Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Wind Doesn't Answer

Liberal New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wishes America were more like China. Was he reading China's business/financial Caijing Magazine, specifically this story from last fall?:
According to [the Inner Mongolia Electric Power Industry Association] EPIA, Inner Mongolia's installed wind power capacity approaches 3.5 gigawatts, and currently nearly one-third of that is sitting idle. The remaining two-thirds capacity is supplied by turbines that run erratically, shutting off and on according to demand.

"Wind power is too concentrated" in certain regions of China including Inner Mongolia, Ma said. "When there is wind, wind power plants need to generate electricity. But power grids get overwhelmed."

And that wastes money. Nationwide, some 5 million gigawatts of wind power generating capacity never made it to the grid during the first half of 2009. Since wind farm construction costs some 10,000 yuan per kilowatt, the total idle investment is worth about 50 billion yuan [=$7.3 billion].

"The winter wind blows hard, but things aren't easy for wind power," Ma told Caijing.

Outside Inner Mongolia, wind power capacity is unevenly spread across sections of Gansu Province in the northwest, Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces in the northeast, and coastal areas such as Jiangsu Province.

With the exception of Jiangsu wind farms, most of the nation's wind energy operators concentrate power generation at a grid terminus or in areas with high concentrations of thermal plant capacity. And factors such as local market demand, power grid links, wind farm expansions and capacity peaks contribute to the fact that equivalent full load hours (EFLH) are relatively rare for wind farms.
Unsurprisingly, the shortcomings of Chinese windmills are equaled in America (and everywhere else).

(via reader OBH via Business Insider, MaxedOutMama)


Thai said...


I am not sure enough about the technicals of this kind of thing to intelligently comment but it is clear that smart minds people are working on the problem.

OBloodyHell said...

> I am not sure enough about the technicals of this kind of thing to intelligently comment but it is clear that smart minds people are working on the problem.

Yes, the "smart minds people" have also been working seriously on the problem of fusion for between 40 and 50 years now. They still haven't managed to make it to breakeven*, much less get something even vaguely commercially reliable on any scale.

What else have the "smart minds" people been working on? Cancer, The Common Cold... While they've made some individual inroads into cancer, they haven't made much progress into the Common Cold at all.

Wind power is a ludicrous idea, because it's based on a form of energy which is highly variable and poorly concentrated -- its level of dispersion requires a large, widely disparate set of "collectors" (i.e., turbines in all current schema) which create a nightmare for usage and application.

“Wind power Is No Solution To Anything”

Why Alternative Power Is and Will Remain Useless

More general on wind power:

The "smart minds people" can't overcome the laws of physics with sleight of hand. Throwing more minds at Wind Power is as stupid as I've already demonstrated regarding solar.

It ain't gonna work. EVER.

* The Lawson Criterion, which is where you get more energy back out of it, even for a brief instance, than you're putting in...

OBloodyHell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thai said...

I am not sure why I want to give you this freebie but it did bring a chuckle and I thought you might too.

Carl said...

Thai: I love it! Made my day--thanks.

OBloodyHell said...

> Thai: I love it! Made my day--thanks.

Without reading the paper in question, I find it exceedingly difficult to believe that the amount of energy taken from the wind by turbines adds up to anything even vaguely relevant to Global or even Regional Climate.

It's dispersed across too large an area, and represents too small a percentage of the total energy in wind.

That's not inconsistent with the argument that wind power sucks, it's fully consistent with it, in fact.

As a power source it's just too spread out, too dispersed (more critically too randomly dispersed) to effectively collect using point-source mechanisms like turbines.

The argument isn't that there isn't a lot of energy stored up globally in wind, there's a huge amount -- just consider any hurricane -- it's that the energy differential (which is basically how ALL electricity gets generated using current technologies), is too small to use consistently, cost-effectively, and reliably by any existing known techniques.