of Ft. Collins. Here it is swept east by the persistent winds. However, the development of lots of wind energy in southern Wyoming and Northern Colorado may slow this persistent flow. Perhaps, then, air quality in the most populous part of Colorado will interact badly with wind energy?

  29. denniswingo says:

    When we were working at the wind park in Tehachapi we were told that the older turbine field on the Mojave side saw its power output cut by 10% when the new turbine fields up on the top of the ridge were installed.

  30. Matthew W says:

    If you add this to the fact that turbines only produce 30% of their rating……………….

  31. Caleb says:

    Brooker has an article, “One Day Turning Off The Lights Won’t Be Up To You,” speaking of the folly of shutting down coal powered plants in favor of wind. However in the comments one sees those who are still sure the folly isn’t a folly.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/9889184/One-day-turning-off-the-lights-wont-be-up-to-you.html

    Josh seems to think it is a folly, judging from his cartoon, shown at Bishop Hill

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/2/24/energy-just-like-old-times-josh-205.html

  32. DirkH says:

    CodeTech says:
    February 25, 2013 at 1:35 pm
    ” I personally don’t see windmills as an icon of clean energy or stewardship or progress, I see them as icons of bad planning, reckless disregard for the environment (and birds), and a horrifying example of bad planning and poor understanding of nature.”

    Steampunk contraptions.
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robur_1.jpg

  33. Look,all of these facts about how wind generation is not a
    good way to go was known from the start.But what was also
    known…. it is a good way to make a fast buck without the least
    chance of losing. A sure thing.Win,win.

    Alfred

  34. george e. smith says:

    Wind farms are really gas turbine engines. The sun heats the surface (maybe out over the ocean) which causes the air to expand and speed up and it gets ducted into the intake (valley) of the engine to where the fan blades are, ready to get turned, and then exhausted (no doubt colder and slower) into the exhaust duct (next valley). Imagine how huge that engine is !

    I wonder what the Temperature drop is for the expanding working fluid (air) as it passes from the front of the turbine wheel, to the rear.

    Anyone want to take a wild guess, what the Carnot efficiency of this monster heat engine might be.

    Yes clean green renewable solar energy is free, it is just the gathering it up part, and collecting, that you have to pay through the nose for.

    And if the wind drops to half your design velocity, well you only lose 87 1/2 % of your generating capacity.

    It’s a really well buffered energy source, ideal for delivering a constant stream of cheap energy through thick and thin of weather vacillations.

    Farmers learned eons ago how to properly utilise free clean green renewable solar wind energy.

    When the wind blows, the multibladed self steering windmill turns, and each rotation, it makes a single pump stroke, and sucks a gallon of water up out of the ground into the horse trough.

    So when the wind blows; day or night, the horse trough get filled maybe till it overflows, and if the wind doesn’t blow, well the horses just have to suck it in, and wait till the wind blows again.

    It’s a one size fits all, system that works largely untouched by human hand.

    Well unfortunately, electric cars; even Teslas, are not horses; and they just can’t suck it in and wait for the wind to blow.

    Hey Mr Tesla, they made wind powered ships a long time before they made electric powered ships.

    Anyone want to invest in a green sailing car startup; only $150,000 (subsidized) per S model vehicle (S is for sail powered)

  35. gbaikie says:

    “In order to stabilize the Earth’s climate, Keith estimates, the world will need to identify sources for several tens of terawatts of carbon-free power within a human lifetime. In the meantime, policymakers must also decide how to allocate resources to develop new technologies to harness that energy.”

    Energy from space environment. So so panel with 20 percent efficency gets 1363 watts of sunlight
    so 272 watts of electricity per square meter constantly. Square km is million square meters and a 1000 km square is trillion square meters. No shortage area in areas near Earth can used which has zero effect upon how much energy reaching Earth, and could be far enough away that one could see them [zero impact]. Though one might want them visible and you might want them shading earth- which could also be an option. I think earth having a saturn like ring would nice.
    But point is one can have them with zero impact- no one could see without using a telescope and
    basical people could unaware of them- unless the putting some effort to find them.
    Obviously there would a need for infrastructure on earth to recieve beamed energy- there many possible ways this could be done. One could have something like a space elevator conducting electricity- so big massive and one worry about numerous “environment impacts”. But could have
    energy recieve individually and small communities- so sort of like the scale of cell phone towers and individual cell phone type infrastructure.
    Point is doable in various ways. And it could be much less impact than solar or wind farms on the Earth surface. And far more economical.

    But we are not ready to do this yet, it has to be something which can done within a lifetime, rather than in less than 10 years from now. So within 50 years, if we go in right direction. And longer we don’t move in right direction, then it’s always going to be 50 years into the future.
    If we move in right direction 30 years ago, we would be within 20 years of it today. And could done this but we had different priorities.
    So what we need first, is a market of electrical power which in the space environment. A electrical market for the space environment. And market forces and competition the price of electricty in orbit can be reduced significantly.
    To get a electrical market in space for space, we should probalby start by beginning a market for
    rocket fuel in space for space use.
    To start a rocket fuel market in space, we need to develop rocket fuel depots in space.
    So start with rocket fuel being delivered from Earth to space. Have this rocket fuel in space available for sale to any party needing rocket fuel. So available to NASA and other national space agencies, and available to private satellite industry. So start with NASA as customer, and develop more customers.
    If there fuel depots in space, the cost of NASA going to Moon or Mars would reduced significantly- like around 1/2 or less the total cost of a program.

