Documents from Canada
In times of low wind, or during maintenance, a wind turbine will consume a small amount of power to run computers, communications, hydraulics, yaw motors, heaters and radiator fans. When a turbine is generating, its power curve (or rated output) is net of power consumption, so it does not draw power from the grid at that time. Commercial scale wind turbines produce power 70-80% of the time, with output ranging from a small amount to the full rated capacity of the turbine. A typical wind turbine will produce 100 times more power than it consumes in a given month. Its consumption and peak load are very small. A 1.8 MW turbine may have peak load of 27kW, with a resting consumption of as low as 5 kW. Wind turbines are principally suppliers of power to the system, and any consumption is purely incidental. As such, wind turbines are not typical demand customers and should not be treated as other loads.
North American wind power is expected to see a more than fourfold increase in wind power plants in operation by 2010. The US is expected to grow from just over 6,700 MW to over 28,000 MW by 2010. Starting from a lower base of nearly 450 MW in 2004, Canada's wind power base will grow even more quickly to over 6,200 MW by 2010. Editor's Note: This article highlights an optimistic view of wind energy growth largely driven by current and anticipated tax subsidies (e.g. production tax credits) and the creation of artificial markets (e.g. renewable portfolio standards). Both are the result of political polices that promote an energy source that is neither responsive to base load energy needs nor effective in reducing greenhouse gases.
This working paper is made available by the Resource and Environmental economics and Policy Analysis (REPA) Research Group at the University of Victoria. REPA working papers have not been peer reviewed and contain preliminary research findings. They shall not be cited without the expressed written consent of the author(s). Editor's Note: The authors’ conclusion regarding ‘effective capacity’, i.e. the measure of a generator’s contribution to system reliability that is tied to meeting peak loads, is that it “is difficult to generalize, as it is a highly site-specific quantity determined by the correlation between wind resource and load” and that ‘values range from 26 % to 0% of rated capacity.” This conclusion is based, in part, on a 2003 study by the California Energy Commission that estimated that three wind farm aggregates- Altamont, San Gorgonio and Tehachpi, which collectively represent 75% of California’s deployed wind capacity- had relative capacity credits of 26.0%, 23.9% and 22.0% respectively. It is noteworthy that during California’s Summer ’06 energy crunch, as has been widely publicized in the press, wind power produced at 254.6 MW (10.2% of wind’s rated capacity of 2,500MW) at the time of peak demand (on July 24th) and over the preceding seven days (July 17-23) produced at 89.4 to 113.0 MW, averaging only 99.1 MW at the time of peak demand or just 4% of rated capacity.
So, before we proclaim victory against our profligate use of fossil fuels in the last 50 years, politicians and environmental groups might ponder the huge costs in dollars and environmental damage before 20-storey windmills festoon our coastlines, our sea lanes and our beautiful Quebec hills.
The development of commercial wind power that is currently fashionable is potentially misguided, ineffective and neither environmentally nor socially benign; but it is the right of citizens of rural areas to enjoy both clean and safe energy generation and an unspoiled countryside.
As the demand for clean energy increases, wind power generating stations are being constructed across Canada.....concerns have been raised about the possible environmental impact of these turbines on birds, especially after endangered raptors were observed being injured and killed after flying into wind turbines in California.