Skip to comments.Wind Turbine Answers Elusive
Posted on 09/17/2012 12:35:00 PM PDT by MichCapCon
Michigan's open spaces could be dotted with turbines nearly 500 feet tall the same height as the 40-story Guardian Building in downtown Detroit if voters pass Proposal 3 in November.
The proposal, which would mandate that 25 percent of Michigan's energy come from renewable sources such as wind by 2025, would require a huge increase in the number of turbines across the state.
The newest turbines have rotor blades that are longer than a football field. Experts are split about how many of the mammoth structures would be needed to generate as much as 20 percent of the state's energy from wind. Most experts think 20 percent of the 25-percent proposed standard would have to come from wind.
However, advocates and opponents of the 25-percent mandate disagree over how many turbines will be needed. Michigan currently has 292 wind turbines in operation with another 240 expected to be online by 2014.
To meet the 25-percent mandate, estimates range from 2,300 to 3,790 more turbines will be needed. Both sides do agree that the newer 2.4 megawatt (MW) capacity turbines will be used.
At issue is how efficient the turbines will be once they are installed. Wind turbines are measured by capacity factor, which tracks the percentage of the maximum energy turbines are capable of producing. Wind turbines aren't always online because wind can be unpredictable. The capacity factor can range from 15 percent to 45 percent in most cases.
The Michigan Environment Council is in favor of the 25-percent mandate and estimates another 2,300 wind turbines will be needed, said MEC Spokesman Hugh McDiarmid.
The MEC is basing its estimate on a 35-percent capacity factor, while Detroit Edison says it uses 30 percent, according to Matthew Wagner, manager of wind development for the company. By comparison, the U.S. Energy Information Administration makes its projections using a 30-percent capacity factor.
Thomas Hewson, principal of Energy Ventures Analysis Inc. in Virginia, said Michigan's existing turbines operate at a 25 percent capacity factor. Hewson said he made that calculation based on data provided by Michigan wind farms to the Energy Information Administration.
Using a 25-percent capacity factor, Hewson estimates a total of 4,082 turbines would be needed, including the 292 turbines already in existence.
Kevon Martis, of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, is against the 25 percent mandate. He estimates at a 30 percent capacity factor, a total of 3,536 turbines would be needed, including the existing 292 turbines.
"The experience of several existing Michigan wind farms suggests a 25 percent to 30 percent capacity factor is more likely for Michigan," said Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "Higher figures are mere speculation at this time."
Exactly how cold would it get? I remember reports of transmissions seizing up with windmill turbines in regionally cold areas.....costs for maintenance exceeded savings over oil/coal-fired generation costs.
Or they could build one small nuke plant...
There is no evidence that industrial wind power is likely to have a significant impact on carbon emissions. The European experience is instructive. Denmark, the worlds most wind-intensive nation, with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity, has yet to close a single fossil-fuel plant. It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover wind powers unpredictability, and pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have risen (by 36% in 2006 alone).
Flemming Nissen, the head of development at West Danish generating company ELSAM (one of Denmarks largest energy utilities) tells us that wind turbines do not reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The German experience is no different. Der Spiegel reports that Germanys CO2 emissions havent been reduced by even a single gram, and additional coal- and gas-fired plants have been constructed to ensure reliable delivery.
Indeed, recent academic research shows that wind power may actually increase greenhouse gas emissions in some cases, depending on the carbon-intensity of back-up generation required because of its intermittent character. On the negative side of the environmental ledger are adverse impacts of industrial wind turbines on birdlife and other forms of wildlife, farm animals, wetlands and viewsheds.
