Skip to comments.The Wind-Energy Myth - The claims for this “green” source of energy wither in the Texas heat.
Posted on 08/13/2011 10:01:29 AM PDT by neverdem
The Wind-Energy Myth
The claims for this "green" source of energy wither in the Texas heat.
Hot? Don’t count on wind energy to cool you down. That’s the lesson emerging from the stifling heat wave that’s hammering Texas.
Over the past week or so, Texans have been consuming record-breaking quantities of electricity, and ERCOT, the state’s grid operator, has warned of rolling blackouts if customers don’t reduce their consumption.
Texas has 10,135 megawatts of installed wind-generation capacity. That’s nearly three times as much as any other state. But during three sweltering days last week, when the state set new records for electricity demand, the state’s vast herd of turbines proved incapable of producing any serious amount of power.
Consider the afternoon of August 2, when electricity demand hit 67,929 megawatts. Although electricity demand and prices were peaking, output from the state’s wind turbines was just 1,500 megawatts, or about 15 percent of their total nameplate capacity. Put another way, wind energy was able to provide only about 2.2 percent of the total power demand even though the installed capacity of Texas’s wind turbines theoretically equals nearly 15 percent of peak demand. This was no anomaly. On four days in August 2010, when electricity demand set records, wind energy was able to contribute just 1, 2, 1, and 1 percent, respectively, of total demand.
Over the past few years, about $17 billion has been spent installing wind turbines in Texas. Another $8 billion has been allocated for transmission lines to carry the electricity generated by the turbines to distant cities. And now, Texas ratepayers are on the hook for much of that $25 billion, even though they can’t count on the wind to keep their air conditioners running when temperatures soar.
That $25 billion could have been used to build about 5,000 megawatts of highly reliable nuclear generation capacity, or as much as 25,000 megawatts of natural-gas-fired capacity, all of which could have been reliably put to work during the hottest days of summer.
The wind-energy lobby has been masterly at garnering huge subsidies and mandates by claiming that its product is a “green” alternative to conventional electricity. But the hype has obscured a dirty little secret: When power demand is highest, wind energy’s output is generally low. The reverse is also true: Wind-energy production is usually highest during the middle of the night, when electricity use is lowest.
The incurable intermittency and extreme variability of wind energy requires utilities and grid operators to continue relying on conventional sources of generation like coal, natural gas, and nuclear fuel. Nevertheless, 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, now have renewable-energy mandates. Those expensive mandates cannot be met with solar energy, which, despite enormous growth in recent years, still remains a tiny player in the renewable sector. If policymakers want to meet those mandates, landowners and citizens will have to learn to live with sprawling forests of noisy, 45-story-tall wind turbines.
The main motive for installing all those turbines is that they are supposed to help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, which, in turn, is supposed to help prevent global temperature increases. But it’s already hot — really hot — in Texas and other parts of the southern United States. And that leads to an obvious question: If the global-warming catastrophists are right, and it’s going to get even hotter, then why the heck are we putting up wind turbines that barely work when it’s hot?
— Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His fourth book, Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future, was recently issued in paperback.
Put a wind turbine in front of Barry’s teleprompter.
There’s always wind there.
If the wind don’t blow,
The turbine don’t go.
Perhaps tidal turbines would be better. The tide works twice a day every day.
The scale on the two lines differs by over an order of magnitude. Although it appears at first glance that there were short times where wind generation exceeded total demand, by showing the blue line above the green line, in reality, wind generation never rarely met even 10% of total demand.
Sheesh, Bryce, you are presenting facts here. Who cares about facts? Truth is what we say it is. Wind is “green” and will save us all from demon fossil fuels.
Do you mean to tell me that those Smelly Hippie Environmentalists were wrong again? Gasp!
Most Texans know...when it’s 110 degrees, there’s very little breeze.
Tax the heck out of technologies that compete with your little boondoggle and use what remains of the tax money, after you have hired a bunch more of bureaucrats with it, to subsidize your boondoggle.
I'll grant you it's poorly designed.
I’ll take 50 of them.
I figure if I strap them all over my Harley, I’ll never have to buy gas again.
