The Wind Still Blows Us In The Direction of Natural Gas

Wind energy is something we hear about often from our friends on the opposite side of the natural gas argument, but what does wind really look like in hard numbers? I took a look at a study I came across and crunched the numbers to see for myself.

As a supporter of natural gas development I have researched many energy forms. I came across an article discussing wind farms. Wind is an alternate source of energy and is mentioned by many people against natural gas development. I took a closer look at wind development based on a quote from Twin Ridges Wind Farm and then plugged and chugged with some numbers to see what wind energy really means to an area.

Comparing wind to natural gas shows exactly why wind power isn’t the best option for our times. Natural gas is a resource we have readily available and it can help our nation become energy independent.

I was curious about the generation claims of these new wind farms.  I found this interesting:

“The Twin Ridges Wind Farm is located on the Big Savage Ridge Area in Somerset County, PA, north of the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. The project is located on mixed use and forested lands owned by private landowners. Initial construction began in 4Q 2011 and the project became operational in 2012. The project utilizes 68 REpower MM 92 turbine generators, each with a nameplate rating of 2.05 megawatts. In total, the Twin Ridges Wind Farm has the capacity to generate approximately 140 megawatts of electric power – producing enough electricity to power over 45,000 households each year.”

So, 68 x 2.05 MW does equal a total turbine design capacity of 139.4 MW which is what they promote.  They also say this will power over 45,000 households per year.  That would be 3097.77 watts per household or just think of running the house on a 3 KW generator.  Typically a house probably uses at least 50 amps if a dryer, oven, and refrigerator are being used at once.  That would be 50 amp x 120 v or 6000 watts = 6 kw.  So maybe they are thinking of an apartment without a dryer.

Birds flying near wind turbine

Oops, I think we have another problem…. Maybe a couple.  One major issue is that the wind doesn’t always blow.  Another problem is that when the wind does blow, it’s not always within the design operating range for max efficiency.

One more link I found extremely interesting I have quoted below.

“Rated output is reached at a wind speed of around 12m/s – this is the output figure brandished about when the capacities of wind parks are promoted. If we look at the output curve for the state of the art Vestas V112-3.0MW turbine this tells us that at a wind speed of 5m/s the output actually delivered by the turbine is less than 10% of the rated output. Now, 5m/s is a fairly good estimate of the average wind speed in this country; 20-25% higher in the winter period when the electricity demand is higher – so that is good. The fact that the wind speed only reaches the 12m/s+ necessary to run these turbines at rated output in a small fraction of the time is not so good, though.

In Germany, where there are wind turbines in mountains and coastal areas, the average load factor, i.e. the ratio of actual output to rated output, is 19%, in The Netherlands 22% and in Denmark also 22% (mainly off-shore). Some proponents of wind power claim it to be higher in the UK but it is difficult to understand why this would be the case. The figures we have seen so far do not seem to support this claim either, so a figure in the 20-25% range is probably realistic, assuming state of the art turbines.”

So, if we assume that we will experience a whopping 25% load factor, than we get about 35 MW or roughly ½ MW per turbine.  That drops us down to less than 800 watts per house.  No wonder they are pushing the fluorescent bulbs.  800 watts would power (8) 100 watt light bulbs per house for 45,000 houses.  Maybe they meant to say enough to power only the lighting needs of 45,000 homes.

They make this statement:  wind energy produces 66% more jobs per kw than natural gas – that might be great for jobs if the consumer could afford to pay for almost twice the workforce for the same amount of energy.  You only get jobs with subsidies that are unaffordable!

Wind-Farm

As a mechanical engineer type, I personally like the looks of the wind turbines, but I prefer a natural gas well and they make more sense while we have the fuel abundantly available.  If we ever run out, I vote nuclear.  They can salvage the radioactive byproducts, thorium, from the windmill mining (neodymium) and power the world for eons.

Also, did you see the “ground densification” information?  See the link box titled “ PROCEDURE” at lower right of the home page http://www.everpower.com/projects-twinridges.shtml.  That’s quite interesting.  I thought thumping and other seismic stuff was bad?  Spanking mother earth in such a corporate fashion – shame on them.

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