Wind power mirages

Would generating more electricity from wind really help poor families or the environment?

By Pastor Jay Dennis From CanadaFreePress.com

We Americans are often told we must end our “addiction” to oil and coal, because they harm the environment and Earth’s climate. “Ecologically friendly” wind energy, some say, will generate 20% of America’s energy in another decade, greatly reducing carbon dioxide emissions and land use impacts from mining and drilling.

These claims are a driving force behind the cap-tax-and-trade and renewable energy bills that Congress may try to ram through during a “lame duck” session – as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s economy-threatening regulations under its ruling that carbon dioxide “endangers human health and welfare.”

It is true that we are commanded to be good stewards of the Earth and resources God gave us. We should conserve energy, use it wisely, and minimize harmful impacts on lands and wildlife. But we also need to safeguard our health and that of our neighbors, preserve jobs, and help poor families build wealth and improve their standard of living. I want all children, not just mine, to have a better future.

Heaven knows I’m not an engineer. But Robert Bryce’s readable book, “Power Hungry,” has opened my eyes and helped me appreciate what it really means to be good stewards – and why we depend on hydrocarbons for 85% of the energy that keeps our homes, businesses and communities running smoothly.

Bryce points out that we are no more “addicted” to fossil fuels than we are to food, housing and clothing. It’s simply that fossil fuels give us more abundant, reliable and affordable energy, from less land, than any alternatives we have today. They enable us to have jobs, hospitals, cars, schools, factories, offices, stores – and living standards better than royalty enjoyed a mere century ago. As fossil fuel consumption increases, so does agriculture, commerce, mobility, comfort, convenience, health and prosperity.

Oil, natural gas, coal and gasoline also give us huge amounts of energy from small tracts of land. One oil well producing just ten barrels a day provides the energy equivalent of electricity from wind turbines on half of Delaware, according to Bryce.

Wind-based electricity is unreliable. It’s available only when the wind is blowing enough but not too hard. It can add to our electrical grid, but can’t be depended on to power a business or operating room. And no factory or city can get by just on wind power – not in my lifetime, anyway. Wind as a primary or dominant energy source is simply a mirage.

Wind turbines actually generate electricity only seven hours a day on average – and 2 hours a day on sweltering Texas summer days and frigid Minnesota winter nights. That means every watt of wind power must be backed up by gas-fired generators that kick in every time the turbine blades stop turning.

And that’s just the beginning.

Wind turbine farms need ten times more steel and concrete than a nuclear, coal or gas power plant for the same amount of electricity. You also need thousands of tons of raw materials for the backup generators and the thousands of miles of new transmission lines to get the electricity to cities hundreds of miles from the wind farms. All these materials have to be dug out of the ground someplace.

Read the rest of the story here.

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112 thoughts on “Wind power mirages

  1. “Wind as a primary or dominant energy source is simply a mirage” Says it all. Given this, why the hell are we bothering with it? Anyone with an ounce of conmmonsense knows that wind as a means of generating reliable energy is useless.
    Despite so many windfarms being put up over the last decade or so, they haven’t reduced CO2 emissions one iota. Simply because of the unrealiable nature of wind; they need to be backed up by 90% capacity by conventional power stations. With all the environmental issues surrounding their construction (and I include eyesaw, noise, destroying great swathes of natural beauty, killing birds as well as the amount of steel and concrete used and the fact that you still have to build conventional power stations as back up) please will someone remind me again what is their purpose? What are we trying to gain/achieve?

  2. It gets even better, so now that we’re wasting vast amounts of resources on the manufacture of solar and wind to fix a non-problem, we’ve declared related commodities rare-earth minerals and increased their cost. 90% are mined and produced in China.
    Why are we installing inefficient systems to solve an energy problem?

  3. John from CA says on October 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    California Voters: Vote Yes to Prop 23.

    Yes, I agree.

  4. John from CA says:
    October 20, 2010 at 4:03 pm
    Why are we installing inefficient systems to solve an energy problem?,/i>
    It reminds me of the Donner Party who took a ‘cut off’ (short cut) thinking it was going to be quicker and easier than the trail already made.

  5. Dear Pastor,
    I’m not much of a “church goer” but if I lived in Florida I’d be in
    your church every Sunday! Thank you for your post.
    pRadio

  6. I agree that wind power is not the road to Shangri-La.
    I disagree that fossil fuel power is all that great, however. Nuclear Power is the most environmentally friendly, and ultimately the most economic, source of power we have. The sooner a majority of people realize this the sooner we will be able to become good stewards and good samaritans.

  7. It seems to be me, and I’m just spit balling here….but wouldn’t one, perhaps the only, way of solving the inherent problems of wind and solar power, is to develop an efficient storage device?
    So, why aren’t we having a “Manhattan” type project to develop batteries? (If there is a simple answer for this, I’m sorry for asking)
    I know absolutely nothing about power generation, transmission and use, but isn’t the problem, the real problem, storage?
    You would think that this a scientific/engineering/mass production problem worth solving. It isn’t what they are talking about that deserves notice….what they are not talking about is also worth notice.
    Why isn’t the industrial storage of electrical energy a national priority?

  8. You’re missing the point.
    The move away from fossil fuels is not intended to reduce pollution and even if nuclear was totally pollution free “they” would still oppose it.
    The real problem they have (greenies and the government agencies) is people and freedom.
    The greenies want less people, the government want less freedom (and more money)
    That’s why you will never prove that wind is not free of pollution and CO2 is not poison: You cannot prove something is wrong to someone when they already know it but chose (for their own ends) to ignore it.

  9. “Would generating more electricity from wind really help poor families or the environment?”.
    Neither. In the UK electricity bills are slyly inflated to pay for wind power and this hits the poor hardest. As well as being an eyesore and damaging wildlife, it’s questionable if they even have any effect on limiting CO2 emissions when the costs of maintenance, spinning backup and installation are taken into account. It appears to be a scam strong armed by the government and enriching already rich people and companies.
    The government could argue it was a Christian development:
    Matthew 13:12
    For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

  10. Coming from Los Angeles where sun is plenty, we have a huge cost problem that isn’t really mentioned here. No homeowner wants to pay a huge upfront cost to eventually get paid back 8 years. In fact, 8 years is an underestimate. Wind is the same. One has to have giant windfarms to have a faster payback period. However, you then spend more.
    Coevworld.wordpress.com

  11. Fossil fuels Are Great. So, why don’t we leave a few of them for the kids, and grandkids? And, even if that argument doesn’t sway you, you’ve got to admit that FFs won’t last Forever.
    Why not do a little wind, and a little solar, and “see” what happens?
    I noticed the wording “Hot” Texas “Days,” and “Cold” Minnesota nights. What about “warm” Texas “Nights,” and Cool Minnesota Evenings. A little too slick by twice if you ask me. The Germans installed an offshore wind farm “Last Year” that has already produced more energy than was required to build it.
    Cost? Wind is already cheaper than Nuclear, and about the same price that Coal was when it Spiked in 2008. A little bit less heat, and a bit more “light,” please.

  12. JohnM: You are being paranoid. The “greenie” in the White House is pushing nuclear power. The fringe eco groups aren’t going to have much say in what is done. The advantage of C&T is that it uses market forces to direct investments to low carbon energy. This is better than government subsidies which depend on who has the best lobbyists rather they who has the best technology. (You see this all the time in the defence industry with companies lobbying for weapons systems the military does not want. Yet no one advocates privatizing the Pentagon.) Without C&T we will have to go the big government route like we do for national defence. The consequences of continued in action are likely to be severe.
    See: http://climateprogress.org/2010/10/20/ncar-daidrought-under-global-warming-a-review/

  13. Kum Dollison says on October 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Cost? Wind is already cheaper than Nuclear, and about the same price that Coal was when it Spiked in 2008. A little bit less heat, and a bit more “light,” please.

    Not when you cost in the backup capacity you must have to deal with days when the wind does not provide enough energy.
    If you like it so much why don’t you go off grid and only use wind energy?

