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Wind Power Exposed: The Renewable Energy Source is Expensive

Nov 26, 2008 12:38AM PST
Wind Power Exposed: The Renewable Energy Source is Expensive, Unreliable and Won?t Save Natural Gas.

?This is not what President-elect Barack Obama's energy and climate strategists would want to hear. It would be anathema to Al Gore and other assorted luminaries touting renewable energy sources which in one giant swoop will save the world from the ?tyranny? of fossil fuels and mitigate global warming. And as if these were not big enough issues, oilman T. Boone Pickens? grandiose plan for wind farms from Texas to Canada is supposed to bring about a replacement for the natural gas now used for power generation. That move will then lead to energy independence from foreign oil.?

?Oswald's report highlights the key issue of load factor, the actual power generated compared to the theoretical maximum, and how critical it is to the viability of the wind power industry. In 2006, according to U.K. government statistics, the average load factor for wind turbines across the U.K. was 27.4 percent. Thus a typical 2 megawatt turbine actually produced only 0.54 MW of power on an average day. The worst performing U.K. turbine had a load factor of just 7 percent. These figures reflect a poor return on investment. But this poor return is often obscured by the subsidy system that allows turbine operators and supporters to claim they can make a profit even when turbines operate at a very low load factors. So what?s the bottom line? British consumers are paying twice over for their electricity, funding its means of production and paying for its use as end users. ?

Wind power, it blows

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As usual, there's no free lunch.
Nov 26, 2008 4:44AM PST

And there are good reasons why hydrocarbons rule. It's not because of evil scheming capitalists who like to pollute; it's because it makes the most sense economically, so far.

No amount of throwing away of taxpayer dollars will change that. If some "alternative" was a better deal, it would flourish without any government intervention. The technology for wind power has been around for decades.

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Nov 26, 2008 5:36AM PST

It's becoming a lot clearer why T. Boone Pickins is backing wind power. He will sell a LOT more natural gas at PREMIUM prices with no fear of a hit from green taxes. NICE!

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Nov 26, 2008 6:40AM PST

Right on !!

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Should you choose to review the cost of petroleum versus the
Nov 30, 2008 12:09AM PST

Consumer Price Index going back 100 years, you'd find that gasoline and oil were very expensive originally, and that coal and steam were cheap.

Perhaps somebody with a better memory than mine can remind me what the cost of gas was in 1966, but I remember it as about 22 cents a gallon, which would yield a current price around $3.00 a gallon, just based on the increase in the CPI. Now this is off the top of my head, I haven't researched it, it's just an approximation. Anyone with more accurate information, please correct anything that is wrong.

As soon as alternative energy sources are ramped up to major proportions, the unit cost will drop dramatically.


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You might be confused again.
Nov 30, 2008 2:59AM PST

Oil is used for driving vehicles and coal is used for generating electricity.

Wind power would have almost zero effect on petrol use/supplies.

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RE: Wind power would have almost zero effect on petrol use/s
Nov 30, 2008 3:30AM PST

A million kwh here a million kwh there, after a while it starts to add up.

Replace 10 % of oil generated power with wind power.

Replace another 10 % of oil generated power with solar power.

Replace another 10 % of oil generated power with tidal power.

So you've replace 30 % of oil generated power with alternative sources.

These sources can be hooked into the electrical grid, and when they are producing they will be able to cut back on the use of oil.

When industries are producing their own electricity, and they don't need/have a use for the power they produce, it is fed into the grid and sold.

The same as could be done with wind, solar and tidal power. It doesn't have to be 24 hrs a day.

Oil is used for driving vehicles and coal is used for generating electricity.

Oil is ALSO used for GENERATING ELECTRICITY and coal is used for generating electricity.

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The basic figure is...
Nov 30, 2008 3:45AM PST

The basic figure is that 1.6% of the fuel used for power plants in the U.S. is petroleum.

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GM experimented with a purely electrical vehicle in the 1990
Nov 6, 2009 9:40AM PST

's. Then they destroyed all of the electric vehicles, because 1. they needed less service and thus cost less to maintain than regular gas powered vehicles. 2. The Oil Companies applied massive pressure.

All of this was covered in a very good Frontline program. A lot of movie stars had the cars, but nobody was allowed to own the cars, they were leased. Lots of users wanted to buy their cars when the program ended but the cars were confiscated and quickly crushed.

Electric power has improved substantially since the 1990's including lighter batteries, but nobody is pursuing the research.

Why do the car companies and oil companies like hydrogen power? Because it requires filling stations and hydrogen is burned in a combustion engine requiring service, and hydrogen is a by-product of natural gas which is part of the oil industry.

In terms of net efficiency, electric cars are perfect for roughly 90% of all private usage, not including long distance haulage (where railroads are the most efficient).


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Sorry, but I'm not confused at all about this issue. I'm
Nov 6, 2009 9:23AM PST

surprised to see this re-emerge, but the issue is that 110 years ago coal was cheaply accessible (not least because coal miners were paid so little and many paid for the coal with their lives) and was the primary source of power for electricity, steam power, transportation etc.

Subsequently oil became relatively cheap to recover because of progress in industrial process which reduced its cost. Now oil is rising in cost. At some point other forms of energy will become less expensive, and the more common the production of wind turbines or the more efficiency that can be extracted from the process, then that other system (whether wind turbine or not) will become a valuable system.

Britain should be a good example since it is an area with fairly regular winds, but this is still very early in the process of development. It takes time to achieve optimal efficiency. The Brits did it with steam trains in the 1930's which was sort of late. The US has avoided efficiency because the Oil Companies and the Car Companies have colluded to kill Public Transport (Court Case 1948, GM, Mack Trucks, Stanard Oil and various others found guilty of buying up and then shutting down local Public Transport systems).

What should be done is an integrated multi-source electric generation system, and further research and exploitation of new sources of power.


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I looked it up...
Nov 30, 2008 3:39AM PST

I looked it up. In 1966 it was 32 cents a gallon. Based on the CPI, that would equate to $2.04 today.

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I guess you missed the part of the article that talked
Nov 30, 2008 3:46AM PST

about inherent low efficiency and low reliability of wind as a source of power. We aren't talking about ramping up a production process here. We are talking about inherent defects in the technology. Those are not the kind of costs which will decline. The technology simply does not work very well. There is nothing to ramp up other than high costs.

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You are correct though
Dec 2, 2008 12:01AM PST

"Wilful misunderstanding is a pretty weak argument"

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Related news just in:
Dec 3, 2008 4:00PM PST
Giant wind farm gets the go-ahead
"One of the largest offshore wind farms in the world has been approved to be built off the coast of north Wales.
The 250 turbines of Gwynt y M

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