Sunday, November 05, 2006

Newsday, New York Times Get It Wrong

Well, oops.

Two prominent and respected newspapers embarrassed themselves this week by passing on the same erroneous anti-wind information. Newsday, the major Long Island newspaper, and the New York Times made the missteps, both citing a questionable report from a British firm, ABS Energy Research, on claimed defects of wind power.

The Newsday article, by reporter Mark Harrington, said ominously, "A sharp increase in wind-power capacity in Europe is challenging utilities to stabilize their electric grids in the face of sometimes wildly fluctuating wind-energy levels, while calling into question some of the greenhouse-gas reducing claims of windmills, according to a recent study." It went on to add quotes from the report and from Euan Blauvelt, who is identified as ABS's research director.

The Times account, by John Rather, was slightly more restrained: "In Europe, power providers are having trouble coping with the variable output of wind turbines, according to a study by ABS Energy Research in London. When winds slacken, providers must scramble to draw supplies from conventional plants, the report said. It also suggested that wind power was having only limited impact on overall greenhouse gas emissions."

The ABS report was issued in late June, with similar hysterical language in a news release hyping its sale. I haven't read it yet, nor will I, since it costs roughly a cool $1,600 and appears to be, based on what the firm itself has said of its contents, of low quality and credibility.

Here, for example, is the complete text of an e-mail from Brian Parsons, a researcher at the (U.S.) National Renewable Energy Laboratory who specializes in wind integration issues, written directly to ABS:

Subject: RE: The Wind Power Report - Ed 3 2006
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 08:39:10 -0600
From: "Parsons, Brian"
To: [address snipped]

Rachel - Thank you for your quick response. With your lead, I was able to find ABS on the web, which helped my understanding of the offering.

My inquiry was stimulated because I see two interesting components to the report. The first is market facts on the growth of wind power deployment worldwide. The second is what I view as alarmist and selective representation of potential problems and issues with wind power integration on the grid. In my work, I interact with utilities on a daily basis, and there are many concerns regarding wind due to unique characteristics different from conventional power generation sources.
However, once detailed research is undertaken, it is often found that the real impacts are less dire than expected.

The e-mail you sent out cites the DENA [German Energy Agency] work, which is now quite outdated. Additional work looking at the issues in Germany has resulted in less alarmist conclusions. The same can be said regarding the Irish Moratorium. Ireland is well on the way to having the largest % penetration of wind in Europe, without strong ties to other electrical systems.

This is not to say that issues don't exist. As the amount of wind power deployment increases, the use of forecasting, neutral market rules, and industry practices becomes more important. Operation of the flexible generators is modified. Yet, the integration of wind has been found to be advantageous overall economically. It is not just a political/environmental hoax.

For example I attach an article summarizing the Nov/Dec IEEE Power and Energy issue on wind integration issues. This summary is endorsed by the 3 major utility associations in the United States. There are numerous links to studies addressing these issues on the Utility Wind Integration Group's web site (www.uwig.org) as well.

In short, I find many of the assertions in the solicitation to purchase the report to be erroneous, and the information selectively biased. Dissemination and sale can only further misunderstanding and create further confusion. I wish the author had done a better job of researching all sources. If you wish to distribute the attached summary to the authors, and customers of your report, please feel free.

Best Regards,

Brian Parsons
Project Manager, Wind Applications
National Renewable Energy Lab
[emphasis added]

But wait, there's more. In a story by Susan Nelson carried November 1 by SNL Interactive, a firm that publishes several trade newsletters and actually did some checking on the ABS report, Parsons is quoted as saying the report "should be put in a trash can" and adding, "The future for wind power is looking good--it's not a slam dunk, but it's looking good."

Also, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has generated a more detailed response to the Newsday story. In particular, it refers to a comprehensive study by the U.K. Energy Research Centre:

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) convened an expert group that reviewed more than 200 studies on wind power integration and published an internationally peer-reviewed, comprehensive report this year (see release at http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/content/view/259/952 and full report at http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/content/view/258/852). The report concluded that:

- 100% ‘back up’ for individual renewable sources is unnecessary; extra capacity will be needed to keep supplies secure, but will be modest and a small part of the total cost of renewables. It is possible to work out what is needed and plan accordingly.

- The output of fossil fuel plant will need to be adjusted more often to cope with fluctuations in wind output, but any losses this causes are small compared to overall savings in emissions.

