Clean Power

Published on May 26th, 2015 | by Jake Richardson


New Wind Turbine Capacity Factor Could Increase From 40% To 60%

May 26th, 2015 by  

The engineer and economist Bernard Chabot has written an article explaining how wind power capacity factors for new wind turbines could increase from about 40% to 60%.


The article is titled, “The fast shift towards the « silent wind power revolution » in USA and the related huge energy and economic benefits.” You can read the 59-page PDF file, if you like.

On page 4, he says, “Using the new SWR wind turbines models in the 35 States with a potential of less than 60 GW with the 2008 models and a minimum gross capacity factor of 35 % would dramatically increase the aggregated areas suitable for wind power development (cf. slides 23-25): analysis from NREL shows that the aggregated areas suitable for a minimum gross capacity factor of 50% is increased from zero to 2 million km2 by shifting from the 2008 wind turbines to the 2013 SWR wind turbine (Su > 4 m2/kW), and that with the near future SWR technology (Su > 6 m2/kW), there are 2 million km2 available to deliver more than 60 % gross capacity factors. At a minimum 35 % gross capacity factor, the increase of potential aggregated GW in those 35 States is from 178 GW to respectively 2,913 GW and to 6,160 GW.”

On a previous page he mentions, “average annual US onshore capacity factor at 32.7 % in 2014”. So, would an increase in capacity factor from 32.7% to 60% would be a nearly doubling. He says that new technology, “future SWR wind turbines models with a reference Su value of more than 6 m2/kW and a hub height of up to 140 meters,” can generate these higher capacity factors.

Of course, it makes sense that increasing a turbine’s swept area and hub height would be advantageous. has a very concise summary of the growing effectiveness of wind turbines, “For example, the average nameplate capacity of newly installed turbines in 2013 was 1.87 megawatts (MW), up 162% since 1999. The average hub height of turbines installed in 2013 was 80 meters, up 45% from 1999. Also, 75% of installed turbines had a rotor diameter of 100 meters in length or more. Increased hub heights and larger rotors allow turbines to generate more renewable electricity, in part by taking advantage of the stronger, more consistent winds that are often found at higher altitudes.”

Wind power critics sometimes reference capacity factors that seem to them too low, but the criticism may be poised to undergo some erosion, if these factors are increased very much. Plus, many still quote 20% or so when the average now is obviously much higher.

And how efficient are fossil fuels if they cause climate change and air pollution that kills millions of people every year?

Image Credit: Musial, W. D.; Sheppard, R. E.; Dolan, D.; Naughton, B. (Note: the image refers to offshore standards.)

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About the Author

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.

  • globi

    Sorry, but this is crazy talk.
    Lignite power plants burn tons of lignite every day. Wind turbines don’t burn any rare earths at all and all they use is recycleable.
    Besides, most wind turbines don’t even use rare earths. Even some direct drive wind turbines don’t use rare earths. link.

    If anything, relevant is EROI. And modern wind-turbines are superior to new conventional power plants. link:×279.jpg

    • Zer0Sum

      I’m not arguing that wind turbines are NOT less polluting than coal when they are in operation. However, it is FUD to compare a coal mining machine to a wind turbine. Wind turbines require massive amounts of resources to produce and those resources are obtained with exactly the same industrial processes and big ugly machines as coal or any other mineral resource which requires extraction from the earth. Those machines do not magically appear out of thin air so the industrial processes required to manufacture them are also polluting processes.

      It’s not like the raw components for a wind turbine, solar panel, CSP mirror, hydro dam, etc… are magically thought into existence either. They rely on exactly the same industrial processes as dirty fossil fuels and also a boat load of fossil fuels for their extraction.

      As an aside, many people view the global mining industry as a form of social welfare similar to the military industrial complex and a substantial indirect subsidy to the fossil fuel industries. In a lot of cases the mines are just big financial scams where they drive around large trucks burning up large quantities of fossil fuels and making a big mess.

      It’s categorically false to argue or imply that EROEI is better so by extension wind energy and any other so called “green” energy supplies are “non polluting” by implication.. They are just less polluting than the fossil fuel energy supplies.which require burning the raw resources and releasing the pollutants directly to the environment instead of manufacturing them into a physical object.

      The amount of energy generated by a wind turbine does not actually remove from the environment the amount of pollution that was generated in the manufacturing/installation process. It just means that there is LESS on going pollution compared to a fossil fuel energy system.

      At the moment we are borrowing heavily from the future to build out our “green” energy infrastructure. The jury is still out on the actual amount of damage that will cause to the environment by the time we have stopped borrowing. There is no guarantee that “green” energy will be able to reverse the damage done by the massive amount of pollution emissions attributed to the resource extraction and manufacturing process of the past 200 years and during the Energiewende.

      There are lots of studies that make a strong case that we can make a good attempt at halting the global temperature increase but it’s very rare that humans are able to forecast the full scale of a project let alone one as big and complex as this one. There are always hidden variables and cost overruns.

      • JonathanMaddox

        If we are borrowing from our future to build out clean energy infrastructure, why at least that is borrowing that can be paid back — at a ratio of some 30:1 according to the quotes above, or as good as 100:1 for new wind turbines as found in other studies.

        As far as I’m concerned, that beats pretty much anything else we could possibly be doing with our borrowings from our future, say, the lighting of shopping malls or the manufacture of disposable plastic cutlery.

        You argue as though you consider mining for iron copper, rare earth metals and the other minerals used to source material for wind turbines to be equivalent to mining fuel to be burned. It isn’t. Those substances, once above-ground and refined, are permanently part of the human energy economy. They are not consumed with use and they may be recycled into new equipment or safely interred at the end of the working life of the turbine. I should point out that fossil fuel-burning equipment *also* contains comparable amounts of all these minerals, besides consuming coal, oil or gas in operation.

        If you’re trying to argue the Luddite position, a complete winding down of the industrial economy, get off our productive wind-turbine lawn and go talk to the people selling seasonal singing reindeer dolls.

        • Zer0Sum

          What I’m saying is that is is complete BS and FUD to compare a coal mining machine to wind turbines.

          I am also pointing out that so called “Green” energy solutions like wind and solar are still major causes of industrial scale pollution even without the additional pollution caused by converting the resources they are created from to gaseous form.

          I am not saying that wind/solar/hydro are bad. I just like to call a spade a spade. As far as I know there are NO non polluting industrial scale energy sources. Pretending that the pollution caused in the creation of the machinery and systems does not have an negative affect is ridiculous. Ignoring it and only focusing on the energy generated after the system is setup and running is also myopic.

          You may be happy with the trade off but I am concerned that we are going to be subject to some severe consequences because we basically left it too late to start the transition.

          Not many people are expecting us to be able to reverse the damage that has already been done. The ones who are must be very optimistic people.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Still, what is the alternative? As little consumption as possible maybe? Power down?
            I’d rather be an optimist than worry all day 😉

          • Zer0Sum

            The alternative is to live within our means and stop borrowing from the future. If we can’t produce it with renewable energy then we shouldn’t produce it at all. Fossil fuels should be used only in ways that ensure they can be easily recycled with sustainable energy powering the process.

            So that pretty much means the entire mining industry needs to be put under a lot of pressure to make the transistion. At the moment they ain’t doin ****.

          • JonathanMaddox

            “If we can’t produce it with renewable energy then we shouldn’t produce it at all.”

            Anything you can produce with fossil energy, you can also produce with renewable energy, so this is no argument at all.

            “Fossil fuels should be used only in ways that ensure they can be easily recycled…”

            Fossil fuels are *destroyed* by consuming them. They are not recyclable. The products of combustion of fossil fuels are not fuels, but ash and gas. Now you *can* synthesise fuels using clean energy to separate and recombine elements which are abundant in the environment, but that’s something you can do quite independently of whether or not you’re using fossil fuels as primary energy.

            “So that pretty much means the entire mining industry needs to be put under a lot of pressure to make the transistion. At the moment they ain’t doin ****.”

