Heartlander looks at wind
Interesting article posted by Jay Lehr on the Heartlander Blog.
Dr. Lehr has pulled a post from a mentor’s writings on wind power. Short version, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Here’s a few of the choice statements in the article. You can read the rest of it on Heartland’s blog.
… Optimistically, a wind turbine will generate electricity 30 percent of the time. …
… No matter how much money we invest in wind power technology, we know the earth will give up only an average of 5 kilowatts of electricity from wind energy per acre, which amounts to fully 300 square miles of land necessary to produce the 1000 megawatts generated by a conventional coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plant. Each of these conventional power plants requires merely a few hundred acres of land. …
… Strong winds are no more conducive to wind power generation than light winds. Turbines must shut down in high winds because strong centrifugal forces would tear the blades apart. Wind turbines rely on a fleeting Goldilocks zone of winds that are not too light but not too strong to generate power. …
Lehr goes on to discuss how wind turbines are also suffering from a plethora of mechanical mishaps. They are plagued by “breakdowns and accidents,” the concrete bases suffer from the stress of constant wind pressure, and – as I have noted in previous posts – few turbines ever make it through their projected full 20+ year life cycle.
The information in Lehr’s post reminded me of my recent trip through California. As I drove past the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm east of Los Angeles, I was struck first by the fact that many of the turbines weren’t turning. They were sitting, dead, sessile, immobile, useless; producing nothing at all.
I was then struck by the clean and efficient look of the turbines on the farm. As the picture’s we took that day show, the turbines are dripping with clean, green, earth-friendly energy … or … gear oil, or something.
What’s clear is that they’re oozing with earth-friendly goodness. Or, maybe they’re flowing over with efficient, pure, and Gaia-enhancing greenergy.
Lingering for a few more moments on the concept of efficient, earth-friendly energy production, I was perhaps most surprised by one of Lehr’s closing comments on the rapid declines in production efficiency that also plague wind generation.
… wind turbines fail to deliver the amount of electricity promised. Dirt, grit, and insect residue reduce the efficiency of wind turbine blades. A one millimeter buildup of insect residue on turbine blades reduces wind power generation by as much as 25 percent.
So just as we have seen alleged problems with degradation* and serious documented quality issues in the solar industry, we can now see that there are quality, efficiency, degradation, and life expectancy issues that are hampering wind generation as well.
(* Note that NREL data Burgess cites does indicate degradation rates of 4.5% occur. However, median rates are reported to be 0.5% to 1.0% per year and average rates are 0.7 to 1.5%, depending on technology.)
Here’s a few more shots of the “green” energy production at San Gorgonio Pass for your edification.