Net-Zero Carbon Reality Check #1

Net-Zero Carbon Reality Check #1

(This is the first of four articles, using published data and simple logic, to demonstrate net-zero carbon is unattainable by 2050 with wind, solar or nuclear, or a combination of these methods for power generation.)

Climate change scaremongers insist we eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

But what does that really entail?

Here is the first reality check: Can wind turbines achieve net-zero carbon?

Three steps are required to determine the number of wind turbines needed to achieve net-zero carbon by 2050.

Step 1

Step one determines the number of new wind turbines needed to replace all the electricity generated by fossil fuels in 2021.

Wind produced 380 billion kWh, or 9.2% of all the electricity generated in 2021.

The average nameplate rating of existing wind turbines in the United States is approximately 2.5 MW. Based on a Capacity Factor of 32% for these turbines, there were 54,244 wind turbines in the US in 2021.

Subtracting nuclear and renewables from total generation determines the kWh generated by fossil fuels. Dividing the kWh produced by fossil fuels, by the kWh generated per wind turbine determines the number of additional wind turbines needed to replace the electricity produced by fossil fuels in 2021.

  • Number of new wind turbines needed to replace fossil fuels = 358,447

Step 2

Step two is to determine the new wind turbines needed to supply the electricity needed when light vehicles are all battery-powered, and homes use electricity for heating rather than natural gas. The national renewable energy lab (NREL) has determined that total electricity consumption will double when all light vehicles are BEVs and homes rely on electricity for heating. Hydro can’t be doubled, and without increasing other miscellaneous renewables, the additional electricity generated by wind turbines will equal the amunt generated by all methods in 2021, i.e., 4,116 billion kWh.

  • Number of new wind turbines to double electricity consumption by 2050 = 587,329

Step 3

Step three is to determine the number of new wind turbines needed to generate the electricity required to produce enough hydrogen to make steel and cement that meet net-zero carbon requirements. There’s little reliable data on using hydrogen in the making of cement, while there is considerable data for using hydrogen in the making of steel. The estimate shown here for the number of new wind turbines is based on the amount of hydrogen required to make 62 million tons of steel, which excludes the amount of steel made using scrap in electric arc furnaces, and then doubling the number of wind turbines to compensate for the production of cement. (The United States produced 87.9 million tons of steel in 2021.)

  • Number of new wind turbines required to generate the electricity used by electrolyzers to produce the hydrogen to make steel and cement = 49,365

Summary

The total number of new wind turbines to achieve net-zero carbon by 2050 is:

  • 358,447 + 587,329 + 49,365 = 995,141

The average number of wind turbines installed in one year after 2004 was 3,000, which, at that rate, means it will take 332 years to install all the wind turbines needed to achieve net-zero.

The maximum number ever installed in one year was 5,680 which, at that rate, would mean it would take 175 years to install all the needed wind turbines.

Wind turbines larger than 2.5 MW are under development, mostly for off-shore installations, however a very few units rated 5 MW or more have been installed in the US. Recognizing there is a possibility that units rated 5 MW might be installed in the US: 

It would be necessary to install 17,770 units rated 5 MW every year over the 28 years between now and 2050. This is three times the number of smaller units ever installed in one year.

Additional considerations

Nuclear power plants are scheduled to be shut down beginning in 2032, with all existing nuclear power plants shut down by 2064. There is no provision in the above calculations for the additional wind turbines needed to replace the nuclear power plants shut down before 2050.

Wind turbines have an expected life of 20 years. This means that:

  • All 54,244 wind turbines installed before 2022 will also have to be replaced before 2050.
  • All wind turbines built between now and 2030 will also have to be replaced before 2050.

These additional wind turbines have not been included in the above calculations.

Batteries are required to provide back up for when the wind doesn’t blow. No battery has yet been invented that can provide the needed amount of storage to replace the electricity lost if the wind fails to blow for a week or two.

Conclusion

If wind turbines are used in an attempt to eliminate fossil fuels, it will require building over 995,141 new wind turbines rated 2.5 MW between now and 2050.

  • The largest number of wind turbines ever installed in one year was 5,680, which means it would take 175 years to build the necessary number of units rated 2.5 MW.
  • If larger 5 MW units were used it would require installing over 17,770 units every year between now and 2050, which is three times the number of smaller units ever installed in one year.
  • And of course, storage using batteries that have yet to be developed will also be required.

This reality check should give everyone pause, as it demonstrates that it’s not possible to eliminate fossil fuels using wind turbines.

Net-zero carbon cannot be achieved using wind turbines.

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10 Replies to “Net-Zero Carbon Reality Check #1”

  1. Wind power alone won’t do it. Is there a realistic combination of wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, and carbon-fuel that would get close? Would it be worth it especially since doubling greenhouse gasses will make little difference.

    • This will become clear when each article is published.
      The radical climate alarmists are proposing the elimination of fossil fuels which would be catastrophic for all Americans. While I believe a doubling of CO2 is not an issue, the fact that radicals are in control of the administration and are such a loud voice in the media it’s important for Americans to understand it’s impossible to eliminate fossil fuels. If they understand that, they will not fall into the trap radicals are creating.

  2. The whole ‘Net Zero’ system is about ‘appearances’ NOT the clean up of pollution. We take industries that ‘appear’ clean by ignoring their implicit ‘Embodied Energy’ and allow them to sell Carbon Credits, also known as Carbon Allowances, that work like ‘Permission Slips’ for Excess Polluters.