    Once one has fuel depots in space selling rocket fuel to anyone who wants to buy rocket fuel,
    there will be an effort to lower the cost to deliver the rocket fuel to space- this will involve many different kinds of efforts. But one direction which could make sense [is dependent on how much demand there could be for rocket fuel per year] is to mine water in space and convert the water into rocket fuel [Liquid Hydrogen and liquid Oxygen].
    To do this requires electrical power. So makers of rocket fuel will be a customer for electrical power. And a modest amount of rocket fuel- say 1000 tonnes per year, would require a lot of electrical power. And having that much electrical power available, allows other customers who need electricity in space for other uses to buy this available electrical energy.
    Rocket fuel is also a battery- a way to store electrical power. So if there is a need for huge amounts of electrical power for brief periods of time, an electrical provider making rocket fuel
    has the capability of delivering a huge amount of power. Can stop making rocket fuel, use power instead to sell power to another customer, and if customer needs even more power, can use the chemical energy of hydrogen and oxygen to generate even more power.
    So making rocket fuel is also electrical energy storage- and the more electrical energy generated results in more available rocket fuel in a shorter time period.

    So fuel depots lead to cheaper way of getting anywhere in space, and lead to many different kinds of markets. Such as rocket which act as tugs moving things around in space- rescuing broken satellites, scraping broken satellite. With rocket fuel available space tugs can be reused, so a tug which costs 100 million to make on Earth and launched into space, can do many different things for cost of buying rocket. You can not have taxi or tow truck service if there is no fuel available for these vehicles.
    Having a fuel depot on the lunar surface, more than halves the cost to get to the moon and back- 2/3rd of payload of Apollo moon program was getting the rocket fuel to surface, so the crew could leave the Moon. If you already have rocket on the Moon, you don’t need the largest rocket ever made to get you to the Moon [and back]. So with fuel depots, and getting lunar water mining and lunar electrical power market. And one can export lunar rocket fuel to
    lunar orbit [another business]. Also one might ship lunar rocket fuel to Mars orbit- low earth orbit may be cheaper to still deliver rocket from Earth. Though new ways to deliver rocket from
    earth surface may develop- such as using a large special type cannon. Such as here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quicklaunch
    Or one simply can lower costs by specializing “normal rockets” to deliver such payloads.

    Point is this doesn’t cost the public anything- it lowers NASA’s cost and enables NASA to
    explore space more effective. If you don’t NASA exploring space, one could consider it a
    cost- because NASA might do more exploration- it might explore the Moon and Mars in a shorter period of time. Oppose to never getting around to it, as NASA has doing for last 30 years.
    Anyways, after you get commercial mining of lunar water and NASA is exploring Mars, it could then take couple decades before we ready to build space systems cheap enough to deliver electrical power to Earthlings.

  36. J Martin says:

    Windmills take energy out of the system. Sometimes I wonder if enough windmills get built if some of that energy may come from the speed of the Earth’s rotation and increase the LOD. Probably not a good thing.

  37. michaeljmcfadden says:

    In the longer term, (2050 and beyond) when we’re talking about multi-terawatts of power and considering the likely evolution of technology, extra-planetary broadcast solar power might seem to be a better bet than wind power.

    At least until I finish that cold-fusion reactor in my basement….

    - MJM

  38. dlbrown says:

    If the earth’s geography, rotation and atmosphere creates wind, would an earth full of wind turbines slow down wind velocity due to increased drag? And would that increased drag cause the earth’s rotation to slow infintesimally? If the earth’s rotation slowed, would that affect the earth more than a little more carbon dioxide? LMAO!

  39. Chris4692 says:

    EW3 says:
    February 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Facts will not get in the way.

    GE sells their 1.5MW unit for over $1M. 16000+ in the field, it’s a $16 Billion gravy train for GE who has a tax bill of $0 in the last year or two.

    The production credits go to those who build and operate the wind turbines, not the manufacturer. IIRC there is also a construction subsidy that goes to the owner, not the manufacturers. So how is it that GE, a manufacturer, gets a tax benefit?

    The income statement for GE lists income taxes for the year ending 2011 as over $5 billion, and some previous years as negative and some positive. Having looked at GE’s SEC filings, GE’s taxes as listed on the income statement is actually an allowance for taxes due from it’s divisions. As the taxes of the various units of the corporation are determined, and tax disputes with the IRS are resolved, that tax allowance is adjusted up or down as the case may be. Since one certain year may include resolutions of adjustments from 3 or more years prior, determining the tax payments of GE for any one year is likely not possible for an outsider, and determining the actual tax payments by GE requires a multi-year analysis.

    So exactly what is your source for the assertion that GE had a tax bill of $0 ? and exactly what subsidy program directly offsets GE’s taxes?

  40. Alberta Slim says:

    Also, Natural Gas fired back-up for when the wind does not blow.
    Wind farms do not seem to be cost effective.

  41. Streetcred says:

    Any racing yachtsman can tell you the effect of an upwind yacht’s wind shadow on performance of the downward craft.

    Something bothering me, might be just ignorance but the windmills take energy out of the wind … the more windmill, the more energy is stripped out … what happens at the other end of the spectrum where that energy was originally destined for ?

