by Jay Lehr and Tom Harris
Wind energy currently provides the United States with four times the amount of energy provided by solar technologies. Does this mean that wind power can grow to a sufficient extent to replace fossil fuels? The answer is no regardless of the extraordinary requirements of the Green New Deal (GND). We best not go forward with it or there will be a wind turbine in everyone’s back yard. Seriously the growth of wind power is hampered by many limitations which include among others, its intermittent and inefficient nature, the limitations of batteries or other back-up systems, the lack of available sites with adequate wind, the acreage required to harness the wind, the excessive expense, its dramatic danger to the bird population and the danger to human health created its inevitable throbbing noise.
Wind turbines are inefficient. The average turbine constructed today is rated to produce 2.5 megawatts of power. That assumes the wind will blow at its most desirable speed between 8 and 25 miles per hour, 24 hours a day. None have ever produced more than 30 to 40% of that.
We of course know that when the wind does not blow no electricity can be produced to keep the electric grid providing each community with energy to maintain their standard of living. We can keep fossil fuel plants at the ready when the wind declines but remember the idea of the GND is to eliminate fossil fuels. Elon Musk of Tesla fame believes battery backup will do the job. To prove it he built the world’s largest battery in South Australia which was capable of supplying 30,000 homes with one hour of energy at a cost of $50 million. The reader can figure out the number of batteries and cost to keep the homes running on electricity for a single 24 hour day.
To generate significant amounts of wind energy, wind power facilities need to be located in areas where there is steady wind most of the time. If it is always windy where you live, you occupy one of the fortunate areas where wind can provide a reliable source of electricity. Such areas exist along the west coast of the United States and a strip in our Midwest extending from the Dakotas to Texas. Seventy five percent of the conterminous 48 states have but 50% of the wind of these most desirable locations. Offshore coastal areas have a higher wind potential but have proven to be at least three times as expensive to develop.
No bigger drawback to wind power is the immense amounts of land they require. The turbines must be placed far apart so as not to interfere with each turbines capture area. The federal government’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has reported the most definitive estimate of total land use for wind farms. They calculated generously that the 172 largest installations in the US produce 10,000 Mega Watts on 8,800 square miles. Thus to produce energy equivalent to the average fossil fuel power plant of 1000 megawatts of electricity requires 880 square miles of land. This is six times more land than an equivalent solar farm of photovoltaic cells and more than 500 times the land required for an equivalent nuclear power plant. Something to think about.
As for the cost of wind, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that today wind power can generate electricity for 8 cents a kilowatt hour. However, this makes poor assumptions and ignores some realities. It assumes an average lifetime of a wind turbine to be 30 years, the same as a conventional fossil fuel power plant. Experience shows that most turbines last only 15 years. It ignores the cost of backup power when the wind does not blow. It includes no cost for transmission lines to the electric grid. Of greatest importance it omits government subsidies. A 2016 study at Utah State University shows the following extra costs for the omission or miscalculation of wind power: 15 years not 30 year life of turbines (7 cents), backup power (2.3 cents), transmission costs (2.7 cents), government subsidies (23 cents) making the real cost of wind power 43 cents per kilowatt hour. This is about the same as the cost of solar power but 7 times the cost of natural gas power. Who can afford this? Could American industry afford this?
You can be sure from experience that the promoters of the Green New Deal would like wind farms everywhere but not in their own neighborhoods. Wind farms may be beautiful to some, including in fact, the authors of this article, but are large and ugly, spoiling the landscaper for many more. The main environmental concern is the number of birds and bats that wind turbines kill each year. At biological diversity.org
the calculations can be seen for the nations largest wind farm, at Altamont Pass, California where 8200 birds are killed annually including more than 600 raptors. The Audubon Society estimates that 330,000 birds die annually in North America at our wind farms.
Finally if you are still not convinced of the folly of American wind energy as a replacement for fossil fuel, you will be when you understand its danger to human health. The noise generated by a wind turbine is likened to that of a helicopter, making habitation within a quarter of a mile of a turbine oppressive, with serious health problems resulting. Less frequent but more serious are the 110 deaths reported in the September 2017 Summary of Wind Turbine Accident Data. They were primarily from massive failure of turbine blades in the past decade. As a result of these problems Finland, Bavaria and Scotland have proposed legislation that no wind farm be allowed within 1.2 miles of any housing.
Everyone is excused for thinking wind energy is cheap and wonderful. Few ever are exposed to the real costs. The Green New Deal is counting on the lack of education and knowledge dealing with this seemingly benign resource. We hope none of our readers will be further fooled by intentional lies aimed at reprogramming out great nation.
Portions of this article have been excerpted with permission of the publisher and author of the 2018 book "THE MYTHOLOGY OF GLOBAL WARMING" by Bruce Bunker, Ph.D., Publisher Moonshine Cove. The authors of this article strongly recommend that book as the very best source of detailed accurate information on the climate change debate.