Categorized | Local, Opinions

A Geothermal proponent asks: “Is using the wind to generate electricity a Scam?”

On the farm there is nothing wrong with thinking in terms of wind turbines. Remote farms especially would profit by having them. They can store their power in batteries. No question about it; provided they have a reasonable wind supply which they can rely on much of the year.

When it comes to everyone else there is one important fact, to make wind power work as a primary source, we still have to have conventional electric generators, powered by something, running all the time to fill in for the drops in the wind. This makes wind impracticable for Montserrat and its small population. Can we afford to run the diesel generators all day and night to cover the drops in wind speed?

Also it has been reported that strong winds and storms create surges which blow out the transformers, power equipment, and burn up their own generators.  This will set the grid back hundreds of millions of dollars, as has already happened by wind surges in Oregon, and many times in Denmark, Germany, and other nations.  Oh yes, and one other big thing to remember… hurricanes…any time from June to December.  What will a hurricane do to these expensive towers and blades?

We are told the machines are also free to own, what about maintenance? In addition to all the free stuff, turbines have a cut-in and cut-out point, which means that just because the wind is blowing doesn’t assure us of anything. It has to be blowing at a speed capable of producing power economically, or it is shut down, automatically.

So to re-cap we need lots of batteries or another generator running all the time, lots of open land, lots of money for maintenance, money for hurricane insurance, 5 more towers to get the 1 Mega watt the one tower says it is rated to produce, ear covers to block out the noise, blind folds to hide the ugliness on the green landscape, oh yes and millions of US dollars to buy one tower.
One problem with facts and figures quoted by those with much to gain are often usage figures, not true capacity—be careful what you believe.

What True Power Capacity Means

Power is different from energy, and yet many of the so-called “experts” (most notably environmentalists) don’t know the difference, and confuse kilo watt hour (kwh) and kilo watt (kw). They use the terms “power” and “energy” interchangeably. Energy is labelled with “hours” at the end. Power is labelled just by watts. Energy represents watts expended or watts available over a period of time that is reliable and can be trusted, or used. Power is just an indication of its theoretical or idealistic capability under full load.

Wind turbines and all sources of electric power have a ratio which engineers call “Capacity Factor.” What it refers to is the time a power plant is in operation, versus the time it is off-line. Nuclear power plants have the highest CF, being in the 90% bracket. Wind turbines have one of the lowest, being 20-40%. The Capacity Factor (CF) published for wind turbines (that 20-40% you read about) does not include inspection or maintenance.

The largest practical generator turbine for Montserrat is probably the 1 to 3 Megawatt (MW) size, averaging 250 to 345 feet tall, requiring on average 40 to 60 acres per MW. To provide the 2 MWs Montserrat would require 10 (1 MW, due to CF) and 400 to 600 acres. That is, if they bought all Danish wind turbines, representing the ultimate in rotor efficiency. However, even Danish wind turbines overall have only about 20% Capacity Factor in practice when they are not breaking down.

“Wind Can Be a Fickle Resource”, from the Kansas Country Living, March, 2007

“The largest wind farm in Kansas, it features 170 giant turbines with a generating capacity of 110 megawatts. That’s enough electricity to power 33,000 homes.

The difficulty, Johnson (Executive Manager of Engineering & Energy Services with Sunflower Electric Power Corporation) said, is that potential is rarely reached.

Based on figures from 2005, 32 percent of the time the wind farm produced less than 11 megawatts, which would be 10 percent of its rated output. What’s more, 66 percent of the time it produced less than 55 megawatts, or 50 percent of its rated output.

Surprisingly, 18 percent of the time, the farm produced virtually no energy.”

“Wind generation must be backed up by an equal amount of other generation that is online but held in reserve,” Johnson said. “Transmission systems are constrained and service is often not available in a timely or cost effective manner.”

What do we do about wind power? Maybe look at what is under our feet where it is Hot-hot-hot ?

