Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

More media outlets are catching on to the damage caused by wind power

Nice photo from Palm Springs, but unforunately this is not symbolic of the sun setting on destructive wind power. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com before merging into Adobe Stock.

Nice photo from Palm Springs, but unfortunately this is not symbolic of the sun setting on destructive wind power. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com before merging into Adobe Stock.

Check out the following articles showing two more media outlets finally catching on to the economic, environment, and wildlife damage caused by intermittent, expensive wind power.

7/19 – New York Times – How Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course – Article explains how massive subsidies to renewable wind and solar plants along with brute force efforts to require utilities to buy the expensive electricity is pushing nuclear energy out of business.

The severe disruptions to the grid which are expected as a natural consequence of wind and solar power are now of concern to this author.

Here are just two of the massive distortions from the current push for artificially increasing reliance on renewables.

First, in the middle of the day when solar power is at its peak, electric prices drop which means nuclear plants have to pay to get the market to accept their electricity which severely undercuts profitability thus creating pressure to drive out nuclear energy.

Second, around 7 o’clock when people get home they need a lot more electricity which is now not available from solar since the heat from sunlight has dropped so far. As a result the coal plants and nuclear plants have to gear up hours earlier to have the capacity available with that electricity pumped out at negative prices or unsold. That again reduces profitability.

Article hints but does not fully acknowledge the impact in Germany from the radical increase in renewables and the decision to close nuclear plants is to replace the zero-carbon power from nuclear plants with extra-dirty power from coal.

And the devastation from renewables continues. It will get worse. Even a writer it the New York Times sees a disaster on the horizon.

7/19 – Million Dollar Way – NY Times Writer: Nominee for the 2016 Geico Rock Award – Bruce Oksol doesn’t hide his chuckling as well as I do.

Remember the Geico ad for a caveman or other out-of-it goofball that crawls out from under a rock and thus is the last person on earth to know Geico saves you money? Mr. Oksol frequently nominates people for the Geico Rock Award.

Today’s contestant:

The writer of this article is a nominee for the Geico Rock Award — anyone paying attention has known about this problem for at least the past decade. This writer and proponents of wind/solar have finally come from under their rock. What a great article.

If Mr. Oksol looks, he might find another nominee…

6/14 – Huffington Post – The Dirty Part of Green Energy – By the time I’m done describing the article, you’ll be wondering if I gave the correct source. Yes, the linked article was actually published in the Huffington Post.

Here are just a few of the tidbits from the article which are likely jaw-dropping to the audience of Huffington Post but long-known for those paying attention to energy issues. I actually learned a few things, but then I’m usually playing catchup.

One typical natural gas well (producing 1 MMcf/day) produces as much energy as 25 wind turbines (1.5 mW).

Top producing gas wells in the Marcellus shale area are producing 12 MMcf/d, so it would take 3,000 turbines at 1.5 mW to equal the ten best wells in Marcellus. Adjusting to the theoretical capacity of the new generation of turbines of 2.5 mW or 3.0 mW would reduce the ratio to 1,800 or 1,500 turbines to equal the ten top Marcellus gas well.

Another way to put this is those 10 wells are amongst the newest, thus likely to be representative of what the next wells might produce. So, one new, productive gas well in Marcellus would have roughly the same energy output as 150 or 180 of the new generation wind turbines.

Turbines are huge. Here’s some data from the article:

  • 1.5 mW – GE – 328 feet tall – 164 tons
  • 1.8 mW – Danish – 410 feet tall –267 tons
  • 2.0 mW – Gamesa – 399 feet tall – 334 tons

The platforms for the tower need over 1,000 tons of concrete and steel rebar. Each ton of cement generates 900 kg of CO2. Let’s assume 1,000 tons of concrete at 900 kg/ton, so for every one of those turbines you see there was 900,000 kg of CO2 kicked into the air just for the concrete. That’s 450 metric tons of CO2 per turbine. Anyone care to calculate the breakeven measured in decades for just that factor when compared to a natural gas turbine?

Article does not mention the amount of rare earth metals required to produce each turbine. That’s a topic for another day. Enter that into the breakeven calculation I just pondered.

