BREAKING: Wind powered pig flies non-stop from Garrett County, MD to the University of Delaware!

A little while back, Jon Boone wrote a letter to the Cumberland (Maryland) Times-News which we happily posted here under the title, Industrial windplants in Western Maryland? Jon Boone says Garrett Countians “deserve far better.”

Seems Mr. Boone, and an increasing number of citizens, question the actions of politicians at all levels in enabling a wind “farm” comprised of 28 747 size bird and bat chopping turbines to be placed near Eagle Rock, in Western Maryland.  The irony is obvious to any with concerns for the habitat of our feathered friends:

Some probably thought Mr. Boone was being a little sarcastic when he wrote, “Their (politicians’) trollish support for this daffy, environmentally treacherous technology is a shameful commentary about how poorly led this beautiful county is. Both their pretentious words and harmful actions join with the Obama Administration as it attempts to make people believe, across many issues, that pigs can fly.

Well, at least as far as the promotion of industrial wind as a viable energy source is concerned, making pigs fly seems the order of the day.  Take, for example, the report linked in the New York Times Science Fiction section titled:  “A Grid of Wind Turbines to Pick Up the Slack.”  Mr. Henry Fountain points out the intermittent nature of wind as an introduction to a report titled, “Electric power from offshore wind via synoptic-scale interconnection” by Willett Kempton, Felipe M. Pimenta, Dana E. Veron, and Brian A. Colle.  The study was conducted over a 5 year period, measuring wind along “the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, a span of nearly 2,500 km in northeast–southwest direction.

As Mr. Fountain suggests, industrial wind’s unreliability is not much of an issue at present, since it represents such a small fraction of the energy equation.  Seems there are plenty of reliable, on-demand sources available to “pick up the slack when wind output falls.”  I always like the way the wind industry advocates put that … “conventional power sources will pick up the slack for wind,” as though wind is the driving force.  Actually, a more accurate portrayal might be a 4 x 100 swimming relay in which one team has a duck as a member.  “What are the chances your team will win, Coach?  Well, it all depends on how well the three men support our duck.

Mr. Fountain then suggests that, should the level of wind reach 20%, “it would become increasingly difficult to handle the fluctuations in output.”  He suggests that “one proposed solution to the intermittency problem is to tie many wind farms together with a transmission line — making an electric grid, as it were, consisting of wind turbines.”  I guess there is some agreement that, unlike a true power generator, regardless of where you place industrial wind plants, they don’t perform very well on their own.

Enter Dr. Willett Kempton.  Seems he and his “colleagues have shown how this “all-for-one” approach (mentioned by Mr. Fountain above) might work with offshore wind farms along the Eastern Seaboard.”

Their report states that “The world’s wind resource for electric power is larger than the total energy need of humanity. For surface winds over land globally, Archer and Jacobson (1) estimate the wind resource at 72 terawatt (TW), nearly five times the 13 TW world’s demand for all energy. In a more detailed regional estimate, Kempton et al. (2) calculated that two-thirds of the offshore wind power off the U.S. Northeast is sufficient to provide all electricity, all lightvehicle transportation fuel, and all building heat for the adjacent states from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

Well, there you have it!  It’s all there waiting for the 2,500 kilometer flotilla of whirlybirds to simply gather it up and send it to your house.  And, the best part – the wind is free … sorta!

So, how much will it cost … really?  From the report (with table references removed for ease of reading):  “As an approximate cost comparison, a total of 2,500MWof offshore wind generation has been approved or requested by states from Delaware to Massachusetts…  Connecting them by a 3 gigawatt (GW)HVDC submarine cable would require 350 miles of cable.  At early European offshore wind capital costs of $4,200/kWand submarine cable capital costs of $4,000,000/mile, the installed costs of planned offshore wind generation would be approximately $10.5 billion; the connecting transmission would add $1.4 billion. They are matched in capacity, each approximately 3 GW, yet the transmission adds less than 15% to the capital cost of generation. This is in line with the market cost of leveling wind via existing generation, currently estimated to add about 10% to the cost of energy (10% cost adder for wind penetrations up to 20%, then a higher percentage cost added at higher penetration of wind).

