Wind Power FAIL

This seems like a candidate for the FAIL blog, hence my caption.

Here’s the story:

“We can’t control the weather,” Julie Vitek said in an interview from company headquarters in Houston, Texas. “We’re looking to see if we can cope with it more effectively, through the testing of a couple of techniques.”

She says the conditions in northern New Brunswick have wreaked havoc on the wind farm this winter.

“For us, cold and dry weather is good and that’s what’s typical in the region. Cold and wet weather can be a problem without any warmer days to prompt thawing, which has been the case this year.

“This weather pattern has been particularly challenging.”

Full article here

h/t to a whole bunch of WUWT readers, “TomRude” being the first.


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richard verney

It would be useful to have a reference page on wind so as to collate all these interesting posts in one place.
Good to see another example of how hopeless these things are. The public need to organise a petition seeking to ban them.


As the name suggests, I am from around those parts. In 46 years I have never been tempted to describe our typical winter as cold and dry. Dry? Did they notice that little thing called the ocean just across the way?

To be fair, which I admit is boring, having time to sort issues like this out is a reason for pushing pilot wind projects: the argument is that they won’t become profitable until their proved technology, but they won’t become proved technology until we really use them for a while, so they need to be subsidised for now. That’s reasonable as far as it goes.
The real objection to wind power is the sheer quantity of engineering and fragile machinery needed to produce a very small amount of power — there are bound to be better ways.

Green guy

I don’t care because I don’t have a job and it cost me nothing. BTW I hate people.

A second part of the (numerous) failures of wind power’s inability to maintain generation output over time is the effect on the conventional very large power plant machinery: The turbines, generators, boilers, pumps, motors, and the extreme loss of machinery lifetimes due to excess cycles.
These are very large, very heavy, very thick-walled and very closely toleranced dynamic machines – but paradoxically – very fragile pieces of extremely high speed gear. The extra up-and-down cycles of the wind power machines “break” the planned long-term running of the regular power plants – so their life cycles are dropped, and maintenance costs increased, by 1/3 to 1/4.
It’s equal to requiring 30% MORE operating costs (or a 30% shorter lifetime) of the rest of the grid.


My favorite line is “We can’t control the weather”, yet the purpose of all these wind farms is supposedly to control the entire climate. Which seems to me a little harder to do.
They probably don’t even comprehend the irony of the statement.

M White

Windmill cause global cooling


What a joke wind turbines are. No sane engineer would touch such a ridiculous way of generating electricity with somebody else’s bargepole. Take away the subsidies and sanity would prevail.


Why don’t they put electric heaters in the things, so that when the wind stops and the frost comes they can keep the units from freezing?
Well, they have to have back-up generating plants anyway, don’t they?


If only we could burn more fossil fuels, increase CO2, warm the planet….then these renewable low carbon energy producers would still work.

erik sloneker

What do you suppose will happen when these monuments to economic illiteracy are no longer subsidized by a gullible public and are decommissioned? My late Uncle owned a great deal of farmland in Illinois and refused multiple offers to lease land for wind turbines. His neighbors thought he was crazy as each lease pays $8K to $10K per year. His great fear was that he would end up owning them and would have to pay decommissioning costs or that the structures, if left standing, would increase his property tax rates.
He was a very wise man…….he’s been gone almost 3 years now.

Jeff L

A perfect illustration of why you have to do the science right. If you don’t, mother nature will kick your butt, sooner or later. I don’t have any problem with “green energy” per se, as long it is backed up with solid science, solid engineering & solid (ie non-subsidized) economics.


Don’t worry, with Global Warming coming soon to a landscape near you, it’ll never happen again, Al says so, anyway.

James Sexton

“The shutdown has not had any effect on employment at the site, which provides 12 permanent jobs.”
lol, well, one can view it as a jobs program that sometimes generates electricity. Not when people need it, mind you, but when things are pleasant, dry and breezy. Must be well worth the $200,000,000 .


“We can’t control the weather,” Julie Vitek said in an interview from company headquarters in Houston, Texas.
Isn’t this the underlying reason to have windmills, because we think we can/do control the weather.

David Ashton

“We can’t control the weather”, I thought that was why they were building all these windmills.

A couple weeks ago, there was a post here that speculated that wind power was to blame for the rolling blackouts in Texas.
Turns out that wind power was doing just fine during the critical times in Texas; it was gas and coal units that were down.
Quoth Trip Doggett of ERCOT:

I would highlight that we put out a special word of thanks to the wind community because they did contribute significantly through this time frame.

Previous to these facts coming out, the author and Anthony had pivoted with some “what I/he really meant was” talk about a hypothetical world in which the money to build wind turbines had instead been invested in coal/nukes/etc.
This was quite a pivot, given that the original post was very specific about speculating that the wind wasn’t blowing in Texas at the right times, and the word “reserve” (as in “spinning reserve”) wasn’t even mentioned in the original article.
So, we had a post about the failings of wind power, even though it was in fact fossil plants that had failed.
So, for those keeping score: At WUWT:
If a windpower source stops producing due to cold weather: Wind power fail
If fossil sources stop producing due to cold weather: Wind power fail
(PS- the article notes that these problems are specific to this wind farm, and that other more northerly wind farms don’t have this problem. Interesting).

Frank K.

“We cant control the weather”, Julie Vitek said in an interview from company headquarters in Houston, Texas.

We’ll we can’t control the weather be we CAN control the climate! RIGHT?? \sarc


“We can’t control the weather.”
But we can control the climate (by using wind power).

Ken S

” “We can’t control the weather,” Julie Vitek said in an interview from company headquarters in Houston, Texas.”
Maybe someone needs to tell this to Al Gore and camp!
Yes, we can’t control the weather and most likely we will not be able to do so for at least a few hundred more years!
If these wind turbines have been completely shut down for several weeks the blades will most likely warp. I understand that they are slowly rotated when there isn’t enough wind so that the blades don’t warp!


L O L. Oops. ‘Hey Bill – did you factor in ice?’ ‘Oh, crap’


Irony served cold.


Who will take down this crap? Or will it just be left for the public to take down, like they do in California.

Vince Causey

“We can’t control the weather.”
Funny, aren’t these people always claiming the weather isn’t a problem with wonderful wind?

Maybe they could get some coal, build a power plant, install some heaters….
Oh!. Wait! What happened to all the smudge pots (aka “orchard heaters) that used to keep us in oranges and grapefruit and lemons and stuff? Do they still do the “Fruit Frost Service in Pomona” thing on KFI at 8:00 P.M.? What was his name?

James H

What do you mean fail?! It’s working! The windmills are helping to cool the planet!


I remember reading, years ago, about a coal plant that had been shutdown because the pile where coal was staged between delivery and use had been frozen solid by wet, cold weather.
Solar doesn’t work very well when it’s cloudy, and dust has to be cleaned off of the concentrators/solar cells.
Wind power also requires wind be within a range of speeds, too much wind is as bad as to little wind.
About the only three generation methods I can think of that can be weather proofed, are gas, geothermal, and nuclear.


This is what happens when contracts for construction are awarded based on politics and government policies rather than engineering and realistic performance analysies.
Wind-thrbines work best outdoors, not in government offices!

Floyd d. Young.

Tom Rowan

Just think of all the wasted man hours and money blown on these green statues to ignorance.
Can you imagine how well our economy would be doing if windmills were oil wells in ANWR?
And oil wells don’t kill birds, windmills do.

James Sexton

People in N.B. should be hopping mad. Climatologists tell us they knew all along that the warming arctic causes cold and snow, but they never shared this with us until…..well, until after all of the cold and snow. Had they told our friends in N.B. before they installed the pinwheels that they would most likely freeze up because of the hot, then they may have installed a different energy generation scheme.


Durability seems to be a challenge for wind turbines.
While in Ireland last year, I noticed a number of them built on coastal headlands.
None were turning and the locals said they had broken down fairly soon after installation.
Given the high installation cost per KW, this is very uneconomic.

Last I heard, wind power costs 1.20/kwh. Nuclear plant power costs about three cents/kilowatt hour. Coal, maybe four or five. These insane windmills are greatly beloved by the Chinese. They don’t use them, but they make and sell them to us. They take the money they make selling windmills to saps and build liquid thorium (atomic) reactors so they can utterly destroy any country whose manufacturing depends on more expensive wind power. A frequent topic on is wondering what percentage of enviro budgets are provided by China and OPEC.

Al Gored

Just read the whole article. It just gets worse.
“But with energy market prices changing constantly, she says there’s no way to know if NB Power is paying more or less for replacement power.
“It can be more expensive. It can also be cheaper,” she says, but fluctuations in production at other sites can make up the difference.”
LOL! With management like this, who needs management?
“Despite running into problems in consecutive winters, Morton says NB Power doesn’t have concerns about the reliability of the supply from the Caribou Mountain site.”
How do you spell ‘denial’?
“David Coon, executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, says winter tends to bring higher winds to the province, which would push wind farms to produce more power.
He says the problems at Caribou Mountain are confusing, as other projects in cold climates haven’t had similar ice issues.”
Poor Coon. He’s confused. He thinks all “cold” climates are the same, even, presumably, the warmcold ones.

