Skip to main content

I know you guys are busy with the election and all that, but you need to have good policies to push when your guy actually wins. Here is one, via the European Tribune and the Oil Drum.

This is a simplified version of the presentation I will be making this Tuesday morning at the ASPO 7 Conference (the full presentation should be posted on that website in a couple of days). I must admit that I have been a bit nonplussed to see that the peak oil community seems to share the oil industry's dismissal of wind power's irrelevance and uselessness in the face of the currently energy challenge (maybe I am unfairly judging from a few individuals' comments, but it's definitely an existing undercurrent in the community).

So, in reaction, let me put up here a few arguments that suggest that wind could play a major role in solving our current energy woes - not a silver bullet, but rather more than a side show.

First, the "wind is too small to make a difference" argument: well, so was nuclear, until it got big enough. Wind is following the exact same growth trajectory:

Pure Power
EWEA, March 2008 (pdf)

And, as the image show before, wind power has already been a large part of energy investments for a number of years now, at least in Europe (but the rest of the world is now catching up, with the USA and China booming):

Pure Power
EWEA, March 2008 (pdf)

Over the past 8 years, wind has represented around 40% of new installed capacity (which, it is true, represents a smaller fraction a new production, in MWh, which is probbly cloer to 25%). In terms of investment amounts, wind has actually been the biggest business for the power generation manufaturers like GE or Siemens, given that a wind MW costs about double what a gas MW costs (prices per MWh are something else, given that you still need to buy the natural gas to burn to generate using a gas turbine...).

Wind will be a core instrument for the EU to fulfill its stated objectives of reducing carbon emissions and improving energy independence.

Penetration, 2005 & 2020
Implication of Large-Scale Wind Power in Northern Europe
Klaus Skytte, Econ Poyry, presentation to EWEC 2008

So it is simply false to say that wind is too small to matter. It is the biggest power generation industry by turnover in Europe, and it is on a fast growing trend that will quickly ensure that it becomes a significant part of the installed generation base. The industry reached the level of 100 GW ofinstalled capacity this year, as well as the threshhold of being able to produce 1 exajoule per year of useful energy. In fact, wind is reaching the stage where nuclear was when it was hit be the 1973 energy shock (which lowered demand and killed new incident) and the 1979 Three Mile Island accident (which turned the public against the industry) and is unlikely to hit the same snags:

Public opinion, despite persistent anti-wind lobbying by the coal or nuke industries and a few well-funded NIMBY associations, is massively behind wind power:

Harris Interactive

More importantly, wind has a major economic quality: the more there is, the lower electricity costs:

The effect of wind power on spot market prices (pdf)
Rune Moesgaard, Poul Erik Morthorst, presentation to EWEC 2008

Under market price setting mechanisms, wind power (which has a zero marginal cost) brings wholesale prices down when it is available, by avoiding the need for more expensive coal-fired or, more usually, gas-fired power plants that would otherwise be required to balance the system.

The effect of wind power on spot market prices (pdf)
Rune Moesgaard , Poul Erik Morthorst, presentation to EWEC 2008

The overall effect (price reduction multiplied by the relevant volume) now brings savings to consumers in Denmark that are equivalent to the gross cost of feed-in tariffs, and significantly higher than the net subsidy, as wholesale prices are now pretty close to, and increasingly often higher than, the feed-in tariffs guaranteed to wind power producers.

The same is already true in Germany, despite its somewhat lower wind penetration than in Denmark (11% of electricity produced, vs 25%)

Assessment of the impact of renewable electricity generation on the German electricity sector (pdf)
Mario Ragwitz, Frank Sensfuss, Fraunhofer Institute, presentation to EWEC 2008
Note again that the cost noted above for the subsidy is the gross amount of the tariff, not the difference between the tariff and the wholesale price, which would be the correct amount of the subsidy granted to wind power producers

In other words, wind subsidies demonstrably save money for eletricity consumers, ie they are smart regulation.

