Renewable energy sources are unreliable because the output is variable and unpredictable. They also require massive subsidies to underwrite installation and production. Here are a few articles I’ve noted that describe the economic and environmental damage from unreliables.
Residential solar power only works because of massive subsidies. Federal taxpayers must provide subsidies through federal tax credits, state taxpayers must provide subsidies through state incentives, and electricity users must provide subsidies through net-metering. If any subsidy goes away, the economics of residential solar collapse.
Article makes the point one more time: unreliable renewables only with heavy subsidies. When Nevada announced plans to cut back the massive cross-subsidy from other consumers, solar installers closed up shop in the state.
Here’s why. Look at the payment given to solar-customers for electricity their site produces but doesn’t use:
Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have turned the energy world upside down. The massive transition isn’t over. A few articles on the massive benefits of fracking. Part 1 of this discussion here.
Pointing out news that is not news to anyone who has paid attention to the energy business in the recent years, article explains the current volatility is currently disrupting and will continue to disrupt many producers. A lot of producers will go out of business. Keep in mind that the drilling rigs, equipment, and especially the oil under the ground will not vaporize as a result. The know-how to more efficiently drill more productive wells more quickly more cheaply will be around a long time.
Article explains a cited book which makes the point that the shale revolution is just getting started. The improved efficiency producing higher output in the last two years has brought many producers to the point where they can be productive in the $30 or $40 range.
The technology has increased to the point that if prices rebound to slightly higher levels than where they are now would make it possible to bring horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing into conventional oil fields and produce increases there.
The net effect of all these amazing advances is that shale oil will put a cap on how far oil prices can rise. As prices go up a whole bunch of undrilled locations become lucrative.
I’m catching up on a bunch of old articles of interest. Here are a few articles over the last year on various types of devastation that wind turbines cause wildlife. Also, a few projects being halted in order to prevent the killing.
He explains the subtle nuance in the report and describes how people could take part of the conclusions and use it to support their opinion. If read and analyzed carefully, Mr. Clarke says the paper does not provide any conclusive proof of anything.
All it offers is observations by teams that were on site a few months of the year tracking desert tortoises. While doing their visits a few days at a time over the course of only 4 months a year, they documented whatever bird carcasses they happened to stumble across. Not exactly a conclusive study.
The report cites a separate study that placed chicken carcasses in the desert to see how fast predators ate them up. That study found only 1 of 10 chicken carcasses were still in place after 10 days.
The Million Dollar Way quotes a press release from Montana-Dakota Utility without a link. MDU has purchased the Thunder Spirit wind farm project from Allete Clean Energy. MDU currently has a commitment to buy all the electricity from the project on a 25 year contract. Now MDU owns the wind farm.
Project consists of 43 towers with rated capacity of 107.5 mW. Cost is reported in the press release to be $220M.
At cost of $220M for 107.5 mW, that works out to $2.05M/mW.
Keep in mind in the upper plains the average capacity of wind farms is about 34%. See EIA graph here. Peak is about 43% in fall and low is about 21% in the late summer for about 2 months. The upper plains have a flatter capacity curve than other regions. Looks like about 40% can be achieved for half of a year.
Theoretical output (also called nameplate) is 107.5 mW. Average output will likely be 36.6 mW (107.5 x 34%).
One of several catastrophic obstacles to relying on wind power to generate a large portion of our electricity is that wind turbines only generate electricity when the wind is blowing. That makes wind power quite unreliable.
Diving further into that issue shows that the wind blows more in some months more than others and this variable capacity further varies by region.
Why is this an issue? Electricity must be generated at the instant it is needed (allowing for the time it takes for electricity to get from the generating source to your house). It cannot be stored.
Variability over the course of a year
Check out the following graph from the Energy Information Administration:
That graph, which can be found here, is in the public domain since it is government information. It shows that on average across the country during the course of a year wind facilities have an average capacity of about 32%.
I am trying to collect reference points for the cost to construct different types of facilities. Here are a few data points I’ve noticed lately and some data points I’ve mentioned before.
Remember to discount all the construction costs below by the 15% to 30% capacity rate. That means backup natural gas or coal plants are needed for the 70% or 85% of the minutes each day the facilities aren’t producing.
I haven’t paid attention to offshore drilling so I’m not familiar with production levels or costs. Here is one data point I just saw:
Medium answer is wind and solar are weak and unreliable. Technical terms are dilute and intermittent. That makes them both extremely unreliable and extremely expensive. Oh, that also means that backup power must be available, which will obviously be fossil fuels.
Yet another slice-and-dice operation is moving toward approval in North Dakota. Interesting tidbits in the middle of articles about the project point out the infinitesimal fines for killing a bald or golden eagle. Conversation in two articles helps me understand why the potential fines for offing eagles aren’t stopping any wind turbine projects.
Why will the possible fines not stop any wind farm?
The cost is trivial, and that is assuming you even get caught and assuming you get prosecuted and assuming you actually get convicted.
11/18 – Bismarck Tribune – Rolette County wind farm approved – ND Public Service Commission approved the Rolette Power Development LLC to construct up to 59 slice-and-dicers with theoretical capacity of 100 MW at estimated cost of $175M. That is about $1.75M per turbine and an average 1.7MW per tower.
Between some vacation, talking about things I learned in North Dakota, and following the trial of now-convicted human trafficker Keith Graves, I’ve not been talking about the devastation caused by wind and solar power for quite a while. Not to worry, there is a long backlog of articles on the destructive power of wing toasters and slice-and-dicers on my list of things to discuss.
Here are a few articles on dilute and intermittent wind power that caught my eye. Update on solar to follow in a few days.
During my trip to Williston last week, I saw my first bald eagle in the wild. Awesome! Our one week vacation is why I’ve not been posting much. Have lots of posts planned and a few hundred new photos.
We were driving on a road about 13 miles north and 8 miles west of Williston taking pictures of wells and abandoned farm houses (yes, now that you mention it, I do in fact have some weird pastimes while on vacation).
I was surprised when a large bird took flight about 20 or 30 feet off the side of the road about 30 or 40 feet ahead of us. As it flew away to our front I realized how big it was and as it turned the white tail feathers and a white head showed.
Operational condition of wind turbines in California for 86% of the time in the first quarter of 2015. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com
In addition to being expensive and requiring massive taxpayer subsidies, wind power is also unreliable. On September 3 Marginal Revolution wonders Is there a wind shortage?
Seems that output from US slicer-dicer farms is down 6% in the first half of 2015 even though rated, theoretical capacity is up 9%. Apparently there has been a six month lull in wind speed.
Wind farms have only realized 33% of their potential capacity instead of the typical 38%, according to the quoted industry leaders.
One wag at the site declared we are harvesting too much wind. We have obviously hit Peak Wind and will now enter an irreversible, unavoidable decline in output. Followup commenter worries our grandchildren will grow up in a kiteless world.
Here’s a few quick notes on interesting news that I won’t cover in a separate post:
9/2 – Amy Dalrymple at Forum News Service – Oil patch economy settling into ‘new normal’– Looks like the Bakken is resembling a merely solid growth economy instead of an exploding economy. The growth of 2010 through 2014 was not sustainable.
The 16 hotels completed since 2010 actually have lots of vacancies. Prices are high, but you can actually find a room.