The Faults, Fallacies and Failures of Wind Power

English: Some of the over 4000 wind turbines a...

English: Some of the over 4000 wind turbines at Altamont Pass, in California. Developed during a period of tax incentives in the 1980s, this wind farm has more turbines than any other in the United States. These units are likely Enertech E44-40kWs. Photo taken by Xah lee in 2003-07. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guest essay by Viv Forbes

Wind power is not free. All natural energy resources such as coal, wind and sun appear “free” – no one has to incur costs to create them. But turning a “free” resource into usable electricity costs money for collecting, generating and distributing that energy. To consumers and tax payers, the real cost of wind power is very high, no matter how well it is hidden by politicians.

Wind power is not reliable. No one can make the wind blow when the energy is needed – in fact, wind farms produce, on average, less than 30% of their nameplate capacity, often at times of lower demand.

Wind power harms the environment. Because of the large area of land needed to collect low-density wind energy, wind power requires more land-clearing, needs more transmission lines, kills more wildlife, lights more bushfires and uglifies more landscape per unit of electricity than conventional power. And the subsonic whine of the turbines drives neighbours batty and devalues local properties.

Like hydro-power, wind power is limited, with few suitable sites. And every wind turbine slows the wind, thus reducing the wind energy available to any downwind turbines. It is “renewable’ but it is not unlimited.

Wind power is justified by claims that it reduces emissions and thus reduces global warming. However, when all the steel, concrete, construction, maintenance, replacement and rehabilitation are taken into account, wind power contributes nothing to reducing emissions or changing global climate.

However wind turbines DO change the local weather. Wind is the major component of weather. Winds bring moisture to the inland, clear pollution from the cities, and change air temperatures everywhere. Wind towers rob the wind of its energy, affecting local wind speeds and changing local weather patterns.

Wind power is an expensive, intermittent and limited energy source that degrades the environment, kills birds, affects the local weather but does nothing to improve global climate.

It should be paid for by those who want it, not by captive taxpayers or electricity consumers.

Viv Forbes,

Rosewood Qld Australia
forbes@carbon-sense.com

More reading for those interested:

Renewable Energy becoming a financial nightmare in Germany:

http://www.epaw.org/documents.php?lang=en&article=cost11

Wind Farm Performance vs Demand:

http://windfarmperformance.info/documents/analysis/monthly/aemo_wind_201203_hhour.pdf

Wind Farm noise harms health and sleep:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9653429/Wind-farm-noise-does-harm-sleep-and-health-say-scientists.html

Spanish wind farms kill 6 to 18 million birds & bats a year:
http://savetheeaglesinternational.org/releases/spanish-wind-farms-kill-6-to-18-million-birds-bats-a-year.html

Wind farms are a greater threat to wildlife than climate change:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8807761/wind-farms-vs-wildlife/

Wind turbines cause fog:
http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/its-an-ill-wind/

Wind turbines cause local heating:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-04-30/wind-farms-linked-to-temperature-rises/3979930

Wind power Has Limits. The more you use the less there is:
http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2013/04/09/3732966.htm

Why Wind Won’t Work:
http://carbon-sense.com/2011/02/08/why-wind-wont-work/

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96 thoughts on “The Faults, Fallacies and Failures of Wind Power

  1. Do wind turbines cause bush fires? I think that this statement devalues the rest of the article.

  2. As a response to Chris – first comment. Localised drying does occur and turbine fires are almost impossible to put out.

    http://news.discovery.com/earth/weather-extreme-events/hot-wind-farms-120429.htm

    “Analysts say wind power is a good complement to solar power, because winds often blow more strongly at night while solar power is only available during daytime hours. But Zhou and his colleagues found that turbulence behind the wind turbine blades stirs up a layer of cooler air that usually settles on the ground at night, and mixes in warm air that is on top.”

  3. Do you like misqueitos (I give up, SP?) those pesky little insects who fly around and bite you raising welts and itching. Well, wind mills are not only bird choppers, they are bat choppers. Google NC and bat killing. I know, I know, nobody loves bats. They are spooky, and in everybody’s mind lurks vampire, but they eat misquitos right and left.. Misquitos spread disease. Enough said.

  4. @ A.D. Everard,

    you suppose ?

    Hey at least they don’t create 20sqm km of uninhabitable land for 1000 years like fukushima did when things go wrong.

    Wonder what that did to property prices there… hmmm ???

  5. Regardless of all the nasty things wind turbines do the biggest and nastiest problem is that they are not viable in an economic way, thus we all pay and pay for smarties to make money.

  6. @ stan stendera, Ohs Noes !
    Save our bats, not our precious bats that eat misqueitos (sic) ! lol

  7. Everything about the current usage of wind turbines is backwards. They were never intended as a primary power source, but as backup power, charging banks of batteries to be drawn on for a limited time until your main power source was brought back on line.
    There are two basic types of windmills: the hard to maintain, difficult to place, horizontal bird choppers, and the easy to maintain, (generator is housed in the base), easy to place (they’re smaller), non bird chopping Vertical Axis windmill. (Birds are attracted to updrafts, VAW causes down drafts). Go figure.

  8. “It should be paid for by those who want it” – I absolutely concur, and have done ever since the UK Gov went mad and started mandating the monstrous turbines. They’re threatening to force “smart” meters on us all anyway (funny how I automatically distrust any tech described as “smart”), so yes, let those who believe in this junk tech set their “smart” meters to use only wind power when it’s available, and let the rest of us have proper, reliable power all the time. Let’s see which group freezes to death first in the wintertime.

  9. There is no case for wind. This has always been blindingly obvious even to the low levels of scientific understanding enjoyed by politicians.

    It has been known from the outset that wind is an unreliable ‘energy’ source such that almost 100% backup is required to meet demand when wind conditions are inappropriate (insufficient wind, or even wind being too striong). That backup comes from conventionally powered generation which generation emits CO2 such that installing wind farms does not reduce CO2 emissions, even before one takes account of the CO2 in the manufacture, transport, installation and coupling to the grid. It is note worthy that there has not been one single conventional powered generator closed any where in the world because it was rendered redundant due to the installation of a wind farm. If no significant savings in CO2 emissions results from rolling out wind farms they fail to meet their green agenda, and there is therefore no point at all in generating power in this way since from a financial perspective, the costs of generation is prohibitively expensive.

    The article suggests that turbines typically generate about 30% of nameplate rating (installed capacity). That is a tad optomistic. Evidence is coming in that it is typically between 22% and 28%. More significantly, power generation by wind is often at its least efficiency just when energy demand is at its highest. For example, during the last few winters in the UK, there has been a blocking high situated approximately over the UK and Northern Europe which has remained for about 3 to 6 weeks. A couple of winters ago, I monitored the energy being supplied by wind every day over that period. It was typically between 3 to 5% of nameplate rating (installed capacity). There were many days when it was less than 3%, and only a few days when it reached the heady heights of 8%. When it is very cold, and there is no or all but no wind, often energy has to be taken from the grid to power heaters to keep the oil warm and sometimes the rotars rotating slowly. So when it is said that wind farms in total were producing say 3% of their nameplate rating (installed capacity), the chances are that there were many turbines drawing power from the grid such that net supply is even less. Had the UK been dependent upon wind for producing about 30% of its required energy budget (this is about 17GW out of a total budget of aout 50GW), there would have been rolling blackouts. There would have been many cold related deaths since UK housing is old, damp and not well insulated and without electrity central heating does not work: even gas or oil powered heating requires electrity for ignition and pump circulation.

    The article suggest that electrity from wind is very expensive (which is no surprise given the low density of the energy supply). Evidence is coming in that wind turbines need more maintenance than was initially projected and that they have a life expectancy more in the region of 12 to 15 years rather than the claimed 25 years. This will grreatly add to the cost of energy production from wind since wind turbines may need replacing every 15 years whereas conventionally powered generation may last for 60 years.

    Some say that wind is a new technology and should be supported in its infant years. That claim is rubbish. Extracting power from wind is an old technology which has been around for hundreds of years. Further the key components such as the generator and rotar can be traced back at least 60 years and may be a lot longer. Generator design has not changed significantly in 100 years, and will not change short of employing some novel technology exploiting super conductivity, super magnetivity etc. Likewise prop design has been ongoing since the early days of aviation and this too is unlikely to change significantly in the future. The upshot of this is that it is extremely unlikely that in the future, there will be significant improvements in efficiency. If research and development extract another couple of percent efficiency that would be a surprise.

    On the same theme, there will be no future economy of scale. Consider how the IC revolutionisd electronics whereby dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, then millions of transistors could be incorporated into ever increasing modules. This sort of economy of scale is not available for wind. Each wind turbine has to be a seperate structure, seperately errected, occupying its own seperate space, far away from its neighbour and seperately coupled up. There is no radical economy of scale in the pipeline.

