Wind Farm Intermittency Comes to the New York Times

The concept of industrial wind farm intermittency has come to the New York Times.

The NYT piece describes a small portion of the immense problem that industrial wind farms pose to vital electrical power utilities in the modern world. Simply put: big wind farms blast excess amounts of power one moment — then stop on a dime. This abrupt “stop and start” nature of big wind is incompatible with the delicate crucial supplying of just the right amount and right type of power (voltage, frequency, wave form) to meet a wide range of customers’ needs — which change from moment to moment.

It is a delicate balancing act, which the unpredictability of big wind makes exponentially more difficult. It is said by those who should know, that it would be kinder to toss live hand grenades into utility control centres, than to force grid managers to try to balance a grid using a total supply comprising 20% of intermittent unreliables like wind, or greater.

Industrial wind farms are destructive, expensive, tend to break down in several ways long before they were supposed to, and would never be built in a rational society. Unfortunately, these wind farms are being built by politically connected cronies, who reap big profits from their projects even before a single kw is generated — due to government kickbacks, mandates, tax breaks, and methods of accounting that would have made Enron blush. If you read between the lines in the NYT article, you will see that if not for political mandates, industrial wind projects would have been ditched long ago as worse than total losses.

If you want to see what happens when the political mandates and subsidies quit, just look at the tens of thousands of dead wind turbines rusting across the hills and plains of California and Hawaii. Those graveyards will multiply by a factor of ten or a hundred when the current crop of corrupt kickbacks die.

Another problematic modern energy religion — peak oil — is fighting for its life. PO acolytes are rushing to change the definition of peak oil, thinking that a new definition may give the movement new life and new members to replace the increasingly bald and toothless adherents currently struggling to believe. The excerpts below present a fair and well-rounded look at an emotional movement in twilight:

Peak oil — the point in time when global oil production peaks and begins to drop — has been looming on the horizon for decades. Countless research reports, government studies and oil industry analyses have tried to pin down the exact year when peak oil will occur, to no avail.

… in 1956, geologist M. King Hubbert at Shell Oil Company (and later at the U.S. Geological Survey) predicted that oil production in the lower 48 U.S. states would peak sometime around 1970.

…When Hubbert turned his sights to global oil production in 1974, his report was equally disturbing, especially in light of the OPEC oil embargo: He predicted that the world’s peak oil production would occur in 1995, assuming that current production and use trends continue.

… Geoscientist Kenneth S. Deffeyes, author of “When Oil Peaked” (Hill and Wang, 2010), asserted that peak oil happened on Thanksgiving Day 2005. Meanwhile, petroleum geologist Colin Campbell, a founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO), once estimated that peak oil had occurred around 2010, but his views have shifted somewhat as new data have become available.

The trouble is, determining when peak oil will occur, if it already has occurred, or if it will happen at all, are all dependent on an ever-changing set of assumptions and variables.

Foremost among these variables is technology and the role that it plays in oil and energy production. For example, hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, has opened up numerous oil fields in areas that were once considered played out or too costly to develop.

… In a much-quoted (and much-criticized) report from 2006, Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) presented an analysis that found 3.74 trillion barrels of oil available — far more than the 1.2 trillion barrels estimated by some earlier analyses.

Their research suggested that oil production won’t simply reach a peak, followed by a precipitous decline. Instead, “global production will eventually follow an ‘undulating plateau’ for one or more decades before declining slowly.”

From their research, CERA also determined that “the global production profile will not be a simple logistic or bell curve postulated by geologist M. King Hubbert, but it will be asymmetrical — with the slope of decline more gradual … it will be an undulating plateau that may well last for decades.”

Their analysis calls into question the very idea of “peak oil” as a useful model for energy forecasting or governmental policy: “The ‘peak oil’ theory causes confusion and can lead to inappropriate actions and turn attention away from the real issues,” CERA director Peter M. Jackson said. __What Is Peak Oil?

There is more at the article above, which avoids taking sides in the controversy. Al Fin forgoes restraint in this case, and simply says that once advanced high temperature nuclear reactors enter the picture, the costs and EROEIs of unconventional hydrocarbons will allow for a plentiful supply of liquid fuels for centuries — not that most of those fuels will be needed, once the superstitious, anti-science, obstructionist lefty-Luddite dieoff.orgy greens are dealt with.

There you have it, two stupidities of modern life: The Peak Oil Apocalyptic Religion, and the True Green Belief in Intermittent Unreliable forms of electrical energy. Each quasi-religious belief is a potential de-stabliser and waste of resources.

There is no denying that modern people are gullible, stupid, and apparently getting more stupid and gullible by the day.

If something “just can’t go on like this,” it probably won’t.

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One Response to Wind Farm Intermittency Comes to the New York Times

  1. Musson says:

    Have any of the ‘Green’ initiatives actually done any good? Hybrid cars, electric cars, solar panels and wind farms all had unexpected consequences that ended up hurting more than helping.

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