An another interesting point to note is that wind power costs are now also well understood: industrial-size turbines now have a 15-year track record, and availability has been consistently in the 96-98% range, as shown by this meta study on 14,000 turbines:

Availability Trends Observed at Operating Wind Farms (pdf)
Keir Harman, Andrew Garrad, Garrad Hassan, presentation to EWEC 2008

And while offshore is slightly more expensive today than onshore wind, we're not about to run out of convenient spots at sea, away from whining onlookers, to continue the development of the industry:

photo by author, Thornton Bank, Belgium, August 2008

More stories about wind, and more discussion of other issues surrounding wind can be found on this page, of which I select a few noteworthy items:

the real cost of electricity

Alternative energies: wind power (an introduction)

My job (financing wind farms)

No technical limitation to wind power penetration (discussing the intermittency issue)

Why wind needs feed-in tariffs (and why it is not the enemy of nuclear)

Fierce price - yes it works! (first offshore wind farm to be financed is completed)

Gore sets goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2020 (how it can be done)

The conclusion is simple: wind power deserves to be taken seriously

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:31 PM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

    •  nice diary! (3+ / 0-)

      Alberta has lots of wind mills in the Crowsnest Pass.  They sure are unlightly against the beautiful Canadian Rockies but at least you can see the Rockies due to the clean clear air.  

      Too young for me but....

      by TexMex on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:35:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But pollution makes for beautiful, fiery (3+ / 0-)

        sunsets (not to mention that they are flammable...).


        Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur, inveteratum fit plerumque robustius. - Cicero

        by Dauphin on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:43:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  SALUTE I will take clean skies and windmills (6+ / 0-)

        rather than dirty skies of the coal fied plants of the 70s  back again  we can't give up on the environment just because of a national election we have to make time for both

      •  I don't quite get the "unsightly" argument. (5+ / 0-)

        I think a hillside full of windmills turning in the breeze is beautiful.

        "Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure." -- White Rose letter no. 1

        by keikekaze on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:46:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Transmission is a key concern ... (0+ / 0-)

        with any wind power expansion.  There are many who live in remote areas and in rural areas who don't want to see their lands destroyed by huge powerlines bringing electricity to the grid -- particularly to service urban areas far far away.

        I am sympathetic to these concerns.  Environmental impacts of transmission line expansions must be factored into this source.

        That said, I am a huge wind proponent, but we need to be smart about it.

        As for offshore wind, I think it has tremendous potential.  But again, one of the concerns is transmission.

        However, there is a separate solution.  Offshore wind can also be used to create hydrogen.  Imagine tankers visiting the remote rigs and loading up on hydrogen.  This also partly addresses one of the concerns about the intermittent nature of wind.

        Lastly, there are mechanical applications of wind that work at lower wind speeds.  For example water pumping is one of the common ones that many of us remember from the old windmill fans common in rural America.  

        But that same mechanical energy can also be employed to drive a compressor and that could be used in such applications as cooling.

        •  One thing on transmission is ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JayBat, RosyFinch

          ... that for the application, taking energy a long distance to export to a grid, high voltage direct current lines are not going to "destroy" vast acreages of land. Indeed, as proposed elsewhere, combined with rail electrification, we can use the rail corridors that are already in place, gain substantial benefits in terms of energy efficiency of long-haul freight, and provide trunk lines that carry electricity with less than 10% line losses over 1,000 miles.

          While transmission is a greater capital expense for offshore wind power than for onshore, throwing away more than half the power generated in hydrogen conversion losses is far more expensive, since it will more than doubling the capital cost of the wind generators in terms of power delivered.

    •  Tipped and Rec'd (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dotcommodity, Stranded Wind

      Great Info. Thank you.

      I plan to bring wind develpment to Arkansas, though I won't be the first. Development activity has begun. Trade Winds and Clipper are public, others are lurking-- like me.

      I saw today that GE announced it is suspending tax investments in Wind and Solar, due to financial uncertainties. Can you comment on what you see in financing in the U.S.?

      I hoped the PTC extension would keep this industry going for the next year, now I am not so sure.

    •  Thank you for the information (0+ / 0-)

      42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot. A Wrightism

      by publicv on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 11:04:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As oil prices decrease due (15+ / 0-)

    to the global depression, we must still push alternative energy like wind.

    Good diary.

