The Limits of Wind Power

A new study by the Reason Foundation evaluates wind power and finds that wind power is limited in practice due to the increased need for power storage, the decrease in grid reliability, and the increased operating costs.

"Environmentalists advocate wind power as one of the main alternatives to fossil fuels, claiming that it is both cost effective and low in carbon emissions. This study seeks to evaluate these claims," according to the Reason Foundation study authors William J. Korchinski and Julian Morris.

The report concludes, "The analysis presented here demonstrates that there is a tradeoff. At low wind penetrations, there is very little impact on CO2 emissions. As wind penetrations increase, the grid requires increasing amounts of spinning reserves to maintain reliability. At high wind penetrations, even large amounts of power storage cannot prevent significant (and expensive) wind dumping. The already high cost of wind power increases with the construction of storage facilities, and the cost to construct extra wind turbines, which will be dormant during periods of wind dumping."

The full report, "The Limits of Wind Power" (PDF, 2MB) is also available. 

Full Story: The Limits of Wind Power



Reason Foundation Wrong on Wind Power

The Reason Foundation claims: "To address this variability, power supply companies must install backup capacity, which kicks in when demand exceeds supply from the wind turbines; failure to do so will adversely affect grid reliability."

Actually, the backup capability already exists. We have plenty of natural gas power plants.

We just need a smart grid to connect the new wind plants with the existing natural gas plants, so wind can provide the power when it is available, and existing gas can serve as the backup.

Charles Siegel

Wind and the Dumb Grid.

AS soon as the grid moves out of the mid-20th century, there will be no...erm..."analyses" like this one. Distributed Generation and the Smart Grid are coming, despite all the obstruction and foot-dragging from the big utilities.



Reason Foundation report actually supports wind energy

If you read the Reason Foundation's report, it actually says that wind energy can provide a large share of our electricity (at least 50%) and that wind's benefits are roughly as large as expected (9% reductions in pollution when we get 10% of our electricity from wind, 18% reductions at 20% wind, and 54% reductions at 50% wind). That's even after the report uses a seriously flawed methodology that overstates the challenges of integrating wind onto the grid and understates wind's benefits. For more, read the explanation here:

Michael Goggin,
American Wind Energy Association

The Limits of the Reason Foundation

Exhibit A: The David H. Koch Charitable Foundation is the 2nd largest donor.

Limited Reason.

Right. We all know they aren't there to provide comprehensive "analysis", but rather to supply talking points.



Did you read the study?

Why would they suggest that wind power would reduce emissions at all if they were just serving their masters? Both of you sound ridiculous to me when you don't even critique anything about the study, yet point to funding and think you are on to something. I could do that all day on planetizen or with any other studies. Study says "Public Transit creates jobs and spares the environment" (funded by labor union XYZ or Smart Growth America or the National League of Cities). Perhaps we should all just watch MSNBC for the "real truth"? Please, get real. If you have a valid critique, fine. Otherwise, you just narrow your tunnel vision. The messages should be evaluated, not the messengers. I think the reality is that many people rightfully think there are limits to wind power. That does not mean it's not part of the energy solution or emissions reduction solution, but it's far from some panacea.


Gosh, yes, I should waste my time reading a Reason study because even though I used to and found most of them deeply flawed, this one is probably different, yessir. I've been schooled. Owie.




Let's not forget NIMBY's

The delay in the 'Smart Grid' isn't just the fault of utilities that don't want to build it, it's also the result of massive resistance to new transmission lines. Texas is one of, if not the, largest wind producing state in the country, yet trying to build the transmission lines from where the wind blows (West Texas) to the population centers has been a tremendous struggle. People simply do not want large transmission towers with the required easements crossing their properties, obstructing their views, and so on. Wind Power has tremendous potential, but the obstacles are significant.

NIMBYs and ROWs in Texas

So why is Texas

-- willing to use eminent domain for the Keystone XL pipeline and even to arrest a great-grandmother who stood in the way of the bulldozers on her own land

-- not willing to use eminent domain for the smart grid

Charles Siegel

They do

Texas does allow transmission providers to use eminant domain to build transmission lines. But, projects still have to go before the Public Utility Commission and be justified to be built. The process allows property owners along the proposed routes to file challenges and delay the process. Even with the PUC's approval, those property owners still have access to the legal system and can and do use lawsuits to slow the process. All of these delays raise the costs. Eminent domain is not a cure all, it does allow for a utility to ultimately get the easements necessary but it is still an expensive and time consuming process.

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