Glasgow Looking To Freeze In The Dark

Guest post by Steven Goddard
The Telegraph has an article today about the latest addition to the UK wind energy grid, described as “Europe’s largest onshore wind farm at Whitelee.” The article says :

When the final array is connected to the grid later this week, there will be 140 turbines generating 322 megawatts of electricity. This is enough to power 180,000 homes.

Assuming the turbines are actually moving.  The problem is that on the coldest days in winter, the air is still and the turbines don’t generate much (if any) electricity.  Consider the week of February 4-10, 2009 in Glasgow.

Glasgow_histGraphAll
The average temperature was -2C (29F) during the week, and there was almost no wind on most of those days.  No wind means no electricity.  On the coldest days, there is no wind – so wind power fails just when you need it the most.  On the morning of February 4, the temperature was -7C (19F) and the wind speed was zero.
In order to keep society from lapsing into the dark ages, there has to be enough conventional (coal, natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear) capacity to provide 100% of the power requirements on any given day.  Thus it becomes apparent that Britain’s push for “renewable” energy is leading the UK towards major problems in the future.
The belief that conventional capacity can be fully replaced by wind or solar is simply mistaken and based on a flawed thought process.  People want to believe in renewable energy, and that desire blocks them from thinking clearly.  The people of Glasgow were fortunate in February that there was still still enough conventional capacity available to keep their lights on.  As the UK’s plans to “convert” to “renewable energy” proceed, this will no longer be the case.
Wind and solar can reduce the average load over a year, but they can not reduce the base or peak requirements for conventional electricity.

In the future, weather forecasts may have to include a segment like “No electricity from Wednesday through Friday.  Some electricity possible over the weekend.”

BTW – You can purchase those nice fluorescent green jackets at the Claymore Filling Station in Ballachulish for about £12.  I’ve got one just like it in the closet.

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284 thoughts on “Glasgow Looking To Freeze In The Dark

  1. As an electrician I find it great that the econazis are pushing alternative energy solutions. That will put more electricians to work since there will be no other work in North America.
    Personal opinion only. LOL
    PhilK

  2. They survey sites for wind powered generators for at least 12 months prior to designating them as suitable.

    Sorry but they don’t just place these things on a whim at random locations.

  3. The problem with wind is that it has to be backed up 1:1 by conventional power generation such as gas fired, coal, oil or nuclear.
    It means have to have 200% capacity to ensure 100% supply.
    Does that make economic sense?

    It’s pure economic lunacy.

  4. I got an e-mail this morning from a Consultant who says for the USA to generate 20% of its electricity from wind power, would require lines of windmills from Canadian border to Mexican border with 500 ft diameter windmills spaced 500 feet apart, with the lines spaced 30 miles apart from coast to coast ?

    Haven’t sanity checked the figures yet.

  5. There’s only one solution: tax the rich. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    I wonder how long after reality asserts itself it will take the general public to do the math.

  6. And did I not read that while a wind turbine may “SAVE” about 6 tonnes of CO2 in its lifetime, it will require about 42 tonnes of CO2 to construct and maintain the unit during its productive lifetime.

  7. I was watching a show on energy over the weekend on a Houston station. West Texas has a lot of turbines and Texas produces more wind energy than any other state in the US (which is still not a lot of energy). It was funny though about six of the eight times they showed turbines in the show, they weren’t moving. It became comical after a while…

  8. Wanting something to work just doesn’t cut it. We need new, viable technoligies to produce energy. I saw an interesting ad from an American company that makes small nuclear reactors, about 3′ in diam. X 5′ tall. They are selling them in Africa to generate heat for steam-powered electric generators. It is ridiculous that we can’t build our own reactors for our own use, nor refineries to process our own oil. Being enviromentally conscious does not mean we need to live in mud huts without running water nor power and with a life expectancy of 35.

  9. Wind, the fair-weather friend – or perhaps the foul-weather friend who’s no friend in fair weather.

    We visited an experimental project to harvest tidal energy today, using an orthogonal turbine with blades that adjust to maximize both lift and drag as it turns, using a really slow rotation speed with very high efficiency. This is a totally new design concept. I think tidal energy harvesting is still, unbelievably, in its infancy, and promises a lot, far more than wind power, yet few are thinking about it. The energy potential is enormous. Tidal flow is predictable, and the challenge of zero energy at the turns of the tide can be met in various ways.

    For anyone interested, I’m going to write about this design on our website in the main section – but give me a few days. I think it’s a winner, suitable for rivers as well as slow tidal flows, extremely eco-friendly potential for schemes both big and small, that nobody has really spotted properly yet.

  10. It is worse than that not only are these towers incredibly ugly and cover huge tracts of land these wind turbines kill birds. At Altamont Pass, California, more than 1,000 birds of prey are killed each year, along with 1,000’s more of less precious species. Of course, when a flock of ducks land on oil extraction tailings ponds due to an equipment failure and subsequently all die then the whole world hears about it.

  11. Actually, you tend to need the most electricity during the hot days of the summer, since space heating is primarily done with natural gas or fuel oil, while all cooling uses electricity.

    Also, intermittent issues from wind aren’t a huge problem if you have a large and diverse grid mix. Its only when you start getting > 30% intermittent energy that it becomes a real problem, and you need to start looking into energy storage technologies.

  12. Each one of those turbines delivers 2.3 Megawatts? (322 megawatts/ 140 Turbines)

    I looked at the specs and that figure is the optimal amount of power generated under optimal conditions. If they get what others are getting (around 25% overall) that ‘plant’ will generate around 80 megawatts on average. Will be fun to watch the draw on the other power sources when there isn’t any wind, or its too cold, etc.

    “The total area covers 55 square kilometres” is an interesting follow on paragraph lead in. Devoting 55 sq kilometers of land to power 45,000 homes (180,000 *.25) is, well, in the words of Mr Spock — fascinating.

  13. I’m sure if they actually discovered efficient wind and solar power environmentalists would be against it.

    After all, their goal is not to save energy, but to curtail industrial civilization. Thus they are specifically interested in technologies that do not work.

  14. Also when there is strong wind (in some cases above 20 m/s , and in some cases above 16 m/s) the power generation from the turbine is switched off.

    So when we are freezing in the storm the wind power won’t be there either.

  15. At Altamont Pass, California, more than 1,000 birds of prey are killed each year,

    This is why siting studies are so important, and why conservation organizations (including the one on whose board I sat 1985-2000) have won concessions requiring pre-siting monitoring plus mortality monitoring afterwards.

    Altamont – a very early windfarm – is a special case, as it was built using derrick-style towers which perch-hunting raptors such as red-tailed hawks and golden eagles are attracted to. Also the rotors themselves are much smaller than on modern mills, and thought to be less visible (or perhaps just less frightening) to such raptors.

    Modern well-sited windfarms are *much* less destructive to birds, in particular raptors.

  16. Any engineer will tell you the wind mill to backup ratio must be one to one, or else when you hit the switch, nothing will come out. Might be good to have days off for the Internet addicts, but business will need some form of generator to take the load. Can you imagine trying to operate a business only when the wind blows?

    So now we have the facts about ethanol leaking out, the industry is going bankrupt, and it produces more CO2 than just gasoline — Seems they have been unable to make the corn seed hop in the ground, harvest itself and show up at the appointed distillery …

    Wind power suffers variability. Or the wind blows where people don’t want to be.

    There is a no alternative, except nuclear power, and of course we don’t want to do that.

  17. Of course, when a flock of ducks land on oil extraction tailings ponds due to an equipment failure and subsequently all die then the whole world hears about it.

    If you’re suggesting that the raptor blenders at Altamont didn’t receive a lot of negative publicity when the problems became apparent you’re very mistaken.

  18. Jeremy (11:38:01) :
    It is worse than that not only are these towers incredibly ugly and cover huge tracts of land these wind turbines kill birds. . .

    Well, I don’t think they’re ugly; to my eye, they’re graceful and elegant, a tribute to how technology can be beautiful.

    But if they’re just sitting there doing no useful work, they make very expensive sculptures.

    And of course, killing birds is not useful work, usually (doubtless there are farmers who might prefer a few less crows).

    /Mr Lynn

  19. <>

    Of course there are, just go to AGW HQ’s worldwide and you will find the AGW BS wind blowing not only strongly but 24.7 :-)

  20. >Zeke Hausfather (11:39:28) :

    Actually, you tend to need the most electricity during the hot days of the summer, since space heating is primarily done with natural gas or fuel oil, while all cooling uses electricity. <

    Hi Zeke I am guessing that you may not have been to Scotland. There is no A/C apart from large poublic buildings and office block plus possibly the very occasional factory. The need for cooling is therefore extremely small however the need for heat is a constant. Glasgow is on or close to the same latitude as Moscow.

    Doesn’t get as cold as Moscow because of the moderating influence of a maritime Climate. However that makes for a damp penetrating cold, very chilly.

  21. re: Phil (11:21:21) :

    They survey sites for wind powered generators for at least 12 months prior to designating them as suitable.

    Sorry but they don’t just place these things on a whim at random locations.

    I dont get your point. They can survey sites for as long as they like it wont change the amount of wind available. It will just tell them one site has more generating potential than another. The coldest days tend to be those without any wind so wind turbines wont be generating any electricity when the demand is highest. In fact, since wind turbines need to be periodically turned when not generating electricity to avoid warping the shaft and damaging the bearings, they will be increasing the load on the grid on those days.

  22. Here in Kansas, the movers and shakers in the state are really pushing for more wind power. Like Scotland, we often have very cold winter days with no wind and and in this part of the state, some of the hottest days of the year have no wind.

    I suppose I can live longer without air conditioning in the summer than without heat in the winter, but why do I have to make that choice? The economics just don’t make any sense, especially when you remember there isn’t any viable way to store excess wind energy for when you need it. (Sure, someday there probably will be, but nothing right now).

    Meanwhile, coal is a wonderful source of stored energy and it’s very affordable.

  23. The problem with specifying the power of wind farms and solar arrays is that they use the right Dimensions, but the wrong Units. For conventional power stations, like coal fired, hydro or nuclear, after a shor time delay, it is possible to get any amount of power up the the maximum, providing there is enough “fuel” on hand. With wind you need to rely on Mother Nature, who is a bitch. The correct units to use for specifying the power of wind farms is megawatthours per year; not megawatts.

  24. George E. Smith,

    Well, okay, let’s do some ‘back of the envelope’ calcs here.

    Assuming

    1) we use the above turbines to meet the 20% figure
    2) generously assuming they supply 50% of rated capacity.
    3) Acreage requirements for the turbines are as stated in the article.

    Each turbine supplies 1.65 mwatts

    Total electrical demand in the US in 2007 was 764,476 mwatts (US Dept of Energy)

    then, to supply 20% of that need (not accounting for increase in demand) you’d need 92,664 turbines. Each turbine requires .15168 sq miles, so 92,664 turbines would require a land area of 14,055 square miles.

    Okay, so the distance from the Canadian border to Mexico is roughly 4,000 miles, so you’d be able to put 26,666 windmills in one line from Canada to Mexico. Looks to me like (based on my assumptions) you’d need one line about halfway or a little more from the Canadian border to Mexico, say about halfway through Colorado?

    If the turbines deliver 25% of rate capacity it would stretch from Canada to Mexico with another line stretching about 1/4 of the way.

    Using Mr. Papsdorf’s numbers, that many turbines would generate 3.892 million tons of CO2 in manufacture and maintenance.

    I would wonder how long it will take to manufacture 92,000 wind turbines, not to mention transportation and assembly? I don’t know what production capacity at Siemen’s is, but I suspect it would take them a number of years to build that many windturbines. I also wonder what % of the world’s steel/aluminum production would be devoted to this endeavor.

  25. That picture looks like western Canada today. They have a big snowstorm blowing through.

  26. re: Phil (11:21:21) :

    They survey sites for wind powered generators for at least 12 months prior to designating them as suitable.

    Yes, they do. But all statistical surveys/research will tell you is how things *were*, and are never a guarantee of what will happen at any given time in the future.

  27. I’ve posted this information before, but I suggest having a read of “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air” by David MacKay, freely available for download at http://www.withouthotair.com/ The book gives all the numbers and dispells all the myths, showing just how useless renewable energy is. Its great for the facts to counter environmentalists and greenies who think wind and solar can give us everything we need.

  28. We need to convert to sources of clean, renewable alternative energy …
    … clean, renewable alternative energy …
    … clean, renewable alternative energy …
    … clean, renewable alternative energy …
    … clean, renewable alternative energy …

    … It just sounds so perfect … and if you hear it often enough, it must be true. There’s just no escaping “the truth”.

  29. Zeke,

    But natural gas and fuel oil generate CO2. That simply isn’t an acceptable source of heat. People in Scotland could heat their houses with solar on cold, windless days, except that the sun is just above the horizon in mid-winter.

    BTW – I suggest that everyone in the UK stocks up on good rain gear for the summer, since The Met Office forecast another hot one.

  30. This seems to be (yet) another story where “capacity” is misrepresented as actual generation. The capacity is the generating potential if all conditions are perfect for maximum generation. Overall, systems rarely provide over 30% of capacity averaged over the course of a year. Most systems are closer to 10% of rated capacity in overall average annual generation. So rather than 322 megawatts, they are going to be lucky to average a third of that over the long term.

    And then there is the problem of the inflated capacity numbers themselves. It turns out that wind conditions have been rated too optimistically and the actual wind potential is really much less than the amount used for capacity calculations. In many cases the wind potential for generation has been inflated by 200% or more. That is why actual generation tends to come in at around 10% of “capacity” in many cases.

    Ignore the “capacity” numbers and focus on the actual generation figures. But you probably won’t be able to find them anywhere because they are generally never published. It is only when lawsuits are brought and there is a discovery process is it exposed that the wind farms don’t earn their keep.

  31. Steve Keohane (11:35:57) said :

    I saw an interesting ad from an American company that makes small nuclear reactors, about 3′ in diam. X 5′ tall. They are selling them in Africa to generate heat for steam-powered electric generators.

    (A) my father-in-law, MechE and Harvard MBA, has advocated Home Nuclear Piles for decades. He sees an added benefit in the Darwinian nature of such a distributed power source; after a couple of generations, the gene pool (albeit smaller) would be 100% technically literate.

    [Imagined New Yorker Cartoon: Housewife with measuring cup standing at neighbor’s front door: “Hi, Alice, can you spare a few grams of Cesium? Our Nuclear Pile is on the fritz again.”]

    (B) I want one. What isotope does it use? What’s installed cost? What’s refueling cost? Rated power (kw)? Cost per kw-hr?
    I assume that permitting in the USA would be impossible, but if it WERE allowed, existing power laws require that the power utility BUY BACK your co-gen power, which while not terribly lucrative would reduce the cost by say 1/3 to 1/2.

  32. “On the morning of February 4, the temperature was -7C (19F) and the wind speed was zero.”

    Strangely, when I look at the graph, it looks very much like the wind speed averaged about 2.5mph on the morning of February 4th, and only dropped to zero for short intervals. Are you looking at something else?

  33. dhogaza (11:47:40) :

    “If you’re suggesting that the raptor blenders at Altamont didn’t receive a lot of negative publicity when the problems became apparent you’re very mistaken.”

    If the enviro lobby cared about 1,000+ raptors killed every year at a single location like Altamont, they would oppose windmills, period. But their unspoken agenda requires that they promote windmills — so the eagles and hawks are just collateral damage to them. The greens don’t really care about the birds.

    [At] “Altamont… the rotors themselves are much smaller than on modern mills, and thought to be less visible (or perhaps just less frightening) to such raptors.

    “Modern well-sited windfarms are *much* less destructive to birds, in particular raptors.”

    “Thought to be less visible,” eh? Keep telling yourself that, and pretty soon you’ll start believing it.

    I drive the Altamont Pass quite often, and anyone who believes that those windmills are much less visible to a sharp-eyed raptor than a larger windmill is simply saying that to justify the wholesale slaughter of hawks and eagles.

    But then enviros aren’t conservationists. Greens are just red leftists with an agenda, who have discovered that it’s effective to beat the public over the head with pictures of polar bears and baby harp seals.

  34. Ok guys, Dont knock the wind. some of us may be glad of it if the Russian gas gets turned off. Western europe is very vulnerable when it comes to energy security. Generating electricity from wind is still in it’s infancy. Getting the supply curve to suit the demand curve is only an engineering problem, that will be sorted with power storage either with large scale batteries, or or pumping water back to higher levels for hydro power.
    As for killing birds, my kitchen window probably kills more.

  35. “I drive the Altamont Pass quite often”

    I drive over that pass, too, though not often. I don’t believe I have seen more than half the units turning at any given time.

  36. I agree that wind power plants are a visual pollution and they are noisy too, but I don’t see any problem in having to back them 1:1.

    If you are a large company (like those owners of wind mills), you surely are into other power generation systems. If you make your purchased gas or coal reserves last longer by switching partially to wind, you are effectively using cheaper fuel the longer you delay the use (on “normal” market conditions), so it adds profitability to your backing system.

    If you are a country which relies on imports of fossil fuels (like most countries), wind will reduce (slightly) your foreign dependency. If you are European and Russia cuts your natural gas supplies whenever she has a row with Ukraine, then making your gas storages last longer and using wind whenever available is a very good idea.

    I don’t think wind is an overall solution, but I don’t see anything wrong in developing renewable energies, especially if solar could be used one day to its full potential.

    Steve Keohane, I think you refer to Hyperion nuclear reactors. They look pretty amazing. I wonder why we don’t see more research and investment in that direction: http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com./

  37. These 140 turbines, sitting on 55 square kilometres of land, and generate 322MW’s of electricity, which at 25% efficiency means about 80 MW’s. To produce the same output as one medium sized power station of 1 gigawatt, of whatever type, would therefore require an area of 660 square kilometres, which is approximately 256 square miles, or 16 miles square.

    This area must be close to the area of Glasgow and Edinburgh plus many other Scottish cities combined.

    When is this form of energy going to be put into context. I don’t disagree that wind shouldn’t form a part of the grid but to portray it as the panacea for all our future energy requirements needs to be stopped before we do serious damage to our economies. That it is, remains a disturbing mystery to me,

  38. Somebody I know went to a conference on at wind power. He said they last 8 years, but the time required to make a profit is 25 years. So it’s a non starter.

  39. Have you realized that only the “first world” countries are engaged in this nonsense?. “Third world” countries would involved in such a madness only if “first world” tax payers pay for it.

  40. Sorry for slight OT, but this story is quite amusing: Eco-sailors were rescued by oil tanker – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/8034027.stm.
    Well, it happens when eco-lunatics have to face harsh reality of the environment (and physics). In similar way the eco-sailors were rescued by the “filthy” oil tanker (symbol of evil for the greens), our energy supply has to be secured by the coal, oil, gas or nuclear. I bet no supporter of the greens would like to be dependent only on the “green” energy.

  41. D Carroll,

    Russia turned off the gas in the middle of the Siberian Cold Front which made the air cold and still. Triple whammy.

    Perhaps Scotland can rely on global warming to keep warm?

  42. Lucy Skywalker,

    This is no place for outrageous orthaganol views. Yes, in Europe they got a few wave machines – at water parks. Must remember you’re at WWUT.

    Vader

  43. Its a point I have raised before in the UK, the UK is kept artificially warm from the gulf stream and the predominant winds carrying the warm moist air over the country, this makes it milder than places of a similar latitude i.e. moscow, but also wet.

    For it to get really cold i.e. minus figures the wind needs to stop, hence the problem with wind power – but on the plus side most of the UK has reticulated gas (which has other supply issues!) so at least people will have heating, and UK house are often well insulated.

    I was pushing for a large scale tidal barrage that could harness the power of the severn estuary, but the Econazis didnt like the turbines as they “may” damage the dorsal fins of fish and it would shift the tidal cycle by say 6 hours

  44. I don’t like them at all. He’s certainly not walking in a winter wonderland.
    From that article
    “Removing the conifers and returning the area around the site to bog land is not only good for wildlife, such as birds, but blanket bogs are the world’s third best store of carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere,”
    Patagon
    Why rely on Russia,what’s wrong with nuclear power?I know which I’d choose.All those billions thrown at windmills,only to turn around and spend billions on solar?
    I think the inmates are running the asylum in the UK.

  45. Mr Lynn (11:23:04) :

    Are there places in the world where the wind never stops blowing?

    Yeah, in places where people like RFK Jr the NIMBY doesn’t want them.

    The other problem is the turbines have to be shut down if the wind blows too hard, something on the order of 50mph (depending on the turbine model). There’s a fairly narrow window for them to operate nominally.

  46. The Earth is cooling and the Arctic is increasing it’s ic cover.

    So why would they build windmills?

    Maybe the should be building a CO2 machine.

