Minnesota wind turbines won’t work in cold weather

posted at 12:00 pm on January 30, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Minnesota invested itself in alternative energy sources years ago, and so the revelation that the state spent $3.3 million on eleven wind turbines hardly qualifies as news. However, the fact that they don’t work in cold weather does. KSTP reports that none of the wind turbines work, prompting the Twin Cities ABC affiliate to dub them “no-spin zones.”

Special hydraulic fluid designed for colder temperatures was used in the turbines, but it’s not working, so neither are the turbines.

There is a plan to heat the fluid, but officials must find a contractor to do the work.

How will the heaters work? They’ll have to use either electricity or natural gas at each turbine to keep the mechanism lubricated. That will drastically reduce the net energy gain from each turbine, depending on how much heating the turbine fluid needs to stop congealing in the winter. Since cold weather here lasts anywhere from 4-6 months, that makes it mighty inefficient as an energy resource.

In this case, though, the state may not be entirely at fault. The manufacturer certified these turbines to work during the harsh winters of Minnesota, and the state took them at their word. KSTP reports that the state may sue the manufacturer for either failure to perform or perhaps misrepresentation, so we could get at least some of our money back. However, the state also could have mitigated the issue by purchasing just one or two and monitoring their performance through a winter before buying the rest.

Wind power makes a lot of sense as a secondary or tertiary power source, a way to harness extra power without necessarily relying on it as a consistent source. I have no problem with its deployment under that kind of strategy, but as this shows, it’s simply not reliable enough as a primary energy resource replacing coal- or natural gas-generated electricity.


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The U.S. has more coal than any other nation. And those reserves will be available to us for over the next 200 years.

We still don’t have enough nuclear power plants. And natural gas is only doable in certain parts of the country due to geology.

I think we can get by on these three sources (nuclear energy, natural gas & coal) while we get viable, reliable and proven alternatives that will work in all weather conditions and with all levels of demand.

How viable is geothermal?

eanax on January 30, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Windmills? Just another casualty on the road to liberal nirvana. We can’t let little things like this slow us down.

It’s simply a matter of time before Al Gore and company will give us the salvation we strive for.

The Perpetual Motion Machine! Oh, we already have it.

Barack Obamas’ mouth!

donh525 on January 30, 2010 at 12:54 PM

I have one on my car. The faster you go, the more power it generates, which allows you to go faster. It’s perpetual motion I tells ya.

BDavis on January 30, 2010 at 12:55 PM

Who is Wesley Clark?

OmahaConservative on January 30, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Good Lord, man! He’s Pericles, Napoleon and Julius Caesar all rolled up in one!

Look at this crony game, though. How in the hell is Wesley Clark qualified to have anything to do with a wind turbine company? Everything that remains when the Democrats get through with it will be what is in the hands of Democrat politicians and their associates.

Buddahpundit on January 30, 2010 at 12:56 PM

GoldenEagle4444 on January 30, 2010 at 12:44 PM

T. Boone Pickens abandoned his project and left GE in the lurch for a lot of equipment. He apparently saw the money stop coming in; once that happened the project was a bust.
Does it seem strange that the manufacturer of wind turbines (GE) has such close relationships with the MSM government that is pushing wind power?

mad scientist on January 30, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Based on these two points this is a perfect project for the Dems to pour a few tens of billions into.

mad scientist on January 30, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Yes, two strong points, and here’s a third: Obama’s pal, Jeffrey Imelt, runs a company that just happens to sell wind turbines.

petefrt on January 30, 2010 at 12:58 PM

With green and other liberal ideas, it is the thought that counts, not the practicality.

Vashta.Nerada on January 30, 2010 at 12:21 PM

The motto of liberalism.

Extrafishy on January 30, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Call me evil, but I would like to see the Cape Wind project implemented. Only as a reminder to the Kennedy’s that sometimes rules for thee, but not for me … can backfire.
http://www.riehlworldview.com/carnivorous_conservative/2010/01/messianic-cronyism-obama-not-parting-sea-for-cape-wind-project.html

redridinghood on January 30, 2010 at 12:59 PM

All those problems go away when the world heats up in the next 10…30…or sorry, 50 years when the next solar flare is.

ConDem on January 30, 2010 at 12:04 PM

Had to fix that! ;-)

4shoes on January 30, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Obviously if wind turbines are inefficiant and dont work in the cold they just need to be subsidized with more money and govt incentives to get them built. Once they are built and dont work we can worry about that down the road by sueing the manufacturer or applying to the govt to dip into Bama’s stash for more moeny to come up with a fix for them.

Koa on January 30, 2010 at 1:01 PM

The motto of liberalism.

Extrafishy on January 30, 2010 at 12:59 PM

One of my grandmother’s favorite sayings applies here: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Proud Texan on January 30, 2010 at 1:02 PM

albill on January 30, 2010 at 12:05 PM

Or, replace all of above with Nuclear plant.

Liberal heads exploding in 3, 2, 1…

massrighty on January 30, 2010 at 1:02 PM

That’s right Ed. Let’s use fossil fuels forever.

Seven Seas on January 30, 2010 at 12:35 PM
Let’s see, I’ve got two choices:

1) Continue to use fossil fuels until they are no longer economically viable, at which point other power sources will, by default, become more economically viable.

2) Pretend that “alternative” (code for “inefficient”) power sources are actually economically viable, and disguise their huge costs with taxpayer-funded subsidies in a vain attempt to make myself feel morally superior to the troglodyte masses.

I’ll take door #1. Only self-righteous, delusional eco-morons take door #2.

Splashman on January 30, 2010 at 12:53 PM

DAMN! I wish I’d said that.

+100 splashman!!

Tim Zank on January 30, 2010 at 1:03 PM

Can we drill for oil and gas now?

BetseyRoss on January 30, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Yes we Can!! The president said so in his SOTUS, why he spent a whole 5 seconds on the topic…. Next he’ll talk to the Secty of Energy and the Secty of the Interior, with their undying support of oil/gas drilling, it will be happening in the next 3 years.

kringeesmom on January 30, 2010 at 1:03 PM

I would think that this cold-temperature hydraulic fluid problem would have been discovered years ago by the Army Engineers Cold Weather Labs. Obviously though it’s Bush’s fault.

Del Dolemonte on January 30, 2010 at 1:03 PM

All these ideas for alternative energy should be looked at. In less cold areas, windmills may be a fine idea.

However, it’s all dwarfed by nuclear energy. We should be building 5-10 plants per year for the next decade. That’s an “investment” as Obama would put it, that I could get behind. Jobs + less costly, more reliable energy.

Jill1066 on January 30, 2010 at 12:50 PM

“Looked at”? As long as that isn’t code for “subsidized,” I’m fine with that. But all these “alternative” energy sources have been looked at ad nauseam, and none are even close to being economically viable. That may change in the future, but I’m not holding my breath.

Nuclear, on the other hand, is most definitely economically viable. I only hope Obama was serious about spurring more nuke plants. If so, that puts him a step ahead of the previous POTUS — I never heard Bush say one word on the subject. And if off-shore drilling actually gets greenlighted through some effort of the Obama administration, he’ll be due some genuine compliments. I suspect, however, that his speech was intended only to get some breathing room from independents, and he’s counting on the Greenies to block both nuke plants and off-shore drilling in the courts. I’d love to be proven wrong.

Splashman on January 30, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Another unintended consequense-Northern Illinois is at a crossroads with wind turbines. The lines the turbines use are at capacity. Build more turbines and all the wires have to be replaced. What to do-what to do.

scorpio9 on January 30, 2010 at 1:07 PM

See Kate at SDA for the low down on windpower in the cold. She has been going after the uselessness of these wastes of money and land.

http://www.smalldeadanimals.com

Jim708 on January 30, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Call me evil, but I would like to see the Cape Wind project implemented.

redridinghood on January 30, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Cape Wind? How about offshore everywhere? How about atop every tall building in the major eastern and western seaboard cities… where the lefties live. Since most electricity is used in the cities, this would reign in the prohibitive infrastructure costs of transmission from rural (mostly conservative) to urban (mostly leftist) areas.

Mayor Bloomberg suggested that prospect last year for NYC and was nearly run out of town on a rail for even mentioning it.

petefrt on January 30, 2010 at 1:11 PM

Those wind turbines must be racists, since Obama said that they’re supposed to work.

BottomLine5 on January 30, 2010 at 1:11 PM

You know, as far as it goes, I’ve got no problem with trying to find other things to use for energy. Wind, solar, those are the obvious ones.

Currently, windmills and solar panels, though, are NOT cost effective, and are not reliable. However, once things are in the field, so to speak, and in use, there are always inevitable improvements and upgrades that follow. Will they ever upgrade to the point where they are viable? Don’t know, but without trying and working with it at some level, we may never know.

The thing is, though, I would really rather the private sector explore this, refine it, and bring it to market. There should be no room for mandates and government, er, our cash being funneled into it.

The one who perfects this technology and gets it out there will be a gazillionair!

JamesLee on January 30, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Wind power makes a lot of sense as a secondary or tertiary power source

Not economic sense.

TexasDan on January 30, 2010 at 1:17 PM

They are only “cost effective ” in the liberal bizzaro world when they are subsidized by the government. I will never forget a news program almost celebrating that this one particular family could afford the 20000 dollar price tag of solar panels . Later in the story they noted you and I picked up the other 20000 dollars plus.

CWforFreedom on January 30, 2010 at 1:17 PM

The one who perfects this technology and gets it out there will be a gazillionair!

JamesLee on January 30, 2010 at 1:12 PM

I am working on it.

Electrongod on January 30, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Run the heaters on coal.

Daggett on January 30, 2010 at 1:23 PM

No no no, I take that back. Get Liberals to blow their hot air on the hydraulic fluid.

Daggett on January 30, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Or, replace all of above with Nuclear plant.

massrighty on January 30, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Seems liberal France has no problem with them. Liberals of America need to catch up.

CWforFreedom on January 30, 2010 at 1:26 PM

Yes we Can!! The president said so in his SOTUS, why he spent a whole 5 seconds on the topic…. Next he’ll talk to the Secty of Energy and the Secty of the Interior, with their undying support of oil/gas drilling, it will be happening in the next 3 years.

kringeesmom on January 30, 2010 at 1:03 PM

Yeah, he dangled that carrot, followed in the next breath with the stick: It will be tied to Cap & Tax.

