World’s Woeful Wind Power Output Spells Doom For Renewable Energy Rent Seekers
Don McLean’s American Pie was all about the day the music died; 2021 was all about the year that the wind industry died. Its well-worn claim that wind power is just a heartbeat away from replacing meaningful power sources – such as coal, gas and nuclear – took a battering across the globe last year.
On 16-17 February 2021, Texan wind power output fell to a paltry 2% of installed capacity – thanks to hundreds of wind turbines frozen solid during breathless, freezing weather. Solar panels were buried under inches-deep blankets of snow and ice and, likewise, just as useless.
The result was millions of Texans left freezing in the dark; no doubt, chuffed with the progress of their ‘inevitable transition’ to an all wind and sun-powered future. The only thing that kept the lights on were gas, coal and nuclear.
During the first half of 2021, Germany’s Greens watched on in horror as wind power output plummeted by more than 25% compared to the same period the year before. Over the same timeframe, Germany’s coal-fired power generators increased output by a whopping 38%.
Germany’s energy brains trust had earlier directed the forced closure of 11 coal-fired power plants (with a total capacity of 4.7GW) on 1 January 2021. Only to restart them a week later, when their 30,000 wind turbines failed to deliver anything like their nameplate capacity.
Things got worse as the year progressed and the Big Calm swept across Western Europe.
Starting in September, running through October and well into November wind power output collapsed (often for weeks on end) across Germany and the UK.
The Brits, like the Germans, were forced to reopen coal-fired power plants which they had earlier shuttered with delight.
Remember all that chatter about the death of coal?
After a string of paltry performances, anyone looking to pen a lengthy American-Pie-like dirge for the death of the wind industry has plenty to work with.
For those who missed 2021 and haven’t yet made the connection between wind power and the weather, Donn Dears spells it out below.
Wind Turbines Need Wind
Power for USA
3 December 2021
This may seem to be a truism, but the speed of the wind is critical to how much electricity a wind turbine generates.
Europe is finding this out the hard way. Texas learned this past winter that the wind needs to blow rather robustly … but not too robustly.
But, what are the implications of this wind drought in Northern Europe?
This map from EnergyPostEU courtesy of World Climate Service, shows how little wind there was in parts of Europe during the summer of 2021.
The UK, and Ireland were especially affected by slow wind speeds. A major UK utility reported that, “Renewable assets produced 32% less power than expected between April and September.”
One researcher said there was no need to worry about this rare event, the least wind in 75 years.
But it only takes 14 or more days in a row without wind for there to be a disaster if there isn’t enough backup. And we are not talking about no wind, we are talking about wind at low speeds, such as 9 or 10 mph.
The amount of power that’s produced is related to the cube of the wind speed.
That is, of course, until the wind blows too hard, say above 55 mph, when the wind turbines must be shut down to prevent them from being torn apart by the wind.
Germany also experienced slow winds during the summer. The CFO of RWE, a large German utility, said: “[We need a portfolio] onshore, offshore, or solar or storage…”
What does that statement infer?
It plainly says, it’s necessary to have duplicate investments to guarantee a steady supply of electricity. If wind isn’t available, then a duplicate and equal amount of solar must be in place to back it up. Or, alternatively, storage is needed for back up.
This should make it clear that wind and solar are more expensive than fossil fuel power plants to achieve a reliable supply of electricity. Duplicate investments repeated every twenty years automatically make wind and solar more expensive than natural gas or coal-fired plants that last for forty to sixty years.
But it’s even more expensive than this, because storage will be needed no matter how much investment money is spent on wind and solar because they are unreliable and require storage for backup.
In addition, it’s important to remember there hasn’t yet been a battery invented that can store and provide enough electricity for days on end to replace the electricity lost when the wind doesn’t blow hard enough or the sun doesn’t shine.
Power for USA