Quantcast

Spanish Researchers Debunk Wind Energy Myth Showing Renewables Capable of Replacing Fossil Fuels

Business

By Paul Brown

Photo credit: Shutterstock

One of the most oft-repeated arguments of the anti-wind lobby is that turbines produce electricity only intermittently, when there is enough wind to turn them.

This, the wind critics argue, means that so much gas has to be burnt to provide a reliable back-up supply of electricity that wind power's overall benefit to the environment is erased.

But extensive research in Spain means this claim can now definitively be declared a myth. Wind, the researchers found, is a very efficient way of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The anti-wind campaigners claim that fossil fuel plants have to be kept running at a slow speed, continuously producing CO2, just in case the wind fails. At slow speeds these plants are less efficient and so produce so much CO2, wind opponents say, that they wipe out any gains from having wind power.

Not true, according to a report published in the journal Energy by researchers at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. There are some small losses, the researchers say, but even if wind produced as much as 50 percent of Spain's electricity the CO2 savings would still be 80 percent of the emissions that would have been produced by the displaced thermal power stations.

25 percent of electricity

Spain is second behind Germany in wind energy production in Europe, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. The country regularly obtains 25 percent of its electricity from wind, reports Renewables International, a trade magazine.

The study looked at 87 of the country's coal and gas plants and how they were run alongside Spain's wind industry. Adjustments made by the fossil fuel plants as they compensated for variable wind strengths had little impact on the plants' C02 emissions.

This is the opposite of reports reproduced repeatedly by right-wing think tanks and campaigners opposed to renewables.

The Spanish report adds that even the small losses caused by running thermal power plants at less-than-maximum efficiency to safeguard the grid can be reduced by better renewables management. Spain for example has wind, solar and wave power among its portfolio of renewables, each of which can support the others.

CO2 credits

The findings are important for governments trying to calculate the amount of CO2 they have saved by the introduction of wind power. Countries like Spain, struggling to meet EU targets on reducing emissions, need to know how much CO2 saved can be credited to their wind industries. This research provides the answers.

The paper says: "The finding has generated the first comprehensive analysis on interaction between wind parks and thermal power plants in Spain and has concluded that the global balance of CO2 reduction is still significant. Besides, the study suggests how to enhance the effectiveness of potential sources that can be helpful for promoters of renewable technologies.

"Renewable energy is capable of replacing fossil fuels and of reducing emissions dramatically."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Gretchen Goldman

The Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel has released their consensus recommendations to the EPA administrator on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter. The group of 20 independent experts, that were disbanded by Administrator Wheeler last October and reconvened last week, hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, has now made clear that the current particulate pollution standards don't protect public health and welfare.

Read More Show Less
An African elephant is pictured on November 19, 2012, in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The unprecedented drought that has caused a water crisis in Zimbabwe has now claimed the life of at least 55 elephants since September, according to a wildlife spokesman, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Maria Dornelas.

By John C. Cannon

Life is reshuffling itself at an unsettling clip across Earth's surface and in its oceans, a new study has found.

Read More Show Less
An Exxon station in Florida remains open despite losing its roof during Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005. Florida Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Withers

The country's largest fossil fuel company goes on trial today to face charges that it lied to investors about the safety of its assets in the face of the climate crisis and potential legislation to fight it, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
El Niño's effect on Antarctica is seen in a tabular iceberg off of Thwaites ice shelf. Jeremy Harbeck / NASA

El Niños are getting stronger due to climate change, according to a new study in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Julia Ries

  • Antibiotic resistance has doubled in the last 20 years.
  • Additionally a new study found one patient developed resistance to a last resort antibiotic in a matter of weeks.
  • Health experts say antibiotic prescriptions should only be given when absolutely necessary in order to avoid growing resistance.

Over the past decade, antibiotic resistance has emerged as one of the greatest public health threats.

Read More Show Less
Pexels


There are hundreds of millions of acres of public land in the U.S., but not everyone has had the chance to hike in a national forest or picnic in a state park.

Read More Show Less
Workers attend to a rooftop solar panel project on May 14, 2017 in Wuhan, China. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

By Simon Evans

Renewable sources of electricity are set for rapid growth over the next five years, which could see them match the output of the world's coal-fired power stations for the first time ever.

Read More Show Less