…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 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 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 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
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.
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.
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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