the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

The Power of a Calculator

Posted by Jeff Id on September 15, 2010

Meadow Lake wind farm is located along I-65 in  Indiana.  This weekend, while driving to and from a tradeshow, I had the pleasure of seeing the windfarm first hand.  The turbines are huge and spread literally to the horizon  from the roadway, actually they were very impressive looking from the car as the sun set.

Click for large size. --This image really doesn't do justice to the huge expanse of the windfarm. The poles on these windmills are so large that they exceed one lane while being towed by truck to the farm - they are huge things. Living near I-80, I can attest that the new construction of this field is vigorous.

On the way out, one or two of the windmills were turning the rest were stationary, on the return they were 80 percent turning.  Now I don’t mind windmills really, but they don’t make much sense to me.  As with all green energy I’ve come across, the generation capacity is exaggerated in this field as are the low costs, but the problem with wind generation is that the wind isn’t always blowing.

From this link:

According to a study of wind in the United States, ten or more widely-separated wind farms connected through the grid could be relied upon for from 33 to 47% of their average output (15–20% of nominal capacity) as reliable, baseload power, as long as minimum criteria are met for wind speed and turbine height.[25][26] When calculating the generating capacity available to meet peak demand, [ERCOT] (manages Texas grid) counts wind generation at 8.7% of nameplate capacity.[27]

Only 8.7 percent of rated capacity!!  Wow.

What was also interesting is from the same link there was a discussion and critique of nuclear power for it’s downtime.

The remaining U.S. nuclear plants produce approximately 90% of their full-time full-load potential, but even they must shut down (on average) for 39 days every 17 months for refueling and maintenance.[32] To cope with such intermittence by nuclear (and centralized fossil-fuelled) power plants, utilities install a “reserve margin” of roughly 15% extra capacity spinning ready for instant use.[32]

So with a 90% peak capacity, they installed a 15% extra capacity to compensate.  Since Wind can be counted on for 15-20 percent of normal capacity, you would have to install at least 85% of additional capacity and another 5% for headroom or fully 90 percent of windpower must be backed up by some sort of additional generation.

With every windfarm, you need a nearly equal output plant which can be shut down.  You have now paid twice for your electricity generation equipment so equipment costs can’t be nearly as good as stated.

But as always the fun is in the numbers.  I’ve not done any calculation at the point of writing the above, it is a stream of thought post so we can have the same entertainment together.

In driving past the windfarm the first time, I just noticed they weren’t turning again.  I’ve driven past many times, however, on the return trip when things were rolling along pretty well, I noticed the size of the power lines from this huge facility.  They were anemic looking things, mounted on wooden poles with short insulators rather than the huge metal structures I’m used to seeing from our local nuclear power plants.  It was rather surprising considering that the massive windfarm extends all the way to the horizon.  I thought I must be mistaken, until I noticed the tiny little substation joining the field to the line — to be accurate though there were a few of these lines that we noticed, but not too many.

Phase I consists of 121 Vestas V82[2] 1.65 MW wind turbines, for a total nameplate capacity of 199.65 MW.[4] Groundbreaking ceremonies occurred on April 14, 2009.[5] Phase I became operational in October, 2009.[3] At that time, Horizon had not completed a power purchase agreement with a utility company.[3] Instead, Horizon began selling the wind farm’s output to the regional wholesale electricity market.[2]

199 MW is quite a bit of power,when the farm is finished, they plan 1000 MW of nameplate capacity.

At the planned nameplate capacity of 1000 MW, Meadow Lake would be one of the largest wind farms in the world, generating enough electricity to power about 250,000 homes,[5] annually saving 1,684 million gallons of water and eliminating 3.1 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.[8] Phases I and II should eliminate just under one million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.[3]

They also claim that is enough power for 250,000 homes.  At full capacity 1,000,000,000 Watts /250,000 homes = 4000 watts/home. At 20 percent capacity though, you are looking at a paltry  800 Watts per home total average output.  The Texas grid counts on only 8.7% of nameplate capacity or  348 watts per home for 250,000 homes. Nowhere near what is used.  Tennessee used an average of 11000 kWh/year which translates to a annual average home consumption of 1200 Watts continuous.  So using Texas numbers for wind power, we get enough electricity for 72,500 homes when the full 1,000,000,000 Watt wind farm is finished.

The wind farm cost for installation is 2 billion for 660 windmills or $3 million USD/windmill:

It will cost them more than $2 billion. Indiana wind farms will be the largest of the Horizon’s farms and the proposed site will be at Meadow Lake in White County.

That must include transmission lines because from this link they state:

Each turbine costs between $1.8 million and $2 million to build.

So, if the true (not exaggerated) generation capacity of this 2 billion dollar project is spread across 72500 homes, the cost to these taxpayers is: $27,586 USD per home. This number doesn’t include the cost for backup generation when the wind isn’t blowing.  The lifespan of a turbine is expected to be about 20 years or $1,400 USD/year for equipment costs – no interest included.

If you figure then about a 2x multiplier for maintenance and profit, again ignoring the need for backup generation, you would end up with about 200USD/month for your electric bill at 11000kWh/year or 916 kWh/month or $200/916 = $0.22 USD/kWh whereas most pricing is about 0.08 currently.  I thought wind was supposed to be more competitive than this!

But something else interesting is the area of the wind farm.  Phase 1 is designed to generate (nameplate capacity) 199MW of power over 60 sq miles.

Phase I spreads over 26,000 acres on a ten by six mile area. Since large wind turbines must be spaced at least 5 to 10 rotor diameters apart to avoid wind shadowing, most of the land between turbines remains productive farmland. Only about 250 acres of farmland have been taken out of production by the 121 turbines.[1]

The total current generation capacity of the US is about 1000 GW or 1,000,000 MW.  So if we take 199MW * 0.087 (continuous average capacity per  Texas grid) = 17MW or 1/58,823 of the total US requirement.  How many square miles is that?

60 *58823 =   3,529,380 sq miles of windfarm.

Since Alaska is 656,000 sq miles, that is not a great number.  If we use the windfarm at a fantastically unrealistic 40 percent nameplate capacity 199MW*.4 = 79.6MW for 60 sq miles of windfarm it would only take 753,000 sq miles to replace the US’s current electrical generation capacity.

An area equal to  Texas + California  + Montana + Arizona + Nevada + Colorado + Oregon, if we can achieve the same density of windfarm as the Indiana installation with 40 percent of nameplate capacity.

BTW, at the realistic (functional) number of 0.087 times nameplate capacity per Texas, we can cover the entire US with windfarm and equal our current generation capacity.  The US has 3,539,225 sq mi which is an excellent match to windfarm performance and current generation.

That would make for some odd landscapes!

Now just so you can compare numbers, nuclear power plants cost about $2000 per kW or $2 billion for a plant to reliably produce the nameplate capacity of the massive Indiana windfarm’s 1000 MW of electricity at 90% operation capacity with a 40 year life.  I’ll do a more complete post on nuclear power later but just from this simple fact, the nuclear plant starts out looking a hell of a lot better.

At this point though, even if I screwed up the numbers somewhere, I feel a whole lot worse about wind power than I did when this post started.  It is obviously a non-viable method with high costs, low energy density and no possibility to solve world energy needs.  IOW, another big green waste of money.  Too bad Nobel prize winning energy secretary Stephen Chu, doesn’t have a calculator.

Then you get guys who are so ready to implement something green or renewable to save the world, they just never seem to do the numbers.  Unless someone shows me where there is a huge error in this post, my opinion of wind power has now officially changed.

184 Responses to “The Power of a Calculator”

  1. RuhRoh said

    Hey Jeff;

    Really great to see you taking on the topic of the wishful engineeringhopenchange in alt energy.

    No need for anyone to learn new computer languages or think about ARMA math concepts; just punch in the numbers and crank that handle on the side of the Marchant…

    Glad you started with such a nice example of the windmills.
    The irony is that the investors are the quixotic ones…
    RR

  2. RuhRoh said

    Maybe the relentless replay of ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ has warped people’s brains…

    ‘…the answer my friend,
    is buh-lowin’ in the wind,
    the answer is blowin’ in the wind…’

    Try it yourself. Just say the initial 4 words of the line, and see if you or the people around you have a reflexive response of the following 12…

    Yikes…
    RR

  3. Tom Fuller said

    Hiya Jeff

    Yeah, I don’t think wind is the answer either. Still have my hopes high for solar, though…

    Thanks for this. You made a lot of things clear that some have gone out of their way to hide.

  4. Gary said

    Jeff,
    $0.22 USD/kwh is just about the starting price (it goes up a penny in successive years) for a proposed pilot windfarm off the Rhode Island coast. Current costs for electricity (for generation, delivery, taxes and fees) is about $0.15 USD/kwh and the major sources are natural gas and nuclear. If you want to feel good about yourself you can pay a couple of pennies more when more “renewable” sources are used.

  5. Thank you, Jeff, for having the courage to identify another load of bull.

    I failed to identify the Nobel prize-winning Secretary of the Department of Energy by name when I pointed out that “the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the International Inter-Academy Panel on International Issues (IAP), the International Inter-Academy Council (IAC), the US Department of Energy (DOE), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), etc.” might want “to examine the empirical evidence of neutron repulsion for themselves and decide if this natural source of nuclear energy might advance understanding in their own disciplines.” [“Neutron repulsion”, http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10640850/Neutron_Repulsion.pdf, p. 2, Introduction (2010)].

    A simple calculator is an excellent bull detector.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  6. kdk33 said

    Tom,

    Perhaps you could provide some similar number crunching for solar so we can see how it compares.

  7. curious said

    …”as long as minimum criteria are met for wind speed and turbine height”…

    Sadly this obvious critical condition is oft overlooked – if the wind ain’t there, no matter how good your technology, how big its nameplate rating and how many you have, turbines are not going to be able to produce something from nothing. IMO this is another symptom of an era where computer models have been allowed to run away unchecked from physical reality – how many of these windsites have had fully monitored, characterised, calibrated and disclosed wind regimes measured and published as part of their justification? I guess somebody should have had the real data somewhere but the financial cases have been so distorted by subsidies/policy initiatives that the energetic cases have played a poor second fiddle. IMO modern wind turbine technology is good stuff but the reality is they are resource restricted – like dams; just because we can build them it doesn’t mean we’ve got an endless supply of sites to take them. (And dams have the advantage of inherent energy storage and flow control…..)

  8. RuhRoh said

    One thing that you may have captured in your 90% backup number is worth a bit more text I think.

    As long as the wind power is a negligible fraction of the total generation, the grid already has enough ‘hot-standby’ generation ready to take over for dropped sources. So, the first new wind sites get a ‘free ride’ on paying for the standby generators. How will the grid equitably assess charges for newly-added hot-standby sources when they become necessary?

    Also, most of the experience with the grid has come with sources that produce power on demand. Grid management with significant capriciously intermittent wind power is not an area of deep experience.

    There is a parallel to the early days of photovoltaic cells, where the ‘surplus polysilicon’ from the chip biz made for ‘cheap’ raw materials. More recently we had the ‘polysilicon shortage’ that roiled the PV market.

    Would people flock to PV solar if the vendors were required to attach a warning label with a picture of the belching Chinese coal-fired plant that powered the polysilicon refinery?

    Where do I find the link for the lethality rates of the RBBBB
    (Really Big Bird (and) Bat Blenders)?

    Beware of simplistic world models…
    RR

  9. Neil said

    As a power guy (generally geothermal, but I have/do work on hydro/wind and gas projects) I would just like to make a couple of observations.

    Firstly, don’t confuse what the market operator or dispatcher considers to be firm capacity with what the expected capacity is. For example a wind farm may on average be expected to produce say 35% of its name plate capacity as energy. The problem the system operator has is that because a wind farm has no storage and we don’t know for certain specifically when the wind will blow (we do know it will blow, but not exactly when)we cant consider the full or even the expected average output of the wind farm as firm power. The system operator is interested in instanateous injection, due to the laws of physics and power systems! As the system operator needs to be making decisions around system security, they need to make assumptions about shifts in demand, loss of transmission and power stations. Normally a system is run to at least N-1. That is the loss of the largest single unit can be covered immediately, by another plant (or collection) that is to all intents idling or at less than full capacity and can be ramped quickly to full load (this is usually a function of the rate at which the frequency drops, which tends to be less in large interconnected systems due to free governor response and system inertia). Firm capacity is also used in longer term system studies to understand whether the system will have enough capacity through time to meet load growth and N-1 etc.

    The calculations on how many houses a power station can supply is usually driven by the media, as they can’t and don’t want to understand exactly how a power system works or what simple assumptions may be incorrect (sound familiar to the main topic around here!). The calculation will also be done on energy rather than instananeous injection, so using your numbers 800 watts * 8760 (hours in a year) is 7,000kWh per year. Where I come from that would be slightly under the average amount for an all electric house i.e additional enegy requirements could be being supplied by natural gas or oil etc.

    You are right about the apparently small transmission lines within a wind farm (efectively subtransmission). As the capacity of each wind turbine is small, a number are generally grouped together electically and then combined at one or more substations for connection to the grid.

    Your comments on covering loss of supply are broadly correct. As long as the amount of connected uncontrollable generation is small, relative to the size of the system, it is just lost in the noise of changes in demand and normal maintenance taking plants out of production. As the amount increases, it imposes greater and greater costs on the system, either through backup fast start power plants or increased transmisson if this is possible or both.

    In reality no one solution is the answer. Wind, nuclear, gas, hydro, geothermal,PV, coal all have a role to play. Not all are possible everywhere, for physical and economic reasons. Not all are economic now in all circumstances, subsidies can be useful to get stuff started, but stupid if they lead to too much.

  10. Paul linsay said

    The numbers I remember are sunlight and nuclear are ~1000 W/m^2, solar power 100 W/m^2, wind 5 W/m^2. Wind power is a waste of land when it’s used this way. Wind and solar are better as distributed sources like hot water heaters and pumping water for cattle.