  47. Steve Goddard (12:22:19)

    “BTW – I suggest that everyone in the UK stocks up on good rain gear for the summer, since The Met Office forecast another hot one.”

    Thanks Steve, it’s already started. We’ve had wonderful sleet/rain storms in the last few days.

    Back to normal then.

  48. Meanwhile, on the ethanol front:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090518-711449.html

    From this article:
    “NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–Production units of biofuel maker Pacific Ethanol Inc. (PEIX) filed for bankruptcy protection Monday amid pressure from weak demand and low prices.” “…High corn prices and low demand for the fuel, which is blended with gasoline, cut into producers’ earnings last year. ”

    “Rival ethanol producer Aventine Renewable Energy Inc. (AVRN) filed for bankruptcy protection last month amid the industry downturn while Verasun Energy Corp. (VSUNQ) was forced to sell most of its assets to oil refiner Valero Energy Corp. (VLO).”

  49. Patagon (12:41:32) :

    I agree that wind power plants are a visual pollution and they are noisy too, but I don’t see any problem in having to back them 1:1.

    Why not just spend the money on the backups instead? Coal generates electricity at about 1/2 the price of wind. With a 1:1 backup, you’re more than doubling your expenses and getting nothing in return.

    If you are a large company (like those owners of wind mills), you surely are into other power generation systems. If you make your purchased gas or coal reserves last longer by switching partially to wind, you are effectively using cheaper fuel the longer you delay the use (on “normal” market conditions), so it adds profitability to your backing system.

    See above. Why does wind power cost so much more than conventional power? Conventional power is cheaper than any alternate energy current available. Wind power is not profitable without subsidizes and mandates.

    If you are a country which relies on imports of fossil fuels (like most countries), wind will reduce (slightly) your foreign dependency. If you are European and Russia cuts your natural gas supplies whenever she has a row with Ukraine, then making your gas storages last longer and using wind whenever available is a very good idea.

    At least on the days when the wind is blowing.

    I don’t think wind is an overall solution, but I don’t see anything wrong in developing renewable energies, especially if solar could be used one day to its full potential.

    There is nothing wrong with developing renewable energies. Pushing them into production when they can’t perform on a reliable, cost-effective basis is something entirely different.

    Steve Keohane, I think you refer to Hyperion nuclear reactors. They look pretty amazing. I wonder why we don’t see more research and investment in that direction: http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com./

    Unfortunately, the enviro-politically winds are blowing the other way. Reliable energy sources such as coal and nuclear are out. Feel-good, unreliable, expensive energy sources are in.

  50. E-ON were keen to put up a couple of dozen turbines a couple of miles from where I live (still might be, I suppose). The guy in charge admitted that without government subsidy they wouldn’t even think about wind power.
    According to the brief they put out for local consumption the construction of the concrete bases would need 76 truckloads of concrete a day every day for three months (I may have some of the figures wrong; I’ve lost my copy, but it was something of that order). He still claimed that they would pay for their construction (in energy terms) within the first year!
    A “green” friend who works for another of the power companies admits that he has never measured any of his installations working at better than one-third capacity and for all his other environmental credentials he admits quite openly that wind power is a waste of money and completely useless as a tool in the fight against global warming, or indeed anything else.
    Trouble is, wave or tidal is not visible. Which means it’s not sexy. Which means politicians aren’t interested.

  51. I think it’s a winner, suitable for rivers as well as slow tidal flows, extremely eco-friendly potential for schemes both big and small, that nobody has really spotted properly yet.

    The environMENTALists will have a problem with it. Some rare bacterium will be threatened by these tidal generators, I’m sure.

  52. I drive over Vasco Rd to the delta to fish regularly, and we use those fans there to decide whether to go home or not. When the fans are turned on; they generate a lot of wind over Frank’s Tract; and since it is very shallow (8 ft) it builds up dangerous waves for small fishing boats.

    Those windmills aren’t just killing any birds; that region has the highest concentration of Golden Eagles in the USA.

    I don’t know what peak power level those units are but they should have been taken down or replaced with larger units years ago; and yes most of the time, half of them aren’t operating. Same goes for the fans at the top of Pacheco Pass on hiway 152.

  53. PLEASE REMOVE PhilK (11:12:46) : I though you had a rule against name-calling. Using the term “Nazi” (in “econazi”) for anyone who has not killed at least a million people trivializes the holocaust.

    Reply: Given that we occasionally let the word “denier” through in some contexts, this request is denied. ~ charles the moderator.

  54. Acciona (Spanish company) put its 120-turbine Ttanka wind farm on the North/South Dakota border online less than a year ago. It’s 25 miles from my home. I enjoyed many nice motorcycle rides through the construction area during construction.

    My initial view is that the turbines don’t hurt the view at all. I actually rather admire them Having learned more about the general economics and limitations of wind power, however, my enthusiasm is a bit chastened.

    If wind power works as well as it’s often claimed, the public should be continually informed of things like exactly how much power is being generated, when the turbines are active, and when the demand factors are such that various turbines are turned on or off. Acciona claims the project produces enough power for 60,000 US homes. I’d like to know when and how often, and the costs of that power relative to our coal and hydro plants.

    Ken in North Dakota

    http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=109&STORY=/www/story/08-11-2008/0004865237&EDATE=

  55. It gets worse. The electricity produced by these turbines has to be subsided by the taxpayer. This currently stands at £6bn for the next 20 years, i.e. serious amounts of cash.
    It would be more productive to burn the money.

  56. I wonder how long after reality asserts itself it will take the general public to do the math.

    ah…there’s the problem: the general public doesn’t do math.

  57. RE: George E. Smith (13:09:31) :

    “I drive over Vasco Rd to the delta to fish regularly, and we use those fans there to decide whether to go home or not. When the fans are turned on; they generate a lot of wind over Frank’s Tract; and since it is very shallow (8 ft) it builds up dangerous waves for small fishing boats.”

    Sorry George, but I think you got your physics backward. Windmills are passive and can only remove energy from the wind. They do not create wind, as they are not turned on in the sense you imply.

  58. Heres the problem.

    During Winter
    What are some of the coldest airmasses possible? – Artic Highs. High pressure is stable air = no wind.

    During Summer
    What are some of the hottest airmasses possible? – Sub-Tropical Highs…. You get the picture.

    What many claim is that these wind farms are placed where its windy.

    However, quite often the studies to assess just how windy it is are done over 1, maybe 2 years. 2 years of weather is not long-term climatology. What happens when the PDO, or the NAO or the AMO or some other climate pattern changes phase – suddenly a location that had a favorable wind profile in the study is dead in the water for several months, years or decades.

  59. dhogaza (11:47:40) :
    If you’re suggesting that the raptor blenders at Altamont didn’t receive a lot of negative publicity when the problems became apparent you’re very mistaken.

    Glad to hear it. The sooner they remove those unsightly bird killing things and start using clean natural gas fired plants the better (of course a gas fired power station is just as much an eyesore but at least it doesn’t cover hundreds of square kilometers of land). North America has an abundance of natural gas in unconventional shale gas.

  60. I have a new label for what is called “renewable energy” like wind power and solar power.

    The new label should be “low density, intermittent dispersed energy power”

  61. Bill, you’d better check the back of that envelope: 96,664/26,666 = 3.6 lines of generators from Canada to Mexico.

    The land area of 14,055 square miles need for these wind mills is roughly equal to the entire land mass of Maryland and Delaware. No trees, no buildings, no nothing except windmills. Oh, the insanity of it all!

  62. Seems to me, you’d make a lot more progress inventing affordable new energy storage technology. That would even help with fossil generation, by evening out the load. It’s a necessary pre-condition for unreliable sources anyway, you can start to use it straight away where it’s going to be even more cost-effective with conventional sources, it makes a lot more sense to make that the priority.

    Start there with the quick wins, and when you’ve extracted all the juice from fossil fuel, only then go on to develop less reliable sources like wind and tide and so on. You would have the infrastructure and experience with the technology then.

    It doesn’t get the green support, perhaps because it is not as obviously reducing fossil fuel use, and perhaps because (like nuclear) it doesn’t meet their real long term goal, to reduce all energy use and technology, returning to some sort of organic hunter/gatherer society, or whatever that ‘sustainable’ nonsense is about.

    It also fairly obviously isn’t cost-effective yet, or it would be used more. Waiting until it was would defeat the whole object of their game.

  63. I agree that wind power plants are a visual pollution and they are noisy too

    I think they’re rather elegant, and noise isn’t an issue with any I’ve heard. I think earlier ones had noisy gearboxes, but now you can’t hear them above the wind from any distance. Close up, there is a faint whooshing, rather like the pink noise used to lull people to sleep.

    I really don’t mind turbines – any power they produce will offset power produced elsewhere (law of conservation of energy) and they will make more economic sense if/when fuel prices rise and some attention is paid to energy storage (look up Dinorwig if you’re interested).

    Given the choice, I would probably opt for wave energy, as that is effectively concentrated wind, but development in the UK was stopped by officialdom just as (or because) prototypes were becoming viable in the 70’s. It’s a sad story, and a good illustration of what happens when governments interfere with research:

    http://www.greenleft.org.au/1992/64/2832

  64. Wind turbines, like the parliamentarian likened today to the Speaker of the House of Commons ( topically from Glasgow), are stuck with us like chewing gum on the soles of our shoe, and for which we pay for our sins.

    And also from the Telegraph today this gem of concern:-
    ‘Lake Windermere is being polluted by pesticides and fertilisers from farming, New Zealand Pigmyweed imported in 1911 is choking other wildlife and the lake is threatened with drought and flooding due to climate change.’

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/5345899/Lake-Windermere-is-polluted-say-environment-watchdogs.html

  65. Anectdotal point…..I’m an avid windsurfer and I’ve lost count of the number of days wasted sat on beaches waiting for the wind to blow.
    I could prob tell you the strength of a breeze from a gust across my face, even down to F1 or F2. I am EXTREMLY conscious of the wind strength at all times (so I can bunk off work if it starts to blow..).
    Trust me…wind power is not guaranteed. Ask any sailer/kitesurfer/parasailer about wind reliability and they would laugh.
    The problem is that what works in some countries does not work in the UK…our wind comes from lows blowing in.
    At El Medano in Tenerife – top windsurfing spot – there is a windfarm which seems to turn most of the time – this is because the trades get diverted over the islands during the Azores high and therefore the Caneries in summer, in general, are windy….thats why we go there…for the wind which is more reliable than back home. Local effects can boost the wind – El Medano and Pozo in Gran Canaria or Sotovento in Fuerte – and these are indeed good sites for wind power.
    In the UK we mostly sit it out during summer and winter with next to no wind for our pastime. Windsurfing in the UK is a mainly spring / autumn sport because thats when its windy. So when I hear peeps telling me a windfarm will work, I laugh…don’t try to tell me that, I’ve been chasing windy days for 20years.
    We consider ‘windy’ at around 10knots these days as that will get a big rig planing on flat water. It does not happen very often. In the last few years I’ve started mtbing instead as I’ve got fed up wasted days with crappy wind up to my ankles trying to get planing.
    I think windmills need 8k before they start generating anything worthwhile?
    Being ‘atuned’ to the wind as I am, that seems about when they start to move vigourously, from my anecdotal experiance.

    Oh…and it rarely blows at night either…the number off times I’ve had to swim home after that ‘last run’ at the end of the day…

    The point is that Steve Goddard is right. Wind is not consistent. Imagine I was trying to sell you a petrol power generator but I could not guarantee its power output and told you that one day it would be really good but the next day it probabley wouldn’t start…would you buy it?

    Its a quaint oddity that we can use as a top up, but its not a solution – we only have to look at the Danish system to see that – sadly the UK isn’t set up to feed in or – perhaps more pointedly – parasiticly feed off the French & German baseload…

    A cynic might suggest that windpower is being ‘set up’ by our gov to fail so they can bring in nuke power…?

  66. hareynolds (12:28:19) I believe it is a unit by Hyperion Power Generation, $25 million each, 28% of cost per btu of natural gas. I think the ad I saw said it would power 18,000 homes, and that it used a uranium ‘hydride compound’ (may not be correct), that is recyclable, and lasts 5 years before recharging system. That’s $278/year for electricty.
    I always wanted to run the numbers on what just nuclear waste could do in a small unit in one’s backyard for individual use, or maybe a few houses. If well contained, it could be a good solution for waste disposal. It would not even have to produce steam, just warm water for heat to put a big dent in energy bills.

  67. The new label should be “low density, intermittent dispersed energy power”

    How about “dispersed, random-intensity power” DRIP.

    Maybe DROP. DROOP. can’t come up with POOP, although it would be appropriate.

  68. Patagon (12:41:32) You’re right, I didn’t get as far as your message prior to responding to hareynolds

  69. In Sweden in late january this year wind power was actually down to 1,3% of full capacity. This means that Swedish wind generators were not generating enough power to run their own control and de-icing systems.

    For anyone interestid in viewing wind power in action, this is a real-time graph of how some 800 wind generators are performing.

    http://www.vindstat.nu/

    The blue line is 24 hour figures, the red line monthly figures. The line at the top of the graph (8000 MWh per dygn) is about 46% of full capacity. Apparently they don’t foresee the system even reaching 50%. The average is about 20% or a little less.

  70. Bruce…
    I think George meant ‘turned on’ meaning it got windy so there will be waves so no point going out, not that the ‘mills caused the wind.

    …at least I hope you did George! Heh!

  71. ….and of course it makes one wonder why we ever stopped using them in the first place…….

  72. I forgot one thing – You have to click “Översikt” at the top left to see the graph.

  73. Ira (13:12:25) :
    PLEASE REMOVE PhilK (11:12:46) : I though you had a rule against name-calling. Using the term “Nazi” (in “econazi”) for anyone who has not killed at least a million people trivializes the holocaust.

    Sorry Ira, but you are a speech-nazi and probably a soup-nazi.

  74. Bill Marsh (12:14:46)

    Have a look at the website of Oxford Physics professor David Mackay

    http://www.withouthotair.com/

    He estimates that, in the UK, onshore wind turbines would need to cover the whole of Wales (20,778 sq km or 8000sq ml) in order to provide one tenth of the average persons daily power usage. Not only that, the windmills required” would amount to 50 times the entire wind hardware of Denmark, 7 times all the wind farms of Germany; and double the entire fleet of all wind turbines in the world”

  75. “Steve Keohane (11:35:57) :
    Wanting something to work just doesn’t cut it. We need new, viable technoligies to produce energy. I saw an interesting ad from an American company that makes small nuclear reactors, about 3′ in diam. X 5′ tall. They are selling them in Africa to generate heat for steam-powered electric generators. It is ridiculous that we can’t build our own reactors for our own use, nor refineries to process our own oil. Being enviromentally conscious does not mean we need to live in mud huts without running water nor power and with a life expectancy of 35.”

    – And who’s going to cart your waste away? What will they charge you for it? Where will they dump it?

    Not just the warmists living in fairyland.

  76. If you are a large company (like those owners of wind mills), you surely are into other power generation systems. If you make your purchased gas or coal reserves last longer by switching partially to wind, you are effectively using cheaper fuel the longer you delay the use (on “normal” market conditions), so it adds profitability to your backing system.

    uhm….no.

    There are expenses involved in having capacity built that is essentially sitting idle for portions of time. 1) it requires capital to build, and without generating any juice it’s not making any payback income. You can’t “pay” for co-gen capacity from “savings” from using the wind. 2) it requires capital to maintain. I imagine that frequently starting/stopping any generating plant severely adds to the required maintenance needs and probably shortens the life of the hardware. 3) it requires capital to purchase fuel to have in inventory for immediate use. Even nat gas probably requires some contractual amount just to have the volume on “standby.”

    And these costs have to be added to the cost of the wind generation itself, making it even less cost effective. And it’s you and me that have to pay for that in the form of higher energy costs.

    Prob’ly a few more reasons I haven’t thought of yet.

    Why oh why would we (or anyone) think that wind is a good idea? It can’t be relied on for base load. It can’t be relied on for peak load. It’s cost prohibitive on any other basis.

    I can’t believe we’re (collectively) this stupid. Present company excepted, of course.

  77. Way off topic, but is it odd to have freeze warnings into the South this late in the year. Our lilacs mostly froze this year where I live due to a SERIES of late snow storms/cold weather.

  78. Echoing Paul James reply to Zeke Hausfather on electricity demand in winter … for several historical reasons many old towns in the UK and Europe do not have gas lines to residences. So electricity supplies the energy for a larger proportion of winter time heating in Europe than in the US.

    Mike.

  79. OT: Obama to Set New Vehicle Rules, First Carbon Limit (Update1)

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=agqPp0iSPbp4&refer=worldwide

    Obama to Set New Vehicle Rules, First Carbon Limit (Update1)

    By Kim Chipman and John Hughes

    May 18 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama will announce tomorrow new rules for vehicle emissions and mileage, setting the first-ever nationwide standard for greenhouse-gas pollution, according to people familiar with the plan.

    The limit will be coordinated with new national fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, said the people, who asked not to be identified before the announcement.

    The action, which follows California’s push for approval of its own proposed standards, is the “biggest single step to curb global warming,” Dan Becker, director of the environmental group Safe Climate Campaign, said in an interview.

    The White House’s top energy, environment and transportation officials have been meeting with automaker executives and other groups as the administration worked to craft a single national policy for vehicle emissions. It seeks to avoid the confusion of different state rules across the country.

    The Washington-based Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, whose members include General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., has called for a single standard.

    It’s “yet another indication of the growing consensus within the business community that Congress needs to take strong action on energy reform, and it needs to do it now,” Dan Weiss, a director of climate policy at the Washington-based Center for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning policy group, said in a statement.

    2012 Vehicles

    The proposed federal rule would start with 2012 vehicle models and by 2016 models would equate to a fuel-economy standard of slightly less than 35.5 miles per gallon, said one of the persons knowledgeable about the plan.

    The Transportation Department announced in March that cars and light trucks will be required to meet a U.S. fuel-economy average of 27.3 miles per gallon for 2011 models, a 2 mpg increase from the previous year’s level.

    Obama, in his first week in office, directed his administration to reconsider the denial by former President George W. Bush’s administration of California’s request to set its own rules limiting tailpipe emissions. GM and other automakers have said the California standard would cost billions of dollars and harm their struggling industry.

    California requested a waiver to impose its own standards in 2005 and has said that the Bush administration misinterpreted the Clean Air Act in making its decision. California’s program is aimed at cutting gases tied to global warming 30 percent by 2016.

  80. Mr Lynn (11:23:04) :

    Are there places in the world where the wind never stops blowing?

    Yes indeed: IPCC and it’s warm wind!

  81. 322MW supplies 180,000 homes?

    1.8kW per household peak demand?

    They must all be down the pub to save on their electricity bills;-)

    Oh, and the Glaswegians are renowned for their home ethanol production.

  82. One of the issues of alternative energies is scale. An analogy is making chocolate at home or in a small store front and watching the production line for Hershey’s Kisses.
    An actual example can be seen using Wikipedia and Google Earth. Of interest is the “pumped storage” associated with Kinzua (kin-zoo) Dam in northern Pennsylvania. Read about it here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinzua_Dam

    Use these coordinates [ 41.839736 n, 79.002619 w ] to get a better look. Zoom out until you can see the entire reservoir and compare it to the small circular storage basin on the ridge-top to the south. Can you scale this up to be really helpful? In whose back yard?

    Here’s an idea: Disband the UN-IPCC and its nonsense and divert all the money and brainpower to study electricity storage possibilities.

  83. I’ve had a small bet with myself for a few years now. What will happen first for the UK – the lights will all go out or it will become the flagship state of the new Eurabia.

    Methinks the lights going out will win by a filament.

  84. Re: ethanol

    There is actually a better solution (pun intended):

    Performance and emission characteristics of a turpentine–diesel dual fuel engine

    R. Karthikeyana, and N.V. Mahalakshmib 2006

    This paper describes an experimental study concerning the feasibility of using bio-oil namely turpentine obtained from the resin of pine tree. The emission and performance characteristics of a D.I. diesel engine were studied through dual fuel (DF) mode. Turpentine was inducted as a primary fuel through induction manifold and diesel was admitted into the engine through conventional fueling device as an igniter. The result showed that except volumetric efficiency, all other performance and emission parameters are better than those of diesel fuel with in 75% load. The toxic gases like CO, UBHC are slightly higher than that of the diesel baseline (DBL). Around 40–45% smoke reduction is obtained with DF mode. The pollutant Nox is found to be equal to that of DBL except at full load. This study has proved that approximately 75% diesel replacement with turpentine is possible by DF mode with little engine modification.

    Good old fashioned turpentine. And it doesn’t burn food for fuel.

