Wind Turbines Need Wind

Wind Turbines Need Wind

This may seem to be a truism, but the speed of the wind is critical to how much electricity a wind turbine generates.

Europe is finding this out the hard way. Texas learned this past winter that the wind needs to blow rather robustly … but not too robustly.

But, what are the implications of this wind drought in Northern Europe?

This map from EnergyPostEU courtesy of World Climate Service, shows how little wind there was in parts of Europe during the summer of 2021.

The UK, and Ireland were especially affected by slow wind speeds. A major UK utility reported that, “Renewable assets produced 32% less power than expected between April and September.”

One researcher said there was no need to worry about this rare event, the least wind in 75 years. 

But it only takes 14 or more days in a row without wind for there to be a disaster if there isn’t enough backup. And we are not talking about no wind, we are talking about wind at low speeds, such as 9 or 10 mph.

The amount of power that’s produced is related to the cube of the wind speed.

That is, of course, until the wind blows too hard, say above 55 mph, when the wind turbines must be shut down to prevent them from being torn apart by the wind.

Germany also experienced slow winds during the summer. The CFO of RWE, a large German utility, said: “[We need a portfolio] onshore, offshore, or solar or storage…”

What does that statement infer? 

It plainly says, it’s necessary to have duplicate investments to guarantee a steady supply of electricity. If wind isn’t available, then a duplicate and equal amount of solar must be in place to back it up. Or, alternatively, storage is needed for back up.

This should make it clear that wind and solar are more expensive than fossil fuel power plants to achieve a reliable supply of electricity. Duplicate investments repeated every twenty years automatically make wind and solar more expensive than natural gas or coal-fired plants that last for forty to sixty years.

But it’s even more expensive than this, because storage will be needed no matter how much investment money is spent on wind and solar because they are unreliable and require storage for backup.

In addition, it’s important to remember there hasn’t yet been a battery invented that can store and provide enough electricity for days on end to replace the electricity lost when the wind doesn’t blow hard enough or the sun doesn’t shine. 

Lazard’s LCOEs are irrelevant to the cost of generating a reliable supply of electricity. 

The media should stop saying otherwise and tell the truth instead.

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5 Replies to “Wind Turbines Need Wind”

  1. Pingback: World’s Woeful Wind Power Output Spells Doom For Renewable Energy Rent Seekers | ajmarciniak

  2. Hi I am based in Australia and have 11 years of generator data for the east coast of Australia. Wind on average produces 28% of the plate capacity but it varies from less than zero to around 90%. The costs and engineering task to smooth that out such that it would be the same as a base load power station such as gas coal or nuclear is astronomical. If we take lithium batteries to do such a thing with a power station here of 100 MW capacity a storage of 740 GW hours is needed. Those are rough figures but I am working on a precise figure for all renewable energy generators on our eastern grid. I have developed a website spasmodicenergy.com and will be continuing the work this year. It would appear that what is happening in Europe and the USA in this regard as being totally ignored here. We face major blackouts and we do not have anyone else to fall back on.

    • Thanks. You are on the right track. Li batteries are not the solution.It’s unfortunate, but the current US administration has bought into net-zero carbon, which is a huge mistake.
      There will be many more blackouts in the US before this is over with. My book, The Looming Energy Crisis explained why blackouts were inevitable with wind and solar.