Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local News & Opinion

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

02.07 New York investigates radioactive leak in groundwater near city

02.06 Swansea Bay tidal energy scheme 'must go ahead', say Lib Dems

02.06 If you thought solar was going to hurt utilities, get a load of solar+storage

02.06 Obama using final budget request to push for action against climate change

02.05 Take 2 Minutes To Learn Why Obama's $10 Fee On Oil Is So Important

02.05 Flint and the Long Struggle Against Lead Poisoning

News Media Matters

02.05 It Takes a Movement to Create Fundamental Change [is change possible given the corporate-fawning orientation of news media]

02.05 Press Versus Liars: Doing Good Journalism in These Trying Times

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

02.06 The Big Money Question at the Sanders-Clinton Debate

02.06 Bernie Sanders can beat Hillary Clinton, and Conservatives should take note

02.06 Elizabeth Warren Recalls a Time When Big Donors May Have Changed Hillary’s Vote [5:05 video]

02.06 ‘Something smells’: Top Iowa paper calls for ‘complete audit’ of Clinton’s win over Sanders [0:50 video]

02.06 The Vampire Squid Tells Us How to Vote

02.06 Speeches That Earned Clinton Millions Remain a Mystery [1:38 video]

02.06 Iowa Democratic party altered precinct's caucus results during chaotic night

Justice Matters

02.07 Holding Sentencing Reform Hostage

02.07 British American Tobacco faces call for bribery allegations inquiry

02.05 How Democracy Died in Flint [ALEC Is at It Again]

02.05 An Idiot’s Guide to Prosecuting Corporate Fraud

High Crimes?

02.05 FGM: number of victims found to be 70 million higher than thought

Economics, Crony Capitalism

02.05 Oil nations face years of pain, says IMF chief Christine Lagarde

02.05 Norway's oil-based wealth fund sells out of more fossil fuel companies

02.04 ICELAND SENTENCES 29TH BANKER TO PRISON, US BANKERS STILL COLLECTING BONUSES

International

02.07 The waterless toilet that turns your poo into power

02.07 Jeremy Corbyn: UK can push for 'a real social Europe' by staying in EU

02.07 ‘Pay to stay’ trap will force working families out of council homes [it's a Tory government, so...]

02.07 30,000 North Korean children living in limbo in China

02.07 EU urges Turkey to open its borders to Syrians fleeing war-torn Aleppo

02.06 Ban Ki-moon adds to pressure on UK to stop arms sales to Saudis

02.06 Aleppo siege looms as pro-Assad forces cut opposition supply lines

02.05 Women's rights crackdown exposes deepening crisis in Chinese society

02.05 America's Agitator: Donald Trump Is the World's Most Dangerous Man

02.05 EU Border Office Chief on Refugee Crisis: 'We Should Have No Illusions'

02.05 German UN Envoy on Islamic State's Rise: 'We Simply Can't Give Up on Libya'

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Print view: Pulling Back the Curtain on Wind Power
ENVIRONMENT VIEWPOINT:

Pulling Back the Curtain on Wind Power

by Ajax Eastman
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
Because wind turbines are minimally productive more than half the time, fossil fuel power plants will be needed as backups and will contribute to greenhouse gases.

Ever wonder why sailing ships no longer ply the oceans with goods and passengers? It’s a question wind energy advocates might ask themselves. They ignore the fact that the wind doesn’t blow consistently, even though its intermittent nature makes wind an undependable source of power and restricts wind generators from consistently reaching their potential.

The relative effectiveness of a generation facility to produce electricity is called its c"apacity factor," or CF for short. It is the ratio of what a generating plant actually produces compared to what it nominally could produce at full capacity. The annual average CF for wind turbines located offshore is about 40 percent, but that falls to about 25 percent during the summer, when the winds are weakest. For wind turbines located onshore the annual average CF is about 30 percent, and can drop to 13 percent in the summer.

Proponents of wind power argue it is a good choice because, among other things, it reduces greenhouse gasses. They compare industrial wind energy with power plants fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas that generate tons of carbon dioxide. However, they fail to recognize that because of the unpredictable nature of wind, carbon-fueled plants will continue to underpin the load. This is particularly true in the summer, when the winds are at their lowest and the demand for power is highest.

Proponents of wind almost never compare industrial wind to nuclear power, probably because in every aspect of electricity generation nuclear beats wind by a long shot. The following are informative comparisons.

Capacity factors:

The capacity factor of the 104 nuclear reactors operating in the United States is 90 percent. In other words, nuclear facilities crank out electricity around the clock, 365 days of the year, at pretty near their total capacity. Compare that to the results of a study from a group of wind power advocates at the University of Delaware that modeled data from off shore meteorological stations from Maine to the Florida Keys. Their results show that a large offshore turbine array would attain a 90 percent capacity factor only 2.2 days a year. Their numbers show that 20,000 five megawatt turbines would be needed to equal the full generating capacity of those 104 reactors. Even 1,200 turbines would not supply electricity as dependably as a new reactor like the one proposed at Calvert Cliffs in Maryland.

Greenhouse gas reduction:

Neither wind turbines nor nuclear reactors emit carbon dioxide. But because wind turbines are minimally productive more than half the time, fossil fuel power plants will be needed as backups and will contribute to greenhouse gases. Note that no coal-fired facility has been closed due to the installation of wind turbines.

Electricity rates and costs:

The proponents of wind use the high cost of building nuclear reactors to argue that the electricity they produce will be costly. They’re wrong because they fail to account for the low efficiency of wind; for the need for carbon-fired backup plants to compensate; for the much shorter working lives of wind turbines; and for the enormous subsidies, grants, tax incentives, and tax breaks from federal, state, and local governments. In fact, the expensive wind turbines, especially offshore, would never be built without these subsidies that in some cases pay for 50 percent of the project’s cost.

After coal, nuclear is the least costly generator of electricity for the rate payer. After solar, wind is the most expensive.

In Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley has introduced legislation that will mandate Maryland’s public utilities to commit to long-term contracts to purchase offshore wind-generated electricity in order to guarantee a market for offshore wind, even though it will increase costs to ratepayers. In Massachusetts millions of ratepayers can expect a two percent hike in their electric bills due to the planned Cape Wind project.

Environmental impacts:

The proposed Calvert Cliffs 3 nuclear reactor would be sited on about 350 acres. The 1,200 offshore wind turbines needed to produce the same amount of energy would require 74,000 acres. Onshore, 2,400 turbines would be needed and would require 8,500 acres. This is a lot of land or water and a big impact on the rich mountain ecosystems and habitats or ocean ecosystems about which we know little.

There are numerous reasons why nuclear energy should be seriously pursued. But the question here is: should inefficient industrial wind be pushed blindly given its potential for greatly increasing our energy bills, requiring up to 50 percent taxpayer investment, and causing enormous environmental damage?

We should rewrite state laws, like Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard or Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, as Clean Energy Portfolio Standards that include new nuclear reactors. Such a change would greatly expand clean, non-carbon emitting solutions for future electricity demands.


Reader response

Ajax Eastman has served on the board of the Maryland Environmental Trust, as past President of the Maryland Conservation Council, Co-chairman of the Maryland Wildlands Committee, and on numerous other State boards and commissions. Her love of the natural world began early at a summer camp in Maine where today she teaches nature to young campers. Distributed by Bay Journal News Service.



Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on February 1, 2010.
 


Public Service Ads: