# Saturday Silliness – Josh's wind energy fact sheet – global wind power 'to the nearest whole number'

Hi all!

Following this week’s Twitter exchange between Matt Ridley and Mark Lynas I thought a helpful fact sheet about Wind Energy would be useful. People can print it out, send to their relatives, MPs, Senators etc etc.

Thanks!

Josh

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Let’s look at that big zero in the context of world energy. According to this Bloomberg article (cited by Wikipedia) Wind power capacity now totals 238 gigawatts worldwide at end of 2011

China leads the world in installs in 2011, That figures, as they have all the rare earth metals needed.

Total world energy generation in 2011…can’t seem to find that yet. EIA/IEA reports don’t seem to be out yet for 2011. Last figure I can find from Wikipedia is:

132,000 TWh for 2008 with growth of 5% in 2010. so figure 140 Terawatt hours.

140 terawatt hours = 140 000 gigawatt hours

wind power in 2011 = 238 gigawatt hours (installed potential capacity, actual output is far less)

% of 238/140,000 = 0.16999999999999998  ~ .17 %

(Update, I misread the Wikipedia data, conflating Gigawatt hours with gigawatts, totally different. Thanks to HaroldW and others for pointing out my unit error. – Anthony

The installed capacity of wind power is 238 GW.

Average efficiency is perhaps 20% (arguably a little higher or lower).

At that rate, energy produced annually is 417 TWh.

Fraction is still 0%, to the nearest whole number.)

417 TWh at 20% efficiency, calculates to 0.32% (417/132,000) This matches the Wikipedia chart below

Nearest whole number then is, zero.

Matt Ridley’s excellent essay, The beginning of the end of wind, in the first line says:

To the nearest whole number, the percentage of the world’s energy that comes from wind turbines today is: zero.

That links to this Wikipedia graph:

Again, the nearest whole number to 0.3% is zero. But that data is from 2006, rendered in 2008, the citation says:

An attempt at showing world energy usage types with a bar graph. (Meant to replace w:Image:Cascading Pie charts.png by User:Mierlo, which uses a pie chart with misleading numbers like 41% for solar heating, when it’s actually 41% of 9% of 14% = 0.5%.) Values are taken from the pie chart, which is originally from the data in REN21 2006 global status report on renewables and the BP 2006 Statistical review (most recent data available at http://www.bp.com/statisticalreview)

I suspect the growth in other energy sectors pushed wind back a bit since then.  And remember, these numbers are for installed capacity, which assumes the wind blows and the turbine functions at 100%, which we’ve seen in practice never happens at 100%.

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onlyme
March 10, 2012 8:59 am

This is expected, after all it appears that the total percentage of honesty in the presentation of the CAGW case from the usual suspects, rounded to the nearest whole number, is also zero.

DirkH
March 10, 2012 9:06 am

Re the “precious rare Earth minerals”: They’re not that precious but rather abundant, the problem is that the Rare Earths occur only in tiny percentages so a lot of processing is required. Involving lots of chemistry, frowned upon by Western enviros. It’s also perfectly possible to build wind power generators without permanent magnets containing Neodymium but you get a heavier and less efficient generator.
Hey, let’s make the Greens campaign for Neodymium-free wind power! Should work – they always love it when they can bring down the efficiency of a technology.

Clive
March 10, 2012 9:18 am

Excellent cartoon … thanks Josh.
Regarding “(installed potential capacity, actual output is far less)” Apparently the efficiency in Alberta is above world average, and here output is 32 to 35% of capacity. Installed capacity is 6% of demand and actual delivery is 2%. (Figures changing fast.)

March 10, 2012 9:26 am

A few points.
Turbines might kill a few birds, but a few birds were also killed by high voltage power lines. Are birds that dumb that they can’t see the stonking huge turbines spinning round and round. There is one video of a eagle being downed by a turbine but it’s a fake. If you want to say the turbines kill birds, then you have to get rid of cats first who kill more birds.
Area of outstanding natural beauty is a subjective term. A lot of these areas of outstanding natural beauty were set up by small groups lobbying governments to protect their favourite place. Or the areas were set up by government mandate for no real reason. For instance why is the Dordogne area of France a UNESCO Hertiage Area? Because it brings in more tourists who believe the authority of the UN even though its no more special than other areas of France. Many of these “areas” are man made or at least man managed. Farms are factories that just happen to look green. Sites of SSIs in the UK have to be continually managed to keep them in a certain state and not let nature do its nasty business of occasionally wiping out a certain species due to a particularly bad winter or summer or drought or whatever.
Turbines aren’t that noisy. I’ve stood under some big ones and there was more wind noise than turbine noise. There might be VLF noise which upsets people some distance away but they aren’t audibly loud.
Rare earths aren’t that precious. It’s a bit of a misnomer to call them rare. Nor are they earths. They are pretty common metals. It’s just that they are very hard to extract, requiring nasty processing with nasty chemicals. China’s taken over the market for them with it’s cheap labour but now that they have restricted their export the prices will rise and places like Canada will find it cost effective to start mining rare earths again.
Turbines are only sometimes used in areas where there are forests but such locations are bad ones for turbines anyway due to turbulence. If turbines are in forest areas then it is only small clearings around the base of the turbine that are cleared.
The other points are perfectly true though. Turbines are crap at power creation. They cost too much taxpayers money for the power they generate. If there were no government grants then power companies wouldn’t be installing all these turbines as it wouldn’t be worth while. They do need gas or coal power stations to provide backup for the times when they aren’t turning and this is never included in their costs. The only time turbines are good are for small isolated communities where it is too expensive to install electrical cables – very few places. I like looking at turbines, very theraputic, but given a choice when the power cuts start happening I would much prefer a nuclear power station.

Curiousgeorge
March 10, 2012 9:27 am

Yeah, but it’s really, really expensive; which is the stated goal. “Under MY plan, energy prices will necessarily skyrocket.” Remember that? It’s never been retracted. US Energy Secretary Chu also stated something similar lately, in Congressional testimony, to reinforce that: “The goal is not to reduce gas prices, but to encourage alternative energy.” Anybody see a pattern here, besides me?

Siliggy
March 10, 2012 9:35 am

The risk that sucking so much power out of the wind will change the climate is not worth taking. Even if you hate trees,birds, bats, scenic country side and jobs. So just for the ability to cut free airborne fertilizer to the poor and have lovely noisey/flicker that comes from rare earth mineral mining pollution we get ….nearly nothing.
Hang on none of those are reasons. Its all to stop warming that stopped already 15 or more years ago!

HaroldW
March 10, 2012 9:41 am

Sorry, Josh, math errors here. You’ve confused a capacity of 238 GW with an equivalent number of GWh per year.
The installed capacity of wind power is 238 GW.
Average efficiency is perhaps 20% (arguably a little higher or lower).
At that rate, energy produced annually is 417 TWh.
Fraction is still 0%, to the nearest whole number.

DirkH
March 10, 2012 9:42 am

March 10, 2012 at 9:26 am
“Turbines might kill a few birds, but a few birds were also killed by high voltage power lines. Are birds that dumb that they can’t see the stonking huge turbines spinning round and round. There is one video of a eagle being downed by a turbine but it’s a fake. If you want to say the turbines kill birds, then you have to get rid of cats first who kill more birds.”
Raptors look down, not forward when hunting for rats.
Also, house cats don’t kill rare eagles.
Not all birds are alike; and not all species of birds are equally threatened.
Wind turbines don’t kill penguins, for instance.
They’re not on the same continent, that’s why.
“Rare earths … China’s taken over the market for them with it’s cheap labour but now that they have restricted their export the prices will rise and places like Canada will find it cost effective to start mining rare earths again.”
Not necessarily. During the mining Thorium is a byproduct. Thorium is radioactive so your local enviros will fight tooth and nail against any attempt at mining for Rare Earths. They love to fight all mining projects and use any pretence they can find. My plan to make them campaign for larger, heavier, more inefficient wind power generators looks better by the minute.

Toto
March 10, 2012 9:48 am

The beauty of landscapes with or without wind turbines may be subjective. Ask yourself, if each of those turbines were replaced with an oil-well derrick, would that decorated landscape still be beautiful in green eyes? It is time for environmentalists to fight for the unadorned landscape instead of their glorious-future visions.

DirkH
March 10, 2012 9:49 am

March 10, 2012 at 9:26 am
“Turbines are only sometimes used in areas where there are forests but such locations are bad ones for turbines anyway due to turbulence. If turbines are in forest areas then it is only small clearings around the base of the turbine that are cleared.”
During some storms in Nov 2011 two of the turbines in a wind park near my home town, Braunschweig, Germany, were damaged. They were idle during the winter, and one of them was now repaired two weeks ago. This required a heavy crane which worked for a week until that turbine was running again. The other one is still out of order.
Conclusion: You need a road capable of carrying a heavy crane for access to each and every wind turbine. You need to maintain that road.
There is also “repowering”; the habit of exchanging the entire nacelle and blades of a turbine tower for a better/larger design. This is done to maximize the subsidy harvested during the lifetime of your license and doesn’t require going through the licensing process for that site from scratch. You need the road and the heavy crane for that.
“Only a small clearing round the base”, yeah, sure…

Julia Townsend-Rose
March 10, 2012 9:49 am

Turbines are very noisy. if you stand right under one they are not that noisy but the awful low frequency boom can be heard for thousands on metres away making homes uninhabitable for as much as a kilometre away. They are vile pointless useless appalingly expensive and not helping with any reduction in carbon emmissions as well. When is this perfecly clear simple truth going to sink in.

Ric Werme(@ricwerme)
Editor
March 10, 2012 9:59 am

Anthony – it looks like you have a couple major units oops below:

Let’s look at that big zero in the context of world energy. According to this Bloomberg article (cited by Wikipedia) Wind power capacity now totals 238 gigawatts worldwide at end of 2011

No problems there, but note it’s faceplace capacity, a value guaranteed never to be exceeded, and the units is in watts, one of the units we use for measuring power.

Total world energy generation in 2011…can’t seem to find that yet. EIA/IEA reports don’t seem to be out yet for 2011. Last figure I can find from Wikipedia is:
132,000 TWh for 2008 with growth of 5% in 2010. so figure 140 Terawatt hours.
140 terawatt hours = 140 000 gigawatt hours

No problem with the concept, energy generation is terms of watt-hours. If all those wind turbines produced at 100% of their rated output, they’d contribute 238 Gw * 365 days * 24 hours/day = 2.08 Twh of energy. (Ok, including leap days, 2.09 Twh.)
However, your math is off by a factor of 1,000. 140,000 Twh….

wind power in 2011 = 238 gigawatt hours (installed potential capacity, actual output is far less)

Big problem here – your figure would be right if they produced full power for 1 hour each year and sat idle the other 364.2425.

% of 238/140,000 = 0.16999999999999998 ~ .17 %

In Twh: % of 2.09/140 = ~ 1.5 %
Keep in mind, that’s only if they produce full power all the time.
You need another cup of coffee!

DirkH
March 10, 2012 10:03 am

Josh has forgotten one interesting fact:
They can be shredded. Trials are underway to find out what one can do with mountains of shredded blades.
“Currently wind turbine blades follow the life cycle as displayed by Figure 6.0, currently with landfill being the most popular option.”
(A kind of wikipedia on eco-steroids, it seems)

March 10, 2012 10:04 am

Harold is right. I get 417 TWh at 20% efficiency, and a final percentage of 0.32% (417/132,000).
Someone should fix the running text ASAP or they’ll be all over us saying this means we don’t anything about electricity or we’re trying to dock them their extra 0.15% or some such nonsense.
RTF

March 10, 2012 10:13 am

The cartoon is correct – score it 9 out of 9.
Wind power – It doesn’t just blow – It sucks!

Bill Treuren
March 10, 2012 10:14 am

Have we now officially reached “peak wind”.

SandyInDerby
March 10, 2012 10:15 am

UK Electricity Generation
10-Mar-2012 18:05 GMT
Gas 11200MW 27.7%
Coal 19200MW 47.6%
Nuclear 5800MW 14.3%
Wind 1600MW 3.9%
Hydro 650MW 1.6%
With 30% of the coal generation to shut down in the next 2 years (run out of the time allowed by the EU to continue operations) it’s just as well all those windmills we have work so well, and produce huge amounts of power all the time. /sarc

PMH
March 10, 2012 10:18 am

Can someone please clarify what energy this is referring to? It is my understanding(?) that only a small % of electricity is generated from oil. If that is true then this is referring to all energy (e.g. oil used to make gasoline for automobiles) and the “23% gas” refers to natural gas(?). If these numbers don’t apply to electricity only that what are the numbers for only electricity generation?

March 10, 2012 10:27 am

OT, but please note the final words of the Abstract:
“the carbon cycle is essentially driven by solar energy via the water cycle intermediary.”
Read this sentence again and again.
Regards, Allan
Coupling of water and carbon fluxes via the terrestrial biosphere and its significance to the Earth’s climate system
Paul R. Ferguson1 and Jan Veizer
Received 17 January 2007; revised 14 June 2007; accepted 13 August 2007; published XX Month 2007.
Terrestrial water vapor fluxes represent one of the largest movements of mass and
energy in the Earth’s outer spheres, yet the relative contributions of abiotic water vapor
fluxes and those that are regulated solely by the physiology of plants remain poorly
constrained. By interpreting differences in the oxygen-18 and deuterium content of
precipitation and river water, a methodology is developed to partition plant transpiration
(T) from the evaporative flux that occurs directly from soils and water bodies (Ed) and
plant surfaces (In). The methodology was applied to fifteen large watersheds in North
America, South America, Africa, Australia, and New Guinea, and results indicated that
approximately two thirds of the annual water flux from the ‘‘water-limited’’ ecosystems
that are typical of higher-latitude regions could be attributed to T. In contrast to
‘‘water-limited’’ watersheds, where T comprised 55% of annual precipitation, T in high-
rainfall, densely vegetated regions of the tropics represented a smaller proportion of
precipitation and was relatively constant, defining a plateau beyond which additional
water input by precipitation did not correspond to higher T values. In response to variable
water input by precipitation, estimates of T behaved similarly to net primary productivity,
suggesting that in conformity with small-scale measurements, the terrestrial water and
carbon cycles are inherently coupled via the biosphere. Although the estimates of T are
admittedly first-order, they offer a conceptual perspective on the dynamics of energy
exchange between terrestrial systems and the atmosphere, where the carbon cycle is
essentially driven by solar energy via the water cycle intermediary.
Citation: Ferguson, P. R., and J. Veizer (2007), Coupling of water and carbon fluxes via the terrestrial biosphere and its significance to the Earth’s climate system, J. Geophys. Res., 112, XXXXXX, doi:10.1029/2007JD008431.

Joe Zwers
March 10, 2012 10:27 am

The formula here is confusing installed capacity measured in GW with output measured in GWh. Note that one of these measures includes the time element – hours – and the other does not. If you want to create a useful formula, you can divide the output by the capacity – 140,000 GWh/238 GW. This gives you 588 hours, which means that the wind turbines were operating at 100% capacity for, on average, 588 hours per year. This figure is certainly lower than baseload coal and nuclear plants, but much higher than many peaking gas turbines.
Note also that the 140 TWh (or 140,000 GWh) output figure is probably far too low. Global wind capacity nearly doubled from about 121GW in 2008 to 239GW in 2011 according to the World Wind Energy Association (http://www.wwindea.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=345&Itemid=43). If the output grew at a similar rate, the turbines were operating at full rated capacity. on average, closer to 1000 hours per year.

Larry Logan
March 10, 2012 10:37 am

Toto, you’re incorrectly equating an oil drilling derrick with a windmill in terms of visual blight. An oil derrick is only on site for the initial drilling, a time measured in a few months. After that it is removed. To the contrary, the wind farm is a visual blight for decades.

