Today I received an email from a long time friend who is a Scottish Wind Power engineer.
He’s has been concerned about just how much good carbon effect wind power provides, he knows the real numbers and economics of wind very well.
A recent paper captured his attention.
Electricity in The Netherlands. Wind turbines increase fossil fuel consumption & CO2 emission. by C. le Pair
First we describe the models presently used by others to calculate fuel saving and reduction of CO2 emission through wind developments. These models are incomplete. Neglected factors diminish the calculated savings. Using wind data from a normal windy day in the Netherlands it will be shown that wind developments of various sizes cause extra fuel consumption instead of fuel saving, when compared to electricity production with modern high-efficiency gas turbines only. We demonstrate that such losses occur. Factors taken into account are: low thermal efficiency at low power; cycling of back-up generators; energy needed to build and to install wind turbines; energy needed for cabling and net adaptation; increase of fuel consumption through partial replacement of efficient generators by low-efficiency, fast reacting OCGTs. (read the paper here.)
My response to my wind power engineer friends email follows:
Guid Mornin Deare John,
Regarding your adroit discovery of this astonishing news about the use of Wind Power increasing CO2 emissions, the paper contains some startling facts and your comment about whether real trees are more vital to the world is a good one.
Ever it has been so that real trees (in great numbers) beat our synthetic engineered trees, aka windmills, in repurposing carbon. After all wind is a function of solar energy warming, so why indeed not deal with that global warming energy at the early stage as trees and other plants on this blue planet have evolved to do using their photosynthesis.
Of course if one comes to this point of understanding you are faced with the fact that on this planet ‘Earth’ of the 28% that is not ocean pasture plant habitat only 17% is land capable of growing plants, aka it is neither rock nor ice. Of that 17% of plant terrain less than half is in forest, this is a planet covered mostly with grass not trees.
In that a plankton bloom in its grand 3 dimensional state with far greater photosynthetic density than leaves of trees or blades of grass repurposes as much CO2 as a forest does in 50 years in a mere 50 days one discovers where the power of nature and photosynthesis floats.
The single most dire effect of humanities perturbation of the natural CO2 system with the trillion tonne overdosing of the past century is that CO2 is helping the grass grow better on land. What could be better? Well, ‘more grass growing means less dust blowing’ and that diminishment of mineral dust which is the most vital of all nutrients that sustain photosynthesis in the ocean pastures has resulted in decimation of ocean pasture plankton plant life.
In each 5 year span of time for the past 50 years and counting an amount of ocean pasture plant life (which was dutifully repurposing our CO2 excess into useful life) that is equal to all of the plant life in the standing Amazon Rainforest trees has been eradicated. Yes, that’s now something like the eradication of 10 entire Amazon forests done gone in the past half a century. So yes trees are powerful and their loss ought to be grieved and prevented and they should be protected and replanted… but for ocean pasture plants nary a soul gives a second thought. What greater tragedy when all they need is the merest bit of dust in the wind.
How does one deliver this story of the vital role and hope and ease and low-cost of restoration of ocean pasture plant life? Alas the leading edge engineering disciplines like wind mills always seem to have the leading edge with the media.
Great find by the way on the continuing saga of wind and carbon.
We Bring Back The Fish – www.russgeorge.net
From a reader:
The great mathematician and inventor Gottfried Leibniz had essentially bet that he could increase his own personal wealth and that of his sponsor, the Duke of Brunswick, by devising a system using windmills to drain the water out of the Duke’s silver mines in the Harz mountains in Northern Germany, which would greatly increase the amount of silver produced from these mines…
“On a sunny hillside in the Harz Mountains, as the spring of 1684 arrived in lively shades of green, the long awaited prototype windmill blossomed at last. After supervising the final construction of his vaunted invention, Leibniz returned to Hanover to await results of its first trials.
There was no wind.
Amazingly, the inventor of the calculus had failed to observe that the mountainous region where he planned the project simply didn’t offer the kind of winds required to power windmills.”
–Matthew Stewart, 2006. “The Courtier and the Heretic,” p. 232.
We Bring Back The Fish – www.russgeorge.net