  14. Swaffham in Norfolk, UK, has had a wind turbine for years. At windy times, it provides more electricity than the town needs, at other times, less. It makes little sense as an isolated, non-gridded generator, but as part of a national grid, it works because on average it produces the town’s requirement of electricity. Setting aside for a moment the energy cost of building it – because we can assume that will come down as the technology matures – it provides cheap power to the town, as well as being a point of interest in the landscape.
    What it really shows is that any energy solution will require lots of different technologies, because some will work well in some places, and others will be more suitable for other locations. If the best way for Swaffham to generate electricity is with wind power, that doesn’t mean that Bristol can’t use tidal power from the Severn Bore. Neither provides a steady stream of power, but linked together with dozens of other systems, we can be reasonably sure of getting a consistent level.

  15. Jack says:
    October 20, 2010 at 5:11 pm
    “Why isn’t the industrial storage of electrical energy a national priority?”
    Because wind, solar, and other part time renewables are very expensive sources of energy already. When you add the expense of yet to be developed mass storage, the total cost of energy would be many times that of our current coal, NG or nuclear sources.
    Why would we do that?

  16. The planet is fine, it’s the people who are F@ed.
    George Carlin.
    From their own ignorance I might add.

  17. Thanks, Pastor, for a very clear analysis of the inviability of wind power. Sounds very similar to the ethanol disaster. When I hear such I can’t help but think I am missing something because people in charge can’t be that stupid…can they? What am I missing?
    Also I don’t understand how environmentalists can be such champions of something as ugly as wind farms. Is this what we are preserving our wilderness for? I guess there is a component of “beauty is as beauty does” in their mind and also some anti-establishment-ism .
    Power generation should be as concentrated as possible so it can be out of sight. Small modern nuclear looks promising to me. We could learn a lot from the French who are way ahead of our stunted nuclear power industry.

  18. Mike says:
    October 20, 2010 at 5:48 pm (Edit)
    JohnM: You are being paranoid. The “greenie” in the White House is pushing nuclear power.
    Dead wrong. His administration is defeating ALL energy resource development and research – Except that which his political promotoers (Soros has bllions invested in Brazilian oil fields, and Obama has sent billions in US tax dollars to Brazil to support Brazil offshore drilling while US drilling in production wells in shallow water. BP? Supports his cap & tax. GE? The same. Duke? The same. Entergy? The same. His EPA, DOE, ERDA, NSRDC, NASA, etc, etc, etc, etc. are all opponents of energy development and ALL are hard-core enviro’s. Most have printed books and papers prefering plants and animals over people’s lives – prefering in their written words cases, to eliminate people to “save the plant”. Nuke energy? Ask who Reid (NV) got favors from to kill the waste fuel project.
    The fringe eco groups aren’t going to have much say in what is done.
    Dead wrong. The fringe eco groups control ALL the positions and power.
    The advantage of C&T is that it uses market forces to direct investments to low carbon energy. This is better than government subsidies which depend on who has the best lobbyists rather they who has the best technology.
    Dead wrong. Cap and tax will do nothing to “stop” global warming – less than 0.1 degree – IF it does anything at all. Cap and tax’s goal is to destroy the US economy – while raising 1.3 trillion in new taxes. It does NOTHING to lower global carbon emissions. And lowering carbon emissions does NOTHING to reduce the warming of the world that began 350 years ago – and will stop in 2070 regardless of what we emit.
    (You see this all the time in the defence industry with companies lobbying for weapons systems the military does not want. Yet no one advocates privatizing the Pentagon.) Without C&T we will have to go the big government route like we do for national defence.
    Dead wrong – and an illogical comparison in any case. Cap & tax is ONLY big government. With special favors for people who vote democrat. Did yo know that cap & tax AVOIDS taxing power plants in democratic congressional districts? It puts all the taxes on republican districts.
    The consequences of continued in action are likely to be severe.
    Dead wrong. The consequences of doing nothing are ….. nothing.

  19. Jack says (October 20, 2010 at 5:11 pm): “It seems to be me, and I’m just spit balling here….but wouldn’t one, perhaps the only, way of solving the inherent problems of wind and solar power, is to develop an efficient storage device?”
    Well, no, the best “solution” to using an intermittent power source is to use a proven steady power source instead, e.g. gas, coal, nuclear. Every conversion of energy from one form to another involves some loss, so it’s inherently more efficient to generate electricity when needed than to generate it when not needed and store it for later.
    That said, pumped storage is pretty efficient where such facilities already exist, recovering some 75% of the original energy input. I understand Denmark sells its off-peak wind power to Norway and Sweden (pumping water back up existing hydro dams), then buys back hydro power when needed. Nevertheless, the Danes pay some of the highest electric rates in Europe. Theoretically wind/solar could generate hydrogen gas (methane would be better), which could be piped or (ugh) trucked where needed, but that adds the cost of gas generation and transportation to an already expensive investment. I just don’t see the point of trying to “solve” a “problem” that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

  20. The NWO creeps just want to be able to traeps around the entire planet wily nilly with their gobs of money, without interference from sovereign countries. That’s why they want a one world government. I think I hit the nail on the head.
    The entire planet as their very own playground. That’s what the billionaires want.
    They are billionaires, but the one thing they do not have in the entire world, is the entire planet as their playground, and they want it so bad for themselves. This is their holy grail. They are frustrated that they can’t have that right now. Screw them to their graves, they ain’t goin to get that one last thing they want, period.
    All the Billionaires want the entire planet to traeps around on with their gobs of money, taking over whatever industry they can get their filthy hands on.
    I’m sorry, I’m a little irate this evening.

  21. Jack says:
    October 20, 2010 at 5:11 pm
    “So, why aren’t we having a “Manhattan” type project to develop batteries?”
    Inappropriate analogy. By the time the Manhattan Project got started, everyone knew the goal could be achieved – Fermi had lit off his pile. Affordable energy storage? Not so much. Nobody knows how to produce an inexpensive and long-lasting energy storage device from environmentally friendly materials. And, even if they did, you would still require thousands of square miles of land for the solar and wind installations, and that wouldn’t be very environmentally friendly, either.
    Besides, no matter how hard you try to reduce our use of oil, you will still run into Jevon’s Paradox. That is, we might use different energy technologies along with oil, but never instead of it.

  22. Jack 5:11pm:
    I work for American Electric Power (AEP) at their only nuclear site. For the record, I speak for myself NOT AEP.
    Batteries have existed almost since the discovery of electricity. The advancements in this area will be slow since in the final analysis a battery is nothing but a storage device for chemical energy and we have been using and researching this for decades. We have made incremental advancements in this area from alkaline to NiCd to NimH to Li-ion but this isn’t exactly a new science. Add to this that the scale of the problem is in the hundreds of megawatts range and I don’t think we will ever get there with what we today call “batteries”. AEP operates most of its generation in the pjm interconnection, they operate in the mid Atlantic and parts of the Midwest. On a normal day load in pjm will vary by 20,000 megwatts from peak load to min load, with a typical day varying from perhaps 70,000Mw min to 90,000Mw max. And this is just a small fraction of United States total load. On a hot day in summer it will vary by 60,000 megawatts or more in pjm. You can see all this at http://www.pjm.com. These wide swings in daily load represent plants that have to be sitting ready to start up if called upon to raise power to support the grid.
    AEP does have a few installations using NaS (Sodium-Sulfur) batteries that are in the few megawatt range. I believe the largest one is 5Mw. These are installed to address specific issues at the distribution system level and seem to work well for this, although I am by no means an expert on these. They are pretty expensive, costing millions of dollars for a few Mw installation. In my opinion, the best form of “battery” at utility scale is pumped storage hydro generation. These plants fill a reservoir during off peak times and drain it, producing power, during on peak times. The suitable sites for this are limited though.
    All this said, if you figure out a way to store electricity at Mw scales, let me know, we would both be fabulously wealthy. In addition, no one would need to build another power plant for decades. We would just operate the most economic ones we have at higher capacity factors.

  23. Dave;
    The value of your little S**ham windmill is utterly dependent on it being little, and having the whole grid to pick up wobbles in its output. As soon as you get to any significant portion of total demand, the nightmares begin. Cranking backups up and down — sometimes on a minute-by-minute basis — is horrifically expensive and maximizes “pollution”.
    In any case, we are in a CO2 famine, and should, if anything, be subsidizing its production.