            It’s quite understandable that the chief extractors and profiteers from fossil fuels are the least interested in doing without them. But even miners (particularly those mining commodities other than fossil fuels) are doing better than nothing: much of their energy demand is electrical, much of it generated by diesel engines, but diesel is expensive and solar energy is cheaper for off-grid electricity supply.


          • neroden

            We’re clearly going to need lots of copper, so I’m glad to hear that a major copper mining company is switching to solar power.

          • JonathanMaddox

            “What I’m saying is that is is complete BS and FUD to compare a coal mining machine to wind turbines.”

            Are you trying to say that the manufacture of a coal mining machine caused less inherent pollution somehow, than the manufacture of a wind turbine?

            How about a coal-fired boiler, or a steam turbine? Cleaner than a wind turbine?

            *Now* add in the actual coal consumption. Cleaner? Dirtier? Or in fact not comparable in any way because that would be BS and FUD?

          • neroden

            It is absolutely fair to compare the coal mining machine to the complete lack of mining machines involed in wind turbine operation.

            We can then compare the concrete manufacturing, steel refining, and iron and steel mining machines used in building the coal plant vs. the wind turbine. Guess who uses less.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The best way to compare coal and wind is by lifetime carbon footprint. The amount of CO2 produced from cradle to grave. From mining the minerals (and fuel) through the disposal of the worn out plants/wind farms.

            Coal plants have an incredibly larger lifetime footprint than wind turbines. Median to median, 1,000x times worse.

            (For some reason Disqus image posting is screwed up at the moment. I’ll try loading the graph later.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            But in another comment it works.


      • globi

        Moving back to the caves and living from collecting berries, wild honey, hunting mammoths and burning wood is no option.
        A green energy infrastructure is our only option in keeping our civilization without a massive reduction of the population. Going back to the stone-age would essentially provoke an enormous genocide.

      • neroden

        You do know that coal plants require massive amouts of resources to build too? All the concrete and steel, boilers, pipes, turbines, etc. etc. etc.

        For a fair comparsion you must include the coal power plant construction, which ends up being more mining-intensive than the wind-turbine construction.

  • JamesWimberley

    Chabot´s article was first posted on Craig Morris´ Renewables International. Jake should have given the hat tip. Rivalry should be civil.

    There´s a puzzle about the rising capacity factors, achieved by the fairly obvious expedient of increasing the ratio of swept area (i.e. rotor diameter) to generator rating. It has been happening without SFIK any incentives for smoothing over peak power. Either the early developers got their calculations wrong; or something has happened in the technology. A top-of-my-head hypothesis: hub heights have been rising to catch better winds. Tower cost, for a given stiffness, is sensitive to the weight of the supported assembly. This is dominated by generators not rotors. So the economics have favoured changing the ratio.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Capacity factor is important in terms of electricity cost. The higher the CF the more power produced from the turbine.

    But what we really need to be looking at is hours of production. At 40% CF the cost of wind electricity is below 4 cents per kWh (and dropping). That’s a great price, but it’s not so great if the output is “lumpy”. If we have to use a lot of storage to spread lumpy production out to meet demand then the price goes up. If we design for more hours of production (while keeping CF “reasonable”) then we end up with the lowest cost electricity.

    • MrL0g1c

      Another obvious solution is to have wind farms placed as far apart as possible so as to avoid individual weather thingamajigs.

      How to keep wind turbines turning | Environment | The Guardian

      Variability of interconnected wind plants: correlation length and its dependence on variability time scale – IOPscience

      I’m kind of sceptical though, weather systems look bigger than the research suggests to me.

      • Bob_Wallace

        With the recent recognition that there is good wind almost everywhere if you use higher towers I expect wind farm placements will be less concentrated, more spread out across areas, in order to minimize transmission costs.

        But a renewable grid is likely to mean a grid with a lot of ability to move power around, much more than when we located generation close to markets and transported the fuel.

        • newnodm

          Some people in the biz strongly disagree with the need for a lot of long distance transmission. I believe that only people who have done serious and skilled modeling can really begin to understand what may work.
          I’m trying to not have an opinion on the larger grid until it becomes a national policy issue.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            There must be a misunderstanding. Some qualifications left out. You should also have an opinion and not wait for somebody to tell you what to think.

