In the Netherlands a pair of engineers, De Groot and Le Pair, have analyzed the purported emissions savings of wind energy. They follow in a long line of other engineers whose papers are posted on my Emissions Savings References Page. It was very gratifying to see how close their ideas are to my own. Both of these papers are well-written, with enough technical details and facts to back up their conclusions. The first paper, “Hidden Costs“, lays out the basic premise, while the second paper, “Fuel Consumption“, formally introduces The Turning Point, where the CO2 savings goes into negative territory. Basically this happens when the decrease in the efficiency of existing generation matches the wind production.
Hidden Cost’s Summary
Wind generated electricity requires back-up capacity of conventional power stations. This capacity is required to deliver electricity to consumers when wind supply is falling short. To have the non-wind power stations ramp up or down to compensate for the stochastic wind variations causes extra efficiency loss for such power stations. How much efficiency is lost in this way and how much extra fuel is required for this extra balancing of supply and demand is unknown. In this article we attempt to make an educated guess.
The extra fuel required for the efficiency loss must be added to the fuel required for building and installing the wind turbines and the additions to the power cable network. While these extra requirements may be too small to notice when the installed wind power is a small fraction of the total capacity, matters change when wind capacity becomes significant. Based on the German situation with 23 GW of installed wind power, we show that it becomes doubtful whether wind energy results in any fuel saving and CO2 emission reduction. What remains are the extra investments in wind energy.
The hidden fuel costs of wind generated electricity, original link – just 8 pages, a medium-speed read
The hidden fuel costs of wind generated electricity, backup link
Fuel Consumption’s Abstract
Wind turbines produce electricity which is delivered to the grid. Variations in wind velocity cause yield variations. Conventional power stations are forced to compensate these variations by adjusting their output. This has a negative effect on the efficiency of the latter stations. Using data provided by CBS, the Dutch Institute for Statistics, an estimate is made of the so called “turning point”. This is the point where the efficiency reduction of conventional power stations balances out the fuel saving of the wind turbines, and where the CO2 emission reduction turns negative as well. In the Netherlands the data for the year 2007 show this to be the case at an efficiency reduction of all power stations of about 2 %. The Dutch government uses an incorrect formula for calculating the fuel and emission saving from wind energy. On this subject parliament has been incorrectly advised by government.
In addition, fuel costs required for initial installation of wind turbines are substantial. Application of wind energy without adequate buffer and storage facilities serves no green purpose.
The impact of wind generated electricity on fossil fuel consumption, original link – 13 pages, lots of formulae
No Green Purpose, written by John Barwis, was the title of the letter to the editor that pointed me to the two articles above, and it is pretty well written as well.
No green purpose, original link
No green purpose, backup link