BigWind at Honda ‘Spins’ the ‘truth’ more than their ‘blades’

Read the comments, in italics far below, from Ohio’s Superman, Tom Stacy…

Just six months after the landmark installation of two power-producing wind turbines at Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, Inc., the turbines are producing more renewable, low emissions electrical power than was anticipated when the towers went into operation in January.

The wind turbines have exceeded the projected power output figures by 6.3 percent, and have contributed toward reducing the CO2 emissions of power production, helping Honda HMC reach its voluntary goals to reduce the environmental impact of its products and manufacturing operations by 2020. This includes a 30 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from Honda products, and significant CO2 reductions from the companys plants and other operations, compared with year 2000 levels.

The two turbines, standing 260 feet tall with 160-foot blades, were initially projected to produce upwards of 10,000 megawatt hours MWH of electricity per year, accounting for approximately 10 percent of the plants annual power needs. The turbines have outperformed company projections in four of the six months since operation began. At their highest output, the turbines provided 16.26 percent of the plants power requirements for the month of April….

via Wind Turbines Outperforming Expectations at Honda Transmission Plant – Yahoo Finance.

“In the press release (and “article”, also printed in the Bellefontain Examiner), please note that comparing January through June wind energy production figures to annual average wind energy production is not valid.  For instance, in a graph of the wind output by month for PJM (our grid region) over the past 4 years, the data show that annual wind output in PJM is historically 11% less than January through June output counted twiceThat fact alone suggests a spin in the press release that goes beyond misleading.  At worst, the authors of the press release really achieved free advertising courtesy of the Examiner – disguised as a credible news story.

 Also it is not clear if the claimed (but not clarified and not substantiated) 6% improvement means 36% vs. 30% (6% of theoretical maximum) or 31.8% vs. 30% capacity factor (an increase of 6% over the expected 30% capacity factor).  Unless Honda or Juhl decides to share the data (which I doubt), your readers will just have to take a wild guess.  It sure would be nice if the public could be confident in the statistics regurgitated by newspapers – which would be easier if articles listed a specific author!

Furthermore, this year has been a windier and colder than average year in Ohio, as reported by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  Both wind speed and temperature factors influence wind energy production. Windier wind is obviously more powerful.  But please also consider that colder air is denser, meaning more accumulated force on blades at any given wind speed over time.  I do not know the coefficient of thermal expansion for air at atmospheric pressures so cannot currently estimate the effect of colder years on wind output.  Perhaps a mechanical engineer or physicist could assist with that by calculating and sharing the increase in potential energy in wind per degree Fahrenheit drop in air temperature.

In addition, wind machines commonly perform best in their first year or two of operation because the blade surfaces are still relatively smooth, and the gear teeth and clearances and bearings in the gear box and supporting the main shaft are in new(er) condition.  As the machines age, performance  drops due to increased friction due to increased wear – which snowballs.  Incidentally, from a theoretical point of view, the decrease in conversion to electricity is proportional to the increase in frictional heat energy plus the increase in sound radiation energy.

Finally the press release celebrates irrelevant and highly biased statistics meant to sprinkle kudos on wind energy. Such assertions actually cast doubt on the data for anyone awake enough to read carefully.  For instance the source claims: “At their highest output, the turbines provided 16.26 percent of the plant’s power requirements for the month of April.” 

 But conflating a peak output value with average monthly demand level is scientifically invalid in numerous science disciplines. It only works in the field of “marketing.”  Secondly, if the peak output were 16 % of the plant’s monthly demand and the range of output was from 0% to 100% of nameplate capacity (likely for two adjacent wind turbines), and assuming the plant runs three shifts with fairly flat electricity use, then at a 30% capacity factor the devices should produce only 4.8% of the plant’s needs (30% x 16%).  And in addition to quoting figures about wind’s peak output, why isn’t the wind energy machines’ minimum output just as relevant?  We know that minimum is less than 0% of the plant’s monthly energy because most afternoons this summer the turbines were standing perfectly still, yet consuming energy from the grid to run controls, yaw and pitch motors, etc.

None of the press release’s facts indicate the machines are performing better than advertised, nor that wind as a fuel is more controllable or useful than it has ever been. On the contrary – the highest wind production months are weighted to January through June by 11%, so 6% above expectation report might really translate to under performance by 5% OR MORE.  Also, hotter years have higher peak and average electricity demand while wind energy’s contribution is lower. Paul Joskow among others has conducted studies on the inverse relationship between wind speeds and electricity demand and the economic impact that should result from that negative correlation.

Maybe next time the Examiner should refer wind industry PR folks to your ad department.  The paper could benefit, and the developers can sure afford it, thanks to the taxpayer support they receive.  Sounds like a “win-win.”

The article and press release don’t pass my rudimentary physics or statistics sniff tests. Maybe next time Civitas and whoever else received the press release Please attempt to continue to be informed, fair and balanced in the reporting of wind energy.  “


Ohio group educates against BigWind

Yesterday, Champaign County and the Townships  filed an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court protesting the OPSB’s failure to hold a hearing on amendments to the Buckeye Wind project.  This filing comes at the same time that Everpower is seeking an extension to their certificate of approval for Phase I. 

