# OT: Wind Generation Follow-up

Page 1 of 5
• posted on February 17, 2011, 3:13 am
About 10 days ago or so in a thread on windmills that got waylaid into wind generation, I posted data from the Gray County (KS) wind farm noting a cyclic nature in total output with peaks in early spring and lulls in mid-summer. I hypothesized this was owing to the cyclic nature of the winds.
I have since finished correlating the NWS daily mean wind speeds over the same years as I have operation data (Gray County went online in April, 2002) and the results are so startling even to me I simply must present a quick summary.
Yr R^2 2002    0.923 2003    0.860 2004    0.914 2005    0.973 2006    0.948 2007    0.797 2008    0.969 2009    0.918
R^2 is the linear correlation coefficient, a measure of how well a higher monthly output coincides w/ the higher average wind speed over the 12 months of the year. The _LOWEST_ is almost 80% while there are six of the eight years with a correlation of over 90%.
Clearly, when there's more wind, they generate more.
Interestingly, even here on the High Plains, the hotbed of wind, the average annual wind speeds are only 12.5 mph w/ the highest/lowest monthly average over the above eight years of 16.1/9.1 mph, respectively. Since the minimum speed required for generation is 9 mph, there's not a lot of distance above that when looking at averages rather than peaks.
I'll continue to look into this some more; things like the percentage of time of MPH>X (cumulative distribution) and the like will also be interesting pieces to look at.
Anyway, enjoy...
:) (conventional generation ain't gonna' go away real soon now...)
--
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 4:54 am
On 2/16/2011 9:13 PM, dpb wrote:

So, would you say that those people from La La Land who believe our country can get all its electrical power from windmills are just a a wee bit daft? ^_^
TDD
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 12:34 pm
On 2/16/2011 11:54 PM, The Daring Dufas wrote:

Two things, Lots of people want to think happy thoughts. "I can have two mammoth fluffed up trucks in the driveway of my 9,000 square foot house and feel good if I install a windmill (that can never even pay for itself)" and if you say something enough people believe it. That is the whole basis of our political system and commercial marketing.
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 12:49 pm

I don't believe most intelligent people think we can get all our power from wind. But the combination of wind, solar, tidal, hydro, and nuclear could reduce fossil fuel use to generate electricity. Even if you discount the whole co2 issue exactly how long do you think we will be able to go on generating electricity with fossil fuels? It's not like more fossil fuel is being created.
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 1:36 pm
jamesgangnc wrote:

So, how much energy do you think can be generated, at a reasonable economic return, by wind, solar, tidal, and hydro? 1%? 10%? 50%? 90%?
As for running out of fossil fuels, not for a long, long time. Estimates are that we have 100 years supply of coal, including increases, just in the US. The world has a 100 year supply of oil.
Combined, that's 200 years of energy just in those two sources.
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 1:48 pm

I dunno 'bout you, but I'm still in my 30s.
It's concievable that I will live to be over 100, based on family history.
I worry about energy. I would like to have a comfortable, relaxing retirement, not one where I'm chopping firewood every day to stay warm. (although my dad does it, and it seems to agree with him, that's not something that I want to have to rely on.)
nate
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 1:59 pm

Over 25% of our electricity today comes from non-fossil fuel sources. When you expand the production of the renewable technologies the cost goes down. Just like you can get a huge led flat screen tv for a fraction of what it cost just a few years ago. The remaining fossil fuels are harder to extract, as we use it the cost of extracting what remains will continue to go up. Sure it's not going to happen tommorrow but it is happening fast enough to matter. Less than a 100 years ago all you had to do was drill a holel in texas and start collecting oil. It just came up out of the ground.
The fossil fuel industry is also messy, go ask the folks on the gulf coast, in alaska, in west virginia, etc. Look at the messes that have been made in the ne with fracturing. We're also killing a lot of people extracting fossil fuels. And I don't mean from environmental effects, I mean flat out killing them on oil platforms and in mines all over the world.
We give the fossil fuel industries 40 billion in tax breaks a year. That is to encourage them to explore and expand sources. Our country has often used tax breaks and other incentives like grants to expand an industry when that is in the long term interest of the citizens. Now it makes sense to give those tax breaks to newer technology. No matter what you think the timeline is for the fossil fuel industry no rational person can think it will just go on forever. It's a dying industry.
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 2:53 pm
jamesgangnc wrote:

The biggest problem I see w/ the two prime movers of "green" generation solar and wind are that they aren't reliable from the standpoint of the grid. Solar has the second issue of requiring huge expanses of land surface owing to the relatively low energy density of the fuel source; at least the wind generators are each a relatively small footprint although I question that there shouldn't be anywhere left to have unobstructed horizons simply for the aesthetics as well.
As noted in the previous thread, the annual average for all the operational data at Gray County is only 40% availability and that is quite consistent across nearly a decade now. That means on average, one has to build 2.5X the desired capacity to put a given number of MWe-hr on the grid over the year and have the reserve _reliable_ generation in place for the times the wind isn't blowing. Both of those propositions are expensive; the latter even more than it seems at first blush because so much of that generation capacity is being fueled by gas turbines which is a terrible waste of natural gas which has much more useful places to be used that aren't nearly as easily satisfied by other sources.
If one is really serious about the C-footprint thingie, there's nothing now or on the horizon that can touch nuclear. (And, I'm not sure which statistic was used to get the 25% but iirc, sotoo 18% of US generation is now nuclear and there's another some percent that is hydro so that leaves a fairly low fraction that is non-conventional means).
These _may_ have better economics as technology continues to improve, but the limitations of the fuel source (reliability and low density) are simply not going away, edicts or no.
--
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 3:19 pm

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/epm_sum.html
Scroll down on the above. I agree, wind and solar are both low density that varies by location. But they are a viable augment in some areas. Other renewable like tidal is both more reliable and higher density. I don't have an issue with nuclear, I agree we should expand it. It has one of the highest initial investment costs though. Partly due to excessive regulation but also simply because nuc plants are complicated and expensive. Most of the citizen paranoia about nuclear can be solved by simply putting more of them out in the desert and imporving our transmission technology. I'm not trying to sell any one particular new solution, just saying we need to look past fossil fuel.
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 7:10 pm
jamesgangnc wrote: ...

But, W KS is in the middle of one of if not the prime locations on earth for large-scale wind generation and the generation data show that even here the return on investment/MWe installed is only 40% on an annual basis. These data show that that is a fundamental limitation of the dynamics of the wind, not transmission-line capacity limited or other external effects as they extremely high correlation w/ available wind means more output power. That causes the secondary effect already noted of having to have that capacity somewhere else for grid reliability and that is expensive and has other consequences as noted on such things as the use of natural gas for generation.
I've raised the issue w/ an advocate of wind power when he helped me locate data in a suitable form for the initial look-see I had after Gray County went into full oeperation. At the time I found his early work he was with the alternative energy research group associated w/ Univ of KS (Lawrence) but by the time I contacted him he had gone with a wind energy proponent organization. He was very helpful but to date I've had no response on their answer for how to get around the problem the unsteady fuel supply causes for the generation side of the equation.
It's just like operating a coal-fired plant and somebody shuts off the pulverizers to several of the burner levels at random times--that's a problem if your responsibility is to provide reliable power.
Tidal and some of the others have a little better mechanical advantage, but they're extremely limited in terms of applicable locations to be able top site them so there's little (as in no) chance they'll be of any real impact overall.
--
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 3:45 pm
On 2/17/2011 7:59 AM, jamesgangnc wrote:

Crude oil is not used to produce just fuel. Most people forget that simple little fact.
TDD
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 6:00 pm
wrote:

We use about 5% of crude oil for non-fuel purposes. I think that is not an issue.
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 6:47 pm
On 2/17/2011 12:00 PM, jamesgangnc wrote:

Um, where did you come up with the 5% figure, I would like to read it myself in order to be better informed. I came up with a different number after a short search. Many people would call you rude names but I won't. I simply would like to know your source.
http://www.timeforkids.com/TFK/media/teachers/pdfs/2003S/030221WR1.pdf
http://www.scholastic.com/smp/pdfs/coc_oct_worksheet2.pdf
TDD
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 17, 2011, 10:11 pm
jamesgangnc wrote:

Here are the actual numbers: Coal - 50.1 Gas - 17.5 Oil - 3.3 Total hydrocarbon: 70.4
Nuclear - 19.5 Hydro - 7.1 Geothermal - 0.4 Biomass - 1.1 Solar - 0.0 Waste 0.6 Other 0.3 Total non-hydrocarbon: 29.0

Psst: Both gasoline and coal are cheaper today than they were in 1918.

Yeah. They said the exact same thing about Yiddish, COBOL, and Republicans.
As for the government giving significant grants to expand an industry to benefit its citizens, everywhere that's been tried (Japan comes to mind), it has failed miserably, to the hurt of the country's citizens.
Think of the soybean industry in Atlas Shrugged.
Anytime the government thinks it can jimmy the general marketplace, substitute committee decisions about what should happen instead of letting millions vote in the free market, the government fails.
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 18, 2011, 12:16 am

Milton Friedman could not have said it better. Well done! It's always amazing to me that some people want to put their faith in govt deciding which technology is going to be the right one, which one is going to be commercially successful, etc. Given what we've witnessed from govt, you'd think they'd learn. Congress has an approval rating of what? 17%? And some people want them to leave it to them to decide what energy solution is going to be correct. I suppose it would work even better if they came up with a 5 year plan of output and production, like the Soviets used to do. We know how well that worked out. And I suspect in some regards, they were better at it then our Congress, as witnessed by recent debacles, like trying to bribe Louisianna and Nebraska with hundreds of millions of dollars to ram through healthcare. Follow that for energy, and soon we'll be chasing moonbeams because some other Senators got bribes or BJ's to pass it.
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 18, 2011, 2:51 pm
wrote:

The process really doesn't work that way at all. Most of the tax breaks and grants do not specify solutions, only outcomes. That's why they are called "alternative energy".
But I'm game, let's stop all the subsidies. Let's start paying the real costs of fuel and food and othet stuff, Then take a portion of that and use it for assistant to the actual poor.
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 18, 2011, 3:14 pm
jamesgangnc wrote: ...

...
Name one worded that way.
The actual law(s) are specific tax breaks for wind, solar, etc., that are quite specific. As are the ethanol and biodiesel credits, mandates for minimum use levels, etc.
--
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 18, 2011, 11:07 pm
jamesgangnc wrote:

Eek!
Helping the poor is the WORST thing you can do! In short order EVERYBODY will become "poor" so they can be "helped" by the government.
Look at the housing situation. The inflation in the housing market was CAUSED by the government trying to help the poor by mandating ugly loans.
Look at the number of people "dropping out" of the job market. Each month it's in the hundreds of thousands. Do you think they're eating dirt? No, they're getting unemployment compensation, now for up to THREE years!
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 19, 2011, 12:33 am
On 2/18/2011 5:07 PM, HeyBub wrote:

Don't feed the bears. :-)
TDD
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
• posted on February 18, 2011, 11:56 pm

Frankly, I don't believe either of those figures. Decades go by, yet we always seem to have a 100-year supply of oil, and a 100-year supply of coal.
Is it because they keep finding more, or is it because they know something we don't?
What if we found out we only had 50 years of oil left? There would be worldwide panic in the streets, riots, wars... Armageddon. Seriously.
What if we found out that we had 500 years of oil left? The bottom would fall out of the oil market, and a lot of very rich powerful people would no longer be rich or powerful.