[it would definitely be easier than raising mainsails and fiddling with all that rigging while under way]
They just planted a wind farm in western MD.
So far, our light bills haven’t decreased but our bird and bat population has.
Doesn’t seem very “green” or “environmentally friendly” to me.
Looks to be 180 degrees out of phase. Figures.
“Perhaps they could set blowers in front of the turbines to keep them going” - Imaginary quote from Øbumbler
I have a simple solution for Texas, with known technology, that could turn most of the State green and keep it green even if it never rained again. And it’s all based on just one thing. The Gulf Coast.
The Gulf Coast has a vast amount of water, albeit salt water. But underneath the Gulf Coast is an enormous amount of natural gas.
Put those two things together and you have desalinization. Fresh water in vast amounts.
So build natural gas powered desalinization plants and pipelines to ship the water inland. Such plants can run year around, and during wetter seasons can fill reservoirs. And when those reservoirs are filled, use electricity generated from natural gas to pipe the water to ever deeper inland reservoirs.
Certainly it will be expensive, but it will turn big sections of desert Texas green with farmland and water using industry.
Al Gore says that global warming is slowing down the moon so much that eventually we'll only have one a day and then later, it will stop altogether. Al wouldn't lie to us would he?
They claim that electric cars don't cost anything to operate.
The inadquacy of wind power would have been even more obvious if the scale were the same for both lines. Or at least if there were an obvious break and it didn’t appear that the lines overlapped when they clearly don’t come close.
Too bad they can’t figure out how to store the energy. AC power has a lot of merits but storage is one of it’s limitations. And conversion to DC and back to AC is not the best solution.
Here's the vastly better solution, as shown by this large schematic:
The US has 440,000 tons of thorium-232 that can be used for the liquid fluoride thorium reactor, plus many tons of spent uranium fuel rods that could be processed into fuel for this reactor, too. If we standardized a design for a 1,000 MW LFTR, we could build hundreds of them not only to expand available power, but also phase out coal-fired powerplants, too.
Some noteworthy articles about politics, foreign or military affairs, IMHO, FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.
Actually, I was hoping to donate them to the Democratic Party and allow them to run around in circles with them. May not generate much energy....but watching them drop one by one would be amusing.
Nope, there are losses in the conversion, plus batteries are nowhere near 100% efficient.
Too bad they cant figure out how to store the energy. AC power has a lot of merits but storage is one of its limitations. And conversion to DC and back to AC is not the best solution.
For large scale storage, pumped storage hydroelectric is the best technology we currently have deployed. There's a pretty big lake (Carter's Lake) with this type of operation not too far from my old home in north Georgia.
Okay, first, how did this happen in Texas??? Texas freepers, can you explain this to me. I live in the Seattle area, so I am never surprised at the doofuses here doing idiot stuff like this. But, I expected Texans to be more sensible. Have I misjudged you?
Also, we now know that these wind turbines can't help much in the heat; and, that they freeze up (Minnesota, Scotland) in the winter. What the hell do they do, besides kill a lot of birds?
I would also add that there are some people who are physically affected by these things. But, who cares. As Nancy Pelosi said, "I'm saving the planet". Egomaniacs.
How is it dishonest? I thought it made its point quite well: Wind energy availability is nearly exactly out of phase with the electrical load.
Clearly, the chart needs to use two axes (clearly labeled) with one shifted off the origin in order best to make its visual point (which is not that wind energy comes anywhere close to carrying the whole load at any time). Consider how the visualization would look if you forced both curves onto the same axis.
How about some type of resonant system sort of like a tesla coil that can store millions of watts.
How about some type of resonant system sort of like a tesla coil that can store millions of watts.
You also could use sea water in heat exchanger 2 and get distilled fresh water by adding one more step, the Arabs do that with the conventional fired plants in Kuwait,Electric and Fresh water Both!
That's the big challenge with both wind and solar.
Some guys at MIT have invented a new type of flow battery they claim has ten times the energy density of regular batteries. In a flow battery, the electrolyte flows through the battery instead of residing in the battery. They envision refueling electric cars by pumping in freshly charged electrolyte (a thick black slurry they call "Cambridge crude") instead of plugging in to a charger.