  24. Kum Dollison says:
    October 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm
    ‘Cost? Wind is already cheaper than Nuclear, and about the same price that Coal was when it Spiked in 2008. ‘
    I am not sure where you are getting your info from but at best Wind is 149% more costly than coal. That ia with the massive amount of subsidies and counting wind as 75% efficient which is a joke. Talk to anybody who deals with Power Distribution and they will tell you Wind power in the U.S. at best is 15-20% efficient.
    Actual wind power ( without subsidies and real efficiencies ) is reportedly around 8 times more expensive than coal.

  25. Doug Badgero says:
    October 20, 2010 at 6:41 pm
    Jack 5:11pm:
    “I work for American Electric Power (AEP) at their only nuclear site. For the record, I speak for myself NOT AEP.”
    Too bad the world destroyed 75% of all the silver ever mined. Silver-zinc batteries would have been the way to go.
    “ZPower is dedicated to innovating change in the field of battery technology. With its award-winning silver, zinc and water-based chemical makeup, ZPower offers a battery that delivers high performance while safely powering portable devices such as consumer electronics and hearing instruments. The battery’s aqueous technology also creates an earth-friendly, recyclable product that reduces environmental impact.
    In the area of performance, ZPower batteries offer an extremely high ratio of energy to volume (Wh/l and Wh/kg). In fact, ZPower is the only rechargeable battery for consumer applications that beats lithium-ion in energy density – delivering 40% more energy. When compared to traditional nickel metal-hydride microbattries, ZPower has 2-3 times the energy density. And while lithium-ion and nickel metal-hydride are mature technologies that have reached an energy density plateau, ZPower batteries have plenty of runway to increase both energy density and cycle life. Over its cycle life, ZPower’s patented charge algorithm maintains a stable capacity unlike the steady capacity fade that occurs in traditional rechargeable batteries.
    ZPower batteries use an environmentally friendly chemistry that allows battery cells to be recycled and 95% of the key elements reused. Unlike other traditional microbatteries, ZPower batteries are mercury-free and meet the upcoming U.S. ban on mercury in button cells in June 2011. Eliminating mercury from the battery simplifies the recycling process and avoids contaminating the environment. ”
    http://www.zpowerbattery.com/

  26. Can someone show, on a global basis, how many fossil fuel power plants have been shuttered as a result of bringing in wind or any other alternate energy sources?
    Would it surprise anyone if the number is zero?
    To simplify the problem let us presume you know a person who lives on a small Pacific island and whose main power is from a diesel generator which is powered by fuel gifted by some benevolent government, hence, free. Along comes another benevolent government who provides a new, powerful wind generator which you acquaintance embraces to great fanfare in the obliging press around the world. Your original benefactor, seeing the writing on the wall, cancels shipments of diesel fuel to your island oasis.
    Using your powers of logic, what happens next on this little island? Might it include
    * Dead birds
    * Growing scavenger populations
    * Fewer birds
    * Power outages at the whim of nature
    * High maintenance on the wind generator
    * Purchasing diesel fuel to pay for wind free days
    * High maintenance on the diesel generator because it sits unused
    * Brownouts from light wind days
    * Divorce because your wife thinks you are an idiot
    * Your children think you are an idiot
    * People quit stopping by your island because your beer is always warm and they think you are an idiot
    * You begin to think you are an idiot and post your windmill on johnsonisland.craigslist.org and hope you get a bite
    * You are abandoned on your island, and finally leave, yourself, because the birds are gone, the rats are starving, your wife and kids have moved to Morea, your wind generator has tossed a blade into the pea green sea, and your generator has rusted solid from lack of regular use

  27. Suggest we use concise facts to convince Congress that renewables are not the way to go:
    1. Renewables do not reduce oil imports as only 1.1% of electricity comes from oil (source- DOE for 2008 and it is even less now). I can’t believe the number of politicians who use foreign oil imports to justify renewables.
    2. Unreliable renewables (without storage) cost from 3-10 times reliable natural gas generation. Add 25-100% for renewables storage (if it can be done) and 25% for storage losses.
    3. Transmission costs for renewables are large in both terms of dollars and environmental impact. New England wind study proposes to add 4200 circuit miles of dual circuit 765Kv transmission. 23% renewables for New England would require a capital investment of $80B versus $20 for nuclear. Nuclear would also use existing sites and require very little transmission mostly on existing right of ways.
    4. If your objective is reducing CO2, renewables are a very expensive way to do it. Renewables cost $333-666 per ton of CO2 removed versus $40-70 per ton for nuclear. On a national scale (7 B tons of CO2E emitted per year), it would cost $1-2T per year to remove all CO2 with renewables. It would be like having a subprime crisis every year.
    5 Renewables are limited to reducing CO2 by less than 25% due to their low capacity factor. Renewables can’t meet 50% CO2 reduction goals by 2030 nor 80% by 2050. If you “can’t get there” , CO2 prices would spike just like California power prices and SO2 credits spiked (unless you can buy them from the Chinese). Why invest in a technology that prevents us from meeting CO2 reduction targets?
    6 Renewables are caustic to reliable power system operations and are not “sustainable” – the more you add to the grid, the exponentially greater the negative impact on operations and cost.
    7 Renewables are another ethanol. Once congress starts the economic dislocation, it will be difficult to stop.
    8 There have been very little renewables actually added, hence little uproar. Some states are now reexamining their RPS requirements in view of the high costs and environmental impacts. While the states are pulling back, Congress is going in just the opposite direction. When the folly hits the fan, Congress can expect a suprime-like backlash.

  28. Michael:
    40% higher energy density than Li-ion would be a significant advancement for small scale apps we currently use batteries for but still doesn’t cut it at utility scale. What do they cost? How much silver do they use?

  29. Hi Pastor,
    Could you please share your wisdom with Rick Warren? He has done more damage with his green evangelism than anyone else in the Christian community. Please explain to him that windmills are medieval technology and the 21st Century energy is Helium-3 fusion, but until we get there, we have to rely on hydrocarbons.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eem7hDeREsY

  30. Mike, please don’t misinform people that Cap and Trade has anything to do with markets,
    Cap & Trade Is Not A Market Solution (Robert P. Murphy, Ph.D. Economics)

    Yet despite the superficial resemblance, cap and trade isn’t really a free market. The number of permits is an arbitrary scarcity imposed by government fiat. In the real market, resource prices indicate genuine scarcity. […]
    Cap and trade is not a market-based solution. It relies on a political scheme to increase costs, and can therefore be justly viewed as a tax, stealthy or otherwise, on energy – the lifeblood of our economy. So here’s the real difference: cap and trade masks the causes of higher consumer prices much better than a straightforward tax. And that is precisely why so many politicians endorse it.

  31. Brian H>
    Yes, that’s pretty much exactly what I said.
    Doug Badgero>
    “All this said, if you figure out a way to store electricity at Mw scales, let me know, we would both be fabulously wealthy. In addition, no one would need to build another power plant for decades. We would just operate the most economic ones we have at higher capacity factors.”
    I’m not sure we’re that far off coming up with some very clever ways to do it – by which I mean they’re likely to be in practical use within the next ten to fifty years. I know I keep banging on about them, but truly large scale ground-source heat pumps can generate all the power we need in most areas, without any environmental cost once they’re installed. Incremental increases in the efficiency of the heat pumps will make a big difference.
    Aside from the possibility of directly cutting out the electricity needed for heating and cooling buildings, people have been making slow progress on turning heat directly into electricity, at which point a) we just use ground-source power and b) we can run the systems in both directions, so they can equally be used for energy storage.

  32. Power Engineer>
    A minor quibble:
    “1. Renewables do not reduce oil imports as only 1.1% of electricity comes from oil (source- DOE for 2008 and it is even less now). I can’t believe the number of politicians who use foreign oil imports to justify renewables.”
    If you have electricity, it’s theoretically possible to replace oil powered vehicles with battery powered ones. Not practical, mind you, but it’s just another cost to add, not actually something they’re wrong on.

  33. Doug Badgero says:
    October 20, 2010 at 7:12 pm
    Michael:
    “40% higher energy density than Li-ion would be a significant advancement for small scale apps we currently use batteries for but still doesn’t cut it at utility scale. What do they cost? How much silver do they use?”
    Doug,
    The silver in those batteries are 100% recoverable.
    The initial cost is a bit high due to the current $24/oz for silver, but you will never see people throwing them in the trash. That’s truly good for the environment. It’s a wonder why a denier like myself would endorse using them. It is beyond me why the environmentalists can’t see the value and speak of this type of battery. I think the Navy cornered the market in the technology for use in their torpedoes. What a waste.