  85. An important element in power generation is matching output to demand; the higher the proportion of wind generated power the more problematic this becomes. Not only does there have to be 100% cover by more traditional forms of generation, the power stations concerned have to be online continuously and be able to ramp up output fast, ie be gas or nuclear. While the level of output from renewables is negligable this is not much of a problem; if and when the proportion grows the costs will rise steeply in an effort to retain a reliable grid system.

  86. I was in one of these machines while operating. 850KW On what was a pretty calm evening, it was producing 160kw +/- 10kw Installed on a Collage campus in an urban area. Although it’s connected to the grid, the collage receives no revenue and therefore dumps that extra power. In spite of this, it’s expected to pay the 1.2 million euro installation cost in 7 years. That a year less then the original estimate.
    The installation cost of one of these turbines (1MW) is about 1.5m euro. At 25% efficient and at retail electricity cost thats paid for in 4.5 years.
    What does it cost to build a coal or gas fired plant and what does the fuel cost to run it?

  87. The wind blows like hell up here on top of the Llano, trouble is that it is not constant. Sometimes it blows 50 mph and sometimes it does not blow at all. I go North bound out of Amarillo and see all these monster wind farms and fewer than half of the things are even turning, even on a gusty day.

    Politics, uhg… I like freemarkets better.

    REPLY: I can vouch for that, I drove from Amarillo to Liberal, KS and back down into OK by Buffalo, OK for station USHCN surveys and saw many wind projects with blades idle. Gearboxes are the key- they don’t hold up. – Anthony

  88. Interesting that the UK has just started the worlds largest wind power project. Those interested can go:

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/05/london-array-20090517.html#more

    The plan is to get a gigawatt out of 90 square miles off the coast with roughly 1000 towers. Eleven towers per square mile.

    Too bad they don’t give details of the increased government support which supposedly makes the project feasible. I am dubious about doing this for $3B for the first phase of 630MW. That just seems too low for such construction.

    But maybe there is more money going into construction than the article mentions.

    Wind power stats continue to baffle me. No cost ever seems exactly clear or honest. Estimates for expected turbine life seem to vary from days to centuries. And the actual power output – not capacity – even from existing sites is ferociously disputed.

    With that in mind, it is a very good thing when others build. Facts will gradually settle the arguments.

  89. >NoAstronomer (14:03:47) :

    Echoing Paul James reply to Zeke Hausfather on electricity demand in winter … for several historical reasons many old towns in the UK and Europe do not have gas lines to residences. So electricity supplies the energy for a larger proportion of winter time heating in Europe than in the US.

    Mike.<

    MIke thanks for the reminder.

    I had forgotten about off peak electric storage heaters. For those not familiar with them they contain large blocks of concrete like material that you heat up overnight using cheaper off peak electricity and then have them release the heat the next day. Which is wonderful if you can forecast your heating demand one full day in advance. Not so good if you can’t.

    Then there’s always a one bar electric fire to fall back on I guess. Or failing that you could throw some more coal on the fire.

    Oh the joys !

  90. Green’s don’t care much about logic, I actually had this conversation:

    Greenie – This house is run is run 100% on solar power, it’s for the poor you know, so they won’t be at the mercy of greedy power companies.

    Me – Ah, good how will they get power at night?

    Greenie – I just said it’s “SOLAR,” they’ll get it from the sun of course!

  91. Bill Marsh (12:14:46) :

    George E. Smith,

    Well, okay, let’s do some ‘back of the envelope’ calcs here.

    Assuming

    1) we use the above turbines to meet the 20% figure
    2) generously assuming they supply 50% of rated capacity.
    3) Acreage requirements for the turbines are as stated in the article.

    Each turbine supplies 1.65 mwatts

    Total electrical demand in the US in 2007 was 764,476 mwatts (US Dept of Energy)

    then, to supply 20% of that need (not accounting for increase in demand) you’d need 92,664 turbines. Each turbine requires .15168 sq miles, so 92,664 turbines would require a land area of 14,055 square miles.

    Okay, so the distance from the Canadian border to Mexico is roughly 4,000 miles, so you’d be able to put 26,666 windmills in one line from Canada to Mexico. Looks to me like (based on my assumptions) you’d need one line about halfway or a little more from the Canadian border to Mexico, say about halfway through Colorado?

    If the turbines deliver 25% of rate capacity it would stretch from Canada to Mexico with another line stretching about 1/4 of the way.

    Using Mr. Papsdorf’s numbers, that many turbines would generate 3.892 million tons of CO2 in manufacture and maintenance.

    I would wonder how long it will take to manufacture 92,000 wind turbines, not to mention transportation and assembly? I don’t know what production capacity at Siemen’s is, but I suspect it would take them a number of years to build that many windturbines. I also wonder what % of the world’s steel/aluminum production would be devoted to this endeavor.

    This is so brilliant.. had to repost but would also add the question that many turbines… and the the conversion of that much atmospheric energy/ convection to electric on such a scale… would by terms of absolute math/ physics.. directly and certainly change the global climate dynamics.. Some one here must have the mathmatical chops to have an idea of the totals.

  92. 1) Has Hyperion actually built any of these small nucs ? Their web site is full of hype, a bit short on fact.

    2) Energy storage: The only idea that made any economic sense was to pump water up to a high lake at night and run it back down through generators during the day. The eco’s fought it tooth and nail.

    We don’t have a good ‘battery’ of any kind. Invent one and the world will push an electric car to your door.

    As for the photo: Maybe the blades are turning, they just used a really fast shutter setting?

  93. “”” Bruce Foutch (13:29:22) :

    RE: George E. Smith (13:09:31) :

    “I drive over Vasco Rd to the delta to fish regularly, and we use those fans there to decide whether to go home or not. When the fans are turned on; they generate a lot of wind over Frank’s Tract; and since it is very shallow (8 ft) it builds up dangerous waves for small fishing boats.”

    Sorry George, but I think you got your physics backward. Windmills are passive and can only remove energy from the wind. They do not create wind, as they are not turned on in the sense you imply. “””

    Hey Bruce; if the fans are turned on, there is always a wind blowing; if they fans are turned off there is no wind blowing. pretty near 100% correlation; so it should be obvious to anyone that the fans are creating the wind.

    Just ask AlGore; and he’ll whip a coupla graphs in front of you and say: “see don’t they look correlated to you? ”

    Seems obvious to me; correlation equals causation!

    George

  94. Wansbeck (14:09:45)

    Good point, can’t make a cup of tea in the dark on that.

  95. Britannic,

    I experienced some of that global warming drought on Lake Windermere last August. It poured rain the entire time we were on the boat.

    The good news was that the lake wasn’t very crowded.

  96. NoAstronomer- “Echoing Paul James reply to Zeke Hausfather on electricity demand in winter …”

    As an additional data point on winter versus summer peaking of electricity use, Progress Energy in Florida (where I live) reports that it hits peak demand in the coldest months of the year, not the warmest. There is freezing weather in north and central florida, a lot of electric or heat pump heating systems, and little to no residential gas infrastructure.

    Florida, fortunately, has not jumped head-first into wind turbine farms, seeing as it has some of the worst wind resources (Class 1 or 2) in the country. We are trying to build four new nuclear reactors. Time will tell if this ever happens.

    Texas uses wind farm energy in day-ahead electric supply scheduling with an 8% of capacity rating. That is what they feel they can count on for day-ahead contracts. Those farms are in some of the best wind class regions in the country, and should theoretically be producing at 30 – 35% of capacity.

  97. James P (13:38:57) : I think they’re rather elegant, and noise isn’t an issue with any I’ve heard. I think earlier ones had noisy gearboxes, but now you can’t hear them above the wind from any distance. Close up, there is a faint whooshing, rather like the pink noise used to lull people to sleep.

    I think you mean Pink Floyd, James at psychedelic full tilt. This is the Island of Maui in Hawaii:

    Elegant?

  98. Bill Marsh (12:14:46) :” George E. Smith,
    Well, okay, let’s do some ‘back of the envelope’ calcs here.
    Assuming
    1) we use the above turbines to meet the 20% figure
    2) generously assuming they supply 50% of rated capacity.
    3) Acreage requirements for the turbines are as stated in the article. ”

    I don’t see any replacement cost or figures concerning down time after the spring tornados rip up a whole bunch of these turbines, as they most certainly will.

  99. I drive the Altamont Pass quite often, and anyone who believes that those windmills are much less visible to a sharp-eyed raptor than a larger windmill is simply saying that to justify the wholesale slaughter of hawks and eagles.

    This is why conservationists have insisted on monitoring requirements being built into licensing of windfarms (along with more stringent siting, including surveys by competent field biologists).

    Altamont should’ve been torn down IMO, there were lawsuits over it, I found out about the raptor deaths at that project from a guy who’d recently retired from being the USF&W refuge head for CA/NV.

    Altamont is a “perfect storm” of bad design (derrick towers) and siting (raptors routinely move from the coast to the interior using the pass).

    Monitoring of newer projects tell us, though, that no matter what you care to believe, bodies on the ground tell us that modern windfarms aren’t nearly as deadly to raptors as Altamont.

    If you want to reduce raptor mortality at the hand of man to zero, you’re going to have to ban the automobile, airplane, tall buildings …

  100. Phil (11:21:21) :

    They survey sites for wind powered generators for at least 12 months prior to designating them as suitable.

    Yes, they may do, but they survey the government subsidy much more closely, because without that, there is no profit.

  101. something nobody mentioned is that back-up for wind farms cannot be a coal fired station; they are too slow to “throttle”, so the back-up is mostly done using turbogas generation plants. they are cheap, and incospicuous (thats why many european countries use them by the thousands) and fast to turn on and off, but inefficient expecially at part load, and use expensive fuels like natural gas.
    the overall image is pretty grim. many countries dont build large, efficient and clean power stations because is not politically good, and revert to building small, ineffient power stations, and those useless toys called wind turbines. is really bad.

  102. dhogza,
    You said, “If you want to reduce raptor mortality at the hand of man to zero, you’re going to have to ban the automobile, airplane, tall buildings …” I am sure some of your friends have palns for exactly that.
    The problem is that windmills do not do as advertised. They do not save nearly as much carbon as claimed, they make undependable power, they are completely dependent on tax payer subsidy, etc. And no matter how much lipstick AGW promoters put on windmills, they are still huge ugly clutter on the landscape.

  103. Not every municipality in UK is so stupid. Read the short post of mine
    “Renewable” Is Kinda Perpetuum Mobile
    based on article from Guardian
    Ministerial hectoring on green energy is fascism in the wind [>]
    The Guardian, James Lovelock
    Sunday 29 March 2009

    Regards

  104. It seems that neither the general public; nor the political class; nor even the venture capital investment class seem to get the fundamental hangup in “Renewable Green (clean) Energy.”

    The sun supplies it at an average global equalized rate of 168 Watts per square metre on the Trenberth Scale.

    At least with PEV solar, the energy output is about linear with the energy input; and since most solar cells are just Silicon diodes, the output Voltage is fairly constant at around 0.5 Volts (under optimum loading) over a wide range of input solar irradiance; well it changes about 26 milliVolts for a doubling of the solar flux, and output load current; or about 60mV per decade. So you get about a 12% Voltage change for a 10:1 change in solar irradiance; and that range of supply Voltage can easily be handled by even crude DC-AC inverter circuits.

    By anybody’s standards, that is a pretty good situation; and actually the biggest problem might be designing the inverter circuits to operate over a 10:1 ratio of supply current.

    Now contrast that with a wind turbine, where the available power goes as the cube of the wind speed; so you lose 87.5% of your generating capacity for a 2:1 reduction in wind speed; and you get an 8X overload for a doublng of design wind speed. Well there’s a 4X increase in the thrust on the tower; plus there’s a vertical wind shear gradient that any sailor can tell you about; so the fan blade close to the ground sees a lower wind speed than the blade going over the top; so theres a cyclic thrust problem that flexes the blade axially every rotation; creating a vibration that literally shakes the system to death. Well yes, you can ameliorate these problems with individually feathered blades; pretty much like a helicopter rotor has to do; but that is an additional mechanical complexity and wear and tear factor; that wind farms have to deal with.

    And yes they are ugly as sin; just ask the Kennedy Compound denizens.

    PEV solar arrays in urban or residential areas are relatively benign aesthetically. I like what Applied Materials is doing covering their employee parking lots with them. So they get auxilliary power, and the employees get a covered carport for their chariot.

    But it still eats a lot of area since the PEV efficiency is roughly in the 15-20% range; so the electric output now averages more like 30W/m^2; with a peak of about 4-5 times that.

    A plant to generate about the 205 of total electricity sought would cover only about 30,000 square miles or 19.2 million arcres; which just happens to be the exact size of the whole Arctic National wildlife Reserve.

    So is it better to use maybe 2400 Acres of the ANWR arctic desert; that is visited by no-one; or the whole 19.2 million Acres of the Desert southwest that is home to millions of people, and visited by millions more; and which would certainly result in an unexpected change in the climate of the whole desert South western United States; if not the entire country.

    Time to get real; renewable green energy is a good niche application auxilliary energy source; but it isn’t going to work for prime time; it is only barely superior to the fig trees we started with, and today there aren’t enough monkeys to gather figs for us at a fast enough clip; even if we had the fig trees.

    George

  105. Without any comments:
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/reprint/speaking_truth_to_wind_power.html

    And we,the people, pay the price for this madness at least five times.
    1. We pay for the full costs of the wind mills.
    2. We pay for the back-up capacity.
    3. We pay for the CO2 tax.

    1 – 3 is four times the current electricity bills.

    4. We pay for the Government grands via the taxes we have to pay.
    5. We have to look at ruined landscapes.

    Any politician that believes that:
    A. renewable energy can replace fossil fuel based energy!
    B. Humankind can control weather and climate…

    Is not worth your vote and belongs in a mental institution.

    So wake up, call your representative and tell them you are looking forward to the next elections to vote them out of power if they support this “Green Madness”.

  106. I work for a Florida electric utility.. and can verify with absolutness the point made by Chris y.
    Our greatest demand is in winter… not summer, and my company is building a giant solar farm…. which will in our greatest demand have its least capacity… and I will add the additional point of clarity the such facilities( wind or solar) are indeed more significantly affected by adverse weather events( hurricanes, tornadoes) and as such can be rendered in effectual for significant lengths of time as a result.
    take for instance the current canopy numbers expected in the next 5 days( overall cloud cover during sunlit hours) and any solar farm here in (sunny south Florida) would be effectively neutralized.

  107. moderator please correct my typos

    Reply: Well you did say please, but don’t expect that kind of service often. ~ charles the moderator

  108. How about ice build up on the blades? Any danger from flying ice when they pick up speed after being iced up?

    Consider the tons of concrete needed for each windmills foundation, and the paved roads needed to service these windmills, not to mention the dead raptors and noise. If thats green I am an alien.

    Of course, the argument that modern wind farms are not as deadly to raptors may be true, but there are few wind farms today. Once they start expanding in numbers, there will be wind farms built in locations they should not be built.

    And those who count the dead raptors on private property that is receiving carbon credits for the use of their land are not going to be without bias. It would only be a matter of time before rodents learn to seek safe havens around these windmills which will lead to more raptors deaths (some by starvation) and exploding rodent populations that could upset the surrounding environment.

  109. Mr Lynn (11:49:06) : said,

    Jeremy (11:38:01) :
    It is worse than that not only are these towers incredibly ugly and cover huge tracts of land these wind turbines kill birds. . .

    Well, I don’t think they’re ugly; to my eye, they’re graceful and elegant, a tribute to how technology can be beautiful.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in this case it also depends how near the object is.

  110. They didn’t like windmills in the nineteenth century either:
    http://www.eoearth.org/article/The_Coal_Question_%28e-book%29

    This was written in 1866:

    “The first great requisite of motive power is, that it shall be wholly at our command, to be exerted when and where and in what degree we desire. The wind, for instance, as a direct motive power, is wholly inapplicable to a system of machine labour, for during a calm season the whole business of the country would be thrown out of gear.

    Before the era of steam-engines; windmills were tried for draining mines; “but though they were powerful machines, they were very irregular, so that in a long tract of calm weather the mines were drowned, and all the workmen thrown idle. From this cause, the contingent expenses of these machines were very great; besides, they were only applicable in open and elevated situations.”

    Wind power was being touted as an alternative energy source, because at the time they thought they were approaching “Peak Coal”!

  111. The effect of wind variation or even no wind appears to be greatly exaggerated.

    As other posters have noted, modern wind turbines appear to be designed to resist the urge to rotate under any wind conditions.
    This has no effect on construction subsidies but makes it much easier to manage the grid, a win-win situation.

    Has anyone ever seen a wind farm with all turbines rotating?

  112. Wind does not make much sense without a back up system and the locations in the middle of no where requires huge transmission towers and lines to be erected. In searching for home wind system, I came across a site that advocates a “new” style turbine system for cities. It is much different looking and they are installing in a variety of urban environments. Starts around $15,000 for 1Kw service. Like the looks and it’s quiet. Here’s a link to the site: http://www.aerotecture.com/

    If you watch the documentary page, you can see the windmill in action. It’s lightweight and apparently easy to set up, no harm to birds, no throwing of ice, and can operate in turburlent wind. Interesting….

    debby

  113. I am sure some of your friends have palns for exactly that.

    My friends? No. Tell you what, if you don’t speculate about my friends, I won’t speculate about yours.

  114. I flew into Chicago last winter on a -15 F day. Clear, sunny and still! As a power plant guy I watch all the plants and had a good chuckle flying over the Dresden Nuclear Plant. It was running as fog was forming over the cooling pond. The surrounding wind turbines were not stirring. I guessed about 50-80 MW peak of Wind Turbines generating nothing around a 1300 MW nuke.

    Toys!

  115. http://www.claytoncramer.com/weblog/blogger.html

    Wind Power Generators

    Environmentalists are really big on wind power (as long as it isn’t affecting their view from Cape Cod), but there are some significant issues that need to be worked out. One of those issues is that wind power is highly variable. This means that it really only makes sense if you have some practical way to store that energy. Another problem is that many of the places that have plenty of wind don’t have enough customers to take advantage of that electricity–because the transmission lines don’t exist to transfer power from places like West Texas to places like Los Angeles.

    Now, I ran into a fascinating claim:

    A power producer typically gets paid for the power it generates. In Texas, some wind energy generators are paying to have someone take power off their hands.

    Because of intense competition, the way wind tax credits work, the location of the wind farms and the fact that the wind often blows at night, wind farms in Texas are generating power they can’t sell. To get rid of it, they are paying the state’s main grid operator to accept it. $40 a megawatt hour is roughly the going rate.

    I first saw this at Classical Values, and followed the links. But the last link to the original story is now dead. The story apparently first appeared on Greentech Media, which appears to be a blog for promoting alternative energy. While other articles on the Greentech Media site still reference this broken link, and indicate that it did indeed show this absurd situation, the original story has disappeared.

    There’s nothing terribly surprising about this irrational situation where alternative energy producers are having to pay someone to take their product. As Simon at Classical Values points out:

    What they really need to do is to find customers who are willing to be paid to use electricity. In other words we have set up a system where conservation is a bad idea.
    Once you start screwing with the market ever more laws are required to make up for the distortions created by the previous set of laws. It never ends and only gets worse.

    As much as I like the idea of alternative power, and finding a way to impoverish societies where they have their turbans wound too tight, the fact is that much of the alternative energy industry isn’t really a business; it’s a religion, a belief that anything that doesn’t involve fossil fuels is fundamentally wise. It is a religion because it involves not evidence, but faith.

    The government can encourage alternative power, but they need to be encouraging basic research. If you throw a few billion dollars at solving hard problems, such as how to create inexpensive photovolatics, or more efficient wind turbines, that doesn’t distort the market badly, like subsidies and tax credits to producers and consumers do.

    I don’t know if the disappearance of the original article off the Greentech Media article was a mistake, or an attempt to hide an embarassing reminder that some of this Green obsession is actually a bad idea. But the core problem remains: societies that refuse to face reality when it comes to economics end up going broke.

  116. The San Onofre nuclear power station in Southern Cal., occupies about 84 acres of land. That station is pumping out 2,350 MW from its two reactors 24/7 year in and year out.

    From time to time I have to drive out to the imperial valley for my work and I pass along a wind mill station in the mountains. Typically around 75% of the windmills are actually turning, the others are, for whatever reason, static. This is when the wind is actually blowing, which is not all the time. I’m not sure exactly how many windmills, working perfectly with ample wind, it would take to match the power output of one 84 acre plant but I am sure that the windmills would be occupying square miles of land, not acres. A lot of square miles. Is this what we want? Is this the best we can come up with? I hope not.

  117. Sam bailey (15:10:44) :

    “…….. but would also add the question that many turbines… and the the conversion of that much atmospheric energy/ convection to electric on such a scale… would by terms of absolute math/ physics.. directly and certainly change the global climate dynamics.. Some one here must have the mathmatical chops to have an idea of the totals.”