Below is a press report about the community education meeting in Bellefontaine.   Speakers included Tom Stacy and Philip Morse, a mechanical engineer who asserted, “Wind turbines do not generate energy when wind speeds are less than 8 miles per hour and when wind speeds are too high they are constantly using energy to operate the braking systems or can shut down entirely”, the engineer said. “The name of the game is not about engineering or  power production. It is about something else that other people are better prepared to answer than I am,” Mr. Morse said. “On an industrial scale like this, these things are going to be energy suckers — feed me your money; feed me your power. “Wind turbines are not alternative energy sources,” he said. “They are lackluster supplemental energy at best.”…

Wind energy is neither financial nor technically efficient and is unfair to neighboring property owners, a group opposed to wind turbine development told a group of about 75 residents that turned out for a Monday evening meeting at the Logan County Friendly Senior Center…

“The argument is that it is my property and I should be able to do whatever I want with it,” Mr. Sheperd said after asking one attendee if he would like to have a strip club or trash dump built next to his home.

“I agree you should be able to do what you want with your property so long as it doesn’t affect my ability to peacefully enjoy my property.”

During the meeting, Tom Stacy, an organizer of the Fight the Wind opposition group and self-proclaimed “affordable energy advocate” discussed the financial ramifications of wind development, while mechanical engineer Phillip Morse evaluated the theoretical efficiency of wind turbines.

While coal, natural gas or nuclear plants can ask to raise rates to cover their overhead, wind and other alternative energy suppliers cannot do so, Mr. Stacy said. To make up for this, the government subsidizes wind projects by a margin of nearly $2 to every $1 generated in energy, he claimed. …

“If we think schools are underfunded and this is a way to address that, there is a better way to do that than to give a company from outside the country 95% of the tax money and let them return the other 5% to the schools and local government,” he said….


Everpower’s admission = BigWind’s failed mousetrap

The Ohio House of representatives gears up this week to hear testimony on Senate Bill 310. On Tuesday, Senator Balderson will provide sponsor testimony followed by other witnesses in support of the bill. On Wednesday opponents, interested parties and the rest of the world will testify. Speaker of the House, Rep. Bill Batchelder, wants to wrap up passage before Memorial Day. We expect to see every conceivable opponent argument come out in a last ditch effort to derail the bill. We have been on this roller coaster for so long we know anything could happen.

 We share a story from the Bellefontaine Examiner where Everpower’s Michael Speerschneider grumbles about the mandate freeze but says, nevertheless, “This doesn’t make it impossible to build if we can find appropriate buyers, but it certainly doesn’t make it any easier,” he said.

 As we have reported, a significant point in support of repeal of the mandate is the un-Constitutional nature of the in-state mandate. This requires a percentage of wind to be generated inside the state of Ohio even if out of state wind is available and cheaper. This issue has been the subject of litigation in Colorado and in Minnesota. This week in Colorado, a major victory was achieved when a federal court determined that the challengers to the Colorado mandate had “standing” to bring a lawsuit. Often, those who seek to protect mandates will argue that opponents do not have a right – or the legal standing – to sue. In this case, reported May 5th by E&E Legal, “The Court has recognized that the Colorado RES harms interstate Commerce,” said David W. Schnare, E&E Legal’s General Counsel and lead attorney in the case. “Next he will decide whether that damages not only citizens’ pocket books, but the Constitutional rights of our citizens, our businesses and the States that surround Colorado. A decision in favor of E&E Legal’s constitutional argument would follow other recent, similar Federal Court decisions and would lay the cornerstone to building a national effort to challenge the constitutionality of renewable standards in the other twenty-nine states with similar statutes.”…

Legislation that moved in the Ohio Senate this week could have a potential impact on EverPower Wind Holdings’ plans to develop local projects….

EverPower has wind developments pending construction in Hardin, Logan and Champaign counties and the company official said a large part of their development hinges on finding buyers. “This doesn’t make it impossible to build if we can find appropriate buyers, but it certainly doesn’t make it any easier,” he said.

While it displeases alternative energy producers, environmentalists, manufacturers and citizen groups like the local Fight the Wind organization approve of the Senate’s decision. “We are pleased with Senate Bill 310 and its progress through the gauntlet of political barriers to its passage,” Tom Stacy of Fight the Wind wrote in an email. “But this bill is not the end-all for wind or any other renewables. It doesn’t prohibit anything. It just relaxes the rate at which the government is forcing the contrived market for intermittent, undependable, low value sources like wind to grow.

The decision, he said, shows wind developers’ over-reliance on government regulations in their business plans. “EverPower’s admission that SB310 progress puts their Ohio projects at a standstill is case in point to the reality that wind electricity is not sustainable, not affordable and not a good enough mousetrap to capture market share without mandates — even with all the subsidies they receive otherwise,” Mr. Stacy wrote….