- Renewable energy, such as wind power, leads to a direct reduction in CO2 emissions.

- None of the 200+ studies UKERC reviewed suggested that the introduction of significant levels of intermittent renewable energy would lead to reduced reliability.

- If wind power were to supply 20% of Britain’s electricity, intermittency costs would be 0.5 - 0.8p per kilowatt an hour (p/kWh) of wind output. This would be added to wind generating costs of 3 - 5 p/kWh. By comparison, costs of gas fired power stations are around 3 p/kWh.

- The impact on electricity consumers would be around 0.1 p/kWh. Domestic electricity tariffs are typically 10 - 16 p/kWh. Intermittency therefore would account for around 1% of electricity costs.

- Costs of intermittency at current levels are much smaller, but will rise if use of renewables expands. Wide geographical dispersion and a diversity of renewable sources will keep costs down.


In recent months, anti-wind groups have been focusing more and more on wind integration issues. I hope this continues, as it is a fight they cannot and will not win.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Wind Plays Prominent Visual Role in Campaigns

Political campaign season is full upon us, and candidates' minds are evidently turning to thoughts of . . . wind?

Yes, that's right, complaints about the ugliness of wind turbines by a noisy minority seem to be falling on deaf ears as the 2006 campaign rushes toward its close. A number of candidates have chosen to portray themselves in front of rotating wind systems or to use them as symbolic of a commitment to a cleaner energy future. Here are a notable few (there may well be more).

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), a former U.S. Secretary of Energy

U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. (wait for the signup window to go away, then view the ad on the front page of the site)

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter (D)

In addition, Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick (D), who currently has a wide lead in the polls, endorses the Cape Wind project in a video clip on energy policy, and there is a nice photo of U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, R-Ind., with a wind turbine model. According to the Lafayette, Ind., Courier & Journal, "At a stop at an office here of [wind energy developer] Orion Energy LLC, Lugar said people need to change their thinking about energy. He said too many have the mentality that 'there'll always be oil or natural gas -- there won't be. ... We need to forge our own energy dependence.'

It's great to see so many politicos showing the vision to line up with wind!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wind Power Doesn't Reduce Emissions????, Part 2

Correspondence:

My letter of 10 October 2006 to: Danish Energy Authority, Danish Wind Manufacturers' Association, DONG Energy (Danish utility and successor in part to ELSAM):

The following statement was made yesterday on the Web by a U.S.
anti-wind-energy campaigner.

"As Flemming Nissen, Head of Development for the utility Elsam in Denmark, has stated, 'Increased development of wind turbines does not reduce Danish carbon dioxide emissions.'"

You can find it at in the "comments" section at http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/2006/09/wind-generated-electricity-in-india.html
.

It seems difficult to reconcile with Danish Energy Authority statistics showing a steady decline in adjusted CO2 emissions and the particularly sharp decline in CO2 emissions associated with the generation of a kilowatt-hour of electricity in 2004 compared with 1990.

Do you have any information on whether this statement was actually made, and if so, what it is based on?


-----

Reply received today, 12 October 2006, from Ms. Louise Muenter at DONG Energy:

Thank you very much for your interest in Danish energy and our company. Regarding the comments you refer to, it seems that they have been taken out of context.

During the past two decades the Danish energy system has developed radical. From an oil and gas importing country in the late 1990's to being the only oil exporting country among the EU25. This has been achieved as a result of three trends.

Denmark has in the period from 1990 til 2005 managed a) to stabilize the national energy consumption - b) and at the same time increase the amount of renewable energy production by 250 pct. - and c) increase production from our national resources in the North sea - The result is 16 pct. renewables in our energy consumption and an amazing energy self supply pct. of 155.

According to statistics published by the Danish Energy Authority - www.ens.dk - The total energy consumption in 2005 was 844 PJ (compared to 820 PJ in 1990) - Renewables accounted for 134 PJ in 2005 (compared to 55 PJ in 1990) - The CO2 emission in [1990] was 61 million ton (compared to 51 million ton in 2005).


The development has led to economic wealth, environmental sustainability, security of energy supply and finally high employment with Denmark as world market leader when it comes to production, demonstration and implementing wind turbines.