    Hence what we have now is largely what we will get. Never significantly more efficient, never significantly cheaper to install, never significantly occupying less land space. The cost of energy will never be significantly cheaper from these units. So subsidies for a fledgling industry are not well spent since it will never be significantly improved and thus can never be weaned off the subsidies. Without subsidies, windfarms are simply uneconomic.

    Since they fail the economic/financial test and since they do not achieve the green agenda (ie., fail to significantly reduce CO2), they should be scrapped forth with.

    PS. I am not endorsing the need to curb CO2 emissions. I merely point out that if reduction of CO2 emissions was the aim, then wind farms are a fail and this fact was known by politicians when they endorsed the wind farm initiatives.

  10. @MorningGuy

    Except Fukishima didn’t create 20 sq km of uninhabitable land for 1000 years.

    And yeah just screw all those endangered bats killed by the turbines. I mean saving the environment by destroying the environment seems to be a good idea! lol

  11. Who ever called any energy ‘free’? Windf energy is not referred to as free, but as ‘renewable’.

  12. This articles has one of the few mentions I’ve seen about the fact that removing wind energy from the local weather system must affect weather patterns. If nothing else, reference to the so-called ‘butterfly effect’ would suggest that there could be larger unforseen weather effects down the line created by these windfarms

  13. MorningGuy says:
    May 10, 2013 at 12:54 am

    1000 years? Cite please.

    Also your apparent belief that bats are expendable seems to indicate how little you really care for the environment.

  14. The more I look into it, the more wind turbines seem like a idea that doesn’t pay. Here are two posts (with links) involving New England towns bailing out on their wind turbines:

    http://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/what-can-you-do-with-a-drunken-sailor-i-mean-broken-wind-turbine/

    http://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/struggling-arc-hatchery-drops-plans-for-wind-turbine/

    The only thing attractive about the ugly objects are the government subsidies.

    Here are two posts (with links) regarding the killing or birds and bats.

    http://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/more-about-wind-turbines-killing-birds-and-bats/

    http://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/for-the-birds/

    Can it be true there is a cover up about birds being killed? When I get time, I want to research further. You can’t believe everything you read on the internet, but there to seem to be some bird-lovers who are hopping mad.

  15. My comment at 3:34 AM may have vanished into the spam filter. (I’d be more patient, but I have to leave for work.)

  16. JPdeRuiter (@JPdeRuiter) says:
    May 10, 2013 at 1:04 am

    Correct.

    People have to remember that these installations are nothing to do with the supply of energy they are for farming subsidies. These subsidy farms appear when politicians wish to launder tax monies to give to their supporters, family and friends. You can tell a subsidy farm as the owners put windmills or solar cells on them. They will run until the cost of maintenance exceeds the subsidy or the subsidies run out, at which point the subsidy farming company declares bankruptcy and the windmill and solar panel markers are abandoned and left to corrode (google abandoned windmills). Meanwhile the subsidy farmers find more politicians with subsidies and form a new subsidy farming company to build a new subsidy farm to farm those subsidies till they run out.

  17. I read on a blog recently (can’t recall) that the issued of the cost of decommissioning wind turbines is still up in the air. That is who is going to pay for decommissioning? Can anyone confirm this?

    The other problems with wind power is as follows:

    The Scotsman – 26 December 2010
    ‘Green’ Scotland relying on French nuclear power
    SCOTLAND’S wind farms are unable to cope with the freezing weather conditions – grinding to a halt at a time when electricity demand is at a peak………..Output from major wind farms fell to as low as 2.5 per cent of their potential generation capacity during the cold snap……..

    Daily Mail – 26th January 2011
    In China, the true cost of Britain’s clean, green wind power experiment: Pollution on a disastrous scale
    This toxic lake poisons Chinese farmers, their children and their land. It is what’s left behind after making the magnets for Britain’s latest wind turbines…..
    ……….it is contributing to a vast man-made lake of poison in northern China.

    More on windpower failures from Matt Ridley.

  18. Wind farms are the new mono-rails. They look trendy, attract subsidies, don’t do what they say they will, stop working just as the warranties run out and are a pain to keep going. Just like mono-rails which are always chosen by the few and paid for by the many.

  19. Jimbo says:
    May 10, 2013 at 3:44 am

    I read on a blog recently (can’t recall) that the issued of the cost of decommissioning wind turbines is still up in the air. That is who is going to pay for decommissioning? Can anyone confirm this?

    As I said in my post before yours – once the maintenance cost exceeds the subsidy or the subsidy is withdrawn these windmills are just abandoned.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/wind_energys_ghosts_1.html

    There should be a contract in place for each windfarm that requires a specific ‘average’ amount of power to be delivered per month for say 25 years. The contract would require money to be put into escrow (or some other mechanism) that would be used to decommission the windfarm – remove windmills, concrete bases. service roads, power lines and pylons and return the windfarm site to its previous condition. However, most of these contracts are political and the civil servants doing the contracts are under pressure to get the contract out and possibly have NO idea about hard nosed engineering contracts.

    In less than 15 years the number of dead windmills will start to become a political embarassment – especially those offshore where the cost of maintenance will be completely unsupportable. They will become rotting dangerous eyesores. Monuments to political stupidity and to those who died of cold in fuel poverty to provide the subsidies. TWO THOUSAND extra deaths from cold and fuel poverty in UK in the first two weeks of March 2013 alone, and not a mention by any politician or political party, It is not only bats and birds dying but nobody cares.

  20. Yes, they do cause bush fires because they occasionally catch fire. More often that you’d think actually. Check it out.

  21. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth , and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh , and whither it goeth : so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
    Alfrd

  22. Anyone who believes that the absence of fuel costs gives renewables any cost advantage
    need to be informed that the cost of nuclear fuel for a power plant is less than a penny per kilowatthour. Closer to half a cent, actually.

  23. Not mentioned is the fact that any uncontrollable power source allowed to pollute the grid carries
    with it side effect costs – those expenses required in order to accept that unreliable power, like excessive duplication of power capacity to ensure backup power is available when the wind dies.
    And that backup capacity cots plenty, even is seldom needed.

  24. richard verney says: May 10, 2013 at 1:12 am
    It has been known from the outset that wind is an unreliable ‘energy’ source such that almost 100% backup is required to meet demand when wind conditions are inappropriate.
    ____________________________________

    Worse than that, it has been systematically covered up too. I placed a section on the Wiki page about wind intermittency many years ago, and it was deleted on ten or more occasions. I note there is an item there now, but I think there are still major mistakes and omissions in this section:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power#Variability

    a. The figures given for “increase in system operation cost” due to wind look very low to me. Since all wind has to be backed up 100% with conventional power plants, the increase in costs must be more than that. They are probably not factoring in the cost of 1-to-1 wind and conventional construction, for each wind farm in operation. Pretending that existing conventional power plants can be used (and not counting their cost) is not honest accounting.

    b. Wiki have still deleted my paragraph on brownouts and surges in the grid, which still threatens to bring grids down. Spain especially suffers from this, because of its high percentage of wind power, and their grid regularly suffers wind surges.

    c. Wiki have still deleted my comments on the practicality of wind power. I quoted extensively from this report (below) which states that Denmark (which at that time was the largest wind producer), has NEVER USED ANY of its wind power, as it is too unreliable and threatens to bring the Danish grid down. What it does, is export the power to other nations via the inter-connectors, (Scandinavia can easily and quickly turn off hydro-power, to compensate for a surge in Danish wind. Or vice versa.) However, Denmark has to supply this wind power to Scandinavia at a very favourable rate for people to take it, and so Denmark is not really benefiting from this trade and Danish energy remains very expensive.

    Why wind power ‘works’ for Denmark

    http://incoteco.com/upload/CIEN.158.2.66.pdf

    Quote:
    Denmark is exporting most of its wildly fluctuating wind power to larger neighbours while finding other solutions for supply and demand at home.

    Quote:
    Denmark makes full use of its interconnections for balancing wind power as there is a strong correlation between wind output and net power outflows (through the interconnector).
    (In other words, when the wind blows, Denmark exports its wind power to Scandinavia.)

    Quote:
    Norway and Sweden, with their mainly hydro-supplied grids, are generally able
    to accommodate power surges from west Denmark.

    Quote:
    Sometimes the Danish wind carpet produces maximum output when there is little demand. On other occasions it delivers no energy when demand is high. There were 54 days in 2002, for example, when wind supplied less than 1% of demand.

    .

