# Wind Farm Back-of-the-Envelope Economic Analysis

Guest post by Larry F. Brown, PhD

We visited a wind farm in southern Utah recently. I’ve always been curious about the costs, profitability, and physical size of these things as well as the footprint and environmental impact. I had 3 meetings with the man in charge of maintenance of the wind farm, a landowner who leases land accommodating 4 of the turbines, and a man who works in the industry in Colorado – and did some internet/newspaper research.

The maintenance superintendent told me they have 27 towers, that the installation cost was about \$2 million each, and that each turbine is rated at 2.3 megawatts/hr but produces an average of 1.3 megawatts/hr (= 1,300 kW/hr). The blades are 187 ft long so the total height is nearly 400 feet high, and the tower at the base is about 13 ft in diameter encapsulated in huge quantity of concrete. The project pays about \$1 million in taxes to the community each year and has a 20-year lease.

A nearly 400-foot-tall propeller-tower is a very imposing structure, especially in close proximity. They are huge. They make a whooshing noise and the turbine itself makes a little noise. The propellers appear to be moving very slowly but the tips of the blades normally travel at 180 to 200 mph. The blades can ice up, which requires deicing (with electricity) and can throw ice a significant distance – hence each tower has a flying ice danger zone clearly labeled with signage.

I pay about \$.11/kWh for my electricity here in western Colorado. So, beginning the process of calculating the profitability of these things, each tower @ 1,300 kW/hr could produce an average of \$143/hr = which would be \$3,400/day = \$1,253,000 of electricity/year. Sounds good – so far.

[Note – Germany boasts about their renewable energy effort but Germans pay about \$.35/kWh on average – 3.3 times more than we do here in Grand Junction – and their rates can get as high as \$.50/kWh.]

The \$.11/kWhr I pay includes all the distribution costs, etc. The wind farm is not paid \$.11/kWhr for their electricity. According to the ISO Wholesale Power Market Prices, the electric company sells electricity for about \$.03/kWhr so instead of grossing \$1.253 million, they might gross about \$342,000 per year per turbine. Still sounds good – so far.

[The landowner indicated he gets a royalty for each tower that comes to an average of approximately \$1,000/tower/month and gets paid separately for the power line easement across his land.]

“BUT WAIT!” (- as they say on late night TV when giving you the hard sell).

All of that income happens only if the machines produce 24/7/365. They don’t. They need to be down for periodic maintenance and for when the wind does not blow the right speed. I don’t know what percent of the time these particular turbines produce electricity, but studies show the wind only blows the right speed (the wind can blow both too soft and too hard) 18 to 19% of the time on average across the country. 18 to 19 % of \$342,000/year = \$65,000. MMmmm, all of a sudden, the economics don’t look very good. \$65,000/year/tower is nowhere near enough to even pay the interest on a 5% loan to construct the tower \$2 million tower.

It gets lots more complicated when you consider that the wind farms are being subsidized by the government with the Production Tax Credit (PTC). A tax credit should not be confused with a tax deduction. A deduction reduces the amount of income you pay taxes on. is paying taxes on. A credit is money back. And the PTC is a “Refundable Tax Credit” which means the company does not just get to pay fewer taxes but actually gets paid by the government even if it does not owe any taxes.

The PTC subsidy has been in effect now for 27 years. Congress has adjusted the PTC many times through the years but today the subsidy is about \$.02/kWhr. So, the power company gets money back in the form of a subsidy for roughly 67% of what they produce – i.e., the company gets money back to the tune of \$.02/kWhr after it sells the electricity for \$.03/kWhr. If the company sells \$3 million of electricity they get the \$3 million plus a PTC subsidy of \$2 million. That is a huge subsidy! In fact, I think it is the biggest subsidy ever given for anything.

T. Boone Pickens and Warren Buffett both have huge investments in these things and both have openly said that wind farms would not be economic without the PTC.

Note: Now, if I were the company and using the above example, I would report a gross income of \$5 million. But, as a taxpayer, it’s more honest to say the wind farm has a gross income of \$3 million. It would be dishonest to include a subsidy as profit. So, my back of the envelope calculations will go on from here without considering the subsidy as income.

Note: I would be surprised if these wind farms pay any income taxes. Potential taxable income can be written off against the investment for many years – probably the life of the project – without even dipping into the PTC.

Then, I don’t know for sure, but I think the turbine manufacturers also are subsidized by the government.

However, the economics get worse – much worse. The maintenance man said the towers cost about \$2 million each – i.e., about \$54 million for the 27 towers. Each tower probably does cost \$2 million to install, but there are many other development costs associated such as land and right-of-way leases, power line construction, road construction, fencing, runoff control, revegetation, etc. Newspaper articles reported that this particular wind farm cost about \$130 million, which is about \$4.8 million per turbine. That means the income of \$65,000/yr/turbine won’t even come close to paying the interest on a \$4.8 million investment.

Note – According to the Wind Technologies Market Report, US wind turbine market prices in 2016 were just under \$1,000 per kilowatt, or about \$2.3 million for a 2.3-megawatt turbine (about \$1,000 / kilowatt). These turbines installed cost about \$4.8 million for a 2.3-megawatt turbine (\$2,087 / kilowatt). An offshore turbine project recently approved off the coast of Virginia is projected to cost \$25 million per megawatt (\$25,000 per kilowatt). Wow.

In addition, the turbines are very technologically sophisticated and require constant maintenance. For example, the oils used in the turbines are very temperature sensitive and, when the turbines are not generating power, they must be heated – with electricity. Various articles point out that, although they produce electricity intermittently, they consume it continuously. Whether the wind is blowing in the desired range or not, they need power to keep the generator magnetized, to keep the blade and generator assembly facing the wind, to periodically spin that assembly to unwind the cables in the tower and to balance the pressure on the shaft, to heat the blades in icy conditions, to start the blades turning when the wind is not blowing fast enough to keep them going, to keep the blades pitched to spin at a regular rate, and to run the lights, internal control and communication systems.

One article I read indicated that in a worst case analysis, these large wind turbines might use as much electricity as they produce. I don’t assume the worst case and just lump electrical usage in with the many other maintenance costs.

I assume the maintenance cost for this wind farm (manpower on call 24 hours, office rental, trucks/fuel, electric consumption, security, snow removal, replacement parts, etc.) to be at least \$750,000/year. Additional expenses of this particular wind farm (mentioned earlier) are the \$1 million paid in taxes to the local government and the \$1,000/tower/month) rent to the landowners. Together these 3 expenses add up to \$2,074,000/year = about \$77,000/turbine/year, so the income goes down from the \$65,000 to a negative \$12,000/turbine/year. For simplicities sake, let’s just call it \$0/turbine/year. Said another way, this project, according to this back-of-the-envelope calculation, makes no money.

Note: I tried two times to get the company to review these calculations. They did not respond.

And, all those materials (and permits and land leases) have a life expectancy of 20 years. What happens after 20 years? There is a wind farm in northern Colorado that is no longer producing, purportedly because the maintenance cost is too high to rehabilitate the turbines. The wind farm sits abandoned. All mining companies are required to bond for reclamation of a site when mining is done. I do not think this is true for wind farms.

Another interesting thing is that the dynamics of the power market are shifting. It used to be that peak power prices occurred during the day. Now they occur at night when solar is not producing. Thus, renewables are now generating when the prices are lowest in the diurnal power price curve.

The bottom line back-of-the-envelope conclusion of this economic evaluation is that these things are not even close to being economic.

And, environmentally, they kill birds and bats – millions of them. I used to wonder how this could be happening. The propellers seem to be turning so slow. But the propeller blades are so long they only appear to be moving slowly. The tips of the blades are actually moving at 180 to 200 mph. No wonder a bird can’t see them coming. And, apparently bats don’t even have to be hit by the blade to die. The way bats are killed is that the passing blade creates a vacuum and the bat’s lungs explode even if he doesn’t come into contact with the blade. And, yes, I know that cars and windows and cats kill birds but cars and windows and cats don’t kill eagles and falcons and other protected birds and endangered species, and cars, windows, and cats don’t kill bats.

And, the stupidest, most injudicious, most reckless thing of all is that the Obama administration granted permits to wind farms to kill birds and bats, including endangered species. All other industries are fined big dollars for killing birds – not wind power. Double Standard? How crazy is this?

Then, the coup d’état – The craziest part of this whole thing is that we must keep 100% of the fossil fuel plants operating to generate electricity during the 80+ % of the time the wind is not blowing at the right speed. Wow. So, what do we save?

We continue to build thousands of these things at a cost to the taxpayer of \$ billions/year. Why in the world are we doing this? I’m dumbfounded.

As indicated, each tower in this farm cost about \$4.8 million. Assuming a 5% loan, each tower would have to produce \$240 thousand per year to break even – i.e., even pay the interest on the loan. And, any normal investment would have to have some percent profit per year. I assume such an enterprise would have to earn at least another 5% per year as profit after taxes and interest to be a decent investment. That would mean that each tower would have to make \$480,000 per year. My calculation indicates they don’t make any real money. My calculations might well be wrong. They might even be wrong by a factor of 2. But I doubt very much if my calculations are off by \$480,000/turbine/year.

My conclusion: Companies are making money on these things, but the source of the profit is only (or at least mainly) coming from the Production Tax Credit – the subsidy paid by our government with our tax money for these projects. It’s obvious that T. Boone Pickens and Warren Buffett were right. Without the PTC (for the past 27 years) these things would not exist.

To make it worse, laws and regs have mandated electrical companies to produce x % of their electricity from renewable sources by such and such deadline. The renewables can’t make money so the electrical companies raise the overall price of electricity to cover these higher cost renewables. How silly is this? It’s very silly because the technology does not exist to store this electricity. Regardless of what Governor Brown or Governor Polis say or mandate, without storage, renewables will never replace other forms of electrical production.

The bottom line? A total waste of money – a total boondoggle – profitable to companies only because we, the taxpayer, are subsidizing them – and why are we subsidizing them? – because it’s green and it makes us feel good. And because a few “politicized scientists”, a whole bunch of liberal politicians, and the United Nations espouse that the burning of fossil fuels is causing global warming by adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

Well, we are indeed adding CO2 to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels but CO2 is an insignificant greenhouse gas. CO2 has increased from 0.028% to 0.041% of the atmosphere (an increase of 0.013% percentage points) in the past 140 years. The theory says man’s 3% contribution to the 0.013% increase is causing global warming. How could only 3% of that minuscule 0.013% (i.e., a component comprising 0.00039% of the atmosphere) cause global warming? It can’t. Even more absurd, we are supposed to believe that taxing and selling carbon credits for that 0.00039% of the atmosphere will curtail the warming, slow the ocean level rise (as Obama promised), and save the planet?

It’s nonsensical. CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a fundamental requirement for life and the added CO2 is actually greening the planet – vegetation worldwide is growing about 20% faster and using less water than it was because CO2 is a fertilizer for plant growth.

I think we should stop building these wind farms — tomorrow.

Larry F. Brown, PhD

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## 299 thoughts on “Wind Farm Back-of-the-Envelope Economic Analysis”

1. HotScot says:

It gets worse!

Matt Ridley did another beer matt calculation some time ago and found that simply to keep up with the 2% annual growth in demand until 2050 (from memory) humanity would require an area half the size of Russia.

That’s almost the entire continent of N. America (excluding Canada) of wall to wall wind turbines. None of which addresses our existing energy needs.

The material required are simply mind boggling.

As usual a short, clear article from Matt approaching the subject from a slightly different angle. Add these two together and we can just begin to understand what is being proposed.

http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/wind-still-making-zero-energy/

• Newminster says:

I like your “beer matt calculation”!

I really wish we could get to grips with the mindset that says “wind farms would not be economic without the PTC.” If it needs a subsidy no matter what it is then it is not economic. And that’s an end of it. If we stopped pretending that wind/solar could ever be economic at grid scale but that they have potential for niche generation then we might restore some sanity.

But to do that we need to expose the eco-scam for what it is and get the message over that the objective behind demonising CO2 has nothing to do with climate and everything to do with putting an end to civilised society as we understand it. And the activists, whether AO-C and her followers in the US, or Extinction Rebellion in the UK, or the devotees of St Greta just about everywhere, have stopped pretending otherwise if only we would listen.

• Greg says:

1.3 megawatts/hr (= 1,300 kW/hr).

What the hell kind of quantity is measured in megawatts/hr ?! You should have done some more research to understand the basics of the subject. You could have saved yourself a few beer-mats.

I stopped reading at that point since if someone has so little understanding, I can have no confidence in their conclusions.

• Curious George says:

Does Larry F. Brown, PhD have a PhD in psychology?

• Paul Penrose says:

If you’ve never heard of Watt-hours before or why it’s used when discussion production of electricity, then you have no business questioning Dr. Brown. I’ve seen it written many ways, but technically it is W/hr since the measurement is Watts per hour. For millions of Watts per hour I would have used the MW/hr notation, but megawatts/hr, while being a bit nonstandard, is not wrong.

• Rich Davis says:

Sorry Paul, a watt is a unit of energy per time, a joule per second. It is a rate of energy production.

The watt-hour that you mentioned is a unit of energy, equal to 3600 joules. (3600 sec/hr)

A watt/hr on the other hand, would be a rate of change in the rate of energy production, something like an acceleration is a rate of change of a velocity, which was obviously not what the author intended.

Greg is right that this basic engineering error detracts from the credibility of the post, but then again, one does not need to master the physics or engineering to calculate costs and see that wind power is a crony capitalist boondoggle.

• For millions of Watts per hour I would have used the MW/hr notation, but megawatts/hr, while being a bit nonstandard, is not wrong.

Millions of watts per hour has no meaning in the context Larry Brown is attempting to use it. A watt is a unit of power (energy per unit time). Power divided by time only has meaning when discussing how quickly power plants can respond to changing load demands (e.g., if a power plant is trying to perform “load following,” it might “ramp rate” up or down of X or Y megawatts/minute, or MW/min).

The wind turbines are rated at millions of watts (megawatts), which is their power rating. Larry Brown should have been using megawatts, not megawatts/hr. The turbine is rated at 2.3 megawatts, but produces 1.3 megawatts averaged over time (typically capacity factors are expressed as annual averages).

