GE can’t be happy about this, but retirement can loosen the noose that limits free speech…
In a casual conversation, I was asked why wind energy is a bad idea. Once again, I realized that a one or two-word answer could not convey a readily understandable and accurate picture of wind energy.
This article will try to provide such an answer in a few hundred words, where one or two won’t suffice.
There are essentially four reasons why wind energy is a bad idea.
It is unreliable. It is very, very expensive. It produces electricity when it isn’t needed. It has environmental issues.
Wind can only produce electricity when the wind is blowing at between 6 mph and 55 mph. Above 6 mph, it gradually increases its output until it reaches a maximum output at around 35 mph. Above 55 mph, the wind turbine is shut down to prevent damage to the turbine.
The wind can stop blowing abruptly, so backup power generation must be immediately available to replace the wind generated electricity, or the grid could collapse causing blackouts.
Typically, gas turbine generators are kept running 24/7 so they are available to be rapidly brought online.
A sufficient number of gas turbine generators must kept running at all times to be ready for when the wind stops blowing. This varies by region and on the reliability of day-ahead weather forecasts.
The electricity generated by wind has an intrinsic cost, based on leveled cost of electricity (LCOE) of around 11 cents per kWh. This compares with around 5 cents per kWh for natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plants and around 6 cents for coal-fired power plants.
But there are other costs for wind energy that are seldom taken into consideration, and not included in LCOE calculations….
Wind farms also produce electricity at night, when it isn’t needed.
This has resulted in the bizarre situation where the owners of wind farms have sold electricity at a loss, for example, actually paid the regional transmission organization (RTO) 1 cent per kWh, in order to collect the 2.2 cents per kWh subsidy.
More importantly, the nameplate ratings of wind turbines overstate the amount of electricity they can produce. Wind turbines in the United States have had a capacity factor of around 32%, or lower during the recent past.
Capacity factor is the amount of electricity a wind turbine, or any other power generation method, produces over a year, compared with how much it could produce using its nameplate rating.
Coal-powered and NGCC power plants typically have a capacity factor of around 85%, while nuclear power plants have a capacity factor of 90% or higher.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is constantly bragging about how many Megawatts (MW) are being installed, when wind turbine’s true ability to produce electricity is only one-third the amount claimed by the nameplate rating.
Essentially, wind turbines produce small amounts of electricity compared with the other methods….