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If you had the job of being a utility electric generation system operator, you would say that today is a bad day for wind generation in a massive region of the eastern United States and Canada.

Wind generation is valuable for generating electricity as a renewable source and thereby helping to potentially reduce emissions from fossil fuel combustion electric generation units.   However, a day like today with current adverse meteorology conditions in a substantial portion of the nation illustrates that wind generation cannot act as a substitute for base-load electric generation plants.  

As of 1:30 PM EDT, a large ridge of high pressure extends from the upper Great Lakes and southern Ontario through Virginia.   The high pressure ridge covers a massive area of the Eastern United States and Canada presently.

During high pressure conditions of this nature with the large geographical extent and a slow moving pattern it means the current conditions are likely to persist beyond today.

As of 1:30 PM EDT, present conditions show light winds less than 5 mph and extensive nearly calm areas covering massive areas of Eastern United States and Canada.   The area include much of Ontario, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, PA, WV, VA, NC, KY and MD.

Another light wind area covers much of NV, WY, AZ, OR and UT, although light wind conditions in this area are less likely to continue and persist under present meteorology.

Given current temperatures approaching the 90's, such low wind to calm days can also be days of high electricity demand.

Today, presently, billions of dollars of wind generation capacity in the multiple state area identified will be producing little or no electricity and will be at a tiny fraction of their maximum generation capacity.

Today's pattern of adverse meteorology for wind generation is an excellent engineering example of why an electric utility system cannot shut down its base load generation units and simply substitute that baseload megawatt generating capacity with an equal magnitude of wind generation capacity.   Generation of electricity by wind power cannot be dispatched by the operator in real time to meet continuous load demands.

11:19 AM PT: For DK readers reviewing this diary, please note that nothing at all about this diary is a political statement against wind generation, and you should not assume that is either my intent or objective in posting this diary.    The reason for the diary is to get DK members used to the idea of a reality-based analysis of the benefits and limitations of wind energy from an electric utility engineering management and operations basis.


Originally posted to LakeSuperior on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 10:56 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks and Kosowatt.

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