wind generation


John Droz Jr. has posted a couple of brilliant little videos on MasterResource highlighting some very pertinent questions about the efficacy of wind as a source of energy.

Part 1: Dick & Jane Talk Wind Power

I found the rejoinder “compared to what?” a very effective method of countering the green mumbo jumbo that is often spouted by wind supporters. Though well meaning, they seem completely oblivious to the fact that their simplistic arguments in favour of wind do not hold up to scrutiny. Nor do they recognize that they are mindlessly repeating the talking points of self-interested green promoters. In this, Big Wind is little different from Big Oil.

Part 2: Jane Speaks With Her Town Representative

In this video, I like the way Jane turns the tables on wind developers. It should not be up to the citizen to prove the shortcomings of a particular wind project, but for the developers to prove its benefits. Of course, in the absence of any objective scientific study on the costs and benefits of wind power, the wind industry is understandably loath to go down this path. But that should not stop citizens from demanding it.

asks Christina Blizzard.

The wisest plan is to push ahead with a big honkin’ nuclear plant. They don’t spew fumes. But good luck convincing the eco warriors that nukes are green.

Now gas-fired plants are on the do-not-build list.

That leaves us with windmills, solar and a couple of hamsters running around on a treadmill to keep the lights on.

Is it any wonder, electricity prices are going up?

Long held up as the green-energy model by environmentalists, Denmark has announced it will be abandoning the development of onshore wind farms in the future.

“I think there’s an outbreak of realism,” says Constable. “Wind is not a bad technology. It’s just a lot more limited than people thought in the past.” Denmark, of course, was also the place where UN efforts to reach an overarching climate deal collapsed in acrimony last year. The country appears to be developing a habit of puncturing greens’ wilder hopes.

 Marc Gunther notes the obvious in the September issue of Wired:

Wind farms rely on big tax breaks to be competitive, and right now that money is being wasted. When more people catch wind of that fact, this promising form of alt energy could be labeled a boondoggle for farm states, as corn ethanol has been.

All too true. Yet his proposed solution comes right out of Dalton McGuinty’s playbook:

To make wind power work, then, the government needs to do more than just subsidize turbines. We need to give the federal government more power to overrule local objections and buy rights of way to get high-capacity transmission lines built across several states—say, from the Dakotas to the big cities of the Midwest. That’s how the interstate highway system and natural gas pipelines got built.

Scary.

Canada Free Press has an informative article on wind capacity. It concludes:

The term “Generating Capacity” as used by the wind power proponents is grossly misleading as it would require steady, uninterrupted storm to hurricane force winds to be achieved on a sustained basis.

The variability of wind creates technical problems which make wind power generated electricity both unreliable and costly.

Electricity generation from wind requires full backup by conventional power generating facilities. That creates additional costs attributable to wind power.

Wind power generated electricity is neither free, nor economical, nor a reliable energy source.

Martin LaMonica of CNET provides an interesting, behind-the-scenes view of some of the current challenges in operating the electricity grid.

More data means that grid operators have a far better idea of whether problems may be brewing, rather than finding out only a few moments before impact. Going forward, better system awareness paves the way for more wind and solar power, said Chadalavada.

“If we have these perturbations because of the intermittent nature of renewables, we would like to know about it ASAP and not have to wait even four or eight seconds because that’s a whole dispatch cycle for us,” he said. “Instantaneous rebalancing is much better done with these sensors.”

If, for example, the wind kicks up more than expected, the energy dispatch system could tell a power producer to scale back. Or if the wind dies down, operators could dispatch energy storage. Right now, managing wind is not a big difficulty because it’s such a small portion of the total mix. Although it’s not sure to be built, 3,000 megawatts’ worth of wind power is projected to be added to the New England grid in the next three years, which would be about 10 percent of the total capacity.

With an ambitious 1.5 GW of wind on the drawing board and more to come, Ontario will face similar challenges integrating new sources of renewable energy into its electricity grid.

Blogging has definitely been light as of late. It must have something to do with global warming. It’s been so damn hot lately.

Along these lines, Best of the Web posted this juxtaposition today:

Two Newsmagazines in One!

• “Ultimately, however, it’s a mistake to use any one storm–or even a season’s worth of storms–to disprove climate change (or to prove it; some environmentalists have wrongly tied the lack of snow in Vancouver, the site of the Winter Olympic Games, which begin this week, to global warming). Weather is what will happen next weekend; climate is what will happen over the next decades and centuries.”–Time.com, Feb. 10

• “As the worst heat wave on record spawns wildfires that are destroying entire villages, Russian officials have made what for them is a startling admission: global warming is very real. . . . There may turn out to be a bright side to Russia’s devastating weather: one of the nations most responsible for driving climate change may finally start trying to do something about it.”–Time.com, Aug. 3

And a few more links:

Expert: Win climate change debate by easing off science

“Climate scientists — stop talking about climate science. We lost. It’s over. Forget it,” Foley told a surprised audience during a featured panel discussion on the last day of the three-day forum.

Is Environmentalism a Luxury Good?

Add environmentalism to the long list of things the Great Recession may have successfully pulverized.

Keep your experimental windmills away from school buses

Recognizing the turbine was spinning dangerously fast, nearby workers attempted in vain to shut it down.

More than 400 feet of blades came loose, flying into nearby fields and narrowly missing a number of parked school buses on a neighbouring storage lot.

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