A new post containing a cartoon from Josh will appear every hour. At the end of the 24 hours, everything will be collated on a single page. Readers are encouraged to post skeptical arguments below, as well as offer comments on what has been seen from the Climate Reality Project so far.
Windy whiligigs and Biomass are renewable.
As many know, I was on a road trip for two weeks. On my return into California, I traveled a road I had done many many times – California Highway 58 through Tehachapi pass, one of the windiest areas of California, and loaded with wind turbines like you see in this photo from www.wind-works.org which seems to be taken during 2003. All the turbines seem to be spinning.
But, the reality I encounter when I drive through there is much different than what you see in the photo above. I often drive this road, but always wished I had a video camera with me to show how many turbines are inoperable since this doesn’t show up well in still photos. Unless you have a slow shutter speed to show “blade blur”, they all look inoperable.
But this day was different. I did have a video camera with me. Plus, the day I drove through, Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 was near perfect for wind turbines. There was a front coming in, and strong winds ahead of it.
And here is what I saw of the wind turbines along the ridge top, there were quite a few inoperable on this windy day. This video was taken right about 11AM PST:
There were many more inoperable turbines, but could not be filmed from a safe vantage point along the highway. This video was take from the semi-truck staging area near the agricultural inspection station.
My best guess from the video and others I saw that I could not film is that about one in four turbines were not operating.
The problem is maintenance. The location, while perfect for wind, is treacherous for work and support equipment. Even on a flat terrain, like in Texas (shown below) where I photographed these turbines, doing maintenance on gearboxes and generators high up on a post isn’t easy.
On the wind-works.org website “tour” section, they lament the condition of the Zond (Enron) wind power sites:
Wind Plant Maintenance Items to Note
Throughout the Tehachapi-Mojave area look for turbines without nose cones, turbines without nacelles (blown off and not replaced), oil leaking from blade-pitch seals, oil leaking from gearboxes, road cuts in steep terrain, erosion gullies, non-operating turbines, and “bone piles” of junk parts. One Zond bone pile of abandoned fiberglass blades is visible on the east side of Tehachapi-Willow Springs Rd. near Oak Creek Pass. (Kern County doesn’t permit on-ground disposal of fiberglass.) While touring wind farm sites look for blowing trash and litter (plastic bags, soft-drink cups, bottles, electrical connectors, scrap bits of metal, and so on). These all reflect management’s attention to maintenance and general housekeeping. At the better sites, you won’t see any of this.
Even on the valley floor, the smaller four turbines just west of the Tehachapi airport that greet visitors who drive in from Bakersfield had a problem, and these are on flat ground and accessible:
In Palm Springs, CA, another windy place, they have similar problems:
Florida’s broken windmills: A California problem
The permit allowing windmills to go in didn’t say they could sit there broken. Palm Springs is getting tough. If windmills are going to exist in the city they must be operational. A city that has welcomed windmills since it was first approached about them in the early 1980′s is finding that many of those windmills are no longer working and it wants them fixed. The question is who’s responsible for fixing them? Florida Power and Light (FPL), the owner of the inoperable windmills, was allowed to install and operate local windmill farms under a conditional use permit (CUP) stipulating if the windmill does not run for six months, it’s declared a public nuisance and without a hearing, must be abated.
Here’s a video showing the inside operations of a wind power facility in Washington State
And, the lack of maintenance problem is not just in California. In 2001, I visited Kamoa wind farm near Southpoint in the big island of Hawaii. The wind is so strong there, trees grow horizontal like this one:
As much as I was surprised by the horizontal trees, I was equally surprised to see dead wind turbines there. It was my first experience with a wind farm.
From this American Thinker article “Wind energy’s ghosts”:
Built in 1985, at the end of the boom, Kamaoa soon suffered from lack of maintenance. In 1994, the site lease was purchased by Redwood City, CA-based Apollo Energy.
Cannibalizing parts from the original 37 turbines, Apollo personnel kept the declining facility going with outdated equipment. But even in a place where wind-shaped trees grow sideways, maintenance issues were overwhelming. By 2004 Kamaoa accounts began to show up on a Hawaii State Department of Finance list of unclaimed properties. In 2006, transmission was finally cut off by Hawaii Electric Company.
Image from Waymarking.com
Again, like in California, Hawaii’s turbine problem is lack of maintenance.
But isn’t that the way it always has been with windmills?
It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same:
It appears Idaho is getting set for putting a wind power moratorium in place:
Josh put a lot of work into these, so if you like the work, drop by the tip jar. Unlike Gore’s CRP, he won’t spam you asking for more. Buy him a beer, he’s worked a long time bringing us enjoyment with only some “attaboys” sent his way.