Discusses wind and solar energy today.
Jon Boone, environmentalist, naturalist, bird and nature artist, wind energy expert: The raison d'etre of the wind industry is to abate significant levels of greenhouse gas emissions many feel are causing precipitous and adverse warming trends in earth's climate. Wind technology is sold as an alternative source of power to coal-fired plants. .. .. .. Those who claim that wind technology can abate meaningful levels of CO2 emissions would admire the three-pack a day guy who decides to improve his health by smoking four packs of filtered cigarettes instead.
Jon Boone, environmentalist, naturalist, bird and nature artist, wind energy expert: So how to make electricity in the Sierra Club's world of the future? The answer: RENEWABLES! Lots of wind and solar. And a move away from central grid dependency by making wind especially part of a distributed generation micro-grid system located near demand centers. All this would be supported by the so-called smart grid, requiring substantial new transmission lines in an effort to improve efficiency and reliability, thereby saving fossil fuel and avoiding carbon emissions while conserving demand by moving it to off-peak hours. The image, but hardly the reality, is one of downsizing and intimacy, and a transition away from centralized control.
Jon Boone, environmentalist, naturalist, bird and nature artist, wind energy expert: QUESTIONS • Why did the Dutch stop using their windmills to grind their grain and pump water to reclaim their land from the sea--as soon as the steam engine was invented? • Why are sailing vessels used almost entirely for recreation today, rather than for commercial purposes? • What is the difference between energy and power? • Why must electricity supply be matched to demand at all times? • What are the implications for wind technology given that any power generated is a function of the cube of the wind speed along a narrow range of wind velocities (that is, a wind turbine doesn't begin to work until the wind speeds hits 9-mph and maxes out when the wind speeds hit around 34-mph)? • Why has steady, controllable, precision power been the basis of modern life?
Jon Boone, environmentalist, naturalist, bird and nature artist, wind energy expert: There is little that is cognitively more dissonant than supporting the concept of minimizing the human footprint on the earth while cheer leading for the rude intrusiveness of physically massive/energy feckless wind projects. The slap and tickle of wind propaganda flatters the gullible, exploits the well intentioned, and nurtures the craven. It is made possible because there’s no penalty for lying in the energy marketplace.
Friedrich Wagner: Germany decided to go nuclear-free by 2022. A CO2-emission-free electricity supply system based on intermittent sources, such as wind and solar - or photovoltaic (PV) - power could replace nuclear power. Intermittent sources are, by definition, unsteady. Therefore, a back-up system capable of providing power at a level of 89% of peak load would be needed. This requires creating an oversised power system to produce large amounts of surplus energy. A day storage to handle surplus is ineffective because of the day-night correlation of surplus power in the winter.
Fritz Vahrenholt, PhD Chemistry: In 2012, Germany decided to close its nuclear plants, which were concentrated in the south. It reshaped the grid, building huge DC cables from north to south. The wind is more abundant in the north. A total of 6100 km of cable will have to be built by the time the last nuclear power stations shut in 2022. 400 km have been given the go-ahead and 80 km have been built, just 1.3% of the total. Due to opposition to these cables, plans have been torn up. The government now plans to build them underground, increasing the cost eight fold.
Craig Rucker, CFACT: Wind turbine installations impact vast amounts of habitat and crop land. Offshore wind turbines impact vast stretches of lake or ocean and like ships will not the worst ocean storms. Arizona’s Palo Verde nuclear plant generates 3,750 megawatts of electricity from a 4,000-acre site. The 600-MW John Turk ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant in Arkansas covers 2,900 acres; gas-fired units like Calpine’s 560-MW Fox Energy Center require several hundred acres. All generate reliable power 90-95% of the year.
Holger Douglas: Der Stromverbraucher muss für jenen »grünen« Strom zahlen, der gar nicht erzeugt wird, weil in die Netze wirklich nichts mehr passt oderweil noch keine Leitungen gebaut sind, um den Strom abzutransportieren. Doch den Betreibern sind 20 Jahre Einnahmen garantiert - ob sie Strom liefern oder nicht. [The electricity consumer must pay for electricity produced by wind turbines no matter if it is produced or not, can not be used, or is produced, but there are no transmission lines to deliver to customers. Environmental extremist law at its worst.]
The American Interest: Germany’s much-ballyhooed green energy transition—its energiewende—has run up quite a tab, and policymakers are having trouble figuring out who is actually going to pay for the policies. In an attempt to kick-start fledgling renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, Berlin guaranteed producers locked-in, long-term, above-market rates called feed-in tariffs. To their credit, this plan of pushing technologies of dubious merit at any cost worked, perhaps too well
Anthony Watts provides personal observations and summarizes others regarding operations and maintenance of wind turbines. John Shanahan made similar observations at some of the same locations in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. All forms of generating electricity require maintenance. Because wind is one of the most dilute forms of energy, there is a lot more equipment to maintain. Because the maintenance work is at the top of wind turbine towers, in windy areas, it has its own set of risks. One characteristic of maintenance of wind turbines is that many times they go for months or years nonoperational, with uncertainty even to who is responsible for the maintenance.