    Then the ‘Excess Polluters’ who buy ‘Carbon Offsets’ get to continue polluting, unabated without spending a single dime on removing the REAL pollution going up their smokestacks . . .

    This is a game of ‘slight of hand’, a ‘Magician’s Trick’, trading 4 quarters for a dollar when it comes to cleaning up the air we breath or the water we drink . . . It LOOKS amazing on paper . . . while in practice . . . it improves NOTHING . . . it is no better than moving the deck chairs on the Titanic from one side of the deck to the other . . . hoping that the list will be corrected.

    Net Zero . . . is a 1 Trillion dollar per year fraud . . . perpetrated on the well-intentioned masses around the world by the Scientific Ignorance of Environmentalists intent on destroying the Fossil Fuel industry.

    What Planet Earth needs is Scrubbers and Electrostatic Precipitators and Nitrous Oxide Burners on EVERY smokestack NOW . . . Oops . . . that would mean that Environmentalists would have to ‘Crawl into bed’ with the dreaded fossil fuel industry to implement systems that Actually Work at cleaning up the Planet. These systems remove up to 97% of the ‘Foul Effluent’ coming from the smokestacks . . .

    Oh My . . . Actual Clean- Up . . . No No No . . . We must destroy them all . . . We won’t need the clean-up . . .

    We have a Magic Trick . . . ‘Net Zero’ . . . let’s try that . . . Our Buddies in the ‘Clean Green’ energy world will help us sell that and they will get rich at the same time . . . Elon Musk Anyone ??

    Oh . . . The Media doesn’t understand Science either . . . They will help us sell this . . . Good . . . Well Done!

    Complete Madness . . . the innocent masses continue to suffer the world over . . .

    For the ‘Honest Report’ please read the following papers . . . The Devil is in the Details . . .

    https://www.academia.edu/71023588/Batteries_Renewable_Energy_and_EV_s_The_Ultimate_in_Environmental_Destruction

    https://www.academia.edu/76965285/Clean_Green_Energy_and_Net_Zero_Fairy_Tales_on_Steroids

  3. Wind turbines last about 20 years as you state. What is the sustaining number of wind turbines needed to keep wind at the required level indefinitely? My estimate is about 50,000 per year. Additionally, as wind turbines are erected, the best sites will be used so the capacity factor for many of the new ones (and sustaining replacements) will be less, requiring more new ones and their sustaining replacements. Also, wind turbines cannot necessarily be situated near the load centers therefore a large increase in high voltage transmission lines will be needed.

    • Thanks for your comments. I agree wind makes little sense. It’s expensive and unreliable, and requires expensive back up. And, as you point out, costly long transmission lines.

  4. And . . .Wind Turbines, these are The Ultimate in Embedded Costs and Environmental Destruction. Each one weighs about 1,688 tons (equivalent to 23 houses) and they contain 1,300 tons of concrete and 295 tons of steel for the masts (Concrete and Steel = 15% Global CO2). 3.5 tons of copper, 48 tons of iron, 24 tons of fiberglass Then there are the rare earth minerals . . . 800 lbs. of neodymium-boron per turbine, praseodymium, and dysprosium. The leaching into the environment from tailings ponds, the radiation released into the environment and the mining of these minerals are all Embedded Costs. Where are all the calculations for all of these in The Environmental reports? Each blade weighs 81,000 pounds and will last about 15 to 20 years, then, it must be replaced. Oh, we cannot recycle used blades yet either! That is why we see them lying on the ground at wind farms after they have been replaced. What about the coal burned and electricity used at all the production facilities processing these essential components and the CO2 generated during their production? Somehow is this ‘Green Magic’ without pollution, because it will be used to produce Green Energy? Not likely! It all gets brushed under the ‘Big Green Rug’ and seems irrelevant because ‘It’s for a Good Cause’ . . . Absolutely NOT !!

    From . . . https://www.academia.edu/71023588/Batteries_Renewable_Energy_and_EV_s_The_Ultimate_in_Environmental_Destruction

  5. And . . . Wind Turbines, these are The Ultimate in Embedded Costs and Environmental Destruction. Each one weighs about 1,688 tons (equivalent to 23 houses) and they contain 1,300 tons of concrete and 295 tons of steel forthe masts (Concrete and Steel = 15% Global CO2). 3.5 tons of copper, 48 tons of iron, 24 tons of fiberglass Then there are the rare earth minerals . . . 800 lbs. of neodymium-boron per turbine, praseodymium, and dysprosium. The leaching into the environment from tailings ponds, the radiation released into the environment and the mining of these minerals are all Embedded Costs.
    Where are all the calculations for all of these in

    The Environmental reports? Each blade weighs 81,000 pounds and will last about 15 to 20 years, then, it must be replaced. Oh, we cannot recycle used blades yet either! That is why we see them lying on the ground at windfarms after they have been replaced. What about the coal burned and electricity used at all the production facilities processing these essential components and the CO2 generated during their production? Somehow is this ‘Green Magic ’without pollution because it will be used to produce green energy? Not likely! It all gets brushed under the ‘Big Green’ rug and seems irrelevant because
    ‘It’s for a Good Cause’ . . . Absolutely NOT !!

  6. CO2 is a small part of “Global Warming”!!!
    There are much larger components to “Climate Change”
    1. The SUN variable output (Sunspots) & Solar Storms
    2. Variable impact of Cosmic Radiation effect on Clouds
    3.Variation of Planetary Orbits & Axis Tilt
    4. Unknowns in the future

    The CO2 blame game is nothing but POLITICAL