Wind power turbines have played a major role in developing the Danish energy system of today. Wind is accounting for more than 20 pct. of the electricity consumption and the amount is increasing. There are still opportunities for increasing the amount of wind power in the Danish energy system; in some locations it will need investments in the grid and infrastructure.

Denmark is located as a transmission gate in between the central European market and the Scandinavian market, leading to strong interconnections with our neighbors Sweden, Norway and Germany. The national system still has flexibility for introducing more wind power, and with the strong interconnections, the market for electricity produced on wind is covering more than 100 million consumers.

Introducing cost effective wind turbines will lead to a reduction in coal and natural gas fired electricity production, planning and integration with the energy transmission system is important - but in general electricity produced on wind; and the economical, environmental and security of supply benefits as a result is achievable for the years to come.

On behalf of DONG Energy,

Best regards

Louise M√ľnter
Head of Media Relations - Pressechef
Corporate Communications - DONG Energy A/S

Monday, October 09, 2006

Wind Power Doesn't Reduce Emissions?????

Wind generators operate mechanically to convert the kinetic energy in the wind into electricity. No fuel is burned and nothing is emitted--no air pollution or global warming pollution. Therefore, greater use of wind-generated electricity, if it substitutes for fossil fuels, will reduce a utility system's emissions. Right?

No, not according to anti-wind zealots, who seemingly will believe most anything, no matter how outlandish or contrary to common sense, provided it criticizes the energy source they oppose.

The no-emissions-benefit theory is nicely discussed and disposed of in a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) from the Yes2Wind Web site, which is a joint project of the major environmental groups Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, all of whom share a common concern about global warming.

It rests on three pillars, all of which turn out to be made of sand:

(1) Because the wind is variable and sometimes does not blow, backup generation must be kept ready at all times to replace it. The backup power plants emit pollution anyway, so no pollution is avoided.

(2) Because the wind is variable, when it displaces coal-fired generation, the coal power plants are forced to adjust their electricity output. When they do, they are less efficient than if they can run at constant output, and the extra emissions that result from this reduced efficiency more than offset the gains from using wind.

(3), not mentioned at the Yes2Wind site: The country of Denmark, which currently obtains about 20% of its electricity from wind, has not experienced a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as a result. See, for example, the TurbineAction anti-wind site in the U.K., where the following bald-faced statement is made: "Denmark, which has more wind turbines per capita than any other country, has publicly admitted that there has been no savings in carbon dioxide emissions." (This statement was excerpted from the site today, 9 October 2006.)

With regard to (1), the Yes2Wind site correctly notes that backup is needed for the whole system anyway, in case other power plants experience unexpected outages (in fact, the largest part of backup requirements is often for nuclear reactors, which are larger than other power plants). A bit more must be added for wind, but only a bit.

With regard to (2), coal-fired power plants do indeed run at slightly lower efficiency, but this effect is trivial. See, for example, Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Abatement from Wind Farms in Victoria, a recent study that explicitly takes this issue into account yet still finds large CO2 offsets from adding wind to the utility system.

And finally, with regard to (3), the latest emissions data from the Danish Energy Authority show CO2 emissions--after adjustment for weather variations and exports or imports of electricity--peaking at about 62 million metric tons in 1991 and then declining steadily to approximately 51 million metric tons in 2004.

Says the Energy Authority, "Gross energy consumption has been more or less constant over the last 10 years; however, the fuels used have changed considerably. The shift from coal to natural gas and renewable energy etc. has meant that, year by year, less CO2 is linked to each unit of fuel consumed. Thus, in 2004 each GJ of adjusted gross energy consumption was linked to 61.2 kg CO2, against 74.2 kg in 1990. This corresponds to a 17.5 per cent reduction.

"One kWh of electricity sold in Denmark caused 526 grams of CO2 emissions in 2004. In 1990, CO2 emissions were 937 grams per kWh of electricity sold. This corresponds to a reduction of almost 44 per cent. This large reduction is attributable to fuel conversions in electricity production and the growing significance of CHP [combined heat and power] production and wind power." [emphasis added]

I sincerely hope this drives a stake through the heart of this particular piece of disinformation.
Quotable Quote File

“Wind Energy will account for more than a third of the CO2 emission reduction planned in Denmark for the year 2005 (7 out of 20 per cent decline compared to 1988). In the future wind will play an even larger role, according to current plans.”—Offshore Wind Energy: Full Speed Ahead, Soren Krohn, Managing Director, Danish Wind Industry Association, World Energy Council, Proceedings of 17th Congress, 2004.