  25. “However, when all the steel, concrete, construction, maintenance, replacement and rehabilitation are taken into account, wind power contributes nothing to reducing emissions or changing global climate.”

    Not to mention the CO2 produced by the “back up” (75%/80% of the time) fossil plants running inefficiently on single cycle. The drying of peat in higland locations in the UK apparently releases more CO2 than is notionally saved.
    They are also blighting some of the most beautiful landscapes and seascapes in the UK; the work of the Devil, I think!

  26. “MorningGuy says:

    May 10, 2013 at 12:54 am”

    What a completely ignorant post. Not one person, not one single person has died from radiation issues at the Fukushima plant (And lets not ignore the fact the plant survived the largest recorded earthquake in modern human history AS WELL AS a tsunami) or in the 20km surrounding area.

  27. archonix says:
    May 10, 2013 at 2:48 am

    “1000 years? Cite please.” look up the half life yourself …

    “Also your apparent belief that bats are expendable seems to indicate how little you really care for the environment.”

    Who give a stuff about the environment! It’s looked out for itself for a few billions of years, I’m sure the damn bats will survive the odd one being culled ! Since when did website become a save the endangered species site???

  28. The midwest power pool, with 12,000 megawatts of wind power, only credits 13% of that power as available to meet its summer generation requirement this year.

  29. “Wind farms are the new mono-rails.”

    Oooh, that is just perfect. That sums them up completely. Excellent.

  30. MorningGuy says:
    May 10, 2013 at 5:15 am

    “look up the half life yourself …” What half life genuis? Cs-137 is ~30 years, that means it will all be gone from decay in just about 300 years and that ignores it being washed away by rain. Also genius, the presence of radioactivity doesn’t make an area uninhabitable or do you believe the whole planet is uninhabitable despite the presence of so much life?

    “Who give a stuff about the environment!” Lots of people.

    ” I’m sure the damn bats will survive the odd one being culled !” And your credentials to make this claim are?

    “Since when did website become a save the endangered species site???” I didn’t realize it had. I thought it was still a website that allowed concerned people to discuss a wide range of issues.

    Now how about you actually respond to a single one of the questions raised about your original comment?

  31. What the 30% nameplate efficiency rating fails to take into account is the wholesale price of electricity. This varies according to supply and demand, as one would expect. So, when the wind farms are producing, the wholesale price is low and when there is no wind the price is high. When there is too much supply, prices even go negative to avoid damaging the grid.

    What this means is that when there is lots of wind, prices for energy from wind turbines is likely to be very low or even negative. The grid doesn’t want the power when the wind is blowing. However, because they are subsidized through “Feed in Tariffs”, the turbines keep producing power, regardless of the risk to the grid.

    What this means is that the power produced by the turbines has low economic value, and may well have negative economic value. The more you switch your baseline generation over to wind power, the worse the situation is likely to become. No company in its right mind would build wind turbines if they had to compete with other power stations through the wholesale price of electricity.

    Wind Turbines exist because the owners do not have to compete in the market. They receive a guaranteed price for electricity, regardless of the wholesale price. Even when the price goes negative, and companies that are producing power have to PAY for adding this to the grid, the wind turbines still get paid to to add even more power to the grid.

    Only governments could create a scheme whereby taxpayers pay much more than market price for something that actually makes the situation worse. Next we will have governments paying farmers not to plant crops. Oh wait, we already have that.

  32. @Morning Guy

    Fukishima basically created “20 sq km” of land where the average annual dose would be about what the extra dose is living next to all the granite in Denver, CO. Next point, please. Wind is an environmental disaster no matter how you look at it. The fact that “environmentalists” support it speaks volumes.

  33. This is a devastating review of the limits of wind.
    Wind power is truly a pre-industrial age non-solution for the 21st century.

  34. Jimbo says:
    May 10, 2013 at 3:44 am……………………
    There should be a contract in place for each windfarm that requires a specific ‘average’ amount of power to be delivered per month for say 25 years.
    ———————————————
    Jimbo you must be a little bit confused.
    I’d agree with you 100% if wind farms were about doing what’s right for the taxpayers like saving money, generating electricity, helping the environment etc, but they’re not.
    Wind farms and solar power are good ways to steal from the taxpayers and in reality they’re about making friends lots of money and generating mega-donations for politicians. The useful greens may care but it’s easy to tell the people in charge have an attitude of flora and fauna and the environment be damned.
    So in this respect wind farms and solar are hugely successful concepts the greenies love to exaggerate and even tell outright lies about.
    cn

  35. Whilst wind farms may have a marginal role in the right locations (such as the Outer Hebrides in Scotland) it can only be a small part of the solution at best.

    For me local solar panels offer a better long term bet for householders and maybe businesses. If the technology cost comes down by a factor of 10 (say to 10 cents per Watt hour of generating capacity) and battery technology develops to allow storage, then sticking panels on your roof would be economic (without the massive subsidies which we currently have in the UK to keep the industry going). Micro generation also avoids the need for big power transmission lines.

  36. Chuck Nolan says:
    May 10, 2013 at 5:50 am ….
    Jimbo you must be a little bit confused.

    The confusion is all yours. Read again what I said and see if you can find the quote you attributed to me. ;)

  37. It’s rather ironic that on TV tonight is the classic movie “The China Syndrome”.

  38. As much as I appreciate this post, I think it should have been mentioned that Viv Forbes is a coal industry executive – at least to avoid the predictable “team attacks”.

  39. High school physics explains simply and cleanly why wind power can NEVER work. The classic equation for energy says it all. E = MV2. The M (mass) of air is very tiny. The V (velocity) of even the strongest wind isn’t that great. Even squaring the V as the equation tells you to do doesn’t yield a very large number. Low mass multiplied by low velocity means that E (energy) can NEVER be great. Now if you change V to C (the speed of light) then small mass doesn’t matter. Maybe someone can figure out how to use the mass of a teensy weensy atom (say uranium) and the speed of light to create enormous amounts of energy? Nah, that could never work.

  40. I started a supporter of large megawatt range horizontal axis turbines, but lost my enthusiasm for industrial scale wind during extended contract talks with several wind representatives. The power companies do as little as possible to provide remedies for the problems they create, including but not limited to:
    – Use of full spectrum herbicides to keep access roads clear with no regard to run off caused soil and crop contamination
    – No provisions for clean up of spills when changing out turbine gearing and tower lubricants
    – Permanent destruction of top soil structures for access roads, tower pads, and distribution lines far wider in area than needed simply for convenience during construction
    – Minimal provisions for restoration of roads, pads, or distribution line areas upon termination

    Green energy of the wind and PV solar types are best deployed in a distributed generation model, but that robs the power companies of their restricted access monopoly, and lobbyists of source money for politicians to keep Power controlled by politics. States are under heavy lobby pressure to pass “Smart Grid” type bills similar to Illinois, where provisions of the bill eliminate pay in tariff incentives, and add costly barriers to new small scale local commercial generation.

  41. First, wind can have other purposes than replacing the fossil fuels. Consider Texas where wind is fairly abundent, but water is not. If the power generated by wind were generated by other means (nuclear, gas, coal) there would typically be steam produced. Yes, agriculture uses more water than power generation, but if water can be conserved that is a plus in arid regions.
    Second, nameplate capacity may be in the 20’s for all installed turbines, but newer farms perform far better, some approaching 50%. This is due to generators that perform better at lower wind speeds and better communication and control of the towers. Additionally GE has developed a battery system that allows an accurate prediction of constant delivered power over a 1 hour time interval (small battery only stores 1 minutes of power – most of the gain is from the wind prediction algorithm). There is certainly room for improvement, but that is headed in the right direction.
    Third, peaking plants keep spinning reserves in place. The problem you have is not with spinning reserves per se, but why they are spinning (to back up wind rather than to come online at known peak intervals). Those gas plants are already spinning whether wind is online or not. Please stop complaining about spinning reserves until you have a plan to flatten the demand curve in general, otherwise the complaint is disengenuous.
    Fourth, storage options are improving. Compressed air has been put in place in a couple locations, pumped hydro is already in place, liquid air is being developed, and an inovative “train on incline” has been proposed. More realistically CA buys power from Hoover Dam, and will likely be buying wind from WY in the near future. If Hoover Dam is used to level out wind farms the innate backup will reduce the storage premium to zero. Wind is blowing, stop the hydro. Wind stops, release water from the resivoir. Over a year everything will level out. This sort of leverage would allow hydro to level a collosal amount of wind (especially when combined with conventional plants operating at optimal capacity).
    Fifth, many of the wind farms are on private land leased by ranchers. They chose to use/lease this land for that purpose. If the noise is a problem, that is what noise ordinances are for. If the noise level does not violate a noise ordinance then shutup, as the local community has already decided that the particular level of noise is acceptable. If the rancher leases the land and then decides he cannot live with the noise level then he has a problem, since he freely entered the contract.
    Sixth, the roads will take care of themselves in pretty short time if the windmill is abandoned (many of the roads are not even paved). The steel in the base is worth enough that someone will come out and claim it along with the copper in the generator. The remaining issue is the blade. However, 25 years of power for a long term cost of three large blades seems like a fair environmental tradeoff.
    Finally, fires happen. If you want to ban any activity that sometimes causes fires what else would be on the block?
    The remaining issues would be bird kills and subsidies. I can agree on ending federal feed-in-tarrifs, although states should be allowed to make their own decisions. The bird kill issue would really have to look at a comparison between wind and the alternative. That is, is there a greater disruption to wildlife habitat overall from a stationary wind turbines, or from surface mining an area large enough to provide an equivalent amount of delivered power. While I can freely admit that wind turbines kill birds and bats, what I have not seen justified is the claim “The environmental impact of wind turbines due to bat kills is greater than the environmental impact of mining an equivalent delivered power of coal.”
    There are problems with wind power – especially in terms of subsidies and “takings.” Perhaps a good comprimise would be to lower the subsidy by $5.05/MWh over the next four years and to fund research into how to reduce takings. Low power radar and shining a laser in the eyes of approaching eagles? High frequency noise near bat colonies?
    Here is a question by which you can determine whether your stance is reasonable or unreasonable: Is there anything that can be offered by which you would become a supporter of wind power? If there is nothing then your objections are not rational.

