“I would suggest that the owners of the “wind farms” that may not be able to sell all their output don’t deserve a lot of sympathy. They should have known the risks of investing in an industry that exists only because of massive tax breaks and subsidies and other unwise government policies.”
Mr. Graff: Thanks for your probably well-meaning [August 5th] story that bore the headline, “Newly Available Wind Power Often Has No Place to Go.” However, I wonder if you realize that the story was quite one-sided and likely misleading.
That tends to happen, unfortunately, when a “news” story is based heavily on information fed to reporters by lobbyists — in this case from the wind industry’s Washington-based lobbyists, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
Please consider the following points:
I’ve read your position on wind farms and their associated problems with a great interest. Can you tell me when we can expect to receive your solution to the energy situation here in the US?
I look forward to your response.
Regards, ______________ Fairfax, VA
Dear Ms. _____:
Thanks for your note. You certainly do flatter me with your expectation that I could produce a “solution to the energy situation here in the US.” (But I suspect that was not your purpose.)
As you may know, U.S. political leaders and government officials at both the federal and state levels — not to mention hundreds of smart people in universities, business and non-profit organizations — have been seeking that solution for at least 35 years.
The U.S. Department of Energy and its predecessors have spent over $150 Billion (2006$) on “energy R&D” and, unfortunately, have little to show for it. …
Two characteristics of industrial wind power crucially inform the public policy debate.
First, wind turbines have little or no “capacity value”; i.e., they are unlikely to be producing electricity at the time of peak electricity demand. Therefore, wind turbines cannot substitute for conventional generating capacity responsible for providing reliable electricity to customers.
Second, a kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity from wind has less value than a kWh of electricity from a reliable (“dispatchable”) generating unit; i.e., from a unit that can be called upon to produce electricity whenever the electricity is needed by electric customers.
These issues are important because “wind farm” developers and lobbyists have misled the public, media and government officials by making false claims and by using terms intended to confuse their listeners.
To address this problem, this post explains a few key electric industry terms that are important in understanding the critically important differences between the quality and value of
(i) the high cost, intermittent, volatile and unreliable electricity produced by wind turbines and
(ii) the lower cost, reliable and more valuable electricity produced by generating units that can be called upon to produce electricity whenever it is needed by electric customers.