“A modern on-shore wind turbine can reduce CO2 emissions by 5500 tons/year. In Denmark the use of wind energy saves 4.5 million tons/year.” Wind Power Briefing, undated (but includes references dated June 2006), Patrick Corbett, Energy Academy, Heriot-Watt University, UK., p. 1.

“Today one third of the Danish Kyoto commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are being met due to wind energy, and wind supplies 18 per cent of Danish electricity consumption.”--Wind Energy Policy in Denmark: 25 Years of Success – What Now?, Soren Krohn, Managing Director, Danish Wind Industry Association, February 2002, p. 6.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Wind Power Action

Altogether, U.S. wind resources are enough to provide several times our current electricity use, although other sources (or storage) would still be needed because of the variability of the wind.

The key ingredient for wind's continued expansion? Continuing the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC), which reduces a wind farm owner's tax payments by 1.9 cents for each kilowatt-hour of electricity the wind farm generates during the first 10 years of its operation. The PTC is currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2007. If the credit is extended for several years, we will see much greater use of this clean energy resource. For smaller turbines, the key incentive is a Small Turbine Investment Credit, something that doesn't yet exist. Readers can help support these and other pro-wind laws here.

Also, plug-in hybrid autos can be manufactured with technology available today. They'll get 80 or so mpg, and they will allow wind energy (for example) to take a bite out of our oil imports. Readers can support this concept through Plug-In Partners.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Wind Energy and Utility Systems

One of the favorite whipping boys of anti-wind (and pro-nuclear) groups and individuals today is the claim that "wind cannot substitute for a baseload electricity source" or "wind is not reliable."

I've spent some time in dialogue with one of our in-house experts on these issues (a guy who is talking with utilities, regulators, and transmission system operators on a daily basis) and the following brief discussion is the result.

I know it will be boring and overly technical for some, so apologies in advance for that, but it's gotta be done, otherwise the mis- and disinformation will just continue to spread. Anyone with questions, feel free to contact me at tgray [at] awea [dot] org.

Regards,
Tom

The terms "baseload," "intermediate," and "peaking" (often used to describe various types of power plants) are convenient shorthand, but they are not fully accurate, and in some ways, looking at the utility system as made up of only these three types of systems is an obstacle to understanding how wind fits into electricity generation.

For example, a "baseload" plant is one that is designed to run inexpensively as much of the time as possible at full output, and utilities commonly plan on having approximately the same amount of baseload capacity as their minimum daily demand. The theory here is that such plants can then basically operate around the clock. However,

- All power plants, even baseload plants, require scheduled maintenance and sometimes experience unexpected outages due to equipment failure. No plant runs 100% of the time.

- While wind power plants are not baseload, they can and do displace electricity from baseload plants for some hours of the day if there is enough wind generation on a utility system and the wind is blowing. This is because utilities use the cheapest power available during the day, and since wind power plants use no fuel, they are often the cheapest option available. As wind farms start up during the day, they first displace the most expensive power being generated (peaking, if peaking plants are being used), then the next most expensive (intermediate), and finally baseload.

The issue, therefore, is not whether wind fits neatly into one of the traditional utility pigeonholes (it doesn't), but what happens when wind power plants are added to the utility system, in terms of how many kilowatt-hours are generated by wind at what times of the day and year. That in turn varies from utility to utility, depending on the times when the wind typically blows and how fast it blows (the "profile" of wind speeds), and how well those times match up with the profile of customer demand.

The question of overall system reliability is similarly confused. How can adding an "unreliable" generator like a wind power plant to a utility system INCREASE, not decrease, its reliability? (It does.) It increases reliability because it reduces the probability that, at any given time during the day or year, the utility will be unable to supply the amount of electricity that is needed--and that probability (formally called Loss of Load Probability, or LOLP), is how utilities measure reliability.

In a typical utility system, the utility will need to have enough power plants that are ready to run to meet 115% or 120% of peak projected customer electricity demand. This is because, as stated above, no power plant runs 100% of the time, and so by having more power plants than are normally needed (a "reserve requirement") utilities reduce the probability of failing to meet demand to very low levels. Wind is a variable source of electricity, and a wind plant runs far less of the time at full capacity than fueled power plants. Even so, if there is a 10% or 20% chance that a wind farm will be producing electricity during a peak demand period, it improves the likelihood that a utility will be able to meet demand.

