alt.energy in the news - wind turbines

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An economical source of 'free' energy? Not so much. From Illinois' Edgar County Watchdogs:

Costly Broken Wind Turbines Give College Whopping Negative 99.14% Return On Investment
Lake Land College recently announced plans to tear down broken wind turbines on campus, after the school got $987,697.20 in taxpayer support for wind power.

The turbines were funded by a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, but the turbines lasted for less than four years and were incredibly costly to maintain.

“Since the installation in 2012, the college has spent $240,000 in parts and labor to maintain the turbines,” Kelly Allee, Director of Public Relations at Lake Land College, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The college estimates it would take another $100,000 in repairs to make the turbines function again after one of them was struck by lightning and likely suffered electrical damage last summer. School officials’ original estimates found the turbine would save it $44,000 in electricity annually, far more than the $8,500 they actually generated. Under the original optimistic scenario, the turbines would have to last for 22.5 years just to recoup the costs, not accounting for inflation. If viewed as an investment, the turbines had a return of negative 99.14 percent.

That $2.5 million came right out of your and my wallet as Federal taxes.

Back in 1966, Robert Anson Heinlein coined the acronym: TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - this is something that people today seem to have forgotten.

The article closes with this wonderful reminder:

Globally, less than 30 percent of total power wind capacity is actually utilized as the intermittent and irregular nature of wind power makes it hard to use.Power demand is relatively predictable, but the output of a wind turbine is quite variable over time and generally doesn’t coincide with the times when power is most needed. Thus, wind power systems require conventional backups to provide power during outages. Since the output of wind turbines cannot be predicted with high accuracy by forecasts, grid operators need to keep excess conventional power systems running.

Wind power accounted for only 4.4 percent of electricity generated in America in 2014, according to the Energy Information Administration.

In the first paragraph above, the comment: "need to keep excess conventional power systems running" - what this means is that for every MegaWatt of installed wind generation, there is also a MegaWatt of gas turbine running on hot standby. The turbine is not running at full capacity generating electricity but it is running at idle speed - still consuming fuel. It would take too long to do a cold start when the wind fails so they have to keep them running 24/7.

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