• Nicholas McGinley says:

Simply put, multiplying and dividing are very different operations.

• Lee L says:

Greg.. this kind of stuff is usually lost on the person who makes such a glaring error, but it communicates much more than what the person was trying to say.

• Alan Tomalty says:

Larry Brown is correct. Even though production figures are usually quoted in the same units as consumption figures (ie MWh or kWh), The units megawatts/hr and kilowatts /hr can be the final generating production amount averages. More usual is that the maximum capacity number is quoted as just megawatts. But this is misleading because maximum capacity is never achieved. Power itself is in megawatt-hr or kilowatt-hr or terawatt-hr… etc. However there has to be a way to represent how much electricity is actually generated by the power plant per hour.

• However there has to be a way to represent how much electricity is actually generated by the power plant per hour.

I have seen units like MWh/year and used to document the energy production over an entire year, the idea being it smooths out the summer doldrums and winter winds.

What units of electricity do you want to use? Volts and amps are best, but rather meaningless except to determine insulation and wire gauge. Power plants usually are rated in watts, usually millions of watts. A pretty large fossil fuel plant is typically 1,000 MW. Typical wind turbines have a peak (or faceplate) rating of 2-3 MW. So you’d need about 450 turbines running at full output to match a natural gas or nuke plant. The latter average about 90% output, with a lot of down time that can be scheduled. A wind turbine has a typical load factor of 30% and is at the mercy of the weather.

• Curious George says:

A kilowatt/hr means precisely nothing – strictly speaking, it means that the person using it has a rather inflated opinion of her/his IQ. A kilowatt has already a “/hr” built in. Likewise, a “knot” as a measure of wind speed, has a “/hr” already built in. I avoid sailors who talk about knots per hour.

• Hocus Locus says:

Curious George – so he used the slash instead of a dash as a separator because he thought it was just that, a separator. I suppose the lack of any ‘rate of change’ in his discussion confused you so greatly you blew a fuse while the rest of us understood him perfectly. IQ is both a measure of ability and the potential to understand. Are you living up to your potential?

• Greg says:

megawatts/hr and kilowatts /hr can be the final generating production amount averages.

NO , that would be megawatt-hour , it’s a total energy production, this is usually stated over a year, so comed back to being an average power term in MWh/year.

• Usurbrain says:

Many people commenting on this need to talk to a Electric Utility Electrical Engineer.
The 2.3 MW turbine is the Name Plate Rating of the Turbine/Generator – That is its MAXIMUM load is 2.3 Megawatts. Period. Use above that is over loading the Turbine/Generator, however some slop is allowed. Specification provided by the manufacture will detail this slop. Typical condition such as +/- 5% over some period of time, +/- some ambient temperature, 0.0 VAR +/- 5 VAR, the rated out put voltage +/- 5% etc. That rating is basically determined by the current capacity of the windings. Heat generated by the generator and the cooling capability of the cooling system also factor into this number.
However, the devices measuring this magic number measure usage per hour. Once upon a time to measure the LOAD on the generator the used a mechanical watt meter. These were basically a synchronous motor that had wingdings for the line voltage and the line current. One revolution of the disc [the rotor] was 1 watt of power used. 2,300,000 rotations would be 2.3 Megawatts.

• Malcolm Carter says:

Greg – You are too quickly dismissive of an argument for a misunderstanding of units. A quick rereading and you realize he should have used MW and that the turbines are usually outputting about have of their rated power, then later he states that the turbines are producing this half power for less than 20% of the time. 0.5 * 0.2 = 0.1 * their rated energy. The thesis is about the unsustainable economics of sustainable energy and it largely works.
Yes his arguments could use a scientifically alert editor but the approximations are probably close.

• A quick rereading and you realize he should have used MW and that the turbines are usually outputting about have of their rated power, then later he states that the turbines are producing this half power for less than 20% of the time. 0.5 * 0.2 = 0.1 * their rated energy.

The problem is that a capacity factor of 10 percent is absolute nonsense for 2.3 megawatt turbines installed in Utah. A capacity factor of 50 percent is much more reasonable (i.e., averaged over the entire year, the turbine produces 50 percent of what it could if it was operating at its rated power of 2.3 megawatts all 8760 hours per year).

• Dave Fair says:

A well-sited wind turbine will get about 30-35%, IIRC.

• Roger Morgenstern says:

A wind plant in Costa Rica with which I am quite familiar is sited on what many consider one of the most perfect sites for continuous strong (but not excessive) wind conditions. The capacity factor was only about 40% on an annual basis. I believe the taller towers and longer blades might help the newer plants boost their capacity factors a little, but the wind profiles are surely less than optimum. So a 35% CF would be reasonable. I suspect the “Maintenance man” was just mentioning a power level he frequently saw and not a value ‘for the books’. So the 2.3MW rated units were probably producing about 2.3*0.35*8760 = 7052 MWhr annually. At a grid price of about \$22/MWhr (a reasonable guess at an time-weighted average) the gross income would be about \$155,000/turbine/year.

• From Dave Fair:

A well-sited wind turbine will get about 30-35%, IIRC.

From Roger Morgenstern:

So a 35% CF would be reasonable.

Per the EIA, this if this facility is the “Latigo Wind Farm,” it had acapacity factor of 28 percent in 2017.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/07/21/wind-farm-back-of-the-envelope-economic-analysis/#comment-2750429

That’s a lousy capacity factor for a wind electrical production facility with such large (2.3 MW) turbines, and the primary reason is because Utah is a pretty lousy state for wind. Even as early as 2012, capacity factors for whole states were above 40 percent…and that was with much smaller turbines:

• Nicholas McGinley says:

I passed by the first few errors, but when I came to this…

“I assume the maintenance cost for this wind farm (manpower on call 24 hours, office rental, trucks/fuel, electric consumption, security, snow removal, replacement parts, etc.) to be at least \$750,000/year. ”

…I realized that this was not a truly serious effort by someone who was really trying to account correctly.
Why should anyone assume some one can assume how much maintenance costs, when his personal knowledge, as stated at the outset, consists of a few conversations with a couple of people?
We all know these things are a waste of money, and a tax giveaway, and a crony capitalist wet dream, and have seen many very well detailed efforts to point this out.

• GregK says:

1 watt equals energy transfer , or power, of 1 joule per second.
1 megawatt equals 1,000,000 joules per second.
Formally a megawatt/hour would have to be a measure of increase in power over time [1 hour], acceleration.

Informally a megawatt/hour could have been meant to be a measure of continous power production. If so it should have been written as megawatt hours or more correctly megawatt-hours.

“The production of power over time is measured in megawatt-hours (MWh) or kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy. A kilowatt is one thousand watts. Production of power at the rate of 1 MW for 1 hour equals 1 MWh of energy”.

• Dave_G says:

If the error was made in an article promoting the benefits of wind energy I somehow think you’d pass it off as ‘neglible to the overall facts’.

Funny how people with such polarised attitudes to subjects can be so picky over insignificances when it suits their cause.

• Kenji says:

Having just watched the British Open golf tourn. (congrats Shane Lowery) at Portrush, N. Ireland … I wonder why there are no wind farms covering the countryside at these posh golf clubs? Why are the wind farms, err wind factories built in the hinterlands where the poor people have to stare at them? The wind famously blows a gale (constantly) at the posh golf clubs. Indeed, the WIND is considered an integral part of the “charm” and challenge of the British Isle golf courses. I say let’s build all the eco-elite’s virtue signaling wind towers covering the countryside at St Andrews! Let the entire world see just what these contraptions do to the natural, scenic environment. How about despoiling a few posh views and see what the eco-hypocrites think of their “renewable energy” virtues.

• acementhead says:

Kenji (July 21, 2019 at 11:54 am) it is not true that

…the poor people have to stare at them?

because, whenever outside, the poor people, just like the wealthy people, should be staring at their mobile phones. Unless driving a motor vehicle, in which case they should be staring at the road and barely discern the beautiful technology in their peripheral vision.

• Kenji says:

I’ve driven my BIG gas guzzling V8 engined Land Rover (12 mpg) throughout the far reaches of the American landscape … on sparsely traveled roads … where I encounter beautiful vista after beautiful vista blighted by these gawd-awful wind factories.

You should know that I NEVER text and drive, and I practice “high aim steering” (because I’m an excellent driver) which focuses my eyes on the horizon, not on the macadam under my front wheels. So, these inefficient contraptions are always in my field of vision. And they’re awful.

• Dave Fair says:

The old-timer “environmentalists” opposed construction of our HV transmission lines based on their impact to scenic areas. With the lack of serious opposition to massive industrial wind installations, I wonder if the old opposition was just political in nature. [N.B. Always use “massive industrial wind installations” instead of wind farms” when conversing with the woke.]

• Bryan A says:

Problem Solved
Sinply place the EYESOREYOU Wind Turbines atop the Transmission Towers (or place the Transmission Lines attached to the sides of the Wind Turbine Towers) and the blight of one will be outshown by the beauty of the other.

• Mark H says:

@Dave Fair

Some of those old-timer “environmentalists” are indeed coming out against wind power, it generally depends on whether such “massive industrial wind installations” are in their particular back yard or not though.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/07/16/aussie-climate-crusader-turns-wind-power-nimby/

Although, on this occasion, I’d tend to agree with Bob Brown (something that happens somewhat infrequently). It would be a pity to blight the magnificence of NW Tasmania with these useless contraptions.

• Dave Fair says:

When the green machine first came out with massive industrial wind and solar installations, I was dumbfounded to observe that “environmentalists” didn’t protest.

• Patrick healy says:

Well Kenji well put.
First of all those of us familiar with Ohms law, will excuse the terminology to describe the utter folly of wind mills to give them their proper name.
They would not be feasible without the taxpayers payments either in raised electricity prices or naked subsidies.
Now Mr Kenji you have touched a raw nerve with me.
You see I live in a nice second floor apartment overlooking the Bell Rock Lighthouse in Carnoustie bay.
We hosted the Open here last year which Franc Mollinari won.
Just last week an (Irish) company who are into this windmill boondoggle tell us they have put a compulsory purchase order on part of the public/golfers car park and several acres of our golf courses to facilitate the land fall and infrastructure of the electricity cable of the vast array of dozens of bird killing windmills which they WILL be building in my line of sight, right in view of the next open golf championship to be held here – and across the bay at St Andrews in two years time.
So whilst I agree it should be a no brainer to build there blots on the landscape close to or right on top of where the unreliable power is used – say next to the houses of parliament or congress –
the chances of that happening are aken to this other Irishman winning the next Open.

• Actually they have built a wind farm by a Donald Trump owned golf club just north of Aberdeen in Scotland (Trump International Golf Links, Scotland). I’m sure it was just a co-incidence.

• David L. Hagen says:

Larry Brown
Good challenge. However you would be more credible if you used power versus energy accurately. Please go through your article and fix your units, distinguishing between power and energy. e.g. fix “2.3 megawatts/hr” to “2.3 MegaWatts.” but produces an average of 1.3 megawatts/hr (= 1,300 kW/hr).}
Power in watts W is rate of energy / time i.e., joules/second J/S
Energy is the product of power and time. e.g. joules = watts * seconds.
kilowatt hour is watts times hours. kWh = W * hr.
“if the machines produce 24/7/365” to “if the machines produce 24 hours/day * 7 days/week * 52 weeks/year or 365 days/year or 8760 hours/year
(actually 365.26 days/year or 8766 hours/year)

https://www.kirbyelectric.com/electricity-energy-power-difference/

• commieBob says:

Exactly so.

There is a web site, Do the Math, which has done similar calculations for many aspects of renewable energy. The conclusion is the same. Renewable energy is, by calculations a grade school student could do and understand, a boondoggle. You really have to have a lot of education to believe otherwise. (Note, I did not say well educated. There’s a huge difference.)

My own back-of-the-envelope calculation for solar PV indicates that the usually published and accepted cost figures are junk.

Fossil fuels are an incredible bargain. They have enriched us to an extent that our ancestors could not even imagine. So far, this is the golden age of humanity. The greenie postmodern Marxists do not come close to understanding that, nor are they in any way the least bit grateful. They, as a group, are a bunch of out of touch, entitled, spoiled brats.

• Kenji says:

The general public neither understands nor enjoys math. In fact, they quite despise it … as the one class in school that routinely humiliated them and harmed their chances of acceptance to our “top” Universities, err indoctrination factories. So any and all math calculations will be sneered-at and claimed as propaganda of the conservative fringe EXTREME denier community. The vast majority of Socialist aficionado global Warmists will dismiss and/or ignore any math proofs.

• James Shannon says:

This is not a joke. A few semesters back, I got the fun of teaching a Practical Math class, even though I have no advanced degree in mathematics (they couldn’t get anyone else to teach it, but since I knew the materials and had a mentor to check over me, the college was ok with it) >

I literally went in there and started talking about the “A” word (algebra) and had to start referring to it as such to get the students to relax down enough to move through fractions and stuff, to where I could spring it on them about 3/4 of the way through the semester that they were indeed learning Algebra, and that a lot of stuff you would use in trades every day is just that… I had one person get completely bent and stomp out and cuss at their advisor over it – but the end result was they came back and earned their grade – These aren’t dumb people, these are people going after technical certifications and associates degrees to go work in the world – but they were almost to a person absolutely terrified of math…

I keep wondering what our society is doing to people to make them act so dumb in not in their self interest.

• Izaak Walton says:

So what happens when fossil fuels run out? Fossil fuels provide a great return
and cheap energy but they are rapidly being depleted and by the end of this
century we are going to have to transition to renewables.

• Dave Fair says:

None of us will be around to worry about that, Izaak. People of the future will be richer and more technologically advanced. What’s the sweat?

• MarkW says:

People of the future will be richer and more technologically advanced.

Not if people like Izaak have anything to say about it.

• Izaak Walton says:

Dave,
How does being richer mean that alternative fuel sources are available?
And while we might not be around hopefully some of our descendants will
be which is more than enough reason to start worrying since any solutions will
take a long time to develop.

• Dave Fair says:

Please remember, Izaak, that I also said they would be more technologically advanced. Why should our low-tech solutions hamper their ability to deal with global cooling?

