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Thursday, May 25, 2017


Does Donald Trump hate windpower because it musses up his hair?  Will he fire wind power?

The Audubon Society insists that a quarter million birds are annually killed by wind machines just in North America.  But up to a billion birds die each year flying into buildings!  Will these structures ever be banned?  Oh, cats are responsible for up to 3.7 billion bird kills annually on our continent.

China does have the most wind electricity capacity, the European Union is a close second and the U.S. third.  Combine all three and the capacity is equivalent to 400 nuclear power plants.  However, and this is interesting, the USA is #1 in wind energy production.

Finally, why does he keep putting his foot into his mouth--Donald Trump, you're fired--but China doesn't make all the wind energy conversion devices (in market share %):

  #1  Vestas (Denmark)     16.5
  #2  GE (U.S.)                  12.3
  #3  Goldwind (China)      12.1
  #4  Gamesa (Spain)         7.0
  #5  Enercon (Germany)   6.6
  #6  Nordex (Germany)     5.0
How is windpower doing these days, even when oil seems comfortably settled at $50/barrel?

Yes, but petroleum will soon shoot up, right?  Nope.  The Chicago Mercantile Exchange speculates that oil will cost $56/barrel at the start of 2026.  On the other hand, CME has been spectacularly wrong some many times that I have no confidence in it.

About windpower:

$30/MWh is 3 cents/kWh.  No matter what President Trump does, windpower is now essentially cost effective:

If you can't read this table, click on it.  If you still can't understand it, here is a summary (cents/kWh range):
  • Windpower           3.2 - 6.2
  • Utility scale PV    4.6 - 9.2
  • Residential  PV  13.8 - 22.2
  • Geothermal          7.9 - 11.7
  • Biomass               7.7 - 11.7
  • Natural Gas         4.8 - 7.8
  • Coal                     6.0 - 10.1
  • Nuclear                9.7 - 11.6
These are costs to produce electricity from those fuels and sources.  Yes, residential PV is hailed by many, but without government incentives, they are still not truly competitive.  However, trends look promising:

However, here is a looming problem.  As of last year, windpower only supplied 5.5% of the electricity generated in the U.S.  

Or looking at windpower another way, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry comes from Texas, where the windpower capacity is equivalent to 20 nuclear powerplants:

Because our winds come and go, utilities are uncomfortable about feeding any more than 15% of windpower into their grid.  The reality, though, is that penetration can exceed 50%.  In any case, the key to future wind energy conversion devices will be energy/electricity storage.  In 2015 there were 221 MW of energy storage.  But the U.S. generation capacity is more than a million MW.  

Our Sun also is unreliable, so any solar option faces a tougher road than wind.  Note in the right column under WORLD ENERGY PRODUCTION 2017 that wind production of electricity is about 5 times greater than solar.  However, if you add all the renewables to hydroelectricity, the total energy value is about the same as natural gas, and growing.

Why is battery storage a problem?  Mostly cost, but also because of fire.  There is a sense that lithium batteries will always be too expensive.  For the future, keep an eye on the vanadium flow battery:

Also be watchful of how super capacitors develop.  Maybe, too, this could well be the bridge hydrogen might use to become relevant.

Compressed air as an option has not come along well, but, as mega-size facilities become necessary, this alternative could become important, for the probability is high that this pathway will be cheaper than battery storage.  Pumped-hydro is alway sensible IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT NATURAL CONDITIONS.  If you happen to have two large water storage (lakes?) sites of some proximity at different elevations--a thousand feet would be nice--certainly, this would be the most cost effective of all.  Unfortunately, this combination is rare,

So will Donald Trump quash windpower.  Nope:

It would be a mistake to assume that the new president’s antipathy for renewable energy is widely shared in these red states


     Why Donald Trump  Won't Hold Back Solar and Wind Power

By the way, if you're really interested in wind power, go now to Anaheim, California, for the American Wind Energy Association's annual conference started on Tuesday and continues until Friday, May 25.   But you can also live stream.



Maka Point said...

on a more personal note, here at 15C we should harness the wind the blows through the wind tunnel on the main parking deck. this could help lower all our electricity bills and lessen the maint. fee.


That actually would make sense, except that people would complain of the noise. I worked with an architect once to have buildings funnel the winds so that we could take advantage of this amplification. Vertical axis machines in particular should do well in this application. While the economics might be attractive, the neutralizing factors of turbulence, vibration, safety and, of course, noise, have limited this option.