  11. Jeff Id said

    #9 If you can get a 40% production from a wind farm, I’ll be shocked. The link above said 10-20, I thought the 8.7% number was important because it is the load you can count on. Also, I thought it was important to use a higher number like 40% just to show that that rather stinks too.

    “Wind, nuclear, gas, hydro, geothermal,PV, coal all have a role to play.”

    I have no idea why wind has a ‘role’ in anything other than what Paul wrote. I’ve not done anything with geothermal and would like to invite you to do a post on the cost/benefits of it in its current state. I’m very curious.

  12. hunter said

    The only alternative to carbon based fuels or hydro-electric that is proven, is clean and has a reasonable footprint is nuclear.
    What is the one power source the AGW community consistently avoids to any serious degree?
    Nuclear.
    Windmills, between landscape blight and flying creature destruction are never going to work due to the simple fact of weather.
    It is long past time to stop GE and other big business interests getting fat tax payer direct subsidies from wasting more time and effort on this folly.

  13. Neil said

    Hi,

    There are places in the world where the wind blows alot! New Zealand is one of these places. 40% production is possible there based on three plus years of on site wind monitoring and longer term regional weather data for at least one site I am aware of.

    My statement about all having a role to play, is as simple as the saying dont put all of your eggs in one basket. At any given point in time, different technologies are truely economic, for the given circumstances. The price of plants varies all the time. The time to obtain consents/permits varies by location. Not all hydro is created equal, for example the geology of the surrounding rock faces may be highly factured, meaning that the development costs are higher than “on average”. A wind turbine, plus a backup generator may be more economic than a new transmission line to an isolated location. You can build a gas turbine (CCGT etc) in the middle of a city, but you can only build a hydro where there is a river etc. The lower the capacity factor the higher the transmission costs for a given energy requirement etc. You can only build geothermal where you have a geothermal resource (ingnoring deep enhanced geothermal).

    I am technology agnostic. I don’t place my faith in anyone of them being the solution to the world’s ever increasing energy requirements.

    Kind regards

    Neil

  14. Jeff Id said

    Even at 40% production the technology would require a huge swath of land to make any difference. If you need to build an extra 80 percent capacity at another generation site, why do wind at all?

    I’m serious BTW on the geothermal post. I’m quite curious about the cost effectiveness as I think it has very good potential. Of course I thought that about wind before I wrote this post.

  15. Harry Eagar said

    The standby doesn’t have to be generators — it can be storage, although storage is expensive.

    The greater the penetration of wind, the greater the proportion of wind/storage that could be considered firm, up to some high number where it rolls off the cliff.

    To take a working example, a 30-MW capacity farm with a good wind regime produces an annual average output of 8 MW but requires 15 MW of storage to smooth out the instability being fed to the grid.

    Best output is when it is least needed, at night.

    I am not a fan of wind, unless it is compared against solar, OTEC, wave and any other alternative, which are worse, but it is probably misleading to attempt to create a general rule. Each location is so different.

  16. Ecotretas said

    Jeff,

    Horizon is a portuguese owned company. I’ve done and exposed those figures here in Portugal, in my blog. Complete nonsense. But who cares? Eventually, you’ll become as economically depressed as we are…

    Ecotretas

  17. Phillip Bratby said

    Wind can never be useful because of the very low energy density (about10^-15 cf nuclear).

    To be useful to the grid, any generator must do one or more of three things:
    1 Baseload
    2 Load follow
    3 Peak load
    Wind turbines can do none, therefore they are a menace to stable operation of the grid.

    Since wind needs about 90+% back-up, the best thing to do with existing wind turbines is leave them idle and use the back-up power stations to generate electricity. An expensive thing to do, but it is the best option.

  18. DeWitt Payne said

    Sodium/sulfur batteries are being tested for load leveling. The problem is the price, $2,500/kW. 15MW of storage capacity for a 30 MW wind farm would be $375 million dollars. That dwarfs the cost of ~$60 million for 19 1.65 MW wind turbines. Mass production might bring the price of the batteries down, but probably not by an order of magnitude. Batteries don’t live forever either. The current estimated life is 15 years. That’s better than lead/acid batteries 5 year life. Pumped storage as water or compressed air isn’t cheap either and has siting constraints as well.

  19. Neil said

    Hi Jeff,

    I am in the middle of finalising a geothermal investment proposal as I write this. I duck off to blogs to give my poor head a break. I will post later on the relative economics and challenges of geothermal.

    regards

    Neil

  20. Jeff Id said

    #19, Neil,

    Send it by doc if you can, I’ll make it a headpost.

  21. Dr T G Watkins said

    As always spot on. I’d like to recommend a book “The Wind Farm Scam” by John Etherington which nicely dissects ALL the problems of harnessing wind energy.
    As Phil Bratby said above it is all about energy density and the inherent kinetic energy of a system.
    K.E. = I/2 MV^2 cf E = MC^2
    There is only one winner. Not just nuclear, but breaking C bonds results in a tiny loss of mass with a tiny energy output cf nuclear.

  22. Don B said

    #17, Phillip The author Boone, partly through the sources he quotes, makes points you make. A study showed that because of the inefficiencies of backup coal generation cycling, using wind power increased emissions of CO2, SO2 and NOx.

    http://www.masterresource.org/2010/09/windpower-overblown-part-1/

  23. curious said

    11 – Jeff uk wind production data is here:

    http://www.ref.org.uk/images/PDFs/REDs10/Wind%202010%20v1.pdf

    Very quick examples: Hare Hill Wind Farm – A does ok, Cassop Prmary School less so.

  24. Derek said

    It is true that the wind and the sun are for free,
    however harvesting them ain’t. – IT’S DAMNED EXPENSIVE.

    Then there’s the conventional (read reliable, already proven, in use, AND CHEAPER) back up to be built, AND PAID FOR.
    for when the wind don’t blow, or the sun don’t shine right down to the ground.

    Oh, and then there’s the new grid, to loose less of the less generated power…AND THAT’S TO BE PAID FOR AS WELL.

    Why, oh why, oh why…..
    WHY NOT just build the required amount of conventional power generation UNTILL a better answer comes along,
    wind and sun ARE ECONOMICALLY NOT the answers (at present, and for the foreseeable future).

  25. Paul said

    In New Zealand the revised noise standard for wind farms is downright fraudulent. Read about it here.
    http://www.palmerston-north.info
    Don’t let your community be subjected to unacceptable noise.

  26. boballab said

    I have looked at how many wind turbines and space it would take to power NYC using the 2008 Peak estimates from a report by NYC on the 2003 blackout and the the claimed output of the Roscoe wind farm in Texas (reputed to be the biggest in the world). When you crunch the numbers you could take the entire state of Delaware and make it one big wind farm and still not have enough wind turbines to power the Peak demand of NYC. This doesn’t even take into account things like NYC can not bring in enough power via transmission line due to space either.

    In 2004 the estimated 2008 peak demand for NYC was 14,800 MW
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/energy_task_force.pdf

    To supply that power with wind you would need 19 Roscoe wind farms and/or 11,913 turbines (627 turbines at installed capacity of 781.5 MW). The Roscoe wind farm covers an area of 100,000 acres.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roscoe_Wind_Farm

    So 19 farms means 1,900,000 acres or 2,969 sq miles. The state of Delaware is only 2,490 square miles.

    I also did that using a Solar farm and can be seen here:
    http://boballab.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/689/

  27. Varco said

    Jeff,
    have you considered wind turbine power consumption in your calculations? I had heard that there is a significant consumption of electric power to de-ice blades. A rapid google brought up the following which lists a litany of other potential electrical consumption that may not make it to the nameplate.

    http://www.aweo.org/windconsumption.html

    Does anyone have any other sources of data on the topic of wind turbine electrical consumption?

  28. Richard Hanson said

    For those interested, I’ve listed some links below to 5 different systems. The first link for each system is the reference to the total installed wind nameplate capacity for each system and the second link (3rd for France) is the real time system production of various power sources including wind.

    The number under the system name is the total installed nameplate of wind power.

    The French production is somewhat different than most other systems that I’ve looked at. Their 24 hour production is almost flat instead of the usual baseload, load following and peaking very evident in other systems. It looks to me that during off-peak hours they export their surplus power and then when their own system demand begins to rise they cut off the exports and use that power as a load follower. For today, September 15, 2010, their “baseload” is about 92% of peak production.

    Richard Hanson

    Texas(ERCOT)
    9310 MW (2009)
    http://www.awea.org/publications/reports/4Q09.pdf

    Production: http://mospublic.ercot.com/ercot/jsp/frequency_control.jsp

    Spain
    20,000 MW (2010 approx.)
    24,000 MW Natural Gas Combined Cycle (2009)
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6103TD20100201

    Almost all of the wind machines and CC plants in Spain have been constructed since 2001.
    Production:
    https://demanda.ree.es/generacion_acumulada.html

    Ireland
    1450 MW (2010 approx)
    Production:
    http://www.eirgrid.com/operations/systemperformancedata/windgeneration/

    California
    2794 MW (2009)
    http://www.awea.org/publications/reports/4Q09.pdf
    Production:
    http://www.caiso.com/outlook/SystemStatus.html

    France
    4850 MW (2009)
    France has a relatively small amount of alternative power sources and they don’t graph whatever production they have, including wind.
    http://www.gwec.net/index.php?id=128

    http://clients.rte-france.com/lang/an/visiteurs/vie/prod/parc_reference.jsp

    Production:
    http://clients.rte-france.com/lang/an/visiteurs/vie/prod/realisation_production.jsp

  29. kuhnkat said

    The only effective use for large scale wind capacity is to charge batteries that haven’t been invented yet, generate hydrogen, or a similar purpose where 24×7 constant power is not a necessity!! For wind to support itself there would have to be a worldwide ginormous network connecting all sections of the globe to move energy from where it is being generated to where it isn’t. I can’t even start to think about the cost and environmental impact.

    The real killer is that if you install 10 terawatts of wind capacity you need 10 Terawatts of fast response backup.

    Here is a site that specializes in energy and is doing a series on Wind power: http://www.masterresource.org/

  30. Matt Y. said

    Jeff,

    You will never make it as an elite leftist thinker. You implicitly assume in your analysis that the rabble need to maintain the same levels of power consumption and living standards. Try and broaden your horizons a bit.

  31. mrpkw said

    Mongo head hurt from the math !!!!!!!!!

    Once again facts clearly dispute the usefulness and value of “renewable” energy.

  32. mrpkw said

    kdk33 said
    September 15, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Tom,

    Perhaps you could provide some similar number crunching for solar so we can see how it compares.
    ================================================================================================
    Too close to call !!!!!

  33. mrpkw said

    Jeff, here is a local item:

    http://donatdawn.com/content/?p=21958

    How much will this cost taxpayers ??
    I anticipate a boondoggle.

  34. Joe Miner said

    “At the planned nameplate capacity of 1000 MW, Meadow Lake would be one of the largest wind farms in the world, generating enough electricity to power about 250,000 homes,[5] annually saving 1,684 million gallons of water and eliminating 3.1 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.[8]”

    Where does the “saving 1,684 million gallons of water” come from, lo-flow toilets are included?

  35. RuhRoh said

    Wow, that masterresource link is da balm…

    http://www.masterresource.org/2010/06/econenviron-pvs/#_edn2

    This article comes up with multidecade payback times for Solar PV.
    Yowza….

    Here’s a link I hope to an analysis of the subsidy question;
    http://www.jstor.org/stable/1830812

    They already did the calculations. Another lead balloon…
    RR

  36. Here is a nice slideview presentation I got by e-mail from John Droz:

    Electrical Energy,Science & You

    http://www.globalwarmingskeptics.info/?p=3240

    He discusses the feebleness of Windpower as part of his presentation.

  37. kuhnkat said

    Here is the Danish website. The page is for renewable energy:

    http://www.ens.dk/EN-US/SUPPLY/RENEWABLE-ENERGY/BIOENERGY/Sider/Forside.aspx

    They claim burning biomass provides 70% of their renewable power consumption. On other pages they tout windpower as comprising 20% of their total energy production. This shows how sneaky their numbers are. Between these 2 it sounds like their energy needs are only 10% more from ALL other sources. In actuality, and as mentioned in Jeff’s post, wind provides a major portion of its contribution during periods when it is NOT NEEDED. Denmark sells a majority of their windpower, which is heavily subsidized, at a loss to countries with nuclear and hydro power that can be easily taken offline to absorb the wind flux!!!

    Let us know if you find a page that tells us how much wind power is utilized in Denmark.

  38. kuhnkat said

    Joe Miner,

    both nuclear and coal use large amounts of water in their generators. Solar requires regular cleaning of the mirrors or cells or significant reductions in efficiency are incurred. This is one of the arguments against solar in the SoCal and other desert areas.

  39. Bruce of Newcastle said

    “actually they were very impressive looking from the car as the sun set”

    Not as pretty as our one lonely windmill, which looks even more impressive lit up at night!

    Think of how pretty your windmills would look if lit up at night too!

  40. Bruce of Newcastle said

    More seriously the spinning reserve problem is a biggie. The paper by de Groot and le Pair estimates that the wind industry in Germany causes more CO2 to be produced than if it didn’t exist. The Danish industry seems to be better because they do a deal with Sweden to load level with Swedish hydropower.

  41. Steve said

    Wind has never seemed to make much sense to me for large scale energy production. Small scale generation at remote sites, maybe. One thing I never see discussed regarding large scale wind power is the huge amount of energy they will pull from the earth’s weather system. Won’t all these turbines slowing down our winds change our climate? After all CO2 is a very small fraction of the atmosphere and it is blamed for tremendous climate change effects. Might wind energy reduction be just as large a problem? Just a thought.

  42. chris y said

    Jeff, great post. MasterResource has had a series of excellent articles discussing the details of wind generation. Robert Bryce’s book- Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future- also has a good discussion of the problems with wind energy.