• MarkW says:

1) Fossil fuels won’t run out for hundreds of years.
2) Using wind and solar does not decrease the amount of fossil fuels being used.

• Izaak Walton says:

Mark,
Where is the evidence for that? Oil reserves won’t last for much long even
under optimistic projections. There is enough coal for a couple of hundred of
years depending on how fast people use it and there is perhaps about 100 years
worth of natural gas. All of this is not controversial and while the precise date
might be off there is not doubt that fossil fuels are finite and are also currently
being used faster than people are finding new deposits.

• Phoenix44 says:

Rubbish Izaak. Like so many, you are ignorant of what”reserves and resource” figures mean. They are what is economic to produce at current prices, that’s all. We have far greater fossil fuel resources that could be produced economically at higher prices.

In any event so what? The richer we become now the richer we will be in the future, and vice-versa. That’s how it works.

• Bryan A says:

Izaak Walton

July 21, 2019 at 6:16 pm

Mark,
Where is the evidence for that? Oil reserves won’t last for much long even
under optimistic projections. There is enough coal for a couple of hundred of
years depending on how fast people use it and there is perhaps about 100 years
worth of natural gas. All of this is not controversial and while the precise date
might be off there is not doubt that fossil fuels are finite and are also currently
being used faster than people are finding new deposits.

It ia slso true that ALL the materials needed to manufacture Wind Turbines and Solar Panels are Finite and that getting the ores out of the ground utilizes the same Open Pit mining that Coal utilizes so can be just as environmentally detrimental.
There will come a day when an alternate source of energy is derived that will cost less than Fossil Fuels (sa that time), It is only then that High Density Fossil Fuels should be replaced and market demands would cause their replacement with less costly energy sources. But forcing the replacement by artificially inflating the price is idiotic as is forcing a modern society to utilize vastly unreliable weather dependant energy sources.

• Nicholas McGinley says:

The main point to be made here is that wind turbines are not able to make enough power to support an economy. You could not even build a wind turbine using only wind power.
Imagine if it was impossible to mine coal or drill and pump oil using only fossil fuel power?
They would be useless as a basis for energizing an industrial revolution, and thus we would not have had one.
You have to be a dunce, or woefully uninformed, to be reading here and not know this, halfway down a column of comments in July of 2019.
We go over it all the time, week after week, for years on end now.
They can not even pay for themselves if there was no subsidy.
Put another way, the EROIE is too low for them to be independently viable.

• Derg says:

Izaak go ahead and get off the grid with your own solar and wind setup 😉

• Izaak Walton July 21, 2019 at 2:27 pm
So what happens when fossil fuels run out?

Long before that point even, this (calorimetry test of early device in water bath):

• Nicholas McGinley says:

Not sure what that set up is, but it is most definitely not “calorimetry”, as the word is used in science labs around the world.
No verification there is any such thing as a hydrino, no evidence that electrons can fall below the ground state, no product after 28 years in spite of promising one is imminent…
I am a realist when it comes to solar and wind.
As are most here.
I am not sure why anyone would expect people with a very healthy amount of scientific skepticism (IOW people who know what actual science is) to nod dumbly when shown this BS.
If it is not BS, prove it.
This is not a proof of anything, except that some people are gullible.

• Nicholas McGinley says:

BTW…what the hell is up with the yellow rope?

• Nicholas McGinley July 22, 2019 at 1:52 pm
Not sure what that set up is, but it is most definitely not “calorimetry”, as the word is used in science labs around the world.
No verification there is any such thing as a hydrino, no evidence that electrons can fall below the ground state, no product after 28 years in spite of promising one is imminent…
I am a realist when it comes to solar and wind.
As are most here.
I am not sure why anyone would expect people with a very healthy amount of scientific skepticism (IOW people who know what actual science is) to nod dumbly when shown this BS.
If it is not BS, prove it.
This is not a proof of anything, except that some people are gullible.

Wow, Nicholas! That is almost a ‘Wrath of Khan’ moment (“From hell’s heart, I stab at thee. … I spit my last breath at thee.”)

But, I don’t blame you for going off half-cocked given the zeal of some of the more rabid so-called skeptics and the short-sighted naysayers that Mills has encountered over the years. But rather than ask for clarification on a point two you ‘launch’ based on ONE small facet out of quite a large number events and lab demos and that have taken place since 2016 (AND not all of those have been are to the public. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of a BrLP board meeting.)

Now, why should I bother answering in any manner, way, shape or form, Nicholas? CLEARLY you’ve made your mind up based on very little, AND PROBABLY BADLY DATED information. A lot has taken place at BrLP since 2016; the “reaction rates” have gone off the charts, no more is the reaction rate limited by certain inherent ‘factors’ as it was with the electrolytic cells Mills worked with years ago.

BTW, dear Nicholas, what does determine the “ground state” in the hydrogen atom? Have you any better ideas than QM/QED (Quantum Electro-Dynamics) that work out so elegantly in the maths and in experiment? Recall even the great Steven Weinberg now expresses his doubts about QM and its basis:
“Steven Weinberg on What’s the matter with quantum mechanics?”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nnLbRaxtCE

Nicholas, your ‘opinion’ above should be weighed against the veritable mountain of evidence existing to the contrary of said ill-informed opinion. Do you need reference, here and now, Nicholas, to that veritable mountain of evidence? Or are you now now so ‘steeled’ in resolve against new evidence to a (subtlety, not entirely radically) different universe and atomic structure that new info would run ‘off’ your mind as if “watering concrete’?

In any case, I’ll throw you a ‘bone’ – the lecture by Mills at Fresno State University; this is as good a place as any to ‘come up to speed’ if you can overcome an obvious negative bias that is unwarranted (but most likely due to the ‘bad vibes’ generated by the likes of Bob Park of the APS as well as a few notable others a decade or so back):

• Nicholas McGinley says:

Talk is cheap.
We do not need to watch a lecture to get proof of methods that actually produce power.
I do believe I asked for proof.
All the talk in the world is not proof of one single thing, except that…talk is cheap.
Anyone can say anything.
Do you doubt it?

I will not even bother to comment on your assumptions about what I do or do not know, or what is the basis of my desire to see some proof, or of my skepticism.
If you are not skeptical, you are credulous.
Maybe that is fine for you.
I did not tell anyone what to think.

• Nicholas McGinley July 23, 2019 at 7:59 am
Talk is cheap.

Grand.

You’re not willing to learn.

That’s all I need to know. Thanks for playing.

Anybody else who is interested (because Nicholas has just shut down his mind, doesn’t ‘think’ there has been any serious work behind this, or, wants me to “spoon feed” him the facts on this) is welcome to check out a growing body of work by Mills and others via any sites that archive and reference scientific papers on physics subjects.

This site has a list of papers on the subjects relating to lab work and measurements on the hydrino:
http://www.brettholverstott.com/annoucements/2016/7/21/accountability

Journal publications, direct from BrLP’s website:
https://brilliantlightpower.com/publications/

• GregK says:

The “market” will take care of it.
As fossil fuels are depleted prices will rise and energy user will search for other cheaper sources of energy. If wind, sun and water can supply energy at prices that are affordable for industry then they are the sources that will be used. If nuclear can do the job better then nuclear will be the source.

If fossil fuels become too expensive for industry and wind, sun and water prove unreliable and if societies choose not to go nuclear then metals and iPhones will be reserved for the rich. The rest of us will go back to wood and leather aand signalling with smoke. Vegans will have to go back to wood and grass.

• Chaswarnertoo says:

Yep. Spot on. Time to allow the invisible hand of the market to crush windmills.

• Nicholas McGinley says:

“The “market” will take care of it.
As fossil fuels are depleted prices will rise and energy user will search for other cheaper sources of energy. If wind, sun and water can supply energy at prices that are affordable for industry then they are the sources that will be used. If nuclear can do the job better then nuclear will be the source.”

Not if the same forces are at play then as now.
Money is squandered and real problems go begging, while all over the world idiots with no actual knowledge dictate energy policy for entire countries.
To state flatly that at some point in the future, the nonsense we have going on right now will be a thing of the past and rationalism will rule the policies of the day, is nothing but wishful thinking.
We can sure hope this is the case.
But we might have supposed it would be the case several decades ago.
In fact, I cannot think of a time when anyone would expect irrational nonsense to rule energy and economic policies of the majority of the countries in the world.
And yet here we are.

• Dave Fair says:

Rational people vote their pocketbooks; when the green scam costs become noticeable, the politicians will notice. [Wife, where did you put my Yellow Vest?]

• Nicholas McGinley says:

The costs (or implications?) are not noticeable to you yet?

• Graeme#4 says:

Karl, the EIA figures are based on the SAME lifetimes – 30 years, for all energy generation types. When you readjust the LCOE and LACE figures for their correct lifetimes, it’s a vastly different story. So please don’t accept the latest EIA figures at their face value.

• Phoenix 44 says:

As the saying goes, the Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stone.

And you seriously think you know what technologies we will have to use in 80 years time? Those predicting our technologies even 30 years ago were nowhere near correct.

• Bryan A says:

Back to the Future was 1985 and their future vision was 2015.

• HotScot says:

Izaak Walton

Simpletons were reciting the same sentiment 100 years ago. According to them we ran out of coal and oil years ago.

• Nicholas McGinley says:

When fossil fuels run out they will not be able to waste any more money on wind turbines, that is for sure!
Try building one using only wind power for everything from mining to installation and maintenance.
Try running a grid with these things on it and no rapid response fossil fuel power plants to make up for the shifting output of turbines.
What we should be doing, if one wants to have no FF power, is building a lot of nuclear plants and dams for hydro power.
Duh!

• Hot under the collar says:

“Actually gets paid by the government even if it does not owe any taxes.”

Margaret Thatcher is quoted as saying; “there is no such thing as public or government money, only taxpayers money”. They are paid by the taxpayer, not the government. It’s like a reverse Robin Hood tax, the poor are paying for the renewable energy schemes of the rich, in their taxes and energy prices.

• John Bell says:

As a mechanical engineer, it is obvious to me that if one is able to build and maintain a wind turbine then de facto one does not need the thing.

• Rocketscientist says:

As I have commented on many occasions:
“A scientist can calculate a number, but it takes an engineer to make you realize how big of a sh!t-load that number really is…or isn’t.”

• I think it’s important to add the infrasound noise problem that has become a much bigger problem with the newer HUGE wind turbines.

Infrasonic noise is difficult to measure, and many people, perhaps most, are not sensitive to the noise.

As a person who is sensitive to infrasound, I was shocked to find out it can travel ten miles from the wind turbine, in all directions (low frequency noise is omni-directional, and not measured properly with a conventional A-weighted sound pressure meter).

The last of my two June 2019 articles on the subject, which deserves a lot more attention in the mainstream media, is at the link below:
https://elonionbloggle.blogspot.com/2019/06/the-wind-turbine-infrasound-noise.html

• Sommer says:

Dr. Mariana Alves-Pereira will be presenting at the University of Waterloo on September 12th. She’s an expert on LFN and infrasound from turbines. Listen to her presentation given in Slovenia in 2018 to professionals where she talks about the cumulative and irreversible harm to the neurological system as well as to the vestibular system. She has stated publicly that knowing what she now knows about wind turbines, she would not live within 20 km from wind turbines and yet people in rural Ontario have their homes surrounded by them in close proximity.

• Paul Villella says:

Unbelievable! Let’s start first with the correct evaluation of Cap.Factor. this is machine Name Plate Rated Capacity x site specific factor on how much of that capacity you can achieve. Land based wind (cheaper then offshore to construct but lower factor) avg uses 40% in a worthwhile site.
You don’t get to double negate by then saying 15% of 56%.
All the other pisspoor assumption are candy for the fraud eaters in this audience. You don’t have to go far to get real numbers and check thier authenticity. Lazard’s levelized cost of energy (LCOE) includes construction costs, capital costs, maintenance, fuel, etc. For each form of energy generation: nuclear, coal, simple cycle gas, combined cycle gas, wind, hydro, pv. Both subsidized and un. Decommissioning costs of nuclear, coal Ash and mining slag pits, NOx and SOx damage costs, wind bats and birds, and other idiot bate on both sides is not accounted for.

• Joe B says:

I just spent much of today in cyber discussions with an audience enthralled with the 2 proposed offshore wind projects off New York.
Fruitless attempts to steer attention towards Lazard’s recent – Version 12 – LCOE report finally caused me to throw in the towel as the “Inconvenient Truths” were too heretical.

Shame, that.

The 18 page pdf contains a wealth of useful data, especially pages #11/12/17/18 wherein the overwhelming advantages of CCGPs is beyond question.
Footnotes and parameters need to be taken into account as they are somewhat skewed against gas. (Using \$3.45/mmbtu fuel cost being just one example).

• Footnotes and parameters need to be taken into account as they are somewhat skewed against gas. (Using \$3.45/mmbtu fuel cost being just one example).

Per the EIA, the average annual price for natural gas to electric utilities for the four-year period from 2015 through 2018 was \$3.38/MMBtu. So \$3.45/MMBtu seems very reasonable.

https://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/ng_pri_sum_a_EPG0_PEU_DMcf_a.htm

• Phoenix44 says:

The UK government does it and on an untaxed and fully covered basis CCG is much cheaper than wind. It is only more expensive if you include a carbon tax for gas and exclude standby and load costs for wind.

So yes, you are unbelievable.

• Randy Wester says:

Some of your numbers are stretched a bit, but in essence the word ‘farm’ should warn anyone investing that you profit or perish based on the whim of Nature.

If wind was reliable, old Isaac Watt and Newcomen would not have had any business.

• karl says:

An area half the size of Russia is 3.3 Million square miles and

2.3% of Ocean Area

Blinders on Much?