Wow!  And what do we get for all that extra money?  “In the study region, using our meteorologically designed scale and orientation, we find that transmission affects output by reducing variance, slowing the rate of change, and, during the study period, eliminating hours of zero production. The result is that electric power from wind would become easier to manage, higher in market value, and capable of becoming a higher fraction of electric generation (thus more CO2 displacement).”

Well, I’m not so sure I’d be putting any of my money in this little adventure.  Of course, there’s little I can do about the Washington crowd tossing my money at this misadventure if they continue to be duped by wind’s fairy tale promise of happily ever after.

Oh, yeah … there’s one more thing.  “Today, generation of electricity is primarily a state matter, decided by state public utility commissions, whereas the Independent System Operators (ISOs) manage wholesale power markets and plan transmission. An ISO is the type of organization that might plan and operate the electric system we envision, probably with a mix of owners—private firms, existing electric utilities, and/or public power authorities. Because of the unique characteristics of building and operating offshore, and because our proposed Atlantic Transmission Grid would exist primarily in federal waters and bridge many jurisdictions on land, it may make sense to create a unique ISO, here dubbed the “Atlantic Independent System Operator.” Like existing ISOs, the Atlantic ISO would be responsible for managing and regulating the bulk power market along the offshore transmission cable, but with jurisdiction matched to the synoptic scale of the resource.

Yep!  The perfect solution.  We’ll turn it over to the same inept crew who can’t seem to get mail to your house on Saturday.

All in all, my argument is not with the technical portion of the report.  I’m just an average citizen with concerns that my tax money be spent on things that actually return a benefit.  So far, industrial wind hasn’t made it to my list.  It instead continues to eat away at my tax dollars in trade for higher utility rates, huge tax subsidies and no significant, measurable contribution to emission reduction or the the grid.

And while I’m not an engineer or technical expert, a number of folks routinely stopping by Allegheny Treasures are very knowledgeable.  Perhaps they will run through the charts and graphs in this very comprehensive report and tell me I’ll all wet and this is the perfect solution for an imperfect energy source.

Maybe then pigs will fly, a mallard will be on the Gold Medal podium at the next Olympics quacking the Star Spangled banner along with Michael Phelps and I’ll be eating crow – the one’s whacked by the turbine blades, of course.

Here’s the full report for your convenience:

We make every effort to be accurate.  Please report any errors, omissions or broken links in the comment section and we’ll take the necessary action.

This entry was posted in Jon Boone, offshore industrial wind, Wind Energy Shenanigans and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to BREAKING: Wind powered pig flies non-stop from Garrett County, MD to the University of Delaware!

  1. Austin says:

    To the Author,

    While I applaud the rights for individuals to express opinions on various topics. I find that folks, who vehemently oppose wind energy, ultimately will use the least factual information. As a proponent of alternative energy sources, and an advocate to phase out coal fired generation and minimize the litany of problems associated with coal, I strive to provide factual information about alternative energy – especially wind power. I find that constructive dialog can only occur when the basis of discussion relies on facts. I want to highlight a few problems with this article.