    "What we've seen the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed." -- Barack Obama

    by TomP on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:33:52 PM PDT

    •  Yep, now is when the structures need (9+ / 0-)

      to be put into place so we don't have to go to panic mode. Its clearly foreseeable that we will be having high gas prices again, I'd say within a few months of the election no matter who wins.  In the longer term, its just folly to throw away low priced energy that has little downside.

      (-7.0, -6.4) "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man.'" Robbie Robertson

      by NearlyNormal on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:37:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  exactly (3+ / 0-)

        we're going to have to piece this thing together and quit hunting for a silver bullet.

        And I hasten to add this includes conservation, as unsexy as that apparently is this season.

        My question is this: 30 years ago when I debated this subject in high school, the argument against wind wasn't simply the extent of its contribution, but what one did with the resulting electricity. At that point storage was (if memory serves) a significant issue. I am gathering we are now to the point where the energy simply enters the grid and is consumed, right?

        Second question: Do we have any better idea what to do with nuclear waste than we did 30 years ago when I had more or less read all the literature a precious 17-year-old with a university library card could find?

        Beware all ventures which require new clothes, and not a new wearer of clothes. -- Henry David Thoreau

        by Shocko from Seattle on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 03:01:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped and recommended. (3+ / 0-)

    We must use whatever technology is available to lead cleaner lifestyles, no matter the price of petrol.

    Besides, it makes economic sense, profit-wise: Technological innovations help the economy grow, and a booming industry has plenty.

    Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur, inveteratum fit plerumque robustius. - Cicero

    by Dauphin on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:35:43 PM PDT

  •  so what I want to know (7+ / 0-)

    is when should I jump on a windmill for my home?  Is it practical at this point.  We seem to have a steady wind from the Southwest here in Lansing, MI at my home site.  

    I know they exist, but are they ready for mass installation??

    Just say "No" to Blackmail and the Shock Doctrine

    by fernan47 on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:35:47 PM PDT

  •  We have windmills all around the area we live (6+ / 0-)

    I always feel like we are making a difference when I see them spinning.  And I used to hate the wind when we first moved here ;).

  •  Offshore wind (8+ / 0-)

    Aside from a sustainable, renewable source of energy, another real nice benefit about offshore wind turbines is that the further out to sea they are, the bat deaths and (and to lesser extent) bird deaths concerns disappear.

    •  What deaths? (9+ / 0-)

      There is one wind farm that kills birds it shouldn't: Altamont Pass: because it has small turbines that spin fast, lattice structures where the bird like to hang on, and is situated on a raptor path. And even there the number of deaths is small (but more significant given the species involved)

      The bat thing you linked to not long ago was just some scientists happy to have discovered a new way bats were killed (because of pressure waves rather than collisions) but nowhere did it mention that the numbers killeds were totally unsignificant.

      Cats kill thousand times more birds than wind farms will ever do.

      (and as to your argument, it(s not even different offshore: you also have migratory paths out there; Danish studies have shown that local birds quickly learnt to avoid the turbines anyway.

      •  Trade offs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        In her own Voice

        Here's where I've been going for the USGS research is with bat deaths. Research is ongoing.

        The U of Calgary study wasn't to quantify the number of bat deaths, it was to find a probable cause for the deaths. You observe:

        ... but nowhere did it mention that the numbers killeds were totally unsignificant.

        Lovely. That's a similar argument that advocates of drilling use too. The concern is that it appears bat deaths are significant around wind turbines when compared to other human erected objects.

        I suggested it was better for bats with turbines being offshore, because bats aren't normally found there. The turbines have been shown to be less of a concern with birds ("to lesser extent"), as I wrote.

        I'm not trying to knock wind power. I think no energy generation is without some kind of trade offs. I think it is important to understand what the trade offs are instead of saying there are none or belittling them as insignificant when really they are, in the case of bats, unknown. That's all.

      •  and that one is like the first one ever built (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        In her own Voice

        back in the 70's ...

  •  Jerome, I like wind too (2+ / 0-)
    but it has serious reliability issues over about 20% of total capacity (depending on wind patterns). Texas had a major incident February of this year when they had to dump over 1,400 MW of load (call it about twice the load of a city of 500,000 people) in a ten minute period due to falling wind speeds in a low load time period.