  42. arthur4563 says:

    Sorry, but “wind is better than coal” not only is no good reason for wind, but in fact, wind
    power has far less economic value than electricity produced by any conventional means, including coal. Uncontrollable power simply has little value and obviously cannot replace controllable power,
    yet requires controllable backup, which means paying twice for every kilowatt hour of wind you buy
    once to the wind provider, and again to the conventional power operator for providing backup,
    generating capacity., even during those times when it is not producing anything. The side effect costs of uncontrollable power generation is always given short shrift, if mentioned at all. No matter how much uncontrollable power generation capacity is added to a grid, not one single controllable, conventional power generator can be eliminated.

  43. Peter C. says:

    Any off world solutions ignore the fact we are at the bottom of a very deep gravity well that takes enormous amounts of energy(that we don’t have) to escape.The so called “space station”is so low in orbit it requires 20,000 lbs of fuel a year just to maintain orbit.
    Also little details like space being completely deadly to life,etc.
    So much easier to build stuff at ground level but I guess that’s not sexy .
    Our tech ain’t good enough it’s sad to say,mainly coal powered actually.Get used to this planet.

  44. Doug Proctor says:

    Efficiency: 21% of faceplate, Netherlands, Germany, England, Scotland. Life 12-15 years, not 20-25 years (Bishop Hill, today). Probable cost reduction with time: <20% (optimistic?).

    No wonder the British Government is buying up windfarms now: they have to get the private owners out before they declare bankruptcy, fail to repair or replace the turbines, and claim (loudly) that they got in because of the subsidies, not because windpower was inherently cost-effective and DARNIT, keep those subsidies going! (last especially relevant for those on Peer-owned lands).

  45. John M says:

    Well, David Keith, eh.

    This David Keith?

    http://www.keith.seas.harvard.edu/AirCapture.html

    Only a matter of time before some wind energy supporters discover the connection.

    As we all know, in the World of climate science/politics, anyone against my vested interest is obviously trying to benefit their vested interest.

  46. Gary Pearse says:

    “Each wind turbine creates behind it a “wind shadow” in which the air has been slowed down by drag on the turbine’s blades.”

    S’truth!! I didn’t realize the level of understanding by windy engineers was so low! I knew wind energy was a joke but I took for granted that the buffs at least knew that too crowded a wind farm would reduce the efficiency of the downwind turbines. How did it take so long to “discover” this – it even took a Harvard man to realize it. As I mentioned in earlier post, the education system is going to have to asterisk many of the PhDs of this generation. No longer do I take as an authority that the underlying “physics” of things is sound.

  47. John M says:

    Chris4692 says:
    February 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    The production credits go to those who build and operate the wind turbines, not the manufacturer. IIRC there is also a construction subsidy that goes to the owner, not the manufacturers. So how is it that GE, a manufacturer, gets a tax benefit?

    And I suppose in your world, the auto makers didn’t benefit from the “Cash for Clunkers” program, insulation and window manufacturers didn’t benefit from Energy credits, and farmers don’t benefit from ethanol/fuel mandates.

  48. MikeinAppalacia says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    General Electric’s most recent tax filing was for a credit of about $3 Billion on reported profits of about $14 Billion, if one can believe the article. It also implies GE does benefit from “green credits” on its wind turbine sales.

  49. Chris4692 says:

    John M says:
    February 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    And I suppose in your world, the auto makers didn’t benefit from the “Cash for Clunkers” program, insulation and window manufacturers didn’t benefit from Energy credits, and farmers don’t benefit from ethanol/fuel mandates.

    Recall, however, the comment I responded to was about GE making large profits from wind and escaping without paying income taxes. I did not say that GE did not benefit. GE probably did benefit by increased orders of equipment it manufactures. The original comment however, was not about benefit it was about taxes. The comment asserted without apparent basis that GE paid no income taxes because of wind tax credits, when there is no program that gives a tax break to the manufacturer for making wind associated equipment.

    Another issue is the implication that somehow, if a business (or person) so arranges its affairs in order to get tax breaks, somehow it is the business that is evil. The business is just arranging to do the things that the Congress was encouraging it to do when Congress passed the tax law.

  50. John M says:

    Chris4692

    Recall, however, the comment I responded to was about GE making large profits from wind and escaping without paying income taxes.

    Actually, you responded by inventing the proposition that someone claimed GE directly got tax credits for installing windmills. I’m glad you admit that GE profits handsomely from tax credits, even if they don’t directly get the credit.

    And GE does more that “arrange its affairs in order te get tax breaks”. They have one of the largest lobbying budgets of major corporations. Yep, just taking advantage of “things that the Congress was encouraging it to do.” Completely passive, and a victim of circumstances, I’m sure.

  51. EW3 says:

    Chris4692

    Take away federal tax dollars and both wind and solar would shrivel away to nothing. Only reason people (and power companies) buy into these forms of power is they get significant tax advantages (both federal and state).

    As to GE tax rates, google is your friend. In terms of percentages, they seem to pay less than I do.

  52. Outtheback says:

    Current international nameplate wind power capacity is just short of 300 GW. If we say 30% of capacity is actually generated, lets be generous say 100 GW, possibly as low as 75 (being 25%).
    As per article the suggestion that 3 TW might have to be generated “to avoid the dangerous consequences of CO2 caused climate change”, being 10% of current total power use, that would mean that we have to build 30 to 40 times as many wind suckers as currently installed.
    I bet that GE loves that suggestion.
    And as per Streetcred what would happen to the air temp in the shadow of these things? I guess that the cooling effect of wind will be reduced here, leading to real manmade warming.

