Monday, October 25, 2010

Wind Energy: The Truth Blows

Wind energy is the environmentalists’ great energy hope, but two inconvenient truths seem to come between fantasy and reality.

1. Study after study shows that wherever wind development was put in place, natural gas demand went up and the environmental benefits were the opposite of what the advocates expected.

“Cycling” coal plants to accommodate wind generation makes the plants operate inefficiently, which drives up emissions. Moreover, when they are not operated consistently at their designed temperatures, the variability causes problems with the way they interact with their associated emission control technologies, frequently causing erratic emission behavior that can last for several hours before control is regained. Ironically, using wind to a degree that forces utilities to temporarily reduce their coal generation results in greater SO2, NOX and CO2 than would have occurred if less wind energy was generated and coal generation was not impacted.”

2. There is a huge disparity between installed capacity and actual output into the system. In many cases the actual output in the system is less than 20% and in some cases even far less.

There are other unsavory facts that are included in these graphics such as the area required by a wind farm compared to, e.g., nuclear power plant. The Roscoe wind farm in Texas occupies 100,000 acres for a bit less than 800 MW of installed capacity; the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona occupies 4,050 acres (4 percent of the Texas wind farm) but has a 500 percent larger power capacity (almost 4,000 MW.)

Even more obscene are the government subsidies that go into wind power. For an energy source that barely exceeds one percent of energy output, wind subsidies are $23 per megawatt hour, about 60 times of the $0.44 per megawatt hour that go to the mainstay of US electrical power output, coal and 100 times the $0.25 per megawatt hour that go to natural gas, the two sources that account for over 70 percent of US power supply. Way to go for social engineering.

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