RushBaby on January 30, 2010 at 1:30 PM

Germany has figured out their investment in wind power is a total bust. Average power production is running 8% of installed capacity. To prevent blackouts, they had to build standby power generation equipment, which by definition has to run on fossil fuel, so there is literally zero emissions benefit.

What could they have done with the money instead of silly turbines?

Pickens’ deal foundered because the pols who told him they would expand the transmission grid out to get the power where it was needed lied about the funding. Push came to shove, Pickens pulled out, and lost a bundle. He still has a bundle, putting it into natrual gas, but the AGW hoax is going to hurt a lot of people before we are done.

Harry Schell on January 30, 2010 at 1:31 PM

How viable is geothermal?

eanax on January 30, 2010 at 12:53 PM

If you’re talking strictly energy-generation potential, geothermal beats the snot out of solar and wind in all categories. A cold day on the surface won’t do jack squat to cool the core. And as for longevity, well, when the earth’s core starts cooling that much…its time to evacuate the whole freaking planet.

The sticking point is economics, as usual. Theoretically you could build a geo-power plant anywhere – if you were willing to dig deep down enough. And the investment for that would be mind-boggling.

Dark-Star on January 30, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Wind energy is ancient (random windmill link showing old windmills –> http://www.timetravel-britain.com/articles/country/windmills.shtml) and there is a reason we have MOVED ON. What a complete waste of a good generator. Strap that generator to a nuclear plant and it will light more than the 30 homes mentioned in the news report.

WWCathodeRay on January 30, 2010 at 1:37 PM

No no no, I take that back. Get Liberals to blow their hot air on the hydraulic fluid.

Daggett on January 30, 2010 at 1:25 PM

At the rate they are printing money why don’t they just build bonfires under each wind turbine with dollar bills. Probably be the cheapest solution.

Yoop on January 30, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Does it seem strange that the manufacturer of wind turbines (GE) has such close relationships with the MSM government that is pushing wind power?

mad scientist on January 30, 2010 at 12:56 PM

No stranger than the fact that certain corporate lobbyists may yet make it the law of the land to buy their products. Business as usual; the government’s bought and paid for.

Cape Wind? How about offshore everywhere? How about atop every tall building in the major eastern and western seaboard cities… where the lefties live…

Mayor Bloomberg suggested that prospect last year for NYC and was nearly run out of town on a rail for even mentioning it.

petefrt on January 30, 2010 at 1:11 PM

Wow. I never thought I’d see the day where the greens were the ones being the pouty-lipped NIMBYists. This country is truly ack-basswords.

Dark-Star on January 30, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Cut them some slack guys…its just been so warm for the past decade that they haven’t had cold enough temps for proper field testing. Geez.

selias on January 30, 2010 at 1:43 PM

At least it looks pretty

DarkCurrent on January 30, 2010 at 1:43 PM

, when the earth’s core starts cooling that much…its time to evacuate the whole freaking planet.

ICC will be the new phobia. Inner Core Cooling. It will be blamed on any new Earthquakes as this will be linked to the cooling, shrinking core.

Electrongod on January 30, 2010 at 1:46 PM

I’m no fan of windmills, but this problem should be very simple to solve. The temperatures must be very cold, because hydraulics on there own create heat.

A very low voltage electric coil would heat the fluid to a usable viscosity. Would be negligible drain on output.

Why not question those who work with hydraulic equipment in the arctic? They’ve been doing it for years.

donh525 on January 30, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Working on drilling rigs in very cold temperatures in Alberta, we would run our hydraulic pumps constantly when it got real cold. Just open a bypass and let ‘er rip.

The eco-nuts could solve this problem by having a Babushka-clad hippy chick and her clan living at the base of every windmill. She would have an old-style broom to sweep away the snow from any solar panels used for heating the oil. A Babushka at every windmill would of course be another job saved or created by Bambi. Sweeeet!

Ogabe on January 30, 2010 at 1:47 PM

ICC will be the new phobia. Inner Core Cooling. It will be blamed on any new Earthquakes as this will be linked to the cooling, shrinking core.

Electrongod on January 30, 2010 at 1:46 PM

I’ll have those data models for next month’s inaugural ICC conference ready for you by this afternoon.

selias on January 30, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Minnesota wind turbines won’t work in cold weather

Kinda answers the question of how we got Ventura and Franken, don’t it…

Bruno Strozek on January 30, 2010 at 1:51 PM

ICC will be the new phobia. Inner Core Cooling. It will be blamed on any new Earthquakes as this will be linked to the cooling, shrinking core.

Electrongod on January 30, 2010 at 1:46 PM

After the Chicken-Little hysteria I’ve seen, I can’t dismiss that very phenomenon happening. Even if the planet would have to look like Swiss cheese before such a thing could even be possible…

Dark-Star on January 30, 2010 at 1:52 PM

OT:

It is snowing and it is Saturday here in Washington, D.C.

HARRY REID CALL YOUR OFFICE!

Dhuka on January 30, 2010 at 1:53 PM

Another big wind idea fizzles out in the Land of 10,000 Lakes!