HaroldW
March 10, 2012 10:42 am

Anthony –
The installed capacity is given as 238 GW, meaning that if all the turbines were operating at peak simultaneously, they’d produce an instantaneous power of 238 GW. As there are 8766 hours per year, that would come to 2086 TWh of energy per year. However, the wind isn’t always blowing (and the turbine isn’t always at maximum efficiency); on average, energy is produced at a rate about 20% of the stated capacity figure. [I’ve seen values from around 10% up to around 30%.] At 20% of the maximum figure, wind energy would produce 417 TWh per year. This is 0.3% of the 140,000 TWh per year of global energy consumption.

March 10, 2012 10:43 am

March 10, 2012 at 9:26 am
“Turbines might kill a few birds ….” Don’t know where you live, but the Tehachapi Wind Farm in Southern California, now has the dubious distinction of killing 80 + golden eagles (a protected species) per annum, plus hundreds of additional bird species. This wind farm has been around since the ’80s. So please revise your statement “….might kill a few birds….”, unless you have additional facts refuting my information?

dtbronzich
March 10, 2012 11:01 am

one video? I found 6 videos on youtube in 5 minutes. I lived in California for 50 years (birth to move), and as some who has ridden horses near these incredibly poorly designed bird choppers I could tell you quite a bit about the chopped Golden Eagles, Vultures, and even one California Condor that I found under the spinning deathmasters. I could tell you that I was on site for a week for an archeological field survey (shellmounds) but I found this video, which is a bit more informative.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtgBWNKwBkE&feature=related
Golden Eagles and Vultures use updrafts to gain speed and altitude. Wind turbines are placed in areas to take advantage of updrafts. The turbines actually create an updraft while turning, and this updraft is apparently strong enough to attract soaring birds, to their destruction. I’ve actually been interested in this problem since finding my first injured Eagle in ’79, and my first beheaded one (beheaded eagles are more common than beheaded vultures don’t know why) in ’82.

DirkH
March 10, 2012 11:09 am

Ric Werme says:
March 10, 2012 at 9:59 am
“No problem with the concept, energy generation is terms of watt-hours. If all those wind turbines produced at 100% of their rated output, they’d contribute 238 Gw * 365 days * 24 hours/day = 2.08 Twh of energy. (Ok, including leap days, 2.09 Twh.)”
Ric, that’s 238*365*24= 2084880.0 GWh or 2,084 TWh or roughly 2 PWh.
Let’s use a capacity factor of 17% (German experience) right here:
2,084 TWh *0.17= 348 TWh
“However, your math is off by a factor of 1,000. 140,000 Twh….”
No, he’s right with the 140,000 TWh – world energy consumption.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumption
Remember that only a few Western countries have already installed large amounts of wind power. Germany alone, a small country, has bigger than 20GW, probably about 10 % of the whole installed capacity. So we produce about 3 TWh a year alone already.
Also remember, ‘leccy is only a fifth of all energy needs in Western countries.
348 TWh/140,000 TWh = 0.002486
So it’s 0.2 % – next whole number is 0.

DirkH
March 10, 2012 11:15 am

Joe Zwers says:
March 10, 2012 at 10:27 am
“If the output grew at a similar rate, the turbines were operating at full rated capacity. on average, closer to 1000 hours per year.”
Joe, nobody beats Betz’ law. The capacity factor is STAGNATING around 17% as the wind speeds are getting lower from year to year. This is what drove the head of RWE’s renewables arm, Fritz Vahrenholt, to examine global temperatures, discover the lack of warming in the last decade, and he went on to write the German best-selling book Die Kalte Sonne (The Cold Sun)…

Bob Diaz
March 10, 2012 11:30 am

RE: Bill Treuren says:
March 10, 2012 at 10:14 am
Have we now officially reached “peak wind”.
————————————————————-
Not really, there’s no limit to the amount of hot air coming from environmentalists promoting this abysmal technology. :-))

kbray in california
March 10, 2012 11:52 am

Carbon isn’t the only element that can oxidize and generate heat.
Magnesium burns very well.
Recycling some old Deloreans into the boiler furnace could replace coal as long as they are available…
Mandate that windmill blades be constructed out of magnesium too… then their fiery end in the furnace would actually make a reliable contribution to the electrical grid.
Why not go in that direction?

Ric Werme(@ricwerme)
Editor
March 10, 2012 12:01 pm

DirkH says:
March 10, 2012 at 11:09 am

Ric Werme says:
March 10, 2012 at 9:59 am
“No problem with the concept, energy generation is terms of watt-hours. If all those wind turbines produced at 100% of their rated output, they’d contribute 238 Gw * 365 days * 24 hours/day = 2.08 TWh of energy. (Ok, including leap days, 2.09 TWh.)”
Ric, that’s 238*365*24= 2084880.0 GWh or 2,084 TWh or roughly 2 PWh.

Sigh, I was afraid I’d screw something trying to post something definitive quickly. I may have been trying to think in giga-kilowatt-hours, which would only confuse matters too much.

Let’s use a capacity factor of 17% (German experience) right here:
2,084 TWh *0.17= 348 TWh
“However, your math is off by a factor of 1,000. 140,000 TWh….”
No, he’s right with the 140,000 TWh – world energy consumption.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumption

I was responding to Anthony’s:
132,000 TWh for 2008 with growth of 5% in 2010. so figure 140 Terawatt hours.
140 terawatt hours = 140 000 gigawatt hours

The first energy value, 132,000 TWh, agrees with Wiki. The 140 TWh and 140,000 GWh figures are 1/1000th of what they should be.

Remember that only a few Western countries have already installed large amounts of wind power. Germany alone, a small country, has bigger than 20GW, probably about 10 % of the whole installed capacity. So we produce about 3 [sic – should be 30] TWh a year alone already.
Also remember, ‘leccy is only a fifth of all energy needs in Western countries.

The Wiki figure is for total energy production, the site has a graph that shows electricity generation, about 19,000 TWh in 2008. That may have been the more meaningful comparison, but let’s stick with the 140 PWh.

348 TWh/140,000 TWh = 0.002486
So it’s 0.2 % – next whole number is 0.

I’ll agree with that. Hmm, if we use the 19,000 TWh in 2008 electrical generation, things work out to 1.74%. I suspect the 17% capacity factor includes all installed turbines, and doesn’t include those shutdown for being obsolete or caught fire, to stuff like that.
Oh – I converted all my “w”s that should have been “W”s to “W”s. Sigh.

DirkH
March 10, 2012 12:07 pm

Ric Werme says:
March 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm
“The Wiki figure is for total energy production, the site has a graph that shows electricity generation, about 19,000 TWh in 2008. That may have been the more meaningful comparison, but let’s stick with the 140 PWh.”
I disagree. The German greens have, after Fukushima, enforced the closure of half our nukes through protests. Now we’re burning more coal; and they protest against that as well. And we’re exploring fracking; they protest against that as well. Modern coal and gas fired power plants deliver heat as well. Also, greens promote electric vehicles, so we’d need electricity for them as well where we at the moment use oil. So, the only favored means of energy production by the greens, wind and solar (Big Hydro is evil), would necessarily have to provide for all our heating and transport as well. So the comparison with total energy consumption is fair game.

Bart
March 10, 2012 12:14 pm

March 10, 2012 at 9:26 am
“Are birds that dumb that they can’t see the stonking huge turbines spinning round and round.”
The blades are moving VERY fast at the tip. Yes, they are that dumb, or at least, evolution has not prepared them to anticipate an encounter with such an unnatural object. Should we determine which animals die and which shall live based on some sort of intelligence scale?
“There is one video of a eagle being downed by a turbine but it’s a fake.”
One? All of them?
“If you want to say the turbines kill birds, then you have to get rid of cats first who kill more birds.”
Bird kills by domesticated (and feral) cats are a genuine problem. But, the birds they catch are at least generally plentiful. The birds killed by wind turbines tend to be rare and reproduce slowly.

Kum Dollison
March 10, 2012 12:15 pm

South Dakota, and Iowa get 20% of their electricity from Wind.
The next move seems to be Solar Farms in the vicinity to take advantage of the Transmission Infrastructure already in place.

DirkH
March 10, 2012 12:26 pm

Kum Dollison says:
March 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm
“South Dakota, and Iowa get 20% of their electricity from Wind. ”
I’d easily believe an “up to 20%” – Germany manages that – but I have difficulty believing that a grid can be stabilized with an average of 20% wind – because that would mean that during peak wind times you have 100% wind. Do you have a link to production statistics by power source?

Kum Dollison
March 10, 2012 12:31 pm

Wednesday, Mar 7, Texas got 22% of its electricity from Wind.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/09/utilities-texas-wind-idUSL2E8E9C0U20120309

Kum Dollison
March 10, 2012 12:35 pm

Kirk, just google “wind energy – Iowa.” or, South Dakota.
The trick with wind energy is accurately predicting, and reacting to changes in wind forecasts, and having the transmission lines to “import/export.” That Texas article I linked goes into this.

Richard S Courtney
March 10, 2012 12:38 pm

Kum Dollison:
At March 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm you say;
“South Dakota, and Iowa get 20% of their electricity from Wind.”
Obviously you made a typographical error and intended to write:
“South Dakota, and Iowa get 20% of their electricity from Wind obtained when the wind is blowing fast enough but not too fast so Wind displaces thermal power plants from the grid and these plants must continue to operate while waiting for the wind to change with the result that the Wind Power provides high cost and no benefit to the electricity supply.”
There, I fixed it for you. There is no need to thank me because making the correction was a pleasure.
Richard

bernie1815
March 10, 2012 12:41 pm

I have quoted these figures elsewhere but if you go to http://www.ieawind.org/annual_reports_PDF/2010.html
and check Table 3, you can see that they indicate that in 2010 there was approximately 169.7 GW of capacity that produced an estimated 298TWh of electricity. This means that the efficiency across all reporting countries was 20%. Interestingly the range in efficiency was significant with China and Germany attaining 13 and 15% respectively, while Australia, Canada, US, Greece and Portugal ran at over 25%. That spread in efficiencies strikes me as problematic assuming that similar siting criteria and target efficiencies are in place. The Danes who rely heavily on wind for electricity generation manage 23%.

Jimbo
March 10, 2012 12:48 pm

Wind turbines have also created a massive toxic lake in China.

This toxic lake poisons Chinese farmers, their children and their land. It is what’s left behind after making the magnets for Britain’s latest wind turbines… and, as a special Live investigation reveals, is merely one of a multitude of environmental sins committed in the name of our new green Jerusalem
On the outskirts of one of China’s most polluted cities, an old farmer stares despairingly out across an immense lake of bubbling toxic waste covered in black dust……
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html

and…

But at Baotou, 100 miles away, we found the frozen tailing lake where rare earth mixes with mud, waiting for processing at nearby factories. Technologies we all use, like computers, mobile phones and energy-saving light bulbs use rare earths processed here. And local villagers whose farmland has been ruined by seepage from the lake pay the price.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/asia/july-dec09/china_12-14.html

1DandyTroll
March 10, 2012 12:51 pm

In Sweden they have now found the secondlargest deposit of rare earth metals or some such, anyways, during the recent winter, starting last year in Oct/Nov, wind power did real good, really amazingly so, way above expectations. Which, of course, is trumpeted by the crazed hippies.
Thing is though wind power only did so good because of the above normal, read warm, temperature for those months at the same time most nuclear power stations was some how down for maintenance.
So, essentially, if wind power is so good so must be the warmer temps too, since they only work when its warmer, read above 0, an usual in during winter.
If this year turns out, for us in my country, to keep being a bit warmer an normal with the above normal projected precipitation, we’ll effectively get a whole extra growing season, but apparently, that’s not good according to the maniac environmentalist partists. That we spent less, hardly any, coal and oil on energy this winter, due to the slightly above normal temps for us, was apparently bad as well, I mean, since, warmer cliamte is so bad and all.
Although, they did sport the whole we “might” get a bunch of new insect species that might “could” be so bad for us it spells our doom… Apparently there’s no people living in central europe due to the horrors that theses bugs spell, oh wait they’re kind of thriving now a days less the communist yoke.
Imagine that, you green slime, that for wind power to be succesfull, we need a warmer climate come winter time. :-()

DirkH
March 10, 2012 1:09 pm

1DandyTroll says:
March 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm
“So, essentially, if wind power is so good so must be the warmer temps too, since they only work when its warmer, read above 0, an usual in during winter.”
Wind speeds increased up to 50% over the last 150 years.
http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/fletcher.htm

March 10, 2012 1:11 pm

Reblogged this on Klein Verzet and commented:
All the talking points on the pipe dream (and a harmful one at that) that is wind-energy, gathered in one handy cartoon. Josh is a hero!

Phil Clarke
March 10, 2012 1:14 pm

And six human beings die a day on average digging coal, and hundreds of thousands died in the wars to secure the oil supply…..

Kasuha
March 10, 2012 1:15 pm

There’s a lot I don’t like on this comic.
Killing birds and bats … any human technology causes unadapted specimens to die out in the area and make room for adapted ones. Wind turbines are no exception and I believe they are not even the worst ones in that.
Built in areas of outstanding natural beauty – there are only three kinds of areas in the world, city areas, industrial areas, and beautiful areas. And as you can’t really build any new industry (including wind) in the city or where some industry already exists, you use the beautiful ones.
They are noisy – that’s true but there are lots of other industry branches that are noisy as well, it’s only about proper selection of location.
They require permanent fossil fuel back up – not really. They require permanent backup, that’s it. But it does not really have to be fossil fuel based, actually nuclear plants are better suitable as backups.
They use precious rare earth minerals – that’s true but they don’t burn them.
I don’t really understand the point about deforesting so I skip that. And I agree with jobs and fuel powerty.
Now a little bit about 0%:
I am quite sure they’re responsible for 0% of bird and bat deaths compared to other bird and bat death causes all over the world.
And they sure take up 0% of world’s beautiful areas.
They’re also responsible for 0% of world population being exposed to increased noise.
And there’s only 0% of world’s power they need as backup.
This is a kind of propaganda I dislike. An attempt to beat an opponent with his own weapons. I can understand it but I can’t agree with it.

March 10, 2012 1:16 pm

March 10, 2012 at 9:26 am
“A few points.
“Turbines might kill a few birds, but a few birds were also killed by high voltage power lines. Are birds that dumb that they can’t see the stonking huge turbines spinning round and round. There is one video of a eagle being downed by a turbine but it’s a fake. If you want to say the turbines kill birds, then you have to get rid of cats first who kill more birds.”
One little problem with this argument. Wind is advertized as eco friendly. Cats, vehicles and powerlines are not advertized as eco friendly.

higley7(@higley7)
March 10, 2012 1:29 pm

SadButMadLad said, “Turbines aren’t that noisy. I’ve stood under some big ones and there was more wind noise than turbine noise.”
We do not live under them, where the sound is projected away, duh!. We live near them, and the noise is terrible. Street noise is better as it is more like white noise. Turbine noise is a constant drum beat that has all of the aspects of something coming at you, woosh, woosh, woosh. It is mind numbing and louder upwind than downwind. Furthermore, as wind varies in direction, the sound comes and goes from day to day, or day after day.
The tips of the big turbines (140 m blades) can almost reach the speed of sound (700 mph) at 650 mph. Often running at 200 mph, birds have no conception of these speeds and cannot avoid the blades.
This is just like deer and cars. They are wired to look across a glen at a cougar, assess its body language, and flee it it’s not good—there is time to stop, look, and flee as the cougar has a limited top speed. They do the same with cars but have no clue that the car can be on top of them so quickly.

Smokey(@dbstealey)
March 10, 2012 1:29 pm

Phil Clarke says:
March 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm
“And six human beings die a day on average digging coal…”
Really? I would have thought that number would be in the news…
…oh, I get it. You’re including China, India, Russia, etc. Not the U.S., Canada and Western Europe.
. . .

