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Windy and Dark June 18, 2013 12:31 PM | Tagged as wind power
WSJ June 18, 2013 Page A17 “The Rationale for Wind Power Won’t Fly” By Jay Lehr
A few years ago, The Biz Bucks Guy once attended a power generation industry conference. The keynote speaker was a CEO from a natural gas company. He wowed the audience with his information about a new (now well known) technology jump called fracking. For The Biz Bucks Guy, it was an awakening. Fracking is the greatest advancement in energy policy and US economics since someone discovered coal burns. But…not to be outdone…the speaker at the next session from the Washington wind lobby bad mouthed the fracking speaker. It was an ad hominem attack, not a factual debate. This bum was incensed that anyone would dare speak ill against his beloved wind-energy option. The windy lobbyist had no real argument to defuse the pertinent facts from the natural gas industry.
In the referenced WSJ article, Mr. Lehr confirms the well understood notion among the knowledgeable that wind is at best a niche player in our energy picture. Here’s a summary of Lehr’s points:
1. Wind has received some $24 million in federal subsidies and still isn’t economical.
2. Wind turbines as never replaced a conventional power plant.
3. The power density (power output per acre) is huge for wind. 1000 MW of power takes about 192,000 acres for wind, but only a few hundred acres for conventional plants. 1000 MW powers a mid-sized city of about 700,000.
4. Wind turbines run about 30% of the time, but it is impossible to predict which 30%.
5. Conventional plants must keep running on reduced power waiting for the wind gusts to calm.
6. A doubling of wind speed increases power output by a factor of eight. Someone has to balance the grid to avoid blackouts.
7. In high winds, wind turbines must be shut down to avoid destruction.
8. Reliability of wind turbines is proving less than expected.
9. Low frequency noise from wind turbines are driving people to move away from them.
10. Bird death by wind turbines exceeds a million kills per year.
Regarding these kills, the feds look the overway and don't prosecute wind turbine owners for breaking federal law on this. Other energy sources are drug into court when a single bird is harmed.
The Biz Bucks Guy suggests we stop the federal subsidies for wind and other Model-T niche players and use the money for true R&D, not forcing utilities to build more Model-T’s. Let the market find our best energy choices. With our current energy policies, we will surely wind up in a windy, dark place.
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