    In summary then-
    1. wind turbines generate far less energy than nameplate.
    2. combining wind farm outputs does not eliminate zero-production moments, so 100% backup is required.
    3. Real-world data shows that increased wind penetration can increase total CO2 emissions, especially where older coal plants exist.
    4. wind receives generous subsidies.
    5. In the U.S., wind turbine installations result in more worker deaths per energy delivered than coal mines.
    6. moving wind output from remote farms to load centers (cities) requires transmission lines rated for nameplate power output (not average output), resulting in underused/overspec’d transmission assets which increases costs.
    7. No-one wants new transmission lines built.

    Most power grid locations would be better off (lower CO2 emissions, lower cost, better reliability, smaller footprint) chopping down the existing wind farms and installing combined cycle gas generation.

  43. ROM said

    A very good and very comprehensive source for the real numbers on all the variations in “alternative” energy generation is the UK based “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air”
    http://www.withouthotair.com/Contents.html

    The numbers provided show the futility and impracticality of pursuing the so called alternative energy generation as the main source of our future global energy requirements.
    One serious problem with the wind turbines is that despite a claimed 20 year life, a very high percentage of the turbines have failures in their main gearboxes within the first ten years of operation.
    The other problem is a societal problem. Why is it that only rural residents are forced to suffer the low frequency noise, the flicker patterns from bright sunlight on the blades of turbines in the vicinity and in cold climates the large ice lumps thrown from blades.

    When I see the full scale wind turbines erected in the middle of suburbs and in the middle of the domains of the wealthy elitists who won’t even tolerate a phone tower in their vicinity but who are the real financial beneficiaries of the tax payer subsidized wind turbines then I will accept wind turbines in the rural and farming regions.

    The French are even considering a large zone around each turbine as a safety protection or no go safety zone which would take a huge amount of rural land around turbines out of use.

    One wind turbine is a very interesting marvel of engineering.
    Five wind turbines are a photographic opportunity.
    Fifty wind turbines are a blight across the landscape and an impost upon those unfortunates who have to live with them.
    Five hundred turbines are a destroyer of landscapes, of birds, of the health of those near them and the finances of the ordinary salary and wage earner.

  44. Alex Heyworth said

    What is needed is a huge increase in the number of politicians. They are extremely good at generating wind. Not sure how we get them to stand around in the fields all day, though.

  45. nbindo said

    I’m using geothermal heat pumps to reduce my total electricity use.
    In New Jersey, where I live, the ground water temperature is 54 deg. F.
    By ground water heat exchange, you can dramatically improve the efficiency of electric heat pumps for space heating and cooling.

    You run the air conditioner mode with 60F water in, 85F water out, and the compressor for the heat exchanger only has to work a temperature differential of 30F (40F at the evaporator, 70F (average) at the condenser)
    This compares with a 70F differential with conventional air cooled systems (40F at the evaporator, 110F (average) at the condenser).

    So the geothermal system uses less than half the electricity to cool the same space, even when the water pump is taken into account.

    This system uses roughly the same amount of materials as a conventional air conditioner (more water plumbing, less freon/heat exchanger since the air handler is a single unit)

    Plus, in the winter time, you reverse the cycle, and heat the space, and the same efficiencies apply, with the added attraction in that air exchange heat pumps won’t even work when the temperature of the air goes below about 38F.

    It is things like this which will put a dent in overall energy use.
    When combined with nuclear, the future can be bright, and comfortable…

  46. GregO said

    Jeff,

    Thanks for taking time to crunch the numbers on that wind farm. In 10-20 years will be shaking our heads and wondering “what were we thinking?” as we drive by wind farms in ruins as there is no money in repairing/replacing them; like driving by filthy old decrepit petrochemical horsepumps that have outlived their usefulness?

    One take is that these ginormous windmills are not technologic efforts, but cultural – think the great pyramids of ancient Egypt; technologically cool in their own way, but primarily in their day serving a cultural need.

    Could it be we are building windfarms with our societal wealth to fulfill a quasi-religious commitment to the earth goddess Gaia. Sounds wacky but I read Bryce’s book too and wind farms just make no sense from a blunt engineering/financial payback perpsective. But we keep building them – like Easter Island statues; a modern Stonehenge.

    However, hope springs eternal…just check out this link.

    http://www.capewind.org/

  47. gallopingcamel said

    The Danes, Germans and Spaniards have much more experience of “Renewables” than we do but where can you find an honest assessment of their achievements?

    Maybe you should take a look at a report by Gabriel Calzada that covers wind and solar projects in Spain:

    http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1kmtqD/www.juandemariana.org/pdf/090327-employment-public-aid-renewable.pdf

  48. tonyb said

    That was an interesting post jeff.

    Here in the UK we are becoming obsessed with windmills as it is the only way the Govt can meet its legally binding renewables target. Trouble is it is horribly expensive and the subsidy to windfarm operators is having a notable efect on consumer bills.

    The other problem is that wind is highly inefficient and doesn’t work at just the time its most needed. For example our coldest winter weather often happens when a high pressure settles over the UK which brings cold weather and no wind.

    Another big concern is the visual aspect-many of Britains finest landscapes are the very same ones most suited to wind power. In my book you don’t save the environment by trashing
    the countryside.

    There is a move towards off shore wind farms which in principle sound good, but are much more expensive to build and maintain and have the considerable difficulty of needing transmission lines to get the power to the shore-often in a remote location-then overhead trasmission lines to feed the power into the national grid.

    In my book on shore wind farms are next to useless, off shore have a small role to play, and in our circumstances-we are an ISLAND!-we should be making far greater use of the power of the sea. Horses for courses other countries will find solar, hydro, geo thermal etc of better use.

    I have no hang ups about nuclear (although fusion would be a better option) but many of our rulers are ideologically opposed to nuclear.

    The fact is we need something urgently as the UK is likely to be heading towards power cuts within the next five years as we retire existing carbon power stations. In that respect we ae probably leading (unfortunately) a clutch of western nations who have become obsessed by AGW and haven’t thought through how
    they will supply carbon less power to their population

    Tonyb

  49. Brownedoff said

    Here is the next massive cock-up coming over the horizon …

    http://www.saharasolarproject.com/

  50. Brian H said

    B’doff;
    Yeah, that’s been touted for a while. Here’s the direct page link: http://www.saharasolarproject.com/articles/21827/Sahar-Solar-Project, with such enlightening quotes as, “We’re not dreamers ….” LOL

    GW is going to win; it’s already greening the Sahara, and by the time this gets going, it will be under cloudy skies and shaded by tall trees! 😉

  51. Chris Wright said

    On several occasions an ‘expert’, when asked what would happen when the wind doesn’t blow, said something like ‘But the wind will always be blowing somewhere’.
    Either the ‘expert’ was a fool or he was lying. There are extended periods when the total UK wind power output falls close to zero.

    You can monitor UK wind power output here:
    http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm
    Look at the table near the bottom. Right now wind is putting out a respectable 2.5% of total over the last 24 hours. But it regularly falls to around 0.1% or occasionally zero. The 24 hour wind output goes up and down like a yo-yo. It’s a complete joke. And yet out government is committed to a massive rise to perhaps 30% of total capacity. Of course it will never happen, it’s sheer fantasy. But this delusion will force up energy prices, not to mention littering our beautiful countryside with these pointless monstrosities.
    Hopefully these idiots will eventually see sense, as maybe Denmark is beginning to, according to a recent item at WUWT.
    Chris

  52. pete m said

    Solar has the greatest potential for technological advancement. A guy here in oz has invented plastic coated solar cells, which can be printed in a similar way you do at home on a laser printer. The cells are also exponentially more efficient than the current market black cells are. The price for solar cells is also reducing by factors, not minor stuff. Check it out:

    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/newinventors/txt/s3008638.htm

  53. mrpkw said

    Jeff, a local wind event:

    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/08/20/-Illinois-schools-tap-into-wind-energy/UPI-31931282346159/

    How bad will the taxpayers of these school districts get hit when this project falls short of expectations??

  54. chris y said

    Pete M- “The cells are also exponentially more efficient than the current market black cells are.”

    This type of phrasing is the refuge of scoundrels.

  55. DW said

    You have mixed and matched all sorts of numbers. For example, you cite one study that says wind could be 33-47% of baseload IF it was the output of 10 well separated wind provinces. Then you point out that Texas only counts 8.7 % it’s wind capacity as reliable enough for baseload.

    Those are apples and oranges, because Texas itself is not a widely dispersed wind resource. And they are comparing different facets – one is a percentage of baseload that wind power could provide without grid problems, one is the percentage of wind farm capacity Texas counts towards baseload.

    I would suggest you google the Minnesota Wind Integration Study, done with input from actual grid operators. Because their “worse case scenario” is the loss of a tie line from Manitoba, they feel they can accommodate up to 25% of their power being generated by without any additional spinning reserves. They found to costs of integrating that much wind into their system would only cost about half a cent per kwh (above and beyond the cost of the wind energy itself).

    And remember, the most expensive power is the power most recently built with current dollars. But customers from the City of Austin public utility and from Xcel energy in Colorado who signed up on multi-year deals for the extra price of wind power in the early years now are paying less than those who stuck with coal fired power.

  56. PeterMG said

    Jeff Your figures in this post match with experience and published figures in the UK. 35% gets banded about a lot as the output of a wind farm in the marketing blurb, but half this is what is often achieved under ideal conditions. And one of the largest wind farms in the UK has only produced half this during the last 6 months. So that matches what you `see there.

    Neil mentions New Zealand as a place with ideal wind. Well the experience has again been less than ideal but the figure are hard to get. A report was posted last year and had very similar results to your post but was pulled down before I realised the significance of it and had taken a copy. But basically on shore wind production is poor and not very environmentally friendly if you take into consideration all the various factors.

    One important area that is being overlooked is that the rush to develop electrical storage is a process that of its self produces more CO2 than we gain from the generation and storage of the energy. Our rush to de-carbonise is distorting thinking to the point where we are actually making our environment worse and at the same time costing us money that is reducing economic activity that will lead to many schemes being abandoned and a backlash that may delay real environmental progress for generations.

  57. Jeff Id said

    I think most of us are in agreement about this. A few have missed the point that if you have to back up 95% of the electric generation with other sources, that means these costs are dramatically underestimated. A functional society should never live with less energy than they can pay for so peak load must be designed to. The backup power needs to have its personnel idled when not producing, costs for installation and payback make a lot less sense and its own generation cost is higher. dumb dumb dumb

    What may not be totally clear from this post, is that it really did change my mind about wind power. Saying it’s part of the solution or it works sometimes is totally incorrect as long as it cannot be supplied continuously or the cost of the backup is not figured into the energy cost, the whole thing is nothing but additional cost which like PeterMG just wrote, economic suppression will result and working schemes may be abandoned.

    Without backup, it’s nothing but voluntary brownouts. With working solutions available, it means nothing but stupid.

    Mrpkw’s article on wind for schools makes an interesting point too. I beleive the school may successfully make a profit (for the school) selling electricity, but if the backup generation is not created, all it is is more volitility of supply, other plants running off peak capacity and higher energy costs for everyone else. We’re forced to pay them more money for no viable reason. The amount of CO2 emitted probably goes up from the start/stop of the things. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

    Anyway, wind is far more economically damaging and dangerous to our electric supply than I ever imagined.

  58. Mark F said

    Mafia investments in Renewable Energy – tapping into the subsidy bank.
    Just caught a brief audio clip on the Italian Gov’t going after said organization for over 1.5 Billion (10^9) Euros in subsidies obtained. Strange bedfellows, no?

  59. Fred said

    http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/marketdata/windpower.asp has a (near) real-time monitor of actual wind-generated output in Ontario. At the time of this post it’s running about 30% of capacity but it’s usually much lower…

  60. Neil said

    Hi,

    firstly, I am not a proponent of wind, but we all seem to like data here so at these links you will find:

    The ability to query NZ generation by fuel type
    http://www.electricitycommission.govt.nz/opdev/modelling/wip/cdswebinterface/generation-by-fuel-type

    On the same page you will find a link that allows you to view installed capacity by station, commissioning dates etc.

    Since Octover 2009 NZ has had 493.65MW of wind installed. Over that time the highest monthly load factor across the wind farms has been 49.6%, the lowest 21.5%. The average has been 34.6%.

    For a link to a group and papers on wind integration to the NZ electricty system go to:
    http://www.electricitycommission.govt.nz/opdev/wholesale/wip/index.html/?searchterm=wind integration

    For a realtime snapshot of the NZ electricty system go to:
    http://www.em6live.co.nz/

    Note just below the central map you can click through a few screens (if you are so inclined).

    Cheers

    Neil

  61. RuhRoh said

    Regarding that MN Wind Integration study,

    As far as I can tell, it was a retrospective study with assumptions of how sysops would have used day-ahead wind forecasts to schedule generators.

    As an aside, I’m struck by the cavalier references to large mismatches in load vs. supply, particularly ‘undersupply’.

    a few choice quotes; early page somewhere;

    “While very important for wind generation and certainly a topic of much current discussion in the upper Midwest, transmission issues were not to be addressed in this study.”

    Page 119;
    “The preceding analysis shows, however, that in the scenario for this study, wind generation forecast errors are major factor in hourly forecast uncertainty. In addition, errors in wind generation forecast are solely responsible for the very large hourly errors. These large hourly deviations from the plan are of significance with regard to control area performance, and may contribute disproportionately to integration costs at the hourly level.”

    “The number of large deviations from one ten-minute interval to the next is
    substantially increased by wind generation, such that maintaining control performance would require that additional load following resources be committed to this function. The additional capacity of this incremental load following reserve is somewhat difficult to quantify, since the analysis couches it in terms of fast ramping capability rather than gross capacity. The additional
    requirement appears to be on the order of 1-2 MW per minute.”

    page 133;
    “The synthesized wind generation data set does predict,
    however, that large changes in wind generation do occur even for the geographically diverse scenario considered in this study.”

    p134:
    ” The intra-hour analysis also showed that an incremental increase in fast ramping capability of 1-2 MW/minute would be necessary to maintain control performance at present levels. This specific impact was not monetized. ”

    page 135;
    “Large penetrations of wind generation can impact the hourly ramping requirements in almost all hours of the day. On the hourly level, this results in deployment of more resources to follow the forecast and actual ramps in the net system load, thereby increasing production costs.

    Wind generation integration costs are sensitive to the deployment of units, which is also a function of the forecast system load. The results seem to indicate that these costs can be high over a period when expensive resources are required to compensate for the hourly variability, even when the total wind generation for the period might be low.”

    I don’t see how DW can claim that no additional spinning reserves are needed for the big add, 25% of ‘base’ load.

    He does make the point that the early windpower adopters get a better deal, because they aren’t charged for the added grid resources that will be needed for wide scale implementation…
    RR

  62. PaulM said

    Jeff, another voice of agreement. I have a book by fred Hoyle called “energy or extinction” written way back in the 1970s where he did the same back-of-the-envelope type calculations and concluded you’d have to cover a similar proportion the country in windmills to what you worked out. Then he pointed out that nuclear power was the only answer. Unfortunatly our politicians and yours who make the decisions seem to lack elementary numeracy skills.

  63. Chuckles said

    We have a very fine testbed for all such fine clean energy concepts, it’s called the Isle of Eigg. Power supply there is hydro, wind & solar. Oh, and 2 backup diesel generators. Supplies some 95 people, 37-45 families, 10-20 businesses, depending on whom you believe. They get a 5kW per dwelling, 10kW per business limit. Auto cutoff if exceeded, £25 reconnect. Cost £1.6 million pounds to install, costs charged are 12-15p (£0.12-0.15) per kWh.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/hydro_electricenergy/7858960/Power-rationed-on-green-island-Eigg-after-mild-weather-causes-drought.html

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291040/Will-eco-island-sink-green-dream.html

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10449367

    Welcome to your future. What was that about spinning reserve and baseload power again?

  64. kuhnkat said

    DW,

    “They found to costs of integrating that much wind into their system would only cost about half a cent per kwh (above and beyond the cost of the wind energy itself).”

    Up to about 20% modern grids already had enough spinning backup to deal with the situation. Above that they have to build one for one. In other words the study is too biased to be useable. We saw this in California just as Texas and other areas have encountered it.

    One of many issues missed is that the use of this existing backup reduces the overall reliability of the grid as that backup was NOT designed to be used as much as when it is backing up Wind.

  65. Brian H said

    Roger Sowell’s claim that the integration of wind power into the current grids in CA. etc. doesn’t require fast-response build-out applies only to the very first, small increments by wind. Its variability is “lost” in the big picture at low levels. But as soon as you try to ramp up to any significant contribution, the economic steel trap snaps shut, and suddenly the marginal costs multiply.

  66. M. Simon said

    I have done BOE calcs and came up with similar numbers.

    But really. They aren’t farming the wind. They are farming taxpayers.

  67. M. Simon said

    This type of phrasing is the refuse of scoundrels.

    FIFY

  68. Brian H said

    Re: M. Simon (Sep 16 20:37),
    Did you mean “refuge”, the classic phrasing?

    Maybe not! 😉😀

  69. Geoff Sherrington said

    Similar conclusion are reached for the east Australia grid in this paper by Peter lang, an engineer whose career was spent in electrical industry generation.

    http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/peter-lang-wind-power.pdf

    Note in particular the cost of avoiding the emission of a tonne of CO2:

    Wind (including back up generation) (Aust) $1149
    Nuclear $22

  70. chris y said

    M. Simon-

    “But really. They aren’t farming the wind. They are farming taxpayers.”

    “This type of phrasing is the refuse of scoundrels.”

    Both are excellent!

  71. DW said

    A few ways in which your calculations are off:

    1. The 8.7% “capacity factor” of Texas is NOT the average production, it is a conservative factor of what ERCOT expects and relies upon wind to produce. The Roscoe (TX) wind farm has a average production factor of around 30% of nameplate capacity. Generally, projects have to be between 20-30% average production in order to be economically feasible.

    2. The wind farm you cite as 60 square miles seems to be somewhat less dense than many other wind farms. That’s 3.3 MW of nameplate capacity per square mile. Here’s the density of some other wind farms:

    Roscoe Wind Farm (TX) – 4.7 MW/Sq mi
    Horse Hollow (TX) – 10.0 MW/Sq mi
    Shiloh 1 (CA) – 14.1 MW/Sq mi
    Red Hills (OK) – 15.7 MW/Sq mi

    3. A 2x multiplier for maintenance and profit is just a wild ass assumption. The capital cost is by far the major cost of wind generated electricity, maintenance is minimal.

    4. The lifetime of nuclear power plants is very uncertain. Many are retired if a major component, such as the steam generator or turbines need replacement. Here’s how long some US nuclear power plants lasted:

    Connecticut Yankee – 28 years
    Maine Yankee – 25 years
    Shoreham (NY) – was built in a bad location, protests finally caused it to be shut down before ever producing electricity – even though it had gone through low power testing.
    Humboldt (CA) – 13 years
    Rancho Seco (CA) – 14 years – closed by public vote, it only had a 39% average production factor
    Yankee Rowe – 32 years
    Three Mile Island 2 (PA) – 3 months
    Elk River (MN) – 4 years
    Zion (IL) – 24 years
    Ft. St. Vrain (CO) – 15 years
    Hallam (NE) – 2 years
    Pathfinder (SD) – 1 year – only made it to full power for 30 minutes!!!
    Trojan (OR) – 16 years

    While some have been licensed out to 60 years, whether or not they’ll make it is uncertain, much less we may find out it was inadvisable to extend their lives. Heck, railroad cars are required to be scrapped at age 50 – you would think that safety would require a nuclear reactor vessel to be scrapped at that age too.

    5. I’m hearing more like $5-6 billion for a 1000 MW nuke plant these days. Before cost overruns.

    6. The utilization of wind power is very site-specific. For example, most wind farms in California are built in passes. As the Central Valley heats up, the air rises, and replacement air is pulled into the valley through the passes. Thus, on really hot summer afternoons when you need electricity the most, the wind blows the hardest.

    Compare that to the wind farms on Buffalo Ridge (SD-MN-IA). Buffalo Ridge is a gentle rise above the prairies, so the Bernoulli effect makes the prevailing winds go faster to get over the ridge. There, the power is somewhat more constant.

    So the wind output characteristics are very situational. That wind in California is very valuable, since it can be used as peaking power.

  72. Jeff Id said

    DW You’ll note I did the area calcs for 40% as well and I thought that the 8.7 was explained clearly enough. This is the amount you can count on when you hit your light switch.

    Your points on nukes which were closed is very interesting. I’ve done no posts on nuclear yet. I’m wondering how a plant which cost billions could be closed in 1 year. something happened.

    After this post I flatly disagree that wind works anywhere. You have to replace the output of wind with alternative generation, that alone makes the cost astronomically out of line. I could however have made that point without the calculation but the calculations show the high cost of wind to begin with.

    Your costs on Nukes needs a bit more research because it’s way out of date or from a anti-nuke site, but even if that were the cost, it blows away wind — no mushroom cloud intended😀.

  73. DW said

    I’m still not sure you understand the 8.7%.

    On average, you’ll get 20-30% of the nameplate capacity. Or, if you pick a random moment in time, 20-30% with a confidence level of 50%.

    ERCOT is essentially saying they’ll get 8.7% with a confidence level of 9X.XX% If you expand the geographic area the wind power is sourced from, the 8.7% number will go up.

    Some of those shorter lived nukes had design problems. Ft. St. Vrain, IIRR, was gas cooled. One was sodium cooled. Humboldt had greater seismic risk than had been foreseen when built.

    I’d like to believe that we’ve learned from those mistakes. But now new designs are being proposed (PBMR, thorium based, etc.) and there’s probably going to be a learning curve.

    The nuclear industry does have a learning problem. For example, the Brown’s Ferry fire was caused by a guy searching for air leaks with a candle (because somebody forgot to buy the little non-flame smoke generator devices they were supposed to use), the insulation caught fire and burned the control cables. So you’d think they realize “Hmmm – maybe we should have some rather hellacious fire suppression systems wherever the control cables run.” But in the late 1990’s Japan had an incident very similar to Brown’s Ferry – guy looking for air leaks with a candle, insulation caught fire, etc. etc…..

    And then Brown’s Ferry re-opened a few years ago – under NRC waivers for the fire safety standards put into place after the….Brown’s Ferry fire!!!

    After looking at the incident history in the nuclear industry, I came to the conclusion we humans and our human institutions – be they public agencies or private corporations – are not smart enough or disciplined enough to handle the potential hazards of nuclear power.

    The Davis-Besse reactor head problem is a classic case of a lack of discipline. Look it up. The Vermont Yankee cooling tower collapse was also a discipline problem. Three Mile Island was a “smart enough” problem – the operators couldn’t figure out how the equipment had malfunctioned and what they should do once they figured it out.

  74. sod said

    After this post I flatly disagree that wind works anywhere. You have to replace the output of wind with alternative generation, that alone makes the cost astronomically out of line. I could however have made that point without the calculation but the calculations show the high cost of wind to begin with.

    you are wrong Jeff.

    the obvious case to look at is Denmark. close to 20% of their electricity production is wind. two coasts and the combination with Scandinavian water power clearly demonstrate that wind works SOMEWHERE.

    water is an obvious way of storage, that is easily possible with technology that is available today. it is rather sad, that your “technical orientated audience” missed this basic fact.

  75. TimG said

    #74 – Sod

    I think there are two issues:

    1) Can some build a turbine that produces power?
    2) Is wind an economically viable technology.

    Denmark through subsidies does get about 6-10% of its power from wind (the rest is exported at a discount).
    But the danish example does not show that the wind is economically viable.
    That can’t won’t happen until people start building wind without subsidies or sweet heart feed in tariffs.

    Jeff’s argument is because fossil fuel backup is required almost everywhere wind power will never be economically viable.

  76. Bart said

    Jeff,

    Have you read anything from Mark Jacobson concerning windpower?
    http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/
    (relevant papers in group I)
    E.g.
    http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/aj07_jamc.pdf
    http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Ia.html
    http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/susenergy2030.html
    http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/PDF%20files/WindWaveStoutenburgRenEn2010.pdf

    Featuring comparisons between different low carbon means of electricity generation (you won’t like his estimate of nuclear fatalities though): http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/revsolglobwarmairpol.htm

  77. curious said

    74 – I don’t know where you are located Sod but geography largely determines the sites for viable water storage in the same way wind regime does for turbines.

    Re: Denmark – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/denmark/7996606/An-ill-wind-blows-for-Denmarks-green-energy-revolution.html

  78. Jeff Id said

    #73 DW, Rest assured I do understand the 8.7%.

    At even 40% nameplate, wind is a total waste – you have to build double capacity, the energy cost is much higher than nuclear or coal and the fact that you need to double up on your generation capacity is insane.

  79. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Bart (Sep 17 09:57),

    Wind + battery powered electric vehicles (BEV) would seem to require that a large fraction of the vehicles be plugged into a wind only electric grid at any given time and may need to have the capability of transferring power both ways. That’s not to mention that BEV’s are still not practical for most people and are not likely to be for many years, if ever. The capital investment involved would likely make sodium/sulfur battery load leveling look cheap.

  80. sod said

    74 – I don’t know where you are located Sod but geography largely determines the sites for viable water storage in the same way wind regime does for turbines.

    jeff made a strong claim: ” I flatly disagree that wind works anywhere”
    thanks for your support. his claim was false. (obviously it does work, if wind and water storage are close enough together.

    Re: Denmark – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/denmark/7996606/An-ill-wind-blows-for-Denmarks-green-energy-revolution.html

    that article is complete garbage. you liked it, because you completely misunderstood it.

    the article gives the impression, that a leftish party is cutting support for wind, and that it is even supported by a british environmental agency.

    both impressions are wrong, of course. denmark has been ruled by a conservative (political RIGHT) coalition for about 10 years.(the party “Venstre” is left by name only) and the “Renewable Energy Foundation” has been anti wind for a long time.

    http://declineofthelogos.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/anatomy-of-a-wind-myth/

    wind power in Denmark is still going strong, even though a right wing government has defunded alternative energy systematically.

  81. sod said

    #73 DW, Rest assured I do understand the 8.7%.

    i have serious doubts that you understood it. DW is right. you were throwing around numbers that you did not understand and that were not comparable.

    At even 40% nameplate, wind is a total waste – you have to build double capacity, the energy cost is much higher than nuclear or coal and the fact that you need to double up on your generation capacity is insane.

    this paragraph demonstrates a serious lack of understanding. all wind power (cost) calculations are done on the basis of real power produced, and not with “nameplate” capacity. the energy cost of wind is competitive on many places on earth.

    the same simply isn t true for nuclear. why don t you skip all subsidies, build a nuclear reactor from scratch and then ask an insurance company for full covering price?!?

  82. Jeff id said

    “the energy cost of wind is competitive on many places on earth. ”

    Not when you have to build it twice Sod. Duh! If you can only count on 8.7% then you cannot replace current power with it. If you can generate 40% of nameplate you still need huge areas to be covered, and even if the 8.7 drifts up to 15% you still have to have 90 percent backup. not even a little smart.

    Wind sucks almost as bad as biofuel. Of course I don’t need to explain that to you, cause you’re a math major.

  83. sod said

    Not when you have to build it twice Sod. Duh! If you can only count on 8.7% then you cannot replace current power with it.

    you are still completely confused Jeff. there is (basically) no connection between the 40% number and the 8.7% number. you simply chose the false one for your argument.

    a power pant with 40% nameplate capacity could produce 40% reliable power 9x.x% of the time. or it could produce 0% for over half the time. (the nameplate percentage is little more than a upper limit to reliable power. interesting mathematically, but not at all interesting for electricity generated)

    the nameplate capacity of a wind turbine is only given, because it depends on location and weather. it is never used for cost benefit calculations.

    your claim was, that people are staring at the nameplate, when they calculate profits. it was simply false.

