Let's consider how nuclear power plants contribute to the electricity grid in Pennsylvania. At left are official government statistics, found here, of the capacity and net generation of the five nuclear plants in Pennsylvania. Capacity Net in MW(s) refers to the maximum power output while Net Generation in Million kWh refers to the energy produced. Think of power as a instantaneous push, akin to how much weight can a weight lifter can lift, while generation refers to energy which is a certain amount of push or power measured in time. One kilowatt hour is the energy needed to light 10, 100 watt light bulbs for one hour.
In 2007 Pennsylvania used 152,000,000 MWhours of electricity. How much did our 5 nuclear plants contribute to our electricity needs? Convert the 76,000 million kwh nuclear generation by dividing by 1,000 to convert to MWhours and then multiply by 1,000,000 to convert from million MWhours to simple MWhours and the result is 76,000,000 MWhours. Almost half of the electricity needs of Pennsylvania were produced by 5 nuclear plants.
How many wind turbines would we need to replace these 5 nuclear plants? Most of the turbines in Pennsylvania now are rated at 1.5 MW, however the new ones constructed are rated at 2 MW. The wind turbine only produce electricity when the wind blows greater than 12 mph making their average output somewhere between 25-30%, we will use 27%. This means that a 2 MW tubines with a 27% output yields an average of .54 MWhours throughout the entire year. To find out how much electricity that is we must multiply by the hours in a year which is 8760. One 2 MW turbine makes about .54 MW x 8760 = 4,730 MWhours per year. We would need 76,000,000 divided by 4,730 or 16,000 large turbines to replace our 5 nuclear plants.
The United States Department of Energy wrote a report that stated that wind power could supply 20% of the United States Electricity by 2030. How many wind turbines in Pennsylvania would it take to to do that right now? Since it would take 16,000 turbines to replace the nuclear plants which supply 50% of our electricity, it would take at least 6,000 turbines to satisfy 20% of our needs right now.
But we could NEVER EVER replace 5 nuclear plants with 16,000 turbines, because the nuclear plants run almost all the time producing a constant output, while the wind turbines only produce when wind speed is greater than 12 mph. And their output is only a trickle until the wind is over 20 mph. I refer you to the post below which explains why turbines don't even produce their maximum power until the wind speed is greater than 25 mph.
Our electricity needs have grown about 1.7% per year these past ten years. At that rate in 2030 we will need 50% more electricity or 9,000 turbines. For simplicity, let's use 2007 energy statistics. Each wind turbine needs about 4 acres of clear cut so we would need to bulldoze and clear over 36,000 acres which is 56 square miles of turbines, if they were put in one place. But the wind in Pennsylvania is weak except on our ridges which are generally narrow. Turbines too close don't operate at maximum efficiency so they are spread out at about 6 per mile, resulting in a line of turbines 1,000 miles long stretched out along our ridge tops.
Then the problems begin. Our electricity needs are greatest in the summer when the wind speeds are at a minimum with many days of very little or no wind, meaning no electricity produced. Also, statistics clearly show that the wind tends to blow more at night than during the day when our electricity needs are the greatest. And the conundrum that we face is that our electricity need are greatest during the night and in the summer, just when the wind DO NOT BLOW!!!
This 20% of wind power would need 100% of backup at all time because it is not uncommon for turbine output to go from close to 80% output to less than 10% output in six to eight hours, even when spread out over a wide area such as Pennsylvania. Look at the Alberta post below or look at the wind power output right now in Ireland. Irelands maximum output if over 725 MW and keep clicking the previous day button and note that there are very few days when maximum output is achieved. Also, for further confirmation, read my study of Texas wind power below, which is claimed to be the second best state for wind power.
We keep hearing about the green jobs that will be produced with alternative energy and that is a correct statement. Because there will not be one single traditional power job lost with the introduction of wind power, because wether wind power is 2% of the total or 20%, the traditional power plants will need to be fully staffed at all times. In fact, they will need more workers and a new wind integration department and likely more plant maintenance to integrate the wind and maintain their equipment as fights the never ending battle to increase and decrease output in synch with the vagaries of the wind. We haven't even mentioned the hundreds or maybe thousands of extra miles of clear cut power lines that we will need for this energy to reach its' customers.
This is GREEN ENERGY. The National Audubon Society, which I have been a member of for many years, supports and promotes this green energy, all because of the threat of climate change. Since the late 1880's our planet has been recovering from the coldest temperatures in over 2,000 years. Those lower temperatures created the glaciers which have been receeding for over 130 years. The warmer climate we are experiencing has led to enormous benefits to our agriculture and society as a whole. Yet the global warming we have experienced has been less than 2 degrees fahrenheit over the past century. Why would anyone want colder temperatures than we have now?
But for now we will forget about global warming the theory of complete destruction of our planent and way of life that is promoted by the media and some climate scientists. On our next post we will further evaluate the enormous damage to the environment those thousands of turbines are sure to cause. And what is so intriguing about this folly, is that those turbines are going up because the environmentalists, like National Audubon Society, Sierra Club and MANY other of our groups formed to protect our environment are promoting and demanding green energy. Green Energy is NOT GREEN. We are now facing the greatest environmental crisis of our time, completely and 100% caused by so-called ENVIRONMENTALIST.