    Featherable turbine blades and more rigid scheduling can help but until we get the silver bullet - high density, affordable storage - wind will be constrained to a significant but minor starring role IMHO.

    That said, in those constraints, wind should be fast tracked.

    I'll walk 100 miles knocking on doors for my Dem candidate - Anna Lord for Colo HD21 - will you?

    by tjlord on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:37:04 PM PDT

  •  Oh! I almost forgot! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    keikekaze, Stranded Wind

    I would only like to add that investing in alternative energies will take a global approach; there is little use reducing European or US emissions if India and China, for example, will compensate with new, sooty coal power plants.

    A global fund, perhaps, pooled by the governments as a percentage of GDP?  

    Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur, inveteratum fit plerumque robustius. - Cicero

    by Dauphin on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:38:33 PM PDT

  •  Why can't (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CA Nana, RosyFinch, Stranded Wind

    I put a little wind turbine on my front bumper to charge my battery instead of using gasoline to run the alternator belt?

    Why can't I buy a little wind turbine to put on my roof to  make a few watts of DC power to charge my computer battery, cell phones, I-pod, etc...

    I wouldn't mind being the first on the block to have a home-windmill even if it means putting solar panels on the fan blades.

    Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. Thomas Jefferson 6/11/1807

    by Patriot4peace on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:40:17 PM PDT

    •  You Can (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayBat, Blubba

      Why can't I put a little wind turbine on my front bumper to charge my battery instead of using gasoline to run the alternator belt?

      But you need to understand that:

      1.) There is no free lunch
      2.) Even if you attach a regulator to your wind driven alternator, the belt driven alternator is still probably more efficient.

      <div style="font-size:10px;text-align:center;background-color:#ffd;color:#f33">If the terriers and bariffs are torn down, this economy will grow - G. Bush

      by superscalar on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:46:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand (0+ / 0-)

        the conservation of energy. I drive a small car with a manual and always go to neutral downhill. A little turbine in front of my car, or even just in front of the radiator would turn for the cost of drag.

        Now, how to figure the cost of fuel used to turn the alternator belt is a difficult question - charging amperage can convert easily to bhp, but I'm not sure how accurate I can be in converting horsepower (joules?) to the potential energy in a quantity of gasoline at $3 a gallon.

        Belt drives are notoriously inefficient. I think a wind driven turbine, one shaft and a bearing can convert energy more efficiently.

        Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. Thomas Jefferson 6/11/1807

        by Patriot4peace on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 03:00:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Problem Being (0+ / 0-)

          Belt drives are notoriously inefficient. I think a wind driven turbine, one shaft and a bearing can convert energy more efficiently.

          The drag which is present even if the wind driven alternator is not loaded (again less efficient I think than a standard unloaded alternator), and the fact that the wind driven alternator would not generate any current when the car is stopped (meaning that for constant stop and go night driving you would probably end up with a dead battery at some point).

          An interesting (and I suspect pretty costly for a one off) experiment though.

          <div style="font-size:10px;text-align:center;background-color:#ffd;color:#f33">If the terriers and bariffs are torn down, this economy will grow - G. Bush

          by superscalar on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 03:13:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  OT FYI: Driving in neutral is illegal in most ... (0+ / 0-)

          ...states. And dangerous wherever you do it, legal or not.

          I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land. -- Mark Twain

          by Meteor Blades on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 07:57:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I hear this all the time (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ReEnergizer, Stranded Wind

      wind and solar can be effective at charging batteries in remote locations.  That's a great application.

      But, to put micro-turbines everywhere, people have to understand that it still comes down to the cost-per-watt, and wind, in small batches with small turbines just does not make sense economically--unless you have no other option.

      Scaling wind up is where it starts to produce decent power at a decent cost.

      And, usual caveats apply: current electrical generation in coal and nuclear are not paying the full "costs" to the environment and future generations.

      Help new teachers to grow and love their work at

      by Mi Corazon on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:52:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I chose battery charging (0+ / 0-)

        in my example because wind turbines make DC power, and inverters add to the cost and weight.

