American Elephants


A New Economic Analysis Says Wind Power is Worse than a Mistake! by The Elephant's Child

One of the United Kingdom’s leading energy and environmental economists has warned that wind power is an extraordinarily expensive and inefficient way of reducing CO2 emissions. There is a significant risk he said, that annual CO2 emissions could be greater as a result of Britain’s flawed wind policies when compared with the option of investing inefficient and flexible gas combined cycle plants.

Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University found that

—Meeting the UK Government’s target for renewable generation in 2020 will require total wind capacity of 36 GW backed up by 13 GW of open cycle gas plants plus large complementary investments in transmission capacity at a cost of about £120 billion.

—The same electricity demand could be met from 21.5 GW of combined cycle gas plants at a cost of £13 billion — an order of magnitude cheaper than the wind version.

—Under the most favorable assumptions for wind power, the Government’s wind policy will reduce emissions of CO2 at an average cost of £270 per metric ton (at 2009 prices) which means that meeting the UK’s renewable energy target would cost a staggering £78 billion per year in 2020.

The key problems with current wind power policies are simple.  They require a huge commitment of investment resources in a technology that is not very green in the sense of saving a lot of CO2, but which is very expensive and inflexible. Unless the UK Government  scales back its commitment to wind power very substantially, it’s policy will be worse than a mistake, it will be a blunder.

The full report is here. Perhaps someone should forward it to Secretary Chu? Obama? Granted, it’s all delineated in British pounds, but the message is fairly clear.

As far as I can tell, all wind farms go in with the assumption that they will be successful and last for a long time. That does not appear to be the case. I read very recently that their expected shelf-life is only about 20 years. I have also read that you will never see a wind farm where all the turbines are actually turning. There are dreadful pictures available of abandoned wind farms. That’s a lot of metal and electronics and who knows what else to dispose of.

Do we pay attention to warnings like this? Or do we just swallow the promoters songs about capacity? Surely there is someone somewhere who wants to save money? Britain is far from alone in taking a second hard look at wind power.

The problem is government renewable energy mandates  which have locked them in on doing something stupid. The name may change, to clean energy technologies, or some other descriptor, but it’s still the same old cap-and-trade by a different name.



The Secrets of Green Energy, Exposed! by The Elephant's Child

A government-funded study from Bruce Arnold of the Congressional Budget Office, shows the negative impact of CO2-cutting policies like cap-and-trade or carbon taxes.   His recent “CBO Economic and Budget Issue Brief: How Policies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Could Affect Employment” points out that”

In particular, job losses in the industries that shrink would lower employment more than job gains in other industries would increase employment, thereby raising the overall unemployment rate.

In other words, sorry folks, there is no green stimulus.  Carbon cuts lead to net job losses.  Arnold also points out that those who keep their jobs will get reduced pay.

This is all so confusing.  President Obama and his energy people are insisting that clean green energy will transform America.  Chris Horner points out in his new book  Power Grab, that:

For example, in April 2009, Jon Wellinghoff, Obama’s appointee to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), declared that the United States had no need of new nuclear or coal baseload electricity generation, and that wind was going to be the “cheapest thing to do.”

This is the mindset of the  chairman of a regulatory body with significant decision-making authority over critical energy decisions. ” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told an audience in Atlantic City that windmills off the East Coast could generate enough electricity to replace most and possibly even all of the coal-fired power plants in the United States.”

Dr. Robert Peltier, editor in chief of Power magazine, didn’t take kindly to such sophomoric rhetoric…

“If we assume the entire eastern coastline were open to development, then there is room for 3,600 wind turbines, one row deep.  Also, if the rating of all these new turbines were the same as for Cape Wind”  — that’s the project stalled by the Kennedys and Kerrys of the world for threatening their views — “then to replace the entire nation’s installed capacity with a like amount of offshore capacity requires 334.462 wind turbines.  In other words, the entire east coast would have wind turbines…located every half-mile and 93 turbines deep (over 30 miles) out to sea.” …

“Problematically, far from being out in the dusty plains far away from most anyone, the view offshore generally belongs to rich people…who know other people like judges, lawyers, zoning chairman, and politicians.  Further, …offshore windmills cost between 2.5 and 3 times as much to build and operate as new conventional energy plants, even despite conventional plants having to pay for their fuel.”
(emphasis added)

Extrapolating that estimate to 334,462 wind turbines, Peltier wrote, produced an estimate with so many zeroes his calculator gave  him a zero overflow error.

I’m currently reading Christopher Horner’s Power Grab: How Obama’s  Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America, and recommend it, heartily.



Wind Power: Myths and Reality. by The Elephant's Child
March 14, 2010, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment | Tags: , ,

These wonderful  old windmills have always been a symbol of Holland. But these  beautiful antiques delivered “about fifteen horsepower at best, in favorable winds, about what a power lawnmower delivers these days.”

“These old-fashioned mills needed a two-man crew on a twelve-hour watch, seven days a week, because a runaway windmill first burnt its bearing, then its hardwood gears, then the entire superstructure.”

Henk Tennekes, the Netherlands’ famous engineer, former research director  of the Dutch National Weather Service and global-warming skeptic describes some of the problems of wind power.

Wind energy is an engineer’s nightmare. To begin with, the energy density of flowing air is miserably low. Therefore, you need a massive contraption to catch one megawatt at best, and a thousand of these to equal a single gas- or coal-fired power plant.

If you design them for a wind speed of 34 miles per hour, they are useless at  wind speeds below 22 mph and extremely dangerous at 44 mph, unless feathered in time. Remember, power is proportional to the cube of the wind speed

Think also a moment of the cable networks needed: not only a fine-maze distribution network at the consumer end, but also one at the generator end. And what about servicing? How do you get a repair crew to a lonely hillside? Especially when you decided to put the wind park at sea? Use helicopters — now that is green!

For  that matter, would you care to imagine what happens to rotor blades in freezing rain? Or how the efficiency of laminar-flow rotor blades decreases as bugs and dust accumulate on their leading edges?

Or what did happen in Germany more than once? German legislation gives wind  power absolute priority, so all other forms of generating electricity have to back off when the wind starts blowing. This creates dangerous, almost  uncontrollable instabilities in the high-voltage network. At those moments,  power plant operators all over Europe sweat blood, almost literally. The  synchronization of the system is also a scary job: alternating currents at 100,000 volts or more cannot be out of phase more than one degree or so, else circuit breakers pop everywhere and a brownout all over Europe starts.

Think also a moment of the cable networks needed: not only a fine-maze distribution network at the consumer end, but also one at the generator end. And what about servicing? How do you get a repair crew to a lonely hillside? Especially when you decided to put the wind park at sea? Use helicopters — now that is green!

For  that matter, would you care to imagine what happens to rotor blades in freezing rain? Or how the efficiency of laminar-flow rotor blades decreases as bugs and dust accumulate on their leading edges?

Or what did happen in Germany more than once? German legislation gives wind  power absolute priority, so all other forms of generating electricity have to back off when the wind starts blowing. This creates dangerous, almost  uncontrollable instabilities in the high-voltage network. At those moments,  power plant operators all over Europe sweat blood, almost literally. The  synchronization of the system is also a scary job: alternating currents at 100,000 volts or more cannot be out of phase more than one degree or so, else circuit breakers pop everywhere and a brownout all over Europe starts.

Wind power is a green mirage of the worst kind. It looks green to simple souls but it is a technical nightmare. Nowhere I have been, be it Holland, Denmark, Germany, France or California, have I seen wind parks where all turbines were operating properly. Typically, 20% stand idle, out of commission, broken down. Use Google Videos to find examples of wind turbine crashes, start meditating and reach your own conclusions.




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