  42. @ Richard Verney
    You claim that the average life is 12-15 years. Yet the top picture is of Alamont Pass built primarily in the 80’s If the average life is 12-15 years, how are those turbines from ~30 years ago still spinning? I think you have confused mean lifetime with mean time between maintainence. Also, do you think that the windmills produced today are better or worse than those designed before CAD? Would the lifetime be longer or shorter given the improvements in generator technology?

  43. The article objects to the spinning reserves needed to back up wind. I wonder, do they have a similar objection to the spinning reserves kept in place to meet peak power demand?

  44. Allencic, re

    “High school physics explains simply and cleanly why wind power can NEVER work. The classic equation for energy says it all. E = MV2. The M (mass) of air is very tiny. The V (velocity) of even the strongest wind isn’t that great”

    It’s actually a little worse than you claim (btw, it’s 1/2 MV2). The mass of air impinging on the blade disc of a turbine in a unit of time is given by (density x velocity), so the actual formula is 0.5 x density x V3. The density of air is mostly about 1.2 kg/M3. There’s also a thermodynamic limitation called “Betz’s Law” which limits the proportion of energy extracted to about 70%.So, if we use the average windspeed for England of about 8 m/s, for each square metre of disc area, the most you’s see is about 200W.

    Worse, that cube term works against you. If you design the turbine for maximum output at 12m/s, and 6 m/s it’s producing just 1/8th of design output.

  45. “Chad says:

    May 10, 2013 at 7:43 am”

    Its nothing to do with generator technology. What has changed? Its all to do with manufacturing (Mfg) technology, quality and practice. An example would be the combustion engine. In the 1970’s there was much “human input/contact” with the components. Mfg tolerances were also “a bit sloppy” then too (I personally worked to +/- 2 microns). Today however, there is almost NO human contact with the components that go into engine mfg. So much so that the mfg is almost totally “contaminant” free. Mfg tolerances are 30 – 50% tighter now. Materials used are better quality. Result = better, more reliable, longer lasting, engines (Lets not talk about silicone-aluminium alloys that do not need oil lubricants). One result of this is (Putting aside electronic fuel management) more power, taller gearing (6sp manual gearboxes now) and longer lasting engines. The same is true in any technology.

  46. Ozzie Zehner’s book, Green Illusions, has a devastating chapter on wind. What it adds to the discussion is a critical look at a DOE report entitled, 20% Wind Energy by 2030. Unfortunately, I can’t find a summarizing article on the web.

  47. Andy Dawson,
    You’re right of course, for kinetic energy it should be E= 1/2 MV2. No matter how you express it, wind power is a stupid way to generate trivial amounts of energy. Pretty efficient at generating “green” dollars for political cronies though

  48. Patrick says:
    May 10, 2013 at 8:12 am
    “silicone-aluminium alloys”
    —–
    I think you mean silicon.

  49. Chad says: May 10, 2013 at 7:46 am
    The article objects to the spinning reserves needed to back up wind. I wonder, do they have a similar objection to the spinning reserves kept in place to meet peak power demand?
    ___________________________________

    That is not a fair comparison, and you know it.

    Peak demand is quite short and quite predictable – 7am and 7pm, for a couple of hours. So in the UK we charge up Dinorwig** during midnight / midday, and let it fly at 7am and 7pm. In fact, peak demand is even more predictable than that, as they also review the TV schedules and watch for the end of a soccer match, or the end of a feature-film.

    Wind is not like that. You cannot say the wind will die at 6pm next Tuesday. Thus the spinning standby for windpower has to remain spinning at all times. In addition, wind can disappear for weeks at a time, especially in the winter (just when you really need the electricity). In the winter of 2010 the UK lost most of its wind for six weeks, and there is no pumped storage unit that can cope with that amount of power-loss.

    In addition, most proper power station outages are pre-planned (for maintenance). Thus you can plan your maintenance for overnight, or if it is a long job you can plan for mid summer (which is low-demand in the UK). In both cases, spinning standby is not required for these kind of conventional power outages.

    There is no spinning standby in the UK for conventional power stations having an unplanned glitch. If necessary they could use Dinorwig as an instant standby, until they can get another real power station running. But you cannot do that with wind, as it goes on and off every few hours. You cannot use a standby like Dinorwig to cover multiple demand fluctuations, as well as covering multiple supply fluctuations.

    .

    ** Dinorwig – one of the largest pumped storage units anywhere, which is used to cover demand fluctuations. 5 gw for 5 hours.

    .

  50. Mid-American Energy runs a complete system including generation by nuclear, natural gas, coal, and a very small amount of hydro, centered around Iowa.. They run the complete transmission and distribution system down to the customer service, sell power to smaller systems in their area and provide the wheeling services for municipal systems that buy power from other sources. They are aware of the full range of problems with wind, since they currently are operating 1400 MW of wind turbines.

    With all this experience and knowledge of all aspects of the electricity business, Mid-American Energy has just announced their plans to install another 1000 MW of wind energy. They are well aware of all the problems with wind energy, they have been operating such a system for several years now, They are aware of any issues of reliability, and maintenance and power variation and standby power requirements. There are no grants for the construction. Construction is with their own money, and they have previously agreed with the Iowa utility board that there will be no rate increase due to wind energy.

    I have no doubt the 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour subsidy had a role in Mid-American undertaking this project, but the generators have to be in place and operating for the next ten years for that to produce any income. If it produced onerous, unsolvable operating problems or expenses, they would not proceed even with the subsidy.

    It would seem that if a rational, experienced, company evaluates the project and decides to finance it, placing it’s own funds at risk, and proceed, that perhaps some of the issues raised above are exaggerated. It is reasonably certain that Mid-Amercan knows more about these issues than anyone writing or commenting here. Some of the commenters should evaluate whether their claims are reality or hyperbole.

  51. Once again we taxpayers are penalized by the ignorance of history, our dear leaders prefer.
    Wind lost to steam. Coal fired steam engines.Over 100 years ago.
    The electric car hung on as a competitor with steam until the internal combustion engine, left them both in its dust.
    The current rebirth of Ludditism, wants to ignore these simple facts.Efficiency.
    This happened in the mid 1970s when solar and wind were drooled over by the dreamers,massive amounts of public funds lavished upon them and then these “futuristic” technologies faded away.
    Impractical, expensive and non producing pipe dreams.
    Now 40 years on,with an even less educated group of dear leaders, these delusions are back.
    Yes they have some utility, but without a means of power storage , they are useless for grid power.
    And the people who create that “Storage battery” break through will be billionaires, so have at it.
    As subsidy farms go, windmills are wonderful, the two on the southern most tip of Hawaii, are a great graphic of,”When the subsidy is over”.

    I am deeply offended by the scoff law behaviour of our, govt environmental authorities.
    There is no law, when such blatant favouritism exists.
    Example, common ducks die in Ft McMurray tailings ponds, charges, fines, mass hysteria follow.
    Windmills dice rare and endangered raptors on a weekly basis, the operators get a pass.
    No documentation of bird kills required, or encouraged.
    No press coverage, no environmental advocacy outrage.
    Not one charge, for massacring these raptors to date.
    But these same “authorities” will imprison you if you pick up feathers from a dead eagle.