  34. What all you flat earthers and climate deniers do not realise is that the steel and concrete needed to produce wind farms is “good clean steel and concrete” and nothing like the “dirty, bad steel and concrete” needed to make coal fired power stations!
    Having straightened out your twisted thinking, I’m feeling much better now.
    /sarc off (in case you didn’t notice)

  35. Did yo know that cap & tax AVOIDS taxing power plants in democratic congressional districts? It puts all the taxes on republican districts.
    That is the first I have heard about this claim. Can you point to wording in the bill that would support such a your conclusion?

  36. Somewhere in the long list above, Jack explains the need for storage for wind power. He is, of course, correct, but then tries to use batteries as the storage idiom. There is already a well known storage method for storing excess energy. Near my home is Racoon Mountain, a pumped storage facility on the Tennessee River near Chattanooga. It seems to me that pumped storage is the ideal method to store and release the energy produced by wind energy. Right now, pumped storage is used to store excess energy from base load facilities whose output is difficult or costly to vary. In the same way, pumped storage can be used to smooth out the vagaries of the wind in large or small wind farms. With this plan, the utility can manipulate the power production using the water flow from the dam to meet demand without having to cope with the erratic distribution of wind power on the system.
    Some caveats: you must have a ready supply of water and you must have varied terrain to make empoundments for water storage. All the rest is standard stuff.
    My thoughts.

  37. On the continuum of the various rechargeable battery chemistries from Pb-Acid – NiCd/NiMh – Li-Ion – Zinc Silver; Zinc Silver offers a tad more energy density than Li-Ion at a far greater expense (Ag isn’t cheap). It isn’t an answer for anything related to Making so-called alternative energies viable. As of now it is suitable for small consumer electronic devices or specialized money is no object applications.
    When will the so-called greens realize that the world can’t actually function on wishful thinking?

  38. Pastor Jay Dennis says lots of reasonable things.
    ————–
    So let’s put his logic in the form of a parable.
    ————–
    There was a bunch of kids riding down a hill in a Billy cart. They were having lots of fun. The hill was getting steeper and steeper and they were going faster and faster. One of the kids who had slightly better eyesight than the others says I’m not sure but I think this road ends in a T junction on a maim highway. He said maybe we should put the brakes on a bit and even go down a side street. If we keep on going down this hill eventually we will be going so fast we will go out of control. And the others kids said no we are having too much fun. Why don’t we just put our hands over our eyes.
    The end.

  39. From the article:
    “Bryce points out that we are no more “addicted” to fossil fuels than we are to food, housing and clothing.”
    I have two nits to pick with that quote. First, there’s preliminary evidence that at least some petroleum is abiotic in origin, although the evidence is far from conclusive. That’s why I prefer CONG (coal oil natural gas) over “fossil fuel”.
    Second, the word “addicted” is partially accurate. Take cars. These ubiquitous beasties are both tools and toys. And the borderline between the tool category and the toy category is quite gray. Let’s face it. We Merkins are in love with our cars.
    Some Southern Californians, who will never ever drive on a snowy highway or on a deeply-rutted dirt road, commute to and from work in large 4WD SUVs, when a Honda Accord would work just as well. Why do they make that choice?
    Some SUV drivers enjoy sitting a bit higher than in a well-engineered mid-size car. For many, it’s a fashion statement. For others, it’s about the perverse satisfaction in knowing that in a head-on collision, the Honda Accord driver would be toast. But enough SUV-bashing.
    Moving on. If we had more localized population density in our urban areas (at constant population), public transportation would be more economical, and more people would choose to use it. Commuters would save money. The famous LA smog would decrease. (I remember walking to school on some purplish-brown days, and it hurt every time I took a breath of air.) And most people would be better off.
    We could incentivise localized density with European-style petrol taxes. Oh, silly me. I keep forgetting that taxes are bad bad bad. The increased revenues (another bad word) could be used for public transportation directly, and for increased security at Park-and-Rides, so that more people would feel comfortable in using public transit, or in carpooling, with less fear of their cars being broken into.
    We could implement Georgist property taxes, in which urban land is taxed, but the buildings sitting on the land are not taxed. In general, this would encourage more productive use of the land. People who live in condos would have lower property taxes than people who choose to live in single-family detached houses having the same floor space. This would incentivise greater localized density. And yes, Georgist property taxes could be revenue-neutral.
    With respect to cars and taxes, we have a Tragedy-of-the-Commons type of situation, in which people as individuals make rational choices that are increasingly dysfunctional for society as a whole, as petrol price continue to rise in the long term.
    Why? Because we’re in love with our cars, which we view as extensions of ourselves. This love affair is adding to our economic insecurities, as is our dependence on imported oil, and the increasing cost of drilling deeper.
    Many of us are in denial about the magnitude of the problem. If the big bad gummint would just get out of the way, laissez-faire economics would solve all of our energy problems. Yeah, right.
    I use the euphemism “love affair”. But some love affairs are also addictions.

  40. “Wind turbine farms need ten times more steel and concrete than a nuclear, coal or gas power plant for the same amount of electricity. You also need thousands of tons of raw materials for the backup generators and the thousands of miles of new transmission lines to get the electricity to cities hundreds of miles from the wind farms. All these materials have to be dug out of the ground someplace.”
    And that means more mining. Mining is at best, a controlled mess. And we all know the environmental lawmaking mindset that brings wind power is not going to long tolerate mining here. They tolerate it where it has little controls, and therefore is nothing short of a big mess. Out of sight, out of mind.

  41. Michael ,
    There’s nothing really that remarkable about Zinc Silver batteries. All of the various chemistries have their respective pros & cons. That’s why even the Pb-Acid battery still exists and hasn’t been displaced by the newer chemistries.
    Zinc Silver is impressive in energy density vs the other chemistries, but it gets killed in capacity/dollar, which seems like that would make it uniquely unqualified for large scale storage. If my goal is to store huge amounts of energy package size is much less of a concern than cost.

  42. Larry Fields,
    ——————–
    How about we let people live where they want and drive what they want? I don’t see how the all in all modest differential in mpg of your beloved Honda Accord vs. a SUV will impact global reserves of oil significantly. We’ll eventually run out at some distant point in the future anyway.

  43. The “Tragedy of the Commons” is a crock, as far as justifying gubmint action; gubmints are the very worst abusers of the “Commons”. Not least because they arrogate to themselves the power to define what are “Commons” in the first place.
    As far as transportation goes, the electric car solution is much more likely to work than many here are positing; there are advances in LiIon storage which will boot energy density 5-10X, and charging speed and safety just as much. (MIT and Stanford, e.g., have major technologies in hand which are compatible with current plant and methods).
    For some hot-off-the-presses news on what may be providing their juice at about 1/20 current costs within 4-10 yrs, here’s a brief Webinar.

  44. A comment on wind storage-
    Pumped hydro plants in the US are good for 8 hours storage at full output plus or minus an hour or two. While 8 hour storage helps, most wind variation is seasonal or due to 5 day droughts of wind. The reservoir would have to be enormous to be an effective wind storage device that takes excess generation from the winter months and stores it until summer when the wind is at less than 1/3 output.

  45. “Wind turbines actually generate electricity only seven hours a day on average”.
    SIMPLE!
    SOLUTION: BUILD 3 OR 4 TIMES THE NUMBER OF WIND MILLS SO THAT THE MAXIMUM OUTPUT OF THE WIND MILLS IS EQUIVALENT OF 1 WIND MILL WORKING 24/7.

  46. “Oil, natural gas, coal and gasoline also give us huge amounts of energy from small tracts of land. One oil well producing just ten barrels a day provides the energy equivalent of electricity from wind turbines on half of Delaware, according to Bryce.”
    This statement made my bullshit detector ring like crazy. 10 barrels of oil contains about 14000 kWh of energy. A wind turbine at full speed produces 3000 kWh in one hour. That means that one wind turbine produces the same as 10 barrels in aproximately 5 hours. So unless delaware is a lot smaller than I thought this statement is way off.