Reg Nelson
March 10, 2012 1:35 pm

Kum Dollison says:
March 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm
Wednesday, Mar 7, Texas got 22% of its electricity from Wind.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/09/utilities-texas-wind-idUSL2E8E9C0U20120309
******
From the ERCOT (The Electric Reliability Council of Texas) website: http://www.ercot.com/news/press_releases/show/495
“At the time of Wednesday’s record, wind was supplying 22 percent of the total system load, 34,318 MW.”
******
Kum, I think you’re confusing peak load with total usage. Wind contributed 8.5% of 2011 energy used on the ERCOT grid (note: the grid only covers 75% of Texas users).
The bigger point, of course, is what was the un-subsidized cost of that energy?

DirkH
March 10, 2012 1:36 pm

Phil Clarke says:
March 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm
“And six human beings die a day on average digging coal, and hundreds of thousands died in the wars to secure the oil supply…..”
Very good point, let’s compare the mortality in different energy sources, shall we? Hmmm… What measurement would be fair? How about… deaths per TWH, yeah, that sounds ok.
http://notrickszone.com/2011/03/24/nuclear-is-the-safest-form-of-energy-opposition-is-a-glaring-denial-of-reality/
You were right, at least for coal diggers. The hundreds of thousands dying in “the” wars to secure the oil supply I don’t know, could you provide a source for that? And what wars are “the” wars, BTW?

Jim Turner
March 10, 2012 1:42 pm

Bart says:
March 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm
“The blades are moving VERY fast at the tip. Yes, they are that dumb, or at least, evolution has not prepared them to anticipate an encounter with such an unnatural object”.
The stats for the largest turbine I can find are for the Northern Power Systems of Vermont NP100 Turbine; a 100kW design with a 21 metre rotor diameter and a maximum safe rotation of 59 rpm. I make that a tip speed of about 60 metres/sec, or about 135mph.

Phil Clarke
March 10, 2012 1:56 pm

No cheap Chinese imports in the US huh Smokey?

Matt Ridley
March 10, 2012 2:09 pm

One important point worth noting is that quoting wind output as a proportion of total energy is entirely valid because (a) wind does expect to contribute to transport via electric vehicles; and (b) the European Union mandatory targets are for renewables as a proportion of energy, not of electricity. Reportedly Tony Blair and his advisors misunderstood this when signing up.

DirkH
March 10, 2012 2:09 pm

Jim Turner says:
March 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm
“The stats for the largest turbine I can find are for the Northern Power Systems of Vermont NP100 Turbine; a 100kW design with a 21 metre rotor diameter and a maximum safe rotation of 59 rpm. I make that a tip speed of about 60 metres/sec, or about 135mph.”
Most bigger models seem to limit at 80 m/s or 288 km/h.
http://www.offshorewindenergy.org/ca-owee/indexpages/Offshore_technology.php?file=offtech_p2.php

DirkH
March 10, 2012 2:17 pm

Phil Clarke says:
March 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm
“No cheap Chinese imports in the US huh Smokey?
I take it you talk Iraq war 2.0; if that war was entered because of “securing the oil supply”, then why didn’t the US ramp up oil imports from Iraq after occupying the country. Also, how would that have been more economic than continuing to isolate S. Hussein’s regime and run Food-For-Oil rackets. You know, oil is not an ideology, it’s a purely economic necessity and therefore such an alleged “resource war” would have to be motivated by economic reasons. But it doesn’t add up. So the motivation was a different one, don’t you think so. I know I can’t convince you but maybe I can seed some doubt in your brain; you know, I’m a merchant of doubt. Well, actually not, I give them away for free.

March 10, 2012 2:27 pm

The following video is required viewing by several universitys in Michigan. The facts are undisputable, the long term outlook if technology does not improve is dim. There has to be fundamental changes to the way this planet generates and consumes energy. Thanks for the post.
http://thumbwind.com/2012/03/01/why-pursue-wind-energy-now/

Brian H
March 10, 2012 2:38 pm

March 10, 2012 at 9:26 am
A few points.
Turbines might kill a few birds, but a few birds were also killed by high voltage power lines. Are birds that dumb that they can’t see the stonking huge turbines spinning round and round. There is one video of a eagle being downed by a turbine but it’s a fake. If you want to say the turbines kill birds, then you have to get rid of cats first who kill more birds.
Area of outstanding natural beauty is a subjective term.

Perhaps we’ll contribute to evolving the raptors to the point they can detect edge-on white 200 kph killing objects coming at them from below, unlike any other risk encountered in their multi-hundred-million-year genetic history? Of course, as the Punctuated Equilibrium theory requires, this means killing off all but some tiny population with said adaptation, which then will expand to fill all the vacated eco-niches.
Right.
As for “subjective natural beauty”, there’s an important industry based on it you may not have heard of: tourism. It ends wherever these beasts are installed.
_____
Other than that, a pretty good post.

Ric Werme(@ricwerme)
Editor
March 10, 2012 2:50 pm

DirkH says:
March 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Wind speeds increased up to 50% over the last 150 years.
http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/fletcher.htm

Sorry, don’t have time to read the whole thing, but I may have to go back to it. The conclusion says:

Conclusion, morphology of climate change
1. What changes: wind strength is a robust feature of climate change, affecting evaporation, precipitation, cloudiness, sea surface temperature and air temperature.
2. Variability of wind strength is 34% on century time scales. It is caused by the variability of Deep Tropical Convection which directly forces the Hadley circulation.
3. Deep Tropical Convection is related to the area of ocean warmer than 29ºC (Warm Pool). These features are well monitored.
4. Variable size of Warm Pool is mainly forced by variable solar irradiance (0.5-1.6% in a century or 7-13 W/m2).
5. A good proxy for irradiance is 10Be, which can be measured in ice cores to validate past variability.
6. The variability of irradiance is dominated by two periodicities, 88 years and 208 years, of about equal amplitude.
7. By validating the past irradiance record, future climate can be estimated as a rapid rising trend from 1976 to 2003, followed by a rapid decrease. (following our method with a 170 year cycle)
The relationship between wind speed and evaporation and irradiance is indeed very important. In the coming years, solar irradiation will decrease, thereby compensating for any warming from the enhanced greenhouse effect.

The thing that caught my eye was point #7. The recent Chinese tree ring study produced a time line showing rising temps to 2006 followed by a decline to 2060. It would be interesting to compare the two records.

DirkH
March 10, 2012 3:08 pm

ThumbWind says:
March 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm
“The following video is required viewing by several universitys in Michigan.”
Watched it. I hope the students also get forced to read The Skeptical Environmentalist to be shown the lunacy of that simplistic propaganda film.

Reg Nelson
March 10, 2012 3:29 pm

ThumbWind says:
The following video is required viewing by several universitys in Michigan. The facts are undisputable . . .
“Coal reserves, while vast, may peak in 2030.”
“Natural Gas may peak in 2040.”
*****
Since when are “maybe’s” indisputable?

1DandyTroll
March 10, 2012 3:31 pm

DirkH says:
March 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm
“1DandyTroll says:
March 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm
“So, essentially, if wind power is so good so must be the warmer temps too, since they only work when its warmer, read above 0, an usual in during winter.”
Wind speeds increased up to 50% over the last 150 years.
http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/fletcher.htm
So, essentially, if it were true in my area, from one nudge to a nudge and a half. Yeah, that’s real scary wind sheer. O_o
:p

Bob in Castlemaine(@aughtons)
March 10, 2012 3:38 pm

This old favourite from Elton John comes to mind.

March 10, 2012 4:15 pm

Good article!
Thanks Josh 🙂

March 10, 2012 4:20 pm

The one thing birdmills do well is to serve as icons for “breezy” in NOAA-NWS forecasts.
They also ruin a landscape, but that is just me.

Billy
March 10, 2012 4:23 pm

Since the sky is not marked, wind turbines will just have to be fitted with “swept area marker rings” so that stupid birds will know where the limit of the safe zone is. Alternatively, “smart blades” could be fitted and programmed to observe the rules of air navigation.
On another topic, as of the end of 2011 there were 99 deaths due to wind turbines in the UK alone.