So, returning to our original two questions:

Can wind substitute for a baseload electricity source? Yes, but with reservations. It's probably not the most efficient substitute, because it will take a lot of wind capacity to achieve the same reliability benefit as adding a baseload unit.

Is wind reliable? Yes. In spite of the fact that it's variable, adding wind to a utility system increases that system's overall reliability.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lining Up to Buy Clean, Secure Wind Power

Lots of encouraging developments on the wind power front in recent days. Safeway, the grocery chain; Wells Fargo & Co., the banking firm; and Kettle Foods, the maker of natural potato chips, all announced plans to buy wind power.

Safeway will buy 174 million kilowatt-hours per year, Wells Fargo 550 million, and Kettle 8.75 million. Total? 732.75 million kWh annually, equivalent to the output of about 280 megawatts (MW) of wind generating capacity (there are currently about 10,000 MW installed nationwide and that number should jump to 12,000 by the end of this year).

Good to see members of the business community stepping up to play their part in supporting clean energy and slowing global warming.

Whoa! Looking at Google News, I see that New York University has just announced plans to purchase 118 million kWh of wind power annually.

Remember, you too can buy wind or other green electricity. For info on green power suppliers, see "Your Electric Choices" at www.green-e.org. This site includes a clickable map of the U.S. which will show you the choices in your state.

If you don't feel that you can afford to go 100% wind, a very inexpensive option is to buy 10% or 20%. For the average household, the cost will be 5-10 cents a day . . .

[Update 30 November 2006: The Port of Houston will buy 5% of its electricity from wind power for the next three years.]

[Update 7 October 2006: The Town of Frisco, Colorado, will go 100% wind, buying 1.4 million kWh of wind-generated electricity annually.]

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Green Mountain Power Joins Wind Energy Works!

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, Green Mountain Power Co. (GMP) of South Burlington, Vt., became the first investor-owned electric utility to join the Wind Energy Works! partnership.

GMP thus continues its record as a wind power pioneer, having been the first utility in New England to install and operate a wind farm. The GMP wind project at Searsburg, Vt., has been in place and running since 1997 and is still the largest operational wind farm in New England (although it will soon be displaced by the larger Mars Hill wind plant currently under construction in Maine).

The Wind Energy Works! coalition is a national alliance supporting wind energy development across the country as the first major step toward a clean and safe energy future. A list of current members is located here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Letter to the Editor, Rutland (Vt.) Herald
September 25, 2006

To the Editor:

Close readers of Eric Rosenbloom's anti-wind letter of Sept. 24 will have noted that it was long on rhetoric but remarkably short on substance.

I had cited a study prepared for the company that operates New York's electric transmission system, looking at the effect of adding thousands of wind turbines to the system. The study found that substantial fuel savings and pollution reduction would result. In response, Mr. Rosenbloom criticizes me for not providing sources from European countries on the actual experience with wind energy there.

While such information does exist, there is no need to look so far from home. Just last week (Sept. 21), Green Mountain Power Co. issued a news release on the 10th anniversary of the installation of the first wind turbine at its wind farm in Searsburg, Vt. The release said in part: "The 11 turbines at GMP’s Searsburg plant have generated 110,000 megawatt-hours [110 million kilowatt-hours] since they began operation in 1997, which is the equivalent of approximately 14,000 homes being powered by wind for a full year. Every kilowatt-hour generated by wind avoids a kilowatt-hour generated by another source, which on the New England grid is generally natural gas or oil fired during the peak periods when wind generation is at its height."

Vermont wind turbines would increase our state's energy security and make us less dependent on energy imports. They would generate electricity indefinitely, with no mining, drilling, or water use, and no air pollution, no water pollution, and no global warming pollution. Wind energy makes sense for Vermont.

Thomas O. Gray
Deputy Executive Director
American Wind Energy Association
Care2.Com and Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Received my "butterfly" (an electronic sticker of recognition) recently for joining the Environmental Defense Million Bulb Swap-Out to Fight Global Warming, which is being propagated through the activist Web network Care2.Com.

I only pledged to swap one bulb, as all of the rest of the suitable fixtures in our house have already had CF bulbs in them for many years. But the campaign did get me to put one in a remaining fixture near our front door (I discovered it was a standard incandescent inside a globe when the bulb burned out a few weeks ago).

