American Elephants

Misconceptions About Wind: Basic Arithmetic by The Elephant's Child

Here’s the headline from an article in the Spectator, dated May 13: “Wind turbines are neither clean nor green and they provide zero global energy” with the subhead “We urgently need to stop the ecological posturing and invest in gas and nuclear.” The post is from Matt Ridley.

The Global Wind Energy Council recently released its latest report, excitedly boasting that ‘the proliferation of wind energy into the global power market continues at a furious pace, after it was revealed that more than 54 gigawatts of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market last year’.

You may have got the impression from announcements like that, and from the obligatory pictures of wind turbines in any BBC story or airport advert about energy, that wind power is making a big contribution to world energy today. You would be wrong. Its contribution is still, after decades — nay centuries — of development, trivial to the point of irrelevance.

Here’s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? None of the above: it was 0 per cent. That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.

Basic math. World energy demand has been growing about two percent a year for nearly 40 years. Between 2012 and 2014 it grew, according to International Energy agency data, just under 2,000 terawatt-hours. If all that had to be supplied by wind turbines—just that and no more—how many new turbines would have to be built? Nearly 350,000. A two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. That’s 1½ times as many as have been built in the world since governments first started subsidizing them with taxpayer money.

Wind farms typically have a density of about 50 acres per megawatt, at that density, that many turbines would need a land area larger than the entire British Isles. In 50 years, if we kept this up, we would have covered a land area the size of Russia. But there’s more, hidden pollution, rare earths, the materials required, how turbines are made. Do read the whole article.  Matt Ridley is always worth our attention.

It just turns out to be that wind and solar are essentially very costly and extremely useless pursuits. Aside from the intermittency problem, the arithmetic just doesn’t work. Lot of people  have made some big money on the subsidies though.

Sun and Wind and Rainbows and Magic Do Not Power the Planet by The Elephant's Child

A post I wrote back in 2013 is getting another round of attention, as it does now and then. I wrote about abandoned wind turbines, and the misguided notion that wind and sun are free, therefore renewable energy—and to be endlessly subsidized as our most desirable source of power. I hasten to add that I am not a scientist nor do I have any pretense of being one. I was an English major at a time and in a college where the pursuit of knowledge and the critical examination of sources were considered essential.

But I also grew up in the mountains of Idaho on 400 acres with a river running through it, and spent most of my time, winter and summer, outdoors. We had winters with 5′ of snow and winters that were fairly mild. Flood, forest fires, lightning strikes, cougar, bear, lynx and woodrats. (I’m a deadly shot on woodrats. They gather up the cotton from cottonwood trees, store it in the attic of the woodshed and then pee all over it, and have their babies there.) You don’t live outdoors for years interacting with weather, and get all panicky about a few degrees warmer or cooler.

Science is complicated. I just read about a cave discovered in Mexico, a half a mile down, so hot that scientists can only stay for a few minutes, where there are microbes trapped in crystals that could be 50,000 years old, living on minerals like iron and manganese. Lots left on Earth for us to discover yet, diseases to conquer, unknown territory, they are discovering new species every year. The world economy runs on some form of electric power, and not just for our convenience, light and heat. Transportation, manufacturing, business and government are dependent on electricity and their needs are growing constantly, so the more power we need.

People are frightened by nuclear power after the horrific catastrophe in Japan, and the nuclear accident in Russia. We have dams on most of our major rivers, and environmentalists long for free wild rivers. Power good, but dams bad. Environmentalists say that coal, oil and natural gas are all evil, and should “stay in the ground where they belong.” So it’s unsurprising that there is a fetish for energy from the wind and the sun. Surely with our advanced modern technology we can invent wind turbines and solar arrays to harness the free energy of the wind and the sun. Well, no, no we can’t. Or we can, if we’re content to live in extreme poverty.

The wind is terminally, fatally intermittent. When the wind blows, which is not most of the time, it blows in gusts and wafts or gales. What you need is a steady stream of wind and then you get “capacity,” which is what the manufactures of the turbines promise when they are extolling the virtues of wind. Never happens. In winter, when you are freezing, the wind is apt to not blow at all, and the turbines don’t turn. They have already tried most of the really windy places —Altamont Pass in California, the tip of the Hawaiian Islands, they’ve even replaced a lot of the idle turbines in my 2013 post, so now they are moving offshore. There’s a big offshore farm coming online off our East coast shortly. Offshore turbines take a lot more punishment from saltwater and weather. The life of an onshore turbine is 20 years at best, offshore is a lot less.

The sun, on the other hand, is too diffuse. For real power you need really hot sun bearing down, in a cloudless sky. How many cloudless, sunny days do you get? This is the Northwest, where we get rain all the time, and plenty of clouds. The sun also has a habit of sinking beneath the horizon at night, and even more so in the short days of winter. Elon Musk keeps promising battery arrays to take care of that, but it certainly hasn’t happened yet, and his solar farms haven’t been in the news much. Wind turbines have a nasty habit of chopping up bats and birds by the hundreds, birds of prey as well. What that does to our insect population and rodent population I don’t know, but it doesn’t bode well for malaria and Zika. and other disease.

Both of these technologies demand more and more land each year as the need for more and more energy increases, land in quantities simply unavailable.  Look for Robert Bryce’s book: Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper. It’s a clear, simple explanation of why wind and solar will remain interesting, but are not a major source of power except in the remote places where any source of power, however limited,  is a bounty.

