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Windy Energy Solutions Promise Only More Hot Air

Windy Energy Solutions Promise Only More Hot Air

(Ivan Kruk/Dreamstime)

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Monday, 10 December 2018 09:51 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Apart from the facts that wind farms produce anemic amounts of unreliable energy, and then often when it is needed least — or that the paltry and costly energy they yield depends upon higher subsidies than any other source — or that their moment-to-moment intermittence destabilizes power grids — or even that they take large tolls on endangered bird and bat populations — there are also some other problems that you are likely to have heard even less about.

Wind Turbines Have Very Short Operating Lives

A 2012 study of nearly 3,000 onshore U.K. wind turbines by professor Gordon Hughes, an economist at Edinburgh University found that most continued to generate electricity efficiently for just 12 to 15 years. His findings contradicted energy industry and government calculations of 20 to 25 year lifespans.

Hughes, a former energy adviser to the World Bank, also concluded that a wind turbine will typically generate more than twice as much electricity in its first year than when it is 15 years old. The "load factor" — the efficiency rating of a turbine based on the percentage of electricity it actually produces compared with its theoretical maximum — is reduced from 24 percent in the first 12 months of operation to just 11 percent after 15 years.

Hughes’ study of 30 offshore Danish wind farms shows an even more rapid decline with load factor reductions from 39 percent to 15 percent over only 10 years.

Similarly, whereas the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has previously estimated the lifespan of U.S. wind turbines to be about 20 to 25 years, a report released in 2017 said that Iowa wind turbines are reaching the end of their lives even faster.

Wood Mackenzie Business reports that the limited lifespan of wind energy will require the State of Minnesota to spend $7 billion to repower existing systems by 2022 in addition to the $15 billion it invested merely 14 years earlier. This in spite of the fact that the state’s energy consumption has been essentially flat since 2006.

Wind Energy Requires Enormous Land Areas

Both the environmental and economic costs to build and maintain enough turbines to make a truly significant national energy contribution will be colossal.

Two recent papers published in the journals Environmental Research Letters and Joule by Harvard University researchers David Keith and Gordon McKay concluded that transitioning from wind or solar in the U.S. will require five to 20 times more land than conventionally thought.

Keith and postdoctoral fellow Lee Miller had previously calculated the power density of 411 wind farms and 1,150 solar photovoltaic plants operating in the U.S. during 2016.

As Miller reported, "For wind, we found the average power density — meaning the rate of energy generation divided by the encompassing area of the wind plant — was up to 100 times lower than estimates by some leading experts."

Miller explained that since each turbine creates a "wind shadow" behind it where air slowed down by its blades, "once the wind farms are more than five to 10 kilometers deep, these interactions have a major impact on power density."

Wind farms also impose large land and economic costs necessary to transfer power from remote wind-rich areas to high-demand metropolitan population centers.

During 2013 alone, adding over 3,600 miles of right-of-way and lines to remote wind farms cost Texas taxpayers $7 billon.

Wind Farms Add Warming Affects They’re Marketed to Reduce

As summarized in The Harvard Gazette, Science and Technology publication, "given expectations that wind farms will continue to expand as demand for wind-derived electricity increases, interactions and associated climatic impacts cannot be avoided."

Referencing the Keith/McKay studies, adding lots more wind turbines will actually warm the planet by actively mixing the atmosphere near the ground and aloft while simultaneously extracting from the atmosphere’s motion.

This research confirms results of more than 10 other studies, including satellite-based records that have observed warming near operational U.S. wind farms.

The Harvard researchers found that the warming effect of wind turbines in the continental U.S. was actually larger than the effect of reduced emissions for the first century of their operations. This should hardly be surprising given the reality that coal-fired or natural gas emission-producing backup "spinning reserve" power plants must be kept online when there’s no wind — requiring two plants of equal capacity to do the job of one.

According to a modeling study by two professors at Carnegie Mellon University, the amount of wind power emission reductions offset by baseload cycling ranges between 20 percent and 50 percent.

The end result is what might be termed a "scraud," a subsidy scam attached to an alarmist fraud. Even if a carbon-caused climate emergency actually existed — and there is no credible scientific basis warranting any alarm — windy energy solutions merely promise more hot air.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of several books, including "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful” (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), and "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles."Click Here Now.

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LarryBell
Windy energy solutions merely promise more hot air. Wind farms impose large land and economic costs. During 2013 alone, adding over 3,600 miles of right-of-way and lines to remote wind farms cost Texas taxpayers $7 billon.
gordon hughes, keith, mckay, spinning, reserve, world bank
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2018-51-10
Monday, 10 December 2018 09:51 AM
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