Wind Farms Hasten the Collapse of Power Grids

If you have not taken the trouble to understand the effects of large wind farms on critical power grids, you owe it to yourself and those who depend on you to get yourself up to competent levels on this timely topic. Some of the important concepts may take time to understand. Keep at it. Your futures depend upon knowing what is going on, and not being counted as a chump.

The modern world cannot survive without reliable, on-demand, high quality electrical power. So why are so many western governments in Europe and the Anglosphere pushing policies that threaten the stability of the power grid?

Here are a number of information sources that helped to change Al Fin’s mind about big wind farms and big wind power. (PDF)

Wind Watch

Impractical Wind Energy

Wind Action

As the role of renewable sources increases, there has been more attention paid to system effects relating to the interaction of variable renewables with dispatchable technologies. System effects refer to the costs above plant-level costs to supply electricity at a given load and level of security of supply. A 2012 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency report focused on “grid-level system costs”, the subset of system costs mediated by the electricity grid, which include a) the costs of extending and reinforcing transport and distribution grids as well as connecting new capacity, and b) the costs of increased short-term balancing and maintaining the long-term adequacy and security of electricity supply.

The report showed that while all technologies generate system costs, those of dispatchable generators are at least an order of magnitude lower than those of variable renewables. If the system costs of variable renewables were included at the level of the electricity grid, the total costs of electricity supply increased by up to one-third, depending on country, technology and penetration levels. While grid-level system costs for dispatchable technologies are lower than US$ 3 /MWh, they can reach up to $40 /MWh for onshore wind, up to $45 /MWh for offshore wind and up to $80 /MWh for solar. In addition, the greater the penetration of intermittent renewables, the higher the system costs.

Currently, such grid-level costs are simply absorbed by electricity consumers through higher network charges, and by the producers of dispatchable electricity in the form of reduced margins and lower load factors. Failing to account for system costs means adding implicit subsidies to already sizeable explicit subsidies for variable renewables. As long as this situation continues, dispatchable technologies will increasingly not be replaced as they reach the end of their operating lifetimes, thereby seriously diminishing security of supply. __

…experts warn that the rise of decentralised and unreliable renewable capacity, such as wind, makes it more difficult to maintain a stable frequency, reducing the quality of supplies and potentially collapsing the grid.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (Entsoe) said a subsidy-fuelled boom in renewable capacity across Europe had coincided in a quality drop of the power frequency.

Entsoe also said a clash of low renewables with a major capacity outage such as the power link between France and Britain would pose “a severe risk for the system to collapse”.

“As you put more renewables into the system you will lose flexibility and have more flickering and also increase the threat of frequency outages,” said Andrew Jones, Europe’s managing director for US based S&C Electric, a provider of equipment and services for electric power systems.

It is important to understand that demand for electricity is constantly changing, in an unpredictable manner. This changing demand causes fluctuations in grid voltage, frequency, and power quality. If the grid cannot respond to these fluctuations in a timely manner, the grid is at risk of going down.

It shouldn’t have to be said, but when you try to match an unpredictable supply (wind), with an unpredictable demand, you are inviting catastrophe.

As governments mandate the increased injection of expensive non-dispatchable intermittent unreliable low quality power into the delicately balanced power grids — upon which modern societies are perched — they are playing risky games with the lives of ordinary citizens.

Wind turbines tend to break down before their nameplate lifespans, due to the harsh conditions in which they are expected to operate. Most wind farm operations do not budget necessary maintenance as they should, resulting in growing numbers of non-functioning turbines over time — something anyone who watches wind farms over the years can attest to.

Wind farms claim capacity factors of close to 30%, but the actual experience in Denmark is closer to 15% or less. In other words, you need 7 times as many wind turbines as you think, to achieve the nameplate power capacity under fair wind conditions. Until the turbines break down. Or the wind stops blowing. Then you can only hope that the coal, nuclear, or gas plants that you hate so much, are still capable of operating. If your government’s energy policies have forced the “backups” to shut down, you are in big trouble.

The environmental risks of wind farms and the risks to human health have not been mentioned — but they are becoming important reasons for growing resistance to new wind farms.

If your government is pushing increasing levels of intermittent unreliable forms of energy onto your power grids, you had better prepare for blackouts and cascading grid failures.

If your government is pushing vulnerable “smart grid” technology, prepare for hackers to shut down your power for fun, or for political reasons.

You don’t need an electromagnetic pulse catastrophe to throw your society back into the middle ages. Normal government policy can accomplish the same thing, given enough time.

There is no need to invent a conspiracy for something that basic corruption and incompetence in government can achieve as easily.


Be smart, be resilient, be dangerous, be good, and be safe. Just because most of your fellow citizens are chumps, is no reason for you to join them.

Bonus: Wind Energy articles from WUWT

Master Resource articles on Wind Power

Vaclav Smil articles from Master Resource

More: Proximity to wind turbines reduces resale value of homes

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3 Responses to Wind Farms Hasten the Collapse of Power Grids

  1. Matt Musson says:

    Nothing is perfect. If you want to chop millions of migratory birds out of the sky,
    there is going to be the downside of distressing the grid. But, what is the option?
    Are we supposed to let those winged rats fly by scott free?


  2. James Bowery says:

    A little anecdote:

    On March 23, 1989 I was working for a spinoff of General Atomics called Science Applications International Corporation in the division that did their atomic power plant safety monitoring systems as their software manager. I placed a copy of the press release in all the in-boxes and actually had some of the senior, Manhattan Project, guys interested in trying out the Pd+D+Li6 electrolytic system. But then a CalTech alumnus who had studied under Nathan Lewis weighed in with CalTech’s credibility and put a stop to any such foolishness.

    A nice thing about this is that SAIC ended up a major recipient of contracts in the wars in the middle East over energy.

    My response to the Nathan Lewis was to do a survey of all of the alternative fusion energy technologies to see what their proponents thought would be fair criteria for a series of objectives in fusion R&D, backing each of said milestones with a $100M(circa 1990) prize.

    In the course of doing this survey, I met a founder of the US Tokamak program, Dr. Robert Bussard, who was so enthusiastic about such legislation that he drafted a cover letter and sent a copy of it to all of his contacts in government, including congressmen, DoE officials and the national laboratories, which included the following confession:

    The DoE committment to very large fusion concepts (the giant magnetic tokamak) ensures only the need for very large budgets; and that is what the program has been about for the past 15 years – a defense-of-budget program – not a fusion-achievement program. As one of three people who created this program in the early 1970’s (when I was an Asst. Dir. of the AEC’s Controlled Thermonuclear Reaction Division) I know this to be true; we raised the budget in order to take 20% off the top of the larger funding, to try all of the hopeful new things that the mainline labs would not try.

    Each of us left soon thereafter, and the second generation management thought the big program was real; it was not. Ever since then, the ERDA/DoE has rolled Congress to increase and/or continue big-budget support. This worked so long as various Democratic Senators and Congressmen could see the funding as helpful in their districts. But fear of undermining their budget position also made DoE bureaucrats very autocratic and resistant to any kind of new approach, whether inside DoE or out in industry. This led DoE to fight industry wherever a non-DoE hopeful new idea appeared.. In that letter he confessed that the Tokamak program had been, from its inception,

    So, was this a result of “science” or of “lobbyists”?

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