Article goes into some depth on the number of birds and bats slaughtered every year by wind turbines. One study based on 2012 data estimated there were 888,000 bats along with 573,000 birds killed. For the bird slaughter, an estimated 83,000 of those were raptors.

The same author studied the Altamont Pass facility and calculated a Golden Eagle casualty count of 116 per year which means that farm has offed around 3,000 Golden Eagles in its 26 year history. Put that into context of the golden eagle population of an estimated 100,000.

With a Golden Eagle life expectancy of around 30 years, the Altamont facility is still a deadly threat to Golden Eagles which were hatched before those slice-and-dicers even started slicing-and-dicing.

The output from Altamont Pass wind farm is based on obsolete technology. It would only take two of those high producing Marcellus gas wells to create as much electricity as the 4,930 turbines at Altamont Pass.

Article boldly points out the radical contrast between

  • no prosecutions for the 573,000 birds including uncounted numbers of migratory birds, Golden Eagles, and bald eagles killed by wind power on one hand, and
  • the criminal indictment of three oil companies for killing a grand total of 6 ducks in North Dakota in 2011, on the other hand.

Article cites two studies which conclude the bird fatalities may be orders of magnitude worse.

In case you didn’t know, that tally of slaughter is why I label turbines as slice-and-dicers. Others refer to them by a name-brand food processor whose designed purpose is to cut vegetables into tiny slices.

Article explains the three different types of energy sources that make it possible for us to have electricity the instant we turn a switch, no matter what time of day it may be when we feel like using more electricity:

  • Baseload – this power is available all the time and is the foundation of having huge amounts of electricity. Typically provided by coal or nuclear power. I think natural gas has gotten so cheap (thanks to fracking!) that gas-fired power plants are taking base load away from coal.
  • Peaker – this power is produced as needed and fills in the gap between usual amount of electricity needed (provided by baseload plants) and the peak demands during each day and the even higher peak demands on the hottest days. This is typically provided by natural gas and is relatively expensive because of the extra cost, time to spin up, and heat lost due to spinning up and slowing down power plants.
  • Intermittent – this is the part provided by wind and solar. It is available when the wind is blowing at the right conditions or the sun is at best position on clear days. Too fast and the wind turbines have to be feathered to avoid damage. Too slow and there’s minimal output.

To adjust for unpredictable and unexpected fluctuations up and down caused by intermittent power generation, peakers have to be available to cover the gap instantaneously and to cover longer gaps. This is expensive.

Another dynamic I wasn’t aware of: If the wind farms generate power in the middle of the night when is no demand the power is “dumped.” That means it is dissipated somehow without ever having been used. Even if the electricity from wind is dumped, the producers still get the 2.3 cent per kilowatt-hour Production Tax Credit (PTC). So taxpayers have to pay $23/mW of electricity that isn’t used.

Yet another factor I had never thought about is that the best locations for getting wind power have already been occupied by the massive amount of installed capacity. That means the next set of slice-and-dicers to be built will go in less efficient locations.

Even more things I never knew: new wind farms are getting further and further away from power stations. That means longer transmission lines. Not only is there the cost of new transmission lines, but the lines have to be built assuming 100% capacity. Thus there is overbuilding yet again in order to have transmission lines it can handle 100% of the output even though they operated 30% average. Furthermore there is a loss in power when electricity goes across transmission lines. The loss for these lines are higher than the industry average across the country.

So, new transmission lines, longer lines, built to handle 100% of theoretical capacity, with higher loss in transmission on those longer lines. Each factor drives up your cost of electricity.

One final factor in the massive taxpayer subsidies is the investment tax credit (ITC). Project owners can take a 30% ITC for all the construction cost. The article emphasizes that is not a deduction but a tax credit. The tax bill drops by $.30 for every $1.00 of construction costs. Add that on top of the $0.023/kW PTC.

 

Pardon me while I pick up my jaw from the floor.

Those articles ran in the New York Times and Huffington Post. Even though both are candidates for Million Dollar Way’s Geico Rock Award, it is encouraging that more media outlets are slowly catching on to the devastation caused by wind power.

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