        On my car, as long as I'm moving, there's a source of wind to turn the blades. The cost is only the extra drag.

        I don't know how to determine the actual cost of running my alternator, which makes perhaps 80 amps at 12v, but it just "feels" like a little turbine could do the job for almost free.

        Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. Thomas Jefferson 6/11/1807

        by Patriot4peace on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 03:06:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you regularly park in a place that is windy .. (0+ / 0-)

          ... then fold up your mini-wind turbine to charge the battery of your PHEV while you are parked? Maybe.

          But wind drag is a major factor in increasing workload in pushing a car as you speed up, and a wind turbine would increase drag by more than it generates electricity, because no generator is 100% efficient.

          So you'd want to fold that wind generator into some kind of fairing when actually driving.

      •  Respectfully disagree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        superscalar, dotcommodity

        With the 30% tax credit, a 2 kW microturbine makes plenty of sense economically for a residential consumer who pays an average of 10 cents per kWh.

        First, the cost.  Here's one example.  Retail price is $5,000.  Assume installation, batteries and other ancillary gear is another $3,000.  Total installed cost is $8,000.   Available credit is $2,000 (30% of total installed cost, capped at $500 per half-kilowatt).

        So net installed cost is $6,000.  Monthly savings is about 300 kWh in a place like Chicago (Class 3 7-8 months per year), for first-year savings of $360.

        That's a first-year after-tax return of 6 percent.

        But electricity prices will increase by at least the rate of inflation.  So, in five years, the after tax return will be closer to 8 percent.  In 10 years, it will be more than 10 percent.  Break-even, given inflation of energy prices and assuming reinvestment of savings at 5% is less than ten years.

        And the cost for residential wind will continue to come down.    

        •  Also, an installation with multiple sources of .. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dotcommodity, In her own Voice

          ... renewable power only has to pay for the AC/DC conversion gear once.

          Of course, it depends on having a good site for wind power.

        •  Wow (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades, sustainable

          I'm not sure who's doing all the concrete work and tower erection down in Chicago, but if they're available, I'll take them up here in Wisconsin.

          Skystream's 3.7, which is a 1.8 kW turbine, even on an 80 foot tower is well into the 20K range.

          I suppose if you do this all yourself the cost comes down somewhat, but, let's face it, the average person is still going to need a crane and a crew, plus electrical professionals to get it done right.

          Plus, you need clearance for your turbine blades of 30 feet over a range of 500 feet and you have to be clear of the property lines in case the tower should fall.

          I've thought about it alot.  Wind makes sense above 50K, and only then where it is feasible.  Less than that, solar is still a better value and produces more for less.  And, the credits are even better, at least on the Federal end.

          Check out our site.

          Help new teachers to grow and love their work at

          by Mi Corazon on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 04:46:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I made a comment similar to this one (3+ / 0-)

    on a different diary a while ago:

    There is no one solution to sustainable energy.  I agree that wind has the potential significantly to be a part of a total sustainable solution, along with conservation, other sustainable resources, and likely the use of fission as a bridge to reduce the use of fossil fuels, especially coal, until truly sustainable technologies are developed.

    Warmest regards,


    In do not know everything, but I can learn anything. -6.25, -6.05

    by Translator on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:40:51 PM PDT

  •  Would you talk about countries using wind power? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dauphin, keikekaze

    such as Norway?  I saw a story on the Guardian, I think, about wave catchers off Portugal.  Does that work well in combination with wind,too?  Thanks.  I'd love to "push" the Congress and next President away from coal.

  •  Wow! The US even outdoes Europe . . . (0+ / 0-)

    . . . in public support of a large increase in wind power.  I hope the Obama administration will have noticed, and be listening.

    "Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure." -- White Rose letter no. 1

    by keikekaze on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:44:22 PM PDT

  •  Wherever wind can garner a 40% CAPACITY factor (0+ / 0-)

    the locals should go for it.  The one thing I can think of where I agree with McCain is that we need an "all of the above" solution.  Except for coal.  Anything is better than coal.  The best is conservation.  The cheapest megawatts are those we don't need to generate.