And Mr. Ridley, in the article you cite (which is over 2 years old) – conveniently obfuscates by citing ( then) 3 year old data in his article. “we can see that wind provided 0.46 per cent of global energy consumption in 2014,”

What is quite inconvenient for you and Mr. Ridley is that Wind Worldwide in 2018 provided 6% of Global Electricity Production. Solar Provided ~3%

Nuclear provided 10%. (actually 9.7) –> 2,563 Terawatt-hours out of total electricity production of a little over 26,000 Terawatt-hours (sum the regional production totals from the graph) https://yearbook.enerdata.net/electricity/world-electricity-production-statistics.html

https://yearbook.enerdata.net/renewables/wind-solar-share-electricity-production.html

https://www.statista.com/statistics/275048/gloobal-nuclear-power-generation/

Wow, solar and wind combined produce approximately as much electricity as Nuclear – Worldwide

Renewables produce almost Triple combined (26% vs 9.7%) —

BTW — NEW SOLAR and PV are the least expensive way to produce electricity — they have the lowest LCOE (LEVELIZED COST OF ELECTRICITY) that includes taking all subsidies into account

Entering Service 2021 (\$2018)

Wind Onshore \$36.6/MWh
Solar PV \$37.6/MWh (Costs are expressed in terms of net AC power available to the grid for the installed capacity – so no arguing about hours of sunlight)
Nuclear NB

Entering Service 2023 (\$2018)

Wind Onshore \$49.8/MWh
Solar PV \$45.7/MWh (Costs are expressed in terms of net AC power available to the grid for the installed capacity – so no arguing about hours of sunlight)
Nuclear \$77.5

https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf

How does it feel to be so WRONG and uninformed

• Graeme#4 says:

Please don’t quote the EIA LCOE and LACE figures as accurate Karl. See my comment up-thread.

• Hmmm. They sell it wholesale for 3 cents and it cost the customer 11 cents. I smell a profit potential. Instead, maybe they should ‘sell it to themselves’ for 8 or 9 cents, and use it for one of the energy intensive uses which don’t require continuous power (yes, there are a few).

2. tty says:

“each turbine is rated at 2.3 megawatts/hr but produces an average of 1.3 megawatts/hr ”

I strongly doubt that. It would mean a duty factor of 56.5 % which would make it just about the best on-land windfarm in the World. I have visited southern Utah a few times and don’t remember it as an exceptionally windy place, much less than e. g. Wyoming for example.

• And megawatts per hour is a unit of energy per unit time per unit time, which is nonsense in terms of ‘what is produced’

The meaning of MW/h is slew rate – the rate of *change* of an energy producing unit.

• commieBob says:

If you’ve specified everything correctly, your units obey the laws of algebra. link

As you point out, calculations based on megawatts/hour probably don’t work the way the writer thinks they do.

Watts = power = energy/time
Watts/time = energy/time^2
Yep, it’s a slew rate. If you want to know how fast the windmill’s output can change, a slew rate is just the thing you need. Otherwise, not so much.

• Greg says:

The author clearly does not have the first idea about energy and/or physics. He does not understand the units nor the quantities he is talking about. That make his calculations and conclusions not even worth reading.

I suppose someone could go through and try to guess what it should be and correct it. But I’m not inclined.

• Fanakapan says:

Gee Greg, seems like that Horse you’re sat on, is so damned high I’ll bet you need a ladder to get a foot on the stirrup ?

• Bryan A says:

Naw, he just Guesses where it is

• Paul Penrose says:

No, when talking about electromagnetism, the Watt is not defined as a unit of work over time. It is an instantaneous measurement of power. For DC it is Volts X Amps. It’s a little more complicated for AC, but time still is not a factor. Watt-hour, usually written as Whr (and sometimes mistakenly written as W/hr) is a measurement of electricity production – how much is produced per hour. I’m sure the OP meant MWhr when they said megawatts/hr. So this is really just nitpicking.

• commieBob says:

one watt equals one joule per second link

For AC, power is still volts times amps but they are vector quantities.

• Nicholas McGinley says:

It would be nitpicking for a comment that someone made on a phone sppech to text while reading WUWT and driving down the road at the same time.
One could even say it may have been a typo if it appeared once.
But seriously, if one is gonna present to an audience like we have here, no matter how much we might agree with the general premise of the author or even like him personally otherwise, mistakes like this cannot be expected to be ignored.
Criticizing people pointing out such a glaring mistake as nitpickers is not fair.
This is a tough crowd, as we should be, because we purport to be getting crap right that other people are getting wrong.
I agree with his general sentiment 100%, but we can research this material and get proper info and proper units very easily in a short amount of time.
Just sayin’.
No offense meant to the author.
We should all be making every effort to fight back against the climate lairs.
But we should also be very rigorous, and to the best of our ability take the time to learn the subject well enough to be fluent in all the aspects.
One of the biggest problems with MSM reporters commenting on sconce and energy issues is that they are obviously largely ignorant of the subject material.
Those on the skeptical side ought to do much better.
It is not hard to do so.

• climanrecon says:

megawatts/hr is a major schoolboy error, power is megawatts, energy is megawatt-hours, megawatts/hr is nothing.

• MW/h is how fast a system can get up to speed. Hours are foolish when talking about spooling up aircraft turbines, however, they’re as computable as furlongs per fortnight.

• Geoff Sherrington says:

Strictly, it is always Watt, never Watts.
Geoff S

• Rod Evans says:

I took that line to mean though the max rated capability is 2.3 mW the average when the wind does blow is 1.3 mW obviously the wind sometimes doesn’t show up at all, so those days it is zero or more correctly negative due to system consumption of grid electricity.
The UK monitoring suggests turbines generate roughly 32% of the time available. I suspect Utah is similar so 1.3 mW average generation 32% of the time would be my guess.

• Shawn Marshall says:

mW is milliWatts.

• toorightmate says:

Milly Watts is a very nice girl.

• Bryan A says:

But her little brother Pico i still in Diapers

• tty says:

Probably megawatts (MW) not milliwatts (mW).

• rms says:

And, why is their continuing emphasis on the rated power of these machines. Is rating of the machine irrelevant? It’s really doing a simple calculation based on wind data collected on site, say for year or more, to find out the amount of energy available to be taken? It’s like bragging about the 350 cubic inch V8 that’s rated for 195 HP … but you feed it with waste vegetable oil instead of high octane gasoline.

Interesting to know the rating of the machine(s), but more important is how much on an annual GWh/year is “presented” to the wind farm vs. how much GWh/year does the wind farm produce (or be planned to produce).

• commieBob says:

It’s like bragging about the 350 cubic inch V8 that’s rated for 195 HP …

Most people won’t understand how pathetic that is. If you can’t get one horsepower per cubic inch, you’re not even trying.

• Walter Sobchak says:

In my salad days when i was yet green, only the most exotic sports cars made 1hp/cu.in. The 1957 Corvette could be ordered with a 283 cu.in. engine that made 283 hp., by some strange coincidence. The Mercedes Benz 300SL 3 liter (183 cu.in.) 6 came in 2 flavors, one with 215 hp and one with 240 hp.

Today, those figures would not get a glance. Speaking of Corvettes, the 2020 type C8 corvette will come standard with a 495 hp 6.2 l ( 378 cu.in.) that will propel the vehicle to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. But, Honda sells a version of the Civic with a 2 l (122 cu.in.) engine that gets 316 hp.

• Bryan A says:

Yea but they’re smaller horses

• Nicholas McGinley says:

We need to invent a new unit of power for rating wind turbines.
I propose a new unit which I am gonna call “1 jp”

read as “One jackass power”, it is the amount of power a wind turbine is rated at by the liars who build and fund them, divided by the failure rate of the turbines times the departure of actual lifetime from advertised lifetime times the amount of time they spend doing nothing but looking ugly times the number of birds and bats they kill per hour times the actual amount of power they put out during the time it is windy enough but not too windy to make some power times a constant, which represents the inefficiency with which politicians waste taxpayers money when they have anything to do with a project or industry.
(The unit called “one jackass power” likely will need some modifications when more time and effort is put into properly accounting for all of the ways money and resources and energy is flat out wasted by these things…so feel free to add your own correction factors below)

I would not be a bit surprised if these things came with a very high number of jackasses, but who were not around when it really mattered and someone might have made some use of them.

• Your “simple calculation” generally requires a permit for a “meteorology tower” and here in New England making a road to the ridgeline when you want the wind turbines.

Neighbors who know what infrasound has done at neighboring wind farms will invest a lot of time to block those permits!

The rated power is important, as there is a wide range of wind speed where the turbine will produce the rated power. Below that, generation varies with the cube of wind speed.

In addition to the rated power, the “capacity factor”, the percentage of the faceplate ratiing that is produced on average is equally important.

• Van Doren says:

German onshore wind farms have on average capacity factor of 16-17%. Offshore a bit more. Installing 1MW costs 1,567,000€. Operation costs are roughly 40,000€/a*MW. Land lease costs 30-100k/a per wind turbine. Plus taxes, plus conventional backup. All these amounts to roughly 0.16€/kWh.
I did a lot of calculations few months ago.

3. son of mulder says:

What about the cost of building and maintaining gas fired backup stations? That should be added in as well. Or the cost of freezing to death during a midwinter , no wind cold snap.

• beng135 says:

Not only those aspects, but a real analysis has to have accurate info on long-term maintenance costs and mechanical lifetimes. Ex. — how long does a pinwheel last before maintenance/repairs are no longer economical? I know these numbers are put into analyses, but I’d bet they’re way overly optimistic.

• beng135 says:

I forgot to add demolition costs of retired pinwheels, but I suspect that won’t be done & the areas just roped off & the pinwheels left standing/rusting as has happened in other wind farms.

4. Patrick Cooke says:

Unfortunately I’m not dumbfounded – I should be I guess – but if any project (regardless of cost and effect) is deemed to be combatting “Climate Change” then it gets full support from the government and its ilk!!

5. Robert Keon says:

Everywhere you mention “megawatts/hr” and “kW/hr” it should be MWhr and KWhr. You are talking about energy (power * time). What you’ve written is power per time (power divided by time) which is meaningless.

• Robert Keon says:

My initial response was a knee jerk reaction to seeing the nonsense parameter of “megawatts/hr” and “kW/hr”. On further analysis I see he is actually talking about power when he gives those parameters. Hence just drop the “/hr” and it will make sense.

• Tom Johnson says:

I give the author the benefit of doubt on this one. Say you have a 100W light bulb that you only turn on at night, over the course of the year, it burns an average of 50W continuously per year. Since you are averaging per unit time, you might express that the same way. Hence, the “per hour” rate. It would be just as accurate (or inaccurate) to say “per year”, or “per week”. The rate term is simply a way of expressing that averaging has taken place.

6. Bloke down the pub says:

Shouldn’t the rating of the turbine be its power, ie megawatts, not megawatts/hr ?

• Robert Keon says:

Exactly!

• michael hart says:

Yes.

7. tonyb says:

‘The blades are 187 ft long so the total height is nearly 400 feet high, and the tower at the base is about 13 ft in diameter encapsulated in huge quantity of concrete.’

Anyone idea of the actual amount of tonnes of concrete each tower needs for its base and what that equates to as a depth of foundation? 10 feet of concrete the width of the tower? 20 feet?

tonyb

• Eric Stevens says:

The base is bigger than the tower. It has to be to prevent the tower capsizing. How much bigger depends on the local soil condirions. Its a huge weight of concrete and steel, the production of which gives rise to substantial quantities of CO2.

• I think its around 1500 tons per wind turbine

“Lafarge provided Type I portland cement from its Paulding plant to Irving Concrete of Ohio, which built a strategically located portable ready-mix batch plant to produce approximately 122,500 cubic yards of concrete for the project. The construction of 15- to 20-foot-deep concrete foundations to support all of the 328-foot-high towers with 2-MW turbines required 30,000 tons of cement.

On average, each of these below-ground support systems used 60 truckloads of concrete (750 cubic yards)”

https://www.forconstructionpros.com/concrete/article/10886050/ohios-first-largescale-wind-farm-uses-lafarge-cement-for-turbine-concrete-foundations

750 cubic yards @4050 lb cu yard is 1356 tons per turbine

• Doug Huffman says:

Imagine site remediation when the tower is gone.

Contrarywise, imagine the future archaeologist cautioning his students at the dig, “Be careful, we have never found radioactive material inone of those things but why else would they bury so many separate units of tons of concrete.”

• AWG says:

Contrarywise, imagine the future archaeologist cautioning his students at the dig, “Be careful, we have never found radioactive material inone of those things but why else would they bury so many separate units of tons of concrete.”

That assumes that the trajectory of intelligence, useful education and curiosity reverses or at least levels out, yet the language spoken at that time will likely be either Spanish or Chinese.

• Don Perry says:

Klingon

• Philip Schaeffer says:

Why would you decommission the tower? Why wouldn’t you recondition the turbine, or install a new one on top of the existing tower.

How quickly do you expect the towers to wear out?

• Why would you decommission the tower?

Because, the public will have moved on and discovered what a bargain nuclear power is.

• TonyL says:

How quickly do you expect the towers to wear out?

They are built as close to the edge as possible. I would not rule out metal fatigue. Also, after subsidies and credits run out, they are no longer profitable or useful.
As far as I know, no major wind facility, when approaching end of life has ever been rebuilt and recommissioned.
Indeed, turn to your search engine, search “abandoned wind farms”
or “abandoned wind farms North America”. Enjoy.

• Kurt in Switzerland says:

@tonyb:

The US Government funded studies a decade or so ago regarding the estimated amount of steel and concrete required per TW of peak wind capacity installed. You should be able to find them with an internet search. Of course, the production of steel and concrete (as well as of the composite blades) happens to be very dependent on fossil fuels. As pointed out in the article, several back of the envelope studies have been done regarding what a massive investment in solar and wind power (e.g., in order to achieve some arbitrary percentage of electricity produced by so-called “renewables” by some arbitrary date such as mid-century) would mean in terms of long-term commitment to fossil fuels.

I recall several blogposts by a Tasmanian professor who happens to be a promoter of nuclear power plants, from several years ago. He demonstrated how poor such projects actually perform.

I did a survey of installed wind farms in several countries and came to the conclusion that a typical wind farm requires 2-3 orders of magnitude more land area than a typical thermal power plant for the same nameplate capacity (the mean value was approx. 400 x as much land area). Overall, land-based wind farms don’t achieve better than 20% capacity factor, either.

Plus, the more wind capacity you have installed, the greater the probability will be that the wind farms will produce electricity exactly when you don’t need it (market value = zero); conversely, it does nothing to provide electricity when you need it.

