Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

6 Reasons Why Nuke Fan Is Dead Wrong About Wind Energy

Business

By Michael Goggin

The Energy Collective blog recently carried a column, Limitations of Unreliable Energy Sources, aka ‘Renewables,’ by Rod Adams, a longtime nuclear power advocate and critic of competing energy sources. In his column, Adams repeats a number of false statements about wind power.

When corrected, his claims actually highlight a number of ways in which wind energy’s efficiency is superior to that of other energy sources.

Wind energy significantly reduces carbon emissions and does not noticeably reduce the efficiency of fossil-fired power plants on the utility system. 

Recent analysis of the impact of wind on the efficiency of fossil-fired power plants found that with renewable energy supplying 33 percent of the electricity, wind produces 99.8 percent of the expected fuel use and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions savings after accounting for all cycling impacts, or savings of 1,190 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour (MWh) of wind. This analysis is based on real-world hourly emissions data for all fossil-fired power plants in the Western U.S, and puts to rest the fossil fuel industry myth that wind energy’s emissions savings are lower than expected.

Transmission pays for itself through economic and reliability benefits.

Numerous studies show that grid upgrades more than pay for themselves through the reliability and economic benefits they provide to consumers. The claim that a significant amount of wind energy is lost in transmission to consumers is false, as almost all line losses occur on low-voltage distribution lines, and thus apply to all energy sources evenly (page 30).

Wind energy has a lower integration cost than large conventional power plants. 

Every wind integration study has found that there is more than enough flexibility on the power system today to accommodate very high levels of wind energy. In contrast, the need for reserves to accommodate the sudden failure of conventional power plants is far larger and many times more costly than for wind (see calculations in footnotes 6 and 7). Adding wind energy to the grid does not cause any need for new power plant capacity, and actually significantly reduces the total need for power plants.

Wind energy curtailment has only occurred due to localized transmission constraints (that are being eliminated), and never because the amount of wind output exceeded total demand on the power system.

Even the curtailment caused by localized transmission congestion is being eliminated as long-needed grid upgrades catch up with wind energy’s rapid growth, with curtailment cut in half from 2011 to 2012. (see page 44) Further declines are occurring in 2013, with curtailment on the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) system now approaching zero.

Onsite energy use is far higher at conventional power plants, on the order of 7 to 15 percent of power plant energy production.

In contrast, the figure for wind plants is typically far less than 1 percent. A comprehensive literature review of all peer-reviewed studies on the lifecycle carbon emissions impacts of all energy sources demonstrates that wind’s impact is a fraction of all conventional energy sources, and is also much lower than most other renewable energy sources.

Energy storage is not needed for wind energy.

The U.S. has added 60 gigawatts (GW) of wind, and Europe even more, with zero need to add energy storage. As explained above, there is plenty of flexibility on the existing power system. Interestingly, nearly all of the 22 GW of pumped hydro energy storage in the U.S. was added to help accommodate the inflexibility and additional reserve needs imposed by large nuclear power plants.

Finally, it seems strange to talk about the efficiency of different energy sources without discussing the fact that most fossil and nuclear power plants immediately waste 2/3 of the energy in their fuel as waste heat at the power plant, while most modern wind turbines capture around 50 percent of the energy available in their fuel. The U.S. Department of Energy’s data on the average efficiency of different types of power plants is here:

  • Coal: 32.7 percent efficiency
  • Gas: 41.9 percent efficiency
  • Nuclear: 32.6 percent efficiency

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Oregano oil is an extract that is not as strong as the essential oil, but appears to be useful both when consumed or applied to the skin. Peakpx / CC by 1.0

By Alexandra Rowles

Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.

However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro meets Ronaldo Caiado, governor of the state of Goiás on June 5, 2020. Palácio do Planalto / CC BY 2.0

Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has presided over the world's second worst coronavirus outbreak after the U.S., said Tuesday that he had tested positive for the virus.

Read More Show Less
Although natural gas produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, it is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Skitterphoto / PIxabay

By Emily Grubert

Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.

Read More Show Less
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as the first to effectively kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces, based on laboratory testing. Paul Hennessy / NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a list of 431 products that are effective at killing viruses when they are on surfaces. Now, a good year for Lysol manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser just got better when the EPA said that two Lysol products are among the products that can kill the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveils the Green New Deal resolution in front of the U.S. Capitol on February 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Judith Lewis Mernit

For all its posturing on climate change, the Democratic Party has long been weak on the actual policies we need to save us from extinction. President Barack Obama promised his presidency would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow," and then embraced natural gas, a major driver of global temperature rise, as a "bridge fuel." Climate legislation passed in the House in 2009 would have allowed industries to buy credits to pollute, a practice known to concentrate toxic air in black and brown neighborhoods while doing little to cut emissions.

Read More Show Less
About 30,000 claims contending that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are currently unsettled. Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Bayer's $10 billion settlement to put an end to roughly 125,000 lawsuits against its popular weed killer Roundup, which contains glyphosate, hit a snag this week when a federal judge in San Francisco expressed skepticism over what rights future plaintiffs would have, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Hundreds of sudden elephant deaths in Botswana aren't just a loss for the ecosystem and global conservation efforts. Mario Micklisch / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Charli Shield

When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.

Read More Show Less