  84. sod said

    sorry for the “power pant”.

    but an even worse error was this one:

    the nameplate capacity of a wind turbine is only given, because it depends NOT on location and weather.

  85. Jeff id said

    Read the whole sentence Sod and you can see your error.

    “When calculating the generating capacity available to meet peak demand, [ERCOT] (manages Texas grid) counts wind generation at 8.7% of nameplate capacity.”

    The anticipated usable energy for reliable demand. DW had it right, you don’t. Since the rest is unreliable, you get to build all that capacity twice.

  86. sod said

    The anticipated usable energy for reliable demand. DW had it right, you don’t. Since the rest is unreliable, you get to build all that capacity twice.

    which of the numbers that you mentioned above would doubling 8.7% cover?

    double capacity of 40% is (rather) close to 100% nominal or nameplate capacity.

    doubling 8.7% doesn t give any relevant number.

  87. Jeff id said

    Sod you have to build 100% – 9% or 91 percent additional capacity in coal or nuclear to make sure you cover peak demand. Since coal or nuclear run about 90% of nameplate themselves, you need to build a coal plant with the same nameplate output as your windfarm to insure that peak demand of the total is met. It’s a little more complex than 2 + 2 but not much harder than 2 * 3. Of course when the wind farm is rocking, the coal plant is idling and still costing. Double cost for everything.

    Great solution, where do I sign up.

  88. DW said

    Jeff, either you don’t understand the 8.7% or you’re being very duplicitous in continuing to use it as you are.

    And your claim that it is always uneconomic is false – as I mentioned about the City of Austin and Xcel energy customers who signed up for wind power. Coal prices rose, and then the wind was cheaper.

    Likewise for wind power in California – because the wind blows during the peak demand periods (hot summer afternoons) it is very valuable power – and the utilities are willing to pay a premium for it instead of building natural gas peaker plants. And zero backups are needed because if the wind isn’t blowing – it isn’t that hot, therefore the air conditioners aren’t working that hard, therefore the peak demand will be lower.

    Nor is it necessary to build 100% backup generation anyway. If you use that simplistic criteria that sometimes wind doesn’t blow ergo 100% backup is needed, then all forms of generation would require 100% backup under that criteria because all plants have to go down for maintenance at times. Wind is indeed more variable, but as the post above described the Stanford guy’s studies, as you increase the draw area, the variability decreases, the amount that can be regarded as reliable for baseload increases. To sum up: The amount of generating reserve required decreases as the variability declines, variability declines as the draw area increases.

    Denmark’s situation is interesting. Once they set up the tie line to Sweden, they sent excess wind power to Sweden, who reduced the flows through their hydro plants. If the wind dies down, then Sweden sells excess hydro to Denmark.

    The European SuperGrid concept takes this a step further. When implemented, all of Europe (and possibly north Africa) will be tied together so they can all utilize renewable resources and smooth out the variability. IE, if the wind ain’t blowing in Germany, because there’s a high pressure system hovering over them, then it’s probably blowing someplace else in Europe. The same concept would apply to the US. North Dakota has a tremendous wind resource, but you wouldn’t put all your turbines in one state in case a high pressure system moves in. Spread all the turbines out from the Rockies to the Ohio River, and there will always be a bunch of wind farms between a high and a low where the wind is blowing.

  89. sod said

    Sod you have to build 100% – 9% or 91 percent additional capacity in coal or nuclear to make sure you cover peak demand. Since coal or nuclear run about 90% of nameplate themselves, you need to build a coal plant with the same nameplate output as your windfarm to insure that peak demand of the total is met. It’s a little more complex than 2 + 2 but not much harder than 2 * 3. Of course when the wind farm is rocking, the coal plant is idling and still costing. Double cost for everything.

    you said:

    At even 40% nameplate, wind is a total waste – you have to build double capacity, the energy cost is much higher than nuclear or coal and the fact that you need to double up on your generation capacity is insane.

    and you did NOT say:

    At even 8.7% reliable, wind is a total waste – you have to build double capacity, the energy cost is much higher than nuclear or coal and the fact that you need to double up on your generation capacity is insane.

    you simply used the wrong number in your claim.

    ..o……………

    as DW has pointed out, using a bigger region than texas will increase the 8.7% number significantly. no double additional fossil fuel back up will be necessary.

    as i pointed out, the combination with water power allows additional wind power to be stored and lacking wind being compensated by water power. no double additional fossil fuel back up will be necessary.

  90. Jeff id said

    ” If you use that simplistic criteria that sometimes wind doesn’t blow ergo 100% backup is needed, then all forms of generation would require 100% backup under that criteria because all plants have to go down for maintenance at times.”

    Not good with math eh? Coal and nukes are down about 10 % of the time so you need 15% backup not double. Wind can be relied on for 8.7% or almost none!

    In addition, you are completely missing the hidden costs from wind which are transferred to the coal plants when you have down times that reach 90% capacity. In a hydro situation like denmark, they can throttle the plant easily, but the lower output from the hydro plant means less money for the hydro plant even though the personnel and machines are being paid for and therefore additional costs over what it would be if they weren’t idling. Hopefully they use it in billing denmark.

    Cali utilities aren’t ‘happy’ to have wind, they don’t prefer wind over coal, they are being forced to install non reliable sources of energy which help with peak demand. If it correlates somewhat, that’s nice, what about at night when the coal plants would rather be running and the wind starts blowing?

    It’s quite simple – wind is an absolutely horrible solution. The cost per turbine is bad, the variance is bad, the electricity cost is bad, the reliability is bad, the energy density is very low, and the hidden costs are placed on reliable plants — bad.

    BTW, it is very hard to be duplicitous when the data, links calculations and source are all in front of you. I used to believe like you apparently do, but the numbers don’t lie.

  91. Jeff id said

    #89 Sod, as always, you cannot understand simple points.. Sigh…

  92. curious said

    80 – Ok Sod – sorry I misunderstood, please can you tell me what “load matching” means to you? Please can you do it in simple terms I can understand with some numerical examples and if you can give me some analogies of good and bad cases too that would be good.

    88 – DW – “And zero backups are needed because if the wind isn’t blowing – it isn’t that hot,” Is this true in CA? In the UK AFAIK we generally have our hottest days when there is no wind and no cloud.

  93. sod said

    In addition, you are completely missing the hidden costs from wind which are transferred to the coal plants when you have down times that reach 90% capacity. In a hydro situation like denmark, they can throttle the plant easily, but the lower output from the hydro plant means less money for the hydro plant even though the personnel and machines are being paid for and therefore additional costs over what it would be if they weren’t idling. Hopefully they use it in billing denmark.

    sorry Jeff, but you are obviously writing about a subject that you do not understand.

    Denmark is NOT buying energy from Norwegian river power plants.

    wind is backed up by reservoir based Hydropower stations, ideally by Pumped storage plants.

    http://www.sintef.com/Projectweb/CEDREN/HYDROPEAK/Sub-projects/Pumped-storage-plants/

    they do not “idle” when the wind is on, but are pumping up water instead. (the norwegians profit from a price difference. they are not stupid and run idle plants.)

  94. Jeff id said

    #93 Sod, the variability means that someone somewhere must produce less when wind is going and must have extra capacity when wind is not. Odd how that works eh?

  95. curious said

    93 – Sorry to add to the workload Sod but please could you also do me some numbers on the pumped storage schemes you know about? They do sound relevant to this “load matching” thing.

  96. Brian H said

    Another highjack by SodOff! Yawn.

  97. John F. Pittman said

    Re: sod (Sep 17 17:40), once again you are simply lying about what Denmark is doing. I linked the information the last time you continued with this nonsense so you can’t claim ignorance. The Danes pay the most for EU electricity at the time of the study I linked for you. They did this because when the wind blew too much, they sold the electricity at a discount AND paid for any electricity their contracted partners had to sell at discount so that non-contracted power suppliers would power down their generation. Then, when it produced too little they had to buy it back at the higher rate. If they produced less than their reserves and partner’s reserves, they had to pay penalty fees to the non-contracted suppliers to produce in excess of their allocations. This is the EU, remember, the EU has already started down that ‘smart” pathway. You lose if you produce too little, you pay penalty if you produce in excess. Most of this is hidden.

    If anything, the costs Jeff and others have been touting are low ball since it does not include such items as the time cost of capital when capitalizing double capacity, but only planning on using 1X to 1.2X capacity, with the 0.0 to 0.2X differential being discounted (sold cheaper) which raises the unit direct and indirect cost overhead. Which adds another cost, the cost of servicing debt inefficiently.

    But of course you think the public’s pocket are infinitely deep so such inefficiencies don’t have to be paid, or you have another problem. The costs are real, your comments surreal.

  98. RomanM said

    I lost it when I read Sod’s statement in #89:

    as DW has pointed out, using a bigger region than texas will increase the 8.7% number significantly.

    If you have a bunch of windmills producing at 8.7% efficiency, all you have to do is just put more of them in and the overall efficiency of each of them will “increase significantly”. I presume that the wind will recognize the need and blow with increased intensity and greater regularity just because it there are more of them to turn.

    It seems that he not only lacks understanding of the numbers here, but also does not comprehend the need for a constant reliable source of electric power without enormous added duplication costs. All this so he can save the planet…

  99. John F. Pittman said

    Re: RomanM (Sep 17 19:04), Yep. Ans we haven’t gotten to design constraints such a scheme poses to (costs) design. Examples are:

  100. John F. Pittman said

    The thermal reserve cost. This is the cost of keeping the backup boiler hot. Literally. Boilers have safety directed start-ups so that they don’t blow up the surroundings. However, running a boiler inefficiently can literally cost the capital cost of another same sized unit from Boiler Efficiency Institute.

    Fuel Reserve Costs. Most tank systems are designed for supply interruption. This has added capital costs and fuel costs. The costs can be reserving the line pressure and the cubic feet for natural gas. For a nationwide system as proposed in the “smart” grid, this will NOT be minor costs for unused capacity. Of course, under-capacity means brownouts and loss of pumps, motors, and other power using/producing equipment, even computers. For distillate oils, capital costs of excess or too few tanks, and fuel degradation. Yep, nothing is for free. Store distillates too long and the BTU/unit goes down translating to an inefficiency that has to be paid for.

    There are others. Such as water, NOx, etc. And we have not even gotten to the world problem where we are paying the Chinese to make goods for us with pollution rates typically 2 to 10X worse than if made in the US. This is an environmental cost that is hidden (by IPCC or erroneously underestimated). Don’t forget that the most clean fuels, due to our environmental laws, mean the poor developing countries will automatically have more cancer, asthma, and other problems, if they can only live long enough to enjoy dying from something other than starvation, poor health care, or other host of ills.

    So, even when your wind is running at just the right amount, there are hidden costs that I have only seen discussed by engineering/accountants. Not to mention the immoral, IMO, position of trying to force the worst of both (energy) worlds on the world’s poorest, so some dilettantes can feel good about “saving” the planet.

  101. Jeff Id said

    John,

    Nice rant, and dead on. You sure we don’t have the same politics?

    Everything about that is absolutely true. If CO2 is as much of a problem as people say, the same people need to step up to the nuclear plate. We’re going nuclear anyway, whether we like it or not.

    It’s not up to us. That is where GOD put the energy.

  102. John F. Pittman said

    Jeff, perhaps you are really a liberal and just haven’t progressed enough to see that climate change is robbing us of a clean environment and economic justice for all. I do mean all, even rich people.😉

  103. curious said

    102 – “Jeff, perhaps you are really a liberal…”

    Now that’s what I call an inflammatory remark!!🙂

  104. John F. Pittman said

    Just so SOD doesn’t come back with some inane comment that water and NOx can’t be an added cost, I will continue.

    Water and NOx.

    Due to hysteresis, where you locate your back up boiler makes a difference. One option is to place it near the wind generation such that when demand comes and the wind will not blow, you have saved the redundancy of interface controls. Unfortunately, most good wind areas are not in areas of ample water. Typically the best locations are windy steppes in/near deserts and mountains where the adiabatic winds blow constant such as Mt. Mitchell in NC.http://likethedew.com/2009/04/06/changeable-weather-on-mt-mitchell/ Your water costs typically increase, even when you go to groundwater due to either drilling costs or water treatment costs.

    Another way to avoid the hysteresis is to locate the the boiler at the demand. However, you may trigger NOX and New Source Performance Standards, plus you have doubled the control cost. Another factor, take NYC where water is tunneled in from different sources. You would have to design the water treatment system for the worst possible combination of water sources. Added capital cost that debt servicing has to be paid for.

  105. cce said

    If grid operators can count on a network to provide a certain amount of power, they don’t care how “efficient” this or that turbine happens to be. The larger the network, the more reliable it is, and the more valuable the electricity it produces.

    As far as Nuclear is concerned, you would think that in the last 50 years or so, God would have lowered the price.
    http://www.thestar.com/business/article/665644

  106. kuhnkat said

    Sod, you apparently like Denmark. Here are 2 numbers from their site. 70% of their renewable energy consumption is from burning biofuels, mainly wood chips. Wind is included in their renewables. Denmark produces 20% of their TOTAL energy with wind, yet, less than 30% of their locally used renewable is wind. That is getting to be a small number Sod. The rest of it is sold at a loss. When you include the subsidies the Danes are getting a screw job that their ladies could only dream of giving their customers.

    Too bad you have learned nothing since leaving Jennifer Marohasy’s.

  107. sod said

    #93 Sod, the variability means that someone somewhere must produce less when wind is going and must have extra capacity when wind is not. Odd how that works eh?

    you still do not understand it. reservoir water power does typically not get used 24/7.

    the combination works very well. you were simply wrong, when you made your “anywhere” claim.

    If you have a bunch of windmills producing at 8.7% efficiency, all you have to do is just put more of them in and the overall efficiency of each of them will “increase significantly”. I presume that the wind will recognize the need and blow with increased intensity and greater regularity just because it there are more of them to turn.

    while one region has no wind, another one will.

    jeff, your readers don t have the most basic understanding of this subject. perhaps tehy are taking their informations from the wrong source?!?

  108. Niels A Nielsen said

    sod: “jeff, your readers don t have the most basic understanding of this subject. perhaps tehy are taking their informations from the wrong source?!?”

    Hmmm chuckle…

    sod, you write:

    “Denmark is NOT buying energy from Norwegian river power plants.

    wind is backed up by reservoir based Hydropower stations, ideally by Pumped storage plants.

    http://www.sintef.com/Projectweb/CEDREN/HYDROPEAK/Sub-projects/Pumped-storage-plants/

    they do not “idle” when the wind is on, but are pumping up water instead.”

    You link to a research site and an article that mentions that some pumped storage plants are in opereration in Norway… How does this link back up your odd claim that “Denmark is NOT buying energy from Norwegian river power plants. wind is backed up by reservoir based Hydropower stations, ideally by Pumped storage plants.” In fact I don’t know where the link between hydropower and Denmark came from.

    There are several informed comments in this thread and sods’ are not among them – as usual.
    .
    Niels A Nielsen, Denmark

  109. curious said

    108 – Niels – re: sources – my understanding of the site Sod linked to is that it is actually a current project to look into the viability and feasibility of the very issues Sod is presenting as cut and dried. See the overview kick off presentation on the rh side bar here which includes the suggested reporting dates some years hence and lists many of the known issues and challenges which hydropower grid level load balancing has yet to solve:

    http://www.sintef.com/Projectweb/CEDREN/HYDROPEAK/

    107 – Sod – I know you will already be busy beavering away on the numbers I asked you for upthread but please can I add a request for more? Can you provide some support for this statement:

    “while one region has no wind, another one will”

    A while ago I tried unsuccessfully to find an actual quantified analysis that supports this oft repeated claim. Do you have one or do you have your own numbers? The type of thing I was looking for was an actual mast measured historic data set which was back analysed for say a 10 year period to show the potential hourly area wide output and for that to be compared to the existing thermal or other generation in the same area along with a technical analysis of how the two would have been integrated. It would also be good if it were to be extended to include an EIA of environmental impacts as these are afterall the generally quoted reasons for promoting wind power. The reason I was looking for an actual field measured data set is because in a purely abstract theoretical work it is not unknown for paper expectations to turn out to be totally unrealisable. For example in the UK there was a lot of interest in promoting micro turbines on every house, even our current prime minister was amongst the early adopters. It took this real world study to finally show to those who were just repeating paper based arguments that the real world is a different proposition:

    http://www.warwickwindtrials.org.uk/

    PS: To their credit the Energy Savings Trust have just done a similar exercise with heat pumps and as a result they are seeking to extend the study:

    http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generate-your-own-energy/Heat-pump-field-trial

  110. curious said

    105 – cce – “If grid operators can count on a network to provide a certain amount of power, they don’t care how “efficient” this or that turbine happens to be. The larger the network, the more reliable it is, and the more valuable the electricity it produces.”

    I’m not sure what your point is here and how it may relate to wind power? Please can you walk us through this argument one step at a time? Please can you do so in the context of an actual operating network somewhere in the world? Thanks

  111. sod said

    i am sorry to disturb your attempts to move the goal posts to neverland.

    Jeff made a strong claim: ” I flatly disagree that wind works anywhere”

    you need to defend that claim. Denmark is an obvious counter example. just show that the costs are prohibitive. or that they suffer constant blackouts.

    Denmark is producing nearly 20% wind electricity. that is a fact.

    pumped water power is possible with existing technology.

    Jeff was simply wrong.

  112. mrpkw said

    # 111
    This may help you:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/denmark/7996606/An-ill-wind-blows-for-Denmarks-green-energy-revolution.html

    Then again, I doubt it will help you

  113. curious said

    111 – Sod – try and keep the ball on the pitch. It’s not up to me to defend Jeff’s claims, that’s his business. In the same way it is up to you to defend yours. Referencing an in progress research project which is yet to report is not the same as providing examples of resolved and quantified working technology.

    WRT: “while one region has no wind, another one will.” you might be right – just show me the numbers and how this translates into a quantified contribution to a wide area scale energy system.

  114. Jeff Id said

    It’s always fun to wake up and find out why I’m wrong again. Sod, I’ve pointed out the raw numbers, if you want to make the case that wind ‘might’ ever be cost effective. Stomping your feet and saying a country name – ain’t gonna cut it.

    Since you have recently chosen to reveal your own mathematical prowess, even going as far as challenging me to a math duel. Why don’t you start with a bit of addition and see where it takes you.

    Be sure to post your results and sources. You have a long way to go from doubling of the power installation to cost effective though.

    My guess is that your calculator will run out of batteries or your dog will eat your homework.

  115. DW said

    Jeff, i find your demand that Sod provide documentation and sources for all his numbers to be hilarious.

    You base your original post on one wind farm, some wild ass guesses and a misunderstanding of capacity factors, then stick to those claims while others try to patiently explain why you are wrong.

    And now you demand somebody else document their numbers?

    I’ve reached the conclusion that you fall into this category:

    http://blondezilla.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/farside10092.jpg?w=236&h=300

  116. Jeff Id said

    DW, nice.

    You keep claiming I misunderstood the baseload yet you keep missing the point that the calculation demonstrates how much wind we would need to maintain our current electric supply with wind. If I had misunderstood, I wouldn’t have provided the 40 percent example.

    And yes if you have more farms the number improves but you have to be pretty special to miss that 8.7% is a very very bad place to start from.

    Perhaps we can find a category for you.

    Do you happen to work for the wind power industry?

  117. DW said

    No, I don’t work for the wind industry. I own a business in the transportation field.

    What do you do for a living?

  118. Jeff Id said

    I own and run a green company that takes exactly zero subsidy from the federal government.

  119. John M said

    Well, I’ve read bits and pieces of this thread and seen the claims from Sod and others that people simply misunderstand capacity factors, etc.

    Yet wind proponents seem to ignore all the arguments regarding cost of capital. Whether you’re talking storage (battery, water, whatever), building lots and lots of excess windmills to account for those that don’t spin, or shipping excess generation hundreds or thousands of miles and then back again, someone has to reach into their pocket and pay for all that inefficiently used concrete and copper.

    With government subsidies, guess who that is?

  120. Brian H said

    Re: John M (Sep 18 16:37),
    Beyond that, dependence on a rapidly and randomly varying external input is the LAST thing you want in a power supply system. Compensating for it is pure, massive add-on cost.

  121. mrpkw said

    # 119
    For us Americans, the hard work has been done in regards to wind power. Britain, Denmark and Spain have all done the experiment for us and we can see the results !!

  122. cce said

    Curious,

    People are interested in reliable power. A single wind turbine is not reliable. Lots of turbines spread over a wide geographic area with poor wind correlation are reasonably reliable. There have been studies that show this to be true. e.g. http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/aj07_jamc.pdf

    The electricity generated by a network of turbines is therefore worth more than that generated by a single turbine or a single farm because the network can be counted on to produce a certain amount of power. Now, wind turbines are not cheap, nor are the transmission lines to connect them. However, they consume no fuel and leave no waste, and since nuclear plants cost tens of billions of dollars, the “carbon free” bar has been set extremely low (or is that high?)

  123. curious said

    cce – thanks, that looks a good paper with actual numbers in. I’ll have a proper read and get back to you with any thoughts.

  124. sod said

    Sod, I’ve pointed out the raw numbers, if you want to make the case that wind ‘might’ ever be cost effective. Stomping your feet and saying a country name – ain’t gonna cut it.

    i gave you the only number that matters. Denmark produces nearly 20% wind electricity.

    and this is not under an extreme left wing government.

    your “anywhere” claim was false.

  125. Jeff Id said

    While I can’t agree with much of what you wrote, your comment fails to address ANY of the criticisms this post revealed.

  126. kim said

    The value of the energy derived from the wind is always less than the value of the energy left in the wind, to wreak its climate regulating undisrupted. There is a class of people, readily identified, living downstream from the prevailing winds in Denmark.
    ====================

  127. DW said

    Here’s another study about how creating a network of wind farms and solar power plants throughout the west essentially eliminates the variability to the point that demand response can handle the remaining low points:

    http://www.nrel.gov/wind/systemsintegration/wwsis.html

    Here’s the Minnesota Wind Integration Study that found variability decreased significantly as you increased the draw area (in their case to only extending a little beyond Minnesota’s borders) and the cost of integrating up to 25% wind power was neglible:

    http://www.state.mn.us/mn/externalDocs/Commerce/Wind_Integration_Study_092804022437_WindIntegrationStudyFinal.pdf

    You can lead a horse to water….

  128. Jeff Id said

    DW, are you serious that your points are hidden so deeply within these two papers that only a complete review of them can demonstrate their validity or have you actually read them.

    first link — study which shows that widespread distribution can ‘help mitigate’ variability.

    As though the 8.7% number is something which needs mitigation eh. I’ve got a really good idea on how to ‘help mitigate’ the problem.

    second link — a literally 145 page document to prove the simple two pager above wrong. Nice work D.W.

    You can’t pull anything from the document yourself that you might want to highlight. It makes you happy to just link it and compare me to a horse. Well if that is all you can do, what do you want from me. Do you want me to pick a section of this massive paper and kick at it or shall I point out the sources.

  129. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: cce (Sep 19 00:18),

    …since nuclear plants cost tens of billions of dollars…

    Only if you count the cost of capital due to the delays imposed by the licensing process. When the US was still building reactors, each was a one-off design and had to undergo a complete design review which could take over a decade. The plant itself could be built in four years or less. The review process was stretched out for years by appeals and legal challenges from groups opposed to nuclear power. If we were to get serious about replacing coal with nuclear, then the design could be frozen and only reviewed once. Then the actual construction cost would be considerably less. With nuclear you trade capital up front for low fuel cost. If you’re far away from a coal source, the transportation charges make nuclear possibly cost competitive.

  130. DW said

    Jeff-

    We’ve presented three credible studies – one by people in the electrical generation industry (MN), one by academics (Stanford), and one by government (NREL). We have told you what you will learn by reading those papers.

    You provided some personal observations about one apparently low density wind farm, misused the Texas capacity factor, used some wild ass guesses and refuse to believe that spreading out the generation regionally will create a vast improvement in reducing variability.

    But you don’t seem to want to believe what we’ve told you, despite the fact that we provided studies for you to peruse. That’s your perogative.

    We’ve got studies. You’ve got the personal observations and some mistaken calculations. But you tell us to believe you because you said so.

    I’ve led you to the water. You refuse to drink. That’s willful ignorance.

    I’m not going to waste time for willfully ignorant people.

  131. Jeff Id said

    d.w.

    You call a study credible yet I bet you haven’t read it. 8.7 percent is an overwhelmingly large hurdle to overcome. If your intent is to prove something, make the point specifically. Otherwise, stop pretending to be able to make a point.

  132. cce said

    DeWitt Payne.

    If what you say is true, and I doubt that it is, the Nuclear industry needs to find a credit card with a better interest rate, or at least, a better loan shark. Because blaming the bulk a $25 billion price (in the case of the Canadian reactors) on “cost of capital” even if it takes 15 years to be built is, shall we say, not plausible. The Areva (French-built) Finnish reactors were supposed to be completed in 4 years, and that was 5 years ago, and probably won’t be finished until 2012 at twice the price.

    I suppose the cost of wind would also be cheaper if the government decided to throw regulation and lawsuits to the, um, wind. How long has Cape Wind been under development?

  133. cce said

    “In this study, benefits of interconnecting wind farms were evaluated for 19 sites, located in the midwestern United States, with annual average wind speeds at 80 m above ground, the hub height of modern wind turbines, greater than 6.9 m s1 (class 3 or greater). It was found that an average of 33% and a maximum of 47% of yearly averaged wind power from interconnected farms can be used as reliable, baseload electric
    power.”

  134. Jeff Id said

    CCE now that at least shows someone read. However, what was the minimum power. We need to provide additional generation capacity well above the average such that people can turn on their lights, dishwashers and the rest.

    And then what was the added cost.

  135. cce said

    It would be easier to read the paper.

    “‘Firm capacity’ is the fraction of installed wind capacity that is online at the same probability as that of a coal-fired power plant. On average, coal plants are free from unscheduled or scheduled maintenance for 79%–92% of the year, averaging 87.5% in the United States from 2000 to 2004 (Giebel 2000; North American Electric Reliability Council 2005). Figure 3 shows that, while the guaranteed power generated by a single wind farm for 92% of the hours of the year was 0 kW, the power guaranteed by 7 and 19 interconnected farms was 60 and 171 kW, giving firm capacities of 0.04 and 0.11, respectively. Furthermore, 19 interconnected wind farms guaranteed 222 kW of power (firm capacity of 0.15) for 87.5% of the year, the same percent of the year that an average coal plant in the United States guarantees power. Last, 19 farms guaranteed 312 kW of power for 79% of the year, 4 times the guaranteed power generated by one farm for 79% of the year.”

    Whether you are talking about a network of turbines or a coal plant, when there isn’t enough electricity, you use exsiting natural gas capacity (most of it idle) to match supply with demand.

  136. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Wow, one of the most bizarre threads I have ever read.

    If wind power was really a reasonable alternative, then utilities would flock to it. Has not happened and ain’t gonna happen. Electricity from wind farms is hugely more expensive than nuclear (or most anything else!). Not to mention unreliable, ugly, and a space hog. There is a reason the Cape Cod wind farm faced endless legal battles…. it was a dumb idea from the beginning; absent government subsidies, nobody would be so foolish as to pay for it. While I am pleased that the Kennedy family political influence has so declined that they could not block it outright (it will mar the pristine view from their beach-front compound), it was and remains a stupid idea.