“can’t control the weather”?
Shazaam! They must not be climate alarmists then!


I guess the wind “farmers” are calling it rotten ice. ;->


Now that we know global warming causes it to get colder and snow more….
…what good are these things now


Mike wrote “Read the whole article”
Why? Does it get funnier?

Cassandra King

Retrofitting a blade heating system would be expensive but it takes a huge amount of power to run the heaters. A veritable shed load of ninety foot blades with enough heating elements and run for the duration of a cold spell would not make sense, its cheaper to shut the whole farm down until the weather improves. But wait theres more! Composite blades cannot be heated because it affects the lifespan of the blades, makes them too flexible and therefore prone to setting up a particular vibration pattern that eventually tears the blade apart fibre by fibre or shakes the turbine into an early oblivion.
Twenty turbines running heating elements in steel/alloy blades would consume more power than the farm generates on a good day, they could bring in a portable generator but that would consume an awful lot of fuel and make even the generous subsidies disappear faster then Al Gore at a press conference.
Rock? meet hard place!


Modern, MW-scaled wind turbines are among the most highly sophisticated and well-engineered pieces of power generating equipment on the market. If properly cared for, these devices work quite reliably for years and provide a good rate of return for the owners. The wind turbines shown are designed and supplied by a very experienced and capable company. Icing is an issue that has been addressed as well as possible for years through heaters on control anemometers, in gearboxes, etc., but blades have been a challenge. Ice reduces blade production effectiveness by a few tens of percent and can lead to deleterious vibrations due to imbalance. Typically, blades will ice up under the right environmental conditions and will often lose their ice within a day or two of an icing event – if the sun comes out. In ice-prone regions, project production and economic pro forma estimates take these factors into account. Some years, icing is worse than others. This may be a particularly bad year.

Al Gored

bill says:
February 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm
“Last I heard, wind power costs 1.20/kwh…”
Here’s another way of looking at it, from the U.S. perspective:
“the relative subsidies for various energy sources… wind and solar get in the neighborhood of 100 times the subsidy that oil and gas do, per unit of energy produced (according to the Energy Information Administration): $23.50 per MwH for wind, $24.50 for solar, $0.25 for oil and gas, whereas coal gets $0.44, nukes about $1.60, and dams $0.60)”
Not sure how much more that subsidy effectively is when no power is produced.


With oil, coal, nuclear, and gas, You do not have to control the weather.


AGW is responsible for more snow, so i heard from climate scientists, because there’s more moisture in the air. Wouldn’t this lead to more ice on the wind turbine blades and an increase in wind power failures; prompting us to use more fossil fuels – a positive feedback! A tipping point! So wind power is obviously incapable of stopping AGW. Same for snowed-in PV panels.
Leaves only nuclear and man-sized hamster wheels.


“the company that owns and operates the site, is working to return the windmills to working order”
With the help of fossil fuels, no doubt.


Soak the wind turbine with vinegar and sprinkel baking soda on it. The resulting CO2 should produce the heat to get rid of the ice.
If this doesn’t work then call Al Gore.

Dr T G Watkins

A link to an official UK site which gives electricity generated by fuel source.
Installed wind = 4.2 GW. Note the % contribution of wind to total consumption cf to the interconnector from France (nuclear) and the % of headline installed capacity.
There must be similar information for the US.

“We can’t control the weather,” Julie Vitek said: a refreshing breath of honesty.

Ian W

erik sloneker says:
February 17, 2011 at 11:16 am
What do you suppose will happen when these monuments to economic illiteracy are no longer subsidized by a gullible public and are decommissioned?

It appears that they will look like this:


I’m agnostic on AGW, but believe there’s a moral case for reducing consumption of fossil fuel (it can’t be right for three or four generations of mankind to consume all that was ever laid down. I can therefore grit my teeth and stomach paying towards wind generation subsidy – so long as it isn’t in fact making the situation worse! Can anyone point me towards a thorough Carbon Benefit / Cost analysis for (particularly) some low load-factor turbines? Will they ever displace enough fossil fuel consumption to outweigh that embedded in their manufacture, installation, maintenance, dismantling and recyling; plus that consumed in maintaining spinning backup during their operational life?