The other one was electing Al Franken to the Senate.

pilamaye on January 30, 2010 at 1:55 PM

Wind mills were never about a solution to an energy or environmental problem. This has been a scam to take money from the taxpayer and put it into certain people’s pockets.

daesleeper on January 30, 2010 at 2:04 PM

We have a dozen wind turbines on the ridge above Idaho Falls. The temps here can stay below freezing for weeks at a time and these seems to still spin.

I’d say the idiots who planned the Minnisota project are to be blamed for not anticipating freezing temps.

Ace ODale on January 30, 2010 at 2:04 PM

I once could walk out my back door and see absolutely no light pollution anywhere. That’s one reason I bought the property. Observing the Milky Way on a summer night is pleasant. Now my property is surrounded with wind turbines with these huge red lights and their synchronized blinking. I just know that in 10 years, they will realize wind power is not reliable and efficient, all the companies that put them up will declare bankruptcy and the turbines will deteriorate. They are ugly enough now, but imagine what they will look like with no upkeep. In the late afternoon in summers when temperatures are at their highest and electrical demand greatest, the wind normally calms. That’s when the dependable coal and natural gas kicks in to provide the power. I’d rather be surrounded by the pump jacks, at least you can’t see them from miles away.

Oleta on January 30, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Dark Star

Geothermal drilling has the potential to trigger earthquakes and releases radioactive cesium – two factors which make geothermal energy less useful.

Dhuka on January 30, 2010 at 2:07 PM

If that darn global warming would finally kick in, there would be no freezing problem. /

Vashta.Nerada on January 30, 2010 at 2:13 PM

These people want to run your health care. SCARY!

jukin on January 30, 2010 at 2:17 PM

Geothermal drilling has the potential to trigger earthquakes and releases radioactive cesium – two factors which make geothermal energy less useful.

Dhuka on January 30, 2010 at 2:07 PM

I never said it was a perfect source of power (nothing is), but the Earth’s internal heat is a hell of a lot more reliable than sunshine or wind. For any large-scale operation it’s just silly to rely solely on a sunny day or a strong enough breeze.

Dark-Star on January 30, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Ace ODale on January 30, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Sorry, but your government is Idaho isn’t much brighter. They will still lose money on windmills but it will be paid for through higher taxes.

mad scientist on January 30, 2010 at 2:25 PM

daesleeper on January 30, 2010 at 2:04 PM

+10

Obviously the nuclear reactor lobby is just now figuring that out.

mad scientist on January 30, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Geothermal drilling has the potential to trigger earthquakes and releases radioactive cesium – two factors which make geothermal energy less useful.

Dhuka on January 30, 2010 at 2:07 PM

From what I heard lately is earthquakes are caused by some sort of carbonated energy drink. Something about C02 emissions and a Devil.

Electrongod on January 30, 2010 at 2:32 PM

How viable is geothermal?

eanax on January 30, 2010 at 12:53 PM

You could probably get a significant amount of power — by turning Yellow stone Park into a geothermal plant. Who’s with me?

Count to 10 on January 30, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Wind and solar power aren’t currently efficient enough to compete with the handy sources of power we’re used to. What happens to a factory cranking out solar panels has to work on reduced power because the wind isn’t blowing enough, or it’s too cold?

Both systems are at the mercy of the very climate we’re trying to save. Who’s to say average winds won’t reduce, or that we’ll see more cloud cover for several years in a row?

hawksruleva on January 30, 2010 at 2:33 PM

You could probably get a significant amount of power — by turning Yellow stone Park into a geothermal plant. Who’s with me?

Count to 10 on January 30, 2010 at 2:32 PM

It could work – and it’d raise a lot of money, which the U.S. could use to pay down debt. Geothermal has the advantage of not messing with the loading on the underlying earth, so it wouldn’t tend to add to the instability in the area. It might even reduce the risk of a seismic/volcanic event there, who knows?

hawksruleva on January 30, 2010 at 2:36 PM

hawksruleva on January 30, 2010 at 2:33 PM

Try this. We get businesses and houses to buy off on solar panels in LA. At the same time we perfect the hydrogen vehicle and/or fuel cell. Both produce emissions as water vapor. You solved the smog issue but replaced it with fog that greatly reduced the power output of those solar cells.

Electrongod on January 30, 2010 at 2:39 PM

Why stop with heaters, attach motors to them so the blades keeps spinning when the wind stops.

agmartin on January 30, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Windpower not only sucks, it blows. Don’t get me started.

curved space on January 30, 2010 at 2:43 PM

Electrongod on January 30, 2010 at 2:39 PM

I don’t think the emission rates would be on the right order of magnitude to be significant.
On the other hand, current solar tech generally isn’t worth it as an energy source, and carrying around enough hydrogen to power a vehicle has some serious safety issues.

Count to 10 on January 30, 2010 at 2:46 PM

If they just move them indoors, problem solved.

BDavis on January 30, 2010 at 2:53 PM

Count to 10 on January 30, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Understand. I am an engineer in the solar power industry and can’t agree with you more on solar power not where it’s at as a primary power source. These panels have a slow degradation in efficiency for the first 20 years when then it hits its “knee” effect and drops off sharply. But during the panels age of efficiency, it doesn’t take much to reduce its output due to light absorbing elements in the atmosphere or splattered on the panels.

