The answer, he’s shown, is not blowin’ in the wind

Tilting at Windmills One of the much-touted “green solutions” to the “problem” of dreaded C02 emissions caused by traditional power generation is the construction of blights on the rural landscape, known as “Wind Farms”.

Some provincial governments (e.g. British Columbia where I now live, and Ontario where I used to live), in their wisdom, are going full-tilt towards this unproven technology.

[Don Quixote image courtesy of D. Robinson]

[Please note update at end of this post -hro]

Considering the fact that the manufacture of these eye-sores is not “home-grown”, at the very least one would have expected that investment – not unlike charity – should have begun at home.

Citizens whose property is being targeted for inclusion cannot be considered to be wildly enthusiastic, as a recent article in Ontario’s Guelph Mercury demonstrated.

Due diligence was, apparently, not part of the Ontario government’s decision-making process. Perhaps MPPs were too swayed by propaganda such as this uplifting pre-Olympic Grouse Mountain grind:

One Ontario resident, D. Robinson, has conducted some due-diligence – which all politicians would be well advised to read before continuing down this costly path:

Wind Power in Ontario 2010

Wind Power in Ontario 2010 - see link below to download full paper (.pdf)

Here’s the abstract from Robinson’s paper:

Watts with the Wind – Wind Power In Ontario 2010

Much has been written about Wind Power in Ontario, but I could find no studies of actual production figures anywhere. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) figures are easily available and easily imported into a modern database – making these numbers easy to study. The original purpose of this study was to see if I could verify any of the claims I heard about Wind Power Generation. Many of these claims said that we could replace coal power in Ontario, others said it was uneconomic, others said it was unreliable.

Now rather than making statements like “wind power is unreliable”, we can state clearly how much power is produced and when it is produced. We can also clearly see the “drop-outs” when the power grid receives little or no wind power. The graphs produced within clearly show that Wind Power cannot replace Hydro, Nuclear, Coal or Gas Turbine Power. These arguments can easily be extended to solar power by analogy. Further, it becomes clear that for every Watt of Green Power of installed capacity – we must supply a corresponding Watt from traditional sources. This power must be up and running at the time the power is required – a cold start of a coal plant or a nuclear plant could take several hours. Gas fired plants start up more quickly – but they are not instantaneous. Green Power, as provided by Wind Generation, can replace nothing – it becomes an additional burden on the system and the tax-payer.

I have attempted to prepare the information for a general audience so I have assumed that no special knowledge of statistics and error analysis is available to any reader. To make the information accessible to as many people as possible, the analysis has been written and organized so that a minimal level of science and mathematical education should be sufficient. A high school graduate who studied maths and science should find that sufficient. There is nothing more sophisticated than an “average” presented in this paper.[emphasis added-hro]

Some excerpts from Robinson’s conclusions:

Were expectations met?

[…]

I conclude that the expectations were not met, or perhaps that the specifications were misunderstood, or, that someone knowingly provided inaccurate information. Perhaps all the foregoing conclusions are correct.

Can new technology improve performance?

The answer to that is, almost always: Yes. For example: If I understand the technology of the GE turbines they are likely to evolve into the technology leaders. This assessment is based on their stated ability to change rotational speed due to gearing, and the SCADA systems they are developing. But all of this is to no avail if the wind does not blow! Perhaps technical advances could give us an average 30% efficiency – except for when there is no wind.

Can new Technology give us reliable Wind Power?

No. Not unless the new technology can find a way to make the turbines rotate, and produce usable power, when there is no wind.

Is Wind Power worth the money?

No. We pay twice for every Watt of capacity. Or alternatively, we bought and paid for 1,100 MW of capacity. The design documents show that the real capacity is about half the maximum available, about 850MW, worse, we get only half the real capacity – or about ¼ to 1/3 the maximum – since the wind does not blow according to our needs. Of course we pay four times the current rate for the power – when it is available. If this was any other product would you buy it?

Can you prove that Wind Power is not worth the money?

Yes – remove the subsidies. I predict that nobody will remain in the Wind Power Supply market. If you do not wish to try that immediately, then read on to The Spanish Experience. However, you should find the numbers provided here sufficient proof – they are after all the production numbers for our own turbines, they are readily available and can be checked. There is no need for “belief” or “disbelief” you can check the data for yourself.

Is Wind Power Green Technology that will help save the planet?

I don’t believe so and the reasoning is simple, we have to provide an additional watt of conventional power for every watt of Wind Power. Where conventional means the standard supply sources: hydro, gas coal etc. Further the predicted life of the Wind Generator is 20 years. I have seen no study showing that there will be a “net gain” over the life of the turbine economically or environmentally. […]

Other People Have Succeeded With Wind Power — Why Can’t We?

Arguably the experience in Spain is the most significant and it has been referred to as a success. However, the Spanish Success Story has been an economic disaster for Spain. There have been no successful Wind Power installations, at least, if you want reliable power. If occasional, expensive, job destroying power is desired, then Wind Power and Solar Power are outstanding successes.

I encourage all to read the entire paper. Quite clearly … the answer, he’s shown, is not blowin’ in the wind!

UPDATE – 6:57 PM: A reader has drawn my attention to a related presentation, by Dr. David Lee, “What the present and previous governments and the proponents of wind power don’t want you to know about wind power” which is available here [pdf]

2 thoughts on “The answer, he’s shown, is not blowin’ in the wind

  1. Further note to my update above: Lee’s conclusions are as follows:

    1. Wind energy is only very marginally green energy—that is, that portion of the energy from wind energy factories with which the fossil-fuel, nuclear and hydro-generation plants can be synchronised without losing network balance—about 3 to 5 per cent of total energy generated for
    OPG by wind factories—will be truly green energy.

    2. No amount of wind energy will enable the shutdown of any existing power generating station in Ontario.

    3. Despite the small amount of wind energy that the network can use, the public is being forced to pay a huge price in the form of capital grants for the installation of wind energy factories. Note that I use the term “wind energy factories” rather than “wind farms”—a euphemism which belies the negative environmental effects of such enormous industrial installations. They are zoned industrial and are larger and noisier than many factories. They cause more pollution to be generated so that they can exist. [emphasis added -hro]

    4. The public is also forced to pay heavily for this dubious source of energy through huge power rate increases—11 cents per kwh compared to 6.3 cents per kWh. In other words, the public is forced to subsidise wind factories to make them profitable for developers.

    5. There will be huge maintenance costs born by OPG—and hence the public—resulting from the need to crank fossil-fuelled power plants up and down that were never designed for that type of operation.

    6. Depending on the contracts they have with the Province, wind factory operators may be paid when the energy they generate is not used—or they may not be paid for it—more subsidisation with public money! That is the European experience. Wind energy factories can only be used for 10 to 25 per cent of their theoretical capacity and supply about 3 to 5 per cent of the energy needed on the grid.

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