          • eveee

            Read the NREL paper. I know its boring technical stuff. But they do call for grid expansion. Todays grid is old and badly in need of replacement, expansion.


          • newnodm

            They also said CSP would be a significant source of future production.

          • eveee

            Not exactly. They more or less said heres what could be done with 2010 technology. They make pains to point out that they are just tracking what is technically feasible, and maybe a bit more.
            IMO, CSP will be a significant source. But not everywhere. What we see now is only the tip of the iceberg. Right now renewables integration is low. So wind is concentrated in a small section of Southern California around Tehachapi for example. Right now, there is so much gas turbine available, there is no need for storage or geographic dispersal to lower variability.
            That will change. When we reach higher renewable percentages, then firm renewable sources will gain value and start being implemented more.
            Right now, solar is eating the heck out of the daytime peaker market. Storage is next to take a bite. And it will head for the ducks head for dinner. “)

          • Bob_Wallace

            I imagine there’s more than one model being run and updated around the country that ask the “more generation, more storage, or more transmission” question each time some new cost and performance data appears.

            I doubt that we’ll be able to do the serious central planning that China is able to do. More likely our grid will just evolve as local players do what they think best.

            Maybe if we got the government back under the control of rational people….

        • Ivor O’Connor

          I was hoping for more blue in California at the 140m height.

          • Bob_Wallace

            California’s wind is off the coast. And very abundant.

            I haven’t scoped it out but I suspect having a big hot valley close to the ocean and that valley backed up by some really big mountains really limits wind’s ability to build up in the way it can do in the Midwest.

            Take a look at this page from time to time.


            It’s a great page. Shows where the wind is blowing, directions, and strength around the world. It’s usually blowing like stink along the N.CA and Oregon coast. That’s where we need to anchor some floaters and reap some really impressive “performance hours”.

            You can ‘grab and drag’ the globe to see other parts and zoom in by clicking on the spot you want to see closer.

            Right now there’s some good wind blowing between W. Greenland and Ellesmere Island. Some of the thickest ice is heading to the melting grounds. And on the east side of Greenland there’s big wind blowing ice through the Fram Strait. Lots of ice is rushing to its death in the warm Atlantic. This is very early in the melt year but at this point it’s looking like a very low ice year.

            But I digress….

            Also take a look at an 80 meter wind map and all the West Coast wind that’s just off the beach. Hook into that and west of the Sierras should be in Sweet City.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I like the globe. I wish everything was more interactive like it. Now if the wind at different heights could be integrated into it. Though it might ruin the model because only the USA has the information.
            I don’t think the lack of wind compared to the other states matters all that much since there is plenty of solar. Plus if they ever raised the existing turbines to 140 or 160 meters they could probably double output.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It comes back, once again, to the fact that the Sun doesn’t shine 24/365. Relying heavily on solar would mean a lot of storage. West Coast offshore wind blows a lot of the time.

            The question will be whether offshore will price out better than solar plus storage for those hours the Sun isn’t shining. We know the answer for onshore wind, solar is going to have to work hard to catch up, it’s very unlikely solar plus storage would ever be cheaper.

          • Karl the brewer

            What a great link. Thats being forwarded to my MP later on today.

    • Marion Meads

      A friend of mine has a small wind turbine, about 10 kW rated capacity. He has a circuit breaker leading to the turbine. Do these turbines really need electricity when there’s no wind? What happens if he disconnects the circuit breaker to the turbine? I may need to take a closer look at his setup. His electricity bill nets out to zero every year.

      • Bob_Wallace

        As far as I know the turbine pulls zero power when idle. Power is needed for warning lights, computers, adjusting blades for upcoming wind, and dehydrators (at least in offshore nacelles).

        None of that is ‘big’ power and none of it applies to small turbines.

        • Ross

          If Frank’s nonsense was true they’d have to run the turbines like giant fans to dissipate all the energy.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’d love to know Frank’s story.

            Is he that dumb? Or is he hoping that we are? Is there any other possible explanation?

