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.