Library filed under Energy Policy
SO HERE WE HAVE A SALVO FIRED in a little noted "green" civil war -- a conflict between groups whom one imagined were allies: environmentalists and the lovers of "renewable" sources of energy.
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 REPA working papers have not been peer reviewed and contain preliminary research findings.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.
Billions of dollars are being spent to stop so-called manmade global warming. Already we have been told "it is a bigger threat to manking than international terrorism", with runaway warming, rises in sea levels and increases in the number of floods, hurricanes, droughts and tropical diseases predicted. Faced with this, a pragmatic technological society might decide it would get best value for money by modernising existing inefficient coal-fired stations, building nuclear power stations and efficient transport. But instead, we have poured sources into renewables.
BBC Research & Consulting's 2005 report for the National Wind Coordinating Committee that studies 9 wind plant sitings in an effort to identify circumstances that distinguish welcomed projects from projects that were not accepted by communities.
There is an added irony here. The Danish consumer pays the highest tariffs for electricity in Europe. Much of these are hypothecated for the support of windmill owners. However, the wind power is sold on the spot market at rates that are much lower.
A surge in wind power supply has raised concerns among regional utilities that a greater dependence on natural forces may destabilize their power grids.
"These projects are very expensive and wouldn't happen without tax subsidies," he [Glenn Schleede] said. "Ordinary taxpayers are getting taken to the cleaners on this."
Environmental issues for windpower developers get the most press. But equally persistent is the question of intermittency-the fact that wind is the least predictable energy fuel for electricity production. The question is challenging on many levels for both generation and delivery.
"The global oil price rise in the 1970s prompted the Danish government to switch to imported coal for its thermal power stations and to start a wind energy programme targeted at generating 10% of electricity by 2000. The target was achieved and there are now 5500 wind turbines rated at 3000 MW—including the world’s two largest offshore wind farms at Nysted (Fig. 1) and Horns Rev— producing around 16% of national demand. This paper reports on performance data of the west Denmark power grid, to which 80% of the country’s wind power is connected. The east Denmark power grid is entirely separate but both grids are heavily interconnected to the national grids of neighbouring countries to the north and south."
"Even its supporters would probably now accept that in its early days nuclear power was oversold – the costs were underestimated (“too cheap to meter”); the practical problems (eg waste disposal) minimised; the benefits overstated; alternatives summarily dismissed; the risks ignored. The legacy of this overselling has been unhelpful – emotions are high on both sides and there is a climate of mistrust. It seems almost impossible to have a sensible debate about the place of nuclear in the energy mix, at a time when the need to look carefully at all non-CO2 emitting sources has never been greater. Have we learned from this experience? It does not always seem so. The current state of the debate about wind power presents many of the same unwelcome symptoms – exaggerated claims; confused arguments; strong emotions; neglect of the practicalities and risks. In this climate an authoritative and neutral examination of the issues would have been a helpful corrective. This is what the latest report of the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) seems to promise. The Report, entitled “Wind Power in the UK” describes itself as “a guide to the key issues” surrounding wind power development, providing information to help “considered decisions to be made”. Unfortunately, but perhaps predictably, the Report fails to do so. The Commission ends up as just another cheerleader for wind power, using the Report to argue that “wind power must be made to work” because it is a “critically important part of the overall energy mix”. In its bullish (not to say bull-headed) approach, the Commission is repeating the errors of the early advocates of nuclear: underestimating the likely costs; minimising the practical problems; overstating the benefits; and dismissing the alternatives – in a report which, at many points, shows a poor grasp of the issues."
This table shows the Danish emissions of greenhouse gases calculated in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol. In 2003 Denmark has increased the emissions by 6.2% compared to the base year (1990) and by 7.3% compared to 2002.
Will they demonstrate that remote ridgelines in the Northeast Kingdom are to be sacrificed to commercial wind development -- and that only a few souls way up north who have lost their peaceful retreat to strobe-lighted industrial monoliths will complain?
Glenn Schleede examines the financial incentives available to owners of industrial wind energy and how taxpayers and utility customers are picking up the tab.
The Scottish Wind Assessment Project is an ongoing programme of research which seeks to collate existing studies and commission new research to promote a thorough investigation of the claims made for and against the use of wind-generated energy. It is supported by private donations.
This 'informal white paper' authored by the renewable energy industry and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas addresses the impact of wind's intermittency on the need for the development of comparable capacities of reliable sources that can be called upon when the wind is not blowing. It contains a particularly interesting chart that characterizes different energy sources as 'base load', 'peak load' and 'intermittent' with their associated benefits and drawbacks. Wind is deemed 'intermittent' with the following benefits (no emissions, no fuel costs, stable cost, low operating cost) and drawbacks (not dispatchable, not responsive, transmission needs, low peak value).
Vermonters must decide if it is worth destroying their exquisite mountains for symbolism -- because the giant wind turbines being proposed for the ridgelines won't produce much power.
We cannot lose sight of Vermont's distinctive place in the world with its open spaces and gorgeous vistas. It is up to us to continue the legacy. Real jobs, real lives depend on it.
Almost 70 years ago, Vermonters decided man's hand did not need to be evident everywhere. Remember that spirit now as this state considers allowing wind turbines on ridgelines.
Everyone probably agrees with the fundamental goal of the legislation -- to protect Vermont's fragile environment by increasing the use of clean energy. But before lawmakers rush into mandates, they must ensure the measure doesn't inadvertently harm the economy or the landscape.
According to the study, a further financial and technical strong-arm effort would be required in order to be able to even input the quantity of green electricity planned by the federal government into the German electricity network by the year 2015.