Electrongod on January 30, 2010 at 2:56 PM

But during the panels age of efficiency, it doesn’t take much to reduce its output due to light absorbing elements in the atmosphere or splattered on the panels.

Electrongod on January 30, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Sure, but I don’t think vapor emissions from hydrogen vehicles is going to contribute much to fog. It would still be the same order of magnitude as the amount of water vapor emitted from gasoline engines now.

Count to 10 on January 30, 2010 at 3:00 PM

The one thing I don’t get is why the eco-fools are OK with spoiling the pristine countryside with these eyesores, not to mention the bird casualties that they should be so concerned with? What gives? Aren’t these eco-fools the ones that Don Henley speaks of in The Last Resort about “ugly boxes” that “Jesus-people” erect? These ugly white monstrosities are acceptable though?

My husbands family owns much farm acreage in the midwest and when T Boone minions were coming around (before he backed out), they told them “He** no, and don’t ever ask again.”

PrincipledPilgrim on January 30, 2010 at 3:07 PM

Count to 10 on January 30, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Actually converting hydrogen back to water for energy produces less water vapor then internal combustion engines but that depends on the water vapor in the air at that time. Essentially measuring water vapor from combustion engines is not a constant. Fuel cell powered vehicles, even though reduced in emissions, becomes a constant and thus is an addition to water vapor already in the atmosphere.
I am just saying that with the age of alternate energy over many different technologies, one has to be careful that one solution doesn’t nullify the other.

Electrongod on January 30, 2010 at 3:09 PM

I am just saying that with the age of alternate energy over many different technologies, one has to be careful that one solution doesn’t nullify the other.

Electrongod on January 30, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Important point, to be sure, but I don’t think this is an instance of it. There are too many other, dominant factors ruining the idea before we get down to “water emissions block sunlight”.

Count to 10 on January 30, 2010 at 3:16 PM

As I described above, TonyfromOz absolutely lays waste to the eco-fascist claims on “Alternative Energy”. I just came from reading todays installment wher commits an aggravated assault on the efficacy of using solar-panels as a cost effective means of energy.

This guy just rocks!

http://papundits.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/household-solar-power-dont-believe-the-hype/#more-30643

On the insane notion that wind turbines can effectively supply electricity he uses the german experience who have most attempted to implement the “green” concept. Can you say only 6% of what was garaunteed to be deliverded.

Here is Tony’s article on the epic fail that is wind power.

« How To Be A JerkA Declaration Of War Against Liberal America »Wind Power – Epic Fail
Posted by TonyfromOz on 10/27/2009

Large Wind Turbine at Nine Mile Beach Wind Farm. Image courtesy of Verve Energy.
The image at left is a single wind tower. I have included it for perspective. Click on the image to open it in a new and larger window. The perspective is of size, and that is a Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carrier parked by the base of the tower.

If this does not scare you, then you have no central nervous system.

Germany has more than 8,000 wind towers, just a little less than what exists in the U.S. For the whole of the year 2008, those wind towers delivered LESS power to the grid than 3 large coal fired power plants.

This is another of those technical posts, and having said that, I really hope that you’ll stay and read it, because the information is really important. Sometimes, a post that has a technical nature means almost nothing because most people don’t really know what it’s about. That’s the problem I struggle with. I have to explain what it all means in a manner that can be easily comprehended.

Technical information like this is used in a manner that is specifically designed so that the ordinary person has no real comprehension of what it means. Then, when people find out that what it relates to is not what they have been told, then those people running the thing can point to that technical information and say that they were completely up front and detailed all the information. It’s just that no one understands it. That is my job. To translate that technical information, and then to explain it exactly so that it can be understood by the average person.

We have been told that we desperately need to close down those coal burning electrical generating plants because the by product, the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas that is contributing to catastrophic Global Warming/Climate Change.

To replace those coal fired plants, we need to be using power generated from renewable sources, and the two that have been latched onto are Wind Power and Solar Power, which has two versions, Photovoltaic Solar Power, and Concentrating Solar Power, also called Solar Thermal.

Because of that, vast fortunes have been spent on construction of tens of thousands of those huge Wind Towers. We are told without end that these are the way of the future, and that they can supply all our power needs into the future, and they emit no harmful CO2 emissions.

Let’s then look specifically at not just one wind tower, not just a whole wind farm, but the whole and total inventory of wind farm power production for a whole Country. This is not a hypothetical exercise but actual information from operation of every wind tower in Germany.

Germany currently has the second largest power production from wind generation of any Country on the Planet. The largest is now the U.S. where tens of Billions of dollars have been spent on them.
Currently Germany has a Nameplate Capacity of just on 24,000 MegaWatts, (MW) which, using a much simplified explanation looks like it is the equivalent of 12 large coal fired power plants of 2,000 MW Capacity, but simple observations like that are totally and utterly misleading. Each tower has a large nacelle on top and each of those nacelles can produce (at its maximum) around 3MW, so that means that existing 24,000MW would equate to 8000 towers minimum. The number would be considerably more, effectively because the larger ones have a capacity of 3MW per nacelle, and most are less than that.