    I have wondered that. I believe that it could have a significant effect on local rainfall.

    What happens when moist air passing from the ocean to land hits a wall of offshore turbines extracting squillions of Joules?

    How much rain will fall in the sea rather than wait to hit the hills?

  118. Nomination for Quote for the Week:

    Retired Engineer (15:12:47) said :
    We don’t have a good ‘battery’ of any kind. Invent one and the world will push an electric car to your door.

    OT, full of factual errors, but I figure this needs NYT AGW puff piece needs IMMEDIATE VIVISECTION and SUBSEQUENT GRILLING (followed by consumption with a nice Chianti) by the WUWT cohort:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/18/science/earth/18juneau.html

    bon appetit

  119. RW (12:31:36) :

    “On the morning of February 4, the temperature was -7C (19F) and the wind speed was zero.”

    Strangely, when I look at the graph, it looks very much like the wind speed averaged about 2.5mph on the morning of February 4th, and only dropped to zero for short intervals. Are you looking at something else?

    RW,
    the key here is those things don’t generate much juice unless the wind gets between 6 and 10 mph your nit picking doesn’t change the fact that at those wind speeds nothing happens. 2.5 is as good as zero when it comes to power generation.

  120. “Mr Lynn (11:23:04) :

    Are there places in the world where the wind never stops blowing?

    /Mr Lynn”

    Yes, Wellington, New Zealand. Or in the Wairarapa, a nearby region. I also suggest that the Hawaian CO2 measuring station be moved to Pencarrow Head, Wellington, NZ as the air is a lot cleaner there.

  121. Eric Naegle

    “I am sure that the windmills would be occupying square miles of land, not acres. A lot of square miles. Is this what we want?”
    —————————————————————
    It is not a matter of what WE want, it is a matter of what the politicians want and, with the power of eminent domain, square miles of land is not a problem for our “leaders.”

  122. “How much rain will fall in the sea rather than wait to hit the hills?”

    I would like to see them bore a hole through one of the coastal mountains and put a turbine in the center. When the Santa Ana’s blow, there would be a gale through that tunnel. And I mean a turbine more like a jet engine. You could taper the bore so it constricts right where the turbine is and you would have to somehow screen off the entrances to prevent debris buildup, but in some places it would, I believe, generate a lot of power.

    Also, when the wind blows the other way, it would allow a path for more moisture laden water to get inland to dump more precipitation on the next row of hills inland rather than dumping it all on the coastal range which simply washes back out to sea.

  123. Lucy Skywalker (11:36:40) :
    . . . I think tidal energy harvesting is still, unbelievably, in its infancy, and promises a lot, far more than wind power, yet few are thinking about it. The energy potential is enormous. Tidal flow is predictable, and the challenge of zero energy at the turns of the tide can be met in various ways.

    The big problem with tidal energy is putting massive amounts of machinery into salt water, and expecting it to last long enough to recoup the investment. It’s also tough to build underwater structures. And we’re extracting energy from either the earth’s rotation, or from the moon’s orbit (not sure which). Talk about environmental impact!

    Other than that, I’m all for it if you can do it without subsidies.

    .
    Paul James (12:04:16) :
    . . . I am guessing that you may not have been to Scotland. There is no A/C apart from large poublic buildings and
    . . .

    Glaswegian phonetic spelling, no dooubt.

    .
    For a little light entertainment, google “burning wind turbines” and click on “images”.

    Mike
    clean, green, renewable, sustainable, and 100% organic

  124. D Carroll (12:36:30) :

    “As for killing birds, my kitchen window probably kills more.”

    Sounds like you are an eco-felon for having such a window. Have you no shame, Sir?

  125. World Electricity Prices: Denmark, Holland, Germany and UK “lead the way” in cost per kilowatthr and turbines. We in the USA aim to follow their lead. As quickly as possible!
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/elecprih.html

    Onatario is purchasing On-Shore Wind at 13.5c/kwh while they are buying it wholesale normally for 4c/kwh
    http://www.nofreewind.com/index.html

    Altamont Pass Wind = California Chumps!
    http://nofreewind.blogspot.com/2009/04/california-wind-not-there-when-you-need.html

    North Dakota Weekly Wind = No wind……no wind…….no wind….Wind capital of USA
    http://basinelectric.com/Energy_Resources/Wind/Basin_Electric_Generation/index.html

    How your electric company will pull their hair out for Your Wind. Seriously, your electric company would NEVER EVER do this to YOU, it if wasn’t mandated.
    http://www.nofreewind.com/zugzwang.html

    Reliance on Wind Power WILL cause blackouts, (double click video to go to youtube if it stalls)
    http://nofreewind.blogspot.com/2009/05/video-wind-plant-power-output-curves.html

    How much to build?

    from http://nofreewind.com/wind_us.pdf Wind Power in the US

    EVERYWHERE in the world it is the same. The Gov’t pays a huge portion of the cost in tax “credits” to build these monsters. In the US about 65% back in 5 yrs. Then they FORCE the power companies to buy the kilowatts, realize at night and on weekends the Load or need of power is about 60% and the coal/nuclear are just cruising along, they don’t need any wind! and to some degree they can only go so low in output. They can follow the wind to a point, but look at the charts and see the insanity that is needed to do that. http://www.nofreewind.com/Charts.html (double-click most to enlarge). Then most power companies pay the wind farms inflated rates for the electricity.(as in Ontario above). And Delaware just said that the electricity bills are going up by about 6%/month for the one offshore wind farm. Offshore wind, instead of being nirvana, is even twice the cost or >15c/kwhour WHOLESALE!!! And then to finally add to our MISERY, in the US the Gov’t give another behind the back Renewable Energy Credit of 2.1c/kwh which is a little less than 1/2 the price of regular wholesale.

    Terrific overview from an engineer: http://the-green-wind.com/overview/wind_power_engineers_opinion.pdf

    Finally. 30 miles down the road from me, we have a nuclear plant, 2 towers, that supplies 2400 MW of power, it worked continuously non-stop all last year!! 2400 MWhours. To replace that one plant. 2 MW turbines times 5,000 = 10,000MW. But the turbines only produce 25% of that, their capacity, so the 10,000MW = 2400MWhours from 5,000 turbines.

    Greenies don’t care about their environment whatsoever.
    http://the-green-wind.com/overview/boone_fragmentation.pdf

    These 5,000 turbines would be strung out 6 per mile on our beautiful ridges in Pennsylvania, or almost 1,000 miles of trubines and road and 4 acres of clearcut minimun or 20,000 acres. OR we have this one iddy biddy nuclear plant which takes up about 30 acres!!!!

    sorry for long post, but I tried to pick out my best stuff.
    http://www.nofreewind.blogspot.com/

  126. “Glasgow Looking To Freeze In The Dark”

    They might be hungry too if the government is encouraging farmers to produce ethanol instead of food.

  127. “Are there places in the world where the wind never stops blowing?”

    Congress!

  128. Mark Wagner (13:47:21) :

    The new label should be “low density, intermittent dispersed energy power”

    How about “dispersed, random-intensity power” DRIP.

    Maybe DROP. DROOP. can’t come up with POOP, although it would be appropriate.

    POOP = Propeller Ordered Organic Power.

  129. Let me add, I meant 2.1 cent Production Tax Credit, (not RenewEngCr)

    Also, as far as cost to build. For the “nameplate capacity” Wind is a bit cheaper than coal, and less costly than nuclear. But remember Wind only produces energy, which is measured in time, at 25% on average of nameplate capacity, ie. 2 MW turbines produces .5 MW power. (but you have to convert to hours/time to get energy) So it is MUCH more expensive than ALL technologies build a certain amt of Energy. Nat Gas is the cheapest to build but most costly to run.

  130. To quote an old movie : “Show me the money!!”

    These green power schemes rely on government handout , non profitable manufacture,building and maintenance.

    The western economies are going down the chute trying to print currency like mad to stave off depression. Eventually there will be accountability.
    Infrastructure projects will need to return to the tied economy days where the most practical, long lasting , bang for buck alternative is provided.

    Anthony posted a very good article from the head of that Utah gas generation a few days ago. These green schemes are dealt with in that article.

    See this WUWT Article – Commencement speech

  131. Say I had a desperate desire to reduce CO2 emissions….

    The obvious thing to do would be to do the following.

    [1] Mine and refine metals emitting large amounts of CO2 form the Fuels, Electricity and Coking Coal for the steel.

    [2] Fabricate the refined metals into Windmill parts and assemble parts in a Factory, emitting large amounts of CO2.

    [3] Transport windmill parts from warehouse to factory and completed windmills from factory to warehouse, emitting large amounts of CO2.

    [4] Transport windmills to “wind farm” sites, emitting large amounts of CO2.

    [5] Build, Operate, Maintain, and Decomission Gas fired power plants for the backup power, emitting VERY large amounts of CO2.

    [6] Build and Maintain the electricity transmission infrastructure from the wind farms to the existing grid, emitting large amounts of CO2.

    [7] Build, warehouse, and transport maintenance parts for the windmills, emitting large amounts of CO2.

    [8] Conduct maintenance activities on the windmills, emitting large amounts of CO2.

    [9] Decommission and Dispose of Windmills at end of life, emitting large amounts of CO2.

    And the reason for doing this is so that I can reduce emissions of CO2.

    The investment of resources into Windfarms is an absolute scandal that we will rue in the future when we discover that we have underfunded infrastructure investement in,

    [1] Cost effective base load power generation.
    [2] Transport and Ports Infrastructure.
    [3] Water supply.
    [4] Hospitals
    [5] Education

    etc.

    Windmills the abject lunacy of our times.

  132. The Obama administration is slated to increase subsidies to the ethanol industry. At least then they will be profitable and won’t need to get bailouts.

    We can only hope wind power will follow the same free market structure as the ethanol industry to pave the way for millions of Green jobs.

    sarc/off

    Green is the new Red.

  133. Re: Przemysław Pawełczyk (15:46:37) :
    ——
    Not every municipality in UK is so stupid. Read the short post of mine
    “Renewable” Is Kinda Perpetuum Mobile
    based on article from Guardian
    Ministerial hectoring on green energy is fascism in the wind [>]
    The Guardian, James Lovelock
    Sunday 29 March 2009
    ——

    How on earth did I forget the hyperlink? (it’s at 0.55 AM here) Here it is:

    http://p2o2.blogspot.com/2009/04/renewable-is-kinda-perpetuum-mobile.html

    There you’ll find also hyperlink to another

    When People Got It? That They Are Duped by EcoMorons?
    http://p2o2.blogspot.com/2009/02/when-people-got-it-that-they-are-duped.html

    based on excellent review of the wind energy costs by Gregory Murphy

    The Non-Science of Wind Energy
    LaRouche PAC, by Gregory Murphy
    February 7, 2009

    Mea culpa. Regards

  134. They just don’t get it. Alas. Statistics don’t change. Weather patterns don’t change.

    I am a FORMER employee of the local utility (Northern States Power, RIP).

    During 11 years of my 15 years there the 100 MW (100 1 megawatt wind turbines) on “Buffalo Ridge”, the WINDIEST PLACE IN MINNESOTA was observable by the engineering staff through “Sys-Op”, which tallied ALL the generation by the utility.

    Although I have to go by memory, my memory is pretty good. (And I DID dump some data and average several times..) Typical production: 8 MW total.

    That’s an 8% capacity factor. At the base capital cost for the units, and standard amortization the cost per KWHr was: (Hold on to your hat!) $1.45.

    Yes, 20 times that of the consumer charge.

    OUCH! Imagine a levelized bill of $100 a month. Going to $2000 a month!

    The MAXIMUM I ever saw as 47 MWe, with a huge winter storm edging through, supplying 35 to 45 mile an hour winds. That lasted less than 10 hours.

    THESE NUMBERS HAVE NOT CHANGED!

    Nor will they change. Sometimes certain combinations of physics and finance are as immutable as the law of gravitation or thermodynamics.

    Alas, wind power fits into this category. A net loser.

  135. “Retired Engineer (15:12:47) :

    2) Energy storage: The only idea that made any economic sense was to pump water up to a high lake at night and run it back down through generators during the day. The eco’s fought it tooth and nail.
    ….”

    The Grand Coulee Dam uses the second principle. During low demand water is pumped into Banks Lake. Most of that water is used for irrigation but during periods of high demand it can be released back into the Columbia River for extra power generation. I do not know how efficient this is compared to other methods of energy storage but of course it can be used to generate very large amounts of power and they needed to create the lake for irrigation purposes anyway. Like hydroelectric and geothermal power sources this type of effort relies on having the correct local geography.

  136. The article also highlights most effectively the misdirection being used by these renewable power plants, both wind and solar.
    The nameplate capacity is 322MW.
    The actual power supplied is in KiloWattHours (KWH)
    322 X 24 X 365(.25) X 33% X 1000
    Where 322 is the nameplate capacity, 24 hours in a day, 365(.25) days in a year, percentage efficiency, 1000 converting Mega to Kilo.
    Hence the total power produced is now 931.5 million KWH

    Therein lies the misdirection.
    What these plants calculate now is that is the amount of power used by X number of households, in this case above, 180,000 homes, making you believe that the towers effectively power these houses.

    The power goes to the grid only, and all the houses on that grid draw their power from the overall grid, so the inference being this plant supplies the power to those houses, when in actual fact the turbines provide power to the grid only 33% of the time over the whole year, and that 33% is a best, because in Europe, most wind plants are only effectively delivering their power at around 20 to 25%, and even those figures are sanguine.

    What also needs to be considered here is that residential power only makes up 35% of the overall power consumed. The main consumers come from the Industrial and Commercial sectors, where power is mainly required 100% of the time. (Source EIA)

    The same applies for solar plants, also quoted at around 30% when their delivery rate averages only around 16 to 20%. Even solar concentrating (thermal) only operates at around 30 to 35% at best, when this is quoted as the direction we should be moving.

    So, the use of the power versus households data that these renewable plants use is a misleading use of data, designed to highlight how effective they are when the opposite is indeed the case.

    Tony.

  137. George Bruce (17:50:43) :
    D Carroll (12:36:30) :

    “As for killing birds, my kitchen window probably kills more.”

    Sounds like you are an eco-felon for having such a window. Have you no shame, Sir?
    ———————–
    Don’t be so hard on the guy. He could’ve offset his own entire carbon footprint by this method.

  138. Pincher Creek, Alberta has huge windfarms. The latest tally on bird kills is 16,000 per year !!! The turbines do not differentiate between raptors, swallows or any other kind of bird. These farms are also a LONG WAY from anywhere!!! This makes transmission of said power a HUGE problem. When will people realize the futility of this endeavor and move on to real solutions. I am not poo-pooing wind and solar just because I do not like them. The fact is that they are not practical by any stretch. Can we move on to other ideas that WILL work?

  139. hareynolds (17:19:44) :

    OT, full of factual errors, but I figure this NYT AGW puff piece needs IMMEDIATE VIVISECTION and SUBSEQUENT GRILLING (followed by consumption with a nice Chianti) by the WUWT cohort:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/18/science/earth/18juneau.html

    bon appetit
    —————————-

    Not off topic at all. The solution is obvious. Construct some serious wind turbines up there, carbon dioxide comes out of the atmosphere, global cooling ensues, the glaciers come back big time and press that land back into its proper shape. All in a days work for the modern scientist.

  140. The other thing that amuses me about green power statistics.

    Power generator x supplies so many thousand homes.

    Domestic utility use is a fraction of the actual demand. The real energy users are industry and transportation. Both of these users pay a heavily discounted power bill compared to domestic users because of their much higher consumption.
    When you compare KwH invoices for industry vs domestic the argument against green energy efficiency is far better.

  141. http://www.beaconpower.com/products/EnergyStorageSystems/SmartEnergyMatrix.htm
    http://www.beaconpower.com/products/EnergyStorageSystems/SmartEnergy25kWh.htm
    http://www.beaconpower.com/products/EnergyStorageSystems/docs/Windpower_2003.pdf

    http://www.beaconpower.com/products/EnergyStorageSystems/docs/Grid%20Freq%20Reg%20White%20Paper.pdf

    http://www.pentadyne.com/site/our-products/specifications.html

    the solution is currently existing
    powerful flywheel systems storing
    vast amounts of electricity during off peak times
    while also synchronizing the grid connections–
    storing 100 times the electricity
    of battery equivalents during
    off peak hours for use during normal or high usage periods.
    –the mature viable 20 year old flywheel is well hidden
    and is permitted to appear in inefficient
    “hybrid” systems that dilute
    their effectiveness.–
    the flywheel acts as storage precisely the way they operate those old oil wells
    which produce five barrels a day-
    and oil is stored in a tank to be picked up
    by a tanker truck once a week. –
    flywheels can be emptied
    into the grid when needed
    or continuously for load leveling–

    Flywheels are the perfect solution for
    all green electricity from wind solar tidal
    or even any minisystems–

    Too bad
    this info will never get past this page —
    and dont bother trying to invest in these
    20 year old proven technologies–
    because usa just keeps deliberately
    undermining them by throwing money
    and publicity at “new”
    distracting dead end “research” with
    plenty of propaganda and contracts
    that drains off any potential
    investors from these currently viable flywheel
    systems.(even though the usa military has already
    been using these flywheels on their bases and in
    Bradley armored vehicles for the past 15 years)

    You engineers haven’t heard of flywheels?
    I am not at all surprised (have a talk with swiss and dutch engineers)–
    But flywheel
    obscurity is a testament to their effectiveness –
    because media only publishes
    the garbage solutions.

  142. Ah, but the earth is warming, don’t forget, so there won’t be any cold days that leave us without electricity. Hey, you know the climate cultists will say that sooner or later! In fact, and unfortunately, I’ve already had one “kindly” point that out to my unelightened mind. So it all comes back to square one… they simply refuse to aknowledge that things aren’t warming and that, even it was, that CO2 has nothing to do with it. Therefore, they will continue to be windy about wind power no matter what reality has to say on the matter. Yep. Reality just bounces off their brains just like bullets bounce off of superman’s chest. They just won’t die, and that’s what makes them especially annoying!

  143. Some of our big DIY stores sell little wind turbines that you can stick on your house and feed into your electricity supply (always remembering to engage a properly qualified electrician, obtain planning permission and ensure that the installation complies with Building Regulations and is approved both by your electricity supply company and by National Grid; woe betide you if you fail to fill any of the seventeen forms correctly). They cost around £1,000-£1,500 and when whizzing at full power can just about squeeze out enough energy to boil an egg.

    The absurdity of wind farms is that they cannot possibly provide a cost-efficient supply for a national grid, for reasons set out in detail by others above. The whole scheme is trying to run before it can walk. This is a technology in its infancy, still at the early stages of research and development. It certainly should be researched and developed because you never know when the big breakthrough is going to come (if it ever does) such that both generating capacity and storage facilities are viable as a serious and affordable source of electrical juice.

    In the meantime laying square miles of concrete to support multi-million pound (dollar, euro, yen, take your pick) loss-making equipment is sheer madness.

    On the way to my weekly (subject to the weather) round of golf I pass by the Ford factory at Dagenham, a town a few miles east of London. Ford built two massive windmill machines in the grounds. When first constructed it was estimated that the value of the electricity they generate would take more than 200 years to turn a profit.

    The whole thing is a gimmick. More windmills just means more gimmicks. Very expensive gimmicks.

  144. Gearboxes are the key- they don’t hold up. – Anthony

    In the previous windmill thread there was one post with a link to a company making a gearbox-free wind turbine.

    Not that this would obviate the many inherent limitations of wind power that have been discussed in this thread. Perhaps the most convincing argument against any large-scale deployment of wind turbines was the anonymous PDF linked by ‘nofreewind’, though I’d have liked to see an author’s name attached:

    Terrific overview from an engineer: http://the-green-wind.com/overview/wind_power_engineers_opinion.pdf

    The non-blade turbines mentioned somewhere above and in the previous thread (essentially rotating cylinders of various types) seem intriguing, and perhaps free of some of the deficiencies and hazards of the big ‘propeller’ turbines. They seem to be designed for small-scale applications, but that may well be where wind power is most suited.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen to the wind-power industry if the government subsidies were to disappear. It will be hard to convince even free-market politicians to drop those, given the widespread ‘conventional wisdom’ that ‘alternative energy’ is both necessary and desirable. What’s needed is a campaign to turn public opinion back in favor of the ‘old reliables’, coal, gas, and nuclear, and to let the free market deal with ‘alternative’ technologies as they may or may not appear.

    The problem is that the ‘greens’ and the media have convinced practically everyone that the old reliables are bad, so we have to find alternatives, no matter how foolish or uneconomical they are.