  47. Peter Sørensen says on October 20, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    “Oil, natural gas, coal and gasoline also give us huge amounts of energy from small tracts of land. One oil well producing just ten barrels a day provides the energy equivalent of electricity from wind turbines on half of Delaware, according to Bryce.”
    This statement made my bullshit detector ring like crazy. 10 barrels of oil contains about 14000 kWh of energy. A wind turbine at full speed produces 3000 kWh in one hour. That means that one wind turbine produces the same as 10 barrels in aproximately 5 hours. So unless delaware is a lot smaller than I thought this statement is way off.

    How often do they operate at full speed?

  48. Correct Pastor Jay, historically most countries abandoned windmills as a power source long ago. Reason – they are unacceptable as a reliable source of power.
    Almost inevitably power systems that host large numbers of windmills must install significant numbers of inefficient open cycle gas turbines to pick up load when, inevitably, the wind does not blow or blows too hard. The implication (in addition to the very expensive cost of wind power generation) is that efficient base load combined cycle gas turbine generation or modern super critical thermal generation, operating without windmill generation, would have resulted in a lower overall CO2 emission level (if that really has much significance). Also, often ignored, there is very heavy premium to pay in transmission network costs to accommodate small unpredictable remote sources of wind generation.

  49. @LightRain says: October 20, 2010 at 10:25 pm
    “Wind turbines actually generate electricity only seven hours a day on average”.
    SIMPLE!
    SOLUTION: BUILD 3 OR 4 TIMES THE NUMBER OF WIND MILLS SO THAT THE MAXIMUM OUTPUT OF THE WIND MILLS IS EQUIVALENT OF 1 WIND MILL WORKING 24/7.
    I don’t think you’ve got it. (And shouting won’t help.)
    If something doesn’t work, four times as many of them still won’t work.
    During August in the UK our 3,000 hugely subsidised wind turbines went for days on end (continuous periods of up to four days) producing no useful power whatever. In between these becalmed periods the contribution they made to our total electrical energy consumption was derisory. Perhaps half of one percent.

  50. Richard Sharpe.
    How often do they operate at full speed?
    When well sited 7 hours per day. So one wind turbine produces the same or more as the 10 barrels per day well. And I dont think one windturbine fills up half of Delaware……… They arent that big yet.

  51. “Split atoms, not birds!”
    That is brilliant!!!
    Been Looking for a new bumper sticker for my ’66 ‘Cruiser since my
    “John Galt, Dagney Taggert – President 2008” is a little outdated.
    Sorry for the post that contributed nothing to the discussion.

  52. Jack says:
    October 20, 2010 at 5:11 pm
    Why isn’t the industrial storage of electrical energy a national priority?
    I think because probably the chemical means of storing energy have peaked. One hears now and then of better batteries but the jump needed for megawatt storage is not there.
    What has been studied is waters storage. Pumping up water behind the reservoirs of existing hydroelectric plants when the energy is plentiful and not needed. Inefficient, but at least in the right direction.

  53. Larry Fields says:
    October 20, 2010 at 8:45 pm
    Many of us are in denial about the magnitude of the problem. If the big bad gummint would just get out of the way, laissez-faire economics would solve all of our energy problems. Yeah, right.
    I use the euphemism “love affair”. But some love affairs are also addictions.

    When I was in college fifty years ago the following was making the rounds: Dinosaurs became extinct according to evolutionary theory because their brains were too small for their size and they could not control the body. Man evolved with a large ratio of brain to body mass and thus is successful. Man+car have the same ratio of brain to body mass as the dinosaurs. Therefore man will become extinct.
    I

  54. >>Fossil fuels … enable us to have jobs, hospitals, cars,
    >>schools, factories, offices, stores – and living standards
    >>better than royalty enjoyed a mere century ago.
    Let’s get back to basics here.
    Each barrel of oil contains 100,000 man-hours of work. So fossil fuels represent a ‘slave economy’, where oil and machines are our slaves.
    In the Roman Empire, the largest proportion of the population were slaves, who did the donkey work. But the British (led by Wilberforce) complained about slavery being inhuman, and so we needed an alternative source of ‘work’ to maintain our standards of living. Oil and coal and the machines they ran were those alternative slaves. (Had Rome banned slavery, they may have begun the industrial revolution in the 1st century AD. Everything was there for it to develop, but slaves were too cheap.)
    Conclusion? Unless we can develop a new ‘slave economy’ with a new energy source that is at least as good and as flexible as oil and coal, our standards of living will decrease and our lives will become measurably harder.
    .

  55. Wansbeck says:
    October 20, 2010 at 4:41 pm
    They’ll be even better when painted purple:
    This seems to be another unscientific study. It says fewer bats are killed in winter, that’s probably because in the UK they’re hibernating. Insectivorian birds mostly migrate south from the UK in winter.
    Then Butterfly-bush (Buddleia)has purple flowers, lavender has flowers verging on purple, heather,thyme,lilac and many other plants with blue-purple flowers seem to have survived despite being unable to attract insects for pollination!

  56. My water supplier is planning to install two wind turbines near my house. I have objected to the planning permission request. I hope to be able speak at the council meeting: I’ll store this article in case I get the opportunity to make a statement.

  57. Dave says:
    October 20, 2010 at 5:55 pm
    Swaffham in Norfolk, UK, has had a wind turbine for years. At windy times, it provides more electricity than the town needs.
    It is a 1.5MW turbine in a town with population of 3130 households. When eastenders finishes and they turn the kettles on, that’s just under 500w per household. So no, it does not produce more than the town needs, ever.
    Phil

  58. I favour giving wind turbine generation a chance to evolve. If you had tried to do an economic evaluation of oil or coal from its early infant technical development, into the future, you would convince yourself depending on oil or coal wasn’t economically or even technically viable. Getting Oil out the ground is not easy or cheap.
    A fully evolved and developed wind energy solution may give a much better economic and environmental return on investment than it does at present, but it needs to be economically challenged, and not economically subsidised.

  59. Friends:
    The Pastor is right.
    If wind power were sensible then oil tankers would be sailing ships.
    And it is plain daft to assert (as e.g. from Lazy Teenager does at October 20, 2010 at 8:45 pm ) that we need to avoid using fossil fuels.
    The use of fossil fuels has done more to benefit human kind than anything else since the invention of agriculture. And there is no foreseeable shortage of fossil fuels.
    Firstly, the reserves of oil were ~40 years supply throughout the last century and will be ~40 years supply throughout this century. This is because oil companies need a planning horizon of ~40 years. So, if an oil company has less than ~40 years of reserves it pays people to look for more, but if it has ~40 years reserves then it does not pay anybody to look for more.
    Secondly, in the extremely unlikely event that insufficient new oil resources were discovered then synthetic crude oil (i.e. syncrude) would be made from coal. Indeed, when Germany was blockaded in WW2 and South Africa was emabagoed because of apartheid (so were prevented from obtaining sufficient oil) then they each made their oil from coal. But they used old technology.
    The UK government owns the novel Liquid Solvent Extraction (LSE) process, and since 1994 the LSE process has been capable of making syncrude from coal at economically competitive cost to obtaining natural crude oil. If and when the great economic benefits of Brent crude cease then the UK could obtain subsequent income from licensing the LSE process. (I was one of those who worked to develop LSE and UNESCO commissioned a paper on it from me).
    The surprising economics of LSE derive from two factors:
    1.
    LSE removes the need for expensive blending of crude oils so refined products match market demand. Oil refineries need to output e.g. an amount of petroleum and an amount of benzene that each match market demand otherwise there is disposal cost for an excess product. So, for example, this provides Brent Crude with high value because the result of blending it with cheap Saudi crude provides an appropriate blend. But LSE can be tuned so the syncrude can be a mix of petrocarbons that match market demand (and can be adjusted to match varying market demand) when LSE syncrude is refined.
    2. Disposal of sulphur-rich refinery ‘bottoms’ has disposal cost. LSE consumes ‘bottoms’ so turns them into profitable product.
    There is sufficient coal to power the world for at least 300 years. So, if there were to be a shortage of oil then adoption of LSE would resolve that problem. But there is no shortage of natural crude oil (and there is very likely not going to be one). A switch to LSE would incur infrastructure costs so there is no incentive to do it now. And, at present, the UK benefits from the high value of Brent crude so UK government has good reason to keep the LSE technology to itself.
    But in the extremely unlikely event that natural crude oil ran short then a switch to syncrude would certainly occur (as it did in Germany and South Africa) and it would have little costs (because of LSE technology).
    Nobody can know what fuel(s) will be needed in 300 years time. 300 years ago the major transport fuel was hay for horses. It would then have been easy to show that we needed to protect against using too much hay and, thus, to argue that transport and other technological developments should have been hindered. But hay is not used as a major fuel today.
    If the arguments to protect against using too much hay had been accepted 300 years ago then that would have prevented developments which have provided many benefits including reduction (and in some cases erradication) of pollutions and diseases.
    So, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must oppose those who today say we should inhibit uses of today’s fuels. There is no “bunch of kids riding down a hill in a Billy cart” such as Lazy Teenager asserts: there is the human race working to develop a better world for all human kind. Anything that attempts to stop that development is evil: it is against both Man and God.
    Richard

