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Turbine shortage problems


An article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal highlights a significant problem in the domestic proliferation of wind turbine installations, the relative unavailability of turbine and parts. While giving a broad and generally sympathetic overview of the international scene, the author repeats a number of grossly inaccurate wind industry claims, like the following:

In the U.S., more wind power was installed last year than in any country in the world - 2,454 megawatts, or more than the equivalent of two nuclear reactors.

Statements like these obscure the inconvenient fact that the nameplate capacity of wind turbines is not equivalent to the nameplate capacity of nuclear reactors. Due to the intermittent nature of wind, coupled with production that is often out of phase with demand, so-called wind farms only produce between 8-15% of nameplate capacity in usable energy, while nuclear reactors generate about 97% of capacity. This makes our wind-struck WSJ author's estimate off by a factor of 10, meaning that last year's large wind installation actually represents the equivalent of only about 1/5 of one nuclear reactor, hardly a large gain for the investment and landscape despoilation.

Click here to read the article, and then contact the author, Keith Johnson, to express your concerns.

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Anonymous Anonymous Says:

Master manipulators. They have a technologically substandard product that is cannot economically compete due to inefficiency, so they drum up hardship excuses (via the media) in order to get our Federal Government to cave in with even more lucrative freebies and giveways.

Notice how Iberdrola (owned by Acciona of Spain) is building Iowa windfarms, while Acciona (which owns Iberdola of Spain) is building a wind turbine factory in Iowa to supply said wind turbines to Iberdrola's projects in order to control (by ANTI-TRUST means) the windpower supply and demand market in Iowa.

It's very similar to Iberdola's (ANTI-TRUST) cornering in New York State of the windpower Generation, the windpower Transmission, and the End Point users (Energy East / NYSEG / RG&E in New York State.

 
 
Anonymous Anonymous Says:

Reply to Keith Johnson:

Hi Keith,

There were several factual errors in your article yesterday that we would like to bring to your attention.

1. You stated that the Community Energy windfarm "started churning out enough clean energy for about 6,500 homes." That is simply not true. It could only be true if the windfarm could operate continuously at nameplate capacity. In the real world of our northeast, wind turbines generate power less than 30% of the time since they need a steady wind of around 8 mph to begin to turn the blades. However they do not reach nameplate capacity until we have steady winds of 27 to 50mph. As such winds are decidedly rare here the actual output of a turbine is less than 15% of nameplate. Further compounding the problem is the fact that wind production is out of phase with electrical demand. I.e., our strongest steadiest winds are on winter nights when our electrical demands are the lowest. On hot humid summer days like today electrical demands are peaking (due to AC) but there is very little wind on such days and the windfarms are not producing a single Kw of power. Last year during the brownouts in CA their windfarms produced at less than 2% of capacity. Overall the amount of usable power produced by windfarms is probably less than 5% of capacity.

As a result of these issues, conventional power generators must be ready to immediately back up wind energy (with spinning reserve) when the wind dies, and therefore wind does not offset conventional production nor reduce emissions.

The intermittent and unpredictable production of wind turbines also wreaks havoc on the electrical grid.

Another factor that is often overlooked is that windfarms require electricity from the grid at all times to power control systems, heating and cooling, turbine operations, etc. However none of the developers will share just how much electricity is consumed so we really do not yet know if there is any net production at all. However since they do not get paid by actual net production, they really don't care.

2. You state that rising fossil fuel prices have helped to make wind more competitive. In fact our primary fossil fuel is domestic coal, and the price is quite steady. The American Wind Energy Association has perpetrated the myth that wind power will reduce our reliance on foreign oil (see attached for additional myths). It must be inconvenient for them to not know that we do not burn oil to generate electricity. We do rely on another fossil fuel, natural gas, to assist in meeting peak demands while reserving coal, hydro, and nuclear for base load. Although natural gas is more expensive than coal per Kw it is a logical choice because it can be despatched (turned on or off) very quickly. Coal and nuclear take a long time to bring on line; gas turbines can be up and running in minutes.