    Time for an educational campaign. We need a political party that is willing to stand up and proclaim: “Cheap, abundant energy is the key to our children’s and our grandchildren’s lives, health, prosperity, and happiness. Coal, gas, oil, and nuclear power are abundant and cheap, and properly controlled, not a danger to anyone or anything. It’s time to stop fearing the future and to forge ahead confidently, trusting to common sense and American technology.”

    Where is that political party?

    /Mr Lynn

  145. Mike Odin,

    Why make separate fly wheels which require expensive electrical to mechanical and later mechanical back to electrical conversion? Why not just convert all the windmills into perpetual motion machines which produce a fixed amount of electricity regardless of wind conditions?

    “Lisa, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics”
    Homer Simpson

  146. It seems like a good time to get some facts into the discussion, as there has been much disinformation spread about wind energy.

    A good resource for wind facts may be found here:

    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/pdfs/43025.pdf

    From this, average capacity factor in California for 2006 was 36.9 percent of nameplate capacity — see Table 7 on page 24. There are some wind power plants with capacity factors in the mid-40 percent range (see Fig. 21).

    Wind power plants receive, on average, about 5 cents per kwh generated (see pgs 19 – 20)

    The key to intermittent renewable power is storage, hence the incredible amount of research into this area. see

    http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/energy-storage-key-to-renewables.html

    http://energyguysmusings.blogspot.com/2009/04/why-i-support-renewable-energy.html

    Wind power plants are not toys, as some have written above. In California in 2006, wind power provided more than 4,400 Giga-Watt-hours. The data is available here:

    http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/electricity_generation.html

    Backup generation is not a major issue. The fossil-fired plants will be built whether wind power plants are built or not. Until economic renewable storage systems exist, that is the case. This is the same issue as fluctuating load on a utility grid — when the wind increases, the fossil plants throttle back a bit, and when the wind drops, the fossil plants increase output a bit. In California, the fuel that is reduced is natural gas.

    For the big picture, T. Boone Pickens has it right. Every kwh generated by wind and solar frees up natural gas that can and should be used for vehicle fuel. That reduces petroleum demand, and imports of oil from the Middle East.

  147. Magnus A (11:42:14) :
    Also when there is strong wind (in some cases above 20 m/s , and in some cases above 16 m/s) the power generation from the turbine is switched off.
    So when we are freezing in the storm the wind power won’t be there either.

    FACTS:

    Specially designed for medium wind speeds, the ENERCON E-82 wind turbine – with the new rotor blade design and tower versions up to 108m hub height – guarantees excellent yields in the 2 MW category, even at inland sites.

    Rated power:
    2,000 kW

    Rotor diameter:
    82 m

    Hub height:
    78 – 138 m

    Wind class (IEC):
    IEC/NVN II

    Turbine concept:
    Gearless, variable speed,
    variable pitch control

    Rotor

    Type:
    Upwind rotor with active pitch control

    Direction of rotation:
    Clockwise

    Number of blades:
    3

    Swept area:
    5,281 m2

    Blade material:
    Fibreglass (epoxy resin);
    integrated lightning protection

    Rotational speed:
    Variable, 6 – 19.5 rpm

    Pitch control:
    ENERCON blade pitch system, one independent pitching system per rotor blade with allocated emergency supply

    Drive train with generator

    Hub:
    Rigid

    Main bearings:
    Dual-row tapered/single-row cylindrical roller bearings

    Generator:
    ENERCON direct-drive synchronous annular generator

    Grid feeding:
    ENERCON converter

    Braking systems:
    – 3 independent blade pitch systems
    with emergency supply
    – Rotor brake
    – Rotor lock

    Yaw control:
    Active via adjustment gears,
    load-dependent damping

    Cut-out wind speed:
    28 – 34 m/s
    (with ENERCON storm control)

    Remote monitoring:
    ENERCON SCADA

  148. Rob (16:15:05) :

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in this case it also depends how near the object is.

    http://i446.photobucket.com/albums/qq187/bobclive/windturbines2.gif

    That is a rather appalling misplacement of a giant turbine, rather like something out of the old movie version of “War of the Worlds.”

    But is it real, or is it Photoshopped?

    /Mr Lynn

    Reply: A quick search found this caption for the photo, but not necessarily proof.

    One of the massive turbines of the Black Law windfarm in South Lanarkshire, ScotlandThis is a duplicate of a Digital Negative taken on a Nikon D2X camera, with a Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3EX DG HSM lens, of one of the 42 massive turbines at Blacklaw Wind Farm, which rise to a height of 110 metres to the tip of the blades. The picture was taken from a distance of about 4/5th of a mile from the village centre of Forth on the B7016 road looking NW.

    ~ charles the moderator

  149. Roger Sowell,

    You said “The fossil-fired plants will be built whether wind power plants are built or not.”

    You are missing the point of the article – the UK government is too panicked about CO2 to build the necessary fossil fuel plants.

    BTW – you linked to a table which showed wind producing 1.5% of California’s electricity. Should we be impressed?

  150. Reply: A quick search found this caption for the photo, but not necessarily proof.

    . . . The picture was taken from a distance of about 4/5th of a mile from the village centre of Forth on the B7016 road looking NW.

    ~ charles the moderator

    Maybe not doctored, then; just seriously foreshortened by the very long lens!

    /Mr Lynn

  151. When a Utility buys electricity from a wind farm a ‘capacity value’ must be calculated in order to protect the ratepayers. Capacitcy value represents the per centage of nameplate capacity that can actually be utilized. Google capacity value and pdfs relating to the determination will show up. Typically the capacity value is only 5 to 10%. This is the number wind farms do not want you to see. Therefore a one megawatt tower is really supplying only the needs of 100 homes not the 330 that assumes the power can be taken when the wind blows (capacity factor).

  152. Johnnyb (14:53:21) :
    REPLY: I can vouch for that, I drove from Amarillo to Liberal, KS and back down into OK by Buffalo, OK for station USHCN surveys and saw many wind projects with blades idle. Gearboxes are the key- they don’t hold up. – Anthony

    Anthony there are other machines that do not use gearboxes:
    http://www.enercon.de/en/_home.htm

    That Utube should have been a link NOT embedded, sorry!

  153. This is why conservationists have insisted on monitoring requirements being built into licensing of windfarms (along with more stringent siting, including surveys by competent field biologists).

    Altamont should’ve been torn down IMO…

    What is the point of monitoring if nothing is going to be done about the problem the monitoring discovers?

    The most obvious answer is the monitoring is just a cost of getting something built.

  154. Stephen Goddard,

    You can be as impressed or unimpressed as you like. I fully understand the point you tried to make, and that is, that it is a waste of everyone’s time and energy to pursue renewable energy. You are certainly entitled to that view.

    And yes, wind is a small percentage of California’s energy supply, but that is limited by geography. Wind will never be a huge source of supply in California, but it has greater potential in the Great Plains area, and offshore. In California overall, geothermal plays a much greater role at around 5 percent.

    One could look to Iowa for greater percentages, but a smaller base. Iowa achieves around 5 to 6 percent of its electricity from wind.

    Politicians are generally not engineers, and do not listen to engineers when they should. The engineers could easily tell the politicians that to rely solely on wind power will not work. None of us ever claimed it would. As I wrote above, only economic energy storage will achieve that goal.

    Some cynics write that after 30 years of pouring research money into renewables, we in the U.S. obtain barely 2 percent of our electricity from that source. Therefore, it is a bust and we should cut off the funds.

    From the table I linked to above, renewables provide 10 percent of all power generated and sold in California. Renewable generation is mandated by law to be at least 20 percent by the end of 2010, and 33 percent by 2020. As California is a rather large state with one of the top power generation and consumption figures, those are impressive figures for renewables. I suppose whether one is impressed or not depends on one’s point of view.

    For comparison, the toxic nuclear power plants so beloved by the anti-renewable crowd provides only 12 percent of the power sold in California. That percentage continues to drop as nuclear power will never increase here, but renewables and natural gas plants will.

  155. Bill,

    Read up on what they were doing to cause the disaster at Chernobyl and the reactor design which sped up the rate of fission as temperture increased. In western reactors the relationship between heat and fission is reversed, so fission will shut down if they get too hot, and our reactors have always been sheilded. A disaster like chernobyl could not happen with new reactor designs, or even old western reactor designs.

    Back in the 70s the Soviets built a city that was powered by co-gen heat and power nuclear reactors which would use the waste heat generated by fission to heat homes. This town is still in existence and they are still using the soviet era nuclear power generators. McMurdo Station in Antarctica was using a mini-nuke station for power and heat as early the late 50s.

    I believe that using super-safe and small nuclear reactors like the General Atomic’s High temperture Helium reactor and recycling waste heat to warm and cool homes could prove to be a great cost savings to consumers and would be perfectly safe. After all, our Navy Personall have been living within 100 yards of nuclear reactors for the last 50 years with little to no problems.

  156. Roger,

    My biggest complaint about “renewables” is the environmental destruction which low intensity power sources cause. Power lines everywhere is something that which old environmentalists like myself detest.

    Why not sink the billions into developing economical fusion power? Get that solved, and all the other energy technologies become irrelevant.

  157. I suppose ugliness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, when I drive out to Indio, I see a spectacular, if austere, landscape that is being converted into an instant industrial slum.

  158. Steven Goddard,

    I am a rational environmentalist, and completely enjoy the outdoors. Few things are as refreshing as hiking and camping through the High Sierras or sailing the high seas.

    But as an engineer, I am also aware that the benefits of abundant energy are worth the costs of having it. Economies of scale dictate that power lines will be built to bring the power from the large generating plant to the consumer. Distributed generation, as that term is now used, reduces the need for power lines because the power is generated either on-site, or much closer to the consumer. Cogeneration in industrial facilities also reduces the need for transmission lines. The realities of solar and wind power require some transmission lines to collect and send the power to the consumers.

    One could also argue that telephone poles across the land are a blight, yet for decades that was (and still is) the case, just so consumers could use telephones rather than wait for snail mail for communication. Roads, highways, bridges, railroads, ports, cities, all are useful yet change the natural landscape.

    As for nuclear fusion, it has been a long while since I looked into the state of that art (early 1980’s). There seem to be insurmountable difficulties in finding materials of construction that will not melt or evaporate at the very high temperatures obtained in a fusion reaction. Magnetic pinch bottles were used, and perhaps still are, to squeeze plasma until it begins the fusion process. Even if that fusion process is someday sustainable (they were thrilled at achieving fusion temperature for a fraction of a second), melt-down is a very real problem.

    There were two fundamental problems to overcome, the first being how to sustain the fusion reaction, the second how to keep the thing from melting. Sustaining the fusion reaction required a magnetic bottle with an inlet for fresh fuel, and an outlet for the reaction products. The nature of a magnetic bottle does not allow for inlets or outlets, at least at that time. There may have been advances since then, I do not know.

    Then, finding a way to do something useful with the heat without melting the reactor is a bit of a problem. The materials science professors and researchers were having quite a bit of difficulty with that one. It had something to do with the energy of inter-atomic bonding, under which everything they tried disintegrated at those temperatures.

    It is a very good thing that the sun is so very far away from Earth.

    Therefore, unless some amazing breakthroughs in magnetic bottles and heat-resistant materials have occurred, or will occur, fusion is off the list of energy providers.

    We (the engineers) are much closer to having renewable energy storage systems that work reliably and economically. At that point, wind, solar, wave, and ocean current energy will provide everlasting, cheap, reliable power. And that is a very good thing.

  159. In response to :

    Mr Lynn (11:23:04) :
    Are there places in the world where the wind never stops blowing?

    Yes.
    That place would be Wyoming.

  160. Roger,

    I hold degrees in science and engineering and have worked for many decades as both, and am keenly aware that harnessing fusion is just a technology problem.

  161. bill (20:31:59) :

    Magnus A (11:42:14) :
    Also when there is strong wind (in some cases above 20 m/s , and in some cases above 16 m/s) the power generation from the turbine is switched off.
    So when we are freezing in the storm the wind power won’t be there either.

    FACTS:

    […]

    Cut-out wind speed:
    28 – 34 m/s
    (with ENERCON storm control)”

    At a newly built Swedish sea based park, Lillgrund:

    http://209.85.129.132/search?q=cache:tJq5zyFIEMQJ:www.svensk-vindkraft.org/index.php%3Foption%3Dcom_docman%26task%3Ddoc_download%26gid%3D4+%22m/s%22+lillgrund+stoppvind&cd=4&hl=sv&ct=clnk&gl=se

    “Stoppvind m/s. 25-20-20. 25 D=90 m. 20 D=100 m.”

    I have actually never seen data where any wind turbine actually operating at more than 25 m/s.

    The stop wind for large turbines with 100 m diameter at Lillgrund is 20 m/s. Here a person mention that the stop wind has been reduced to 15 m/s:

    http://www.kristianstadsbladet.se/article/20090508/TYCKTTANKT/815075349/1028/&/Ratt-om-vindkraft

    This is just something the chairman of the largest most influential anti-wind power association in Sweden sais. I have not seen official statements about this, so it shold be 20 m/s. But wind power at sea don’t use to work very well. At some sea based parks in Sweden and Denmark after a few years most turbines stands still. (The maintenance cost of sea based wind power is also so high that I think Denmark will stop to building sea based wind power. But all their wind power is meaningless and only costly anyway.)

    It’s lots of figures in your reply. I only read the relevant lines. I guess there was impressing figures, although some of them may be far from real outcome. E g efficiency of turbines can be below 20% when spec says 30 %.

  162. Steven Goddard (21:22:54) :
    Why not sink the billions into developing economical fusion power?
    Roger Sowell (22:13:16) :
    We (the engineers) are much closer to having renewable energy storage systems (…)
    And that is a very good thing.

    Messrs Engineers,
    You are closer to (stolen via taxes) bucks, be frank. What about superconducting lines deep in the ground for power lines? BTW Do not the “underground” fiber optic cables supersede the copper “air-lines”? Do you have to spoil everything in the name of money?

    Regards

  163. bill (20:31:59) :

    Few people say that the turbines will deliver no energy, on the average, they do. In rebutting the hostility to wind turbines it is no use to give tables of characteristics. The problem as everybody knows who has ever had a working windmill, and I have, is a matter of storage. For a cottage without mainline electricity two large truck batteries provided the storage and we had 12 volt electricity for lights at night, and running a 12 volt freezer. Then the main electricity line came close, and that was it. The windmill was sold to a person too far from the main line :).

    It is good that we become less attached to fossil fuels for all the known reasons, but alternative energy will always be alternative unless we cover the Sahara with photovoltaics, raise water to some large lake inland, use hydropower continuously.

    Wind is less sure than sun, still, for windswept islands and a well designed hydro system again it would work nicely.

    So to make windmills and sun energy viable, a lot of thought and money has to go to storage studies.

    Personally I think the only solution is nuclear. I have not been able to find how this Hyperion reactor works. They call it a battery, working with an oscillation cycle of uranium hydride. Is there a reactor expert in the house?

  164. bill. Also don’t post so much irrelevant stuff when you answer me next time. One specification with almost a page of lines wasn’t relevant at all. 3 blades… Rotating clockwise… etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Graaaaasp. Nothing was relevant but one line.

  165. bill. And yet more. Your example was just one specification for a particular turbine which didn’t falsified my data. 20 m/s, not 28-34 m/s (which is a figures I never seen in operating mode even for smaler wind power turbines) is the stop wind at operating mode for the turbines with diameter 100 m which I refered. These turbines at a particular Swedish park may very well be operating with 15 m/s stop wind now, due to what I’ve read and what the chairman says in the link I posted 22:40:14. /br, Magnus

  166. “Jeremy (11:38:01) :

    It is worse than that not only are these towers incredibly ugly and cover huge tracts of land these wind turbines kill birds. At Altamont Pass, California, more than 1,000 birds of prey are killed each year”

    That is called evolution in action.

    Evolution: its the law.

  167. Well, I don’t think they’re ugly; to my eye, they’re graceful and elegant, a tribute to how technology can be beautiful.

    Last week while driving through the Horse Heaven Hills I noticed that less than half of monster mills were turning, in a 25 mph wind. The big uglies just sat there ominously, degrading one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

    And, btw, one of the few places on Earth that has scenic ordinances that ban homes, logging, and anything that might detract from the “historical setting” as defined by the compounded Federal-State Scenic Area Commission, an unelected body imposed on the local citizenry with dictatorial powers, no due process, and no appeal short of an Act of Congress.

    I am sorry, but your personal opinion on what is beautiful counts for absolutely nothing in the real world. What does count is the opinion of petty bureaucrats, carpetbagger functionaries who determine whether your home is in keeping with their whims or not. And most often not. But the big ugly windmills get a free pass because… well, who really knows?

    Did I mention that the Mid-Columbia has one of the largest populations of American bald eagles in the Lower 48? Chop chop.

  168. It is a sad sad world that these carpetbaggers proposing useless wind farms to receive government subsidies have been allowed to perpetuate the lie that wind turbines have any impact on CO2 production.

    Roaring Forties – Hydro Tasmania are waiting for their government subsidies to be guaranteed before they build thier proposed wind farm at Pipers Creek in the beautiful Macedon Ranges of central Victoria Australia.

  169. A disaster like chernobyl could not happen with new reactor designs, or even old western reactor designs

    I remember hearing similar statements when the film ‘The China Syndrome’ was released, then 12 days later Three Mile Island happened. It must have made Jack Lemmon smile…

  170. Laws of physics deemed capitalist & warmongering, government funds peaceful perpetual motion.

  171. But when they are working we burn a lot less fossil fuels! If they work at full capacity for 30% of the year then we burn less fossil fuels for 30% of the year … surely that makes sense?

  172. Firstly, if we ban coal, what on earth will millions of expectant mothers chew on at 3:00am?

    Secondly, don’t worry about we plucky Brits, we’ve solved our energy crisis. It’s called the Houses of Parliament. Those lovely money grabbing people of dubious parentage have generated oodles of hot air of late so with a little sticky plaster, an old washing-up liquid bottle, some sticky-backed plastic, & a wire coat-hanger, we should be able to harness this (unfortunately) infinitely renewable resource to heat water, generate steam, & produce elevtricity.

    On a much more serious note. The automotive industry appears to be keen to dance with hydrogen powered cars, although few seem available or reliable & there seem to be none in the UK. (Personally, driving around in a car sitting on the most exposive element known to mankind is something I am not too keen to attempt). What are the merits of tapping into this element extracted from sea-water to power our power stations/plants, etc? I am sure there are real difficulties involved due to its explosive tenendcies but is it not possible to use it for such a purpose? Is it a case of too much energy needed to extract it making it uneconomic?

  173. “The fossil-fired plants will be built whether wind power plants are built or not.”

    Except that they won’t. Permits for fossil-fired plants are being denied left and right, and regulations are driving the costs for those plants exponentially.

    For comparison, the toxic nuclear power plants so beloved by the anti-renewable crowd provides only 12 percent of the power sold in California. That percentage continues to drop as nuclear power will never increase here, but renewables and natural gas plants will.

    And California will continue to become less and less competitive with more and more expensive energy.

    We (the engineers) are much closer to having renewable energy storage systems that work reliably and economically. At that point, wind, solar, wave, and ocean current energy will provide everlasting, cheap, reliable power. And that is a very good thing.

    Uh-huh. How many times have we heard that the next big breakthrough in X was just around the corner? That’s the thing ab out breakthroughs, they happen when they happen. In the meantime, let’s not handicap ourselves.

    then 12 days later Three Mile Island happened.

    How many people were injured because of Three Mile Island?

    How many people die every year in Coal Mines?

  174. But when they are working we burn a lot less fossil fuels! If they work at full capacity for 30% of the year then we burn less fossil fuels for 30% of the year … surely that makes sense?

    It’s been discussed up thread, but no, that’s not the way it works.

  175. The Cut In Wind Speed
    Usually, wind turbines are designed to start running at wind speeds somewhere around 3 to 5 metres per second. This is called the cut in wind speed. The blue area to the left shows the small amount of power we lose due to the fact the turbine only cuts in after, say 5 m/s.
    The Cut Out Wind Speed
    The wind turbine will be programmed to stop at high wind speeds above, say 25 metres per second, in order to avoid damaging the turbine or its surroundings. The stop wind speed is called the cut out wind speed. The tiny blue area to the right represents that loss of power.
    http://www.windpower.org/en/tour/wres/powdensi.htm

    Wind Turbines:
    http://www.ewea.org/fileadmin/ewea_documents/documents/publications/WETF/Facts_Volume_1.pdf

    jon (04:18:07) :
    But when they are working we burn a lot less fossil fuels!

    This is what it’s all about. Wind does not instantly cease all over the UK. Impending loss of of power can be predicted.

    Instant response:
    Synchronised and spinning-in-air Emergency load pick-up rate from standby 0 to 1,320 MW in 12 seconds from Dinorwig for example

    will catch the first windless turbines.

