Friday, November 03, 2006

Energy Outlook Suggests Newsday Didn't Really Know What It Was Talking About When It Wrote About Danish Wind Power and LIPA's Jones Beach Proposal

I directed Geoffrey Stokes, of the Energy Outlook blog, to Newsday’s wind power stories (here and here) of earlier this week, thinking that he’d have some thoughts. And indeed, he posted them today. His bottom line is that contrary to what Newsday asserts, if LIPA’s wind energy project is built off Jones Beach, it will in fact offset greenhouse gases:

… every kW-hour the wind turbines produced would indeed reduce the region's greenhouse gas emissions.

Newsday readers and others should check out what he says, here.


Blogger Sam said...

I'd be careful about making a statement like "every kW of wind power would reduce greenhouse gases." That is simply not true fact and is pure conjecture.

The way most utility power plants work is that they have a base load, typically 100 to 2,000 MW per unit. These are "spun up" to exactly 1,800 RPM. The reason is because that is divisible by 60, so the megahertz, clocks, and all that stuff is in harmony.

Now remember, electricity is a fungible product and you don't know if it came from a wind turbine, coal plant, nuke, Canada source, or whatever. Such energy is typically pooled together to ensure that there is enough power for the area of responsibility (the paying customers and distributors). If there is excess power it is sold to outside areas, just like ENRON was doing in California (the dirty rats!).

Now if a local utility pool has too much electrical output that can cause serious damage to the equipment, so often without an outside market they will "spin down" a unit and take it offline.

The problem with wind power is that it is not coordinated with any electricity reliability pool; they just generate whenever they want. Not being as dependible and part of the cooperative pool, perhaps a few percent of the juice at most, wind power load can be used locally, only for peaking, or exported to California or Canada.

Yes, federal regulation may require that the wind turbine operator be paid a reasonable fee for generating power to the grid, but that does not mean that somebody, anywhere, had to "spin down" a large generator and take a unit offline and therefore save some on greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, with a growth rate averagng 2-3 percent in electrical demand per year, depending on the weather and degree days, one could make a case that it could have no effect at all, since about 157 new coal, natural gas, and nuke utility plants (maybe a few, we'll see) are being planned and eventually permitted over the next ten years.

Sorry if I don't buy the argument. At best, wind power can help offset some of the growth in electrical demand but unless something major happens, one could almost say that growth in wind turbine power was associated with MORE greenhouse emissions. It did not cause it, per se, but that's the trend in the industry.

I do think people should go for wind and hydraulic power, as it makes things just a little less worse. /Sam

3:53 PM  

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