Wind energy is snake oil

In a simplistic way, wind energy sounds good. Unfortunately, wind energy makes the rest of the grid system's power plants less efficient. Wind power output is extremely volatile, and wind is least available when we need electricity the most. It doesn't fill shortages caused by demand fluctuations — it worsens them.

City driving — constant stop and go — makes our cars' fuel efficiency drop compared to highway driving. The same is true for our electricity production. The behavior of wind energy production make the “braking and accelerating” of natural gas and coal burning power plants more dramatic and more frequent and less efficient.

Numerous professionals in the electricity industry have demonstrated that wind energy saves little if any conventional fuel or associated emissions. The wind industry naturally disagrees. But the wind industry has yet to provide evidence anywhere, while industry professionals have published studies covering Colorado to Denmark and Germany, Italy and Spain.

I am among those who have concluded that wind energy cannot replace fuel-efficient, steady-running power plants. Nor can the wind provide streams of energy that fit our demand patterns.

Only paired with flexible natural gas generation can wind energy contribute to match demand. Unfortunately, that pairing requires much more than half of the power to come from the gas fired plants — and they must be run in stop-and-go mode to make wind fit grid demands. In Ohio, wind might provide a third of the paired plants' output at best. The two-thirds or more of the gas-wind hybrid energy comes from natural gas burning power plants, accelerating and decelerating constantly to make way for wind energy. This adds to the cost of wind and reduces any benefits.

Unfortunately, not unlike human health in the 18th century, our electricity system is not well understood by most, so the claims of wind energy's “miraculous properties” persist unabated. Snake oil, anyone?


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