    8.5 GW of additional capacity available to start immediately but not running, referred to as “warming” or “hot standby
    Is then available in 30 to 120 minutes

    8GW to 10 GW by capacity – are operable from a cold start in about 12 hours for coal burning stations, and 2 hours for gas fired stations.

    Birds and windturbines:
    The RSPB is now in favour of CORRECTLY SITED turbines.

  176. Mike D. (23:53:29) :
    “Well, I don’t think they’re ugly; to my eye, they’re graceful and elegant, a tribute to how technology can be beautiful.” [quoting me]

    . . . I am sorry, but your personal opinion on what is beautiful counts for absolutely nothing in the real world. What does count is the opinion of petty bureaucrats, carpetbagger functionaries who determine whether your home is in keeping with their whims or not. And most often not. But the big ugly windmills get a free pass because… well, who really knows?

    Right; my personal opinion counts for nothing. I remember being impressed with the wind farms near Spain’s Atlantic coast, dozens of graceful turbines turning languidly while cattle grazed beneath. But I can understand how some would not want pristine wilderness invaded by these huge instruments of technology. And my personal aesthetic does not mean that I agree with politicians spending taxpayer’s (= my) money on unnecessary projects that will just increase my electric bills.

    If unsubsidized ‘alternative’ power systems could bring me electricity more cheaply than ‘traditional’ systems (including nuclear power), then I’m all for them. If not, then send them back to the drawing boards and let’s drill, mine, and burn.

    The problem is, the public has been brainwashed into thinking that drilling, mining, and burning are evil. If you want to keep the “petty bureaucrats, carpetbagger functionaries” from building “ugly” wind farms next door, you’ll have to turn around public opinion and get the politicians to stop the subsidies.

    /Mr Lynn

  177. James P,

    3 mile Island proves the safety of Western Reactor designs, no was hurt as a result of radiation.

    Roger Sowell,

    I am not sure if your comment about nuclear fusion was directed at me, but I never mention fusion. Fission technology at its present state is enough to last us for the next 10,000 years so we might as well make use of it now, and let future generations worry about fusion.

    I disagree with you about the telephone and transmission lines, finding them a horrible blight on the landscape. The transmission lines needed to run power on the scale to run a city like Dallas, from wind energy created in the Panhandle of Texas are going to look even worse on top of a dead flat terrain without any hills or trees to block it from view. Worse still, they will have to build the transmission wire to carry name plate capacity, while most of the time it will be carrying 20% at most.

    Panhandle of Texas is dead center in the North American flyway. 3 generations of hunters have been buying duck stamps to preserve and improve our wet lands, and it has been the greatest conservation success story ever, now these politicians and environmentalists who never leave the big cities want to wreck something that is beautiful.

    Wind energy is nothing but junk. Might as well invest in modern art or Global Warming Voodoo dolls and stick those out there on the side of the highway. It will save the rate payer money, kill fewer birds and cannot be that much uglier than those stupid windmills.

  178. I had a letter published in our local paper (Charleston, SC, Post & Courier, May 13th) regarding wind power. It was in response to another letter indicating that off-shore wind power could generate (and implicitly replace) twice the power consumed by South Carolinians.

    I subsequently got an e-mail from an individual at Clemson University Restoration Institute (although the address was from Eco Energy LLC). His response, however, did not refute any points made about the limited capabilities of wind power, but did indicate that projected figures for SC would be a ‘significant’ 10%. The actual Megawatt capacity may be a significant number, but it’s a far cry from the requirements. I don’t believe in anyones books that 10% is significant. This doesn’t mean that wind power should be abandoned, but when traditional means are plentiful and cheap, the economics plays a significant role.

    In general, people cannot comprehend large numbers. Anything above a thousand (kilo, mega, giga, billion, trillion, and so on) is equated to be ‘a lot’. Unfortunately, without a baseline comparison – an error of omission – the political commentary all just hot air which the general public breathe deeply.

    Sadly, we live in a Twitteresque world (the next generation of the 30 second YouTube video): if you can’t explain your argument in 140 characters or less, then you have no comprehensible argument.

  179. bill,

    If you look at the Glasgow wind speed graphs above, you will note that there were only a few hours during the week when the wind was going 5m/s (11mph) or faster. Thanks for confirming the thesis of the article.

  180. JohnnyB,

    Are you advocating the use of breeder reactors? Do you like the prospect of North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Pakistan pumping out large quantities of Plutonium?

  181. Follow the money. In the US, T. Boone Pickens and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are raking in the cash from selling windmills. Someone is probably getting rich off going to natural gas too. It’s about transfer of wealth. It always was. If it was about something else, Al Gore would have the smallest carbon foot print on the planet.

  182. Pfft, no-one claimed that wind turbines could produce power when there was no wind. Talk about your straw man arguments, it’s like listening to rabid creationists or anti-vaxxers. Are you denying that they’ll produce reasonable amounts of electricity when there’s wind? Like there is most of the time in Scotland rather than on one cherry-picked week?

    And if your argument is more to do with not liking the look of them, well i can’t say oil refineries, tankers and rigs are exactly my cup of tea from an aesthetic point of view either. Or oil spills come to think of it…

  183. Johnnyb (05:49:34) :

    No, my fusion comments were a direct response to Steven Goddard.

    Re breakthroughs on renewable energy storage: there are at least seven technologies that work quite well, but the economics are not yet viable. These include pumped storage hydroelectric, batteries, ultra-capacitors, flywheels, compressed air energy storage, superconductors, and high pressure hydraulics. Note that Santa Catalina island, offshore California, is to receive a large battery storage system. That should provide a clue as to which horse is winning in that race. Or maybe it simply reflects the local geography.

    Steven Goddard, yes, I figured you were up on fusion power issues. I am all for it and support continued research. I don’t have much hope that it will ever happen, at least for the next 50 years. It is a bit difficult to overcome such a basic limitation as the bond-strength between atoms, although I have some ideas. Even if that hurdle is overcome, achieving continuous, controlled fusion remains a problem.

    But there are some bright people on WUWT, perhaps one of them will have a flash of insight, obtain a patent, and retire fabulously rich.

  184. You’re being selectively and unduly negative there, Anthony — not least because it’s gloriously sunny in that picture. Early February saw a short-lived cold snap in Britain which produced the coldest temperatures we’ve seen for a long time, with the most snow for over 20 years. But it looks like the solar PV was working fine, as indeed it was here in London nearly all that week.

    Glasgow is a windy place. In the west of Scotland, the number of days without any wind isn’t many — this chart of wind speed in Glasgow shows an annual average surface windspeed of 11 knots . and even in your charts, the wind speed spent four days out of seven above 5mph at surface level.

    As any meteorologist worth his salt will know, the wind speed increases with height above the surface, and windspeeds at 50 m above the surface (for example, at the top of large, tall turbines) are 75% greater than those that are measured at the surface.

    There are plenty of even windier places to choose from on the west coast of Scotland. This wind speed chart for the island of Tiree, just 100 miles NW of Glasgow, shows the annual average wind speed as 14 knots — and it’s one of the sunniest places in Scotland as well.

    Even better is to place the wind turbines offshore. Wind velocities are even higher and more consistent. We have a huge amount of wind offshore UK and that is why wind offers enormous potential as an alternative energy source in our windy islands — for reference, here’s the UK government’s view.

    This wind map of the UK and offshore areas shows that even in the southeastern coastal areas very near to London, as at Sheerness where the new offshore London Array windfarm is being built, annual average surface windspeeds are around 13 knots — considerably higher than in onshore SE England where this falls to 9 or 10 knots.

    Although even offshore the wind isn’t continuous through a few cool clear days, as you point out, it remains a fact that monthly average wind speeds right across the UK and its offshore shelf are highest in the winter when the energy load is at its seasonal peak.

  185. Please see preceding comment on average surface windspeeds in the UK and offshore areas – the presence of reference hyperlinks will likely send this into moderation.

    Kind regards from London.

  186. Roads,

    During a temperature inversion, like the “Siberian Cold Front” experienced in February, winds are also light “at the top of large, tall turbines.”

    But I’ll bet you knew that already.

  187. Bill Marsh: 4000 miles from Canada to Mexico? I must have misinterpreted what you wrote. My map shows it as 1500 miles to the southern tip of Texas.

    Flywheels? Calculate the size and speed of a wheel that can store a hundred megawatt hours. And how many you would need. When the bearings on one of those fail (magnetic or whatever) life gets very interesting.

    “Rapid self dissassembly”

  188. Here, https://demanda.ree.es/generacion_acumulada.html, you can see in real time the contribution of different energy sources to the whole electric network in Spain. You can move through the calendar choosing different seasons and dates- Apart from the fact of being the wind energy heavily subsidized notice in the graphs the 1:1 backup needed if there’s no wind. In the case of Spain, browse for a day with no wind (green data) and see at peak hour how the hydroelectric energy increases enormously to cushion the lack of wind. See also how maximum energy from wind does not usually match peak hour. It’s easy to play, although it’s in spanish is a self-explanatory gadget and based on real data. Hope it’s useful.

    best

  189. Aesthetically, wind power just looks and feels wrong. It’s building thousands of enormous towers to produce small amounts of electricity. It is not doing more with less, it is doing less with more.

    People talk as if ANY reduction of CO2 emissions is a good thing, no matter how small, and talk as if ANY use of so-called “renewables” is a good thing. Well i can generate renewable energy just sitting on a bycicle, but so what? How does that replace planes and trains? It costs to do stuff, and doing inneficient low intensity stuff leads to more waste. .

  190. When the bearings on one of those fail (magnetic or whatever) life gets very interesting.

    That would be cool to watch-from a distance.

    Years ago we had bearing fail on a silage cutter in the field. The cutter head is a metal disc about 3 feet in diameter with blades on it to cut corn and paddles on it to blow it into the wagon behind, or beside. I would guess it to weigh around 3-400 hundred pounds. I can’t remember now, exactly, but when the cutter head went out it traveled something like half a quarter mile before it stopped. AFTER it went through the metal shroud, and running through standing corn as it went.

    These include pumped storage hydroelectric, batteries, ultra-capacitors, flywheels, compressed air energy storage, superconductors, and high pressure hydraulics.

    So, basically, you’re mainly just trying to overcome the laws of fluid dynamics?

    No big deal there.

    And, I mean, really, it’s not like anybodies been looking for room temperature superconductors, or high efficiency batteries.

  191. Roads,

    You realize that Glasgow is at 56N and the sun barely gets 10 degrees above the horizon in mid-winter? How much solar energy do you think you can generate with that?

    The reason why it is cold in the winter is because of a lack of solar energy.

  192. Cannonball Jones weighs in with another creationists slur when he says:

    Pfft, no-one claimed that wind turbines could produce power when there was no wind. Talk about your straw man arguments, it’s like listening to rabid creationists or anti-vaxxers. Are you denying that they’ll produce reasonable amounts of electricity when there’s wind? Like there is most of the time in Scotland rather than on one cherry-picked week?

    Actually, the biggest problem with wind energy and others like solar PV is simply that the capital you need to throw at it because it is unreliable makes it simply not worth bothering with. You still have to build adequate fast-start base-load generation capacity and you have to build even more expensive distribution systems. The problem is that it doesn’t operate at all the times we need it.

  193. Cannonball,

    You completely fail to grasp the point. Society can not shut down for a few weeks, hours, minutes a year. There has to be 100% capacity available from dependable sources at all times.

    Would you buy a car or computer if you were told that it sometimes won’t work for a few hours, days or weeks at a time? Try to be rational.

  194. Cannonball Jones (07:07:06) :

    Pfft, no-one claimed that wind turbines could produce power when there was no wind. Talk about your straw man arguments, it’s like listening to rabid creationists or anti-vaxxers. Are you denying that they’ll produce reasonable amounts of electricity when there’s wind? Like there is most of the time in Scotland rather than on one cherry-picked week?

    It’s a fact that cannot be trivialized – it’s not a straw man argument. Sometimes the wind doesn’t blow. Whether that’s 1% of the time, 15% or whatever, it doesn’t matter. The power companies have a 100% (not 99%, not 99.99%) obligation to ensure that the customer has power.

  195. Roger,

    California has built 1744 MW of wind power capacity. However this is nameplate capacity. If we use a capacity value of 10% the farms deliver 174 MW out of a total of 45675 MW or .03%. Most non hydro renewable energy actually produced in California is from Geothermal (2456MW). Hydro produces 21% but I doubt any new capacity willl be added in the near future.

  196. Jon : ” jon (04:18:07) :

    But when they are working we burn a lot less fossil fuels! If they work at full capacity for 30% of the year then we burn less fossil fuels for 30% of the year … surely that makes sense?”

    No Jon, they don’t produce useful power. Wind is not dispatchable. Fact is after nearly two decades of building wind mills, Denmark is using more fossil fueled electricity generation than it was in 1990. Because they’re connected to the west side of Denmark’s electricity grid, the only effect they seem to have is on the dispatch of Norwegian and Swedish hydro and some German gas fired installations.

    As for Germany, you need to read Eon’s performance reports of their wind fleets over the past two years to truly understand just how utterly useless wind turbines are.

  197. enercon power curve for 2MW generator

    Wind speed is measured at HUB height i.e. ground/forest effects are not slowing the wind

    The wind speed for Glasgow is not the wind speed for whitelees completely different conditions.

    The latest turbine
    Note starts generating a 2.5metres/sec
    cuts out 28m/s

    http://www.enercon.de/en/e112.htm
    Gearless ENERCON system
    Rated power:
    4,500 – 6,000 kW
    Rotor diameter: 114 m
    Hub height: 124 m(in situ concrete tower)
    Generator: Direct-drive ENERCON ring generator
    Cut-in wind speed:2.5 m/s
    Cut-out wind speed:28 – 34 m/s

  198. Roads (07:17:30) :

    Britain, or indeed Europe, is not the US. An additional problem is that the perception is that the US is ‘backwards’ when compared to the US, since we are so far behind the curve as far as alternative energies are concerned. As indicated in a previous post, the Scots have little need for air conditioning. Look at a temperature map of the US during the 6/8 months of the year around the summer months. Indeed, the climate for the US follows a greater extreme than a lot of European countries.

    There’s no argument that wind speeds are more consistent in some parts of the world than others (I often wonder why all these starving Ethiopians don’t just hit the McDonalds if they are hungry; or grow a few carrots). Facetiousness aside, what works in one location doesn’t necessarily work in another. Britain is ‘lucky’ in this regard – consistent wind speeds, a reasonably mild climate all year round, and an abundance of natural gas.

    Satisfying the energy requirements to keep Americans in the same luxury that Europeans are used to takes a lot of energy. The US does have a ‘significant’ alternative energy industry, but there are practical limitations which are being overlooked (ignored) since the media and politicians painting a tragedy in the making.

  199. (To clarify, the perception is that the US is far behind the curve with regards to alternative energies, whereas the reality is different).

  200. Steven Goddard,

    Yes, I do like the idea of North Korea, Iran and Venezuela having nuclear bombs. I believe the nuclear bombs hve been the greatest peace device the world has ever known, and that they make the consequences of war so horrible that once everyone has them the world will finally know peace.

    BTW: You know what we make in Amarillo, right? PANTEX ring a bell?

  201. rafa (07:35:10) :

    That’s a really interesting graphic. For idiots like me though, and I know you said it was self explanatory, but could you please translate “ciclo combinado, Resto reg. esp. and intercambios int” into English.

    I know, we British are useless at language, and you now have more proof, but it would be much appreciated.

    Gracias

  202. oops,
    In my above post I calculated .03% as my estimate of what wind power contributes to the total in California. It is actually .38%. If anybody actually has the numbers in kilowatt hours it would be interesting to compare to my estimates.

  203. May I throw something else into the mix? The Earth is a great big hot ball with a thin crust on it. In theory there’s enough energy below your feet to power our needs till long after the Sun goes out, and since it’s below everyone’s feet, doesn’t come with any geopolitical problems attached, like oil. Of course the technical problems of trying to extract geothermal energy are at present immense, but I feel confident they could be overcome one day (but perhaps not soon). In the meantime fossil fuels can keep us going for quite a while without, I’m sure, overheating the planet. The biggest danger we will face is the competition for dwindling oil and gas reserves.

  204. richcar (08:35:53) :

    I do not recognize any of the data you presented. The published data from California Energy Commission (CEC) is quite different.

    see http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/total_system_power.html

    Also, from CEC, the total installed MW for wind, through 2008, was 2353 MW. California’s wind power plants operated at average capacity factor of 36.9 percent of nameplate capacity in 2006, and around 28 percent in 2008.

    As I wrote in an earlier comment, wind in California provides around 2 percent of total power sold (for 2008, it was 2.5 percent). Not the 0.03 percent you quoted.

  205. The problem with wind is that it has to be backed up 1:1 by conventional power generation such as gas fired, coal, oil or nuclear.
    It means have to have 200% capacity to ensure 100% supply.
    Does that make economic sense?

    It’s pure economic lunacy.

    It depends. Say wind costs zero and you have to pay for coal/nat. gas. You come out ahead if wind displaces fuel use even if you have to keep a minimum burn on a coal plant to keep it ready.

    Now of course considering wind costs 2X to 3X coal. It gets nuts. If wind costs less than a gas peaker AND if a peaker can be dispatched in short order it might make some sense since gas is high cost.

    Wind makes the most sense when located near a hydro plant because hydro can be dispatched instantly.

    The Israelis are thinking along these lines in something called the Ezekiel Project.

    http://www.ezekielproject.org/

  206. The problem is not battery efficiency. It is high battery efficiency with long life at low costs.

    We do have batteries with efficiencies greater than 90%.

  207. Let me note that wind speed graphs do not do the situation justice. What we need is wind power graphs. Which would be wind speed cubed.

  208. As someone who can see Whitelee wind-farm every day on my way to work and remembers the cold period in early February I’m dreading the stability of our grid when the North Sea natural gas shuts down and we have to rely on good old electricity for space heating in the winter.

    As an engineer who tries to keep up-to-date I’m constantly amazed that some people think that large scale storage of electrical power is even close to fruition, so when I read the comments here I just had to have a look at the modern flywheel storage that
    “powerful flywheel systems storing
    vast amounts of electricity during off peak times “
    exist and are readily available so here goes on my take on what is on offer and how it could help us when the Whitelee wind-farm gets its downtimes (several times a year no doubt)

    The 4th Generation storage system stores 25kWh at a maximum rate of 100kW so for us shivering Scots who need to store enough power for a 300 MW wind-farm (lets round it down a bit since I’m sure it will never manage to deliver its rated capacity) for 7 days that would be
    7x24x300 = 50.4GWh of storage
    So we’ll need roughly 2 million of these wonderful flywheels i.e 5 for every one of those 180,000 houses at what cost !!!!
    I could only find one reference to cost which was $1M per MW, so assuming that is based on storage rate, it gives a price of $100k per 100kW (25kWh) unit.
    So that gives each householder a bill for $500k; or a cool $200 billion in total hmmm we could get a shiny new nuclear power stations for the whole of the UK for that !!!!!.

    Sorry but in what universe is this feasible for a modern urban electrical supply system.

  209. 2.5 m/s = 6 mph
    16 m/s = 36 mph
    20 m/s = 45 mph

    Now let us look at output.

    If you consider 2.5 m/s minimum output then at 16 m/s max output is 262X minimum. At 20 m/s the min/max ratio is 512.

    Or consider a wind blowing at 90% of maximum turbine rating. Output is 73% of maximum. At 80% output is 51% max. At 70% it is 35%. At 60% it is 22%. At 50% it is 12.5%. At 40% you are down to 6.4%. At 30% you are down to 2.3%. At 20% you are at less that 1%.

    Economically it is probably useless (other than to impress the rubes) to design wind turbines that can handle min/max ratios more than 5 or 6 to 1.

  210. I remember reading a comment once (a long time ago) about AC in cars. Someone snarkily mentioned that Europeans do not have AC in their cars and that we were wimps. The reply was simple: nobody in Europe has to drive across Kansas in July (forget about any of the desert southwest, deep south, or eastern coast locales).

    Mark

  211. JohnnyB,

    I wonder many virgins one might get for blowing up a nuke in a large western city? Or even better, creating an EMP blast which wipes out the infrastructure of Europe or the US?

    You might want to think your position about nuclear weapons in the Middle East through a bit more carefully.

  212. “If anybody actually has the numbers in kilowatt hours it would be interesting to compare to my estimates.”

    As far as I know, no state or utility publicly releases actual wind generation numbers. They disseminate “capacity” numbers only. If you see an actual generation figure for a state, please let me know about it. I have been looking for such data for years.

  213. Roger,
    Thanks for the data. The capacity factor of 28% represents what the wind farm actually generates but not what is actually taken. This is refered to as capacity value. This is because many times the power is stranded and not able to be used. What happen to the capacity factor from 2006 to 2008? Do you know what the capacity value was?

