An inconvenient truth - wind power

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Great commentary at CNS News - full of links to corroborating data (I'm a numbers guy and just love that):

Clean Renewable? There Is No Wind Energy Without Fossil Fuels
Many people today praise wind and solar energy as clean energy and trust them as the power sources of the future, the sources that will replace fossil fuels.

President Joe Biden has announced his intent to force the transition. With a couple of executive orders that curtailed fossil fuel use, he is marching towards his intensive plan to increase dependency on renewables.

And the numbers:

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a highly respected global professional association, calls wind turbines the “pure embodiments of fossil fuels,” and it is 100 percent right to do so.

Every stage in manufacturing wind turbines involves fossil fuels, and plenty of them. Without steel, cement, and fiberglass, there is no wind turbine. All the three are produced with fossil fuels. No fossil fuels, no wind turbines.

According to United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimation of material requirements, “1 MW of wind capacity requires 103 tonnes of stainless steel, 402 tonnes of concrete, 6.8 tonnes of fiberglass, 3 tonnes of copper, and 20 tonnes of cast iron.”

As IEEE puts it, to produce 25 percent of the global electricity demand using wind energy, we would require roughly 450 million metric tons of steel. And steel is manufactured predominantly using coal, implying that we would require “fossil fuels equivalent to more than 600 million metric tons of coal.”

The process would also require 90 million metric tons of crude oil for the rotor mass and various other hydrocarbon byproducts needed for coating and turbine lubricant.

An energy industry observer points out that “state-of-the-art wind turbine blades are made of carbon fiber, which consists of layers of plastics and plastic resin, both of which are derived from oil and natural gas.”

In plain language, the production, installation, and maintenance of a wind turbine is completely dependent on fossil fuel or fossil fuel derivatives. Wind energy cannot be termed clean unless fossil fuel is also clean.

And this little item: rare earths

In addition to their complete dependency on fossil fuels, wind and solar energy rely on the supply of rare earth metals such as europium, lanthanum, and neodymium —mined mainly in China under environmentally disastrous conditions.

And don't forget the birds:

It is also ridiculous to call wind energy “clean” when wind turbines kill millions of birds, resulting in a systematic reduction in population of raptors and migratory birds, including those species classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as vulnerable and threatened.

The article only touches briefly on my pet bugaboo - hot standby.  For a 1 MW wind turbine, the utility also has to maintain a 1 MW natural gas (in the USA and places where nat. gas is plentiful) electric generating turbine on what they call "Hot Standby: which means that the turbine is running, burning natural gas but just not at the full 1MW capacity - more like 1/50th of the full capacity.  This is needed as if the wind dies during a time of peak demand, they need to be able to switch in a reliable source of power as fast as possible.

Starting from a cold non-running state, it takes 20+ minutes to bring a diesel generator of that size to full power and more than one hour for a natural gas turbine. Having them running continuously on "hot" standby (all the while burning fossil fuel) is the only realistic option.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on January 28, 2021 7:45 AM.

Looks like A. F. Branco had the same thought was the previous entry in this blog.

Two good ones this morning is the next entry in this blog.

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