  52. Chris4692: You put some thought into your comment. Now think a little further and tell me why congress gave the wind industry a $12 billion subsidy for 2013 if wind is so economic and those subsidies will continue forever in addition to higher rates. Would you want a wind turbine in your back yard?
    MorningGuy: Get a life.

  53. Silver Ralph says:
    May 10, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Peak demand is quite short and quite predictable – 7am and 7pm, for a couple of hours. So in the UK we charge up Dinorwig** during midnight / midday, and let it fly at 7am and 7pm. In fact, peak demand is even more predictable than that, as they also review the TV schedules and watch for the end of a soccer match, or the end of a feature-film.

    Wind is not like that. You cannot say the wind will die at 6pm next Tuesday. Thus the spinning standby for windpower has to remain spinning at all times.

    It isn’t only the variation in peak demand that has to be accommodated, but throughout the day. But you are correct, demand variations are largely predictable. As people’s lives are on a schedule determined by work, mealtimes, and television, the demand as an aggregate is very predictable.

    You underestimate how predictable the wind is. The shifts in wind can be roughly predicted a few days out, and the predictions get better a few hours out. Though your experience in your location may be different, you are probably assuming too much when you generalize your wind patterns to everywhere. That is just another local condition for an engineer to figure out and deal with.

    I have had an operator of a coal fired generating plant tell me that they could not generate full capacity at that time, but they could not afford to take the unit out of production for a couple months to do the repairs needed to restore full capacity. It was too large a unit, the system had to have it’s production even if reduced. Coal plants are not 100 percent reliable either. That production had to be made up from elsewhere: a great evil if done for wind, but apparently acceptable if done for coal?

  54. “Silver Ralph says:
    May 10, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Chad says: May 10, 2013 at 7:46 am
    The article objects to the spinning reserves needed to back up wind. I wonder, do they have a similar objection to the spinning reserves kept in place to meet peak power demand?
    ___________________________________

    That is not a fair comparison, and you know it.

    Peak demand”

    Speak to ANYONE in a region that has “limited peak demand”…and Chad, would you swap?

  55. hi:

    Since the same article appears on American Thinker for today, I’ll make the same comment:


    Some realities for wind power:

    1 – the average annual power production is around 23% of name plate capacity.

    2 – because power production is improbable on very hot, or very cold, days when consumer power demand is highest, every watt of nominal wind power capacity has to be backed by a watt of stand-by capacity – usually natural gas powered.

    3 – because wind farms go where the wind is, and cities don’t, wind power use generally requires long transmission lines.

    4 – when a small amount of wind power is added to a coal powered system, the coal plant is usually run at below capacity and (because coal generation takes a long time to come up to speed) the difference made up for by stand-by gas fired generation.

    As a result wind is the dirtiest form of generation there is. A coal plant running at 97% of optimum produces 104% of the co2 per watt it would at capacity, the energy that goes into making the turbine (60+ tons of copper, 100+ tons of steel, 200+ tons of concrete) is typically never recouped through operation, every emission from the gas plant is additional to the system, and the transmission lines require huge inputs to build and operate.

    Basically, the environment (and the consumer) would generally be better served by wind power if the turbines are never connected to the network – just built and abandoned.

  56. TomE says:
    May 10, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Chris4692: You put some thought into your comment. Now think a little further and tell me why congress gave the wind industry a $12 billion subsidy for 2013 if wind is so economic and those subsidies will continue forever in addition to higher rates. Would you want a wind turbine in your back yard?

    There is no predicting Congress and why it does thing. Though I would prefer there was no subsidy for wind or any other industry after the research stage, it is there. For wind it currently applies to a given turbine for 10 years after installation, not forever. The revenue of the subsidy is 2.2 cents per kw-hr, Mid-American’s retail charges for that are approximately 13 cents. Though the subsidy is surely a significant factor in the cost structure, it is not so great that wind would not be in the mix without it.

    My main point is that many of the comments against wind are overblown. Some of the commenters here are as irrational at evaluating renewable energy as are the AGW proponents in their fear of CO2.

    I have sought out sites where I could listen for the noise from a wind turbine, driving around to listen at various distances and locations upwind and downwind. I have not heard anything from them more irritating than what a grain dryer, a grain elevator or an air conditioning compressor emits. I would want it some distance away, as the flicker would be irritating.

  57. Chad says:
    May 10, 2013 at 7:43 am

    @ Richard Verney
    You claim that the average life is 12-15 years. Yet the top picture is of Alamont Pass built primarily in the 80s If the average life is 12-15 years, how are those turbines from ~30 years ago still spinning?

    Chad, there not! I lived in the Bay Area from the 70s thru the 90s. All (except the ones that were simply abandoned – many of which are still there and non-working) of the units installed during the first taxpayer “wind farm” subsidies boondoggle were taken down.

    And as to your 7 points above, while you make a couple of valid points about improvements that have been made in the technology, all the rest of it is either nonsensical or simply wrong. Take your first point: First, wind can have other purposes than replacing the fossil fuels. Of course. Has been for centuries. So? Consider Texas where wind is fairly abundent, but water is not. Depends upon where your talking about in Texas and what THE (not your) definition of “fairly abundant” is. But again, so? As relates to water in Texas, it’s a distribution problem not an abundance problem, as is the case with most resources. If the power generated by wind were generated by other means (nuclear, gas, coal) there would typically be steam produced. Typically, but not always, but always WITHIN A CLOSED SYSTEM! Where the “water” condenses back into liquid form and is recycled. Yes, agriculture uses more water than power generation, What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? but if water can be conserved that is a plus in arid regions. Perfect example of a nonsensical statement. A resource (i.e., water) is never “conserved” it is simply “used” for this purpose or that purpose. If it’s conserved it’s – nothing, does nothing.

    As to your last paragraph, who died and made YOU the official arbitrator of what is rational? Based on your writings above, I’d say you’ve got a long way go and a lot of experience to be absorbed before you should even think about holding that title.

    And to Allencic & Andy Dawson, that is EXACTLY the calculations that were being made by many and I told to anyone that would listen back in the early 80s in the first go-around on this silliness. People at PG&E (the Bay Area power company) KNEW the whole “wind generation of electrical power” was an unworkable, uneconomical (sans the government subsidies) solution TO A NON-PROBLEM. But when you work for a company that is government controlled….
    RMH

  58. Bush fires? Probably referring to fires consequent to working in the area, like the saying of Stalin, where there is no man there is no problem.

    Uglifying the area? For those who don’t like them, okay. Me, I like technology, I find them visually interesting/cool/futuristic. So I could care.

    Changing weather? Give us a break. Limited, very limited to the amount of wind immediately downwind. The cross-sectional area of a windfarm is not significant across the landscape. The amount of energy lost by turbine conversion is miniscule. The moisture is NOT getting dumped at the turbine farm like rain going up a mountainside, creating a rain shadow on the other side.

    Tax incentives in the ’80s: long paid for “investements” howeverr you wish to define them.

    A diatribe, a rant: what we skeptics are concerned about are their RUNNING costs per watt, their RELATIVE capital efficiency, their practical contribution to our power and energy needs.

    Wind (and solar) are actually (relative costs and capital efficiencies aside) an excellent idea. The problem is that we have no economically viable energy STORAGE technology yet. We have the horse but no cart. Just as Fisker and other electric vehicles fail, wind (and solar) systems are ahead of their times. If, for example, we were using that power to raise water into a dam for hydro use (and it was full-cycle economic!) we would have none of the problems of intermittency.

  59. Paul Murphy says:
    May 10, 2013 at 9:49 am

    1 – the average annual power production is around 23% of name plate capacity.

    Yet Mid-American finds it economical to proceed.

    2 – because power production is improbable on very hot, or very cold, days when consumer power demand is highest, every watt of nominal wind power capacity has to be backed by a watt of stand-by capacity – usually natural gas powered.

    In the case of Mid-American, there is no standby power specifically assigned to wind standby. The entire system is operated as a system according to demand and the most efficient way to meet that demand. With a large system, that is how a rational actor would most likely operate.
    3 – because wind farms go where the wind is, and cities don’t, wind power use generally requires long transmission lines.
    An over generalization. For the case of Mid-American, half of the population is in the rural areas where the wind turbines are located. Without the wind turbines that demand would have to be met by power plants that are located in the Cities. Transmission losses will be less when the wind turbines are operating. Many of the transmission lines have to be there whether there is wind power or not. Mid-American’s situation cannot be generalized everywhere, neither can your assertion.