  214. Hmmm…one would think that the lack of any snow-drifts would have given away the “dead wind” area.

    Methinks the folks who decided to place the wind generators here would have at least checked to see if there was any wind in the first place.

  215. All the ‘green’ energy producers in the UK claim subsidies based on what they have output based on a metering system. Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) are registerd on a month by month record but with a publishing delay for the figures.

    Last time I looked at the numbers it was quite evident that even the offshore locations had very low claims (and therefore output) for two or three months each year. February is never going to be a good month,

    We have recently been looking for new kitchen applicances. Most cookers – certainly ovens – are now electric. Finding a choice for gas is almost impossible. So when the windmills are in the forefront of generation we will starve as well as freeze. The only plus is that it will be cold enough that the failure of out freezers will not result in spoiled food. Just inedible, uncookable frozen food that will have to last for a while because the re-supply system will not be operational.

    I will likely not be around to see uch of that. My kids will. Their kids will hate the mistakes made by the current generation – just like the green zealots claim but for completely the opposite reasons.

    Unless of course the rest of the world has not followed along in which case they may wish to avail themselves of the parts of the land surface that we currently inhabit, seeing it as too useful a place to live to be left in a third world state.

  216. Fusion and flywheels … together!

    The ALCATOR-C MOD fusion reactor at MIT, right next to the
    Charles River in Cambridge in the US, has a flywheel to power
    the “magnetic pinch bottle” or tokamak. You can go and take
    a tour there, as I did.

    The flywheel is powered by a 1000 hp DC motor for a whole
    24 hours to spin up so the surface speed is just subsonic. Then
    they need a magnetic field, and it slows down in 3 seconds.
    The flywheel has a very high energy density when it is spun up.

    Note the power to run the experiment comes from the Boston
    Edison plant across the river.

  217. crosspatch (14:30:50) :

    “As far as I know, no state or utility publicly releases actual wind generation numbers. They disseminate “capacity” numbers only. If you see an actual generation figure for a state, please let me know about it. I have been looking for such data for years.”

    See my response at 10:12:23, or click below for California published values. There is also a spreadsheet for several years of actual generation for wind and all other generation sources.

    http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/total_system_power.html

    Another source that shows capacity and kwh generated, by state in the U.S., is here:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/solar.renewables/page/state_profiles/r_profiles_sum.html

    click on any state on the map for details for 2006.

  218. Um – JohnnyB, the only reason that nuclear weapons work as a deterrent is that up until now the only nuclear armed powers have too much to lose to actually want to use them.

    Giving nukes to people who have NOTHING to lose (or who perceive themselves that way) is a guarantee of seeing a nuclear confrontation.

    Sorry, but you’re backward on this concept. I agree with Steve Goddard: think more about your position on this.

  219. oops,
    In my above post I calculated .03% as my estimate of what wind power contributes to the total in California. It is actually .38%. If anybody actually has the numbers in kilowatt hours it would be interesting to compare to my estimates.

    One thing you have to remember, is that you can’t go by just generating capacity INSIDE California. California is the largest electricity “importer” in the U.S. So, it’s probably worse than it looks.

  220. paulID:

    “the key here is those things don’t generate much juice unless the wind gets between 6 and 10 mph your nit picking doesn’t change the fact that at those wind speeds nothing happens. 2.5 is as good as zero when it comes to power generation.”

    I’m sure you’re right. So why did the author say “the wind speed was zero”, which was false, when he could have said “the wind speed was too low to generate useful power”? He’s entitled to his own opinion; he’s not entitled to his own facts.

  221. Code, you and Steve might be right, but my view of world history must differ from yours. Seems to me, that when more than 1 nation has the bomb using it would be suicidal even for great nuclear powers like the USA. If it is proliferation that you are worried about, then fuel pellets could be made out of thorium and assembled into fuel rods in the developed nations and given for free or sold at a deep discount to the developing world.

    Electricity and industry are obviously important, but they are not as important as water. Russia has developed a nuclear barge to be operated by the Russian Navy which could be moved anywhere in the world, supply power, heat and fresh water anywhere with ocean access. This is impossible to impliment on a large scale with any other energy technology. Here also you could utilize economies of scale by building the nuclear barges in a central location greatly reducing their expense and financing cost because they would not have to go through the added delys of siting expense while paying interest on money spent waiting. When the fuel is used up the old barge could be changed out for a fresh one, then dragged back to port where its fuel could be recycled. Nuclear waste and breeder plutonium would never get into the hands of the savages, while the savages would still be able to enjoy the benefits of water, heat and power. Barges would be an ideal solution for California, as they would be floating off the coast and unaffected by Earthquakes, while being able to also make fresh water for an ever thristy State.

    Like Barges, for those of us living inland, gas turbine rectors could be made small and safe enough to be transported by train and truck in a centralized location using mass production and economies of scale with existing technology. These reactors could be burried beneath cities reducing the need for transmission lines while providing cogeneration capiblities. Using the same principles which power propane refrigerators, perhaps waste heat could even be used to pump cool water to homes during hot weather reducing the demands on their central air conditioner system.

    The technology that already exists for nuclear power is already enough to satisfy the needs of the world, while reducing expense and hardship to the people currently living. Fears of proliferation are somewhat irrational because because it would be suicidal to use nuclear weapons offensively for any nation, and might even be a continuing force towards peace as they were during the cold war. It seems to me that we have an infinite supply of energy at our finger tips which we could use as power to create a better life for everyone human on the planet or we could use it destroy every human on th planet. We should not allow irrational fears and politics to prevent us from being a creative force for good towards all nations, and by focusing on mutual benefit, respect and friendship these goals can be realized without having force ourselves or our idealogy on others who do not share our views.

    Maybe I am just dreaming, or maybe someday government will start looking towards more obvious solutions…Nah, I’m just dreaming.

  222. RW,

    Sorry, I should have said that wind power will solve all of the UK and world’s problems.

    Glad that you understood all of the important information contained in the article.

  223. An episode on the wind power generation from Japan.

    In 2004 a city applied for a fund of $150 million to the Ministry of Environment to install 23 wind turbines at a total of 19 primary/secondary schools, in the framework their “environmental education” of pupils/students. The Ministry gave an OK, and the city asked an engineering professor of a university.

    The professor then made a design which he called the “Hybrid Wings”, and the windmills were installed at a total cost of $300 million (half from the Ministry funding).

    However, in the fall of 2005 after several months of test operation, it was found that, for almost all the Hybrid Wings, the electricity generated by the wind turbine was less than that consumed by the control panel attached to the machine.

    Knowing this the Ministry ordered the city the turnback of the $150 million, and the city obeyed the order. But (and naturally) the city got furirous to the Hybrid Wings professor, and filed a lawsuit against the university authority, and naturally won in September 2008.

    Lesson: the machine design and siting are two of the major bottlenecks in installing windmills.

  224. Oops! Errata to tokyoboy (19:18:15)

    I mistook the Yen to Dollar conversion. Each cost should be divided by 100: $150 million should read $1.5 million, etc. Qtuite sorry for this……..

  225. it appears that California pays wind producers for what they do not take and reports it as produced power. Therefore the capacity valur equals the capacity factor. It’s a miracle. I pity the rate payers.

  226. Windmills are symbolic of the insanity of our times. especially the windmills that are just sitting there, broken and looking plain ugly. I don’t think that we could build windmills fast enough to even keep pace with the added demand from our growing population, let alone replace any of our other technologies. If we’re really serious about cutting CO2 (the absolute last priority to me, if at all,) cutting our dependance on foreign oil and producing ample electricity for our growing population, existing nuclear fission technology is the best answer. BTW, one example. San Onofre just one power station supplies electricity to three million people every day, rain, wind, snow or shine. No massaging data, no esoteric accounting. The equivalent of 25,000,000 barrels of oil a year.

    It’s a real testimony to the power of Hollywood how they made an irrational fear of nuclear power the conventional wisdom of our day. JohnnyB makes a lot of sense!

  227. PhilK “That will put more electricians to work since there will be no other work in North America.”

    And this is bad how? Go where the jobs are.

    There are solutions to there being no wind. You can use solar the rest of the time. You can use batteries. You can change to more efficient housing and appliances, and entertainment. And you can still use backups like coal when everything else fails. A society is not made weaker by having environmentally friendly power generation as the primary source.

  228. Johnnyb (09:18:35) :

    Steven Goddard,

    Yes, I do like the idea of North Korea, Iran and Venezuela having nuclear bombs. I believe the nuclear bombs hve been the greatest peace device the world has ever known, and that they make the consequences of war so horrible that once everyone has them the world will finally know peace.

    BTW: You know what we make in Amarillo, right? PANTEX ring a bell?

    The assumption of rational actors in “North Korea, Iran and Venezuela” is a false assumption.

    I would give a better than even money bet that the day that Iran demonstrates a nuclear weapon capacity will be the day (or week) that either Iran or Israel cease to exist.

    I’m not saying anymore on this issue – it’s very OT.

  229. Roger Sowell (15:29:45) :

    Thanks for that. Looks like California is claiming generation at 25% of capacity which seems a little high but I suppose is possible considering some of the locations. But for it to run at 25% capacity, one would need to generate at least 50% of capcity for 50% of the time (or 100% of capacity 25% of the time, not bloody likely). That means that on my trips through Altamont, I should have a 50-50 chance of seeing that field operating at 50% capacity and the times I have been through there I have seem many more still mills than rotating ones. I should have nearly a 100% chance of seeing the field producing SOMETHING even if it is only generating at 10%.

    This picture is how it looks most of the time I go through there. or even like this.

    I believe wind has an important niche role. Mainly in providing power to remote locations (like the North pole) where there is no grid and you can’t get enough solar. I sincerely do not believe it is a viable economical option to supply power on a large scale. large scale installations eat huge amounts of acreage and are costly to maintain. Watt for watt they are more expensive than a coal plant per kwh generated. I don’t believe in having something just for the sake of having it or just because I *like* it or just because I “believe in” it.

    So tell me again, how many windmills would it take to power one single Nucor steel mill with an electric arc blast furnace? And would it be reliable enough for those employees to be able to depend on it for work every day?

    Wind is fine for peak load mitigation IF the wind happens to be blowing but it is not a reliable system for satisfying base load. Also, if the wind blows when demand is low you don’t “save” any power. You just end up dumping more nuclear heat to the cooling tower. California’s generation would likely be mostly between September to April because that is when the wind blows. California’s peak electricity demand is the summer when temperatures are hottest. We are pumping more water for irrigation and using more climate control. That is when we have our power shortages. That is also when the wind isn’t blowing.

    Large scale wind production is likely to produce the most energy right when we don’t need it. It has a 50% probability of providing power when little in the way of fossil generation is on line anyway (at night in the cooler months of the year) because nuclear and hydro generation provides a larger portion of the power at night. It is unpredictable, it is unreliable, it is expensive, and it eats real estate. But it is the pet project of many.

    I say go for it, spend as much of YOUR money as you like on it. Just don’t spend any of mine, please. Believe me, if it was all that efficient and cost effective, every business this side of the Pecos would have windmills on their property generating power. But they don’t … and it isn’t because they hate windmills.

  230. Dear David, no problem, the different labes translated into english

    Intecambios: Exchange (positive or negative, if the network has a surplus the excess is sold to Portugal for instance, or if there’s no enough power it is bought to France)

    Hidraulica: Hydraulic (dams)

    Eolic : wind
    Ciclo combinado: natural gas
    Reg. spec: Special regime (solar, biomass, etc)

    Bottom left there’s a calendar to search what happened on a particular day

    REE is the spanish company “transporting” electricity, does not generate energy, only manages the network on a exclusive basis

    hope this helps, I’m glad to help.

    best

  231. JohnnyB, in your original post you discuss nuclear bombs, in the most recent you are talking about nuclear power that is not easy to weaponize. A big difference, and sorry it’s OT but you kinda whacked me with that ‘arming the enemy’ bit.

    Disclosure here: I work in a nuclear facility. I’ve had this particular job for 6 months now, and I miss the travel of my old job. However, I’ve learned a lot about people using nuclear technology. Most of our nuclear workers are empirical… they learned just enough about nuclear theory to get their certification, however their day-to-day job is simple and requires no special knowledge. I will say this is the absolute most safety conscious shop I’ve ever seen, though, and NOBODY jokes around with the sources.

    From my experience in third world countries, there are very few people who actually understand enough of the importance of safety to safely operate anything more complicated than a turn-key self contained reactor. I have very low confidence that there is any safety in supplying nuclear technology to essentially backward countries, however if mandatory training in a first-world facility is included it might be okay. I’m not saying everyone in a third-world country is stupid, just that they don’t have the basic background or knowledge-base that we do.

    But weapons… not a chance. For the most part, these third-world dictator types would use any bigger hammer they could get their hands on, the moment they could. Consequences, or apparent consequences, seem rather distant to someone whose entire worldview is different from ours. This is the key that many people I know just don’t comprehend: guys like Kim Jong or Saddam do NOT consider consequences, they do NOT believe that the US or any other nation will actually go after them, and believe that if their cause is righteous they will be overlooked. Israel has nuclear weapons and is very responsible. They are a last resort. For all we know they may even be a ruse. But I can’t say that some of Israel’s enemies would delay “testing” or even having an “accident” if it damaged or destroyed Israel.

    If it’s too far OT, then do what you must, but with this thread dying down I’m hoping I can get some understanding of JohnnyB’s statements, because quite frankly that attitude scares the living daylights out of me.

  232. @CodeTech I think additional support for your view can be found looking at Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics, a model of developmental/emerging human values and worldview in individuals and cultures across the globe. It was thanks to that and models like it that I stopped being a “greenie” believing that everyone wanted egalitarian “peace” if only we could just all sit down and “understand” each other. There is also a lot of relevance to the green movement in general.

  233. Codetech,

    I would be happy to further discuss this issue with you, but I feel that everything that I would have to say would be so far outside the realm of what is appropriate on WUWT, I will not even attempt to post it here.

    With your professional background, I am very interested in your opinions on this subject. Please email me: hahajohnnyb (at) gmail.com so we can continue this conversation.

  234. Just finished watching the BBC International here in Munich. The announcer asked the builder of this wind turbines and was a little shocked with the answer – more of a double-take. The reply from the CEO of the company was that in one year’s time the turbines would operate at a maximum of 35 percent efficiency. (That was an answer I was very shocked by) I guess however when you figure in days not in service (maintenance/conditions on ideal to turn the blades) that figure may be just about right. CEO said they could have never built the system without government help.

  235. A look at the document from NREL linked above shows that different regional power authoritys use varying calulations of capacity credit (value) in evaluating the performance of individual wind farms. It is clear they use optimistic forward looking capacity credits to encourage new wind projects but then revise it downward after a few years of actually power producing history has been established. For Instance the PJM RTO covering the mid atlantic states has downgraded wind generators capacity credit from 20% to 13%. The Southwest Power Pool has assigned a value of 10% capacity value to producers in its region.
    In Minnesota Xcel is paying wind producers based on a 32.9% capacity credit despite a determination by the public utility commission that true capacity values were only 10 to 20%. In Colorado Xcel has recommended a 12% capacity credit.
    Finally California capacity values are all over the place. However a 28% capacity value is IMHO unrealistic. This probably is one reason that California is seeking to import wind power rather than build new plants. The CUPC clearly needs to use a standard of calculating capacity value that is consisent with other power authoritys and therefore protects the rate payer. They are paying producers at 28% capacity credit when I bet the actual credit shoud be no more than 12%.

  236. rafa (23:35:31) :

    My Spanish is not all that good, but shouldn’t the ‘ciclo combinado’ translate as Combined Cycle? meaning, of course, natural gas combined cycle gas turbine.

  237. richcar,

    The key phrase in the document you linked is:

    “The correlation of wind generation with system load, along with the wind generator’s outage rate, is the primary determinants of wind capacity credit.”

    The author explains that where wind generation coincides with load demand, the wind capacity credit is high, and where the generation does not so coincide, the wind capacity credit is low.

    The numbers on the CEC site for California are actual GWh generated by wind in a year, and the percentages I gave earlier are those GWH generated divided by installed capacity. And for some perspective, natural gas fired plants do not have 100 percent capacity factor, either. As they follow the load and are throttled back, they are not running at 100 percent.

    @crosspatch, re windmills not turning when you drive by. That is likely because California wind is strongest at night; are you driving by them at night?

    And to the earlier commenter who is critical of California because this state imports wind power, I say so what? Why do you have a problem with any state importing anything? California also imports nuclear power (from Arizona), coal-fired power (from Utah), and hydroelectric power (Nevada and Washington).

    As it turns out, California also exports an awful lot of food. California also brings in huge amounts of goods through major ports, then ships them out across the country. California also makes an amazing number of tv shows, and movies (films), which are then distributed across the nation and world.

    Do you oppose all that, as well? Would you be in favor of Texas and Louisiana keeping all that gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel fuel within their borders, or is it ok for them to export to other states? Just trying to see the logic behind your statements.

  238. Italy,
    wind turbines, the Government pays €0.68 cents per kWh
    solar energy, the Government pays €0.44 cents per kWh
    hydro turbines the Government pays €0.22 cents per kWh
    all the above are subsidised to 80% of all repeat ALL costs ( no pay back) and the normal contract is for 15 years no taxes
    This idiocy is to conform with EU emission laws,

    i have interests in a 2.5 million a year kWh hydro plant at the bottom of my garden.

  239. A question that I’ve wondered about for a long time, but I’ve never heard anyone discuss…

    Doesn’t the large-scale use of windmills also have the potential side-effect of changing weather? I mean, if you’re sucking a significant amount of energy out of the air, then you’re necessarily slowing the air down, which could affect evaporation, cooling, drying, and whatnot downwind from the wind farm. Is it too small an effect to be significant?

  240. This just published by EERE re wind power in the U.S.:

    “U.S. Wind Power Industry Marks Strong First-Quarter Growth
    The U.S. wind power industry installed more than 2,800 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity in the first quarter of 2009, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The growth rate is strong compared to the overall growth of 8,358 MW in 2008, which averages out to roughly 2,100 MW per quarter, but the growth is relatively weak compared to the fourth quarter of 2008, when the industry installed a record 4,112 MW of wind capacity. New wind power projects were completed in 15 states, including the 400.3-MW first phase of the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in Indiana, a project that earned Indiana the distinction as the state with the fastest growth in wind power capacity: a 75% increase in just one quarter. But looking ahead presents a less favorable view for the nation, as projects now under construction will only add another 3,400 MW of wind power capacity. Even if all those projects are completed this year, which is unlikely, the total installed capacity for 2009 would only reach 6,200 MW, a 26% drop from the record pace achieved in 2008. See the AWEA press release and report (PDF 197 KB), and for comparison, see the AWEA press release on the growth in 2008.

    Despite the uncertain outlook, a number of companies are pressing ahead with efforts to build wind turbine manufacturing plants in the United States. In late March, Vestas held a ground-breaking ceremony for two new manufacturing facilities in Brighton, Colorado, that will manufacture wind turbine blades and nacelles (the bus-shaped housings at the top of the towers). Vestas is also building a tower factory in Pueblo, Colorado, and expects to employ 2,500 people in the state by the end of 2010. The company is also establishing a research center in Houston, Texas. In April, NextEra Energy Resources (formerly known as FPL Energy) announced plans to build a wind turbine service facility near Story City, Iowa. And finally, in early May, Siemens announced plans to build a factory for wind turbine nacelles in Hutchinson, Kansas. Construction begins in August for the facility, which will initially employ 400 people. See the press releases from Vestas (PDF 26 KB), NextEra Energy Resources, and Siemens.”

  241. Dear Roger (08:54:22), yes you’re right, it’s combined cycle, I was just trying to emphasize it’s based on natural gas (vs. the other energy sources, fuel, carbon, nuclear, hydro, wind, etc)

    best

  242. roger,
    What I am trying to explain to you is that the number reported as produced is phony. The utilitys paid for that much power but they did not actually use all of it. It is like paying farmers not to farm. I’m sure the CPUC is under political pressure not to calculate a true capacity value because it would undermine their
    renewable energy goals. Minnesota is a good example. Xcel is paying wind farms at a rate of 38% capacity value when the public service commission has determined it should be less than half this. Who is protecting the ratepayer. I do not believe that wind power in California is that better than elsewhere like Colorado where the capacity value is only 12%. I suspect at some point they will have to rate down the wind power and California and suddenly you will see the power reported drop by 50% at least. Green energy is full of smoke and mirrors.

  243. rafa (23:35:31) :

    Thanks for that Rafa. It now all fits into place.

    By the way, it looks a nightmare to handle but they obviously do. In fact the Spanish power market appears to be worth a great deal more study in how they manage to accommodate the fluctuating power of the windmills.