  60. Vanadium Redox Flow batteries are well worth a look. They can be adapted to large scale utility level (indeed, this is the only way they are used at the moment, at Kansai Power). Their energy storage density is low, but this doesn’t matter so much at the utility level. My own favourite is Zinc-Air batteries, but these are vapourware at present.
    The point some people are missing is that energy storage makes sense even if there were no renewables. If it is done at the sub-station level, it means we need never have another brownout. Some people and companies will pay a small premium for a guarantee like that.
    It also means that generating plants can work at full capacity 24 hours a day, meaning most of the time, only the most efficient plants need be working. The difference in price between energy generated at nighttime and peak day time is huge, so there should be somewhere in the middle of that where the cost of storage can be offset by the market.
    Until we crack the energy storage problem, trying to generate electricity from renewables, unless it is something like hydro, is putting the cart before the horse, IMV. That’s why fossil fuels are so useful, all that energy stored passively until we decide we need it and flick a switch. That’s what we should be trying to emulate.

  61. UK John:
    At October 21, 2010 at 2:46 am you say:
    “I favour giving wind turbine generation a chance to evolve.”
    Say what!?
    How many more centuries do you want?
    Wind power has been used for centuries. Wind energy powered most of the world’s shipping for thousands of years. Primitive wind turbines powered pumps (notably in the Netherlands and England) and mills throughout Europe for centuries.
    There are a number of types of wind turbines. They are divided into Vertical-Axis and Horizontal-Axis types.
    Vertical-axis windmills to mill corn were first developed by the Persians around 1500 BC, and they were still in use in the 1970’s in the Zahedan region. Sails were mounted on a boom attached to a shaft that turned vertically. The technology had spread to Northern Africa and Spain by 500 BC.
    The horizontal-axis wind turbine was invented in Egypt and Greece around 300 BC. It had 8 to 10 wooden beams rigged with sails, and a rotor which turned perpendicular to the wind direction. This type of wind turbine later became popular in Portugal and Greece. Around 1200 AD, the crusaders built and developed the post-mill for milling grain. The turbine was mounted on a vertical post and could be rotated on top the post to keep the turbine facing the wind. This post-mill technology was first adopted for electricity generation in Denmark in the late 1800’s.
    The technology soon spread to the U.S. where it was used to pump water and to irrigate crops across the Great Plains. During World War I, some American farmers rigged wind turbines to each generate 1 kW of DC current
    Perhaps you think the steam engine needs “a chance to evolve”? It is an infant compared to wind power.
    Richard

  62. LightRain says:
    October 20, 2010 at 10:25 pm
    SOLUTION: BUILD 3 OR 4 TIMES THE NUMBER OF WIND MILLS SO THAT THE MAXIMUM OUTPUT OF THE WIND MILLS IS EQUIVALENT OF 1 WIND MILL WORKING 24/7.
    ————————–
    Spoken like a true ‘environmentalist’ let’s take the most expensive and unreliable source of power generation and make the capital (and recurrent) costs 3-4 times greater with negligible increase in reliability. Heck, it’s not my money.

  63. >>LazyTeenager says:
    >>October 20, 2010 at 8:45 pm
    Your moniker demonstrates why you have no clue about this subject whatsoever. Now run off and do your homework, this time….
    .

  64. The UK average capacity factor has been around 28% in recent years for wind turbines.
    Whitelee wind farm covers 55 sq km, for a 322 MW wind farm. Rough figures and you can expect 2 MW per sq km as your average output. Half of Delaware is 3200, so if the winds there were as strong as where wind farms are in the UK, then you could expect 6.4 GW as your average output.
    Which suggests the error in your quote is about 900,000%.

  65. Pastor, in a blog where skeptics lurk, mentions of God and Heaven may reduce your credibility…in case you weren’t aware.

  66. LightRain says:
    October 20, 2010 at 10:25 pm
    “Wind turbines actually generate electricity only seven hours a day on average”.
    SIMPLE!
    SOLUTION: BUILD 3 OR 4 TIMES THE NUMBER OF WIND MILLS SO THAT THE MAXIMUM OUTPUT OF THE WIND MILLS IS EQUIVALENT OF 1 WIND MILL WORKING 24/7.

    Averages don’t mean much when dealing with power systems.
    If the power drops out completely — as it does with wind then you have — nothing — no lights — no nothing.
    See the paper here…
    http://ontariowindperformance.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/chapter-3-1-powering-ontario/
    Note the graphs show that wind power can drop out completely across Ontario (625+ turbines). It turns out that wind power is highly correlated in the area from Windsor (Detroit) to Montreal Ottawa (Eastern Lake Ontario).
    If you look at other posts on that blog you will find that even if you use the median — a better measure of “average” output that you still come to the conclusion that wind must be backed 100% by more “normal” power supply facilities.
    One of Richard Wakefield’s blog posts suggests rather strongly that Wind Power simply allows us to export a equivalent amount of power. In other words — it is completely discounted by IESO the supply operator.
    Cheers

  67. The way things are going I won’t be surprised if the UN doesn’t come up with a resolution to build windfarms in each of the ocean gyres, at the reasonable cost of only $4million per windmill, and that every nation on the planet will sign it (with the exception of the poor Chinese and Indians, and a hundred or so more of the poor), and we’ll all live happily ever after.

  68. Not only does zero wind cease wind generation, so does excess of 45mph winds. Optimum wind speed comes in at about 33mph. It simply isn’t viable.
    As the pastor points out, given the use of resources necessary to build these things and the remaining dependence upon foreign resources……..its a giant waste of money.
    Strangely enough, I’ve found a relevant article on MSNBC!!
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39759042/

  69. Pascvaks says:
    October 21, 2010 at 10:25 am
    The way things are going I won’t be surprised if the UN doesn’t come up with a resolution to build windfarms in each of the ocean gyres, at the reasonable cost of only $4million per windmill, and that every nation on the planet will sign it (with the exception of the poor Chinese and Indians, and a hundred or so more of the poor), and we’ll all live happily ever after.
    —…—…—
    And then we will send all of that power – which will all disappear as useless and unused, but VERY expensive heat used up in line resistance loads after 900 miles transit distance from each windmill’s location – to the closest shore via 1000.00 dollar per meter undersea cables stretching across all that vulnerable coral and underwater etiologies to a shore-based transfer station (which will also be prohibited as ecologically damaging) and then inland over ecologically-opposed land-lines to ?????

  70. Mike said on October 21, 2010 at 8:33 am:

    Pastor, in a blog where skeptics lurk, mentions of God and Heaven may reduce your credibility…in case you weren’t aware.

    Puh-lease, if a reader is of the mindset where they think they think someone’s mere mention of God and Heaven must automatically render that person unable to fully understand science, to that reader the credibility was likely lost as soon as they hit his title, “Pastor.” To such readers, I suggest they research the life of the scientist Gregor Johann Mendel, Father of modern genetics.
    😉

  71. Richard S Courtney says:
    October 21, 2010 at 3:24 am
    LSE… coal to syncrude
    ====
    How does the quality of the coal and its sulfur content effect the syncrude process?

  72. ‘I have two nits to pick with that quote. First, there’s preliminary evidence that at least some petroleum is abiotic in origin, although the evidence is far from conclusive. That’s why I prefer CONG (coal oil natural gas) over “fossil fuel”.’
    So what is the magical infinite source of raw materials for abiotic petroleum, anyway?
    The finite resource is finite, guys, turn off the reality distortion field.