            He wasn’t a Playboy centerfold was he?

          • Larmion

            Playgirl centerfold rather than Playboy, I hope? And judging by his profile pic, it wouldn’t be an edition I’d consider buying.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I was thinking he was just kicking a hornets nest. Look at the huge response he got.

          • vensonata

            That’s what I mean. Every now and then you need cannon fodder. Frank appears with an argument that works at the local pub with his friends. Then he tries it here. Of course it is beaten to smithereens but in the meantime people like me get to see fallacious arguments. Bertrand Russell would approve.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Thank you.

      • Steven F

        The purpose of the circuit breaker is to prevent a short from overloading the wiring in the turbine or in your home. Maximum power flows through the circuit when the turbine is at max power. If the turbine is not producing power very little power flow through rhe circuit breaker.A circuit breaker is bidirectional. It protect the home and the turbine.

        If the circuit breaker wasn’t there and a short develops in the home it could pull enough current through the wires to melt the wire insulation. In the best case you would have to replace all the wiring in your home and turbine (assuming the turbine is supply all the homes power at the time. Worst case the heat will start a fire and burn your home down and destroy the turbine down.

        With a circuit breaker in place it will trip before any damage to the wiring occurs. then all you have to do is to fix the device that shorted out.

  • Marion Meads

    Well, any idiot will argue that if the overall wind turbine efficiency is 30%, then its wasted energy, hence, parasitic energy is 70%

    • Frank Haggerty

      The big problem here is that the public is unaware that wind turbines actually take power from the grid when they are not operating. The power is used for heating cooling AC batteries and anything any other power plant uses.The wind industry does not want the public to understand the parasitic use of electricity in commercial wind turbines.If the public understood the formula and percentage of wasted electricity they would want to take down the turbines

      • Bob_Wallace

        You’re a slow learner, eh, Frank?


    • eveee

      Capacity factor is not efficiency.

    • Ivor O’Connor

      You know Frank might be so desperate and confused to fall for that logic. We may see him repeating it as fact elsewhere.

  • Frank Haggerty

    “Wind turbines also consume energy from the grid when they are idle – for lubrication, heating, cooling, lights, metering, hydraulic brakes, energising the electro-magnets, even to keep the blades turning lazily (to prevent warping) and to maintain line voltage when there is no wind. A one-month study of the Wonthaggi wind farm in Australia found that the facility consumed more electricity than it produced for 16% of the period studied. A detailed study in USA showed that 8.3% of total wind energy produced was consumed by the towers themselves. This is not usually counted in the carbon equation. “

  • Frank Haggerty

    For the truth on commercial wind look into : “Parasitic Electric Consumption Wind Turbines ”

    • eveee

      Frank – you are a professional windbagger with an axe to grind. Truth? Not from you.

    • Michael G

      I took your advice and Googled the subject:

      One good article refuting your argument is here: “Comparing wind turbine power consumption to coal and gas” It indicates that in major power generating facilities, power consumption is greater for conventional power generators. I particularly like that article because many commenters there point out Capacity Factor is a terrible and misleading metric for wind generation. Source

      Another article points out that if you put wind turbines in an area that doesn’t get much wind (like low rooftops in a city) then yes, they can consume more power than they generate. Solution, don’t put wind turbines in bad locations. Source:

      Citing another study, we find “The average windfarm produces 20-25 times more energy during its operational life than was used to construct and install its turbines” with some caveats about distance to point of consumption and proper siting. Source:

      • MrL0g1c

        “The average windfarm produces 20-25 times more energy during its
        operational life than was used to construct and install its turbines”

        And that was written in 2010 based on averages going looking backwards at old tech. Those numbers will likely improve a lot going forwards.

        • Bob_Wallace

          With CFs moving up about 25% since then the 20x to 25x is likely 30x by now.

          • Jenny Sommer

            We don’t have to guess…had that 2 month ago.

            Already in the 50ties…
            If you repower the turbine and reuse the tower we would be above 100.
            In Germany the first 140m wooden towers are going up…they are even cheaper and more sustainable than concrete/steel.

          • Mike Shurtleff

            Ms Sommer, You’re talking about numbers for CF, see comment above to Bob.
            Frank’s outrageously incorrect FUD comment is about EROEI, or ROI. Frank is helping to spread this common/pernicious FUD, started and maintained be fossil fuel interests.

          • Jenny Sommer

            No, I am talking about EROEI numbers like in the linked post.

            Wooden towers boost both ROI and EROEI. TimberTower is building certified 140m towers in Germany now.

            Of course my pony is the KiteGen.
            EROEI above 300 for the Stem unit and over 1300 for the proposed carousel plants.


          • Mike Shurtleff

            My mistake and my humblest apologies. I should have looked at your link first. Very nice! Thank you!

          • Mike Shurtleff

            You’re talking about Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI) or just Return On Investment (ROI), which pretty much follows. You are correct ROI is very high for Wind, probably easy over 30x now. Frank is wrong. Wind could not produce low cost electricity if it consumed a large portion of what it made. It only consumes a lesser amount when the wind is not blowing, usually nearly nothing.
            I think you made a mistake labeling this as Capacity Factor (CF). CF is already in the 50s for good siting of newer turbines, as Jenny Sommer says below, and could reach the 60s soon, as the article above says.

          • Adam Devereaux

            Take a look at Vesta’s LCA on a 3MW unit from 2006. They calculate a 40:1 EROEI on FULL lifecycle costs from an onshore turbine at 35% CF and a 20 year lifespan.

            Increase either of those numbers to a modern realistic figure (plus production efficiencies) and we likely have 60-100:1 EROEI easily for onshore wind turbines.


          • Mike Shurtleff

            Very nice! Thank you!

    • eveee

      Oh look honey, stop the car. I found a wild windbagger. Let’s take a picture.
      Isn’t it cute.
      He thinks a wind turbine has megawatt computers.
      That was before the invention of the PC.
      Remember those pictures of old fashioned room sized IBM mainframes we saw in the museum?
      That’s not a wild windbagger. It’s a bath towel on the back of a deck chair.

    • Steven F

      For the truth on commercial wind look into : “Parasitic Electric Consumption Wind Turbines ”

      I did that and the first link completely refuted your claim:

      When a wind turbine is idle it’s computer is communicating with the control center and monitoring the weather. The typical smart phone today has more than enough computing power to run the turbine And weather sensors consume about 1W of power. At night you will have some lites on the tower to alert plains flying at night that it is there. Thesee are LED light and again consume very little power. Nothing else needs power wnent eh wind is not blowing.

      However when the wind starts up and the wind turbine turns on it needs turn into the wind and and adjust the pitch of the blades to start the rotation. A couplle of 100W to 200W motors can do this in only a minute or two. Once the winds are spinning fast enough ithe generator is conencted to the grid and power is sent out to the grid. For a utility scale turbine the minimum output is probalby 10,000W.

      Compare that to a nuclear power plant. When you shut off a nuclear reactor the reactor still is producing over a megawatt of heat from radioactive decay. that means when the reactor is not producing power the cooling system pumps must stay on until the radio active decay of fission products is low enough for passive cooling. That can take months. And in a large reactor the controls and cooling pumps can easily consume a meagwatt off power. Also there are a lot of people working at anuclear reactor on any given day and they need lights, heat or air conditioning. Which adds to the power load. So a shut down nuclear reactor always consums substantial amounts of power.

      IN the event of a losss of power from the grid a nuclear reactor switches over to and emergency diesel generator. At Fukashima the grid connection was lost and the backup diesel generators were destroyed. The residual heat from radioactive decay of fission producs was then enough to melt down the reactor.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Offshore turbines do use dehumidifiers to reduce corrosion. That’s got to be the largest draw, but even then the inside of a nacelle doesn’t have all that much room for air. It wouldn’t be like dehumidifying a three bedroom house.

      • Jenny Sommer

        Fünf fact, a reactor got around 4% self consumption any time oft the year. That power has t ocome from other plants vor backup generators.
        Most of the time when nuclear reactors have to power down their power is needed most France in winter or during heat waves in summer due lack of cooling water).