  53. Uzurbrain says:

    Does the study predict how much more the air conditioners will run down wind of these wind turbines? Will it create a spiral of doom, with the AC use requiring more power requiring more wind turbines?

    They talk, act as if there is no ready source of CO2 free energy. Why don’t they just build Nuclear – NO, None, Zero CO2? The fact that the environmentalists never consider Nuclear reinforces the fact that AGW is all a scam started by the ecological terrorists.

  54. daveburton says:

    KevinM wrote, “if you put 100 identical windmills in a row with 1 inch clearance, do they each generate equal power? If not, then what stops one from doing it?”

    If you put 100 identical windmills in a row, you’ve created a wind-farm which not only produces no power when there’s no wind, but which also produces almost no power when the wind blows from the wrong direction.

  55. michaeljmcfadden says:

    Two further thoughts/questions regarding the “Wind farms take energy out of the system” thing.

    1) Don’t trees do the same thing? Wind blows. Runs into trees. Stops. The energy sort of goes into “pushing” the trees, thereby spinning the earth a bit faster or slower by some miniscule amount I guess. A wind farm would do the same sort of thing, but some of that “push” gets translated into energy. Is the “push” lost in that translation? If it’s not lost, then aren’t we, in a sense, creating energy out of nothing? That seems a bit illegal according to the physics law enforcers. :> Somehow I must be missing something along the way here, but at the moment I don’t see exactly what.

    2) Has anyone ever computed a figure on the total amount of “wind energy” in the world? I.E., if I stayed up all night tonight and built enough wind farms to use it all up tomorrow, how much energy would I have produced? And what would be happening around the world the following day if I then immediately took all those wind farms down?

    :?
    MJM

  56. Jardinero1 says:

    Good question, and one I happen to think about. A partial answer can be found on page 21 of “The Nature of Violent Storms.” by Louis J Battan. A gust of wind has the equivalent of one Kwh. A dust devil 10 kwh. A tornado 10^4 kwh. A thunderstorm 10^6 kwh. A hurricane 10^10 kwh.

    By the way, global output of electricity, by all known methods of generation; coal, gas, wind, et al is about 23 terrawatts

  57. gbaikie says:

    Peter C. says:
    February 25, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    “Any off world solutions ignore the fact we are at the bottom of a very deep gravity well that takes enormous amounts of energy(that we don’t have) to escape.”

    Earth is in deep gravity well, but the Moon is not in such a deep gravity well.

    Right now a bargain price for a around trip seat to the Moon would around 200 million
    dollar. If the rocket fuel sold at fairly hideous amount on lunar surface [more than 10,000 times price rocket on Earth, then a bargain price for about 100 million per seat. If the cost of rocket on lunar surface was only 1000 times earth prices, then bargain seat cost could be about 50 million dollars.
    To get lower price means one need to get lower cost to leave Earth- a sizable portion of the 50 million per seat would cost of leaving Earth.
    And 50 million a seat is about cost to go to ISS- though the first paying astronaut buying a russian
    launch pay around 20 million per seat [it's gone up since then- but Space-X could and probably will at some point sell seat to ISS for about $20 per seat. Space-X is going thru MASA program to qualified to deliver crew to ISS.
    Anyhow, if costs of lunar rocket fuel were only 100 times earth's price, this would do not much in terms lower the cost to get to Moon, because even at high cost [1000 times earth price] it’s not a significant part of the entire cost.
    But 50 million a seat to moon and back is cheap and such a low cost will encourage government and private parties to go to the Moon.

    “The so called “space station”is so low in orbit it requires 20,000 lbs of fuel a year just to maintain orbit.”
    This somewhere in ballpark. But facilities on the Moon don’t need to be re-boosted. So this means that even if it costs more to go to the Moon, the Moon facilities does not have this cost to maintain it. So if spent say 1 billion dollars for a “house” on the Moon. The house will be there
    after the pyramids crumble- which may be nice, but in terms economics, one be certain it will be there in next 50 years- and with something like ISS, one does have such certainity- the bureaucrats have constantly discussing de-orbiting it within decade or so.
    Or ISS not maintained for a year to two years, crashes into earth being if anytime junk and liablity.
    A “house” on the moon could ignored for 5 years [not that this makes economic sense] and it’s still there, and one could argue the house is giving you lunar real estate.
    So the permanent nature of the Moon, would encourage money spent on it- it has resale value.

    Since lower the price of lunar rocket fuel will not significantly lower a seat price to the Moon- thereby sell more rocket fuel due to more demand, in order to get lower lunar fuel, one needs something more sensitive to high or lower price. So that could mean if something is exported from the Moon. If cheaper rocket fuel, means more exports, meaning more rocket fuel sold.
    Another aspect which lower rocket fuel prices is competition, the threat of more competition.
    And of course one going to get innovation which lower costs [also driven by competition].
    One market that could exported to Earth is lunar regolith. Currently it’s worth far more than gold- 50 times more. But this price could lowered significantly. If you have lunar rocket fuel on the Moon, one should able to make profit selling lunar samples for less than their weight in gold. Perhaps the price of silver.
    There is a lot science which could be done on the Moon. Moon has solar wind record, and could read the rocks as geologist do with earth rocks- it surface rock + 4 billion years old.
    The Moon is excellent platform for telescopes- optical and radio.