Industrial wind power is not a viable economic alternative to other energy conservation options. Again, the Danish experience is instructive. Its electricity generation costs are the highest in Europe (15¢/kwh compared to Ontarios current rate of about 6¢). Niels Gram of the Danish Federation of Industries says, windmills are a mistake and economically make no sense. Aase Madsen , the Chair of Energy Policy in the Danish Parliament, calls it a terribly expensive disaster.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in 2008, on a dollar per MWh basis, the U.S. government subsidizes wind at $23.34 compared to reliable energy sources: natural gas at 25¢; coal at 44¢; hydro at 67¢; and nuclear at $1.59, leading to what some U.S. commentators call a huge corporate welfare feeding frenzy. The Wall Street Journal advises that wind generation is the prime example of what can go wrong when the government decides to pick winners.
The Ontario Power Authority advises that wind producers will be paid 13.5¢/kwh (more than twice what consumers are currently paying), even without accounting for the additional costs of interconnection, transmission and back-up generation. As the European experience confirms, this will inevitably lead to a dramatic increase in electricity costs with consequent detrimental effects on business and employment. From this perspective, the governments promise of 55,000 new jobs is a cruel delusion.
A recent detailed analysis (focusing mainly on Spain) finds that for every job created by state-funded support of renewables, particularly wind energy, 2.2 jobs are lost. Each wind industry job created cost almost $2-million in subsidies. Why will the Ontario experience be different?
In debates over climate change, and in particular subsidies to renewable energy, there are two kinds of green. First there are some environmental greens who view the problem as so urgent that all measures that may have some impact on greenhouse gas emissions, whatever their cost or their impact on the economy and employment, should be undertaken immediately.
Then there are the fiscal greens, who, being cool to carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems that make polluters pay, favour massive public subsidies to themselves for renewable energy projects, whatever their relative impact on greenhouse gas emissions. These two groups are motivated by different kinds of green. The only point of convergence between them is their support for massive subsidies to renewable energy (such as wind turbines).
This unholy alliance of these two kinds of greens (doomsdayers and rent seekers) makes for very effective, if opportunistic, politics (as reflected in the Ontario governments Green Energy Act), just as it makes for lousy public policy: Politicians attempt to pick winners at our expense in a fast-moving technological landscape, instead of creating a socially efficient set of incentives to which we can all respond.
Since they take mills out of commission, once the subsidies stop, they never make a dent on energy contribution.
It will remain under 5%.
The 10% or 15% figures you see, are just pretend, due to state “mandates”.
The Utility must provide those percentages from “renewable sources”, oR use “other means” to make up the difference and ALLOCATE THAT POWER TO THE “RENEWABLE” COLUMN!!!
The entire “mandate” is joke!!
It just amazes me at the hubris that takes place in seats of gov’t where they assume they can outperform a marketplace that is capable of making millions of decisions per second. Instead, we get clowns who haven’t the foggiest idea of how markets operate, yet think they can do better. If politicians want to make the economy better, they should sit down, shut up, and get out of the way.
Hope the sun and wind don’t mind getting arrested for not providing enough power.....
Indeed - as an engineering solution. On the other hand, as a way for crony capitalists to suck massive amounts of money from the taxpayer's purse they work nearly perfectly.
One thing’s for sure, they kill over 400,000 birds (mostly raptors) in the United States each year. Where’s the environmentalist’s outrage over this?
...and THEY ARE AN EYE SOAR OF MONUMENTAL PROPORTIONS JUST LIKE SOLAR PANELS. Save to mention, they create noise pollution.
"We want to be their best customer."
Monuments to stupidity.
We already know that the people of Michigan are economically illiterate - they voted dim-bulb-crat.
We already know that the people of Michigan are manufacturingly (izzat a word?) illiterate - they have GM and Chrysler.
Guess we should assume that the people of Michigan are also scientifically illiterate if they even imagine that the value of the electricity generated by those Obamadork-like idiocies would even approach the costs of construction and maintenance.
(My apologies to the science/tech types in Michigan. You already know what I’ve said is true. Sux to be surrounded by dim-bulb-crats, doesn’t it?)
One is turbines over or near water affect natural evaporation, the origin of all weather. They can't change water evaporation without changing the climate. Addressing dubious climate change by changing the climate in dubious ways makes no sense at all.