Wind Energy’s Epic Fail: ‘Unreliables’ not Renewables
In the ongoing intellectual war where the traditional scientific method is battling the rise of “post normal science” the Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions (AWED) has struck a blow for real science. Engineers expose ten unfixable wind turbine problems that make then unreliable not renewable.
AWED spokesman, John Droz Jr. a qualified physicist and environmentalist steps up his organization’s campaign to ensure policymakers are presented with the cold hard facts on so-called “renewables.”
Having established a powerful grassroots network of informed individuals and organizations interested in improving national, state, and local energy & environmental policies AWED has hit on the correct nomenclature for that fair weather energy source: wind. Rather than putting wind farms in the “renewables” category AWED found they are very much the “unreliables.”
The problem, says, Droz, is that “Instead of a science-based approach, our energy and environmental policies are typically written by those who stand to economically or politically profit from them. As a result, anything genuinely science-based in these policies is usually inadvertent and accidental.”
Windtaskforce.org has consulted engineers who have identified no less than ten design flaws in turbines that result in them draining energy from the main grid thus making them a part of the problem rather than being a part of a cleaner energy solution. Main grid electricity has to be added to turbines to overcome increased power demands for the following:
- Yaw mechanism (to keep the blade assembly perpendicular to the wind; also to untwist the electrical cables in the tower when necessary) — the nacelle (turbine housing) and blades together weigh 92 tons on a GE 1.5-MW turbine.
- Blade-pitch control (to keep the rotors spinning at a regular rate)
- Lights, controllers, communication, sensors, metering, data collection, etc.
- Heating the blades — this may require 10%-20% of the turbine’s nominal (rated) power
- Heating and dehumidifying the nacelle — according to Danish manufacturer Vestas, “power consumption for heating and dehumidification of the nacelle must be expected during periods with increased humidity, low temperatures and low wind speeds”
- Oil heater, pump, cooler, and filtering system in gearbox
- Hydraulic brake (to lock the blades in very high wind)
- Thyristors (to graduate the connection and disconnection between generator and grid) — 1%-2% of the energy passing through is lost
- Magnetizing the stator — the induction generators used in most large grid-connected turbines require a “large” amount of continuous electricity from the grid to actively power the magnetic coils around the asynchronous “cage rotor” that encloses the generator shaft; at the rated wind speeds, it helps keep the rotor speed constant, and as the wind starts blowing it helps start the rotor turning (see next item); in the rated wind speeds, the stator may use power equal to 10% of the turbine’s rated capacity, in slower winds possibly much more
- Using the generator as a motor (to help the blades start to turn when the wind speed is low or, as many suspect, to maintain the illusion that the facility is producing electricity when it is not,‡ particularly during important site tours) — it seems possible that the grid-magnetized stator must work to help keep the 40-ton blade assembly spinning, along with the gears that increase the blade rpm some 50 times for the generator, not just at cut-in (or for show in even less wind) but at least some of the way up towards the full rated wind speed; it may also be spinning the blades and rotor shaft to prevent warping when there is no wind.
If the above ten safety considerations aren’t properly addressed then turbines could fail, overheat and catch fire (see photo). AWED takes a sensible position on the issue suggesting that technical matters like these should be handled by applying real science. Helping Droz get the message across is an important new, professionally made film called Wind Rush. It gives viewers the how and why showing wind is not everything it’s made out to be.
Up till now, instead of pursuing a far-sighted solution to reducing emissions wind energy manufacturers and policy makers have actually done the opposite. And rather than being honest about the true wastefulness of large wind turbines the main players in the energy game seem to have rigged the game to conceal such inconvenient facts. For example, Vestas, GE, and NEG Micon do not include electricity consumption in the specifications they provide. As such, only when all the numbers are added are these turbines shown to be a drain on the main grid system rather than being net providers of cleaner energy.
As independent engineers and scientists grapple further with the misguided advocacy of post normal environmental ‘science’ it is thanks to invaluable sentinels like AWED that the truth is finally gaining ground.