    4 – when a small amount of wind power is added to a coal powered system, the coal plant is usually run at below capacity and (because coal generation takes a long

    Overgeneralizing. There may be a small system like that however in the the Case of Mid-American, There is no generator specifically to balance wind loads. There are natural gas and coal generators near cities throughout the system, and none is assigned specifically to counter wind fluctuations. Every utility system has to have excess capacity. It is in trouble if it doesn’t. Without excess capacity it can never take a coal fired or any other plant out of service (they do need occasionally need repairs and those cannot always be scheduled) Variations due to wind in a large system will not be one generating plant going down to an idle spin, it will be several plants reducing from 85 percent capacity to 60 percent. (numbers for example of concept only)

  60. Quick reality check. Texas is the #1 electricity producer in the US, and also the #1 producer of wind power. They are a separate grid, and so can reasonably be analyzed without confounding too much the affects of being stabilized by nearby states. So, how is Texas doing? The grid has been stable (in spite of constant impending doom declared by the media “Oh no, it might go down”) in spite of all that wind (current record of 28% of demand). Is all that wind driving up prices? No – Texas sits firmly in the middle of the cost curve (#24 for those interested). And this cost includes massively expanding the grid (10% growth from 2000-2010 and 50% growth from 1990-2010). I just don’t buy the argument that wind drives up the cost of electricity when the state with the most wind is so firmly in the middle of the pack.
    Of the 15 states with the highest wind power capacity per capita all but three are in the bottom half of $ per kWh to end users. The three outliers are #24 Texas $0.1089/kWh, #22 Minnesota $0.1105/kWh, and #21 Colorado $0.1106/kWh. However, compare to #2 NY at $0.18/kWh which has the same total installed wind capacity as ND.
    Of the 11 states with no installed wind power 8 are in the bottom half (outliers #19 Florida %0.1134, #18 South Carolina $0.1163/kWh and #4 Conneticut $0.164/kWh). Want cheap electricity? Go somewhere with a lot or no wind, not inbetween. What does this all mean? Wind power production has basically nothing to do with end user electricity price, so stop saying it raises prices.

  61. Bob,
    I assume that you don’t believe in saving money. I mean, it can’t be conserved, only used in one way or another and any attempt to conserve your money by not getting ripped off would be nonsensical. You might as well light it on fire, right? Oh, wait, no. You would use it it the most rational manner that benefits you personally. Water resources across Texas are scarce. There are some wetlands and swamps, but trying to average the rainfall in Houston with that of Amarillo still gives a dry state. Unless of course you are talking about the gulf, in which case you can drink seawater for a week and we can talk again. The point about water is, when there is a limited resource the resource should be used in a manner that provides the greatest overall benefit (measured across society). If you have the choice between electricity at 10.8cents and 10.9, but 10.9 lowers your average water bill or reduces the cost of agriculture or industry by more than the price difference in electricity, then the slightly higher electricy cost should be accepted due to the marginal impact in other fields competing for the same resource.

    In regards to your objection about my closing paragrpah on rational positions:
    Rational positions are those open to persuasion from alternate viewpoints given sufficient evidence. If a position is not open to persuasion regardless of any alternate arguments then the position is based on something other than reason. This is not me being the arbiter of rationality, you can look it up on merriam-webster.com
    Also, in the future when qualitative words are introduced (i.e. “fairly”, and “typically”) you should not object that the usage in the sentance was not absolute (i.e. THE definition of “fairly abundent”). The phrase “fairly abundent” by its nature announces that the standard is not objective. If I were trying to be objective with the comparison I would have used something like “total available wind resources per sq mi compared to…” or “total annual rainfall per acre compared to …” When subjective terms are used in an absolute manner then an objection is appropriate given that it is a category error (i.e. Sam is twice as happy as Bill). When subjective terms are used in a subjective manner then an objection merely demonstrates an inability to follow basic grammer.
    Finally it would be “they’re not” not “there not.”

  62. Chris4962…
    You underestimate how predictable the wind is.
    _______________________________________

    You did not read that report on Danish windpower. One of the main criticisms, was that the wind predictions were nothing like reality. I ask you, would you trust the Met Office to predict when you can have some electricity??

    .

  63. While reading about the situation with Mid-American and its planned expansion of wind power, it occurred to me that they would likely be “allowed” to also expand their non-wind power eventually since it is needed to provide backup to the wind power.
    I guess there’s more than one way to skin a cat!
    That came to mind because in my area a coal-powered plant had its expansion voted down even though it’s relatively new and you never see anything coming out of its towers except water vapor.
    Since then, I frequently see the parts of wind towers being driven up and down the interstate highways. Perhaps there will come a time when I read a news story about the expansion of the coal-powered plants as well . . . since by that time they will be needed to provide backup to the wind power?
    Just sayin’…
    BTW, my relatives in Texas have complained in recent years about brown-outs during both winter and summer extremes of temperature. That certainly surprised me. I thought Texas, if anyplace, would be able to keep the power flowing at a steady rate!
    I guess it’s all just politics.

  64. Chad says:
    May 10, 2013 at 7:43 am
    ///////////////////////////////////////

    Modern wind turbines are designed for an operating life expectancy of 120,000 hours, ie., about 13.5 years. Of course much depends upon wind loads and their variability which if heavy and very variable can reduce the life expectancy (aliter, if light and less variable). As you no doubt know, there are many periods when the turbine is not operating (due to wind conditions or perhaps being taken out of service due to grid requirements or even maintenance) and hence during these periods, operating hours are not used up and this extends the life expectancy. Hence the reason why there is now evidence coming in that the life expecatancy appears to be in the region of 12 to 15 years.

    Of course, it is possible to replace the internals and rotor. The structure if it does not succumb to fatigue (no doubt you have seen photos of tower failures) can therefore be retained and with virtually complete refurbishment of internals etc, wind turbines errected in the 80s can still be in service.

    As to the photo, without knowing the operating and maintenance history, I cannot further elucidate.

  65. Doug Proctor says:
    May 10, 2013 at 10:12 am
    ////////////////////////////////////////////
    As you say, energy storage is the biggest draw back since both solar and wind are often at their least efficient when demand for enery is at its peak.

    I consider that solar already has a role, but presently this is only in tropical and sub tropical latitudes. Outside those bands it can be useful for low grade energy production such, as in summer, heating a swimming pool, or even in sunny climes the production of domestic hot water. But in mid northern latitudes, it is of little practical/viable use.

    As for wind, unless and until a suitable storage system can be designed at viable cost, wind energy production serves no useful purpose. Its limitations are too great, and materially it does not result in the meaningful saving of CO2 emissions (should the reduction of CO2 emissions be desirable). As for looks, they are not what I consider to be a work of art (unlike some Victorian steam engines, or have the awe of say weaving machinery in cotton mills), and I consider them a blight on the natural beauty of the landscape, but I accept that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder such that some might like the look of them, and might prefer to see plains, and mountain ridges studded with them.

  66. Power Grab says:
    May 10, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    While reading about the situation with Mid-American and its planned expansion of wind power, it occurred to me that they would likely be “allowed” to also expand their non-wind power eventually since it is needed to provide backup to the wind power.

    Mid-American has 5700 MW of non-wind generating capability. After the expansion they will have 3000 MW of wind capacity. They count 13% of existing wind as base capacity, so that total will be 390 MW. Wind capacity has to be in operation and evaluated based on its operation before any part is included as base capacity, so the ultimate percentage may not be 13%. That is not a large percentage of existing capacity that would have to provided as additional back up, even if they proposed it. However there are already projects in various stages of evaluation, planning and design for natural gas, coal, and nuclear. “Excuses” for expansion are not needed.

  67. This is not entirely wind related, wind is included although most of the DOE loan losses seem to come from solar enterprises.

    http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/05/renewable-energy-projects-cost-us-taxpayers-26-billion-for-only-2300-permanent-jobs-which-is-11-5-million-per-job/

    Renewable energy projects cost US taxpayers $26 billion for only 2,300 permanent jobs, which is $11.5 million per job
    Mark J. Perry | May 10, 2013, 8:53 am

    .”..In 2008, Barack Obama pledged to create 5 million jobs over 10 years by directing taxpayer dollars toward renewable energy projects in the form of loan guarantees. But here’s what has actually happened according to recently released data by the Department of Energy’s Loans Programs Office, and summarized in the chart above by the Institute for Energy Research:

    More than $26 billion has been spent (or pledged in loan guarantees) since 2009 on DOE Section 1703 projects (taxpayer support for clean energy technologies that are typically unable to obtain conventional private financing) and Section 1705 loan guarantees (for certain renewable energy systems and leading edge biofuels). Unfortunately for taxpayers, fewer than 2,300 permanent jobs have been created for all of those billions of dollars, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $11.45 million per job. Solar projects generated an especially poor return for taxpayer funding – almost $1 billion of taxpayer dollars were spent on just two now-bankrupt solar companies – Abound and Solyndra – that in the end created no permanent jobs.”

