Skip to comments.Wind power’s dirty secret: a carbon footprint
Posted on 03/13/2010 2:25:42 PM PST by Clint Williams
PORTLAND, Ore. - In 10 years Oregon has handed out $1.3 billion in tax credits for renewable energy and conservation projects like wind power, but questions about why the state is spending so much on something that may have a hidden environmental drawback have been raised by some.
While wind power is touted as the cleanest and greenest renewable energy resource, Todd Wynn of the Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland-based libertarian think tank, says its not as clean as advocates claim.
He says its simply because the wind doesnt blow all the time.
There has to be a backup source to power generated by wind at all times to ensure electricity flows to customers without interruption. The more wind power put on line, the more backup power is needed, and often its coal or natural gas.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, its hydroelectricity.
So when the wind blows, the dams stop generating electricity, and when the wind stops, the dams continue to generate electricity, said Wynn. So, in fact, wind power is just offsetting another renewable energy source. Its not necessarily offsetting any fossil fuel generation.
Wynn says a Bonneville Power Administration staffer admitted to his think tank that wind does not reduce carbon emissions, but instead, creates them.
Thats because when wind blows, the dam - or fossil fuel - backs up. It doesnt shut down, and it takes too long to start up.
Its like a car stopped at a red light: The engine is still running, and just like the car, this spinning reserve mode as its called, consumes energy.
Doug Johnson with the BPA says wind power is exceeding all expectations in the amount of electricity it is creating, and according to Wynn, Were simply running out of hydro reserves in order to back this power up.
According to BPA reports from 2008 and 2009, wind turbines generated so much more power than expected the system almost couldnt handle it and began operating outside standards set by federal law.
BPA admitted it was at risk of running out of reserves and having a wind-related reliability event that would negatively impact the reputation of wind power.
With three times more wind power expected to flow down power lines within three years, the carbon footprint of using wind power may increase.
Natural gas is probably the next best backup to hydro because those facilities can ramp up and down very quickly and move with the wind just like the hydro system, said Johnson.
Which would be, in fact, that theyre creating fossil fuel plants because theyre putting wind energy on the grid, said Wynn.
But Johnson said people have to remember (that) there is absolutely no carbon emission from the wind blowing.
For now, the BPA sees wind not as a replacement for water but an enhancement to it. The BPA is also relying on new tools to better predict what the wind will do.
In Troutdale anemometers are used to transmit wind direction and speed, and the BPA schedules power by the half hour instead of by the hour. Soon, dispatchers will have screens with real-time wind generation data.
The more we learn about wind behavior, the more you learn about what its going to do and schedule the amount of energy you expect as an output, the better you get and the fewer reserves you have to keep, Johnson said.
Oregon is requiring that the largest utilities get one quarter of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. For Washington, its 15 percent by 2020.
I read an article once where an enviroloonie actually admitted that these eyesores are not only erected to provide a little electrical power but that they are also an “educational tool” to remind people about “global warming” and “saving da planet.” I’ve always suspected that all along. I wish I had bookmarked that thing. It’s rare when a leftwinger comes out and actually speaks the truth.
And this is a problem because ...???
Answer: Because Al Gore Tells Us So. And that is the only reason.
Anyone know where I might find good information on DIY home hydroelectric systems? I’ve seen a couple articles in Backwoods Home.
Usually after consuming too much booze or weed.
They are not even including the manufacture, shipping, or maintenance of these turbines to the carbon footprint. Actually the same is true with ethanol. Follow the money trail and there you will have the answer.
The jig is nearly up on windpower. It’s just a matter of stalling new construction a few years, running out the clock.
In five years no one is going to be building, and in ten years there will be government subsidies to dimantle the ‘eyesores’.
Granted the wheat farmers love the money they get for having these wind farms on their property, but as the landscape is filling up with more and more windmills it is becoming an eyesore.
Plus we get another NG power plant as a bonus. /s
I think that the problem created by trying to add wind generated power into the grid is far worse yet than any of the most negative projections have suggested. I have worked around a lot of coal, nuclear and gas powered plants and the one observation that I can tell you is that plants work far better when their electrical production is even, predictable and slow to change either up or down. There is absolutely no question that the life of the vast majority of the equipment in these plants is sharply curtailed by such things as a regular and rapid fluctuation of heating and cooling, speeding up and slowing down, parts getting wet and then drying out, pressurization followed by depressurization, constant changes in PH levels etc etc etc. A lot of the fallout from constant changes can be lumped under the umbrella of one basic engineering fact of life concept.... fatigue (in whatever form is applicable). And this is just one area... I could rant for a long time on this subject about the stability of the rest of the infrastructure and the vast increase of sophistication that has been required to deal with all these unpredictable new electrical sources coming on and dropping off, the damage to the grid itself and so forth. It cannot do anything other than result in reduced overall reliability. As one of the other posters commented, we may very quickly see towers going up but may just as quickly see them coming down. As for me personally, my above comments are as a ratepayer... Frankly, the more idiocy that goes on that continues to wreck this system, the better it will be for my business. I really do believe that the introduction of wind plus the longterm impact that environmentalists have had in delaying new projects will ultimately result in a totally unreliable system....and with that in mind, we all should be taking steps to protect ourselves to the greatest extent we can.