Join the Swap-Out! Each bulb that is switched, over its lifetime, will prevent more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, the leading global warming pollutant, from being added to the atmosphere. It will also save you a tidy bundle in lower electricity costs . . .

Sunday, September 24, 2006

National Wind Watch Attacks!

Eric Rosenbloom, the president of an anti-wind group called National Wind Watch, has a letter in today's Rutland (Vt.) Herald responding to my letter of Sept. 3. I have provided a link to Mr. Rosenbloom's letter so that readers may judge for themselves who is providing substance to this debate and who is not.

Mr. Rosenbloom complains that I did not provide a list of European papers documenting wind energy's ability to displace other fuels and reduce emissions, and contends there are none. I don't follow the European literature, but here is a European Commission Staff Working Document that looks at the success of various schemes for supprting renewable energy.

The document says in part:

"Increasing the share of renewables in the EU electricity has well recognised benefits mainly in particular:
– Improved security of energy supply.
– Enhanced competitive edge for the EU in the renewable energies technology industries.
– Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions by the EU power sector.
– Mitigation of regional and local pollutant emissions.
– Improved economic and social prospects especially for rural and isolated regions.
Therefore the European Union aims to have renewable energy sources providing 21% of the electricity by the year 2010 (see Annex 1)."

Annex 1 includes some charts showing electric generation from nonhydro renewables (wind, solar, geothermal, biomass) increasing in Europe from 20 billion kilowatt-hours in 1990 to 100 billion in 2003, with wind energy providing about 40 billion kWh, or roughly 3% of European electricity consumption.

I will simply add that contentions that wind energy actually produces no electricity and displaces no emissions are without merit.
The Difference Wind Makes

A press release this week from Green Mountain Power Co. (GMP), a Vermont-based electric utility, talked about the 10th anniversary of the installation of the first wind turbine at the company's Searsburg, Vt., wind farm. It included the following quote:

“The 11 turbines at GMP’s Searsburg plant have generated 110,000 megawatt-hours since they began operation in 1997, which is the equivalent of approximately 14,000 homes being powered by wind for a full year. Every kilowatt-hour generated by wind avoids a kilowatt-hour generated by another source, which on the New England grid is generally natural gas or oil fired during the peak periods when wind generation is at its height.” [emphasis added]

This is an important statement because one of the recent accusations being widely circulated by anti-wind individuals and groups is that wind (a) generates no net electricity, (b) does not offset other fuels and (c) therefore displaces no emissions.

It's a strange contention. About the only explanation I can think of for it is a weakness for conspiracy theories. In any event, GMP owns the wind farm and presumably knows what it is in fact doing. More information on the difference wind power makes can be found here.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Letter to the Editor, Berkshire Eagle (Mass.)
September 8, 2006

We all need wind power

To the editor of THE EAGLE:

John Trimarchi’s letter of Sept. 4 (“The Berkshire wind turbine scam”) contains a number of errors.

Leaving aside the overblown (pun intended) rhetoric:

Mr. Trimarchi contends that wind energy is “unreliable” and cannot be stored. While the wind is indeed variable, so is our demand for electricity, rising and falling throughout a typical day. Utility system operators must turn generators up and down to match demand, and adding wind generators to the system does not significantly increase its overall variability. That is why, for example, the Reliability Committee of the New England Independent System Operator, which runs our regional utility system, voted unanimously to approve hooking up the Cape Wind project to the system.

Mr. Trimarchi contends that “electricity must be produced on demand.” While this is true, it applies to the entire utility system, not to each individual generator. That is why even very large generators like nuclear power plants can sometimes experience unexpected outages, while we continue to enjoy a dependable supply of electricity.

Mr. Trimarchi criticizes incentives for wind. But our tax dollars have helped support fossil fuels for decades, and continue to do so today. The result has been enormous economic growth and prosperity, but also an addiction that we need to curb. In fact, it is good public policy to support wind power—an energy source that requires no mining, no drilling, and no water, and that produces no air pollution, no water pollution, no global warming pollution, and no waste.

Mr. Trimarchi says that wind turbines installed in the Berkshires will sit idle most of the time. At a typical U.S. wind site, the turbines are generating electricity 65-80% of the time.