This doesn’t even look at the obvious upkeep costs or the service life of 20 or so years, nor the re-naturization costs if the site were to be abandoned at some point in the future. Nor does it look at the propensity for slaughtering airborne wildlife.

The arguments for investment in solar and wind “farms” dwindle to zero once the massive government subsidies evaporate. That which is not economically sustainable can not be called sustainable, period.

Shout if you can’t find any of these reports I mentioned. I may be able to dig some up for you.

• TonyL says:

A quick search gave some numbers all over the map. Not really surprising as this will be site dependent.
Here are two:
Top of Iowa facility: 13 tons steel, 360 tons concrete.
Buffalo Mountain, Tennessee: up to 7,000 tons concrete. (no mention of steel)
Base depths were also all over the map, with some sites going up to 30 – 40 feet.
(concrete density 145-150 lbs./cu. ft., giving 2 tons/cu. yd.) {curious, most of the measurement units I saw were English, little metric}

(Too many Tony characters around here.)

• John F. Hultquist says:

Go here and scroll down to fast facts:
https://www.pse.com/pages/facilities/wild-horse

We live 14 miles from this one, and have visited a couple of times.
47.012821, -120.201874

Below the pointer (next to the building) there is a blade on the ground, for viewing.

8. ozspeaksup says:

not sure if it is the same place but here in Vic a 50?mil wind farm was supposed to power 16k homes..
doubtful
then yesterday they stated in a news report that a small rural towns windfram was powering all Melbournes trams
I seriously doubt that!
and i strongly suspect its the same place theyre bragging about in both claims
severe winds here for the last week+ would have had to have them shut down for safety a large percentage of the time day and nights

my calc wont figure 50mil into 16k but thats a damned expensive power supply even without the maths

• Alasdair says:

My car has 3 serviced homes under the bonnet; but only when I am moving.
OK you journalists:- work that one out🤯

• Craig from Oz says:

To me using ‘homes’ as the unit of measure it publicity shorthand for ‘My! That’s an impressive amount, isn’t it boys and girls.’

How much power does your average supermarket freezer cost to run? Any of these bright and exciting members of the media like to offer up the exchange rate in power usage of ‘homes’ to ‘supermarkets’ or ‘homes’ to ‘small business’?

9. and that each turbine is rated at 2.3 megawatts/hr but produces an average of 1.3 megawatts/hr (= 1,300 kW/hr).

The units are wrong and if the numbers are compared that is an impossibly high capacity factor.

Sorry but that makes the rest of the article junk.

Unless he is lying to the government about how much electricity he produce.

• Chad Irby says:

The impossibly high capacity factor is part of the point.

Even using that very high claimed factor, the things still aren’t worth the investment.

• Chad Jessup says:

True, but the large entities involved in this field are mainly investing in government subsidies.

10. Andreas Marciniak says:

” It’s always about the almighty Dollar \$\$\$\$\$\$\$\$\$\$\$\$..The fact is ! There is no safe distance for wind Turbines, NOT GREEN, NOT CHEAP, NOT RELIABLE, and come with a very BAD side EFFECT on people and the ENVIRONMENT. there is Nothing GREEN about WIND TURBINES . SAY NO TO WIND TURBINES.

11. Ed T says:

I’m no fan of wind farms, they should more accurately be called subsidy farms, but I think you’ve double counted the capacity factor. An average 1.3/2.3 would be an exceptionally high capacity factor of 56.5%, but taking 20% of 1.3MW output would be a remarkably low capacity factor of 11.3%.

For a back of envelope calculation a 30% CF is a reasonable starting point, i.e. averaged annual power output 0.69MW per tower. Still end up with subsidy farming.

Could be worse, you could live in the UK where scotland has 15GW installed and approved development planned; 5GW peak local demand, and about the same in grid connection, so all uk consumers will be paying for 5GW constrained generation when the wind blows.

• George Daddis says:

I also object to the use of the term “farm”; coined to bring a pastoral scene to mind.
These are just as much an industrial plant as a fossil fuel site is.

• Dave Fair says:

But government-subsidy farming is a time-honored avocation. Green thumbs on steroids.

• Bill Treuren says:

I invest in oil farms also.

• Graeme#4 says:

The average CF for Australian wind farms is 27.31%.

• Larry Brown says:

Graeme#4 – I am convinced that you are correct and have submitted revised calculations. I am not sure at this time that WattsUpWithThat is going to publish the revised numbers or not. The revised numbers are not as bad as the initial numbers, but they still will not come close to even paying the interest an the debt, let alone providing any real net profit. The PTC is still the key source of income.

12. The thrust of your article is eminently credible ………as a player in the renewables sector we too recognize the degree to which the ‘Green Agenda’ has been cynically hi-jacked by many corporates in an attempt to buff up their halos……..while not losing sight of the bottom line of course.

Even though we are based on the African sub-continent, many of the financial metrics you describe in your article replicate closely with our local experience ………. in both the financial and certainly the environmental fields, the nett contribution of Big Wind to local economies is less than – or close to – zero.

I would only caution you to handle the CO2 argument with care …….. though in absolute terms the atmospheric ppm increase from .028% to .041% in CO2 is miniscule – in relative terms it represents an increase of around 50% over the past 140 years and correlates closely with our industrial expansion in the West.

To minimise the impact of this increase in CO2 – which is clearly an aberration if one accepts the record over past millennia given here https://www.2degreesinstitute.org/ – your point is being undermined.

Let’s view the facts for what they are and not be disingenuous merely to promote a particular narrarive …….. there is too much at stake.

• Samuel C Cogar says:

though in absolute terms the atmospheric ppm increase from .028% to .041% in CO2 is miniscule – in relative terms it represents an increase of around 50% over the past 140 years

A prime example of why fraudsters love to talk via use of “percentages” only.

• HotScot says:

Mike Clark

No one in the history of mankind has demonstrated, by empirical means, that atmospheric CO2 causes the planet to warm.

And for the avoidance of doubt, I define empirical as a bloke standing in the middle of a field taking measurements.

• Joseph Campbell says:

To Mike Clark (07/21/19): I have run numbers for normal thermodynamic properties for dry air with 400 ppmv, 800 ppmv, and 8000 ppmv of CO2. To four significant figures, I can find NO change in the property values. There just ain’t no “there” there…Joe

• philincalifornia says:

Can you show us that math please. I would like to see it as, I believe others would too. I think you might have something wrong, but correct me at will.

Now plus 40,000 ppm of water vapor, that I could believe.

• philincalifornia says:

Do rotating blades, impeding natural airflow(s) cause more climate change than increasing anthropogenic CO2 ?

13. tonyb says:

Larry

I enjoyed your last few paragraphs giving percentages but doubt very much that with so many zeros before a decimal point that they mean much to the average person you seek to inform, especially policy makers. Should you not express it in terms that could be more easily comprehended, for example 1 500hundredth or 2 one millionth, or some other more easy to grasp concept?

• Larry Brown says:

tonyb – Yes, thank you for the suggestion. I wrestled with using ppm to make the point but stayed with teh percentage values because they are more easily comprehended. Your suggestion of using 1 500th (or whatever) would have been even better.

• Steven Mosher says:

physics cares about ppm
not percentages
plus you calculated the percentages wrong by including the transparent gases in the atmosphere

in other words phsics cares about the opacity the c02 causes which is a function of the PPM
NOT the percentaage of all gases

• Kurt in Switzerland says:

Um, Mosh.

People care. Physics doesn’t.

BTW, it’s CO2, not C02.
1 Carbon atom and 2 Oxygen atoms, not zero Carbon x two.

But you leave out the ‘minor’ detail about how a real atmospheric-oceanic system behaves, with all the gruesome and poorly-understood things like moisture, turbulence, convection, oceanic mixing, oceanic cycles, atmospheric cycles, etc.
It’s not just about a calculated back-radiation as a function of the log of the ratio of current CO2 concentration versus that above pre-industrial times.
But hey, have your go.

14. Keitho says:

The Sage of Omaha and T.Boone Pickens said all that needed to be said. They are tax harvesting schemes.

• steve case says:

Keitho July 21, 2019 at 3:29 am
The Sage of Omaha and T.Boone Pickens said all that needed to be said. They are tax harvesting schemes.

BINGO!

T. Boone Pickens and Warren Buffett both have huge investments in these things and both have openly said that wind farms would not be economic without the PTC.

A link to those quotes would and you have everything you need to know. Their cost benefit analysis should be made public.

• steve case says:

“I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,”… “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” … Warren Buffet

So far I haven’t found the T. Boone Pickens quote.

• Dave Fair says:

Many deals are structured such that the wind company can sell those tax subsidies to other companies. Everybody gets to dip their beaks in the Uncle Sugar money pond.

15. Herbert says:

I had not realised the significance of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the fact that the US Government is actually paying money to these entrepreneurs even if they earn no income nor pay any tax.
No wonder T. Boone Pickens and Warren Buffet are keenly involved.
It is similar to someone handing out money on the corner of your street.
How long has this been going on?
I am reminded of Henry Mankiewicz’ famous 1927 telegraph to Ben Hecht-
“Millions are to be grabbed out here ( Hollywood) and your only competition is idiots.Don’t let this get around.”

• Graeme#4 says:

In Australia, each wind turbine receives the equivalent of US\$544,000 in its lifetime as government subsidies.

16. Dan J. Cody says:

Al Gore the bore is full of hot air! If he visits a wind farm, he’ll probably dry up and blow away. His favorite movie is ‘Gone with the wind’. And now we have Governor of N.Y. Andrew Cuomo the yo yo and his liberal cronies who are planning to build turbines south of Long Island!

• Dave Fair says:

NIMBY’s will eventually attenuate demand for wind and solar.

17. Ron Long says:

Great back-of-the-envelope review, Larry Brown. Some readers think the punch-line is that taxpayers are subsidizing these monstrosities, but it really is that the ex-President Barrack Hussein Obama granted a waiver to kill birds and bats, endangered or not. That’s right, a snail-darter can stop a dam under construction, but Bald Eagles? Chop ’em up!

18. I ran the numbers for a 1 mega watt windmill in West Texas and the payout was 17 years without the tax credit assuming no maintenance.

• SMS says:

Wasn’t it just a few, (maybe more than a few) articles back that the current expected life of a wind turbine was determined to be 15 years? It is only with the help of the taxpayer and back door tax breaks that wind turbines and solar farms are economic.

19. hiskorr says:

Forget all your numbers, just tell me what the word “average” means! If a device “rated” at 2.3 somethings produces an “average” 1.3 somethings, then does that mean sometimes its output is 2.3, and sometimes its output is 0.0, but, over time, it “averages” out to 1.3? Or are you saying that, when operating at optimum, some of the turbines produce 2.0 and others 1.0, so the “average” optimum output is 1.3? You seem to have adopted the second definition of “average” while other posts have used the first.

• Larry Brown says:

hiskorr – I am only reporting what was told to me in the interview. I believe it means that machines cannot produce with 100% efficiency and that these trubines purportedly produce only 1.3 instead of the designed (nameplate) capacity of 2.3. Other commenters inform me that the 56+% capacity factor is way high, which would make the economics even worse.

• ED T says:

Larry,

You’ve assumed they only produce 20% of the time to come up with a nonsensical CF 11.3%.
0.2 x (1.3/2.3) = .113.

If the turbines can produce power in sub optimal conditions 53% of the time they can achieve both a 30% CF and an “average” of 1.3MW.
0.53 X (1.3/2.3) = 0.3

Better calibration of a real CF would be available from local wind farms, however with the caveat that older technology will likely have lower CF.

The income and economics stack out when the subsidies are included, which is why the things are getting built.

• Larry Brown says:

ED T – I hear you (and others) and am preparing a revision. I don’t know if WattsUpWithThat will publish it, but —– .

20. Doug Huffman says:

My evaluation was even more simplistic. I have never heard Mr. and Mrs. Kettle, remember Ma & Pa, brag about the ROI from their windmill. Never heard, “Yup, and we plan to buy a new Kuntry Kadillac every year! Don’t know why we didn’t get one of them thangs sooner.”

The only folks that tout windmills are touts.

21. A C Osborn says:

If it is anything like the UK they do not have to pay for Connection to the Grid or Backup, the customers pay for it.

22. Zigmaster says:

I love the way the warmists keep claiming prices of renewables are coming down and are cheaper than alternatives. Governments have to call this bluff and remove all subsidies. The immediate benefits for the rest of the government programs will mean either more for schools , more for hospitals or paying off some of the country’s debt. Even the warmists admit what we’re doing isn’t going to make any difference, so why not at least make our current world the best it can be. If the warmists are right we’re doomed anyway. If they’re wrong at least we’ll be maintaining a more prosperous and better world for our kids. Either way what we are doing now is crazy and makes no sense.

• re: “I love the way the warmists keep claiming prices of renewables are coming down and are cheaper than alternatives. ”

All-in costs for me presently in Tejas for energy works out to be abut 18c per kWh. It’s getting to the point where the economics may work out for alternate energy forms, including cheap diesel-powered gens for electricity … were it not for the fact I live in the city, I’d go that direction.

• Dave Fair says:

As climate hysteria reaches its peak, the whole thing will blow up when the average American voter is shown that our CO2 reductions only benefit the Chinese and Indians by making our products less competitive. Carbon taxes will be the third rail of modern politics.

23. Nik says:

These blights on the land and economy (wind turbines) would unlikely be useful if there were a Carrington event or an EMP attack that wiped out conventional generating capacity, transformers, and/or SCADA equipment. As related in the article, wind turbines – like all other commercial generating facilities (including hydro) – require electricity to start/re-start if, for whatever reason (e.g., fuel interruption. maintenance shut-down, etc.), the turbines stop spinning under normal circumstances (and wind turbines require sustained maintenance power when not generating power). For conventional facilities, re-start is done with a “black-start” generator, typically a small diesel-fueled generator, when normal power is not available.

Do wind farms have black-start capability? Is it hardened? Are the wind turbines and their control electronics hardened. Are they routinely tested? Will the black-start power kick in soon enough such that the turbine maintenance/sustainability power needs are met and the turbines can be re-started and used? If all these foregoing things were indeed there, and if the wind turbines were re-started and generated power, would that power be deliverable to consumers? I doubt it.