Captured On Video — The Real Agenda of the Climate March by The Elephant's Child

It was at a news conference in Brussels in early February 2015, that Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity—but to destroy capitalism.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.

Socialists, intent on the wonders of social justice and the ‘better world’ of their dreams, never, never seem to pay any attention to the monumental failures of socialism everywhere it has been tried. The  past 25 years have witnessed the greatest reduction in global poverty  in the history of the world. An 80 % reduction in world poverty in only 36 years. Globalization, Free markets, free trade, international entrepreneurship. The free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world. This is not the first time some greenie has blurted out the truth behind their campaign to protect the world from the horrors of the carbon dioxide we exhale every time we breathe. Go figure.

As far as that goes, climate change doesn’t really matter to them, it is only another tool in their drive for control. The failures of socialism all over the world never seem to penetrate. There’s the romance of manning the barricades, as seen in Antifa and the anarchists riots and breaking windows and setting fires. I was surprised to see in a video of the rioters in either Portland or Berkeley, I forget which, the women whose masks has slipped  and exposed their gender, with the clubs they carried. Romantic. Look how many celebrate Cuban Communism with Ché t-shirts honoring a nasty killer.

Here, from the Wall Street Journal is an article about the Venezuelan experiment with socialism. “Venezuela is Starving: Once Latin America’s richest country, Venezuela can no longer feed its people, hobbled by the nationalization of farms as well as price and currency controls”

YARE, Venezuela— Jean Pierre Planchart, a year old, has the drawn face of an old man and a cry that is little more than a whimper. His ribs show through his skin. He weighs just 11 pounds.

His mother, Maria Planchart, tried to feed him what she could find combing through the trash—scraps of chicken or potato. She finally took him to a hospital in Caracas, where she prays a rice-milk concoction keeps her son alive.

Well, they just didn’t do it right. The ability to apply expert administration, administrative scientism— the continual search for perfectionism in our ability to apply scientific knowledge to tomorrow’s problems by the elite. All just steps on the way to a glorious future when they are in complete charge.
They believe.

Some Reality About Renewable Energy by The Elephant's Child

Marches for climate, marches for science. The interesting thing is that the marchers can’t be bothered with studying up on the subject, but just go by what they read on Facebook or what the celebrities have to say. They call for “renewable” energy without much idea of what renewable energy is. The most  renewable is of course hydropower, but then they object to dams in the rivers, not so much for spawning fish, but because of a romantic ideal of wild rivers.

Wind energy, they believe is renewable, because the wind is free. The wind may be free, but those huge turbines cost an arm and a leg. Not only that, but wind comes with incurable intermittency. Wind simply does not blow steadily. According to Robert Bryce’s Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper, wind energy has a power density of 1 watt per square meter.

Wind turbines have a deleterious effect on wildlife. A 2013 peer-reviewed estimate found wind turbines killing 900,000 bats and 573,000 birds each year, including 83,000 birds of prey. Over a time period when wind capacity tripled, the number of eagles killed increased twelve fold between 1997 and 2012. Eliminating that number of birds and bats would seem to mean greater health threats from insect borne disease like malaria or Zika, but I have seen no estimates for that.

The world’s wind turbines have 284 megawatts of capacity. They produced 521 terawatt hours of electricity. To keep up with electricity demand, you would have to add four times the current wind energy capacity each year. U.S. capacity in 2012 was 60,000 megawatts. Wind and solar cannot keep up with current demand—much less displace displace significant quantities of hydrocarbons.

The 60,000 megawatt capacity reduced global CO2 emissions by 2/10ths of 1 percent. To stop growth of CO2 emissions would require turbines covering a land area the size of Manhattan Island every single day.

Economist Mark Perry at AEI produced the above chart. A New York Times article “Today’s Energy Jobs Are in Solar, Not Coal,” the reporter, Nadja Popovich wrote “Last year, the solar industry employed many more Americans (373,807) than coal (160,119), while wind power topped 100,000 jobs.” Mark Perry added:

To start, despite a huge workforce of almost 400,000 solar workers (about 20 percent of electric power payrolls in 2016), that sector produced an insignificant share, less than 1 percent, of the electric power generated in the United States last year (EIA data here). And that’s a lot of solar workers: about the same as the combined number of employees working at Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Pfizer, Ford Motor Company and Procter & Gamble.

Bottom Line: The goal of America’s energy sector isn’t to create as many jobs as possible (as the NYT article would apparently have us believe) especially the politically-favored and heavily-subsidized renewable energy jobs. Rather, the economic goal is to produce as much electric power as possible at the lowest possible cost, and that means we want the fewest number of energy workers!

Here’s another good article from Master Resource—explaining why renewables cost more.

Anthony Watts reports that the NOAA Tide Gauge Data shows no coastal sea level rise acceleration. Sea level rise occurs in inches per century, not 10 and fifteen feet. If you are concerned about rising seas, you might want to read this article, If not, never mind.

Brave Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry Testifies. by The Elephant's Child

Dr. Judith Curry has had the temerity to question the reigning authorities in climate science. Here she is testifying before the Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee. This is one very brave and honest lady. Here’s an article from Reason that explains why she resigned her position as Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology.

The following videos that pop up when you finish this one vary, so I can’t point you to any specific one, but if you have time keep watching. There are some doozys there. Ted Cruz and the head of the Sierra Club, Mark Steyn and Senator Markey, and more.

Sunday Humor by The Elephant's Child

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