  73. Thanks Pastor from an Australian protestant. Unfortunately in both your country and mine, leadership in many things, including churches, is now in the hands of the 60s-70s generation. Many are still addicted to the erratic views of that era.

  74. “The finite resource is finite, guys, turn off the reality distortion field.”
    That’s like saying dirt is finite. Technically true, but a useless bit of information in the absence of context. The amount of gas, oil and coal that can be extracted from the earth is simply a function of how much it costs to do so and what price the market is willing to pay. If “alternatives” can’t compete at $80 or $100 or $150 oil, maybe they’ll be able to compete at $200 or $300 oil, but I’m willing to bet that there will be plenty of oil at $150/barrell.
    Sure, the economy will suffer if prices get that high through market forces, but why artificially impose a higher cost on energy and cause the same harm by government policy?

  75. The Energy Returned On Energy Invested for wind power facilities is 0.29.
    An EROEI of < 1 is unsustainable.
    Wind power is a fraud that enriches developers and land owners at the expense of taxpayers and electric bill payers.

  76. John from CA:
    At October 21, 2010 at 2:27 pm you ask me a question concerning LSE syncrude that I mentioned in my post at October 21, 2010 at 3:24 am. Your question is,
    “How does the quality of the coal and its sulfur content effect the syncrude process?”
    This is two questions, i.e.
    1.
    How does the quality of the coal affect the product of the LSE process?
    2.
    How does the sulphur content of the coal affect the product of the LSE process?
    I will try to answer each question but only in the general terms allowed by the Confidentiality Agreement by which I (and all others who worked on the project) are bound.
    The process uses an ebulating bed at elevated temperature and pressure to dissolve both the coal and the added hydrogen (obtained from coal by a ‘water gas shift’) in a liquid solvent. Upon changing the conditions, and in the presence of zoolite catalysts, the dissolved components come out of solution in the form of the syncrude product. The solvent is then cycled back to the start of the process for re-use.
    The catalyst encourages the hydrogenation of the carbon to form hydrocarbons which are the syncrude product.
    The temperatures and pressures of the solution formation and the conditions at which product is ‘dropped’ from the solvent affect the hydrogenation process to alter the proportions of light, medium and heavy fractions in the product. Simply, the maceral content of the coal feed and the process conditions permit the product to be ‘tuned’ to match market demand.
    In general, the lower the quality of the coal then the easier it is to ‘tune’ the product to match market demand by adjusting the process conditions. Anthracite is almost pure carbon so hydrogenating to obtain controlled proportions of light medium and heavy fractions is most difficult (and other elements than the carbon of the coal and the added hydrogen are few). At the other extreme, lignite (or brown coal) is very impure and the impurities can be ‘tailored’ into the product or induced to precipitate seperately as required. Fortunately, the lowest quality coals are the cheapest.
    Sulphur is one of the items that can be precipitated seperately, and it can be recovered as marketable elemental sulphur. Thus, the sulphur content of the syncrude product can be reduced to zero and provide a profitable sulphur byproduct. So, the syncrude differs from natural crude because the syncrude can contain little or no sulphur as required, but natural crude contains sulphur which accumulates as refinery ‘bottoms’ that have disposal cost.
    I hope this very limited answer is sufficient.
    And I stress a the point I made in my post that you are questioning. The LSE process provides an ‘insurance’ against oil supply shortages. In the extremely improbable event that crude oil were to exhaust as a resource, then the LSE process could overcome the shortage. But much, much more importantly, crude oil suppliers are constrained from setting a long-term or medium-term policy of low output (with resulting high prices and high profits for them) by the incentive this would provide to establish unfrastructure for LSE production. Hence, the existence of the LSE technology limits the maximum long-term price of natural crude oil.
    Richard

  77. “It is true that we are commanded to be good stewards of the Earth and resources God gave us.”
    If he means in part, “Go forth and multiply, and fill the earth,” fortunately I have made every effort to get a full quiver full. Some of the more important natural resources being brilliance, humor, and good looks.

  78. John for CA:
    In retrospect, I think I should have pointed out that the LSE process is demonstrated. We built and operated a demonstration plant for the LSE process at the Point-Of-Ayr in North Wales. So, the ‘tuning’ I described is proven at large scale.
    Richard

  79. Richard S Courtney says:
    October 21, 2010 at 3:28 pm
    Hence, the existence of the LSE technology limits the maximum long-term price of natural crude oil.
    =====
    Thanks for the great response.
    One last question, given the generally lower cost of high sulfur lignite coal, a strategic LSE processing facility at or near the coal mine, and the cost of the LSE process to produce a barrel of oil, is $50 to $70 a barrel achievable before the return on the sulfur which can actually be converted to electricity to power the plant?

  80. Richard S Courtney says:
    October 21, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    I found the answer:
    http://www.anl.gov/PCS/acsfuel/preprint%20archive/Files/42_1_SAN%20FRANCISCO_04-97_0308.pdf
    Coal liquefaction plant with a 10% nominal rate of return: break-even oil price is around $35/bbl with coal priced at $60/t.
    I noticed the Illinois high sulfur coal had been tested which isn’t mined because of EPA restrictions.
    So in theory, a clean coal power plant / refinery built at or near high sulfur coal fields could use the LSE process to not only eliminate sulfur dioxide emissions, without the need for a flue gas scrubber since there aren’t any in the syncrude cake, but also reduce the cost of fuel for the plant while acting as a refinery and selling various grades of LSE syncrude fuels.
    This seems too obvious to ask by why isn’t at least one of these in each of the US states that have huge concentrations of high sulfur coal?

  81. Brian H says:
    October 20, 2010 at 9:18 pm
    “As far as transportation goes, the electric car solution is much more likely to work than many here are positing.”
    Fantastic. So, it should be able to compete on its own and we don’t need to subsidize it? But, to reduce CO2 production, you still need alternative sources of energy.
    Peter Sørensen says:
    October 20, 2010 at 10:42 pm
    “A wind turbine at full speed produces 3000 kWh in one hour.”
    That’s like saying “an automobile at full speed runs at 180 mph.” Some do. Not many.
    Peter Sørensen says:
    October 20, 2010 at 11:13 pm
    “When well sited 7 hours per day. So one wind turbine produces the same or more as the 10 barrels per day well.”
    Well, this source says a barrel of oil stores 6.1 giga-Joules, or about 1700 kWh, so 10 barrels would be about 17,000 kWh, so you need a 2.4 MW windmill to generate that in 7 hours. I think that’s a fairly sizable windmill.
    According to this, the US consumes 4 trillion kWhr of electricity per yer. Assuming each of your units generates 17,000 kWh/day, you need 644 thousand of the beasts, in ideal locations of course. This source says you need more than 12 acres per MW, so about 30 acres per one of your units. Thus, we need upwards of 18 million acres, or more than 28 thousand square miles. (Of course, that’s a lowball number from the link, and it could be three times that).
    Delaware is about 2500 square miles. This is somewhere between the size of Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey all together. And, that’s assuming it is all “well sited”.
    Now, if our cars are also going to run on electricity, well, we consume about
    140 billion gallons of gas per year. There are about 0.13 giga-Joules in a gallon of gas, so that is about 17 giga-giga-Joules needed, or about 4.7 trillion-kWh. So, we’re going to need to more than double the amount of land for your windmills to about 60 thousand square miles. So, we’ll take Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, as well as Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, as well as Rhode Island and Delaware. Completely covered with windmills, and the winds better be steady 7 hours a day every day.
    And, then we need somewhere to store the energy when the windmills aren’t blowing. We’ll probably need just about the entire Eastern seaboard for all of it. And, of course, we’re going to need a lot of materials for that, probably more than our entire production of some metals over decades. Then, lubricants, transmission lines, constant maintenance… this is not a small project, you understand?

  82. RE: Bart October 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm;
    I agree about the subsidies, though they aren’t all that major. About 5% of purchase cost, and (for TeslaMotors) a factory-capital loan which is expected to be paid back early, with interest.
    As for the source of the power, I linked at the end of the post to an up-to-the-minute update at this site: http://focusfusion.org/index.php/site/article/lpp_webinar_online/
    Within about 6 mo. proof-of-concept should happen, followed within 3-5 yrs by global offers of licenses for manufacturing of prefab ~5MW generators, shipping-container-sized, to all comers. The power is waste-free, and probably about 1/20 of best current North American pricing.
    If it works, the entire “renewables” push and market drops dead. Economic roadkill. Wind and solar first to go, I’m betting.

