To the Editor:
Until we get the storage figured out, this Vineyard Wind project simply takes $2 billion from the Massachusetts tax- and ratepayers’ pockets to build (overseas) or recycle (from overseas) garbage to be hauled here at enormous cost and pile-driven into the sea. Mixing metaphors but fairly enough, it’s putting the cart before the horse.
Anything put up today is unlikely to be around to greet the storage solution. Until we perfect industrial-scale storage, more wind in the energy portfolio only increases the use of fossil fuel and carbon dioxide emissions. Prices skyrocket.
Despite the alluring promise of wind as an environmental savior, its massive towers provide a pitiful product. Spasmodic, skittering energy tied to the cube of the wind speed [“wind 10-15 with gusts to 25” = 1,000/3,375/15,625 units], coming in off-peak and off-season, wreaks havoc on all parts of the system, including “the Grid.”
“As turbines and offshore projects increase in size, they create yet more stress-provoking turbulence. The analysis of almost 3,000 onshore wind turbines — the biggest study of its kind — warns that they will continue to generate electricity effectively for just 12 to 15 years … The decline in the output of offshore wind farms, based on a study of Danish wind farms, is even more dramatic. The [actual output of] turbines built on platforms in the sea is reduced from 39 percent to 15 percent after 10 years.” –bit.ly/windturbinedecline
Elon Musk’s highly touted $150 million 100MW battery “would satisfy South Australia’s minimum power demand for all of four minutes.” (!) bit.ly/windmusk.
Drawn on when the wind dies, how does ‘’the world’s biggest battery’’ perform? On Jan. 24, 2019, in South Australia, as wind power collapsed into the afternoon, the battery began to dribble 30MW into the grid. bit.ly/windbattery.
The 30MW was less than 1 percent of South Australia’s total demand, and less than 0.1 percent of its national grid’s demand. As 7:30 pm’s peak demand period hit, the world’s biggest battery was completely flat, completely useless.
Meanwhile the emergency diesel generators (burning a reported 80,000 liters of diesel fuel per hour) were doing the real work in South Australia, pumping out over 400 MW on demand. At 7:30 pm that hot summer day … in the renewables paradise of South Australia, 97 percent of its electricity was coming from fossil fuels.
And … as wind power collapsed into the afternoon, prices in South Australia surged to a [well nigh unbelievable!] $14,500 Mwh (versus an average $40 Mwh before “cheap” renewables flooded into the grid), a stunning illustration of how, of course, big wind is hand in hand with fossil fuel interests in the energy market. The more wind in the energy portfolio, the higher spot-pricing spikes, bringing profits into the energy sector as a whole. Of course the fossil fuel interests are intertwined and happy about big wind — only the ratepayer and the taxpayer lose out.
Battery power sounds good, but our decision makers would do well to do a little bit of homework, think this through, and delay using our money for pie-in-the-sky as yet impossible dreams.
Helen Schwiesow Parker, Ph.D., L.C.P.