    Note that the list seems to be limited to alt energy projects and doesn’t include things like Fisker, A123, and numerous other “green” stimulapalooza projects that went down the tubes, taking billions of tax dollars with them.

  68. I think “Chad” and “Chris4692″ are really T. Boone Pickens and Nancy Pelosi.

    Or… someone who likes to read Huffpo:

    “‘The company wants to build 656 turbines, though the locations have yet to be chosen. Customers won’t see new rate increases because federal tax credits are expected to offset the project’s cost over the next 30 years,’ company spokesman Tim Grabinski said. ***

    MidAmerican President William Fehrman … said construction would start before the end of the year to ensure that the project qualifies for a federal tax credit for wind production. The credit, first enacted in 1992, was extended by Congress earlier this year.

    ‘This is all about our customers. … .’ *** ” [LOL]

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/09/midamerican-energy-wind-projects-farm-turbines_n_3241205.html

  69. “federal tax credits”

    Oh, no, the federal government isn’t paying us to build windmills. The federal government U. S. taxpayers are paying our CUSTOMERS to buy our product (if it’s produced using windmills).

    LOL — who in the WORLD do you think you are fooling?

  70. Wind farms also alter the temperature and humidity of the land downwind of them, rendering the land hotter and drier and less arable.

  71. @MorningGuy says:
    you suppose ?

    Hey at least they don’t create 20sqm km of uninhabitable land for 1000 years like fukushima did when things go wrong.
    +++++++++++++++++
    You are confused: The radiation levels around Fukushima are now equivalent to the levels in Boulder CO… which has natural background levels due to the granite which is radioactive. This level is 4 times the evacuation level set in Japan… Except, in reality, there is zero difference in cancer rates at that level in Boulder CO. So, no the statement about 20km of unusable land for 1000 years is unfounded.

    And there are no deaths that I can find related to Fukushima’s radiation levels.

  72. I have sought out sites where I could listen for the noise from a wind turbine, driving around to listen at various distances and locations upwind and downwind. I have not heard anything from them more irritating than what a grain dryer, a grain elevator or an air conditioning compressor emits. I would want it some distance away, as the flicker would be irritating.

    Only 23% of people can even detect most of these sounds in the first place, and to top that, if the wind is not blowing the turbines at capacity the sound is going to be a fraction of what it is on a windy day. Most people can hear this at night when the wind is blowing, but again, only 23% really complain about it as everyone else just gets used to it. This type of sound as a rule is one that people do not even consciously recognize even if you try. In other words, anyone can hear it, but most people will not even realize they are hearing it unless they are part of that 23% who can and who suffer health ailments due to these sounds.

    The problem with the research as it stands is that at certain levels these sounds will cause the headaches and ailments in everyone as seen by reseach by the NAVY. The difference being perhaps we have not reached that level of sound and right now only a minority of people can be affected. But if we open up vast new wind turbines, I am willing to bet this will influence more and more people. My issue of course with this is that since I am susceptible and the fact that these sounds travel over such vast distances, I have to be careful where I live. I shouldn’t have to choose where I live due to the presence of these things because frankly I find being in vicinity to them unbearable.

    This alone should be enough to stop making these. I don’t ask other people to suffer for my sake, why should I suffer for the “green’s” sake?

    d power production has basically nothing to do with end user electricity price, so stop saying it raises prices.

    Probably because in the US the money comes from subsidies. This money comes from the Federal Government, so ergo you will not see the price tag from consumer prices of electricity. You see the price-tag in your tax bill. Someone will pay for the price difference between wind and other forms of electricity.

    Having said that, I once again saw some clueless person going on about how “solar and wind” are the power sources of the future. Sorry to correct you, but that is old technology. Humans have for years harvested both the wind and solar whether it is through farming, heating, bringing water uphill or other things. We stopped using both of these forms of electricity because we wanted on demand power. Solar and wind do not provide this. And so therefore, just like the data shows, you emit more CO2 and other things into the atmosphere and wind power does not give you any reduction in pollution. Solar is a little better since the solar energy is always highest during high peak times…but in the northern hemisphere in winter this amount of power is neglible.

    Wind and solar power are obsolete in comparison to fossil fuels of any kind. This is why we stopped using wind (and solar) power until some idiots decided it was a “great source of energy” back in the 1970’s and started mandating its usage. Perhaps they made a killing on it and this was why people wanted these forms of power, to farm subsidies.

    Anyone who thinks this is looking forward is just being delusional. This is backwards thinking for yesteryear. You can love history all you want, but you can not bring back obsolete technologies that were abandoned for good reasons. It is exactly the same thing as saying we will bring back knights from the middle ages. Sure, it sounds romantic, but guns will literally and figurtively blow the knights away in the real world. This is why solar and wind are nothing but novelties today and should remain that way. Adopting large scale wind and solar farms without any of the issues with them being solved is exactly like trying to field an army of knights with armor and horses. Its silly at best, and at worst a criminal waste of resources that could have gone into something useful as opposed to tax breaks for large land-owners.

    If you really want to “clean up energy production”, I suggest putting money into research and development versus subsidy farms. If this had been done over the last 30-40 years versus subsidiy farms for a select few rich people, we would probably have another form of electricity today. But no, today we are wasting money on such things as “large-scale pumped storage” , battery development, server farms to predict future wind, extra power plants to back up these inferior forms of technology….and other technologies that are not even necessary if you just use fossil fuels.

  73. Janice Moore says:
    May 10, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    I think “Chad” and “Chris4692″ are really T. Boone Pickens and Nancy Pelosi.

    Or… someone who likes to read Huffpo:

    .

    And that is what Janice Moore thinks advances the discussion? An Ad Hom?

    I point out that the assertion by others that there must be standby plants idling is not a universal truth, and you can only assert an ad hom?

    I point out that the assumption of long transmission lines and losses is not a universal truth, and all you can come up with is an ad hom?

    I point out that the variations in power demand, and the other demands are not great un-conquerable technical challenges, because at least one company is making a profit doing just that and all you can come up with is an ad hom?

    I do not read Huffington Post. The details of the current proposal were all available in the local Iowa press. Though I work mostly with sewage, I have read SEC filings of Mid-American. I have worked with and talked with engineers and operators of power plants on the job and off, including those of Mid-Amercan as well as others. I have done structural design for power plants, some Mid-American and some not. I have done emissions testing for power plants, some Mid-Am and some not, and I have completed rate studies to determine electrical rates for municipal utilities. I have also sought out wind farms to observe noise and other effects for myself.

    I do not pretend to know the thinking of the design engineers of Mid-Am, but I am certain that they know far more about their situation than anyone commenting here. They made a rational financial decision, based on what they know, which is much more than any of us commenting here. That should be a very solid clue that many of the hyperbolic assumptions and assertions regarding wind energy expressed here are at least very highly questionable, and more likely wrong. Large power companies do not make billion dollar decisions absent thorough analysis. They have more information on the power production of wind, on the effects of the transmission losses, the effects of the variability of wind on the efficiency of the system than anyone that reads here has any hope of ever learning.

    In many years of engineering, I have learned to be very careful of phantasmagorical claims and to hold back and evaluate when assertions get extreme, either for or against. It is apparent that many here have not developed that habit.

    Wind energy is neither a magic elixir, nor is it a great evil. It is just an option to be evaluated for the situation.

    And BTW, politically I am closest to Barry Goldwater than any other politician I can think of.

    Let me know if you have anything substantial to say, otherwise I’d recommend you’d work on a habit of self-restraint.

  74. Every last bit of this environmental crap should be paid for by those who want it and no one else. If you’re so damn sure that fossil fuels are causing the death of the planet then to use even one drop is sacrelige. They should be the ones forced to forego oil and coal products (and die in the process) not us. I would love to see the energy companies deny service to these idiots for a month or longer to bring them back to reality. No gasoline, natural gas or electricity for a month. No use of anything made from oil. No food bought from a grocery store. No clothing because it used energy to make.
    There needs to be a big island set aside to ship these human-haters off to so they can live Lord-of-the-flies style. Lots of prosecutions too of scientists and Gore-bots. I want to live long enough to see the day when anyone who identifies as an environmentalist is shunned like the blacks were in the US a hundred years ago.