Go on-line or to the library and look up “the truth about wind turbines”

Supporting Geothermal

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On the farm there is nothing wrong with thinking in terms of wind turbines. Remote farms especially would profit by having them. They can store their power in batteries. No question about it; provided they have a reasonable wind supply which they can rely on much of the year.

When it comes to everyone else there is one important fact, to make wind power work as a primary source, we still have to have conventional electric generators, powered by something, running all the time to fill in for the drops in the wind. This makes wind impracticable for Montserrat and its small population. Can we afford to run the diesel generators all day and night to cover the drops in wind speed?

Also it has been reported that strong winds and storms create surges which blow out the transformers, power equipment, and burn up their own generators.  This will set the grid back hundreds of millions of dollars, as has already happened by wind surges in Oregon, and many times in Denmark, Germany, and other nations.  Oh yes, and one other big thing to remember… hurricanes…any time from June to December.  What will a hurricane do to these expensive towers and blades?

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We are told the machines are also free to own, what about maintenance? In addition to all the free stuff, turbines have a cut-in and cut-out point, which means that just because the wind is blowing doesn’t assure us of anything. It has to be blowing at a speed capable of producing power economically, or it is shut down, automatically.

So to re-cap we need lots of batteries or another generator running all the time, lots of open land, lots of money for maintenance, money for hurricane insurance, 5 more towers to get the 1 Mega watt the one tower says it is rated to produce, ear covers to block out the noise, blind folds to hide the ugliness on the green landscape, oh yes and millions of US dollars to buy one tower.
One problem with facts and figures quoted by those with much to gain are often usage figures, not true capacity—be careful what you believe.

What True Power Capacity Means

Power is different from energy, and yet many of the so-called “experts” (most notably environmentalists) don’t know the difference, and confuse kilo watt hour (kwh) and kilo watt (kw). They use the terms “power” and “energy” interchangeably. Energy is labelled with “hours” at the end. Power is labelled just by watts. Energy represents watts expended or watts available over a period of time that is reliable and can be trusted, or used. Power is just an indication of its theoretical or idealistic capability under full load.

Wind turbines and all sources of electric power have a ratio which engineers call “Capacity Factor.” What it refers to is the time a power plant is in operation, versus the time it is off-line. Nuclear power plants have the highest CF, being in the 90% bracket. Wind turbines have one of the lowest, being 20-40%. The Capacity Factor (CF) published for wind turbines (that 20-40% you read about) does not include inspection or maintenance.

The largest practical generator turbine for Montserrat is probably the 1 to 3 Megawatt (MW) size, averaging 250 to 345 feet tall, requiring on average 40 to 60 acres per MW. To provide the 2 MWs Montserrat would require 10 (1 MW, due to CF) and 400 to 600 acres. That is, if they bought all Danish wind turbines, representing the ultimate in rotor efficiency. However, even Danish wind turbines overall have only about 20% Capacity Factor in practice when they are not breaking down.

“Wind Can Be a Fickle Resource”, from the Kansas Country Living, March, 2007

“The largest wind farm in Kansas, it features 170 giant turbines with a generating capacity of 110 megawatts. That’s enough electricity to power 33,000 homes.

The difficulty, Johnson (Executive Manager of Engineering & Energy Services with Sunflower Electric Power Corporation) said, is that potential is rarely reached.

Based on figures from 2005, 32 percent of the time the wind farm produced less than 11 megawatts, which would be 10 percent of its rated output. What’s more, 66 percent of the time it produced less than 55 megawatts, or 50 percent of its rated output.

Surprisingly, 18 percent of the time, the farm produced virtually no energy.”

“Wind generation must be backed up by an equal amount of other generation that is online but held in reserve,” Johnson said. “Transmission systems are constrained and service is often not available in a timely or cost effective manner.”

What do we do about wind power? Maybe look at what is under our feet where it is Hot-hot-hot ?

Go on-line or to the library and look up “the truth about wind turbines”

Supporting Geothermal