Detailed technical figures for the whole of the year 2008 are freely available, and the site they are available at is freely posted on the Internet. However, as is the nature of technical information, no one would ever go to the site and read that information, or even understand what it actually means, or in fact even know what to look for in the first place. So, effectively, information of this nature is seldom seen, and no attention is ever drawn to it, and once you see the explanation, it will be plainly obvious just why the information is hardly ever referred to.

Even though the total amount of power is trumpeted as seemingly quite large at 24,000MW, and this is pointed to as an example,. However, the amount of power actually delivered to the grid for use by consumers is in fact so small as to be inconsequential. These statistics are a graphic example of just that.

The problem with these wind towers is the variability of the wind itself. This means that for periods of time those huge blades are motionless, not turning over the generator inside the large nacelle they are attached to, hence no power is being generated at all. This variability is a problem that operators carefully avoid mentioning in much detail, and when it is brought up, they either distract you, change the subject, or quote technical statistics to confuse the listener. Some operators even claim that their wind plants can run at a 40 to 50% efficiency rate, meaning that they can deliver their full rated power for up to 50% of the time. This compares fairly well, well sort of anyway, with coal fired power which has a power delivery efficiency rate up around 85% and nuclear power which has an efficiency rate up around 93 to 95%. So, the efficiency rate of wind when some quote around 50% might actually sound good, but keep in mind that even at that rate, they are still only supplying their rated power for half, and even less than half of the time. The average most commonly used efficiency rate is around 30 to 35%, and when that number is quoted, they carefully avoid telling you that effectively means that on average they are only supplying electrical power for 8 hours out of every 24.

The following figures give a totally different view of what power is actually being delivered.
These figures are not for one plant in isolation but for the whole inventory of wind power for Germany.

To explain the figures I need you to carefully look at this diagram while I explain it to you, and from that I will then refer to some other charts and then give an overall description of exactly what it all means.

This page was translated from the German, so that’s why some of the text within the diagram is still in German. This chart is for the month of October, and why I have chosen this one specifically is that it is closest to the average.
The scale at left is for the Power stated in MW. The horizontal scale details the days in the month. The green line at the top is the maximum rated power in total, that now being 24,000MW. The Pink line is the amount of power ‘guaranteed’ by wind power producers to deliver to the grid. That level is set at 6%. Wait a minute 6%. Six lousy percent. 1440MW power guaranteed absolutely to deliver to the grid by the operators.

The blue line is the amount of power ACTUALLY delivered to the grid. As you can plainly see there, that delivered power is often below even the guaranteed 6% amount, and the average power delivered to the grid for that month is 21.35%.

Keep in mind that this is not for one tower in isolation, or even one wind farm, but for the whole inventory of wind power across the whole Country.

Now, this is the link to the page for the figures for the whole year. The page is in German. I can save this one image as I have, and translate that, but for the whole page, I cannot supply the translated link, so here I will just have to provide the link in German, and then explain the points from that which I will be referring to.

When you go to that page, you will see the charts for each month, and under each month’s chart another diagram showing that on some days, the power actually delivered to the grid does not even reach that guaranteed minimum of 6%, and under each of those second charts that actual time is shown in hours.

So, then here’s a breakdown of the Monthly figures.

January. Power delivered 8824MW or 39.67%. Hours when guaranteed minimum was not even reached: 29 hours.
February. 27.8% and 154 hours.
March. 33.5% and 54 hours.
April. 12.65% and 224 hours.
May. 9.96% and 291 Hours.
June. 12.69% and 193 hours.
July. 13.63% and 163 hours.
August. 17.41% and 168 hours.
September. 13.27% and 230 hours.
October. 21.35% and 140 hours.
November. 27.37% and 112 hours.
December. 18.89% and 162 hours.

The average power delivered to the grid extrapolated out over the whole year is just a tick over 20%.
20%. Not the 40 to 50% some quote, and in fact at no time did it ever approach that figure. Not even the 30 to 35% often quoted as the industry average, and in fact it only reached that figure in 2 months.
This is the average for the whole inventory of every one of those wind towers. Every one of them. More than 8,000 of them.
Note also that the delivered power was below even the guaranteed minimum for 1,920 hours during the year, so it could not even generate the guaranteed minimum for 22% of the year, almost one quarter of the year. That’s not the maximum power but the guaranteed minimum of only 6%.

Look then, closely, at the six month period around late Spring, Summer and Early Autumn, mid year where the average for those six months is barely 13%. Keep particularly in mind that power goes to three end user sectors, Residential, Commercial, and Industrial. If Wind is to take over all power production, then what does Industry and Commerce do for the remaining 87% of the time when there is next to no electrical power at all.

So, then consider this right now.
If the delivered power amounts to only 20%, then the actual power delivered amounts to 43.5 Billion KiloWattHours. (KWH)

Three Large coal fired power plants of 2,000MW Nameplate capacity can actually deliver to the grid 46 Billion KWH, 5% more than every wind tower in the Country.

THREE COAL FIRED POWER PLANTS.

I won’t even attempt to explain the cost differential here, as I have done in a number of earlier posts, suffice to say that that number of wind towers would have cost in the vicinity of $50 Billion at the most sanguine calculation, while three modern coal fired plants would cost around $6 Billion, worst case scenario, a tenth as much, and producing more power on close to a 24 hour basis.