  137. Jeff Id said

    Steve,

    yup. Bizarre to an extreme.

    other guy says
    “But you don’t seem to want to believe what we’ve told you”

    That is only because your numbers don’t add up. Add the numbers and I will agree. Quote studies you haven’t read ad you will get nothing from me. You can then pretend I’m not willing to listen, but nobody with a brain will be convinced.

    I really will cede to the numbers, I will make them a head post. But if those of you who will believe in wind without any numbers want to say I’m a horse, idiot, ignorant or whatever, I don’t care.

    Numbers or nothin’ boys.

    Welcome to engineering.

  138. Hang in there, Jeff.

    You are exactly right.

    Oliver K. Manuel

  139. sod said

    Numbers or nothin’ boys.

    the first link provided by DW above said:

    he study follows DOE’s 20% Wind Energy by 2030 report, which did not find any technical barriers to reaching 20% wind energy in the continental United States by 2030. This study and its partner study, the Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study, performed a more in-depth operating impact analysis to see if 20% wind energy was feasible from an operational level. In DOE/NREL’s analysis, the 20% wind energy target required 25% wind energy in the western interconnection; therefore, this study considered 20% and 30% wind energy to bracket the DOE analysis. Additionally, since solar is rapidly growing in the west, 5% solar was also considered in this study.

    http://www.nrel.gov/wind/systemsintegration/wwsis.html

    the same 20% number that i gave you from Denmark.

  140. Jeff Id said

    sod

    “did not find any technical barriers”

    Guh um,, did they find any financial ones?

  141. Layman Lurker said

    Sod, Jeff has shown us that in order for windpower to be functional it requires tremendous overcapacity whether it is wind or other forms of power. Overcapacity that must be paid for most likely with tax dollars. Maybe you think this cost is justified because of AGW. But if you think this concept has stand alone economic viability, then I think you need to show us something more substantive.

  142. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    140,

    I took a look. The report seems to me to consist mostly of holding hands and singing kumbaya around the campfire. The report is mostly fluff, but there is some interesting information, though superficial, about the technology.

    They really do not address costs, except in the most global and general way. They claim that adding 20% of current capacity via wind (instead of some other source) would cost “only” 40 billion extra investment…. but the estimate is so loaded with caveats, maybes, could be’s and should be’s, as to provide no meaningful economic analysis. They note a study (by an engineering company) that estimated ocean site investment as ~40% more expensive than land sites, due to a range issues, both technical and legal. They also point out that where wind has really “taken off” it has been because it was heavily subsidized and/or because there was forced utility grid buy-backs of wind power at preferred rates.

    With regard to technical feasibility, sod is correct, they confirm it is technically feasible to add 20% wind, with enough investment. That does not mean it would make any sense economically. Nowhere (I could find) do they talk about cents per kilowatt projected delivered cost to the customer. I do not find this surprising.

  143. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: cce (Sep 19 13:50),

    Utility companies operate entirely with borrowed money. So let’s build a nuclear power plant. The company building the plant will want a lot of money up front. There are also continuing expenses that add up. Say the interest rate was 7%, higher than now, but not unreasonable in the past. In ten years the amount you borrowed has now doubled since there is no income yet from the plant to pay it back. IIRC, this calculation is required by accounting rules even if the utility has been able to make debt service payments in the intervening years and the actual total has not increased. Now the plant is built and operating. But you can’t pay back the money overnight, you have to pay it back from the income stream from the power plant. Add another fifteen years and you’ve nearly doubled again. So if the initial investment was $5 billion, the actual cost was $16.2 billion. If it takes 12 years before the plant comes on line instead of 10, it would be &18.2 billion. That is just for the money borrowed up front. Additional expenses that require additional borrowing during the construction phase also have to be included. It’s not hard to imagine the total cost of a nominal $6 billion dollar reactor reaching $25 billion. Isn’t compound interest wonderful? At current interest rates it wouldn’t cost as much. How much longer current interest rates remain this low is also an interesting question.

  144. cce said

    Steve Fitzpatrick,

    Lest we forget, absent military spending, nuclear technology either wouldn’t exist or would be decades behind. Absent government loan guarantees or direct government lending, no one would build a nuclear plant.

    37 GW of wind power was added in 2009, a third of which (12 GW) was in China. Are the Chinese doing this to appease environmentalists? Probably not. The US added 10 GW. That’s not much in the grand scheme of things, of course, but there is little sign that it is slowing down.

    On the other hand, global nuclear generation dropped for the third year in a row.

  145. Pops said

    Go nuclear.

  146. chris y said

    Cce, #144- you say “…a third of which (12 GW) was in China. Are the Chinese doing this to appease environmentalists?”

    China doesn’t give a crap about environmentalists. China installs its own domestically-built wind turbines in China to advertise their products for export to countries that have renewable energy mandates. They approach solar PV the same way. Renewable energy installations also provide political points at the UN IPECAC meetings.

    Meanwhile, China continues to build large numbers of modern coal-fired power plants, buy up energy resources around the world, and sign multi-year coal supply agreements with other countries, to ensure a reliable source of energy for its economy.

  147. cce said

    In light of this green/UN conspiracy, I guess the US has no choice but to install domestically-built wind turbines to advertise our products for export to countries that have renewable energy mandates.

  148. chris y said

    Cce- No conspiracy, just smart business strategy.

    California ISO just released a study concluding that a 20% renewable energy portfolio (wind, solar, biomass, hydro, geothermal) is technically feasible for California. There are, however, some caveats-

    “The ISO and its study partners, including GE Energy Consulting,..”
    Doesn’t GE sell wind turbines? Just asking.

    “Green power can swing in output by several thousand megawatts in as little as 20 minutes.”
    Banally obvious.

    “Wind and solar power can offset each other’s variable output. Wind is often plentiful at night and during early mornings, when the sun is not in full force. On the other hand, solar power generates best on hot, sunny afternoons when the wind often eases up.”
    So much for wind providing perfectly timed dispatchable power to meet peak load.

    “Flexibility is important and conventional power plants are needed to provide quick “ramp up” and “ramp down” capabilities to compensate for intermittent resources.”
    Translation- We need to upgrade or replace existing fossil plants with newer fossil plants to be able to respond to crappy wind and solar power quality and remain compliant with power reliability mandates set by regulatory agencies.

    “New operational tools for ISO dispatchers are required to stay a step ahead of fluctuations in generation. Advanced weather forecasting tools, for instance, are needed to anticipate variable output.”
    Perhaps NASA GISS or the MetOffice could lend a hand here…

    ““However, the study also affirms the critical role the ISO market and the existing fleet of conventional resources will need to play in balancing the variable output of renewables.””
    We won’t be removing any fossil fuel generation capacity for the foreseeable future.

    I didn’t see discussions of added costs or who pays for all the renewable energy facilities and feed-in-tariffs, while keeping all existing/upgraded fossil facilities operating.

    http://www.pennenergy.com/index/power/display/7141553071/articles/pennenergy/power/grid/2010/09/california-iso_study.html

    Germany’s E.ON Netz uses a firm capacity factor of 8% for its wind generation fleet today, and has predicted it will FALL to 4% by 2020 as MORE wind is installed.

    Britain’s E.ON UK requires that 90% of nameplate wind have dispatchable backup. With a UN-driven proposed 50 GW of renewable generation, this will require Britain’s thermal generation base to INCREASE from 76 GW to 120 GW.

    All of this supports Jeff’s back-of-the-envelope calculation.

  149. chris y said

    Another excellent article from MasterResource today-

    http://www.masterresource.org/2010/09/15-bad-things-windpower/

    Fifteen Bad Things with Windpower–and Three Reasons Why, by John Droz Jr.
    September 20, 2010

    Some pertinent excerpts-

    “Here is the latest spiel. Since this enormous Capacity Value discrepancy is indisputable, wind energy marketeers decided to adopt the strategy that wind energy isn’t a “capacity resource” after all, but rather an “energy resource.” Surprisingly, this is actually the first contention that is actually true! But what does this mean?

    The reality is that saying “wind is an energy source” is a trivial statement, on a par with saying “wind turbines are white.” The fact is that your cat is an energy source too. So what? Lightning is an energy source. So what? Should we also connect them to the grid (after subsidies, of course)?

    Again, our modern society is based on reliable and economic electric power. Making claims that wind provides us energy is simply another in a long line of misleading assertions that are intended to fool the public, to enable politicians to justify favoring special interests, and to enrich various rent seekers.”

    “All this comes about for three basic reasons:

    1. Wind proponents are not asked to independently PROVE the merits of their claims before (or after) their product is forced on the public,

    2. There is no penalty for making specious assertions about their product’s “benefits,” so each contention is more grandiose than the last, and

    3. Promoting wind is a political agenda that is divorced from true science. True science is based on real world data — not carefully massaged computer models, which are the mainstay of anti-science agenda evangelists.”

  150. Brian H said

    Re: chris y (Sep 20 09:24),
    This all looks and smells more and more like a massive diversion of societal resources into mega-propitiation projects, like Egyptian Pyramids, intended to curry favor with the Gods of Green. Surely if enough money is wasted on silly symbols, They will be kind to us!?!?

    Or perhaps not so much …

  151. PaulM said

    I looked at DW’s “study” and it turned out to be written by two wind-power companies! Who does he think he’s fooling?

  152. sod said

    Germany’s E.ON Netz uses a firm capacity factor of 8% for its wind generation fleet today, and has predicted it will FALL to 4% by 2020 as MORE wind is installed.

    about half the people here now seem to have understood, that wind farms will produce more reliable energy, when they are spread out over a bigger region.

    i doubt that you have, because you are quoting numbers of a single supplier in a single country.

    those who have figured out the most basic facts, can educate themselves more on this (“sceptic”) source:

    http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/the-capacity-credit-of-wind-power/

    here is how you have to look at it: (and remember, all the numbers are “sceptic” choices)

    That is, each 1 GW of installed wind capacity must be treated as only 100 MW of “firm” capacity. Put another way, each 1 GW of installed wind capacity allows 100 MW of conventional (gas or coal) capacity to be removed from the grid, although that wind capacity supplies about 300 MW of power on average (because it still has a 30% capacity factor).

    the number that you want to compare things to, is the average production of 300MW, not whatever is written on the name tag. (as Jeff does)

    if 1GW gets installed, you don t add 900MW of fossil to “fill up” the 100MW reliable wind, but only 200MW. (in reality, this will be even less, and most likely you will be REMOVING fossil capacity, not adding it.)

    and those 200MW of fossil reserve will not run around the clock, so they will save fuel.

  153. John F. Pittman said

    Just a quick note, on lunch break.

    I read this last night and had a post with numbers, but wasn’t doing it in word, so I lost it.

    However, the pointsd besides ones made already is that they had about 27% at 4% of the required MW. With modelling, they had about 33% at just under 5% of the required MW. This 33% included software for forecasting that does not exist yet. Its costs were not known, its reliability assumed, its security or lack therefore and costs not addressable.

    The caveats: 1) As wind penetration goes up, say the 4% to 5% penetration, the costs go up substantially.
    2) Another assumption is that the grid that they are going into can support the variability. By this assumption, it is about how far into neighboring grids do you go for any increase of wind penetration, with the caveat as you exceed an area, you have to expand the grid area, or face those substantially increasing costs. They did not indicate the costs were necessarily linear.
    3) Another caveat is that the software (that does not exist commercailly) and variability will be as a three modelled scenario suggests. However, to do properly, one needs to look at lifetime scale modelling. Short span time frames are known to tend to underpredict variability, and in this study they point out increased variabilty increases the cost per percent penetration.

    To conclude, at 4% of the total needed wind will decrease variability and enhance power generation. As that percentage goes up of wind penetration, the cost increase substantially and are not necessarily linear. This is supported by what the Danes have found. They pay the highest for electricity at the time of the study and it is because of wind.

    So, without the particulars, it would appear Jeff and DW are adressing different aspects. SOD is just wrong, again. I do know that the Texas wind company has sought to get permits for bigger lines and a bigger receptive grid to sell to. So, I conclude both Jeff and DW are right in the particulars. Jeff is talking about real system(s). DW is talking about theoretical systems (since the report was based on wind facilities and software that do not exist yet).

    I would give the tactical victory to Jeff, since the paper admitted that not having large scale facilities such as they propose already existing, which made their paper more theoretical than desired.

    The strategic victory might be wind and DW if the percent penetration is small, and the software is realized in a secure and verifiable program.

    No one or nothing agrees with SOD. High wind percentage penetrations are costly and require a larger grid than the 25% feeds to take care of the variability at decidedly increased costs.

  154. sod said

    No one or nothing agrees with SOD.

    yeah, i will admit it. Denmark doesn t really exist. i did invent that country.

  155. John F. Pittman said

    SOD, you are wrong again. I specifically stated that Denmark exists. It is also inarguable that they apy the highest rate for electricity for the EU because of their wind penetration as a percentage. Also, they have to transfer inefficiently because of extending past their local grid. This is supported by the studies on Denmark wind generation (actual), and the reports (theoretical)linked above.

  156. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    #144,
    “global nuclear generation dropped for the third year in a row.”

    True, but mostly because of politics, not economics; older plants that are decommissioned are being mainly replaced with coal or natural gas (little green joy there I am guessing). Nuclear power plants do not rely on government funding; indeed, government controls/regulations/hoops to jump through make them enormously more expensive (as DeWitt #143 explained) than they could be (or should be, depending on your political POV). Wind may be able to make a small, economically sensible, contribution in certain locations and circumstances, but it is very expensive as a major substitute for other energy sources.

  157. chris y said

    SOD- you say “if 1GW gets installed, you don t add 900MW of fossil to “fill up” the 100MW reliable wind, but only 200MW. (in reality, this will be even less, and most likely you will be REMOVING fossil capacity, not adding it.)”

    If you need 1 GW of new generation, 100 MW of firm capacity won’t cut it. If you want to shut down a 1 GW coal plant, 100 MW of firm capacity won’t cut it. I suppose its technically feasible to build 10 GW peak capacity of wind farms to have access to 1 GW of reliable power. Economical? Not so much.

