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Thread: Wind Power Won't Cool Down the Planet

  1. #1 Wind Power Won't Cool Down the Planet 
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    According to this article by Robert Bryce, wind power will not significantly cut carbon dioxide emissions. That's because much of the fuel saved is offset by the inefficiencies of operating the coal fired stations at less than full power.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...528078676.html
    The wind industry has achieved remarkable growth largely due to the claim that it will provide major reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. There's just one problem: It's not true. A slew of recent studies show that wind-generated electricity likely won't result in any reduction in carbon emissions—or that they'll be so small as to be almost meaningless.


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    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    I'm always skeptical of "science" articles from the Wall Street Journal. How long you figure before this thing gets totally eviscerated online like ~90% of their "science" articles?

    I'll try to remember to look for a link or two showing why this is not an accurate headline and where it's assumptions break down and share that here.


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    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    I'm afraid I haven't read the article and probably won't. WSJ is notorious for making the science fit the political philosophy. The thing about wind power is that it can be integrated with conventional power generation up to about 10% of the grid's capacity. Beyond 10% there is a need for storage, which is why there is an emphasis on battery technology development.
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  5. #4  
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    Don't be too quick to pigeonhole Bryce just because the article was published in the WSJ. Here, he's written an expose of Enron that looks like it would gladden your hearts.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_Dr...Death_of_Enron
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  6. #5  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    But they want me to pay to read the article....I can't in good conscience give money to the WSJ.
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    That's odd. I didn't have to pay anything. You can read the same article here.
    http://robertbryce.com/node/375
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    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Thank you for the link, Harold. Like Bunbury, I was not willing to pay WSJ to see the article, so the free version was much appreciated.

    Now, as I mentioned above, this is about spin. The crux of the article is here:

    wind-generated electricity largely displaces power produced by natural gas-fired generators, rather than that from plants burning more carbon-intensive coal.

    Because wind blows intermittently, electric utilities must either keep their conventional power plants running all the time to make sure the lights don't go dark, or continually ramp up and down the output from conventional coal- or gas-fired generators (called "cycling"). But coal-fired and gas-fired generators are designed to run continuously, and if they don't, fuel consumption and emissions generally increase.

    This is not a problem with wind power. This is a problem with the fact that we still use coal. Implicit in the argument is that coal is bad, so why aren't we focusing there? More wind = good. Bunbury is right. Storage is the issue, not wind. With storage, all coal and gas plants can be taken offline pretty quickly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    This is not a problem with wind power. This is a problem with the fact that we still use coal. Implicit in the argument is that coal is bad, so why aren't we focusing there?
    Because coal is the only option right now if we want to keep the lights on.
    More wind = good. Bunbury is right. Storage is the issue, not wind. With storage, all coal and gas plants can be taken offline pretty quickly.
    Yes, and if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. We don't have storage on the scale we would need, so wind is still a problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    More wind = good. Bunbury is right. Storage is the issue, not wind. With storage, all coal and gas plants can be taken offline pretty quickly.
    Yes, and if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. We don't have storage on the scale we would need, so wind is still a problem.
    We'll have to disagree here. You openly agree that the problem is storage of energy (batteries), and then (much like the WSJ) in a total non-sequitur way, you move on to assert that wind is the problem. Does not compute, friend.

    I'll even soften my stance a bit... The problem is that our infrastructure is not yet adequate to properly deal with energy obtained from wind. Again, though... wind is not the problem, so why say it is unless you're making some sort of ideological argument which is academically dishonest?
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    If you have a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80% within a certain time frame, you have to have a plan. If the plan assumes you will have some technological breakthrough by which energy storage can be increased by several orders of magnitude, within reasonable economic constraints, then I don't think your plan is very realistic.

    You might as well say that the problem with coal is its carbon dioxide emissions. So coal is not the problem, its the carbon dioxide. Okay, now tell me how to separate the coal problem from the carbon dioxide problem, and voila, the problem is solved.
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    I'd add distribution to the problem as well. The more efficiently you can shunt power from where the wind is to where it isn't the more effective wind power is overall and hence the less base loading is needed. You can also combine it with more renewable, or distance non-renewable such as nukes to reduce carbon emissions.

    Here's one business article that mentions how to improve the current distribution without added more land to contentious high power lines.
    http://www.businesswire.com/news/hom...-Critical-Role
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
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  13. #12  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link Harold. I think I’ve read that article before, even thought the dateline is Aug. 24. Maybe it was published in my local paper a week or so ago.

    It looks at current and recent statistics, where, as would be expected, the savings in CO2 emissions are small and even negative, because wind power is simply an add-on to existing coal and NG plants. It fails to consider the potential for a large scale integrated system using battery and/or hydrogen storage, which is the direction of future developments. The potential is there to use wind for baseload power if large enough systems can be integrated.