• re: ” Carrington event or an EMP attack ”

Are you an expert – do you work in power generation or transmission? Short of that, why don’t you JUST go ahead and also endorse the “precautionary principle” and make a pitch for carbon trading as a means to end ‘global warming’.

• Nik says:

Jim,

Thank you for your comments. It being a Sunday, I had time to respond.

I do not profess to be an expert. My professional experience includes time with an electric power generation utility and with a developer/supplier of transmission and distribution hardware and equipment. However, most of my professional experience has been on both the technical and business sides of telecommunications equipment development, manufacture, and supply, focused primarily on broadband and wireless. I also hold several system and device patents for SCADA applications. I hold a BSEE (the curriculum of which included heavy doses of advanced math, physics, chemistry, probability, and statistics), and I hold a masters degree in a curriculum heavy in probability, statistics, business-case development, computer-based modeling, and risk assessment.

I do not invoke the precautionary principle since its use is usually (and I would say “uselessly”) limited to those situations where extensive scientific knowledge is scarce and/or unreliable, but for which the effects are believed could be catastrophic. Whereas, much is known about CMEs (Corona Mass Ejections), which are the solar phenomena that cause Carrington Events, and about EMP – and those events occur with little warning, the effects can be catastrophic, and the catastrophic effects are immediate and long lasting. Climate change, which is the phenomenon to which the precautionary principle is almost exclusively applied, might produce effects that are catastrophic, but those effects occur so slowly (decades to millennia) as to allow some mitigation. And very little is directly known about climate change. All that is known is from mostly indirect sources (e.g., old paintings, old newspapers and diaries, ice cores, tree rings, etc., plus a 150-year record of temperature measurements made with varying types of equipment, varying reliability of calibration, varying consistency of reading and recording, and varying siting and maintenance. (I do not include the models because results of models are not data, much less proof, and depend on reliable input data.)

CMEs have occurred (and been directly observed and measured), and continue to occur (the most recent one this past May); but, since the original Carrington Event, none has been directed at the Earth and/or all have been too weak to cause widespread damage (as did the original). US nuclear weapons testing and that of other nations has revealed the nature and effects of EMP such that weapons have been designed to magnify the effects, and there are today at least 2 nations who routinely brag about, and threaten to use, nuclear weapons. So, I’d judge the risk and the effects of a CME or EMP as high enough to seriously consider – as has the US government, many utilities, and many private businesses.

As for “carbon” trading, it is the climate-change equivalent of getting and trading Papal indulgences, which will have as much effect on slowing climate change as indulgences had on reducing sinful behavior.

I’ll end by adding that my original comment was intended to suggest that, as bad as the numbers are for building and operating wind turbines/farms on an ongoing basis, those turbines/farms are also very unlikely be useful/usable when the conventional base-load facilities have been rendered unusable for months-to-years (if ever again) – whereas some have suggested that wind turbines might be useful in those circumstances.

Regards,

Nik

PS – Regarding your related comments to Zigmaster, we live in close-in ’burbs and have an automatic standby generator that can power the entire house, running off of natural gas, piped in by the local utility (who buys from several sources). This generator can be quickly switched over to run on tanked propane if needed. We once had a manual gasoline-powered generator, but hauling in gasoline got to be a pain, and storage for enough to run just a few days was problematic (we have ice storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, overhead power distribution, and many trees).

In a catastrophic event, hauling in fuel (assuming we had fuel and a running vehicle, the needed fuel was available for sale, and that pumps worked) could have been dangerous (theft), as well as arduous, and having fuel delivered would have been spotty. Gas utilities are among those who say they are prepared for CMEs and EMP, and the delivery is direct and underground. It costs us ~ \$35 to run the gas generator for 24 hours with AC running (cheaper than the cheapest motel, assuming you could get to one and get a room).

• re: “I do not profess to be an expert. My professional experience includes time with an electric power generation utility and with a developer/supplier of transmission and distribution hardware and equipment. ”

I would recommend you review what current ‘practice’ is by the operators of these systems, such as for magnetic storms; the way you portray the system operators is one of “sitting ducks” waiting for the dominoes to fall, blissfully unaware of ‘happenings’ in our solar system (when such isn’t the case at all.)

Rather than repeat on this website (WUWT) what I’ve already written on this subject before, please see: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/25/compared-to-the-suns-power-we-are-a-fly-speck-on-an-elephants-butt/#comment-95204

A little more info here on this – System operators are now ‘under orders’ to protect against mag storms too. Below is the FERC order and PJM’s response plans:

“FERC Orders Rules on Geomagnetic Disturbances”
https://www.rtoinsider.com/ferc-orders-rules-to-protect-against-geomagnetic-disturbances/

PJM Operating Plans in Place

PJM’s operating plans for dealing with GMDs are detailed in section 3.7 of Manual 13. The plan calls for PJM to notify generation and transmission members via the PJM All-Call system and Emergency Procedure posting application when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issues an alert for a potential GMD with a ranking of 5 or greater on the 9-point “K-index.”

Once a GMD has been confirmed, PJM dispatchers must operate the system under GMD transfer limits determined from studies that modeled several scenarios, including: loss of the Hydro-Quebec Phase 2 DC line to Sandy Pond; tripping of certain extra high voltage capacitors, and reduction or loss of generation at Artificial Island, the site of the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear plants in New Jersey.

PJM Manual 13: …. Emergency Operations
Revision: 70 …….. Effective Date: May 30, 2019
https://www.pjm.com/~/media/documents/manuals/m13.ashx

Training presentation is provided as a reference for preparing for the PJM Certification Exam
https://www.pjm-miso.com/~/media/training/nerc-certifications/RE6-weatherenvironmental.ashx

24. Nik says:

Very good article.

25. Ragnaar says:

“…studies show the wind only blows the right speed (the wind can blow both too soft and too hard) 18 to 19% of the time on average across the country…”

The capacity factor is probably closer to 30%. If you’re making a point, give them credit to avoid criticism. You didn’t need to use 19%. Since there are studies, link to one that says 19%.

“Potential taxable income can be written off against the investment for many years…”

Same as with an oil rig, pipeline or coal plant. Same as with a farmer’s tractor. A wind turbine is depreciated over 6 years and can be accelerated. Pick your favorite industry. They are taking write offs. It’s communism right in the good old United States of America.

Dear WUWT: Stop with the: “Well, we are indeed adding CO2 to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels but CO2 is an insignificant greenhouse gas.”

Try to win this thing will you? Here is a dead end. I dare to walk down it for no reason.

• Gamecock says:

“Potential taxable income can be written off against the investment for many years…”

OMG! Instead of IMMEDIATELY, like any other cost. IT’S NOT A BENEFIT, IT’S A PENALTY!

• karl says:

I guess you don’t own any investment real-estate — straight line depreciation based on cost of 27.5 years for residential or 40 years for commercial — magical FREE reduction of income \$ for \$

26. old construction worker says:

Broken window economic. Egypt went broke building pyramids.

27. griff says:

It is worth pointing out, again, that a lot of the cost of German electricity is tax, unrelated to renewables. and the renewable subsidy element recently dropped very slightly.

• Dennis Gerald Sandberg says:

Griff,
Any chance the tax may be necessary to subsidize renewables?

• Kurt in Switzerland says:

Um, Griff, you wrote: “It is worth pointing out, again, that a lot of the cost of German electricity is tax, unrelated to renewables. and the renewable subsidy element recently dropped very slightly.”

You can’t be serious. Really, are you that naïve (or that duplicitous)?

German electricity costs are among the highest on the planet. And Germany has had the most “woke” Renewable Energy Law anywhere for nearly two decades. Its primary purpose has been to subsidize solar, then wind power installations (and, of course, the “grid upgrades” which are required to deal with massive fluctuations in electricity supply over very short time periods. That dog’s breakfast of legislation now costs the German economy north of 25 Billion (yes, Billion) Euros per year. And for what, bragging rights? Is there even a prayer of a detectable climate effect, say, in 100 years?

Yet wind power providers are still paid the negotiated feed in tariffs when the wind is blowing, even if nobody wants or needs the electricity at that time. Wind and Solar power always have primacy over other forms of electricity generation.

28. Moar (sic) stranded assets; anybody with the responsibility for making ‘power (energy) supply’ decisions PLEASE avoid sinking public or your privately-managed funds into schemes which provide the *actual* limited return solar and wind *should* be known for …

29. Willem Post says:

Those other mostly fossil, generators have to be run 100% of the time for peaking, filling in and balancing.
Wind could not be fed into the grid without them
The other generators have to operate at part load, vary their outputs up and down and make more frequent starts and stops, all of which to greater Btu/kWh and more CO2/kWh, i.e, less fuel saved and less CO2 reduced.
In fact, at 17% wind in Ireland, the CO2 reduced was only 56% of what was claimed.
The only reason it became irrefutable, was the gas imports did not decrease as much as predicted.
A government investigation followed and a number of prior studies of grid operating conditions were proved right; they had previously been denied, etc., by pro-wind no-nothings.

• Dave Fair says:

Did the Irish government do anything in response, Willem?

• Willem Post says:

Dave,
Ireland increased the capacity of connections to the UK and France grids
Brussels gave Ireland a money grant, i.e., freebie, to make wind look good in Ireland.
That spreads the Irish wind variability and intermittency to much larger grids to be dealt with by THEIR generators.
A smearing of a thin layer of troublesome stuff over a large area, so it would be hardly noticeable.
That only works until other countries ramp up THEIR wind.
In the meantime a pack of carefully constructed lies continues.

30. steve case says:

The bottom line? A total waste of money – a total boondoggle

BINGO!

When George Orwell wrote “Animal Farm” he chose the windmill to represent the boondoggles
that oppressive governments promote in order to create an appearance of progress.

31. rms says:

“A wind turbine is depreciated over 6 years and can be accelerated. Pick your favorite industry. They are taking write offs. It’s communism right in the good old United States of America.”

Humm. Current the government taxes business based on PROFIT, which simplistically is income minus costs. Building things costs money and so is included in the cost part of the calculation. But instead of including the full cost at the time the bill is paid for the built stuff, the computation of annual cost for the purposes of taxing PROFIT is to take the billed cost divided by the defined (by tax law, not how long it lasts) life. That’s depreciation.

All we have to do to fix this “write-off” problem, if it’s a problem and is in need of fixing, is to simply change the tax law. Governments have the power and responsibility to do that. No need to demonize the businesses who are following the law.

• Ragnaar says:

rms:

Here’s what I thought I read from Larry F. Brown: Write-offs are bad.

People attack corporations and so forth mentioning write-offs. Write-offs for businesses make sense to me. I am an accountant and have a bias. Write-offs for businesses are one of the things that makes sense in our tax code that at times doesn’t make sense.

I was advancing what I thought was his point. To try to make my point. I think write-offs are fine.

• rms says:

I agree. Write-offs are fine.

• Larry Brown says:

Ragnaar – I did not intend to imply that write-offs are bad. My point was that, with write-offs, it seems very likely that these “farm” would never pay any income tax. Here is a question for you. As a tax man, do you know what happens after the 20-year life of these farms comes to an end? Do they just sit there and rot or are there bonds required for dismantle and reclamation?

• Larry:

Most US communities require a security bond to cover wind turbine decommissioning.

How good a job local legislators are doing with writing such provisions is questionable — as they have been told a lot of malarky.

What’s your email?

(Here is his e-mail address larryfbrn@aol.com) SUNMOD

32. Mark Broderick says:

“I think we should stop building these wind farms — tomorrow” ?
How about “yesterday !”

33. Gamecock says:

‘A tax credit should not be confused with a tax deduction.’

Nor should it be confused with anything logical. It is an oxymoron.

34. MR166 says:

Since the US government is well on it’s way to double the national debt every 8 years or so the taxpayer does not pay for this subsidy. The tax payers children and grand children will have to live through a total economic collapse to pay for the spending of the Green Agenda. This is pure watermelon accounting, green on the outside and red ink on the inside.

• Dennis Gerald Sandberg says:

Yes, an economic train wreck has so much momentum it is unavoidable. Most of the voting population is more concerned about 4 ppm Co2 per annum increase than a \$4 billion per annum debt increase. Ain’t no cure for stupid.

• Dennis Gerald Sandberg says:

Oops \$4 trillion not \$4billion. Still early here in the left coast.

• john mcguire says:

What’s the difference .

35. R Shearer says:

Is a “clean” energy source that cannot be built or operated without fossil inputs sustainable? I would say it is not by definition.

• Greg in Houston says:

You need to define sustainable in a way that it can be measured. No one does that, they just use the word like it means something.

• R Shearer says:

The UN through ISO 26000 uses something as follows:

“Sustainable development can be defined as a form of development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

So I think I am correct and I would say that costs for wind turbines and solar panels recycling and land use need to be accounted for.

• Dave Fair says:

When the NIMBY’s grab onto solar and wind, costs will be highlighted. The love of solar and wind by the Left will be overwhelmed by local blow-backs.

36. Mark Whitney says:

According to the Energy Information Administration Utah’s two largest wind generation facilities sell power to California. I guess that makes it profitable since Utah rates are only about \$0.09/kwh.

“Wind energy produced almost one-fifth of Utah’s net renewable electricity generation in 2017. Utah has five wind farms operating with nearly 400 megawatts of generating capacity from about 200 turbines. The state’s two largest wind farms send power to California. There is commercial wind power potential in the Wasatch and Uinta mountain ranges in Utah’s north-central region and on the mesas in western Utah. However, the state requirement that investments in renewable generation projects be cost-effective has resulted in Utah utilities investing in wind projects in neighboring states, where Utah regulators have deemed the projects to be more cost-effective than proposed in-state facilities.”

You can plug your state into the link below for the your profile.

37. MR166 says:

The renewable industry hides it’s operating costs and profits very well. New projects are claiming to be able to sell power to the grid at 2 cents/kwh and are using this figure to fool the general public into approving renewables. This is an outright fraud and all of the people connected to this fraud including academia should be held accountable.

It should be mandatory that backup costs also be included in published figures.

