Articles for Financial Advisors

Problems With Wind Power

Problems With Wind Power

As of the middle of 2013, ~ $23 billion in federal subsidies has gone to wind energy, according to former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm. Here are some interesting facts about wind power (source: Dr. Lehr, geological engineer at Heartland Institute):


[1] The most effective wind turbines can generate roughly 5 kilowatts per acre—300 square miles (192,000 acres) would be needed to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity—a conventional coal or nuclear power plant can generate the same amount of energy on a few hundred acres. One thousand megawatts fulfills the average annual power demand of a U.S. city with a population of 700,000 (source: EPA). Remember, the five kilowatt per acre figure is close to a “perfect” output for turbines (something rarely found). Thus, 300 square miles of turbines operating in a perfect environment with optimal output 24/7 would be needed to fulfill the electrical demands of 700,000 people.


[2] According to the American Wind Energy Association, there are ~ 45,000 wind turbines in the U.S.


[3] A wind turbine generates electricity ~ 30% of the time; while the blades are spinning this 30% of the time, conventional power plants are also working on low, waiting to operate during the other 70% of the time.


[4] The amount of electricity wind can generate per acre of land is unrelated to the size of the turbines. Doubling a turbine’s blade length will double the turbine’s power output but the larger size means fewer per acre.


[5] Power generated by a wind turbine varies with the cube of the wind speed. When wind speed doubles—from 10 to 20 miles per hour—energy output increases eightfold (2 x 2 x 2). Huge variations in wind speed mean standby generators at a power plant must always be on standby to produce more or less energy.


[6] A one-millimeter buildup of bugs on the blades reduces power output by as much as 25%.


[7] Thousands of turbine breakdowns and accidents have been reported in recent years around the world.


[8] Low-frequency noise from large turbines is driving some people away from their homes. Low-frequency noise regulations are already in place in Denmark.


[9] Audubon Society estimates bird deaths from wind turbines exceed 1,000,000 per year.

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