    AFAIK, not a single fossil fuel power plant has been shuttered as a result of wind energy being introduced. Even in formerly-wind-loving Denmark.

    “and those 200MW of fossil reserve will not run around the clock, so they will save fuel.”

    If those fossil reserves are ramping up and down half a dozen times a day to balance wind output, their operating efficiencies drop, costs go up, fuel may not be saved, and overall CO2 emissions may go up.
    Fuel represents about 20% of operating costs for a fossil fuel plant, but is required to generate 100% of the revenues to pay the bills. Forcing a fossil fuel plant to idle (but remain on-line) while the wind blows will result in a higher electricity price to cover the fossil plant’s operating costs.

    Texas, Colorado and Denmark have been measured, scrutinized and found to be a big disappointment when compared with the promises made by wind advocates.

  158. DW said

    Chris Y wrote: “Fuel represents about 20% of operating costs for a fossil fuel plant…”

    I believe it is a much greater percentage.

    “As of July, 2008, the average cost of coal supplied to existing coal plants in the United States was $2.09 per million BTU.[13] At 34.3% efficiency for a typical coal plant, that translates to 2.08 cents per kilowatt hour for coal.[14] Operation and maintenance is approximately 0.75 cents per kilowatt hour.[15] So total fuel and operating costs for a typical coal plant is 2.83 cents per kilowatt hour.”

    2.08/2.83 = 73.5% for fuel

    From: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Existing_U.S._Coal_Plants#Cost_of_Electricity_from_Existing_Coal_Plants

    and also see: http://www.nucleartourist.com/basics/costs.htm

    for a comparison table of nuke vs. coal at the bottom – take the first three items – I think everyone would recognize those as the operating costs – fuel is 11/16ths of the total. 11/16 = 57.9%

    And as SourceWatch points out there are also externalized costs (pollution, etc.) equivalent to 2 cents per kwh for coal plants that we as society pay, not the utility:

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Existing_U.S._Coal_Plants#External_Costs_of_Existing_Coal_Plants

    (I will concede that calculating externalized costs is difficult, and partly depends on how much you value a human life. However, coal probably has some of the highest externalized costs, then nuclear, then gas, then hydro, with wind and solar having the least externalized cost)

    Chris Y also wrote: “AFAIK, not a single fossil fuel power plant has been shuttered as a result of wind energy being introduced.”

    Certainly some new fossil fuel plants have not been built.

    And read what you want from this:

    “Xcel plans to replace the combined 229 MW of coal power with 850 MW of wind power and a 200 MW utility-scale solar power plant with storage capacity by 2015. Another key component of Xcel’s proposal, to build a 480 MW natural gas plant at the Arapahoe station, has been postponed pending approval by the Colorado PUC.”

    from: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Existing_U.S._Coal_Plants#Arapahoe_Station_and_Cameo_Station

    Steve Fitzpatrick wrote: “Nuclear power plants do not rely on government funding;…”

    There are several countries where they do, any new plants in the US will require government funding and/or loan guarantees, and all plants in the US operate under the Price-Anderson Act, in which we taxpayers act as a insurer of last resort for a major nuclear accident.

    (For those unfamiliar with Price-Anderson – the nuclear industry has a mutual aid insurance system that covers up to the first $100 billion (IIRR) in a nuclear accident. After that, it’s you and I who pay the rest. While this wasn’t used in Three Mile Island, we continue to operate nuclear power plants and any accountant would tell you we should be accruing for the potential liability in the event an accident happens. The private insurance industry is not interested in covering the nuclear industry, so without Price-Anderson the nuclear industry would not exist in the US, since, in effect, the utility would be betting the company every time they fired up a nuclear plant.)

  159. chris y said

    DW- I included the cost of capital. The 20% estimate for fuel, a part of variable costs, comes from here-

    http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2009/05/12/levelized-cost-of-new-generating-technologies/

    Variable O&M costs, including fuel, is about 24%. Capital costs are 69%.

    you say ““Xcel plans to replace the combined 229 MW of coal power with 850 MW of wind power and a 200 MW utility-scale solar power”

    Interesting that 850 MW of wind and 200 MW of solar is used to substitute for 229 MW of coal. As a generation source, this is a waste of ratepayers’ (the ones paying the bill) money. As a free source of Green marketing (remember who pays the bills for this), its a sound business decision.

    “Another key component of Xcel’s proposal, to build a 480 MW natural gas plant at the Arapahoe station,…”

    And of course they need the additional 480 MW NG plant to provide fast-responding spinning reserves for the wind and solar.

    Meanwhile there are mountains (literally) of coal in nearby Wyoming.

    What madness.

  160. DW said

    Chris Y – capital costs are typically not included in the phrase “operating costs”.

    I posted the Xcel announcement knowing that some would draw attention to that. Obviously, since they are replacing 229 MW of coal with 400 MW of gas plus the wind and solar, they are planning for some growth in demand. Like I said, read what you want into it.

  161. Jeff is right, but he understates it. Wind not only does not work anywhere, it is an unmitigated human and environmental catastrophe everywhere.

    “Germany” is not a wide enough area for Sod. “Texas” is not a wide enough area for Sod. Sod holds out Denmark as a demonstration that wind “works” — for some strange value of “works” involving huge government subsidies, dumping 80% of the expensive wind electricity to large hydro grids, the highest electricity rates in Europe, and a moratorium on further development due to public outcry — as has also happened in Germany and Spain.

    Delusional rubbish.

  162. sod said

    If you need 1 GW of new generation, 100 MW of firm capacity won’t cut it. If you want to shut down a 1 GW coal plant, 100 MW of firm capacity won’t cut it. I suppose its technically feasible to build 10 GW peak capacity of wind farms to have access to 1 GW of reliable power. Economical? Not so much.

    i think that what you wrote above shows, how Jeff is increasing the confusion with his posts.

    if you want 1 GW, you would NOT build a wind plant with 1 GW nominal power.

    you would build wind plants, that have an AVERAGE power output of 1GW. and you would then think about the backup that you might need for around 600MW.

    and that backup could actually come from overcapacity that are freed by additional alternative energy. (water power or scheduling maintenance into high wind times)

    the calculations and planning are difficult, but it isn t only about new risk. it also offers better solutions.

    a power plant that produces the same amount of power all around the clock was not god’s greatest invention ever either! (people just forget, because we got used to it over a long time)

  163. chris y said

    DW- Xcel’s announcement of closing some coal plants did not result from demonstrated performance of installed wind and solar that substitute for the coal plants. My interpretation of this announcement is that Xcel has decided to replace several coal plants with a larger NG plant, and waste a bunch of money on renewable wind and solar to help grease the skids for rate increases at the PUC. Once the NG plant is built, the wind and solar plants can be moth-balled, thereby improving grid reliability and power plant efficiencies.

  164. DW said

    Chris Y said: “Once the NG plant is built, the wind and solar plants can be moth-balled, thereby improving grid reliability and power plant efficiencies.”

    You certainly read into that what you wanted to….

    Let’s see – mothball wind and solar, which have zero fuel cost and close to zero maintenance cost, for gas fired, which has moderate fuel cost and moderate maintenance cost.

    That does not make any sense.

    Gas plants are generally designed to be turned off and on – usually they are used for small scale load following, since their fuel cost is higher than coal, but coal plants take longer to start up. Gas turbines can be fired up in less than 5 minutes, a combined cycle plant takes a bit longer, coal plants take 15-30 minutes to really get going.

    Coal is more expensive on the capital cost, but lower in fuel cost. Gas is low on capital cost, but higher on fuel, and higher overall.

  165. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: DW (Sep 21 11:29),

    mothball wind and solar, which have zero fuel cost and close to zero maintenance cost

    I’ll go along with the zero fuel cost, but maintenance cost, not so much. The pre-feasibility study for an Australian PV solar plant estimated annual O&M for a 50MW plant at $1.8-$3.1 million/year (Australian dollars). For wind, O&M was estimated to be 0.012-0.015 Euros/kWh. O&M for a coal plants in the US is $0.0075/kWh.

  166. Here is more on the irrelevance of Windpower as a “reliable” source of electric production.

    Fifteen Bad Things with Windpower–and Three Reasons Why

    http://www.masterresource.org/2010/09/15-bad-things-windpower/

  167. John M said

    Sod #161

    “a power plant that produces the same amount of power all around the clock was not god’s greatest invention ever either! (people just forget, because we got used to it over a long time)”

    Yeah, I sorta have gotten used to refrigeration, vaccines and indoor plumbing, too.

  168. slimething said

    Jeff id,
    You said you were interested in geothermal, well we just installed a 2 ton closed loop system in our home in July. Having burned wood and corn (we have woods and grow corn) for the last 15 years, I decided my back when 60 years old in 12 years was more important than “living off the land” for free. Plus they were a ball and chain; could not go on vacation in winter due to no backup heat when extreme cold hits. The old propane furnace hadn’t be started in those 15 years, so I asked neighbors and friends what their heating costs were. When I began hearing numbers like $2500, $3000 and up, I about gagged. For those with electric water heaters, it was more.

    So I had a geothermal guy come out and do an analysis. The total cost to install was $11,000, plus $1200 for the electrical work. A new high efficiency furnace with central air installed was about $4000.

    After doing the math, the estimated total cost to heat and cool our home, plus heating water (basically free during summer), is under $500 for the year. It took about 5 minutes to figure out which way to go. Our system, Water Furnace, has a COP 5 rating.

    BTW, our bill for the HOT month of August was ~$25. I don’t know about large scale operation, but geothermal is no longer a novelty in these parts of Michigan.

  169. Hi Jeff,

    Like the bank robber who robbed banks because “that’s where the money is,” I am absolutely certain that mankind will return to nuclear energy because “that’s where most of the energy is!”

    Previously, governments allowed nuclear energy to be developed before there were good plans for dealing with the radioactive waste. To avoid that pitfall again, . . .

    Since radioactive waste is, in fact, an inconvenient but useful form of energy (much like geothermal energy), I recommend that governments require utility companies using nuclear reactors to show how they will encapsulate and use the radioactive waste to generate additional energy (e.g., heat water, drive turbines, etc.).

    I object to plans to bury radioactive waste because I doubt if anyone knows how long the radioactivity would be contained, if it were hidden “out of sight.” But if radioactive waste were being used, leaks could be observed and remedied as they occur.

    Comments would be appreciated, especially from engineers like you.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  170. Jeff Id said

    Slimething,

    Cool story. How far down did they have to drill?

  171. slimething said

    Jeff Id,

    2 inch pipes come out of the furnace, Inlet and Outlet, go under the house and hand dug below the foundation (the young guys did that🙂 )They then trench down 6 ft, lay down one layer of (3) 1 in black plastic pipe (about 300 ft), back fill 1 ft, then for the return it’s 3 more pipes for a total of ~1800 ft. The furnace is linked to the hot water heater. During days of cooling mode, the cold water lines going into and out of the hot water heater are hot; that’s where the waste heat goes; free hot water. It sounds like a large refrigerator running and the house never varies more than 1 degree probably due to using a multi-stage fan that runs 24/7. We also foam insulated the crawl space and sealed the whole area tight after laying heavy plastic sheeting on the ground. The furnace vents into the crawl space so now we’ll have toasty warm floors this winter! My wife really likes that idea.

    It took about a week for the system to stabilze. The first few days the house would not go below 75 deg. I called the furnace man wondering if he put a big enough system in because it just wasn’t cooling the house (very hot mid July here). I felt pretty stupid as the reason was obvious. First, the humidity needed removing, duh, but also digging the trench and leaving the dirt soaking in the sun for those two days made the inside of the trench and dirt warm, so the system was struggling to keep up because the pipes were not exchanging the heat into the ground efficiently.

    By the end of the week however, it really came to life and we could set it for 65 and it had no problem keeping up. This winter will be the big test though whether this was a wise investment. I suspect it will meet our expectations.

    We’ve used 597 kwh since it was installed in mid July. My best estimation for cost to operate through today is about $47. Remember that includes hot water.

  172. I have done a couple of papers on wind power. You can access one of them here.
    http://ontariowindperformance.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/chapter-3-1-powering-ontario/

    It provides some insight into the effective of wind power against the scale of power usage. There is a link to a previous paper as well that resides on the Ontario Wind Concerns site.

    I do not believe that wind will ever be a reliable source of power except under specialized circumstances and siting.

  173. Prepared to provide product information related to power generation. We have many products to offer a variety of brands,Applications electric wind machines(Wind Generator),electric machines applications from the sun (solar cell generator),gas powered portable generator and accessories.We have content about power of nature (green energy) to you.

  174. Brian H said

    SPAM (# 173)

  175. Jeff Id said

    Brian,

    Actually I caught that one. I wonder if we should leave it. Every day tAV get’s about 100-150 spam emails. Most are caught by the filter, this one though got through. It has a little flair wouldn’t you say? I mean,where would you put your green ad if you had a choice?

    It seems they chose well.

  176. Brian H said

    Heh. Oh, well ….

    But Jeff, swear off apostrophes. Anyone who would apostrophize “gets” shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near them.
    ___
    If you insist on persisting, try and follow these two simple rules:
    Abbreviations of “is” or “has”;
    Singular possessive nouns.

    And NOTHING ELSE!! EVER!!

  177. Brian H said

    (The above applies to the usual suspect, ” ‘s “. ” ‘t ” is less of a problem, since it’s always an abbreviation for “not”.)

    Grammarnazi session concludes. >:|

  178. Jeff Id said

    Brian,

    I’ve made a complete mockery of the English language. I type fast, proofread little and move on. This blogging hobby/disease takes way too much time already.

  179. Brian H said

    Ve can install a chip zat will take kare of all zese zings, Jeffery … >:)

  180. GregO said

    Update to my Cape Wind link. It’s worse than we thought…

    http://www.bostonherald.com/business/general/view/20101004cape_wind_rates_will_whack_businesses_hospitals_schools_blown_away_by_costs/srvc=home&position=0

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