  75. Good article, but doesn’t mention the additional problems regarding the use of rare earth elements (REEs) in wind turbines. REEs are used in the magnets of the turbines. The are currently mined predominantly in China and the local environment usually suffers due to lax mining regulations. Disposal of the REEs after use can also cause problems.

  76. @Morning Guy, the point you missed is that wind is environmentally devastating even when used as intended! It’s not just the fires / collapses that create a mess – it’s the construction and manufacture, the installation, and the use. Oh and nuclear saves lives – radio medicine dominates all other considerations.

  77. Chris4692 says: “I have not heard anything from them more irritating than what a grain dryer, a grain elevator or an air conditioning compressor emits.”

    Oh for Chrisakes! I was starting to think you were an unbiased, rational person until I read that codswallop.

    About ten years ago I was looking at purchasing a small mini-farm in Boone County Indiana. I was about to make an offer on the property when I decided to spend an afternoon to check out what it would be like living there.

    I got out of my car and started walking the property when I heard this godawful high pitched whine. At first I couldn’t tell where the racket was coming from, but slowly I began to detect the direction from which it was coming.

    I dropped the top on my convertible and drove east for about a half a mile. I saw a farm with a grain silo. I walked up to the house and knocked. I asked the nice lady that came to the door what was making that sound.

    She said it was their grain dryer. I asked if it ran all of the time. She said. “Oh no. Just from September to April.”

    I went home and ripped up the contract proposal that same afternoon.

    So saying that wind turbines are “no worse” than grain dryers is telling me you are an irrational apologist for wind turbines.

  78. We spent a big part of the 19th century and most of the 20th century developing means to efficiently and cleanly use the already abundant naturally stored solar energy to provide abundant safe sustainable useful energy plus byproducts useful in building infrastructure. This practice eliminated the need for slavery and whale oil illumination.

    Now we are being forced to abandon this technique, and instead build flimsy intermittant generators that are dangerous, and require much additional infrastructure and labor to service them. How long can this go on, before slavery becomes popular again?

  79. Viv Forbes says…Like hydro-power, wind power is limited….

    It may be limited but the limit is considerably higher than realised. For example a singe relatively small site near Sheffield once had 200 mills on it. In terms of electricity this matches a relatively large wind farm with no increased visibility whatever as the old mill building are mostly still there.
    In one case I have seen the filing cabinet full of paperwork for, the only obstacle is the building is listed and had a wall added after the building ceased to be a water mill which would prevent the turbines being installed. The owner cannot get permission for the wall to be removed. The way the water board rules are phrased also makes for difficulties in using this power.
    It may still be more expensive than coal but supply peaks at the same time as demand unlike wind which gives zero when we get the cold foggy periods that last a week round here.

  80. Having lived in an area where the politicians 6 years ago decided that it would be just wonderful to go holus bolus into industrial wind turbines, I can tell you that the arguments for and against them reflect many of the views articulated in the foregoing posts. The people who support them generally are benefitting in some way….. or they live in an environment (typically urban) far away from the swaths of ground where the IWTs are sited such that in their romanticized worlds, they can feel they are simply doing their part to feel good by ‘being green and save the planet’. These individuals accuse those who oppose them of being NIMBYs, they trivialize the impact of health concerns and without any real understanding of the complexity of the environmental issues at stake are prepared to state that IWTs are essentially ‘less harmful’ than other electrical generation alternatives. And as for the complex world of trying to integrate IWTs on to a grid that can easily accommodate all these wildly fluctuating sources, there generally is zero attempt made to understand the impact.

    I personally have met many rural residents living near IWTs who are faced with the reality that they can’t sell their properties even if the asking prices drops to 50% of what it would be if there were no IWTs…. In fact, I’ve witnessed precipitous drops in value by as much as 25% just on the rumour that IWTS are being proposed for their area. And what recourse do they have to this financial calamity that through no fault of their own has been forced upon them? Nothing, zip, zilch, zero, nadda, squat… they are stuck. So all those in favour of IWTs, put yourself in the shoes of these people who not only have had their beautiful rural countryside altered by it being vertically industrialized, it has cost them hugely right in the wallet… and this is over and above any arguments that have to do with taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies.

    So….. if such harm is going to be allowed to be inflicted on those who through no fault of their own have had to put with such decisions that forced these things upon them, one would assume that there must be some societal benefit to justify the rather communistic idea that “yes some will be harmed but it is for the greater good”. Well, good luck with proving that one. I would urge all who believe that it is for the greater good to get educated in exactly what happens when IWT produced power is integrated on to a grid. First of all, there really is no such thing as IWT power…. there is only IWT plus backup power (usually natural gas) so that as winds fluctuate, the backup can accommodate the swings. There are some huge technical issues at stake here… In order to accommodate the rapid fluctuations of winds, the backup power has to be able to react on a moment’s notice. Why is this crucially important? It essentially means that open loop gas turbines (max efficiency of approximately 40%) are required as opposed to combined cycle gas turbines (max efficiency of approximately 60%) since combined cycle can’t ‘swing fast enough’. This difference in efficiency essentially negates the benefit of any wind generated power at all so in other words, if only combined cycle gas existed, the same amount of power could be generated for the same amount of gas if no IWTs existed at all. This is reasonably well documented…. I would urge those interested enough to educate themselves to go to the MasterResource website and start reviewing papers by an electrical engineer named Kent Hawkins (this is but a sample http://www.masterresource.org/category/hawkins-kent/). And looking at it from an economist’s point of view, review the paper produced by Dr Gordon Hughes (discussed here earlier on Wattsupwiththat http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/06/wind-energy-is-extraordinarily-expensive-and-inefficient/). Integrating IWTs on to an existing grid also means one more thing…. it is likely that all other controllable power plants will have to fluctuate output in ways that they never would have had to do before. If electrical power is primarily from hydro sources, this means simply ‘spilling the water’ as in bypassing the water around the water turbines at a waterfall… what an incredibly nonsensical idea. If the grid has a high percentage of nuclear….the choice may be either to pay neighbouring jurisdictions to ‘take your power away’ or to sequentially start to shut down nuclear units. Since it takes 2 to 3 days to bring a nuke unit back on line, this obviously doesn’t work and is an economic disaster…. but unfortunately, this has often happened. If the electrical power is from coal/gas/oil, it means cycling these units to accommodate the unpredictable variations and this introduces another big problem….it’s called fatigue. It’s no surprise that plants that are constantly fluctuating will have a far shorter life than plants that run at constant load or at least have fairly small load variations. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the introduction of sporadic electrical sources on to a grid will significantly shorten the life of those plants which are forced to accommodate such sources.

    The bottom line is that it would be good if there was at least something good that one could say about IWTs…. Sadly, there is nothing and to top it off, it costs a lot to get nothing but negative outcomes.

  81. Chris,
    Thank you for a rational comment. The fact that power companies like Mid American will install so much wind with a tax credit of $22/MWh means that wind cannot cost more than a premium of $22/MWh to generate. I honestly don’t believe the premium is that high, and I also believe the subsidies should be eliminated.
    On another tack… The arguments against windmill for aesthetic and audio reasons are far weaker than the exact same arguments applied against the highway (including interstate) system. Compare the amount of land used for highways to that proposed for windfarms, the decline in property value when an overpass is built next to your house, and the noise from each. Are there some winners and losers in each? Yes (commercial value goes up near an offramp, but apartment rents will go down due to the noise). However, we don’t (at least we shouldn’t) decide to build a highway based on who the winners and losers will be, but rather the decision ought to be based on the overall economic difference for the community (local and national depending on the particular road).
    T Boone Pickens is a billionaire who made money in oil. He would like to see wind farms reduce the price of electricity to the point where it is uneconomical to burn Nat Gas for electricity. The Nat Gas would then be used in heavy engines (rail, long haul trucks, construction vehicles, etc.). Simultaneously he would like to see increased and improved drilling raise the amount of Nat Gas and Oil produced in the US. Then OPEC would be free to jump off a cliff, and we wouldn’t be responsible for being the police force of the middle east.
    I am perfectly in line with that vision (especially the part about OPEC jumping off a collective cliff, since they appear to want to do just that). I disagree with whether credits are needed in the short term, and whether they ever should have been available. Certainly Federal and State land should be leased for wind farms, just as it is leased for drilling and logging. I don’t believe we should privlidge one technology with federal leases for land while blocking another technology on the same land. Local noise ordinances should be followed, and the same environmental impact studies applied for both drilling and wind. I am betting Pickens is right, and the greatest economic impact for Nat. Gas is in replacing oil for heavy engines, and wind picking up some of the capacity in electricity generation. Also I would wager that fracking, logging, and wind are similar in terms of environmental impact while deep coal mining is worse, and open pit coal mining is much worse.

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