Everyone concedes that the output from wind generators is highly volatile – being the cube of the wind speed and all. Proponents try to minimize the effects of that variability by either inventing storage technology that doesn’t exist or by claiming the “wind always blows somewhere” and by building a “super grid” we can move the energy from wherever it is being generated to wherever it is being used. Their ideas on geographical spread seem intuitively correct, but nature usually reserves her greatest punishments for those who think they can intuit her rules without looking at reality. As always, let’s look at the actual numbers. Continue reading The Last Word on Geographical Spread?
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
Donald Jones, P.E., has written periodically on different aspects of the Ontario grid. This latest effort analyzed the recently-released Long Term Energy Plan and finds that there isn’t enough operating reserve to accommodate all the wind energy that the plan envisions. I’ve written similar analyses myself, but Donald does a better job of it than I do.
In an earlier post, Emissions Savings Details, down in the “And Worser” section, I mentioned that between the not-entirely-dispatchable CHP plants and the entirely-not-dispatchable wind projects, Ontario has so much surplus generation at night that they end up paying other people to take it off their hands. This is called Surplus Baseload Generation, and as the number of CHP and wind generators continues to grow in Ontario’s attempt to shut down its last coal generators, it is becoming more common. Ontario’s IESO, the grid operator, now publishes a daily report that forecasts how big these surpluses will be. Take a look at a recent report – these numbers are BIG, and they seem to occur almost every night, at least during low-usage times of the year. Continue reading Surplus Baseload Generation
One of the problems with wind power is that the output from all the projects within an area tend to produce power at the same time. Proponents claim that if you make the area big enough, and interconnected enough with transmission lines big enough the “wind always blows somewhere”. But how big is big enough? We know that a diameter of 250 miles is not big enough, as evidenced by the variability of the output from all of the projects within both the Ontario and Bonneville areas, as shown below. What is also left out of this discussion is the environmental and financial costs of those lines – which must be sized to handle the capacity of all the connectible wind projects, but which on average will carry only 25% or so of that capacity.