Jer0me
March 10, 2012 5:43 pm

If you used a figure for Megawatts, and ended up with a figure of half what you get if you use Megawatt-hours, surely that means that we are only getting 2 hours a day from these things on average? That is very poor!

Jer0me
March 10, 2012 5:45 pm

Billy says:
March 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm

On another topic, as of the end of 2011 there were 99 deaths due to wind turbines in the UK alone.

Citation? Is that birds (I would imagine this to be far higher if so) or people?

Jer0me
March 10, 2012 5:47 pm

DirkH says:
March 10, 2012 at 9:42 am

Not all birds are alike; and not all species of birds are equally threatened.
Wind turbines don’t kill penguins, for instance.
They’re not on the same continent, that’s why.

I can think of another very good reason, actually …. 🙂

FerdinandAkin
March 10, 2012 5:53 pm

Where can I get my
Neodymium-free wind power NOW!
bumper sticker at?

Smokey(@dbstealey)
March 10, 2012 5:59 pm

Phil Clarke says:
“No cheap Chinese imports in the US huh Smokey?”
That is a complete non-sequitur, which is irrelevant to your claim of 6 deaths a day from coal mining. I correctly called you out on it, pointing out that your implication that wind power in the West was comparable, when in fact [if your number is even correct] you must have been referring to countries like India, Russia, China, and others. So give us your references supporting your numbers, please, or we will know that you were just winging it.
“…and hundreds of thousands died in the wars to secure the oil supply…” is an indefensible canard.
Your linked citation says not one word about the Iraq war being waged for oil. That has always been the thoroughly reprehensible and dishonest claim by the Left, before, during and after the war. It is provably wrong. Yet you still bear false witness. Why do you lie about something that is so easily falsified?
Once the U.S. armed forces had decimated the Iraqi military, deposed Saddam Hussein, and pacified the country, there was no one in the world community that would have or could have stopped the U.S. from expropriating sufficient oil from Iraqi wells to pay for the entire war, and then some. At the time there were calls from some quarters to do just that.
But the U.S. did not take any oil without payment in full to the new Iraqi government. Furthermore, the U.S. spent countless \$billions rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure and military at American taxpayer expense. As in most all of America’s wars, the Iraq war was fought over idealism, not for fortune or aggrandizement.
That makes your mendacious statement false; you are either deliberately lying, or you are completely ignorant of well known, verifiable facts. I do not expect someone of your caliber to apologize, but readers here know that America did not take what they could have, when it could have been easily expropriated. That proves, ipso facto, that the war was not waged to take Iraq’s oil. It may have been based on faulty intelligence over WMD’s [which American leftist politicians such as Hilary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and many others believed; they supported military action as much as anyone, as their warmongering statements attest].
So your duplicitous word games over daily coal mining deaths, and your own linked citation prove that you are dissembling. Readers here can make up their own minds as always. But it would have been better for your lost credibility if you had not made any of those comments.

March 10, 2012 6:15 pm

Phil Clarke says:
March 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm
And six human beings die a day on average digging coal, and hundreds of thousands died in the wars to secure the oil supply…..

Chinese coal mining is notoriously unsafe; what happens to the stat when you back China out? Wouldn’t the billions in subsidies for wind be better spent on research to develop cheaper and safer technology to mine coal, abundant worldwide — including Africa, which is in enormous need of cheap electricity? How many human beings die a day from the excruciating poverty in Africa, which can in the longer term only be alleviated by the availability of inexpensive electricity?

Billy
March 10, 2012 6:18 pm

Wind turbine fatalities – human, UK;
http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf

D. J. Hawkins
March 10, 2012 6:36 pm

PMH says:
March 10, 2012 at 10:18 am
Can someone please clarify what energy this is referring to? It is my understanding(?) that only a small % of electricity is generated from oil. If that is true then this is referring to all energy (e.g. oil used to make gasoline for automobiles) and the “23% gas” refers to natural gas(?). If these numbers don’t apply to electricity only that what are the numbers for only electricity generation?

This might help. See especially pages 24 and 25. Numbers good to 2008.
http://www.iea.org/textbase/nppdf/free/2010/key_stats_2010.pdf

Gail Combs
March 10, 2012 6:41 pm

March 10, 2012 at 9:26 am
A few points.
“….Turbines might kill a few birds, but a few birds were also killed by high voltage power lines….. If you want to say the turbines kill birds, then you have to get rid of cats first who kill more birds….”
You forgot about the birds that take out cats. Hawks, owls, vultures, and bald eagles are some of the predator birds that kill cats. These are the same birds that wind turbines kill.

Bart
March 10, 2012 7:05 pm

Kum Dollison says:
March 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm
“Wednesday, Mar 7, Texas got 22% of its electricity from Wind.”
At a time when it doesn’t need it. I did a quick web search when I saw your post and came up with this. The time when they need the extra power is exactly the time when the winds are in the doldrums.
Note that 22% at a time of low demand would work out to much less percentage-wise at a time of peak demand. On that basis, I’m even a little suspicious now of how the claimed 8-9% yearly contribution is calculated. Is that total wind generation actually used over the year relative to total used from all sources? Or, is it an average of the daily total wind generated relative to total generated by all sources, which would weight the wind more favorably in more ways than one?
Jim Turner says:
March 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm
“…a 21 metre rotor diameter and a maximum safe rotation of 59 rpm. I make that a tip speed of about 60 metres/sec, or about 135mph.”
I get 145 mph – close enough. I hope you are not suggesting that is not fast? It’s sure a lot faster than we typically drive here in the States, and I wouldn’t want to be dodging traffic at that rate.

Bob Bernstein
March 10, 2012 8:02 pm

Dr. Emmett Brown: No, no, no, no, no. This sucker’s electrical. But I need a windmill to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity I need.
Marty McFly: Doc, you don’t just walk into a store and-and buy Neodymium. Did you rip that off?
Dr. Emmett Brown: Shhhhhh. Of course. From a group of Greenpeace activists. They wanted me to build them a bomb, so I took their Neodymium and in turn, gave them a shiny bomb-casing full of used pinball machine parts! Come on! Let’s get you a toxic waste suit. We must rebuild the generator every 10 years.

March 10, 2012 11:16 pm

@Kashua — There are roughly 100 million acres of this lovely planet now disfigured by these useless industrial monstrosities. That may be 0% or greater, but how much rustic and wilderness landscape being destroyed for no reason whatever are you in favor of?

Alex
March 11, 2012 12:57 am

What’s more significant in the energy production graph is the 0.2 percent Biofuels while Obama is pushing algae based energy agenda. Pathetic.

Phil Clarke
March 11, 2012 4:20 am

[snip . . . ]
But we’re way off topic.

Pete in Cumbria UK
March 11, 2012 5:49 am

There was/is a figure somewhere concerning bird deaths (can’t think where to find it now) and road traffic in particular.
That figure was= 40 miles per hour and was was the typical speed at which most birds could ‘get out of your way’
Below 40mph, most birds could see the vehicle coming and have the time/speed/agility to avoid a collision. Faster than that and more of them would get mashed than could escape.
I think it came from research on how fast the local raptors could fly/manoeuvre/chase and successfully capture other birds (their prey) but the principle applied to cars (windmill blades??) also.

Oatley
March 11, 2012 7:04 am

Not sure about the rest of you, but some of the best reading is from the (mostly) informed commentary on this website. Kudos to Anthony for artfully managing our excesses. That said…off I go.
Coal mining deaths in the developed world (read USA) are holding at an average of about 30/ year. According to the BLS, ~600 die from falling, 200 die in the leisure industry, 30,000 from the flu…you get the picture.
Regarding wind energy production let me offer some 100,000 ft. commentary:
ALL energy production facilities have a local impact. Energy density is what drives a modern economy and without it an “on demand” electricity system doesn’t operate. Wind or solar aren’t dense. Electricity is the only energy system whose supply and demand must balance instantaneously, thus Grid operators get uncomfortable when frequency moves much out of a ~.5% range. Wind and solar resources complicate reliability because their inherent variability don’t match with the physics of a steady state electric grid.
If energy policy is left to the greens the result will be a system of rationing.