    Gracias

  244. Roger,
    Here is a simpler way of explaining it.
    capacity factor is the amount of energy generated
    capacity value is the amount of energy taken in theory.
    capacity credit is what the wind farm is credited. This is what is reported as produced.

    However it can get worse. according to the following blogger:

    ‘In Tehachipi, for many years there was a curtailment program, where the windmills were overbuilt for the grid and was to small to handle the surge. Edison made an agreement with the wind industry to just shut the machines down and paid them over $12 million which was also charged back to the ratepayers. ‘
    http://windpowertalk.blogspot.com/search?q=California

    I wonder if Edison would be interested in a virtual farm I am thinking of building.

  245. I have posted this before, but this is further evidence of how useless wind power is. Surprising at it may seem Denmark, Europe’s largest producer of wind power, has never used any of its wind power – it sells it to Scandinavia instead, who can marry intermittent wind power with its instantaneous hydro-electric.

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

    The report also demonstrates large periods during the year without wind and thus no power. Indeed, on some occasions the Danish wind ‘carpet’ becomes a net consumer of power, as it tries to point its turbines into the non-existent wind. (Why did they build all wind turbines ‘back-to-front’, so they do not automatically trail into wind?)

    .

  246. >>the Spanish power market appears to be worth a great deal
    >>more study in how they manage to accommodate the fluctuating
    >>power of the windmills.

    They manage the system by browning out the grid. But brown outs (down to 190 volt) can play havok with electronics, and the Spanish have nearly lost the entire grin on numerous occasions. They are playing with fire.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article384768.ece?token=null&offset=12

    PS They are wind turbines, not windmills. Windmills make flour.

    .

  247. An article on this subject, if you are interested. (written 2004, but still valid)

    .
    .

    Renewable energy – our downfall?

    The government, under pressure from a disparate confederation of environmentalists and greens, have agreed to press ahead with a host of renewable energy sources, including wind, tidal and wave power. Yet, despite the vast sums of public money that will be allocated to these projects and the fundamental enormity of the decisions that have been made, there has been very little in the way of open debate on the subject. Like many aspects of today’s governmental system, the powers that be appear to have made a decision about future energy production based upon image, spin and the number of votes the policy will capture, while ignoring the basic truths and science that should be the foundation-stone of any policy. Nobody has even debated the absolutely fundamental question of whether any of these energy generation systems actually work. The media’s reaction to this steamrollered, image-based decision-making process has been muted to the point of being inaudible, and I can only assume that either very few in the media have any grasp of the calamitous implications of the government’s policy, or they are cowering behind their desks for fear of losing their jobs.

    So why, then, do I consider renewable energy to be a danger to the entire nation, both economically and socially? This is, after all, ‘free energy’, and what can be the problem with a free resource? Well, as readers will probably be fully aware, no resource is free even if it appears to be so, and this is the first of the many lies about renewable energy that have been peddled by industry spokesmen and government ministers. Oil is not free, despite it just sitting in the ground; water is not free, despite it falling from the sky; nuclear power is not free, despite the raw materials being ridiculously cheap, and neither is any renewable energy resource ‘free’. In fact, the conversion process from ‘free’ renewable energy to usable grid electricity is remarkably expensive and its enormous costs are being subsidised by the consumer. In the UK, this subsidy is achieved through Renewables Obligation Certificates, the cost of which are eventually passed onto the consumer. In 2006 the cost to consumers was £600 million, and this is predicted to rise to £3 billion in 2020. 1 That is about £200 per household per annum, on top of current energy bills, for the privilege of using of ‘free’ energy.

    Now one might argue that that is not very much money to demand from the public, given the advertised prospect of clean, renewable energy that will fuel our homes and our economy for the next few generations. Power at the press of a button, and not a drop of noxious emissions of any nature in sight – just an array of perfectly silent, gently rotating wind-turbines stretching towards the horizon – it is dream-world picture direct from the cover issue of an environmentalist magazine, and the answer to a politician’s prayers. In one master-stroke the environment is magically healed, and votes are captured by the million – roll on the next election.

    However, it is my belief that this sublime day-dream actually holds the seeds for our economic decline and for social disorder on an unprecedented scale. Why? Because no technical and industrial society can maintain itself on unreliable and intermittent power supplies. In 2003 there were six major electrical blackouts across the world, and the American Northeast blackout of August 14th was typical of these. The outage started in Ohio, when some power lines touched some trees and took out the Eastlake power station, but the subsequent cascade failure took out 256 power stations within one hour.

    The entire Northeast was down onto emergency electrical supplies, and the result was social and economic chaos. Nothing, in our integrated and automated world, works without electricity. Transport came to a grinding halt. Aircraft were grounded, trains halted and road traffic was at a standstill, due to a lack of traffic lights and fuel. Water supplies were severely disrupted, as were telecommunications, while buildings had to be evacuated due to a lack of fire detection and suppression systems. Without any available transport, many commuters were forced to sleep in offices or in Central Park, and while the summer temperatures made this an office-adventure to remember, had this been winter the results of this electrical failure could have been catastrophic.

    This is what happens to a major technical civilisation when is life-blood, its electrical supply, is turned off. Chaos looms, people die, production ceases, life is put on hold. Yet this was just a once-in-a-decade event, a memorable occasion to laugh about over dinner-parties for many years to come, but just imagine what would happen to a society where this happened every week, or if the power was cut for a whole fortnight or more. Now things are getting serious. Without transport, refrigeration, computers and key workers, food production and distribution would cease. Sleeping in Central Park on a balmy summer’s night is a memorable inconvenience, whereas fifty million empty bellies is getting very serious indeed. In fact, it is a recipe for violence and civil unrest.

    But what has all this doom and gloom got to do with the government’s drive for renewable energy, you might ask? Well, the entire problem with renewables – almost all renewables – is that they are dangerously intermittent power sources.

    Perhaps the first renewable source we should discuss is tidal power. Unfortunately, while tidal power initially looks like a dream power source of cheap, renewable energy, it suffers from massive variability in supply. The energy that it produces is tidal, and the tides are, of course, linked to the orbit of the Moon, with there being about two tides every day. This sinusoidal tidal pattern produces four slack periods during each day when the tide is turning, either at high tide or at low tide, and during these slack periods the tidal power system will not generate any electricity at all. Unfortunately, the energy that is produced is therefore delivered at set periods of the day which are connected to the orbit of the Moon, rather than our daily lives, and so the electricity produced is in no way synchronised with the electrical demand cycle. If these slack periods coincide with the 7-am and 7-pm peak demands for electricity, as they will several times a month, then the whole generating system is next to useless.

    Since the energy produced earlier in the day cannot be stored, as will be explained later, extra generating capacity will have to be brought on-line to cover the deficiency. This means that for every tidal system installed, a conventional power station will have to be either built or retained to ensure continuity of energy supply. But this power station will have to be up and running all the time, what is known in the industry as ‘spinning-reserve’, as it takes up to 12 hours to bring a power station on-line from a cold start-up. Thus if we are to maintain continuity of supply, this wonderful ‘free-energy’ tidal source actually results in twice the cost and saves very little in the way of hydrocarbon fuels. So, unless we are prepared to accept rolling power cuts across the country, which would result in the same chaos as the Northeast blackout, it is unlikely that we could ever successfully integrate large tidal power systems into the National Grid.

    While tidal power may be predictably intermittent, wind power is even more problematical. Recent EU directives have stipulated that some 40% of electricity should be powered from renewable resources by 2020. If this were to be predominantly produced from wind turbines, as is likely, then we would need some 30 gigawatts (gw) of wind generating capacity. To put that figure in perspective, the UK currently has about 0.5 gw of wind capacity. However, that is not the full story, for UK wind turbines are only currently delivering about 25% of installed capacity, due to wind fluctuations and maintenance issues. That means we actually need some 120 gw of installed wind generation capacity to cover just 40% of total UK electrical demand. If the turbines being constructed average 2 mw rated capacity, then we shall need some 60,000 wind turbines to be installed over the next twelve years. And where shall we erect all those? – Certainly Not In My Back Yard.

    But building thousands of wind turbines still does not resolve the fundamental problem, for the real problem here is the enormous scale of wind variability. I saw a wind-power spokesman the other week on the flagship BBC Hardtalk series, who claimed that the number of days without wind power in the UK were as rare as hen’s teeth – a comment that went totally unchallenged. Well all I can say, is that the hens in the UK must look like a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

    The truth of the matter is that there are numerous days without significant winds across the UK, and when those conditions occur it doesn’t matter how much installed generating capacity we have, for it all goes off-line. A report from Denmark 2 indicates that the Danish ‘wind carpet’, which is the largest array of wind turbines in Europe, generated less than 1% of installed power on 54 days during 2002. That is more than one day every week of the year without electrical power. However, if we broaden the definition of ‘without power’ slightly, the same Danish ‘wind carpet’ generated less than 10% of installed capacity for some 16 weeks during 2003. Yet Denmark has the same kind of northerly, maritime weather systems as does the UK. Thus the wind-generation industry is lying to us, once more, for a ‘wind carpet’ that generates less than 10% of installed capacity it next to useless, for the national electrical grid will never cope with such a massive reduction in power supply. In fact, wind generation is so useless, that Denmark, Europe’s largest wind generating nation by far, has never used any of its wind-generated electricity – because it is too variable. It is almost impossible to integrate wind power into a normal generating grid, and so Denmark has merely exported its variable wind supplies to Norway and Sweden. 3 These nations can cope with these electrical fluctuations because of their abundance of hydro-electric power, which can be turned on and off quite rapidly, unlike most other generating systems.

    This revelation, that wind power is totally unusable, brings us onto the other great lie of renewable energy proponents – the lie that renewable power can somehow be stored to cope with power outages. The first of these miraculous energy storage facilities, that is said to come to the aid of the thousands of wind-turbines that lie motionless across the entire nation, is the pumped water storage system. However, this claim is utter nonsense, and for the following reasons:

    a. Our present pumped storage systems are already fully utilized in overcoming variability in electrical DEMAND, and so they have absolutely no extra capacity for overcoming variability in SUPPLY due to the unreliable wind and tidal generation systems.

    b. Pumped storage systems currently only supply a very small percentage of the grid (about 5%) for just a few hours, while wind generation systems can go off-line for days or weeks at a time, as the Danish generation report clearly demonstrates. To put this argument into figures, the Dinorwig power storage system, the largest in the UK, can provide 5% of the UK’s power generation requirements (2.9 gw) for up to 5 hours before it runs out of water. (Thus the total capacity of Dinorwig is 14.5 gwh). If the UK was entirely dependent on wind power, a wind outage lasting just two days would require 140 storage stations with the same generating capacity as Dinorwig to maintain normal power supplies (assuming average UK demand of 1,000 gwh/day). As the Danish report confirms, power outages lasting a week or more are the norm, rather than the exception, and so if the UK generated a significant proportion of our electrical capacity from wind-turbines, as the EU has argued, the lights and heating systems would be going out, the computers going down and transport systems failing all over the country.

    c. Pumped storage systems are not only hugely expensive to construct, the topography of Britain ensures that very few sites are available, and so we will never be able to store significant amounts of our energy requirements. These storage systems also tend to be situated in areas of outstanding natural beauty, and so – you have guessed it – the Greens oppose the very storage system they are promoting.

    The same kind of argument can be sustained for flywheel energy storage, compressed air storage, battery storage and hydrogen storage – for each and every one of these systems is highly complex, very expensive, hugely inefficient and limited in capacity. The much hyped ‘Hydrogen Economy’ is one of these technological cul-de-sacs. It should be stated from the outset that hydrogen is not an energy source, but an energy storage system – a ‘battery’. The hydrogen has to be created before it is used, and it merely stores the energy that is flowing through the normal electrical grid. Unfortunately for the proponents of this clean ‘energy system’, hydrogen powered vehicles and generators are only about 5% efficient. A huge amount of energy is wasted in the production, liquification and storage of the hydrogen, and so hydrogen will not be propelling our cars, nor will it be storing energy for when the wind stops blowing. In addition, hydrogen storage vessels are highly flammable and potentially explosive, and I for one would rather have a nuclear power station on my doorstep than a hydrogen facility. However, the final unsayable truth about hydrogen powered vehicles (and electric vehicles) is that we would have to double or treble the number of power stations to cope with this electrical demand. The fact that many cars would recharge overnight would be useful in evening out electrical demand, but the number of power stations in the UK would at least double. Now what would the Greens have to say about that?

    In short, it would appear that some of the proponents of these storage systems simply have no concept of the huge amounts of energy that a nation like Britain uses within a normal week. There is no energy system available that can remotely be expected to replace renewable energy resources, while they lie dormant for weeks on end. These and other delusions that are being being peddled by renewables proponents are downright dangerous, as they give ignorant ministers in government the impression that we can maintain this nation on renewable energy supplies. But nothing could be further from the truth, and the 2003 blackouts demonstrate the seriousness of the consequences if we do run out of electrical power.

    Nuclear

    But if the large-scale use of renewable energy systems is utterly impractical, there has to be a solution to our energy supply problems; because even in the short term our dependance on foreign oil and gas places us at the mercy of oil and gas owning despots, who will seek to gain every leverage possible over us. Look at the current situation in the Middle East and Russia and multiply that by ten, and you have some idea of our future political situation if we become solely dependent on foreign energy supplies.

    In addition to this – for every year we delay in getting reliable and internally sourced energy supplies, millions of tonnes of a valuable mineral resources are literally going up in smoke. Nearly everything we need in our modern world needs oil as a raw material to make it – no oil supplies not only means no energy, but also no raw materials too. When the last barrel of oil comes out of the ground – and if alternate energy provisions are not already in place – human civilization as we know it will cease to exist. That is neither an exaggeration nor a joke, for absolutely nothing in our modern world will work without adequate energy supplies and petrochemical raw materials to make the things we so often take for granted.

    What ever you may think about the technology, the ONLY reliable answer to our energy supply and global warming problems for the foreseeable future is going to be nuclear power (either fission or fusion). Ok, so nuclear power has got a bad name through Chernobyl and a few other incidents, but the Chernobyl plant in particular should never have been allowed in the first place. The RBMK design was (and still is) a rudimentary graphite moderated steam cooled plant with no containment vessel – indeed, it was no better that the original ‘graphite pile’ in the Manhattan Project (circa 1943). Remember that graphite and steam are an explosive combination if they get hot enough, and that’s exactly what happened at Chernobyl (this was NOT a ‘nuclear’ explosion). This arrangement should never have been allowed at the design stage, which is why the British AGRs (Advanced Gas Reactors) used an inert gas coolant. In addition, both the AGR and the the USAs PWRs (Pressurized Water Reactors) are naturally fission-stable, and their very nature will resist and counter a runaway thermic event like that which occurred at Chernobyl.

    While the early designs of nuclear power stations have highlighted the problems that poor design or construction can pose, our design and technological capability has moved on in great strides. The Russian RBMKs are the equivalent of a model T Ford, the British AGRs represent Morris Minor technology from the ’60s, but we are now capable of producing Bugattis and Ferraris – which provide a quantum leap in terms of safety and efficiency. The point is that there are methods of reducing nuclear risks if we put our minds to it, and the latest design from Westinghouse – the AP1000 – will be able to deliver ten times the efficiency of the reactors in current use. (Which makes it odd that the UK government have just sold Westinghouse to Toshiba of Japan, just as orders for new power stations are about to be signed.)

    Therefore, we could supply Britain’s entire current and future energy requirements with nuclear power, while only using the same amount of nuclear material that is in circulation today (and which produces just 20% of our needs). Remember also that nuclear power is non-polluting in terms of greenhouse gasses, acid rain and other noxious emissions, and thus all of the reductions that we aspire to make in these pollutants could be achieved in a stroke if we turned to nuclear power.

    And when it comes to nuclear safety issues, let us not forget that thousands of people in ships and submarines live in close proximity to nuclear plants with no ill-effects. Also remember that while nuclear power has acquired a bad name, courtesy of some sections of the media, far more ecological damage has been done and many more people have died though oil and coal extraction, over the past decades, than in nuclear power incidents. Remember Piper Alpha, Aberfan, Torry Canyon, Exxon Valdes, etc: etc:? The list is almost endless, especially if one includes all the coal-pit disasters in Russia and China, from which much of our energy, in terms of finished products, is now sourced. If a nuclear power station had killed a whole school full of children the environmentalists would never let us forget it, but because it was the result of the coal industry they let the memory fade. If 6,000 workers were killed every year in the nuclear industry Greenpeace would go ballistic, but because these are coal mining deaths in China they are ignored. Why do some people exhibit these double standards? What is it about technical progress that they so despise? In some respects, some of these anti-nuclear demonstrators appear to be portraying themselves as the world’s very own technological Taliban, and in this guise they must be vigorously opposed.

    However, it should be borne in mind that fission power is only a temporary stop-gap that will maintain our economy and civilisation over the next century until something better comes along. Nuclear fusion may well be that brighter future, but for all the reasons already given we need a solution now, not in 30 year’s time. Nuclear fission will provide a stop-gap for that vital century, but fission power on its own is a non-renewable energy resource. The way forward has to be fast-breeder fission, where the nuclear core creates its own fuel supply, a technique that has already been demonstrated and perfected. This energy source would provide the world with 1,000 years of energy, a large enough stop-gap to allow all kinds of new exotic energy sources to be discovered and exploited.

    We have about 30 or so years before the shortage of oil becomes acute and our economies and societies begin to falter, and that is not very much time in which to alter our entire energy production industry. It is like relying on the Victorians to plan ahead and ensure that we still had a viable civilisation in the 1930s. And while the Victorians were both successful and resourceful, history demonstrates that new sources of raw materials were never actively planned until the old sources were in desperately short supply or worked-out completely. However, the introduction of a new, nationwide power generating system is an extremely long-term investment, and if we are to make this change without a dramatic interruption to our energy supplies (and our society) we need foresight, vision and a quick decision. What we need is a tough, educated, talented, rational leader to take a difficult but responsible decision to dramatically increase our nuclear energy production capability. However, what we have in the UK is Gordon Brown!

    Ralph Ellis
    June 2004

    1. David Derbyshire, Daily Mail 5th Feb 2008.
    2 & 3 Hugh Sharman, Why wind power works in Denmark.

  248. Did anyone else notice how of our money the Global Warming Alarmists are willing to spend in order to make themselves feel better?

    Sadly, the cost has always been more than the benefit.

  249. virtual power capacity factor

    I just made this up. It is the difference between what a wind farm is credited and what the utility actually takes.

  250. ralph ellis (13:16:45)

    I read your Times article on the Spanish energy market and it is no surprise from the graphic posted by Rafa that such a situation (brown out) could develope. Hence I would like to know more about how many wind (turbines) they have, their capacity and their efficiency, etc.

    By the way, my car can be described as a car or an auto, but which ever word I use you know what I mean. The Times article uses windmill also.

  251. >>Hence I would like to know more about how many wind
    >>(turbines) they have, their capacity and their efficiency, etc.

    They have up to 16 gw of installed wind power (say 4 gw of realistic supply), which is a huge amount – nearly 10% of demand (actualy supply figure, not installed capacity).

    Now Spain is quite windy, due to the hight temperatures there and the nearby coastline, but the efficiency is still only about 25%. Just imagine the juggling that the grid has to do when 30% of the power goes off-line.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Spain

    .

  252. ralph ellis (02:20:41)

    dear Ralph,

    in fact I have tried to find out how do they deal with the variability, without success, just fuzzy answers from insiders. Of course the political bias from wind advocates always mention the ratio supply/demand, emphasizing two things, the annual average, and the good days. On the other hand they never mention the ratio supply/installed, and the days and peak hours where, whatever the meteorological reasons, contribution is almost zero (e.g, May 18th 2009, peak hour 11:20 am). Do not forget this is possible because in the good old days someone built dams, :-), so hydro is the backup (see the strong negative correlation hydro-wind in the graphs), I don’t think a country without hydro as backup could choose the same approach.

    best

  253. >>Do not forget this is possible because in the good old days
    >>someone built dams so hydro is the backup

    Precisely, which is why Denmark sells all its wind power to Scandinavia. But in the UK we have no hydro, and so the only backup is a fully functioning and turning and burning fossil fuelled power station (or perhaps nuclear). In other words, the wind power is utterly useless.

    Do let us know if you find any data on the problems the grids face, and how they deal with it.

    Cheers
    Ralph

  254. subbvert: excellent stuff….POOP…

    Have you heard that Ford Motor Company is getting into wind-power generation? Their windmills are known as the Fix Or Repair Daily design.

    Not to be outdone, Italy’s Fiat is bringing out their own line of wind-power generators. These windmills are known as Fix It Again, Tony.

    General Motors, (or is that now Government Motors?) who just could not leave this alone, brought out their GMPS windmill systems, which stands for GM’s Power Systems. These are better known as Gonna Make Power, Someday.

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