Friday, August 12, 2011
Less Than Useless
The giant wind turbines that chop up birds and kill bats and look bad and make a very annoying noise and provide very small amounts of intermittent power usually at the wrong time at a very large price, and which don't last much more than 20 years without burning up, breaking down or falling down, are proving to be worse than useless in the real world. Sane people in Denmark, Germany and Spain have come to the conclusion that it has all been a waste to build these things. Perhaps we will eventually come to that conclusion in the United States. I was of that opinion long ago. Here's what's got me hot under the collar lately, a very vexing column by Robert Bryce over at NRO.
Texas has the most wind generators of any state with a rated power of over 10,000 megawatts. It gets hot in Texas in the summer (40 days recently of temperatures over 100) and a lot of people use a lot of air conditioning. On August 2, the demand for electrical power down there almost hit 68,000 megawatts. What do you think the contribution into the peak demand grid of the giant wind generators was? I won't make you wait long. 1500 megawatts. That's all. A trifle less than 15% of the rated power. And you know why? Because the wind doesn't blow very hard when it's hot, as any competent meteorologist could tell you. (I guess you do need a weatherman to know how hard the wind blows).
The price tag for the 10K megs of wind power was an astonishing $17 Billion with another $8 Bil for transmission lines. So what could the $25 Billion have bought in the way of reliable, economically viable, power generators? Let's back up a second. We know that the midwest has a lot of wind and Texas at the south end is no exception. Know what else Texas has a lot of? Natural gas. With advanced technologies like horizontal drilling and fracking, they are awash in the cleanest fossil fuel. $25 Billion would have bought 25,000 megawatts of natural gas produced, when you need it, every time you turn on the switch reliable, and cheap, power. That's about 40% of Texas's current peak electricity needs.
There's another side to this story. The EPA is appearing to be doing everything it can to punish Texas for its singular success in creating jobs lately. It is seeking to shut down some old coal fired plants which were all that prevented rolling blackouts these past weeks. (I won't even mention that the feds are seeking to shut down oil and gas drilling there based on a questionable call about habitat fragmentation of a common lizard--that would signal paranoia). If the money for additional energy hadn't been squandered on the unreliable, giant bird choppers, they could have closed those plants easily and cleared the sky ever more completely of harmful emissions of sulfur compounds. They went with eyesore bat killers instead.
The really harmful thing is that 30 other states (including DC, of course) have "clean alternative" energy production mandates in place. Time for the Republicans to stop wasting this money on the No Energy Economy and promote real energy independence with kerogen, oil and gas below our feet here in the United States.
Money quote from Mr. Bryce:
The main motive for installing all those turbines is that they are supposed to help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, which, in turn, is supposed to help prevent global temperature increases. But it’s already hot — really hot — in Texas and other parts of the southern United States. And that leads to an obvious question: If the global-warming catastrophists are right, and it’s going to get even hotter, then why the heck are we putting up wind turbines that barely work when it’s hot?