Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Heads Full of Turbulent Wind

I can admit to liking the idea of wind generators. And solar power for that matter. We have an abundance of sunshine and wind, except when it is cloudy and still. Which in some parts is quite often. But if a chap wants a small wind propeller on his roof or some solar panels, either or both providing him and his home with some electricity for his toaster and bedside light, then good for him.

The problem for him though, apart from dull days and windless ones - really windy ones too - is that they are unreliable. But worse for the rest of us.... on a large scale they are the very opposite of what is claimed on their behalf. The entire debate is blown away by the lies and mendacities that clog up the workings.

Thankfully the Tavern's Ale pumps are hand operated.

In plain terms, at the current state of technology and power demands, the big wind-farms and solar farms cost more than they save, both in financial terms and in the cant and nonsense terms used by the 'Greens'.  The Global Warming religion would have us sacrifice much to its gods.

A chap may spend his monies as he will. But the taxpayer is not asked: he has his hard-earned monies coerced from his pocket to line the deep ones of those who are already wealthy. 

Several good souls were talking about it today.

Matt Ridley started it off and then we had (for those who demand facts and figures) some facts and figures.
Wind turbines are neither clean nor green and they provide zero global energy
We urgently need to stop the ecological posturing and invest in gas and nuclear
The Global Wind Energy Council recently released its latest report, excitedly boasting that ‘the proliferation of wind energy into the global power market continues at a furious pace, after it was revealed that more than 54 gigawatts of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market last year’.
You may have got the impression from announcements like that, and from the obligatory pictures of wind turbines in any BBC story or airport advert about energy, that wind power is making a big contribution to world energy today. 
You would be wrong. 
Its contribution is still, after decades — nay centuries — of development, trivial to the point of irrelevance.
Here’s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? 
Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? 
None of the above: 
it was 0 per cent. 
That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.
Even put together, wind and photovoltaic solar are supplying less than 1 per cent of global energy demand. From the International Energy Agency’s 2016 Key Renewables Trends, we can see that wind provided 0.46 per cent of global energy consumption in 2014, and solar and tide combined provided 0.35 per cent. Remember this is total energy, not just electricity, which is less than a fifth of all final energy, the rest being the solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels that do the heavy lifting for heat, transport and industry.
Still air. Nothin' movin' but Greenie mouths.

Such numbers are not hard to find, but they don’t figure prominently in reports on energy derived from the unreliables lobby (solar and wind). Their trick is to hide behind the statement that close to 14 per cent of the world’s energy is renewable, with the implication that this is wind and solar. 
In fact the vast majority — three quarters — is biomass (mainly wood), and a very large part of that is ‘traditional biomass’; sticks and logs and dung burned by the poor in their homes to cook with. Those people need that energy, but they pay a big price in health problems caused by smoke inhalation.
Even in rich countries playing with subsidised wind and solar, a huge slug of their renewable energy comes from wood and hydro, the reliable renewables. Meanwhile, world energy demand has been growing at about 2 per cent a year for nearly 40 years. Between 2013 and 2014, again using International Energy Agency data, it grew by just under 2,000 terawatt-hours.
If wind turbines were to supply all of that growth but no more, how many would need to be built each year
The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. 
That’s one-and-a-half times as many as have been built in the world since governments started pouring consumer funds into this so-called industry in the early 2000s.
At a density of, very roughly, 50 acres per megawatt, typical for wind farms, that many turbines would require a land area greater than the British Isles, including Ireland. 
Every year. 
If we kept this up for 50 years, we would have covered every square mile of a land area the size of Russia with wind farms. Remember, this would be just to fulfil the new demand for energy, not to displace the vast existing supply of energy from fossil fuels, which currently supply 80 per cent of global energy needs.
Do not take refuge in the idea that wind turbines could become more efficient. 
There is a limit to how much energy you can extract from a moving fluid, the Betz limit, and wind turbines are already close to it. 
Their effectiveness (the load factor, to use the engineering term) is determined by the wind that is available, and that varies at its own sweet will from second to second, day to day, year to year.
As machines, wind turbines are pretty good already; the problem is the wind resource itself, and we cannot change that. It’s a fluctuating stream of low–density energy. Mankind stopped using it for mission-critical transport and mechanical power long ago, for sound reasons. 
It’s just not very good.
As for resource consumption and environmental impacts, the direct effects of wind turbines — killing birds and bats, sinking concrete foundations deep into wild lands — is bad enough. But out of sight and out of mind is the dirty pollution generated in Inner Mongolia by the mining of rare-earth metals for the magnets in the turbines. 
This generates toxic and radioactive waste on an epic scale, 
which is why the phrase ‘clean energy’ is such a sick joke and ministers should be ashamed every time it passes their lips.
It gets worse. Wind turbines, apart from the fibreglass blades, are made mostly of steel, with concrete bases. They need about 200 times as much material per unit of capacity as a modern combined cycle gas turbine. Steel is made with coal, not just to provide the heat for smelting ore, but to supply the carbon in the alloy. Cement is also often made using coal. The machinery of ‘clean’ renewables is the output of the fossil fuel economy, and largely the coal economy.
A two-megawatt wind turbine weighs about 250 tonnes, including the tower, nacelle, rotor and blades. 
Globally, it takes about half a tonne of coal to make a tonne of steel. Add another 25 tonnes of coal for making the cement and you’re talking 150 tonnes of coal per turbine. Now if we are to build 350,000 wind turbines a year (or a smaller number of bigger ones), just to keep up with increasing energy demand, that will require 50 million tonnes of coal a year. That’s about half the EU’s hard coal–mining output.
Forgive me if you have heard this before, but I have a commercial interest in coal. Now it appears that the black stuff also gives me a commercial interest in ‘clean’, green wind power.
The point of running through these numbers is to demonstrate that it is utterly futile, on a priori grounds, even to think that wind power can make any significant contribution to world energy supply, let alone to emissions reductions, without ruining the planet. As the late David MacKay pointed out years back, the arithmetic is against such unreliable renewables.
The truth is, if you want to power civilisation with fewer greenhouse gas emissions, then you should focus on shifting power generation, heat and transport to natural gas, the economically recoverable reserves of which — thanks to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — are much more abundant than we dreamed they ever could be. It is also the lowest-emitting of the fossil fuels, so the emissions intensity of our wealth creation can actually fall while our wealth continues to increase. Good.
And let’s put some of that burgeoning wealth in nuclear, fission and fusion, so that it can take over from gas in the second half of this century. That is an engineerable, clean future. Everything else is a political displacement activity, one that is actually counterproductive as a climate policy and, worst of all, shamefully robs the poor to make the rich even richer.
We gained some insight into that arithmatic too.  Most folk do not have a head for figures. Its the way maths at school turn kiddies off.  But we were given some quite simple ones to grasp.

OK, I still had to pull a few pints (arm powered) to settle a few customers down and not have them relive the trauma of school lessons.
How Much CO2 Gets Emitted to Build a Wind Turbine?
The ONLY justification for wind power – the massive subsidies upon which it entirely depends; spiralling power prices; and the suffering caused to neighbours by incessant low-frequency noise and infrasound – is the claim that it reduces CO2 emissions in the electricity sector.
(It) has (been) pointed out – just once or twice – that that claim is 
nothing more than a central, endlessly repeated lie.
Because wind power fails to deliver at all hundreds of times each year, 100% of its capacity has to be backed up 100% of the time by fossil fuel generation sources – which run constantly in the background to balance the grid and prevent blackouts when wind power output collapses – as it does on a routine, but unpredictable, basis.
The mountains of dismal hard data tends to cut against the wilder claims emanating from the wind-worship-cult compounds that wind power ‘displaces’ – and will eventually ‘replace’ – conventional generation sources, but the ‘threat’ to BIG COAL, BIG GAS & BIG OIL is more imagined than real:
Coal Miners, Oil and Gas Producers Simply Love Wind Power
Even before the blades start spinning – the average wind farm clocks up thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions: “embedded” in thousands of tonnes of steel and concrete. 
So, every wind farm starts with its CO2 abatement ledger in the negative.
So what’s the carbon foot print of a wind turbine with 45 tons of rebar & 481m3 of concrete?
Its carbon footprint is massive – try 241.85 tons of CO2.
Here’s the breakdown of the CO2 numbers.
To create a 1,000 Kg of pig iron, you start with 1,800 Kg of iron ore, 900 Kg of coking coal 450 Kg of limestone. The blast furnace consumes 4,500 Kg of air. The temperature at the core of the blast furnace reaches nearly 1,600 degrees C (about 3,000 degrees F).
The pig iron is then transferred to the basic oxygen furnace to make steel.
1,350 Kg of CO2 is emitted per 1,000 Kg pig iron produced.
A further 1,460 Kg CO2 is emitted per 1,000 Kg of Steel produced so all up 2,810 Kg CO2 is emitted.
45 tons of rebar (steel) are required so that equals 126.45 tons of CO2 are emitted.
To create a 1,000 Kg of Portland cement, calcium carbonate (60%), silicon (20%), aluminium (10%), iron (10%) and very small amounts of other ingredients are heated in a large kiln to over 1,500 degrees C to convert the raw materials into clinker. The clinker is then interground with other ingredients to produce the final cement product. When cement is mixed with water, sand and gravel forms the rock-like mass know as concrete.
An average of 927 Kg of CO2 is emitted per 1,000 Kg of Portland cement. On average, concrete has 10% cement, with the balance being gravel (41%), sand (25%), water (18%) and air (6%). One cubic metre of concrete weighs approx. 2,400 Kg so approx. 240 Kg of CO2 is emitted for every cubic metre.
481m3 of concrete are required so that equals 115.4 tons of CO2 are emitted.
Now I have not included the emissions of the mining of the raw materials or the transportation of the fabricated materials to the turbine site so the emission calculation above would be on the low end at best.
Extra stats about wind turbines you may not know about:
The average towering wind turbine being installed around beautiful Australia right now is over 80 metres in height (nearly the same height as the pylons on the Sydney Harbour Bridge). The rotor assembly for one turbine – that’s the blades and hub – weighs over 22,000 Kg and the nacelle, which contains the generator components, weighs over 52,000 Kg.
All this stands on a concrete base constructed from 45,000 Kg of reinforcing rebar which also contains over 481 cubic metres of concrete .
Each turbine blade is made of glass fibre reinforced plastics, (GRP), i.e. glass fibre reinforced polyester or epoxy and on average each turbine blade weighs around 7,000 Kg each.
Each turbine has three blades so there’s 21,000 Kgs of GRP and each blade can be as long as 50 metres.
A typical wind farm of 20 turbines can extend over 101 hectares of land (1.01 Km2).

Each and every wind turbine has a magnet made of a metal called neodymium.
There are 2,500 Kg of it in each of the behemoths that have just gone up around Australia.

The mining and refining of neodymium is so dirty and toxic – involving repeated boiling in acid, with radioactive thorium as a waste product – that only one country does it – China. 
All this for an intermittent highly unreliable energy source.
And I haven’t even considered the manufacture of the thousands of pylons and tens of thousands of kilometres of transmission wire needed to get the power to the grid. 
And what about the land space needed to house thousands of these bird chomping death machines?
You see, renewables like wind turbines will incur far more carbon dioxide emissions in their manufacture and installation than what their operational life will ever save.
Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t the “cure” of using wind turbines sound worse than the problem? A bit like amputating your leg to “cure” your in-growing toe nail?
(Metal emission stats from page 25 from the 2006 IPCC Chapter 4 Metal Industry Emissions report.
Cement and concrete stats from page 6 & 7 from the 2012 NRMCA Concrete CO2 Fact Sheet.)
As I said: what a chap wants to put on his roof at his own investment cost, is his business.  What we get as a national policy is everyone's business. 

I was busy pulling pints and didn't get to hear the rest of the chatter which moved on to solar power arrays, but I did notice that the recent high winds in the Caribbean played havok with the fields of panels there. 

Even those with wind generators would have been better off growing potatos.

Leave the Green kool-ade alone.

Drink up some fine Tavern Ale. Try our 'Truth' light ales.



  1. the direct effects of wind turbines — killing birds and bats

    It's strange how greenies just don't care about hundreds of thousands of birds being slaughtered by wind turbines. You could almost believe that greenies think it's a small price to pay for wrecking western civilisation.

    Grenier are, in their own way, just as evil as feminists. They're not well-meaning but misguided. It's conscious, deliberate evil.

    1. Yes, one might consider Greens to be dim, having encountered the street peddler types who are usually impressionable young people, but the reality is that Green is just another marxist manifestation. Or is that Infestation?

  2. Nothing is ever as good as it seems, and sometimes nothing is just what is needed.

    I remember when I was a young physicist we studied energy use in the home and I noted that some boys came from homes that consumed KWH's at a rate 5 times that of others..
    Now, these boys were not particularly bigger, smarter or anything else like that (much the opposite in fact)..
    One of my good friends had a very large house, several horses and many electrical goodies not to mention cars and speedboats etc in his family of 2 brothers and 2 parents.
    So, why is there such a great need for such huge excesses of energy?
    Such huge excesses of wealth?
    Before destroying the planet with dodgy energy sources (few can be more dodgy that nuclear, sad to say, because while it promises much abundance of energy the risk is frightening..)
    We aught to ask ourselves if there is really a need to consume so much in the first place?
    The only honest answer can surely be "no"..

    1. Drex? THE Drex? By the Lord Harry, sir. welcome. Have a pint and a seat. On the other hand the Drex I know has never been taken for a physicist.

      Now, this 'dodgy' nuclear bizzo, with its 'risk'. By what do we measure risk? Deaths? Well coal mining is far and away more deadly to men who mine, than nuclear energy has ever been even counting the nuclear accidents (you only need the fingers of one hand to count them). Going down a mine, even today, is a hell of a risk in comparison.

      But, differences of view are welcome here.

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