    As for the lowest cost of leaving the moon, one could use mass drivers. Or mag Lev trains to gain enough velocity to leave the Moon. One also use cannons. One needs about 1/4 of velocity to leave the Moon as compared to Earth, and high velocity is possible because the Moon is vacuum. In other words on earth if want go fast you have to fly high [to get to less atmosphere].
    So cost of energy if could use them mass drivers on Earth would about $1 per lb payload.
    Or 32 million joules per kg. Or 8.88 Kilowatt hours per kg.
    But the atmosphere Earth makes this quite difficult and one dealing very high speed.
    On the Moon in comparison it’s 2 million joules per kg- 0.55 kilowatt hours per kg payload to orbit.
    So, to begin solar panels in space for earth consumption, the cost of electrical energy on the Moon must close to Earth costs- so say not 10 times more. So that would be around $1 per kilowatt hour of electricity- retail. And with a mass drive this means one could ship from the Moon to Geostationary orbit or L-points for less than $5-10 per kg. Since doing huge volume, the cost of mass driver itself is insignificant cost per unit delivered.
    And so you making solar panel on the Moon which could unit cost of as much as 5 times price on Earth for same solar panels. And you can these ship these solar panel much differently then is possible on Earth. The solar panel size could be 100 meters square or large area- you flying in vacuum and “the roads” you use would be the mass driver. You accelerate it by the mass driver, and then steer it [requiring little energy] to final location

    “Also little details like space being completely deadly to life,etc.”

    Life is environmental protection act obstacle- deadly heavy metal waste, or even very dangerous radiative waste- these could future resources someone might “mine”- in meantime they can easily stored for millions of years at low cost and in no conceivable way harming the environment.
    What would be pollution on the Moon, would be making an atmosphere. It’s a perfect vacuum which many could want to be preserved. So probably don’t want million of tonnes of CO2 released into the lunar vacuum- nor oxygen gas. There lot’s oxygen waste to be concerned about, but CO2 would too useful to waste.
    Of course, one want to put life other than humans on the Moon. And genetically modified animals and plants are also not be a concern in terms effecting non-existence native life.
    And basically as long as it doesn’t consume the solar system [galaxy or universe] it safer
    for every living thing to be doing that kind of stuff on the Moon.
    And making law that one needs to do it on moon first, might one more useful laws ever
    passed.
    And so using nuclear weapons for excavation could be done. But more exciting
    would be building nuclear Orions:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_%28nuclear_propulsion%29

  58. Theo Goodwin says:

    We had to wait until someone published a peer reviewed paper in 2013 to learn that there is something called “wind shadow?” Words escape me.

  59. TomE says:

    As it is so often at WUWT, the comment section provides more information than the article they reference.

  60. Jason Calley says:

    @ Mike Bromley “The whole idea of “stabilizing the climate” is repugnant.”

    Hey, maybe they can do something about precession while they are at it. Oh, and orbital eccentricity! :)

  61. richard verney says:

    arthur4563 says:

    February 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Sorry, but “wind is better than coal” not only is no good reason for wind, but in fact, wind
    power has far less economic value than electricity produced by any conventional means, including coal. Uncontrollable power simply has little value and obviously cannot replace controllable power,
    yet requires controllable backup, which means paying twice for every kilowatt hour of wind you buy
    once to the wind provider, and again to the conventional power operator for providing backup,
    generating capacity., even during those times when it is not producing anything. The side effect costs of uncontrollable power generation is always given short shrift, if mentioned at all. No matter how much uncontrollable power generation capacity is added to a grid, not one single controllable, conventional power generator can be eliminated.
    //////////////////////////////////////////////
    This is the simple point (free of science) that was known or ought to have been known to politicians when they rolled out the windfarm project. This simple fact shows the madness of wind.

    In the Uk, we had a clear demonstartion of the futility of windpower in the winter of 2010. We had a blocking high over the UK which lasted for the best part of 6 weeks. The energy being contributed by wind during this period was about between 1 to 3% of name plate capacity (I recall that it occassionally reached as high as 8%). The experience of that winter should have halted all further windfarm development.

    In the UK peak demand for energy is winter, especially during periods when there is a blocking high (as this usually results in cold weather brought about by cold arctic fronts). However, during these periods wind is at its least efficient.

    No one designs an energy system where peak demand coincides with least efficiency of the system. An energy system must be able to provide peak efficiency when called upon for paek demand.

    The politicians are well and truly culpable since the drive for wind is an obvious and crass error which anyone possessed of reasonable commonsense, and without the need for any scientific understanding, would appreciate is incapable of meeting demand and does nothing to reduce CO2 emissions.

  62. richard verney says:

    Doug Proctor says:

    February 25, 2013 at 3:58 pm
    ///////////////////////////////
    The life expectancy of off-shore wind will be far less due to the harsh environment. Indeed, it will quickly become apparent that maintenance costs will be sky high such that maintenance will be skipped. Anyone who has experience of maintenance of ships and off-shore instalations will know this to be the case. When carrying out maintenance, even the costs of standby support vessels will make maintenance not cost effective, such that very quickly a large percentage of off-shore turbines will not be repaired and will stand idle (slowly decaying). I expect that Health & Safety will quickly produce such onerous guidelines (due to working at height on wet windswept slippery surfaces) that windows of opportunities (may be force 3 or below) for maintenance to be carried out will be rare.