March 11, 2012 8:16 am

They require permanent fossil fuel back up – not really. They require permanent backup, that’s it. But it does not really have to be fossil fuel based, actually nuclear plants are better suitable as backups.
Not even CLOSE to true. You cannot easily startup and shutdown a nuclear reactor, for one. Lowering power is easier, but raising power means increasing core reactivity, which is a BIG deal. Not something you do on a whim or at the discretion of the load dispatcher.
At least in the US, there are currently only ~100 nuke plants, so in any given area there are only a few, often times one. For instance, in the cited article about Texas, the wind capacity quoted was roughly 7000 MW. There are 4 nuclear plants in Texas with a combined capacity of about 6000 MW. At most you could have those plants standby at maybe 75% capacity to allow for wind power, at an increased risk resulting from cycling the fuel clad during power manipulations. BAD idea. And still, some 5500 of the 7000 MW required to be backed up by fossil units.
It is clear you have no clue about the inner workings of a nuclear power plant. Better to keep quiet than expose your ingorance.

March 11, 2012 8:32 am

BTW, as an aside, the NRC tracks a performance indicator for nuclear plants regarding “unplanned power changes per 7000 critical hours”. They track changes greater than 20%, IIRC. They track those because the industry recognizes that one of the biggest error precursors that could cause a plant trip, transient, or even an accident, is a power change. Most of the time the plants run quietly at full power and there isn’t much work going on that involves much risk even if a mistake is made.
The consequences of making a mistake when directly changing power in the core can be drastic. Suffice to say I don’t think federal regulations would EVER allow the plants in the US to change power to facilitate variation in wind power.

Phil Clarke
March 11, 2012 8:51 am

On topic, If you want up to date numbers for energy production, the site oilprice.com has a real-time web widget:
http://oilprice.com/free-widgets
For 2012 wind is 1.15 billion BTUs out of a total of 92.70 or about 1.2%.
Sorry to spoil a good headline.

March 11, 2012 10:23 am

dtbronzich, I watched the video you linked to. It stated that there are about 5000-8000 eagles in California alone. The video also said that 80 die from turbine hits each year. So a small percentage get killed by turbines. Does that automatically mean that turbines should be dismantaled purely on the bird hits. No. Should turbines be stopped. Yes. But because they are uneconomic and not useful in generating energy at all.
Smokey, the video you linked to IS the fake. Watch about 10sec in. I don’t doubt that turbines do kill birds, but considering the numbers of turbines and the number of killed birds it’s not surprising.
DirkH, a road is still a small amount cleared land. Ok, I said around the base but take into account that I am not writing a full essay, I’m writing a comment in a blog.
higley7, Tips of turbines don’t go at the speed of sound. Turbine blades are pretty fragile things and spinning them at that speed would make them break apart under centrifugal force pretty quickly. Turbines have their rotation speed limited for this reason.
To everyone else. I see you that you are picking on the turbines killing eagles aspect. Is it so important that turbines are pulled down because they kill birds or because they are a waste of space and energy. I go with the later.

Smokey(@dbstealey)
March 11, 2012 10:40 am

OK, I watched the video several times around the 10 second mark. Care to explain how you know it’s fake?

Billy
March 11, 2012 11:10 am

Phil Clarke says:
March 11, 2012 at 8:51 am
On topic, If you want up to date numbers for energy production, the site oilprice.com has a real-time web widget:
———————————————————————-
That’s an interesting widget. I have to wonder how the worldwide real time totals are compiled. I have noticed that here in Canada renewable energy producers report only projected output not actual. Also, how is it determined what oil is used for feedstock, storage and by-products and haw much is burned? There is even a carbon counter. I have never seen a carbon emission meter anywhere on a tailpipe or in heavy industry let alone a reporting system. How would such a meter work? I think it would have to measure stack volume and flow rate as well as CO2 concentration. Would it also detect CO? I find it hard to believe that such an instrument exists but if it does it would be expensive and hard to maintain.
If the data is from estimates and projections it can be whatever the site designer wants it to be.

Billy
March 11, 2012 11:20 am

March 11, 2012 at 10:23 am
dtbronzich, I watched the video you linked to. It stated that there are about 5000-8000 eagles in California alone. The video also said that 80 die from turbine hits each year. So a small percentage get killed by turbines. Does that automatically mean that turbines should be dismantaled purely on the bird hits?
—————————————————————————————
Imagine if eagles were polar bears. The windmills would be gone pronto.

March 11, 2012 12:13 pm

Let’s come back to this stat from time to time. The oil industry has been running for over 100 years. I would like to see a projection over the next 100 years at the current growth rate of renewables. Oh and let’s compare newly discovered oil deposits with when they come on line. ThumbWind.com

March 11, 2012 12:32 pm

One more point. There have been many posts about the variability of renewables such as wind energy. It should be pointed out that ALL energy producers have fluctuation in production. Companies like Beacon Power are looking at ways to even out even the smallest of surges and brownouts. ThumbWind.com

Reg Nelson
March 11, 2012 1:32 pm

ThumbWind says:
Oh and let’s compare newly discovered oil deposits with when they come on line. ThumbWind.com
*****
And exclude huge reserves that have not “come on line” because of political reasons. That really doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?.
How about we exclude all renewable energy that is subsidized by taxpayer dollars?

Bart
March 11, 2012 1:48 pm

March 11, 2012 at 10:23 am
“It stated that there are about 5000-8000 eagles in California alone. The video also said that 80 die from turbine hits each year. So a small percentage get killed by turbines.”
A 1% to 1.6% loss each year is not peanuts. If we lost that much of our population in a war, it would mean over 3 million body bags each year. And, the proponents of wind power want to scale it up by at least an order of magnitude. Do that, and we’re talking about extinction in a matter of decades.

Merovign
March 11, 2012 3:55 pm

So, to sum up, the argument in favor of wind power so far is:
It doesn’t kill *that* many birds.
It only drives a *portion* of nearby people from their homes with VLF sound.
Someone *may* be able to recycle the parts.
The toxic byproducts are mostly affecting Chinese people and not Westerners.
The net negative economic factors aren’t *that* large.
The required backup power for inevitable failures *can* be clean power.
I don’t think there’s a single *positive* on wind power yet. Everything is “the negatives aren’t *that* bad” (or “aren’t here now”).
How about, there’s nothing actually *good* about it (except a few people who say they “feel good” about it), so let’s just not do it.
Instead, politicians get to pay off donors, with other people’s money, and we’re left with the cleanup, AGAIN.
There was a TV comedy many years ago that included a segment on a “Government Eye-Poking Service,” including a bureaucrat arguing how relatively inexpensive it was to partially blind people at random. Wind power reminds me of that, a little. It was “Alexei Sayle’s Stuff.”

Oatley
March 11, 2012 4:08 pm

Thumbwind says:
One more point. There have been many posts about the variability of renewables such as wind energy. It should be pointed out that ALL energy producers have fluctuation in production. Companies like Beacon Power are looking at ways to even out even the smallest of surges and brownouts. ThumbWind.com
Fossil and nuke plants can be throttled to meet demand. With wind and solar you gets what mother nature gives you, when SHE says regardless of load demand from millions of people and machines calling for it instantaneously. Get it?

March 11, 2012 10:31 pm

I say, the fact that wind turbines have never directly killed a penguin or a polar bear — flying, or otherwise — constitutes a net positive impact.
Plus, it’s my firm belief that raptors and other flying creatures know exactly what they’re doing. They’re simply voluntarily sacrificing themselves for the noble cause of indisputably super efficient, virtually zero negative impact green energy. If our avian and vespertilionine kin approve, who are we to judge?
And if you disagree, then you must be a denier.

Gail Combs
March 12, 2012 6:40 am

Oatley says:
March 11, 2012 at 7:04 am
“….ALL energy production facilities have a local impact. Energy density is what drives a modern economy and without it an “on demand” electricity system doesn’t operate. Wind or solar aren’t dense. Electricity is the only energy system whose supply and demand must balance instantaneously, thus Grid operators get uncomfortable when frequency moves much out of a ~.5% range. Wind and solar resources complicate reliability because their inherent variability don’t match with the physics of a steady state electric grid.
If energy policy is left to the greens the result will be a system of rationing.”

____________________________________
That is the whole idea behind the scam.
“…It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class — involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work-place air-conditioning, and suburban housing — are not sustainable. A shift is necessary toward lifestyles less geared to environmentally damaging consumption patterns….” ~ Maurice Strong Rio Conference, 1992
Notice the attack is aimed at the middle class and not the elite billionaires like Strong, Gore and Soros. They are the “Heroes” saving the planet from middle class excesses….

Alan Watt
March 12, 2012 3:03 pm

dtbronzich says:
March 10, 2012 at 11:01 am

… I could tell you quite a bit about the chopped Golden Eagles, Vultures, and even one California Condor that I found under the spinning deathmasters.

Could you please substantiate this? The California Condor is extremely rare, at one point down to just 22 individuals and the focus of the most expensive species recovery program in history. According to Wikipedia (see here):

As of November 2010 there are 384 individuals living, including 181 in the wild[2][3] and the rest in the San Diego Wild Animal Park, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Oregon Zoo, and the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho. As of October 2010, the wild condor population in its name state of California reached 100 individuals, and 73 wild condors in Arizona.

So if you’ve personally seen a dead Condor, that accounts for 1% of the wild population for the whole state of California.

Barry
March 12, 2012 8:02 pm

I was just reading about how the highly variable wind power is causing coal plants to cycle and it is causing a nightmare of extra pollution and damaging the plant requiring shutdowns and repairs. In Texas they already know they will have rolling blackout because they spent their money on wind.

Bart
March 13, 2012 12:03 am

Barry says:
March 12, 2012 at 8:02 pm
You should provide a link. Some time ago, a commenter on a thread who worked at an electrical utility enlightened us on how difficult it is to deal with an intermittent input to the grid. I wish I had saved his comment or knew where to find it. It was a real eye-opener. It all made sense when he explained it, but it was the kind of stuff that, unless you do it for a living, you never think about, and you never realize how complex it really is.

March 13, 2012 7:23 am

A few points.
Turbines might kill a few birds, but a few birds were also killed by high voltage power lines.

Bear in mind the distances between the nearest ‘ground’ point and a high tension wire can be 8 to 10 feet in a *vertical* direction (an insulator from a line/wire/HV cable to its mount) with additional distances (clearance) in other directions.
Routinely one will see birds ‘lighting’ on all sorts of electric delivery wiring, from High tension transmission to local distribution without a collection of ‘carcasses’ on the ground (ever driven a power line right-of-way for any distance? What were your observations regarding bird kills? I recall spending time along several hike and bike/motorcycle/snowmobile trails along ROWs in my old homestate and don’t recall seeing a single dead bird.)
.

March 13, 2012 7:33 am

Bart says:
March 13, 2012 at 12:03 am
Barry says:
March 12, 2012 at 8:02 pm
You should provide a link. Some time ago, a commenter on a thread who worked at an electrical utility enlightened us on how difficult it is to deal with an intermittent input to the grid. I wish I had saved his comment or knew where to find it.

It’s real easy; demand and load _must match_ OR voltage excursions take place (voltage on the ‘grid’ will go above and below normal limits).
A varying output from a wind-powered generation MUST be followed or ‘countered’ by fast-reacting generating plants that can monitor the ‘grid’ and compensate for wind generated output, but, imagine this being done across hundreds of miles (approaching 500 in Texas) with coal and gas-powered spinning reserves scattered around geographically and these operating plants are tied together using real-time monitoring and control system … w hen wind speed goes up so does generated outputs, and the conventional steam or nat gas turbines are throttled back (otherwise generation will exceed load and grid voltage will rise), and vice versa … and there are more considerations when VAR (‘reactive’ power) must be considered to keep a grid’s voltage stable …
.

March 13, 2012 7:39 am

March 11, 2012 at 10:23 am

DirkH, a road is still a small amount cleared land. Ok, I said around the base but ..

Think: “Erosion”. You are removing whatever top-cover existed with a bull-dozer and the next and subsequent rains will begin their deleterious ‘work’ (those roads and wind turbine sites aren’t paved nor equipped with curb and gutter nor paved.)
.

Jim Higson
March 13, 2012 6:15 pm

Only birds that get all oiled up but do NOT die count. Also, when you start talking real numbers an environmental will get very mad and most likely walk away yelling slurs at you.
Great work on bringing some perspective to real problems. Personally, I’m just going to go long on Unicorn Farts.

mizimi
March 21, 2012 4:53 am

_Jim says:
March 13, 2012 at 7:23 am
A few points.
Turbines might kill a few birds, but a few birds were also killed by high voltage power lines.
Bear in mind the distances between the nearest ‘ground’ point and a high tension wire can be 8 to 10 feet in a *vertical* direction (an insulator from a line/wire/HV cable to its mount) with additional distances (clearance) in other directions.
Jim, many large birds are killed by flying into the lines – not electrocution, but physical damage. In the Uk and Spain for example, main OH power lines transiting known flight paths are ‘marked’ with fluorescent globes to warn the birds there is something there to avoid.

Chuck Nolan
March 21, 2012 6:06 am

Kasuha says:
March 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm
There’s a lot I don’t like on this comic……………………
They require permanent fossil fuel back up – not really. They require permanent backup, that’s it. But it does not really have to be fossil fuel based, actually nuclear plants are better suitable as backups.
—————————————–
Yo, if you have nuclear power plants you don’t need bird slicers.
Remember, windmills replace evil CO2 generators not clean nuclear power plants.
Unless you somehow lose your ability to apply logic as the folks in Germany must have.

TheNPP
March 22, 2012 7:41 pm

I disagree with your picture up there. I’ve been to wind farms in ND. they were on cleared farmland, they were less noisy than some home fans I’ve heard. In fact, they had sort of a rythym to them that I slept under once. Birds, who learned not to fly into reflective windows in cities learn to avoid the blades, as do bats. Birds are smart. it’s one of the reason they sit in the center of power lines and not near the groundings. “They require fossil fuel backups” Well, duh! The point is you do NOT run the fossil fueled devices AS MUCH as you would if they did not exist.
As for the jobs part: Um, okay, and horse shoe makers laid off people when car use grew.
I don’t mind you don’t like wind power. I’m not sure you’ve ever visited a wind farm. The ones i saw … well, they reminded me of dirgibles. Majestic and peaceful. The farm land around the devices were being used for crops and the farms were so successful they were building a new complete sections for another group of them.
In addition to this, there’s a farm I pass on the way back from Indiana. For years the good sized farm had one wind mill. When I passed by last year he now had five. i don’t think he built them just for funzies.

Brian H
March 24, 2012 6:15 am

TheNPP says:
March 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm

In addition to this, there’s a farm I pass on the way back from Indiana. For years the good sized farm had one wind mill. When I passed by last year he now had five. i don’t think he built them just for funzies.

No, they get paid Big Bucks, actually a minute fraction of the subsidies the builder receives. Many come to regret the bargain, once sleep deprivation takes its toll. Infrasound can’t be heard, but it can mess you up good. Research WTS.

April 14, 2012 4:45 pm

The BBC World Service told me last night that wind has now overtaken nuclear by 40% in worldwide installed power. That shows bias. The neutral way to express this, assuming sensible capacity factors, would be that nuclear is still over 100% ahead of wind in delivered power in spite of insane subsidies proclaiming the creation of an electricity market but in fact creating an electricity mafia. But all this has inspired me to invent a new generator – not nuclear, not wind, but the THOUGHT GENERATOR. I guarantee that the even the tiny prototype I have made (by putting my thoughts in a bottle when stranded on a desert island and throwing it into the sea) will provide 1,000 terawatt installed power. As yet the capacity factor is 0%, but that’s no great problem.
What did the message say? “Please leave me here until all the wind turbines have caught fire, thrown their blades, fallen over or been blown up by ITT (International Turbine Terrorists).”