    Right-wingers who clamor for war and oppose universal health care are not "pro-life" and don't get to say they're "pro-life." It's a lie. Night Train

    by peterborocanuck on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:48:36 PM PDT

    •  mid thirties is where they start (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dotcommodity, sustainable

      Lots of stuff is getting built in the 35%+ capacity factor range.

      •  Compare to a well run nuke: (0+ / 0-)

        >90%.  Zero emissions.

        Right-wingers who clamor for war and oppose universal health care are not "pro-life" and don't get to say they're "pro-life." It's a lie. Night Train

        by peterborocanuck on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 03:20:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  silver BBs (0+ / 0-)

          We aren't going to find a silver bullet; this focus is a distraction. Anything that doesn't produce CO2 is a fine thing.

        •  3 issues with nukes (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JayBat, RosyFinch, Stranded Wind

          First, the capital cost is comparable and may be  higher than well-sited wind on a MWh basis. The counter that wind is not dispatchable betrays a lack of trust in a statistical approach to base-load generation and the need for peaking plants in both instances. Plus, the old complaint about nuclear waste may have good solutions (reprocessing, etc.), but the costs of those solutions are not trivial. In the case of fully depreciated equipment, the cost of wind as a fuel is less than the cost of nuclear fuel and its handling. Wind is free; wind turbine maintenance costs are on the order of $10/MWh, cheaper than any other form of generation. With PTC, wind turbines are typically fully paid for in 10 years. Nuclear power customers may be paying capital costs for decades.

          Second, you can see the consumption of water at nuclear plants from far away. The cooling towers use enormous amounts of water for cooling, just as all thermal generation using carnot processes must. There is an opportunity for combined cycle solutions that are underutilized, especially in the U.S. We need to see waste heat as a lost opportunity.

          Third, you would not want to cover 100% of your demand with nukes or any other capital-intensive solution. Demand is very uneven, but rather predictable. Plus, there is always the need for maintenance and down-time. Unplanned shutdowns happen. There will always be a need for lower-capital-cost peaking plants. The need for peaking plants gives a solution that is compatible with wind power, too. Denmark and Germany are proving the compatibility of wind power with a modern electrical grid at levels over 20% penetration.

        •  2 stroke engine are better than 4 stroke!!!!!1!! (0+ / 0-)

          Did you know that 2 stroke engines generate power on every stroke? Whereas 4 stroke engine only produce it half as often! That's right, half of the time, the piston does nothing.

          Clearly the former is MUUUUCH better than the latter, twice as much in fact!


          A "centrist" is someone who's neither on the left, nor on the left.

          by nicta on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 12:21:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  wrong (0+ / 0-)

          Nuclear is not zero emissions--look at the whole fuel chain! Here is a link to a recent study of studies, ie, an expert who looked at all the different studies out there trying to calculate carbon emissions from different energy sources.

          And, of course, nuclear power results in that other kind of emissions--radioactive ones. All reactors release radiation on a routine basis, every day they operate. And yes, I know there is some radiation released from burning coal as well, but there certainly is no radiation released from wind!!

    •  Why the restriction linked to capacity? (5+ / 0-)

      What matters is that you have enough MWh to justify the initial investment price. As noted in the diary, each wind kWh lowers the prices for all kWh produced at the same time by other generators, so it creates a larger public good.

      But fully agree that conservation needs to come first. Negawatts!

  •  Jerome, you rock!!! Even though you are pro-nuke (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    In her own Voice, Stranded Wind

    I deeply appreciate your true commitment to renewable energy.

    For you to go through such an exhaustive, educational and convincing diary of the power of wind, proves to me that what you care about is not a particular technology (whether it be wind, solar or nuclear), but that we solve the climate crisis.

    It is incredibly refreshing to find someone who, while pro-nuke, is also deeply committed to non-nuclear, renewable energy.

    That said, I find it strange that Kossacks don't respond in bigger numbers to a post like this.  This is such great news!

    •  Most pro-nukes support renewables. (0+ / 0-)

      You confuse statements made in response to anti-nuclear comments that wind, solar, and other renewables can not practically replace all nuclear with being anti-wind. There is plenty of room for all non-fossil sources to expand.

  •  Great stuff Jerome (0+ / 0-)

    Is the ammount of subsidies for wind anywhere near what Nuclear got?

