Newspaper logo  
Local Gov’t Stories, Events


Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education

10.19 NAACP Calls for No More Charters Until Privatized Schools Face Same Standards as Public Schools


Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

10.22 Law to cut sex-selective abortions in Armenia 'putting lives at risk'

10.22 US energy shakeup continues as solar capacity set to triple

10.22 A three-bed house with £500 energy bills? How you too can slash your costs

10.22 Highlighting Damage of Lack of Clinic Funding, CDC Says STDs at All-Time High

10.22 Three Massive Mergers—Millions for One Bank and a Disaster for Food, Water, and Climate

10.21 Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump on science, energy, and the climate

10.21 That's 4 straight debates without a single question on climate change. Good job, everyone.

10.21 Bottled Water or Tap: How Much Does Your Choice Matter?

10.21 We are approaching the Trumpocene, a new epoch where climate change is just a big scary conspiracy

10.21 Global warming continues; 2016 will be the hottest year ever recorded

10.21 Onshore windfarms more popular than thought, UK poll finds

10.21 Europe's offshore wind industry booming as costs fall

10.20 Climate Change Got Exactly 2 Seconds of Time in the Final Debate


10.20 Toxic products cost the US $340 billion a year

10.20 Air pollution more deadly in Africa than malnutrition or dirty water, study warns

News Media Matters

10.22 Documentary film-makers face decades in prison for taping oil pipeline protests

10.21 Naomi Klein and Glenn Greenwald Tackle Ethics of WikiLeaks' Podesta Emails [32:21 audio clip]

10.21 Debate Moderators Under the Spell of Deficit-Obsessed Billionaire Pete Peterson

10.21 Foreign journalists on 2016: ‘Is this the demise of objective American journalism?’

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

10.22 The Huge Corporate Tax Cut Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Talk About [is double-taxation on foreign income normal or out of step?]

10.22 Bernie Looks Ahead

10.21 Will 2016 Mark the Return of the Blue Dog Democrat? [Dems willing to do anything but look left for support]

10.20 Seven races that could flip the Senate: Trump’s impending defeat may lead to a down-ballot massacre

10.20 Donald Trump refuses to say if he will accept election result in final debate [videos]

10.19 The Popular Populist

10.19 How the 'Losers' in America’s Trade Policies Got Left Behind

10.19 Paul Ryan: If Republicans Lose the Senate, Bernie Sanders Wins

10.19 To Build the Political Revolution, Grassroots Group Endorses 22 "People's Candidates"

10.19 Sanders Champions Colorado Single Payer Effort as Model for Nation

10.19 'Unforgivable': Women Blockade Trump Campaign Offices Nationwide

10.19 With No Illusions, Says Climate Leader, Clinton Must Be Elected—Then Fiercely Confronted

10.19 Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton face fear and loathing at third debate

Justice Matters

10.22 Senators Want to Know: Who's Actually Being Held Accountable at Wells Fargo?


10.20 Mass incarceration in America, explained in 22 maps and charts

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.22 We Never Voted for Corporate Rule

10.21 Capitalism Is Doomed — Without Alternatives, So Are We

10.20 Here’s the Trade Policy That Progressives Should Get Behind

10.19 Prop. 51 Versus a State-Owned Bank: How California Can Save $10 Billion on a $9 Billion Loan


10.20 Elon Musk says fully self-driving Tesla cars already being built

10.19 Everything You Need to Know About the Momentous Habitat III

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
This site Web
  Print view: Pulling Back the Curtain on Wind Power

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: