This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
Wind Turbines Are a Reliable Energy Source – Not!
Tom Weaver 6/10/2021 10:01 AM
A few years ago, we took a family vacation to Europe. We rented a car and kept our own schedule. I had taken a map of Texas and overlaid it on the map of Europe, and that is how I planned the mileage, as I knew the time from Fort Worth to Waco or Lubbock or some other city. A funny thing happened, a waiter outside of Brighton asked how I planned the trip. He looked skeptical when I told him, so I went out to the car, which had the steering wheel on the wrong side, grabbed the maps and showed him. The lunch ended up free.
Holland was beautiful. I have always admired the Flemish painters; they create pieces with oils that have the appearance of Kodak moments. It took a few hours, but we found that perfect windmill, with the cows grazing, the tulips gazing towards the heavens, the ducks working their way across the pond and of course, the big puffy clouds. Those windmills worked with wind to grind grain. Their backup supply, in case of a wind shortage, were large horses.
Today, we have wind turbine farms. No one will spend the time to create artistic masterpieces of the wind turbines because they are ugly. Three acres are leveled with a massive concrete pad poured for each turbine. Roads are installed and cables are laid. Due to the distortions of wind, there is only one turbine per 40-acres, or about 16 turbines per square mile.
It is said that this form of energy has a very short payback period and that it is very reliable. Thank God for Texas, they proved that wind turbines are not reliable. The winter incident in Texas proved that the power grid must always have a real source of non-renewable power.
According to the EIC ratings comparing the purchase, maintenance and production costs of the various sources of power, wind turbines have a cost of $37 per megawatt hour (mW-h) as compared to a $38 mW-h cost for gas turbine facilities. It appears that wind turbine technology is extremely cost competitive with other sources of energy, but that appearance is a façade.
There is a difference between the advertised power rating generated with a constant 15-knot wind, and the nominal power generated in daily operations. That difference is about 60% less! Think about it, it should make sense, even John Kerry, the climate czar who served in Vietnam, cannot go sailing every day!
The simple unreliable wind source makes the wind turbines unreliable. Due to the actual wind cycle, three turbines are required to produce the “rated” energy, meaning ownership costs skyrockets to $114 mW-h, making it the most expensive source of power. These cost estimates are based on a 30-year life cycle for a wind turbine, even though the actual life cycle appears to be 15-years, versus a 50-year life cycle for fossil fuel plants.
Is it any wonder that government continues to pour your money into this “green energy” in the form of loans, grants and the Production Tax Credit?
The green agenda wants to replace fossil fuels supplying some 2.5 trillion watts with wind turbines over the next 10 years. Let’s not consider the property destruction, but the fabrication of those turbines would require more than 90 million metric tons of crude oil for the fiberglass and thermoplastics used in the blades! And lest we forget a safety factor of 4, which greatly increases the hydrocarbon usage.
In addition to the crude oil, stainless steel is required. The mining operation would be intensive, extracting the iron ore from the earth’s crust. It is estimated that over 600 million metric tons of coal would be required to smelt and infuse the steel, and decarbonized the pig iron, without the safety factor of 4.
Gear boxes are works of art for any engineer. Wind turbines must transfer power at a low RPM to a high RPM, creating an unregulated alternately electrical current. The gears must be lubricated, and as with a car, the filters must be changed, along with the annual 400-gallon lubricant change. Even with that maintenance, friction loses can be as high as 20%. This means an increase in the safety factor, resulting in more land, coal and oil usage.
Wind turbines may have a future as part of an all-available plan, but wind turbines are inefficient. As noted, the unregulated alternating current must be converted to a direct current which can then be converted into a regulated alternating current. All turbines on the wind farm must operate in synchronization with the grid, which requires a state-of-the-art control system, but there is still a production loss of about 10%.
The political winds continue to push this terrible technology, a technology that destroys the green initiative of the endangered species act. Specifically, prior to the installation of a wind farm in California, Obama signed an Executive Order removing owner liability if the endangered California condor was diced and sliced. One might ask, how can a bird get hit? The blades are hardly turning! That is true, but the tip velocity of the blades is moving at 180 MPH. Blades moving that fast are subject to leading edge damage, like propellers on P-3 airplanes. Small objects create havoc as the airfoil leading edges are foiled, destroying the smooth pressure changes on the surface of the airfoil.
With a conventional power plant, at the end-of-life it can be torn down and sold for scrap. But that is not the case for wind turbines wrapped in fiberglass, whose blades are made with fiberglass and hydrocarbons. What are these massive giants good for besides landfill? I would suggest an incinerator that makes steam to power the grid!
Again, talk with your friends, learn more about these “environmentally friendly” energy schemes. Then talk with your elected representatives. We are simply wasting resources and time, much like Don Quixote.
Tom Weaver, Patriot ©6/10/21
Tom Weaver hails from Fort Worth Texas and hopes to someday return home from his current residence in Massachusetts. Tom graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1974. He was a Surface Warfare Officer qualified as a Chief Nuclear Engineer, serving on the USS Virginia CGN-38 and the USS Texas CGN-39 until resigning his commission. Tom has a MSME from MIT. He has always been an engineer, working on flight engine certifications for GE, a brief stint in robotics and finally a life-long focus on cleaning industrial wastewater using a positive barrier solution. Throughout his children’s youth, Tom was an active coach and Scout leader. Tom created the Minutecub Muster Program, an historical training class where over 7,000 Cub Scouts learned how to become minutemen. Tom has read over 400 textbooks on government, Natural Law, philosophy, and history. He spends time providing lectures on any topic of Americas founding.
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