Quote Originally Posted by c1ue View Post
Right there shows the dilemma: 45.1% peak vs. 12% average.
That's exactly the problem. The main argument in favour of wind turbines, in most locations, is that it's "carbon free" electricity...not that it can reliably displace or replace conventional sources.

Unfortunately it appears that there are few locations where the wind blows reliably, and therefore wind turbine generation has to be backed up with something else. If the circumstances allow the pumping of water to create potential energy behind an existing dam, that would appear fortuituous indeed. But building a new dam/penstock/water turbine/generator to back up a new wind turbine farm would appear a tough sell...economically as well as environmentally.

Here's something along the same lines that I posted in 2007, courtesy of the Europeans:
Quote Originally Posted by GRG55 View Post
For any wind power freaks out there, here's something interesting...

This is from a study a couple of years ago undertaken by the Union for the Co-ordination of Transmission of Electricity (UCTE) which is an organisation under the Continental European transmission system operators.

At the time of the study Europe had 50% of the worldwide installed windpower capacity. Now the interesting part (data based on a large sample of wind generators feeding the E.ON grid)
  • an average of 20% of the total wind power capacity in the control area was available for electricity generation over the year.
  • for two thirds of the year less than 20% of the installed power generating capacity was actually available for electricity generation;
  • for one third of the year less than 10% of the capacity was available :eek:
  • In northern Europe the periods of maximum extended (not daily) peak loads occur during winter cold spells and summer heat waves. Both conditions occur during periods of stationary or quasi-stationary air masses - ie no wind. Just when you need it most...
  • And the most damning conclusion for those that actually believe the increasingly popular line that wind power is the "cheapest" form of generation: "Back-up capacities from other power plants have to be kept in reserve for cases of total generation outages of Wind Power Plants (e.g. summer heat waves)..."
That's 100% back-up (I verified that using my HP calculator, eh). Maybe in northern Nevada we can do it with geothermal, and with solar in Mojave, but in most of the continent I am having a difficult time understanding how we do this without coal, or natural gas, or nukes, or more hydro dams, or something else. But then that may be just my petroleum gearhead, spreadsheet-induced non-creative environment-destroying linear thinking we are so famous for.

The study concluded that the benefit from wind power was the displacement of carbon emitting power generation with "clean" energy when the wind conditions allow it to be available. Of course it went on to enthusiastically recommend massive additions to the wind power capacity in Europe (but was strangely silent on the duplicate capacity additions required).
Earlier this year Scottish Power had this to say:
Scottish Power says Britain needs backup for wind

Wed Apr 22, 2009 4:50pm BST

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain, which aims to install about 30 gigawatts (GW) of wind turbines by 2020, will need to build almost as much backup power generation for calm weather periods, an executive from Scottish Power said on Wednesday.

The government is relying heavily on the growth of wind power to meet tough European Union renewable energy targets and promises another 525 million pounds in support for offshore wind as part of Wednesday's budget.

But the more wind turbines Britain erects the more conventional plants it will need.

"Thirty gigawatts of wind maybe requires 25 GW of backup," said Rupert Steele, regulation director at the Scottish arm of Spain's Iberdrola, one of the world's largest wind farm operators.