38. Nick Schroeder says:

A watt is power, 3.6 kJ/h or 3.4 Btu/h.

A rating of 2.3 MW per h is nonsense.

• … whereas 2.3 MW for an hour is 2.3 MWh .

Just wanted to bring this back all the way ’round the circle.

• Paul Penrose says:

Yes, it’s obvious that’s what he meant. I think the MW/hr complaint is just nitpicking.

• Larry Brown says:

Paul – thank you for the comment. I was wondering whether or not to respond to the MS/hr etc. comments. Of course, they are correct and I am wrong but I finally decided like you and have left it alone.

39. William Abbott says:

The electric power the windmills generate is at best a nuisance on the distribution grid. If you don’t limit the amount of electricity you derive from non-despatchable sources you destabilize your grid. South Australia has more installed wind generation than almost anywhere and 28 September 2016 it all turned off suddenly in high wind conditions and the grid went down. It took days to get the power back on. Now they operate with strict limitations about how much non-despatchable generation can come online. You can’t manage the variability without spinning reserve either. So, like the napkin reads, you have to maintain at least 80% of your dispatchable generation all the time, no matter what, and 100% when the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining.

The functional use of wind generation on the grid is totally undependable. It is a nuisance, not an asset: Worse than a total waste of money.

• DMacKenzie says:

Available technologically and economically…..Take the money you would spend on renewables and put it towards a nuclear power plant, unless you have available hydro-electric sites. Green do-gooders seem to fight both of these options by appeal to emotion rather than operational statistics. Those windmills on the hills are a constant virtue reminder to greens…..a nuclear reactor over the hill fills them with fear….

40. Sheri says:

It’s NOT A FRIGGING FARM. We do not plant seeds to get those %*#@\$% turbines. It’s a WIND PLANT, an INDUSTRIAL WIND INSTALLATION but it is NOT A FARM. Using that term says “I am nothing but a fool that falls for stupid propaganda, no matter how smartly I appear to write.” It’s equal to calling civilian casualties “collateral damage”.

41. Donald L. Klipstein says:

The maintenance supervisor of the farm says, “produces an average of 1.3 megawatts/hr (= 1,300 kW/hr)” and subsequently the author of the article discounts this a second time by 18 to 19 %.

The capacity factor per the supervisor is 56%, and the additional deduction of 18-19% puts the capacity factor at about 10%

Better get a new envelope.

• Larry Brown says:

Donald – the capacity factor is 1.3/2.3 = 57% is the effective efficiency of the turbine – i.e., a machine cannot produce at 100% efficiency. The 18-19% is the % of the time the wind blows within the operable range of the wind machine.

• Donald L. Klipstein says:

No Larry, you are double counting. The turbine will reach rated nameplate capacity when the wind is blowing at the higher limit of it’s operating range. The maintenance supervisor was quoting you numbers that included your 20% figure of no-wind/too-fast-wind.

• Larry Brown says:

Donald – ok, thank you for that – that shoots a huge hole in my calculation. The net per turbine income would then go up to about \$265,000 / year – which is indeed about enough to pay for the interest on a 5% loan for the \$4.8 million tower – only.

• Larry Brown says:

Donald – I’m preparing revision. I don’t know if WattUpWithThat will publish it, but – —-.

42. Companies can charge up to 5X the going rate for Offshore wind power in the case of the only operating Offshore US wind farm – the Block Island wind farm off Rhode Island. They charge the State 24.4c/kwh – escalating to 47c/kw h. The islanders currently pay 8.5c/kwh.
See eg https://www.blockislandtimes.com/article/wind-farm-blamed-higher-mainland-power-rates/51561
It seems impossible to discover what its output is since its start up in 2017and since it was bought out by Orsted the biggest Danish renewable energy co. ( If anyone knows please post)
The misjudgments of the scientific consensus have been seized upon and hyped for political ends.
see
https://www.climatedepot.com/2019/07/12/aocs-chief-of-staff-admits-green-new-deal-about-implementing-socialism-it-wasnt-originally-a-climate-thing-at-all-its-a-change-the-entire-economy-thing/
What is happening is total madness. The Drax power station in the UK can create and sell EU CO2 credits by clear cutting US forests. turning them into wood chips, using energy to dry them ,transporting them to the UK and burning them. This farce is then regarded as biomass and is supposed to reduce CO2 and save the world.

43. Snarling Dolphin says:

I think I know this farm. If it’s the one I’m thinking it is, it also despoils what used to a delightfully scenic and beautiful view of a nearby mountain range. You can use google earth to view the powerline corridor construction that goes along with each farm. No sensitivity to the environment is evident. These lines run straight and true to the nearest PTC tie in point. A travesty greens. You are so being used and you are so annoying about it all. So here’s a question for all you enviros: where else in your life are you acting like a complete idiot? Food for thought.

• Larry Brown says:

Snarling – this “farm” is just outside Monticello, UT.

44. Usurbrain says:

Part of the problem is that those selling “Renewables” keep bragging about the fact that the electricity is being sold to utilities, under long term contracts. for numbers in the 3 to 5 cents per KWH – “Less than Coal or Nuclear!” As a retired engineer from an electricity utility I can say without hesitation that the reason they sell it for such a low price is that the utilities do not want the headaches of dealing with it. Who would pay full price for a loaf of bread or gallon of milk that was past the sell by date? Why would any utility pay full price for a product that is only available 30% of any hour when the FERC requires that you have 10% spinning reserves for the peak load of the day? The only way that requirement can be met is to have another power plant on line, not producing any power and wasting fuel and costing 75% of the 100% power operating costs. That means they will not pay the renewable’s the actual cost of the electricity, but they need it to meet the states renewable energy requirements or to appease the environmental virtue signalers.

45. I can confirm the back of the napkin economics in this article. I live in western Canada’s wind belt, with many wind farm projects completed and underway. I have looked into building wind farms many times over the years, as an investor or entrepreneur (which I am already). I have always wanted to build a wind farm, long before global warming was a thing, and I can confirm the economics in this article.

46. John Lobert says:

Are there other kinds kinds of proximity besides “close”?

• john mcguire says:

Is there another another kind of diametric other than opposed?

47. Dave from Maine says:

Three years ago i had a tour of windmill site in the Netherlands and we had an explanation of how the windmills were used to pump water from the farmlands into the Rhine. Today the water still has be pumped from these below sea level fields. The 1000 year old technology of windmills is now strictly to explain how they worked to tourists. The giant pumps are now electric which is produced by coal.

48. Present thinking here to reduce energy costs here in Texas involves several strategies –

1) Move to an electric (wholesale price) retailer called “Griddy”. Their claim to fame is direct-to-consumer cost of electricity (from the present market cost) for a fixed low monthly administration/service charge (like 10 USD).

2) Implement grid-tie solar with from 4 to 6 ~ 300 Watt solar panels. This will serve to reduce my local demand from the grid during high-peak usage times during daylight hours (esp. air conditioning). I will do my own install bypassing the cost of an installer.

3) Since Griddy is going to cost me more during periods where electric demand is high (AND the cost of electricity on the open market HERE in Texas is high) implement a cheap gasoline or diesel genset capable of starting (an important checkbox) and running an 8,000 BTU air conditioning during those times to save me from being “dinged” by high (spot) market prices the few weeks of the year this is likely. The genset also provides service during blackouts (of which we can see 2 or 3 outages a year for 1 to 3 hours each.) There is a chance for longer outages, again, the genset will meet requirements to operate the A/C and other vital services (like, a computer, DSL router etc.)

I’m looking at ~ 18c per kWh at present, as rates in Texas have slowly risen, in part for charges by the electric delivery company (Oncor) who is defraying HV transmission equipment/lines from west Texas for utilization of wind farm -er- plant electricity production.

• Greg says:

Do you have to have a separate subscription and metering for the grid feed, or does it just reduce what you pull out of the grid?

In France you have to pay a second subscription charge, which makes it all a lot less profitable.

• Donald L. Klipstein says:

If by “subscription” you mean a 2nd set of wires connecting you to the “grid” the answer is no, you only need one set of wires with a grid tie inverter. The grid tie inverter will reduce your local consumption (pull) off of the grid, and in the case your local consumption is lower than your local production, it will feed the power into the grid over the same wires you use to consume. They can install a “net” meter, which measures two distinct items, namely the power you consume, and the power your produce. Simply put the net meter measures the transfer of energy bi-directionally. As a result, I am given two line items on my bill, production and consumption as determined by the meter readings.

• Greg, it is per Donald L’s response below; relatively simple device reduces amount of ‘power’ drawn from the mains while still using the mains for motor starting and other heavy electricity consumers.

Our smart meters are able to ‘work’ with net metering, but one has to agree beforehand with the utility to be paid for this sort of thing. I simply look to offset some of my consumption, for radio and connected computer gear as well as A/C (cooling) during the summer, and heating during the winter.

• Gamecock says:

You are evidence of the decentralization of power production. When the central provider becomes too expensive or too unreliable, or both, people will invest in their own power source.

The Left has a static view of the world. They believe they can screw over industrial electricity production, remake it in the vision of the Harvard faculty lounge, and the people will just take it. We Americans won’t just take it.

Presidential debate, 1980:

Jimmy Carter: “Only government can manage scarcity fairly.”

Ronald Reagan: “Screw that! We’re America! We’ll just make more!”

• Dave Fair says:

Capitalism produces prosperity for all; Socialism manages scarcity on the back of the middle-class.

• re: “you are evidence of the decentralization of power production”

Yea verily!

49. Christopher Chantrill says:

The important thing to know is that the kill switch is the Production Tax Credit.

Hey, President Trump. How yer doin’ pal?

50. john says:
51. Rob says:

What’s never factored in to the cost is the multi sector complete and total economic destruction these alternative energy scams brings with them. Energy is the base of an economy, and one by one, through the supply chains from financials, manufacturing, and labor markets , it’s like a wrecking ball is taken to all. Europe is 20 years ahead of north America with this alternative energy craziness and their economies are like a dead man walking. Most of their banks are insolvent, and I hear that Deutsche Bank is just about ready to go belly up. If that goes, it will trigger a world wide recession. One, that the EU will not be able to recover from.

52. BillP says:

As others have pointed out, there are many errors in this article.

Hence, it just discredits our case by enabling the alarmists to say we don’t know what we are talking about.

It should be removed.

• Greg says:

Yes, and he does not even name the wind farm in question so someone can get the correct figures and check his work.

[MODS:]
I know our host does not like just removing stuff but this should not have been published and needs an update saying that it contains serious errors.

• Paul Penrose says:

Wrong, there are no serious errors, just nit picking. If you had serious objections you would have led with those.

• BillP says:

Failing to state sources is a big blunder in science; and a favourite tactic of con artists, like self proclaimed “climate scientists”.

The next biggest blunder is that he fails to realise that the “1.3 megawatts/hr” (presumably 1.3 MW) already takes into account that the wind turbines do not operate 24/7/365 and so uses 18-19% of that. This get a capacity factor of just 11%, which is implausibly low.

His inability to get the units correct makes the numbers themselves suspect. Did he actually mean MWh/day? Is he consistently using megawatts/hr when it should be MW or does he use it for other units as well?

• Greg says:

Trying to do a cost analysis when you do not even the know what the physical properties measured are is a joke. Pointing out that someone has no understanding of the subject and has not even done basic research before concluding the profitability of a venture is not knit picking.

I would be equally scathing of someone writing about climate or anything else who clearly had not idea of the subject.

53. DaveK says:

After doing the back-of-envelope review of the economics of these massive wind-farms, let’s turn that sharp pencil to the even more absurd proposal to put these turbines offshore. You still have the same issues of the basic costs of the mechanical bits, but now you are adding installation and maintenance costs that are likely orders of magnitude higher.

• steve case says:

Besides that, the geoengineering and “Carbon” sequestration proposals need the exposure provided by a “Sharp Pencil”

54. Roger Knights says:

“From the article:
“The theory says man’s 3% contribution to the 0.013% increase is causing global warming. How could only 3% of that minuscule 0.013% (i.e., a component comprising 0.00039% of the atmosphere) cause global warming? It can’t.”

The theory actually says that man’s 3% contribution is per year, need that it persists, so over time it builds up.

• Greg says:

Yes, I have no idea what he is talking about there, and I suspect neither does he.

There are serious questions about the viability of wind power but this mixed up article is not making them in a credible way.

55. Greg says:

Ah it seems there is only one large scale wind farm un Utah:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milford_Wind

” including 58 Clipper Liberty 2.5-MW wind turbines ”

Nameplate capacity 306 MW
Capacity factor 22.9% (average 2012-2017)
Annual net output 613 GW·h

Units operational 58 X 2.5 MW (Clipper)
107 X 1.5 MW (GE)

So the 58 units discussed seem to be one phase of the installation, comprising about half the 306MW boilplate capacity. So assuming that both models are as good, they produce just over 300GWh per year actual for real electricity, on average.

Taking the author’s 3c/kWh wholesale price: 300×10^6 x \$0.03 = \$9million / year or \$155k/year per tower.

I won’t bother going into his speculative running costs etc.

• john says:

My friend provided testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee with info regarding Clipper Wind. It was published and it has conveniently disappeared. Will post as a reply here if what it entailed.

• john says:

My friend provided testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee with info regarding Clipper Wind. It was published and it has conveniently disappeared. Will post as a reply here if what it entailed.

Here is a basic sample. Some links may be dead due to firms hired to manage reputations.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/m/blogpost?id=4401701%3ABlogPost%3A108741

I’ll try to get an original PDF of the testimony. Stay tuned here.

• john says:

We’ve written a lot about the Clipper wind fiasco and my trusted friend and analyst provided testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee of serious issues.

It seems to have been disappeared.

https://waysandmeans.house.gov/UploadedFiles/Barbara_Durkin.pdf

I’ve alerted her of this issue and stand by for an ‘update’ here.

john

• BillP says:

The description seems to fit Latigo Wind Park better, that has 27 turbines: GE Energy 2.3-116 (power 2 300 kW, diameter 116 m)

That only started operation online April 2016 and I have not been able to find actual production data.

• Per the EIA, Latigo Wind Park production in 2017 was 153,706 megawatt-hours (MWh). If the nameplate capacity is 62 MW, the capacity factor is 28 percent.