  63. Jason Calley says:

    Warning! Educated opinion follows, not direct personal experience! Anyone with better understanding, please feel free to correct me if I have not gotten this right!

    The wind shadow behind a wind generator is not from drag produced by the blades — at least not on a modern “wing” style design. The shadow is produced by having the wind redirected. The wind — which is blowing toward the face of the generator — is slung sideways by the blades. If you stand immediately behind a well designed generator, the wind is not quite absent, but very noticeably lessened because it has been diverted. This is just like how an airplane wing in flight redirects air with a downward component after it passes over the wings. The now sideways moving wind (which has also lost some of its energy) creates a ball of turbulent, slower moving air as it interacts with the prevailing wind.

  64. Curt says:

    Jason Calley says:
    February 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Jason, you’re about halfway there. Since the whole purpose of the wind turbine is to convert the kinetic energy of the wind velocity into mechanical rotational energy and then into electrical energy, the air downwind of the turbine must have less kinetic energy, and therefore lower velocity, than the air upwind of the turbine.

    It might seem at first thought that the perfect wind turbine could convert 100% of the kinetic energy of the wind hitting it into mechanical and then electrical energy. But this would mean that the air in the back of the turbine would have zero velocity, which would have major “flow continuity” problems – where would the air go? In reality, the “perfect” wind turbine cannot convert much more than half of the kinetic energy of the wind in the circular cylinder hitting it to useful energy. The fact that the air on the downwind side has a lower velocity means that it must “spread out” in a sort of cone-shaped fashion. This widening cone actually limits how close the turbines can be spaced in a line perpendicular to the wind. It may not be intuitive, but the interaction of these cones downstream of the turbines can actually impact how efficient the turbines are.

    All of these limitations occur even with “perfect” conversion of wind energy to mechanical energy. Perfect conversion would create no turbulent eddies downstream, etc. As with airplane wings, we know that perfect never happens. The required spacing of planes at airports is mainly due to the need to let the turbulent eddies from one plane die out before the next plane can take off or land.

    The fundamental wind shadow effect has been known for as long as these wind turbines have been built. I studied this stuff in the 1970s, when I first got an understanding of these issues. The question is how bad the wind shadow effect really is. If you assume the perfect conversion, you will dramatically underestimate the effect. The problem is that even at this small scale, no computer models can accurately simulate turbulence. All must parameterize (i.e. “fudge”) it. So there is still a lot to learn, and I am not surprised by a study now that says that previous estimates of this effect were significantly off.

  65. Hoser says:

    You need class 5 wind speeds at 100 m. There are not many places where you get that. Each turbine requires about 80 acres. Closer and you risk catastrophic failure where the blades from one turbine fail, pieces spin away and strike the neighboring turbines’ blades which then also fail. To produce about 10% of California’s electrical power needs, we would need about 10,000 to 20,000 1.5 MW turbines in 1200 to 2500 square miles of surface area. But that much area doesn’t exist on land with the required sustained wind speed. They have to be built off shore. That plan would be DOA.

    In contrast, we could build 24 San Onofre scale nuclear power plants (a modern design, able to tolerate seismic shock, no need for elaborate cooling, and very little waste – can be done), on 3 square miles of land to supply 100% of our electrical power needs. Over 90% capacity factor versus 25 to 30% for wind.

    Offshore wind power is much more expensive because the turbines and cables have to be hardened to tolerate corrosive salt conditions. Operation and Maintenance costs will be astronomical. Now we can have that levelized cost debate. Nah, I’d rather sleep.

  66. Mario Lento says:

    Hey for the sake of the wind farm industry, why don’t we cut down all of the trees and increase our wind availability? Uhm…. sorry for suggesting that trees are robbing wind mills of their ability to save the world…

  67. Silver Ralph says:

    Each turbine will slow the surface airflow, reducing its Coriolis component and allowing the airflow to move towards the center of the low pressure system.

    I have no computer models to deduce (fabricate) the results of this, but my guess is that this will make the low pressures systems smaller with more violent cores. Whether this increase in core-speeds will be significant, I do not know.

  68. Jason Calley says:

    Hey Curt, thanks for the response! As you point out, some of these factors (especially turbulence) are not easy — or in some cases, even possible — to model or calculate. Sometimes you just have to actually measure the real thing. Save us from engineers and scientists who think that every system can be simply modeled! Thinking of such scientists, I am reminded of one of my pet peeves, something that I encounter when discussing CAGW with the warming enthusiasts. I cannot count how many times I have heard, “Well, extra CO2 holds in the heat and causes warming! It is just basic physics!” Any time I hear “It is just basic physics!” my first reaction is a little voice in my head saying, “This person has no idea what he is talking about…”

    Thanks again for an educational response!

  69. Piers de Saurrat says:

    Anyone remember that Chinese guy that built the wind-powered car?
    http://en.rocketnews24.com/2012/11/28/chinese-farmer-builds-wind-powered-car-could-maybe-definitely-not-work-then-again/
    What’s up with that?

  70. Piers, your question about the wind-powered car reminded me of the innovative idea of wind-powered ships:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/06/22/wind_powered_cargo_ships_b9_s_radical_clean_energy_innovation.html

    and, as you’ll see in the caption to the picture on this page:

    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2010/05/13/wind-powered-transportation-then/

    it becomes even more practical when you make use of tiny men to apply “sail-furling” technology!

    What will they think of next???