The uneven output of wind and solar installations might best be put to use charging flow battery electrolyte at or near the installation instead of transporting the power long distances over expensive transmission lines and integrating it into the instantaneous electrical load. The charged electrolyte could then be pumped into vehicles, used to power utility peak load generators, or even used to power a home battery (eliminating the need for the current power grid).
Currently, the best way to store wind power is to use it to pump water from a lower elevation to a higher elevation. The problem is finding a suitable lake that isn't already in use for hydro-power.
Another idea is compressed air. But there again, you need a lot of compressed air storage. It's been proposed to use underground caverns. But, like good lakes, those are where you find them.
Too bad AC power can't be stored directly in some kind of device. That would make wind and solar more compelling.
I was thinking some kind of resonant system. Of course, there is always the option of a rotating mass (momentum). The windmill itself is a rotating mass. Too simple, though.
Storage and conversion losses would have to be very low.
There would be a lot of bucks (probably Obama bucks) if someone one came up with a working prototype.
Turbines don’t work unless there is a steady wind. Until somebody figures out a practical way of storing the electricity, windmills are useless.
When I was a kid, my aunt and uncle, who never threw anything away, still had the remains of an old windcharger mounted on an old shed on their farm. The shed was full of 6-volt batteries wired in series to store the electricity, which they used to power their milkhouse. They never had electricity in their actual house until REA came along in the 50’s. This “turbine” concept is not a new idea, and it has never worked very well.
For large scale storage, pumped storage hydroelectric is the best technology we currently have deployed. There’s a pretty big lake (Carter’s Lake) with this type of operation not too far from my old home in north Georgia.
There’s a pumped storage facility just north of where I live (tiny, but there it is). They are putting in a solar collector farm right on the road — publicity, no real use to anyone.
This summer, though, we visited a REAL pumped storage facility in western Michigan. Largest earthen dam in the (world? US? I forget). The thing was freakin’ HUGE, we drove miles of road along the base of the dam. I doubt, though, that it makes a big dent in lake michigan while they’re filling it. (Found it: Ludington Pumped Storage Plant; had to dig thru photos...the sign says 27 billion gallons. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludington_Pumped_Storage_Power_Plant)
I have one that trickle charges a bank of 16 royals deep cell batteries that provide emergency power through a trace inverter.
Works well but I’m living in a place where wind averages 20mph an I don’t depend on this source. It will run basics in my home when we lose power in ice or thunderstorms etc...
They have their place but not in the commercial energy grid IMO.
Ones we have here in the panhandle of Texas are running yet the quality of power to the distribution point is so up an down its expensive to corral properly according to friends that do such for a living.
1 thorium based nuclear power plant per 1 million in population is a formula America needs to adopt.
Got to be fixed yesterday....
No, it's a scheme worthy of Atlas Shrugged. Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens worked in concert with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat Congress and California legislature to use renewable energy mandates and subsidies to siphon billions of tax dollars into the pockets of Pickens and his investors.
Pelosi, Pickens plan to pick your pocket - August 2008
I think the turbine problem will resolve itself. The thieves are going to run out of copper & air conditioners to steal and sell for recycling. the only things left to steal will be the wind turbines.
I can’t sleep well without a floor fan blowing on me all night.
In order to power that fan by wind i believe i would need a slightly bigger fan out in my backyard with wind spinning it at a slightly faster rate than the one inside for 8 hours straight while i sleep.
Whats billions and billions of dollars anyways?
You could maybe store the energy in one or many giant spinning flywheel/gyro contraptions.
Yeah, that worked out fine at Taum Sauk.
natural gasnuclear powered desalinization plants and pipelines to ship the water inland.
And when those reservoirs are filled, use electricity generated from
natural gasuranium to pipe the water to ever deeper inland reservoirspower hydroelectric generation.
Texas isn't always in a drought, but it always gets insanely hot in the summer - and since Texas is drawing people from all over the planet to live and work here, we can't possibly keep up with the growing electricity needs.
i should have read the rest of your post.
Geothermal heat sinking, while capital intensive, is a good way to go.