The Wind Energy Disconnect

As you may know, there was a firestorm on this blog from February 2 to 4 over my assertion that wind energy was not available in significant amounts when Texas was suffering its energy crisis due to extreme cold. You may also recall that the American Wind Energy Association demanded a “retraction” which I said I would do if they were to provide the figures that said my assertion was incorrect. They never did.

In the United States, the wind energy lobby has been very successful. Not only are there tax subsidies for building wind farms, they have managed to get their (taxpayer-supported) output classified as “proprietary”so we cannot see for ourselves whether wind is available when it is needed the most. As I wrote on February 10, when record cold occurs the turbines are usually not turning. The same is often true in the hottest days of summer in many parts of the U.S.

That is not the case in Great Britain. A recent study was conducted as to whether wind energy was available during periods of peak demand in 2010. Here is the bottom line:

During each of the four highest peak demands of 2010, wind output reached just 4.72%, 5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity, according to the analysis.

There is no reason to believe that wind energy is any more available here which is probably why the industry is so defensive.

Welcome: Readers from Germany! Please feel free to look at other blog postings while you are here.

Hat tip: Bishop Hill

One thought on “The Wind Energy Disconnect

  1. I just finished the classic Two Years Before the Mast by Dana. It is about Dana's voyage from Boston to California (via Cape Horn) in the 1830s aboard a sailing ship as a common sailor. The book describes countless times on the same day where the sailors are taking sails up and down depending on whether the wind is too light or too strong. In the 1860s Dana returned to California on a steam ship. Think about it: 3000 years (maybe even 10000+) years of technological innovation in sailing ships, and within a few decades these were replaced with steamers that are a far cry from today's diesel powered ships.

    The more I think about wind, the more I'm convinced that it's a regressive, Luddite technology, given its low power density and unreliability. Yet, somehow wind has gotten the moral upper hand. I'm guessing that the wind bubble bursts and that we are left with a WALL-E like landscape in 20-30 years — a junkyard of turbines spinning in virtual mode hardly cranking out a Watt of electricity.