    • eveee

      Looking for truth? You won’t find it on that site.

      Lets compare percent ancillary energy a wind turbine uses compared to conventional power as consumed/generated.

      Here is a chart of generated and consumed wind energy side by side. Look real hard, see if you can spot the wind consumed energy. Better put your glasses on, its an eye test.×1308.png

      Just for reference, its 0.1%.

      So how about conventional power? This time its in percentage. Whoops. It starts at 2% and goes up to 16%.

      So no. I don’t think wind turbines are wasting much energy. Not compared to conventional by a wide margin. So in fact, wind consumes the least ancillary energy of all those compared.×1502.png

  • Frank Haggerty

    Folks, They won’t tell you how much power from the grid these turbines use !

    Falmouth Wind Turbines Wasting Power

    Taxpayers pay again except now they don’t tell you !

    NStar, which delivers electricity to Cape Cod is supplying power to Falmouth turbines 12 hours a day and more

    Here is an interesting story on the parasitic use of power going into the turbines:

    “New wind turbine farce: How they take power from the National Grid even when they are NOT generating any electricity.Wind turbines use electricity to keep spinning in cold weather to stop icing.Off-shore turbines only operate when the wind is between 10 and 50 mph.Wind energy can produce enough electricity to power 8.8 million homes. But low wind speeds have cut the renewable output”

    It’s a bunco scheme

    • Bob_Wallace

      Frank, you’re FUDing up the site.

      The janitor will show escort most of your junk to the dumper.

      Keep posting FUD and you will join it.

  • Frank Haggerty

    Wind Turbines: “Parasitic Consumption” Hidden Costs

    Wind turbines consume 13 to 25 percent of the power they produce.

    The energy consumption of any single wind turbine when broken or the wind stops can be substantial.

    Wind turbine operators have invented the term “Parasitic Consumption” to hid that need.

    The proof is in the lower amount of financial return. In many cases the power going into the wind turbines from the local electric company remains hidden from the public.

    • globi

      This is BS.

      Since 1997 Denmark has increased its wind power production by over 500% and yet the Danish electricity consumption has stayed about constant (link):

      If standby consumption of wind turbines would be significant, electricity consumption in Denmark would have risen significantly since 1997. Especially considering the fact that the GDP in Denmark has also almost doubled during this time period as well (link).

      Besides, if standby consumption of windturbines would have any significance, utilities would have been all over this since the dawn of time (since they use any opportunity to badmouth any competition to their existing centralized power plant business model).

      By the way, the lignite power plants in Germany consumed 7.1% of their own electricity production. (link, page 3).
      These things don’t run on pixiedust:

      • eveee

        That is an ugly monster. Mind if I use it to show the people that don’t like wind turbines what the difference is?

        Wind turbine.

        Coal machine

        • newnodm

          I often don’t like wind turbines visually in the landscape. I don’t like wind turbines killing birds. I support a massive buildout of wind turbines.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Bird kills for most wind farms is insignificant. There are a couple which are problematic, adequate site evaluation was not done prior to building.
            I find wind turbines beautiful in some settings but wouldn’t want to see the in our parks, for example.

          • Otis11

            This. My grandparents live on a farm in Iowa. House on a hill overlooking lots of windmills in the distance. Beautiful site to watch them all turn…

      • eveee
        • Ronald Brakels

          Saw the movie this rig is from yesterday. Mad Max: Fury Road is basically a perfect action movie.

          Full disclosure: I am Australian. But you don’t have to be Australian, or even understand English, to appreciate that it is a masterpiece of its genre.

          • eveee

            Ronald – It all seems obvious now. But you do get the idea that someone was having a field day playing with peoples heads about the evils of FF and somehow got away with it. I think if there were a movie like that today, and it revealed its intentions a bit more, .. well lets just say the oilcos have a way of unleashing their dogs… LOL.

