At AmericanExperiment.org, my colleague Isaac Orr deals a double-barreled blow to the fantasy of “green” energy. First, after all of the hype surrounding wind and solar energy, where did Americans actually get their energy in 2020? This chart tells the story:
All “renewable” sources together account for only 12% of our energy consumption, but the details make the story even worse:
It is very interesting to note that burning wood, which is the oldest form of energy consumption in the country, is still producing more useful energy than solar power, despite the billions of dollars that have been spent propping up the industry.
What an utter failure.
Second, why does wind power supply so little electricity, despite the many billions that have been spent on it? The most basic reason is that 60% of the time, a given wind turbine produces nothing. The liberals’ response to this fact is to advocate massive overbuilding of capacity, on the theory that the wind must be blowing somewhere. Unfortunately, that isn’t true:
Advocates of wind turbines often argue that their unreliability can be offset by building even more wind turbines and transmission lines to distant areas because the wind is always blowing somewhere.
But last week, electricity generation from wind turbines was low throughout the entire 15 state power grid to which Minnesota belongs, the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator (MISO), even though electricity demand was very high. The graph below shows data from the United States Energy Information Administration for wind generation in the regional electric grid on an hourly basis from June 24, 2021, through July 5, 2021.
There is, obviously, an enormous difference between the nominal capacity of installed wind turbines and their actual production of electricity. On windy days, they might occasionally produce nearly as much as their rated capacity, but on other days they may produce nothing at all, even across a broad geographic area.
At midnight on June 24, 2021, wind turbines were operating at about 80 percent of their capacity factor, but by 11 am on June 30, 2021, all of the wind turbines in the 15 state regional grid were generating just 0.71 percent of their potential output.
If we were so foolish as to depend on wind for our electricity, we would suffer frequent blackouts no matter how many turbines we pay for. But of course we don’t do that. We continue to maintain dispatchable (i.e., reliable) power plants–coal, natural gas and nuclear as well as hydropower. Wind and solar are expensive and irrelevant add-ons to an electric grid that was working perfectly well–better, in fact–before they came along.
Isaac Orr concludes:
The data above demonstrate an important aspect of wind generation that few people seem to realize: it can provide virtually zero electricity even with massive installations of wind turbines. Becoming more dependent upon an unreliable resource that comes and goes as it pleases is a dangerous way to structure an electric grid, as Texas and California have found out the hard way.
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