  83. John from CA:
    You ask me:
    “So in theory, a clean coal power plant / refinery built at or near high sulfur coal fields could use the LSE process to not only eliminate sulfur dioxide emissions, without the need for a flue gas scrubber since there aren’t any in the syncrude cake, but also reduce the cost of fuel for the plant while acting as a refinery and selling various grades of LSE syncrude fuels.
    This seems too obvious to ask by why isn’t at least one of these in each of the US states that have huge concentrations of high sulfur coal?”
    I answered that when I explained that the process is owned by UK government. The details of the process are confidential. At present – as I said – the UK gains great benefit from the high value of Brent crude. Adoption of the LSE process would dramatically reduce that economic benefit to the UK. And the UK has destroyed its indigenous coal industry so could only lose, not gain, from adoption of LSE.
    Hence, US companies cannot conduct LSE because they do not know how to and (being a British Subject) I hope the UK government is not sufficiently stupid as to tell them how to.
    Richard

  84. Richard S Courtney says:
    October 22, 2010 at 3:55 am
    Adoption of the LSE process would dramatically reduce that economic benefit to the UK. And the UK has destroyed its indigenous coal industry so could only lose, not gain, from adoption of LSE.
    =======
    Come again?
    How does the UK benefit from mucking up the landscape with windmills that will ultimately self-destruct when they can corner the market with LSE syncrude fuels that will bring down the cost of energy and thus give UK business an advantage in the marketplace?
    BP is likely to jump at the chance to subsidize the process and leverage it all over the world if the giga-Joules of syncrude are close to a barrel of oil.
    We have massive coal reserves in the USA but EPA regulations inhibit the use of a significant portion of it because of the Sulfur content. If the object of this energy exercise is to address solutions both short and long term, why is this de-sulfurization process not in the best interest of all countries and thus a significant benefit to the UK?
    I’m probably missing something obvious.

  85. I’d love to know how many of the wind defenders on here are just gullible and how many are actually on the BigWind payroll.
    But I should remind mathematically challenged people that two times zero equals zero. And a thousand times zero is still zero.
    Over the last three months, measured in periods of half an hour, there have been:-
    212 periods when wind supplied less than 0.1% of total UK electricity demand.
    511 periods when wind supplied less than 0.2% of total UK electricity demand.
    815 periods when wind supplied less than 0.3% of total UK electricity demand.
    1135 periods when wind supplied less than 0.4% of total UK electricity demand.
    1480 periods when wind supplied less than 0.5% of total UK electricity demand.
    Allowing for transmission losses, the 3000+ turbines thus essentially contributed zero for 740 hours or one month out of three. (And the last three months have been better for wind than January & February were.)
    Question, just how many turbines should we build?
    Question, will the 6,000 extra turbines the Government has committed to build this decade at a cost of £100 Billion help?
    I ignore the fact that they save no CO2 because dedicated gas plants have to be kept on spinning standby. I pass over the fact that the high variability of output constantly necessitates current frequency adjustment at huge cost. Forget about the costs of maintaining and operating old oil fired installations, pumped storage, imported electricity (nuclear) from France, running coal plants at highly variable load unstead of base load.
    These toys are worse than useless. Get real!

  86. LightRain says:
    October 20, 2010 at 10:25 pm
    “Wind turbines actually generate electricity only seven hours a day on average”.
    SIMPLE!
    SOLUTION: BUILD 3 OR 4 TIMES THE NUMBER OF WIND MILLS SO THAT THE MAXIMUM OUTPUT OF THE WIND MILLS IS EQUIVALENT OF 1 WIND MILL WORKING 24/7.

    Interresting!
    Let me illustrate this by an example:
    My lawnmower has a single cylinder engine. The engine stops (providing energy) when it runs out of fuel. You solution basically says I need to add more cylinders (3-4 cylinders total) to prevent that from happening. And of course pay 3-4 times as much for the engine.
    My logic says that a 4-cylinder engine also stops when it runs out of fuel (or wind in case of wind turbines). But in my lawnmower a 4- cylinder engine, when it does have fuel, would produce way more power than I need and would be uncontrollable.
    Weather systems are often continent wide. Even of you distribute 3-4 (or 8 to 12) times as much wind turbines, you multiply the cost for a given amount of power, and you have to transport the power for the entire continent also across that continent.
    Neither financable nor practical.

  87. I must admit that farmers like wind generators on their land. Essentially the turbines generate electricity and the land can still be used for farming. Difficult with power stations and coal mines. This obviously ignores the financial side of things, but does anything come cheap these days?

  88. John from CA:
    At you ask me:
    “How does the UK benefit from mucking up the landscape with windmills that will ultimately self-destruct when they can corner the market with LSE syncrude fuels that will bring down the cost of energy and thus give UK business an advantage in the marketplace?”
    Sorry, but you are confusing two completely different things.
    Firstly, the UK does NOT benefit from mucking up the landscape with expensive and pointless windmills. And the adoption of the wind turbines adds substantially to UK energy costs. This demonstrates that energy costs are not a concern for UK government; indeed, fuel poverty is increasing in the UK. This drive to build wind turbines is a severe error, and I fully explain this in an item at
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/courtney_2006_lecture.pdf
    Although that paper is from 2006, it is not dated.
    Secondly, and as I explained, the UK produces Brent crude and sells it at premium price because of its blending properties. Adoption of LSE technology would collapse the price for Brent crude. And, as I also explained, the UK does not have significant indigenous coal production so would have to import feed stock for use of the LSE process. Clearly, maintaining the present situation gives most benefit to the UK’s ballance of payments. If and when Brent crude were to exhaust then the situation would change.
    So, the UK government values protection of the ballance of payments but is not concerned at energy costs. In my opinion, UK government should be concerned about both. But they are different issues.
    We gave the US the jet engine technology for nothing, and look what that did to our aero industry. Giving away the LSE technology would be ‘a gift too far’.
    Richard

  89. Brian H@ October 21, 2010 at 11:29 pm
    Sounds great. Maybe, this time, it will be different from all the other times in my life that it was announced a fusion breakthrough was imminent.

  90. Richard S Courtney says:
    October 22, 2010 at 4:18 pm
    Firstly, the UK does NOT benefit from mucking up the landscape with expensive and pointless windmills. [Note: I was being sarcastic but meant no disrespect]
    Your 2006 lecture was great, tidal coffer dams and the tidal bladder approach are very cleaver. But the ting that bothers me the most is the tendency to reduce the energy topic to one “magic bullet” vs another instead of a holistic view.
    I see your point about the economic implications of LSE related to UK Brent crude pricing but eventually the demand for crude is likely to fall to the point where the supply controls are unlikely to maintain higher cost/bbl.
    The idea of rendering coal to obtain a variety of desired results is very cleaver as long as the ROEI makes sense.
    IMO, the solution requires decentralized power generation. Get rid of the need for commercial power plants and the problem is essentially solved with modular power generation. At least in the US, the power grid only needs to be maintained for large scale urban centers that contain sky-scrapers like NYC, Chicago, etc.
    I’m not sure this approach will work but it frames the issues very well and thanks for taking the time to discuss LSE.
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTtmU2lD97o&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3]

  91. Kum Dollison says:
    October 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm
    “Why not do a little wind, and a little solar, and “see” what happens?”
    Not sure how old you are? But out here in Southern California we’ve had a romance with both for a long time-over 40+ years and have yet to solve our energy problems. Although Governor Schwarzenegger (what a loser), who pushed through our own localized cap-n-tax bill(AB32) knows that this technology is the answer for California. We keep throwing taxpayers money at these technologies and have yet to reap a return(we still have brown-outs here). Without these subsidies, which are considerable, these energy forms would not see the light of day. I just can’t understand why we are not building thousands of nuclear plants. China will beat us at that also.

  92. Build one windmill to generate one unit of power on windy days
    Build one pumping unit to generate power on quiet days
    Build another extra windmill to provide for consumption while pumping for storage
    Scale up all three units to make up for transmission loss
    Approximate sum: 4 windmills.
    One windmill alone provides power at non-competitive price.
    Do the math.

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