If I designed something, anything, and went to the Government for funding, and explained that what I had designed would only operate for one fifth of the time, you be the judge of whether or not I would get that funding. I’d be laughed at.

No wonder statistical information like this is not freely available, is not disseminated to the public, while at the same time attracting Billions of dollars in Government subsidies.

THIS IS NOT THE ANSWER. IT’S A CON ON THE GRANDEST SCALE.

Archimedes on January 30, 2010 at 3:20 PM

I waiting for the new wind power cars and big trucks .That will be a hoot.Also the new wind and solar power tanks and aircraft carriers .I am told the military can,t wait to get there hands on one of these killing machines.

thmcbb on January 30, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Irony! Don’t you just love it.

jeanie on January 30, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Count to 10 on January 30, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Agree.

Electrongod on January 30, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Wind power makes a lot of sense as a secondary or tertiary power source, a way to harness extra power without necessarily relying on it as a consistent source. I have no problem with its deployment under that kind of strategy, but as this shows, it’s simply not reliable enough as a primary energy resource replacing coal- or natural gas-generated electricity.

Wind power is a big flop. The start up costs are not recoverable before the turbines need overhaul, a very expensive procedure. This is why you see T. Boone Pickens begging for subsidies in Washington. He has been loosing his a$$.

conservnut on January 30, 2010 at 3:36 PM

“it’s simply not reliable enough as a primary energy resource replacing coal- or natural gas-generated electricity.”

Well, it’s reliable enough for the rubes.

Our overlords, of course, will require something else.

notagool on January 30, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Who were the ad wizards that came up with that one?!?!

JohnGalt23 on January 30, 2010 at 3:43 PM

You know who knows how to build windmills?

The Dutch,

That’s who.

Been doin’ it, for centuries.

You know why Dutch windmills are more effiecient?

Because they turn wind energy directly into work – grinding grain, pumping water, etc.

They don’t concern themselves with trying to illuminate Las Vegas, or powering the Bessimer process.

franksalterego on January 30, 2010 at 3:52 PM

“Just like anything when things don’t happen like you plan for them to happen, you get frustrated…”

No, dumb***, you get fired. That is if you’re working in the private sector and not for the government.

PackerBronco on January 30, 2010 at 4:22 PM

OT: I just got a Farmers Almanac from my aunt, a birthday gift. I will be fifty five on Wednesday the third, and have never owned one in my life.

OmahaConservative on January 30, 2010 at 4:22 PM

I waiting for the new wind power cars and big trucks .That will be a hoot.Also the new wind and solar power tanks and aircraft carriers .I am told the military can,t wait to get there hands on one of these killing machines.

thmcbb on January 30, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Well, they were good enough for Columbus. But, alas, that was 1492.

Johan Klaus on January 30, 2010 at 4:42 PM

You know who knows how to build windmills?

The Dutch,

That’s who.

Been doin’ it, for centuries.

You know why Dutch windmills are more effiecient?

Because they turn wind energy directly into work – grinding grain, pumping water, etc.

They don’t concern themselves with trying to illuminate Las Vegas, or powering the Bessimer process.

franksalterego on January 30, 2010 at 3:52 PM

Also the Fiat & La Cosa Nostra consortium in Italy, see Der Speigel. How long till Fiat/Chrysler and the Chicago Goobahs announce that Mopar will no longer make autos, that going into the wind turbine biz?

My guess? Sometime shortly before or after their imminently soon next bankruptcy filing.

Archimedes on January 30, 2010 at 4:46 PM

Ok… 300K per windmill, which will generate power for 35 houses according to this…

Anyone know the life expectancy on these things? bearings in turbines don’t last forever…

Cause thats $8572 per house… for electricity that is there IF the wind is blowing hard enough.

Romeo13 on January 30, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Sounds like there’s a Wind of Change coming.

yoda on January 30, 2010 at 5:16 PM

The U.S. has more coal than any other nation. And those reserves will be available to us for over the next 200 years…
eanax on January 30, 2010 at 12:53 PM

The Congressional Research Service stated that the U.S. has tapped into only 13%, or 21 billion barrels of its oil reserves, with the other 87% still untouched.

The US has 1.35 trillion barrels of oil if all fossil fuels were converted to oil. 1st runner up: Russia 1.25 trillion. 3rd runner up: Saudia Arabia with 0.56 trillion barrels

Friendly21 on January 30, 2010 at 5:16 PM

Industrial wind power is an absolute disaster. All taxpayer subsidies should be halted immediately. It is merely a more expensive, less reliable alternative to energy sources we have in ample supply such as coal, nuclear and NG.

echosyst on January 30, 2010 at 5:17 PM

How viable is geothermal?

Pretty good source of energy…if you live in an active geologic area. The Rockies, particularly around the Yellowstone area, are viable; but most of the Rocky Mts are very active..downside is the expense to get going…and due to the definition of geothermal, there is a certain instability..

I would like to see drilling where there is oil, mining where there is coal, wind where the wind blows all the time, geothermal where it is available….natural gas, solar where someone (not the gov) wants to spend the money….did I miss anything? We should be using every available source of energy we have in the country and/or can buy from our friends who are real friends..and not the “friends” like the Saudis….

norm1111 on January 30, 2010 at 5:19 PM

Why is the State of Minnesota involved in the purchase of energy producing equipment in the first place? Electrical utilities are city and/or county facilities, aren’t they? (Though nominally private companies, most are the usual fascist private-public ‘partnership’.)