    - MJM

  71. Jason Calley says:

    @ michaeljmcfadden
    Tiny men being in such short supply (ahem…) you may wish to try a more modern approach: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/26/a-giant-yacht-sails-to-san-francisco/

  72. dave ward says:

    Time to bring up the (now legendary) picture of the Danish Horns Rev windfarm: http://www.ict-aeolus.eu/images/horns_rev.jpg
    You don’t need expensive research to see that lots of turbines does NOT equal lots more electricity…

  73. Ray says:

    Chris4692 says:
    “The production credits go to those who build and operate the wind turbines, not the manufacturer. IIRC there is also a construction subsidy that goes to the owner, not the manufacturers. So how is it that GE, a manufacturer, gets a tax benefit?”

    Chris, as others have said, a subsidy (direct) to the builders and operators is a subsidy (indirect) to the whole industry and GE was/is THE player with the entrenched lobbying clout to make a significant impact on making those subsidies happen. The fact that it benefits indirectly gives it somewhat cleaner optics politically, but it still has its hand(s) in the cooky jar up to the elbows.

  74. Richard111 says:

    There is a picture here worth a thousand words.. :-)

    http://withouthotair.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/wind-farm-wakes.html

  75. Justa Joe says:

    When exactly was this previous period of climate stability, which we seek to restore?

  76. TimO says:

    The obvious solution is to put the wind farms along the freeways so the fast moving cars can turn the turbines. Require everyone to spend several hours per day on the freeways to help feed the grid. Then higher gas taxes can be levied to offset the massive carbon emissions of the cars used to feed the grid. Profit!!

  77. Tom E. says:

    This might be a repeat, but I did the math as well.

    If Texans wanted wind power for all their needs, it would likely require 50% of the land of Texas be allocated for wind farms.

    So, with the 1W per m², that is 1MW per km². According to ERCOT, record peek demand is 67,084MW.

    Okay, that is 67,084 km² (42,000mile²), or a little under 10% of Texas’ 696,200 km² (268,800mile²). But that 10% is only if the wind mills always ran at 100%, if we assume a utility factor of less than 20%, we would actually need 5 times more, or 50% of the land. So, if my calculations are correct, to meet the summer demand, you would need over 210,000 SQUARE MILES of wind farm.

    And even that number is likely wildly conservative, considering that 1W is optimum, add in the land that would not support wind farms, and there would be a rush for every square mile of suitable land for wind farms.

    So, how environmentally friendly is that? How would we adjust to so much of the land being used for wind farms??

  78. mosomoso says:

    Wait…There are people who had to attend Harvard to know this?

  79. michaeljmcfadden says:

    Jason Calley suggested a more modern approach to dealing with the short supply of tiny men. Unfortunately, Jason’s link, http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/26/a-giant-yacht-sails-to-san-francisco/ seems to be just the same old stuff as it says, “The issue of length is important to all these guys, and the way you know that’s the case is how often they tell you that length is not important,”

    ;>
    MJM
    P.S. 20 stories tall *IS* quite impressive though!

  80. David Cage says:

    Why does it take scientists all this time to come to the same conclusions that engineers told them a quarter of a century ago? Don’t they ever try to equate their theoretical models to the real world?

  81. GoneWithTheWind says:

    Say it isn’t so! Special interest groups who received billions in federal and state subsidies lied to us about the effectiveness of wind power. Who could have seen that coming?

  82. EW3 says:

    At least the citizens of Falmouth Massachusetts in the USA have seen the light.

    “So the town government just voted unanimously to stop Wind 1, take-down Wind 2, and cancel Wind 3. The cost of taking down 1 and 2 will be approximately $5M per windmill. No estimate yet on canceling the contract to put-up Wind 3.”

    While reading about this came across some interesting data. It appears that the gear boxes on these machines seem to last only 3 to 5 years. Replacement including labor and crane rental is about $300K.

  83. anengineer says:

    They need more real world constraints, including:
    * A minimum distance between urban areas and wind farms to prevent visual impact. Say 20 miles.
    * None in wilderness areas or parks and with the same minimum distance.
    * A maximum distance from a major long line, say 50 miles. Given the siting issues it is unlikely that most of the new capacity will be from upgrades rather than new lines.
    Now how much capacity can they get from wind?

  84. Markopanama says:

    An obvious question: As others have pointed out, windmills alter the prevailing winds and thus inexorably, the climate. If all the CO2 generators were replaced with wind, would the anthropogenic climate change be less?
    In addition, today’s wind farms would have to be built for the (horribly mutated, extreme weather producing, AGW-driven /sarc) climate of today. Successful “restoration” of the climate would shift the wind patterns away from the wind farms and decrease their “climate restoring” benefits, creating a climate oscillation that did not exist before. Cool. More studies to do.
    In short, the insanity of developing an energy source that is critically dependent on the very climate that we are afraid is changing but don’t quite know why or how is beyond my comprehension. We will have in fact created a clever way of AMPLIFYING our climate vulnerability.

  85. Jason Calley says:

    @ michaeljmcfadden

    LOL! You, Sir, are a dangerous man. Remind me to never cross wits with you! :)

  86. Auto says:

    Chris4692 says:

    February 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm
    inter alia:

    Another issue is the implication that somehow, if a business (or person) so arranges its affairs in order to get tax breaks, somehow it is the business that is evil. The business is just arranging to do the things that the Congress was encouraging it to do when Congress passed the tax law.
    ===========

    Quite.
    Exactly. Precisely. [and synonyms]
    Any chance of bringing this to the attention of one Cameron [described as a Prime Minister], let alone a Boy George [described as a Chancellor of the Exchequer], here in the UK.