That’s approximately equal to other Utah wind farms (or wind electrical production facilities):

http://scppa.org/page/milford-wind

Utah is not a very good state for wind power.

• Larry Brown says:

Greg – this “farm” is just outside Monticello, UT.

56. DipChip says:

I predict that in the not to distant future investors will be building homes and elevators in these towers,
AKA missile silos.

57. DipChip says:

Can you imagine the rukus raised by the global warmers if we were to have set 50 of 92 daily record high temperatures June 1 thru Aug 31 any where in the world during the past 10 years.

This data is from Norfolk Nebraska official US weather station, 50 daily high temperatures during the decade of the 1930’s

To confirm my data select Norfolk Nebraska from site location and submit.

https://www.weather.gov/oax/monthly_climate_records

58. Kurt in Switzerland says:

Larry Brown:

Please do yourself (and your readers) a favor and correct the units on the references to Wind Turbine Capacity to MW, not MW/h.

I remember speaking with an architect who was quite absorbed with energy-efficient homes who managed to confuse energy with power (and wasn’t even aware).

Just admit that you made an error and move on.

• Larry Brown says:

Kurt – I have admitted it and moved on.

• toorightmate says:

Larry,
I have come across people who quote hectacres for land area!!!
Other people get confused by Imperial and Metric time.

• Kurt in Switzerland says:

Thanks, Larry.
Sorry, I didn’t see your message culpa.
You should have the body of the article amended appropriately, lest interested readers come to the conclusion that you are scientifically challenged.

But I agree with you that the shrill cries to deploy ever-increasing wind power capacity constitute naïve or duplicitous behavior.

• Kurt in Switzerland says:

Mea culpa (spell check) 🙂

59. Rich Davis says:

coup d’état?

Now the windmills are trying to overthrow Trump, too?

I guess from the context you meant coup de grâce

60. Tombstone Gabby says:

At 201907220230 – Australian Eastern Time – pricing per MegaWatt Hour – per aemo.com.au

Queensland: \$16.78

New South Wales: \$17.26

South Australia: \$ – 0.01

Victoria: \$ – 0.01

Tasmania: \$ – 0.24

Yup – the wind is blowing – for now…..

• Tombstone Gabby says:

At 201907221425 – Australian Eastern Time – AEMO shows:

Queensland: \$55.38

New South Wales: \$58.03

South Australia: \$15.65

Victoria: \$ – 0.01

Tasmania: \$19.24

Still getting some reasonable winds…..

• Nicholas McGinley says:

No, there are many that are very rigorous and well done by energy experts.
I feel bad having to say it, but let’s not mislead the lurking readers who might look no further and start quoting this article as if it were authoritative.
And that is why one must get the details correct.

61. bwegher says:

The author claims he spoke with the local expert for the basic info on the wind generators he visited.
Either he or his expert don’t have the first clue about what they are talking about.
Electrical generation is expressed in Watts. That is Joules per second.
The nameplate capacity is just the designed ability of the generator to maintain some output in Watts on a continuous basis.

Saying the capacity is “2.3 megawatts/hr” means 2.3 megawatts per hour, which is a nonsense unit.
Converting to Joules, that becomes 2.3 megajoules per second per hour. Nonsense in this context.
A rate of change of power output might be of interest to indicate some kind of trend.
There is no point in wasting time reading what follows.

If someone wants to learn about wind power generation, try another source. I imagine Denmark has some reliable numbers regarding wind power generation over years.

62. Big Bubba says:

Let us be charitable. To err is human.
The author made a non trivial and basic mistake in expressing units of power, and I am sure he feels the weight of all the negative feedback on his shoulders.
I guess it is a valuable lesson to always have a second pair of eyes proof read a script before publishing, and if that script includes physics or math then the proof reader should be someone with that particular expertise.

• Sweet Old Bob says:

‘To err is human”…. to forgive is against company policy .
😉

• Dave Fair says:

“To err is human.” You need a computer to really foul things up.

63. Peter says:

First you say the turbine is rated at 2.3MW/hr but it averages 1.3MW/hr which gives a capacity factor around 55%.

Then you say because of maintenance and intermittent wind, only 19% of the 55% is produced giving about 11% capacity factor.

Wrong!

Also, turbines are rated as MW, not MW/hr.

64. Robber says:

If a wind turbine is rated at 2.3 MW (nameplate capacity), that means that at maximum design wind speed the turbine can deliver 2.3 MW. On average, most wind turbines deliver about 30% of nameplate capacity, in this case 0.7 MW.
But wind is a variable, so actual generation is likely to vary between zero and 1.4 MW, with just occasional peaks close to 2.3 MW.
Therefore this wind turbine is likely to deliver about 0.7x24x365 = 6,132 MWhr per year.
If the average wholesale price is \$30/MWhr, that gives gross income of \$184,000 per year.
For a capital cost of \$2 million, and say a 20 year life, capital write off equals \$100,000 per year.
That leaves \$84,000 per year to cover maintenance costs and generate a return on investment.
If maintenance costs are 2% = \$40,000 per year, net income is \$44,000 per year for a 2% return on capital.
But then there’s the complicated world of subsidies….

• Dave Fair says:

Actually, 2.3 x 0.3 x 24 x 365 x 30 = \$181,320/yr revenue per turbine. O&M on these types of facilities is about 5% (for planning purposes) of \$2,000,000 = \$100,000/yr. Thus net annual revenue = \$81,320.

The PV of a \$81,320 annual revenue stream over 15 years at 5% (generous) is \$844,080: You can’t even begin to recover your investment.

Hell, if I give you only 2.5% annual O&M, net revenue of \$131,320/yr over 15 years gives a PV of only \$1,363,063! As the old saying goes: “We’ll make it up in volume.” Actually, they make it up off the backs of taxpayers and ratepayers.

65. jim heath says:

Private enterprise is great: If you want to mine cheese from the moon, go for it, just don’t ask me to invest in it.

66. Big Bubba says:

Golly. See the link from the NZ meteorological service. Note they say that MWh = MW/h
And these people work for an energy company…

https://blog.metservice.com/Meridian-Energy-power-production

WHAT IS A MEGAWATT HOUR?
A megawatt hour (MWh) is a unit of energy. It equates to one million watts per hour, or 1000 kilowatts per hour. 1MWh is enough to power 50 New Zealand homes for a day.

• Um … can you say “Third world country”?

Not seriously, but yeah …

• WHAT IS A MEGAWATT HOUR?
A megawatt hour (MWh) is a unit of energy. It equates to one million watts per hour, or 1000 kilowatts per hour.

No, a megawatt hour (MWh) does not equate to one million watts per hour. It is equal to one million watts *for* one hour.

67. Big Bubba says:

On reflection: The criticism about Larry using the expression of units MW/h versus MWh might need to be retracted. The equation XYz=XY/z is satisfied for all values provided z=1
While restrictive in the sense of being a special case, it is fairly common parlance for power usage ‘over’ a period of 1 hour.
We owe Larry an apology!

68. Larry:

TY for addressing the industrial wind energy issue. A few brief comments as a wind energy expert:
1 – There is no such thing as a wind “farm.” What you wrote about was industrial wind facilities, etc.
2 – These wind projects are very profitable (based on insider info and actual economic realities). That means that your calculations are mistaken, and/or incomplete.
3 – The profitability of wind projects from the developer’s perspective is not the main concern. What are of concern are: a) ratepayer costs, and b) net costs to host communities. Both of those are VERY problematic.
4 – For more information please see WiseEnergy.org.

• Nicholas McGinley says:

Come on…they are widely referred to as wind farms, by the people who make them and pay for them etc.
So that is how reliable your expertise is.

69. Chip says:

Wind farms also create grid stability problems for utilities. It’s nice when they’re supplying power, but something has to be backed down, usually a gas fired plant and they may no longer be operating in the efficient range. The power is not reliable enough to keep the lights on.

• James Shannon says:

That goes back to the “use it or lose it” of our electrical grid. We have no storage capacity on our AC power grid. It’s put on the grid and it is gone nearly that instant – either used by a consumer (lights, heat, etc etc) or as heat wasted out the grid.

Unless/until we can address the storage issue – solar or wind are nice, but they aren’t the end all /beat all.

• Usurbrain says:

Excess Power on the grid causes the voltage to Increase – Not Good.
Excess Voltage on one portion of the grid and not enough voltage in another portion of the grid causes the voltage to flow to the lowest voltage area. That in-turn will cause protective circuit breakers to trip and in-turn cause blackouts. That is what happened in all of the various multi-state blackouts. When voltage drops fast enough it can cause a power station to trip off line and no dispatcher is fast enough to prevent it. If you like renewables – get used to it as they will be more frequent.

70. Michael Pickens says:

name one (1) wind turbine that T Boone Pickens’ owns
#patheticresearch

• Michael Pickens July 22, 2019 at 7:26 am
name one (1) wind turbine that T Boone Pickens’ owns
#patheticresearch

???

Cut to the chase: Start at 3:58 for the money quote:

T. Boone Pickens: “I’ve Lost My Azz” in Wind Power – ‘The Jobs Are in the Oil and Gas Industry’

• Michael Pickens says:

I was there, when T Boone, my father, signed a contract with GE for 1200+ turbines. He made a “downpayment” for 125, 2.5MW turbines, to begin delivery 18 months out. Shortly after, his “hedge fund” suffered a 98% loss. He sold the 125 turbines to FPL. As for “money quotes” – narcissists lie, alot.
#tbooneISbroke

71. Steven Burnett says:

I think you double counted capacity factor.

The average output is 1.3MW. That includes downtime. Hitting it with another 80% reduction is where your number run bad.

It looks like they would maintain profitability however it would only be a few tens of thousands for a multi million investment.

• Donald L. Klipstein says:

Steve, you are correct. Larry discounted the output twice

• Larry Brown says:

Donald – Thanks. As indicated I had this thing reviewed by a guy who works in the industry (and many others). He saw the 2.3 to 1.3 reduction, did not comment on that, but then provided me with the 18-19% wind factor and indicated that should be an additional reduction in output – hence, I thought I was doing it right by using both reductions in output.

72. ColMosby says:

No mention of the recent study that indicated that large turbine lifespans are barely half that predicted/promised. Nor will storage save renewables – storage is just that, storage – it cannot generate power and can easily dry up before the renewables can start producing again. The wind can die down for days. weeks, months.

73. James Shannon says:

“The way bats are killed is that the passing blade creates a vacuum and the bat’s lungs explode even if he doesn’t come into contact with the blade. And, yes, I know that cars and windows and cats kill birds but cars and windows and cats don’t kill eagles and falcons and other protected birds and endangered species, and cars, windows, and cats don’t kill bats.”

Uh, Dr Brown – while I agree with your assertion that wind farms make no sense economically (and I teach industrial technologies at the local community college part time – where we also have a 50kw wind generator, that, if they could keep it running, would start paying for itself in year 18 of a 20 year lifespan), I do have to take exception to that above paragraph. I want to see proof of the lungs getting sucked out of bats – I call total biological bs on that one – (kind of like Arnold Schwartenegers head trying to explode in the old Total Recall movie – sounds neat – great special effects, but the reality is less, uh, dramatic). Also, I’d like to introduce you to Pixel, Mouse, and Tigger, 3 cats that you need to explain to that they cannot keep catching the bats they bring INTO MY HOUSE and then proceed to “play” with. Pinkie (the 4th and oldest cat) gave up trying to catch bats after about 2 years of jumping, but the other three have apparently worked out a system, as we have had to take their captures (never harmed them, thank goodness) and put them up in a tree, while other bats are swarming us from the distress call of the one we repatriated to the outdoors.

Overall, though, and again, a good article from the common sense standpoint, for the most part. Out here on the plains in Kansas, we can run a windjammer about 320 days a year (with proper shuttering to not allow it to overspin) and my grandparents had electricity on their farm until the REC came along by using one – sadly, I didn’t get it down before they sold the place and lost that cool bit of old technology. IF I were to go offgrid, I would consider a small scale, DC storage system for a wind system (along with Solar, and yes, I’d still have a gas generator backup!) But they aren’t scaled properly for larger scaling – building a windjammer with feathering props using a Delco-Tron alternator is one thing – getting all the permissions etc for one of the giant monsters is another.

Thanks for another take on the economics, and glad I wasn’t completely crazy in looking that them as a money pit.

• James Shannon says:

I do want to state, I did find the study done by Erin Baerwald of the University of Calgary, Canada, and colleagues. and I will give it a read. My first time through university was Aeronautical Engineering, and along with studying and becoming a pilot – and further, having an extreme interest in physiology of flight and how pressure gradients affect things like lungs, this seems a bit implausible to me, but hey, I may end up learning something…

Now, about talking to my cats regarding capturing bats…. (I like bats, they eat bugs!)

74. John Kinahan says:

This guy can’t do math. He shows this when he does his Carbon Dioxide increase calculation. Anybody with a mortgage will tell you if the rate goes from 0.5% to 1.0% that’s not a little 0.5% increase, it’s a 100% increase.

75. Usurbrain says:

Don’t forget the 30,000 cuft of Concrete for the 20ft diameter X 20 ft deep foundations. How much CO2 is that going to release? Then who is going to pay to remove it?

76. Usurbrain says:

Missing from this analysis is the electricity used by the Wind Turbine whether it is producing electricity or not.
This can be as much as 10% of the Name Plate rated output on an annual basis. That means that the 2.3 MW wind turbine will use 230 KW of electricity every year. Assuming a number that most owners would be exuberant over for Capacity Factor of 35% that means the Wind turbine produces ~ 800 KW on average. Subtracting 10 percent of nameplate leaves you with 570 KW. That makes the “NET” actual “additional” power capacity factor equal approximately 25%. Worse. The owner is buying that electricity at the utility “Industrial” or “Manufacturing” rate. Both of which are in the neighborhood of 1/2 of the rate you as residential customers are paying.
So, when calculating the number of wind turbines needed to achieve 100% renewable power you need to factor in one more for every ten you calculate based upon Name Plate data and Capacity Factor data.

This site give a good estimate.
http://www.aweo.org/windconsumption.html

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