Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wind power: plus ca change

Some common sense observations about wind power's potential in the UK from The Times: it deserves attention as fossil fuels diminish, it has low capital costs, it's plentiful, it's intermittent and there are challenges with power storage, but this is only a problem if it's intended as baseload supply.
In view of our diminishing returns of coal and petroleum, the utilization of wind-power deserves careful attention. The available water power in this country is very limited, and the development of it generally requires so great a capital outlay that the standing charges more than equal the cost of the coal required to produce the same results by means of gas or steam...

Wind-power, on the other hand, is almost unlimited, and the capital outlay for its development compares favourably with that required for gas or steam. The intermittent and varying results obtained from wind-mills, however, confine their usefulness to industries in which the storage of power can be simply effected, and this feature is always met with in some form or other...

It is only when windmills become are used for providing a constant supply of electric current that storage becomes costly and troublesome, and conditions must be favourable to enable wind to compete successfully with other sources of power in this case.

The punchline? It was written 100 years ago - 1909.

1 comment:

Maryann U said...

You state that wind "has low capital costs, it's plentiful, it's intermittent and there are challenges with power storage, but this is only a problem if it's intended as baseload supply"

Wind must be mandated by governments and subsidised, otherwise it would not be built. Wind power is high cost for low value energy - low value because it cannot be controlled and called up on demand. It requires high cost upgrading to the grid in remote areas and requires costly systems to maintain power and frequency stability on the grid

Energy storage, at the scale required to make wind power a reliable source of dispatchable power, is uneconomic. In addition, costs usually overlooked include full investment and ongoing repair costs.

Wind power is intermittent, as you stated. Electricity is generated only when the wind blows. The demand for wind energy is rarely highest at the times wind is strongest, hence other energy sources must be at the ready as a back up. Older fossil fuel plants need to be replaced to support wind - another large expense - needing more subsidies.

Wind turbines wear out and need to be rebuilt every 8 - 10 years. The costs for rebuilding and for the removal of old turbines are hefty.

Wind farm installations may negatively affect the landowner's credit. In a recent New York case, lenders to a wind company in default did go back to the landowners for additional collateral, which compromised the landowner's credit.

With the increasing evidence of negative findings regarding the impact on the health of those living near wind turbine installations, home values have plummeted and some residents have been forced to walk away from homes in which they can't live - and which they can't sell.

You and the rest of earth's citizens want clean,"green" energy. Wind power is not the answer, at least this point. It's is, however, the poster child for the wind industry and politicians who have jumped on the bandwagon of what they hope is a good political move. It may prove to be a Trojan horse.