    1. First I will address the video, which was shot in Croatia, a country that has a completely different wind energy-permitting regime than the US. Bird fatalities will occur at wind farms, but it is incredibly important to realize that the National Audubon Society endorses wind energy. Here is their statement “Audubon strongly supports properly-sited wind power as a clean alternative energy source that reduces the threat of global warming. Wind power facilities should be planned, sited and operated to minimize negative impacts on bird and wildlife populations”.
    Although bird fatalities do occur at wind farms, if you compare those deaths at wind farms to other human caused fatalities. The numbers are quite compelling. Buildings, windows, high-tension lines, pesticides, vehicles and CATS, kill far more birds than wind farms. Proper siting is a critical component of minimizing bird fatalities.
    2. Bat fatalities are indeed a concern; it appears that bats echolocation attracts them to the tips of the turbine blades. They are not actually hit by the blades but enter into the low-pressure air system behind the blade, which causes fatal internal damage. The wind industry, unlike traditional energy companies has voluntarily taken unprecedented steps to address this problem. The Bats And Wind Energy Cooperative is an alliance of state and federal agencies, private industry, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations that cooperates to develop solutions to minimize or, where possible, prevent mortality of bats at wind power turbines. Once again proper sitting is an incredibly important component to minimize bat fatalities.

    3. While I agree with the author that integrating wind into the current grid system will prove difficult as wind energy generation continues to grow, I disagree with the assessment that wind energy and it’s variability is sole the problem. It is quite the opposite. Wind energy is variable, but fairly predictable, years of research to the wind patterns, speed, and prevalence are analyzed before a wind farm is even proposed. The wind resource must be consistent, and fairly predictable before any company will invest. In fact power companies in the North West have included up to 20% of wind energy in their Integrated Resource Plan as “base load” generation. To be able to integrate this clean resource we will have to overhaul our 100-year-old inefficient and antiquated power grid. This grid was designed to ship massive amounts of electrons from one source to various need points. The exact system Edison devised at the turn of the century. Distributed renewable energy will need an updated digital system to intelligently integrate the resource, which does have a factor of variability as opposed to coal or nuclear or gas generation.

    Regardless of your personal opinions on global climate change, there are significant concerns regarding the production of electricity using coal and nuclear fuel. At every single phase of the coal cycle there is a negative ecological, human and environmental cost. These costs are incalculable, as we are sacrificing clean air, clean water and public health for a cheap energy source that is rarely in our view shed. We must transition to cleaner, renewable energy systems. Wind will play a critical role in our clean energy future. I for one will choose wind energy and an overhauled grid over mountaintop removal coal mining and nuclear waste.

    I understand that wind energy is contentious, but factual information is generally a smart way to convey information.

    -Austin Hall

    • morgan says:

      Mr. Hill,

      Wishing to respond in some detail to your comments, and recognizing the limitation of WordPress to allow me to copy text hyperlinks directly into the comment section, I chose to reply in the form of a post. You will find it at Allegheny Treasures today.

      I will be happy to post any and all commentary you wish to provide at the post, in order to continue the debate.

      Best regards,

      Mike Morgan

  2. Austin says:

    Correction to last post and Data Sources.

    1. YouTube was actually shot in Crete.
    2. Audobon Society. http://www.audubon.org/
    3. BWEC http://www.batsandwind.org/
    4. Wind as base load generation.http://www.nrel.gov/wind/systemsintegration/system_integration_basics.html
    5.Grid Information:http://www.oe.energy.gov/smartgrid.htm

  3. Austin Hall of Appalachian Voices. I have no respect for you or what you try to impress upon people here. It is not worth the time of the time of the people here to read it. You have stood up at wind forums and called people names, such as NIMBY. You have brainswashed Appalachian State University Students in to believing that wind power will close coal plants and nuclear plants. Wind power has not closed a single coal plant and it never will.

    “Appalachian Voices’ Wind Shill, Austin P Hall, Brainwashes the Students at Appalachian State University « Mountain Ridge Protection Act Alliance http://goo.gl/ZghD

    You are known for not telling the truth. You have been repeatedly asked by Keepers of the Blue Ridge Members and The Mountain Ridge Protection Act Alliance members to discuss how you can be against coal, but support, mining in China for Rare Earth Minerals that are used in wind turbines. You will not respond. We have the emails.

    ” Asheville Citizen-Times http://goo.gl/b54S Why does Appalachian Voices and Austin Hall support Mountain top Removal for wind turbines?”