    I pay taxes according to your rules.
    If you want me to stand on my right foot, and recite Genesis chapter 1 [or anything else] to halve my tax bill – your rules, but I’ll do it.

    Auto

  87. From “Paint Your Wagon”, 1969.

    Way out west, they got a name
    For rain and wind and fire
    The rain is Tess, the fire’s Joe and
    They call the wind Mariah……….

    Now before I knew Mariah’s name
    And heard her wail and whining
    I had a girl and she had me
    And the sun was always shining
    O, but then one day I left my girl
    I left her far behind me
    And now I’m lost, I’m oh so lost
    Not even God can find me

  88. Michael Goggin, AWEA says:

    This study errs in its assessment of potential wind energy resources by ignoring real-world data and experience and instead relying on crude theoretical modeling techniques. In reality, wind project developers and investors work closely with atmospheric scientists and other experts to make sure that their projects will produce as much as expected, and real-world data from large-scale wind installations in the US and Europe confirms that they do. Regardless of who is correct, the inescapable fact is that America’s developable wind energy resources are many times greater than our country’s energy needs.

    For more, see:
    http://www.awea.org/blog/index.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1699=21714

    Michael Goggin,
    American Wind Energy Association

  89. michaeljmcfadden says:

    It’s good to see a response from an official voice on the other side here, but I was puzzled by the dichotomy between so much of what’s been said, and this ending statement:

    ” the inescapable fact is that America’s developable wind energy resources are many times greater than our country’s energy needs.”

    Mr. Goggin, I think you’re probably correct, BUT, your statement has a flaw in it. By merely speaking of “America’s developable wind energy resources” you’re ignoring the question of America’s economically and practically realistically “developable wind energy resources.” The two concepts are very different. For example, I could make a statement about the size of the “developable human energy resources” involving power generation by people peddling stationary generator bicycles. But if I fail to mention that my estimated size of delivery depends upon every man, woman, and child peddling furiously for 16 hours a day then I’m misleading people.

    If you want to advance your argument in this forum I think you’ll have to go into a bit more detail about what “developable” means and how much it would cost, comparative to other approaches, to “develop” and maintain the resources to that extent.

    It would also be interesting to hear your thoughts about the extended discussion here concerning the environmental impact of “removing” wind energy through extensive wind farming. Do you feel that’s a valid concern? If not, can you counter the thoughts that have been framed here about it as a potential problem?

    - MJM

  90. Michael Goggin, AWEA says:

    MJM, for the supply curve of economically developable wind, see figures A-2 and A-3 here. Wind energy costs have fallen significantly since this report was released in 2008, and low-wind speed turbines have opened up new areas for wind development, so these estimates of economically viable resource potential are likely conservative.

    Regarding the question about the impacts of capturing wind energy, the analysis and real-world experience I linked to above indicates that this is not a concern. Even with massive deployments of wind energy many times greater than have been deployed to date, the impact on atmospheric flows is likely to be comparable to other human activities like agriculture, forestry, etc.

  91. michaeljmcfadden says:

    Thanks for the quick response! Will check it out!

    - MJM

  92. Thomas Collins says:

    They should have asked Don Quijote first…

  93. John M says:

    This study errs in its assessment of potential wind energy resources by ignoring real-world data and experience and instead relying on crude theoretical modeling techniques.

    In the world of climate science/policy, they have lots of company.

  94. M Simon says:

    “Regardless of who is correct, the inescapable fact is that America’s developable wind energy resources are many times greater than our country’s energy needs.”

    But without storage to make the energy dispatchable all that energy will not do much good due to the need for hot standby to make up for dips in output.

    And of course storage will add to the cost making wind uneconomical for a while (probably decades) longer.

    ======

    I do a more detailed view of the paper here:

    http://www.ecnmag.com/blogs/2013/03/drag-windpower

    My magazine (ECN) will be doing an e-mail alert Monday afternoon on the article – if all goes according to plan. Expect some traffic then as the WUWT link is at the top of the article.

  95. M Simon says:

    Michael Goggin, AWEA,

    If you check back into your archives I think you will find a favorable mention of a blog post I did some years back. The mention could have been something I left in the comments. Or it might have been more significant. I am not as optimistic about wind as I once was.

    http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/2004/09/wind-in-rockford.html

    The article was originally published in the Rock River Times.

    A more complete listing:

    http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/search?q=wind

  96. Spector says:

    Given the potential depletion of high technology materials, (check out the rapidly rising price of copper) I think it is unreasonable to expect, as a given, that natural energy from the sun will replace the energy bounty of carbon combustion, once that is exhausted in the next several generations. I am reminded of the old depression era song, “There will be Pie in the Sky, bye and bye.”

    As far as I know, there is no from of energy generation *now in use* that can step in and replace low-cost carbon fuels, once they are exhausted. Our existing nuclear technology, based on solid fuel rods that must be discarded, due to the build up of waste products, after burning only about one percent of their fuel, does not seem to be a safe or indefinitely sustainable alternative primary energy source.

    The prospect of progressively declining national prosperity as our primary energy sources dry up makes, I think, our policy of exponentially increasing national debt all the more dangerous, as we may no longer expect to exponentially increase our energy-flow (power) dependent national wealth.

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