Mr. Trimarchi claims that wind energy will not displace energy from other sources. A fairly detailed recent study of the effects of adding wind to New York’s power system found otherwise. It said that 65 percent of the wind-generated electricity would displace electricity from natural gas, 15 percent would displace coal, 10 percent would displace oil, and 10 percent would displace imported power from other states. The study also found, “By displacing energy from fossil-fired generators, wind generation causes reductions in emissions from those generators. Based on wind and load profiles for years 2001 and 2002, annual [nitrogen oxides] emissions would be reduced by 6,400 tons and [sulfur dioxide] emissions would be reduced by 12,000 tons."

Aside from the environmental benefits enumerated above, wind farms in the Berkshires would increase Massachusetts' energy security and help keep a lid on natural gas prices (a growing amount of natural gas is used for electricity generation, and that causes price pressure on gas for home heating).

We all need to think long and hard before abandoning this inexhaustible energy resource.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

YES to Plug-In Hybrids!

One of the most exciting technologies on the U.S. energy horizon is the plug-in hybrid automobile. Plug-in hybrids would have extra batteries and could carry a larger electric charge, allowing them to drive more on electricity and save even more gasoline. According to Austin (Tex.) Energy, a municipal utility, plug-in hybrids could get up to 100 miles per gallon of gasoline.

From the big-picture standpoint, the beauty of plug-in hybrids is that they would, in effect, allow electricity to displace oil use in an even more major way. They would also add a new form of storage to the utility system, making it easier to accommodate variable--but inexhaustible--sources of electricity like wind and solar power. The potential for reducing oil imports and global warming pollution emissions is huge.

You can help bring this transformation about. Visit the Plug-In Partners Web site today!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Addicted to Blogging . . .

Long weekend, and I've spent much of it blogging on wind. Always an educational experience--learning about "splogs" (spam blogs, the scourge of the blogosphere) and social networking sites, responding to many questions. Wrote the letter below to the Rutland Herald (of Rutland, Vt.) and will be trying to spend a bit more time in the future addressing the issues raised by the anti-wind community here in Vermont. While it is annoying to see so much misinformation about wind energy, it's also refreshing and energizing to take keyboard in hand and respond. Hope your weekend is going well . . .

Tomorrow, my wife and I will be heading up to Burlington to take part in the final day of Bill McKibben's walk against global warming. It's great to see people demanding action on this issue.
Letter to the Editor, Rutland (Vt.) Herald
September 3, 2006

To the Editor:

Hugh Kemper’s anti-wind letter of Sept. 3 contains some errors of fact and omission.

First, he correctly states that Vermont’s current power plants emit very little pollution. This is true, but doesn’t speak to the future, when Vermont Yankee’s license and the Hydro Quebec contracts expire. Something will replace those sources of electricity, and there is no guaranteeing that it will be clean unless we make it so.

Second, he mistakenly claims that because the wind is a variable energy source, it cannot displace electricity generated from other sources. A fairly detailed recent study of the effects of adding wind to New York’s power system found otherwise. It said that 65 percent of the wind-generated electricity would displace electricity from natural gas, 15 percent would displace coal, 10 percent would displace oil, and 10 percent would displace imported power from other states.

Third, he claims that wind produces little net electricity generation or emissions reductions. The New York study disagrees with that also, finding, “By displacing energy from fossil-fired generators, wind generation causes reductions in emissions from those generators. Based on wind and load profiles for years 2001 and 2002, annual [nitrogen oxides] emissions would be reduced by 6,400 tons and [sulfur dioxide] emissions would be reduced by 12,000 tons."

Finally, Mr. Kemper claims that opposition to wind is growing around the country. While this is true, the wind energy industry is also growing by leaps and bounds, with a growth rate of 29 percent per year over the last five years. Since wind farms are being built in many more places, it is not surprising that the number of opponents—and the number of supporters—is growing.

Wind machines installed in Vermont would generate electricity indefinitely, with no mining, drilling, or water use, and no air pollution, no water pollution, and no global warming pollution. They would increase Vermont's energy security and help keep a lid on natural gas prices (a growing amount of natural gas is used for electricity generation, and that causes price pressure on gas for home heating).

Vermonters need to think long and hard before abandoning this inexhaustible energy resource.

Thomas O. Gray
Deputy Executive Director
American Wind Energy Association