    Austin Hall you have stated that no blasting would ever be used to put wind turbines on mountain ridges. THat is not the truth.
    You have shown up at meetings in various counties in NC and VA and stated you were a resident of said county and that you support commercial wind. It was quickly discovered that you did not own property or live in the counties where you appeared.
    You know nothing about the 1983 Mountain Ridge Protection Act that protects the highest ridges of North Carolina. You have been repeatedly called out for giving misinformation on this law. You were noted in a letter to ASU that showed you were helping them lobby for legislation that would benefit their programs.

    “ASU blasted for Using Student Paper to lobby « Mountain Ridge Protection Act Alliance http://goo.gl/0yIJ Austin Hall and Appalachian Voices”
    But most of all you have embarrassed North Carolina by repeatedly stating that the NC Senators banned wind. THey did not. They permitted wind power, it was just not what you wanted to green your pockets. You have retaliated against these Senators by posting their pictures and negative comments against them on Facebook.
    You have tried to submit petitions with names of individuals from other states to the NC representatives, stating the people are from NC. They are well aware of your tactics.

    Let me warn you Austin Hall, you do not have the knowledge to debate the people here on any aspect of the wind industry.

  4. Austin Hall you use the argument that more cats kill birds that wind turbines. That argument will not work here among the experts. How many cats are there Austin? How many power lines? Now how many wind turbines are there? Let us take 10 commercial scale wind turbines on a farm where 3 cats and power lines exist. WHICH WILL KILL THE MOST BIRDS AUSTIN? Simple answer: The turbines.

    I know the story of the bird injured in Crete better than you do. The story is the same in the USA or Crete. Large birds love the warm updrafts as the blades turn, and they are drawn to them. The men who saved the bird are still hoping that it will fly with them again. They were horrified when it flew in to the turbine blades in daylight. The plant workers offered no help. You are aware of the bald eagle killed recently here in the USA?

    But your statement about using facts is so far from the truth. You are not about facts. You will do whatever it takes to get wind turbines on mountain ridges. You are a shill for the wind industry, Austin Hall.

  5. Frank O'Hara says:

    Mr Hall you write: “Proper siting is a critical component of minimizing bird fatalities.”

    This is a global issue. Just how do you propose to deal with proper siting to minimize bird fatalities?

    Industrial Big Wind Turbines represents HIGH COSTS with LOW SOCIAL BENEFITS. Remove the federal, state, and local tax goodies and Big Industrial Wind will be just dust in the wind.Big Industrial Wind is not reliable or predictable.

    It will never shut down a coal fired plant.

    Here is a sample how the Shenandoah Valley Network has responded to BIG WIND

    Southern Environmental Law Center Comment on Church Mountain Industrial Wind Proposal
    Letter recommending rejection of a special use permit for a wind turbine project on Church Mountain and Great North Mountain.
    http://www.svnva.org/download/l10/selc_commentletter_usfs_51308.pdf

    SVN’s letter to U.S. Forest Service on Industrial Wind Energy Development in the GWNF (PDF)
    Letter discouraging industrial wind energy projects due to their severe impacts on intact forested ridgelines.
    http://www.svnva.org/download/l10/svn_wind_on_gwnf090129.pdf

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service letter recommending against Shenandoah Mountain Industrial Wind Proposal (PDF)
    Letter expressing concern over the proximity of rare/sensitive habitat or natural features and communities to the vicinity of the proposed construction and operation of the proposed wind power facility within the GW National Forest.

    http://www.svnva.org/download/l10/usfws_20071116_shenmtn.pdf

    Virginia Forest Watch’s letter to U.S. Forest Service on Industrial Wind Energy in the GWNF (PDF)

    Letter opposing industrial wind energy projects within national forests.

    http://www.svnva.org/download/l10/vafw_windlettertousfs_1_09.pdf

    Please stop using the explaining how cats, autos, buildings kill more birds than wind turbines.

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