    Love that "power of the purse!" It looks so nice up there on the mantle (and not the table) next to the "subpoena power."

    by Sacramento Dem on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 03:37:53 PM PDT

  •  Here's a question (forgive my laziness): (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    In her own Voice

    Has anyone tabulated the number of jobs created

    (a) per windmill?

    (b) per acre of windmills?

    (c) per home powered by windmill?

    I know it's not like windfarms come in standardized densities, and I know that the jobs differ per measure (do we count component manufacture, machine assembly, or just maintenance?) and so it goes. So I expect partial or partially applicable answers to be the only ones I find.

    But I find repeatedly in online fora (even those not dominated by lefties) that people are effusive about the idea of "green jobs." Many rural voters in the U.S. may not believe in global warming, and may not believe the oil is running out, but they know that assembling two-hundred foot tall power-generating structures over thousands of acres of land takes manpower. And so they are a constituency to the extent renewable energy is marketed as a means of economic renewal for their communities.

    Specifics help with this.

  •  Jerome, I heard recently on (0+ / 0-)

    the renewable energy world podcast that in the US:

    New wind plants contributed roughly 35% of the new nameplate capacity added to the US electrical grid in 2007

    although we drag in comparison to Europe, finally it is moving...some states really - Minnesota has 7.5% wind now.

  •  Thanks Jerome for coming over to give (0+ / 0-)

    us a heads up.  Will look forward to hearing your evaluation of the ASPO conference.  I'm wondering if it will have presentations/conclusions similar to the ASPO here--recently held in California.

    Matt Simmons has truly begun to have the doomer quality you describe hearing over there.  But he also seems to be losing some of his fluency of speech, so I wonder if aging might be contributing to a persistent cynicism.  Hmmm...

    Find your own voice--the personal is political.

    by In her own Voice on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 07:32:05 AM PDT

  •  If Wind Wasn't Competitive - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    At $100 oil -
    How can it be at $60 oil.

    Let's face it -
    Very much like in the early 1980s, the collapse of oil prices will produce a backlash against alternative energy.  Although the need may be greater now, the capital and tax subsidies will dry up completely given the current financial meltdown.

    That's why I argued so strongly against Peak Oil and $200 Oil.  It's not that I believe that oil is infinite, but the oil has a long and very clear history of spikes which lead to overproduction and long-term collapse.

    Which came first, the oil spike or the financial house of cards?  Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  I believe that they are strongly linked - part of the same neoliberal economics.  Still, the long-term negative impacts on sustainable energy programs are very real.

    The fact is, oil has discrete not continuous price points.  $80 oil unlocks a whole new layer of production.  $100 oil, yet another.  The problem is that $100 production has to have $100 oil - and in a downward market it is the new producers that are forced to produce even more in an attempt to recover costs.

    In addition to new oil producers (or locations) alternative energy like wind and solar are usually at the top end of capital costs to be recovered and are forced out in a declining market.  OPEC is only going to get token reductions.  Angola has new production to cover.  Most OPEC members aside from Saudi Arabia cannot cover budgetary needs from current production levels and prices.  The race to the bottom.

    And that is why I argued against Peak Oil and $200 Oil.  Because it created an unrealistic atmosphere that would create the very same prerequisites that destroyed alternative energy in the 1980s - for a generation.

    Where do you think solar/wind/bio will get capital and tax subsidies in today's economic environment?  It's been 25 years since the last collapse - a generation.  The cycle may be a little shorter this go round, but it will be at least a decade before significant investment will return.

    The hysteria of Peak Oil helped create the speculative bubble in oil.  And, in the process, helped shelve sustainable energy for another generation.

    PS - I was pretty damn right here -
    Posted when oil was $145.
    Except that I thought it would take a little longer.

    •  PS - Wind Energy Index (0+ / 0-)

      I'm sure you are aware that wind energy stocks have taken a beating.

      Bloomberg's Wind Energy Index shows a classic collapse -

      Now, granted, all energy stocks have been slammed - but there is one rather major difference.  Exxon-Mobil and Chevron can withstand the drop.  New wind companies cannot.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site