3. You state that Europe plans to more than triple the amount of energy from wind by 2020. That is news to us. The only country that continues to aggressively build wind is UK. According to your paper (WSJ, 2--06) Denmark, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland have or are reducing/eliminating subsidies for wind because they cannot afford to prop up a non-competitive technology.

We are part of a large informal network of concerned citizens from across the country. We have researched this topic exhaustively and concluded, somewhat reluctantly, that the entire wind energy industry is an Enronesque scam, kept alive with billions of your and my tax money in the forms of grants, subsidies, tax credits, etc.

To give you some insight into other illegal aspects of this giant fraud attached is a copy of an Antitrust Complaint filed with Department of Justice. In addition to the feds we have interest from the state AG as well as private law firms.

Should you be interested in doing a more in depth examination of wind energy we would be happy to put together a panel of experts for you to interview. We also have an extensive library of documents, reports, and independent studies that support our conclusions.

Feel free to bounce back or call with questions.

Brad and Linda Jones

 
 
Anonymous Anonymous Says:

'Wind energy in the U.S. "is like Europe was years ago," says Xavier Viteri, head of Iberdrola's renewable-energy business. "There's a lot of room for development there ...."' (Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2007, page A1)

That raises the question, Why isn't Europe like Europe was? Clearly, the momentum has slowed. Even "showcase" Denmark hasn't added new wind capacity since 2004. Doubts have arisen about the utility of wind energy on the grid. Adverse impacts (to wildlife, landscape, and human health) can no longer be denied. Instead of repeating Europe's mistakes, the U.S. and Canada ought to consider the limits of wind energy that European countries have already discovered.

There's a good reason Iberdrola and other European wind developers are moving their efforts to North America. Europe doesn't want them any more. Let's learn from that experience instead of repeating the same boondoggle.

 
 
Anonymous Anonymous Says:

It is important to remember who the Wall Street Journal ultimately writes for - and taken in that light, that article was a direct attack on the industry, an industry that is built on a house of cards.

At the moment, there is tremendous media hype surrounding alternative energy. People want to get into the act and investors are looking at where to place their money. The vast majority don't give a hoot about renewables or saving the planet. It's all about adding to the bottom line and doing it as effectively, and as profitably as possible. Putting your investor's hat on at the moment, this is what the article is telling you:

1) We have a debt-funded industry that is heavily dependent on governmental subsidies just to function - subsidies that are here today, but can be severely restricted tomorrow;

2) The manufacturing infrastructure is being squeezed by tight customer deadlines and a limited (and choosy) chain of suppliers. Translation, higher costs, longer delays on deliver, and increasing quality problems.

3) With European companies "owning" the next XXX MW of turbines coming off the assembly line, small-time operators are getting knocked out as the consolidation race continues.

4) Meanwhile, as costs go up, policymakers and bean counters will be forced to acknowledge how much more expensive their RPS programs are costing. We will not be looking at 1-2% increases on the average utility bill as they've all been promised, but more like double-digit. Ratepayers are going to scream. BTW: by ratepayers I'm talking about business owners and the poor, not your suburban "do-gooder" who forks over the big bucks to Whole Foods.

Companies like Community Energy are lucky but only a little. They managed to find an angel in Iberdrola. But Iberdrola paid a mere $40M for them. Heck, that's what it will cost to build the CEI 24MW wind factory in Lempster, NH. Quite a bargain, until Iberdrola finds out how hostile US opposition to wind projects can be.

When articles like this get written with statements that include: "In a few years' time, those new factories could help ease the current bottleneck," think about what investment folks, who are largely focused on the short term, bottom line, must think. I see it as a warning beacon. In other words, hold the money until we know better what the future holds. And, I suspect we will see more false starts as time goes on. The LIPA project is dead; so is the offshore TX plan, all due to money - i.e. the wind company could not make it attractive enough for investors.

I don't think the WSJ did big wind any favor with this article. But, of course, time will tell...
So think positive. We play a important role in this much larger picture surrounding wind development.

Lisa Linowes
Industrial Wind Action Group

 

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