    Contrary to common knowledge, an average of 33%
    and a maximum of 47% of yearly averaged wind power
    from interconnected farms can be used as reliable,
    baseload electric power. Equally significant, interconnecting
    multiple wind farms to a common point, and
    then connecting that point to a far-away city can allow
    the long-distance portion of transmission capacity to be
    reduced, for example, by 20% with only a 1.6% loss of
    energy.
    this study implies that if interconnected
    wind is used on a large scale, a third or more of
    its energy can be used for reliable electric power and
    the remaining intermittent portion can be used for
    transportation (i.e., to power batteries or to produce
    hydrogen), allowing wind to solve energy, climate, and
    air pollution problems simultaneously.
    http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/aj07_jamc.pdf

    Currently Denmark gets 18% of its power from wind. I don’t think the Danes are any smarter than us.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    It fails to consider the potential for a large scale integrated system using battery and/or hydrogen storage, which is the direction of future developments. The potential is there to use wind for baseload power if large enough systems can be integrated.
    I don't know if it fails to consider the potential or not, since it only briefly summarizes the studies that are referenced.
    This study only addresses whether some portion of the wind power can be considered as base load if the farms are interconnected. It does not address the cost or feasibility of connecting them in that manner.
    Currently Denmark gets 18% of its power from wind. I don’t think the Danes are any smarter than us.
    Bryce is not saying we can't get 18% of our power from the wind, only that it would not do much to reduce CO2 if we did. Besides that, Denmark may have different meteorological conditions.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    It fails to consider the potential for a large scale integrated system using battery and/or hydrogen storage, which is the direction of future developments. The potential is there to use wind for baseload power if large enough systems can be integrated.
    I don't know if it fails to consider the potential or not, since it only briefly summarizes the studies that are referenced.
    If the referenced studies consider it and the article doesn't then perhaps this selective reporting could be labeled propaganda.

    This study only addresses whether some portion of the wind power can be considered as base load if the farms are interconnected. It does not address the cost or feasibility of connecting them in that manner.
    I have read elsewhere that the cost could be around $60 billion. Coincidentally this is the cost estimated by the National Research Council for non-climate related external damages from the burning of coal in the single year of 2005. Future CO2 related damage has not been estimated AFAIK.

    Bryce is not saying we can't get 18% of our power from the wind, only that it would not do much to reduce CO2 if we did. Besides that, Denmark may have different meteorological conditions.
    I think Bryce is wrong, for reasons already stated.
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    If the referenced studies consider it and the article doesn't then perhaps this selective reporting could be labeled propaganda.
    The man wrote a whole book on the subject. Chances are, somewhere in the book, your question is addressed, but you can't expect everything to be answered in a couple of paragraphs.

    The article cited three research studies to support its claim. I would hope that we could address those claims in a substantive way instead of calling it propaganda, spin, or intellectual dishonesty, which just makes you guys look foolish.

    Bryce is no fan of coal, by the way.
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  17. #16  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Well I knew I had read this Bryce nonsense before and it turns out that I have. This article is just a rehashing of his earlier stuff published in that other fair and balanced journal the Washington Post. It's rebutted here.

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/04/2...us-journalism/
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  18. #17  
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    Even if it's true or not, you have to admit that wind power offers a lot of benefits to the environment.

    1. The wind is free and with modern technology it can be captured efficiently.
    2. Once the wind turbine is built the energy it produces does not cause green house gases or other pollutants.
    3. Although wind turbines can be very tall each takes up only a small plot of land. This means that the land below can still be used. This is especially the case in agricultural areas as farming can still continue.
    4. Many people find wind farms an interesting feature of the landscape.
    5. Remote areas that are not connected to the electricity power grid can use wind turbines to produce their own supply.
    6. Wind turbines have a role to play in both the developed and third world.
    7. Wind turbines are available in a range of sizes which means a vast range of people and businesses can use them. Single households to small towns and villages can make good use of range of wind turbines available today.
    Share your knowledge and add/edit environmental articles: make it easier to be green, after all we need convenient actions, not inconvenient truths
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  19. #18  
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    Where this type of logic collapses is where people over-enthusiastic about wind power want to use it as a majority generation method. Wind power has its place, but should not be relied upon for more than a certain percentage. (The exact percentage varies according to which 'expert' you quote.)

    You can use it more if it is a part of a large distribution network, which acts to even out fluctuations in generation. In smaller networks, it needs to be a lesser part. The reason Denmark can use a lot of wind generation is because it is on a Europe wide network.

    Storage is a not a smart move. Storage methods vary widely, but as an average, result in energy losses of about 50%. You cannot get around the laws of thermodynamics. Linking into a wider network is a better solution to this problem.

    There is no single solution to the problem of energy generation, and those who try to suggest any one solution are nutters. The widest range of electricity generation methods is the best way to go. All part of the largest possible distribution network to even out variations in output.
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