Newspaper logo  
Local News & Opinion

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education

10.11 The Asian Advantage

Open Letters:

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

10.13 Methane release from melting permafrost could trigger dangerous global warming

10.13 How to create healthier cities – livechat

10.12 TPP Intellectual Property Chapter is “A Disaster for Global Health”

10.12 Investigating the mystery of soaring generic medication prices

10.11 Elephants: Large, Long-Living and Less Prone to Cancer

10.11 Teaching the Truth About Climate Change

10.11 Top 5 Signs cheap Renewable Energy is taking the World by Surprise

10.11 World will pass crucial 2C global warming limit, experts warn [It's time to implement a carbon tax to subsidize smart renewable energy!]

10.11 California brings in strict limits on use of antibiotics in livestock farming

News Media Matters

10.12 The Crazies and the Con Man

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

10.13 Benjamin Netanyahu goes too far, again: This has become a war on Palestinian children

10.13 The Return of ExIm?

10.13 45 times Secretary Clinton pushed the trade bill she now opposes

10.13 Bernie Sanders Exceeds Obama's Historic 2008 Run in Crowds, Donors and Polling

10.12 Congress Passed A Bill To Change Obamacare. What Happened Next Will Amaze You.

10.12 What to expect from Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate

10.12 Bernie Sanders Is Changing American Politics—But He’s Not Thinking Big Enough

10.12 The Republicans’ Ugly Revolt

10.11 Inglis, Florida: home to the 1,000th US mass shooting since Sandy Hook

10.11 Here Come the Republican Moderates

10.11 The Families Funding the 2016 Presidential Election

Justice Matters
High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.12 The world economic order is collapsing and this time there seems no way out

10.12 Corporate Welfare for the Kochs

10.11 Thousands demonstrate in Germany against EU-US trade deal


10.13 Ben Carson’s delusional fantasy world: The truth about victim blaming in the modern Republican Party

10.13 Yemen: 'As the shelling continues, our only hope is to survive the fighting'

10.13 Give women a real chance to build peace

10.13 Cooper to attack Cameron's 'still far too weak response' to Syrian refugee crisis

10.13 Turkish officials claim 'concrete evidence' of Isis link to bombings

10.12 Secret archive offers fresh insight into Nixon presidency

10.12 Conflict drives 'unacceptable' figure of 795 million people facing hunger

10.12 Girls speak out: 'I want to be a lawyer, to take action for pregnant children'

10.11 The Refugees at Our Door

10.11 The day I met the other victims of extremism: boys brainwashed to kill

10.11 Turkey bomb blasts: death toll rises as protesters turn on government

10.11 The Case for Getting Rid of Borders—Completely

10.11 The Case for Getting Rid of Borders—Completely

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: