There are lots of unfortunate side-effects of wind turbines on the environment, including effects on the electrical grid to which they are attached. It is no secret that the wind varies over time, and that variability translates to fluctuations in the electrical generation. These fluctuations occur on different time scales. Some years are windier than others, as are seasons, days, hours, minutes and even seconds. Over longer time scales these fluctuations are important because they necessitate having a reliable backup. Over shorter time scales they effect the reliability of the grid and increase the workload on the other generators – leading to a number of researchers to posit that this additional workload ends up increasing emissions to the point where there are no net savings at all. My personal perspective hasn’t changed in the years I’ve been doing this: we don’t know what the emissions savings from wind turbines are, potentially they are negligible, so why in the world are we spending billions of dollars when we don’t even know? Continue reading Turbulent Character
Back in 2005 a study was published by a group of wind energy proponents that stated how easy and cheap it would be to integrate large amounts of wind energy into Germany’s grid. Now, in 2011, with thousands of wind turbines having been installed, how has their study panned out? Not so well, as this article points out [backup link]. Continue reading Germany’s Grid Problems
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.