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Wind turbines on Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills – How not to pursue a Green New Deal

A company out of Boulder, Colorado named Scout Clean Energy has applied for a permit to build a massive turbine wind farm in Washington State on the Horse Heaven Hills, extending from the town of Benton City, through the Tri-Cities, to the town of Finley. The wind farm will have upwards of 250 turbines that are 500 feet tall and cover about 6,500 acres (over 10 square miles).

A company out of Boulder, Colorado named Scout Clean Energy has applied for a permit to build a massive turbine wind farm in Washington State on the Horse Heaven Hills, extending from the town of Benton City, through the Tri-Cities, to the town of Finley. The wind farm will have upwards of 250 turbines that are 500 feet tall and cover about 6,500 acres (over 10 square miles).

But the Pacific Northwest is a lousy place to build wind turbines for two very good reasons. The power will not displace any fossil fuels but will only displace hydro, another renewable. And wind in this region just doesn’t produce much energy, only 30% of its total capacity.

There is a growing opposition to this project in the region, just for these reasons.

Interestingly, Scout Clean Energy has applied for Site Certification by going straight to the State authorities, circumventing the county government, knowing that the locals do not want this project and hoping that the state’s goal of 100% non-fossil fuel by 2045 will push this through against them.

The real problem is that Scout Clean Energy is building this wind farm in the wrong state.

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A company out of Boulder, Colorado named Scout Clean Energy has applied for a permit to build a massive turbine wind farm in Washington State on the Horse Heaven Hills, extending from the town of Benton City, through the Tri-Cities, to the town of Finley. The wind farm will have upwards of 250 turbines that are 500 feet tall and cover about 6,500 acres (over 10 square miles).

But the Pacific Northwest is a lousy place to build wind turbines for two very good reasons. The power will not displace any fossil fuels but will only displace hydro, another renewable. And wind in this region just doesn’t produce much energy, only 30% of its total capacity.

There is a growing opposition to this project in the region, just for these reasons.

Interestingly, Scout Clean Energy has applied for Site Certification by going straight to the State authorities, circumventing the county government, knowing that the locals do not want this project and hoping that the state’s goal of 100% non-fossil fuel by 2045 will push this through against them.

The real problem is that Scout Clean Energy is building this wind farm in the wrong state.

Tornado Alley is the optimal place for wind turbines in the United States (see figure below where average wind speeds exceed 6.5 m/s), pushing capacity factors to 50%, and has made wind the second largest generator of electricity in Kansas, South Dakota and Iowa, where they actually displace coal power.

The capacity factor is the percentage of the time a system is supplying its nameplate or installed capacity. The nameplate capacity times the capacity factor equals the actual output of the generating system.

According to the Scout Clean Energy plan, the new farm’s nameplate capacity will be 1,150 MW. Since the capacity factor for this wind farm is only 30%, the generation will actually be only 345 MW operationally. Wind turbines in this area have an average capacity factor of only 27%.

In comparison, the capacity factor for the Columbia Generating Station, our local nuclear power plant, is 98%. With a nameplate capacity of 1,207 MW, it’s producing about 1,180 MW continuously, over 3 times that of the similarly-sized proposed wind farm.

Scout Clean Energy claims that this wind farm will offset 3.5 million tons of CO2, but that’s not true either. There is little fossil fuel in Washington State, which is 70% hydro, 8% nuclear, 13% renewables (mostly wind), 5% gas and 4% coal, with the latter from a single coal plant scheduled to be retired in 2025.

This new Scout Clean Energy wind power will only displace hydro, another renewable, thus having no effect on carbon emissions, no matter where the energy ends up. We know this because it’s what happens all the time in this state. The figure below is an example of a weekly electrical load map from the Bonneville Power Administration, who is the main system operator in the Pacific Northwest.

The grid must be closely balanced between load, or power draw off the grid, and the power coming onto the grid from all energy sources, as can be seen in this BPA load graph below.

Load in this graph is in red, and the energy sources are blue (hydro), green (wind) and brown (thermal - coal, gas and nuclear). Notice that hydro is used almost exclusively to load-follow and balance the grid. When load goes down, or more energy comes onto the grid like wind, hydro drops. When load goes up or wind dies away, hydro increases.

Whenever energy from wind comes onto the grid, hydro generation is dropped or curtailed, by spilling water over the dams instead of through the turbines. This common practiced. And will continue, and even increase, if the Scout Clean Energy project goes forward.

This wind farm will have no effect on climate change or carbon emissions, will not replace fossil fuel at all, will mar the beautiful vistas of this area, provide a trivial number of temporary construction jobs, and preferentially kill raptors and migratory birds in the great Pacific Northwest Flyway zone. But it will make Olympia feel good.

And it definitely will make someone out of state a lot of money.


Source: https://www.forbes.com/site...

MAR 8 2021
https://www.windaction.org/posts/52183-wind-turbines-on-washington-s-horse-heaven-hills-how-not-to-pursue-a-green-new-deal
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