This is just the same problem with the Federal government on a smaller scale.

Separate the State and business and the problem will get solved as well as can be.

To reach further down: get the State out of the education business and individuals will grow up knowing that voluntary trade is both moral and practical, and that the opposite is not.

JDPerren on January 30, 2010 at 5:22 PM

These MN wind turbines that the 11 cities bought only put out 160 KW when delivering full power. They have been installed since the beginning of October and have put zero KW. Typical wind turbines need 10 mph wind to generate begin to out put any power, they usually put out power about 25-30 percent of the time.

Any heaters for these will consume power 24 hours a day, so that will knock down the efficiency further. Not sure how much heat they will require but I figure many 5KW or would do it.

For some odd reason people think wind power is free. It is far from that. The don’t seem to be able to break even unless heavily subsidized by the tax payers. Hardly free.

Dasher on January 30, 2010 at 5:41 PM

The Obama administration, as we speak, is denying drilling permits on public land and turning some public lands into historic monuments (aka Indian mounds) so that they cannot be used for mineral rights.

Dhuka on January 30, 2010 at 5:41 PM

Where is AlGore these days? Has he gone Galt on us?

Dhuka on January 30, 2010 at 5:50 PM

albill on January 30, 2010 at 12:05 PM

I don’t know why she swallowed the fly, perhaps she’ll die?

Wait, didn’t that song end badly?

gekkobear on January 30, 2010 at 5:52 PM

Put a field of solar cells next to the turbines to power the heaters for the turbine fluid.

When the solar cells get covered with snow and can´t collect sun energy, then build a coal-fired plant next to them to power the heater to melt the snow on the field of of solar cells which then collects the sun to power the heater for the wind turbine.

albill on January 30, 2010 at 12:05 PM

I have a better idea:

Post a platoon of OFA tards with snowbrushes next to the solar panels.

roy_batty on January 30, 2010 at 6:01 PM

However, the state also could have mitigated the issue by purchasing just one or two and monitoring their performance through a winter before buying the rest.

That makes sense; why on earth would any government do that when they can just confiscate more wealth from constituents.

Branch Rickey on January 30, 2010 at 6:10 PM

The obvious solution is to parasitically utilize some of the electricity generated in the turbine generator itself, bleeding it off to power a fluid heater. It’s hard to believe the turbine manufacturer failed at such a basic consideration since Minnesota is known for its extreme cold.
.

According to the report, each turbine can power 35 homes. When it’s spinning of course, and only at full speed. If that’s the case, it seems that the investment will never pay for itself. A typical home incurs about $2,000 in electric bills per year, so even if the turbine spins 50% of the time annually at full speed (very doubtful), the $1,000 saved per home (not including maintenance costs) translates to $35,000 per year ‘saved.’ It would initially appear that it will pay for itself in about 10 years, but that always assumes that the initial investment remains static. If it were say invested in a bank cd at a 4% annual rate of return over 10 years, that $300k becomes $444,000. Thus the payback period is far longer assuming the turbine works as planned and has no maintenance costs. That is turning out not to be the case because of situations like this one. Factor in maintenance, unforeseen circumstances, and the fact that even when the turbine spins it’s power varies greatly with wind speed, it’s highly doubtful that small-scale industrial turbines such as these are economically feasible.

http://theblogprof.blogspot.com/2010/01/real-no-spin-zone-wind-turbines-in.html

theblogprof on January 30, 2010 at 6:11 PM

However, the fact that they don’t work in cold weather does

Ed, you are missing the entire point. These mills created green jobs and made all involved feel much better. These were built with good intentions, so the fact they are a complete waste and net something slightly less than useless is not relevant.
/s

JusDreamin on January 30, 2010 at 6:11 PM

One positive occures to me, once this whole global warming thing kicks in (any day now, from what I hear), not only will the cold not be a factor, but there will be a significant drop in power needs, since everybody in MN will be able to count on balmy winters and wont have to kick on the heat. I hear you guys may have some ocean front property in a year or two as well.
Hmm, maybe I should be investing now?

JusDreamin on January 30, 2010 at 6:18 PM

Weird. There’s a turbine only a few miles from my house and it appears to be working normally. It’s -10C here in Halifax, NS Canada.

I think maybe somebody made an error somewhere along the line during the installation.

atadOFF on January 30, 2010 at 6:23 PM

theblogprof on January 30, 2010 at 6:11 PM

You are right, they are not economically feasible. Claims at first were that the life span of these turbines was 30 to 50 years. Those claims were greatly exaggerated. The fact is that the ones in west Texas anyway have to be overhauled after 5 to 7 years. Condensation in the turbine oil is one very big problem.

Just like most alternative energy, they are not fiscally sound investments yet. Take ethanol for example. It is not self sustaining. The production of ethanol uses more energy than it produces.

Doesn’t make much sense does it?

conservnut on January 30, 2010 at 6:29 PM

-10C here in Halifax, NS Canada.

atadOFF on January 30, 2010 at 6:23 PM

Good Lord! brrrrrrrrrr.

conservnut on January 30, 2010 at 6:32 PM

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