Why Wind Farms Can Be Relied On For Almost Zero Power

A good article for those who haven’t been exposed to wind generation requiring redundant, firm, capacity.

I think this makes valuation quite simple: the value of wind generation is the cost of the fuel it displaces – without a real price on the emissions created by utilizing the fuel, that’s a very simple calculation. In Ontario, maybe 3 cents/kWh when it’s anything (often it causes hydro to be spilled, nuclear units curtailed or is exported for nothing).

When Mr. Wilson concludes “The benefits that result from the carbon dioxide emissions saved by wind farms are obvious” he is displaying a talent for perceiving the obvious that eludes me. The value of carbon reduction by building this always redundant supply compared to cleaning up existing plant and/or building newer more efficient plant are not obvious. Generally wind penetration is intended to displace high capital cost baseload plant (usually nuclear and hydro) while requiring twinning with dispatchable units (primarily natural gas and coal).

note: Robert Wilson’s article appeared first at the Energy Collective, where there are a number of comments attached to it.

Carbon Counter

Modern society is fundamentally dependent on a reliable and on-demand supply of electricity. This electricity comes almost entirely from burning coal and natural gas, fissioning uranium or by large hydro-electric dams. On aggregate, these power plants can be relied on to supply electricity around the clock; a reliability that would seem miraculous to people living only a few centuries ago when light availability was completely dependent on whether the sun shone. Wind farms, however, cannot currently provide this reliability. In fact, on the scale of most countries aggregate wind farm output can be assumed to have almost zero reliability. In this sense, every wind farm must have a fossil fuel power plant sitting in wait for when the wind does not blow.

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