      • Zer0Sum

        That last statement can be true or false if you consider that wind turbines require the cooperation of the global mining and transportation industries. Similar machines to the beast above are used in the extraction of rare earth metals for the magnets. The use of various composites/metals for the structures requires massive amounts of mining and geophysical interoperation. Hence there are many wind manufacturers which are owned in part of in whole by finance companies that have massive investments in the the global mining and fossil fuel infrastructure.

        The Wind Energy industry is not as innocent and “cute fluffy puppy” sustainable as some people like to suggest. The environmental damage is hidden much further down the production chain. The main benefit from wind energy is the lack of ongoing environmental damage while they are being used to generate energy. However creating them in the first place does have a real negative impact that is easy to ignore if looking solely at the inherent financial costs.

        • Jenny Sommer

          This is true for any product.
          But we also know the lifecycle emissions or the low Co2/kWh emissions of wind vs. any other generation technology.
          What’s your point?

          To address these issues you can use wooden towers and try to limit the use of environmentally damaging mined materials.

          You can also limit your own consumption, pray to the goddess of the “church of no shopping”!

          And let’s not forget to support technologies that use even less materials.

        • Rick Thurman

          You have a good point about misconceptions on what sustainability means. Sustainable isn’t the technological analog to the Immaculate Conception. It doesn’t guarantee social justice, personal freedom, or anything else other than means of support that, if well managed, allow us to continue to survive. It gives us all a chance to get through tonight and continue all those other arguments and struggles tomorrow. That’s it. Considering how difficult that one goal seems to be right now, and the alternative that would come with failure, ‘m willing to take it for what it’s worth.

    • eveee

      Just what is this parasitic consumption for? The tower lights? You live in a fantasy world if you think those are anything like the vast amount of energy wind turbines supply in just a single hour.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Frank Haggerty, there is no such thing as an idiot, merely people who do idiotic things. And you’ve really written something idiotic here. Where the hell is the heat from this energy consumption going? Energy cannot be destroyed, merely transformed, so it has to end up somewhere. Snowtown II, the largest windfarm near me, has 3 MW turbines and operates at a capacity factor of 42%. If they self consumed 15% of their average output then the turbines would be putting out an average of about 190 kilowatts of heat. That’s about 190 single bar heaters or 95 Australian space heaters on full power. Try putting 190 bar heaters in a small flat and turn them on and see how long it takes for the place to not burst into flames. There is no way in hell a wind turbine could handle that sort of heat output, but according to you they should be glowing cherry red in the night.

    • Neptune

      Wind turbines consume about 1% of power they produce, as opposed to coal power plants which consume about 10%.

      Production figures are usually given only for the surplus.

      • jeffhre

        For plants which are at least 20 years old, parasitic (i.e. on-site) power consumption can run as high as 8-15 percent of gross MVA generation.

        • Bob_Wallace

          That’s an interesting article on parasitic energy use in coal plants.

          “The (8% to 15%) internal consumption consists mainly of motor loads to drive high-powered fans and pumps for combustion & draft air supply, feedwater, condensate, and cooling water (or cooling air). But many other losses, large and small, add up as well, robbing the plant of available efficiency and capacity.”

          Wind turbines don’t have any of those gizmos.

          And telling is …

          “As utilities have cut back on staff as a response to “competition,” among the first positions eliminated were the performance engineers, who tracked the thermal and electrical performance of fleets, unit by unit. Their efforts typically resulted in keeping facilities thermally “tuned up,” and kept efficiencies up by 0.1 to 1.5 percent. Fuel cost variations and power price variations literally swamped out the value of any such small efficiency improvements.”

          I.e., coal is starting to get hurt and is cutting corners. Probably doing like people with an old clunker that has a failing transmission. “Why bother changing the oil? Just drive it ’till it dies.”

    • Bob_Wallace


      Don’t try bring that sort of crap here. We aren’t buying it.

      Here’s how production/consumption works out…

    • Michael G

      There are times on still parts of a day when a wind farm will produce less than it consumes but those times are measured in hours, not days. Overall, they produce much more than they consume.

    • MrL0g1c

      How Low Can Wind Energy Go? 2.5¢ Per Kilowatt-Hour Is Just The Beginning | CleanTechnica

      Lower amount of financial return? Wind is a bargain for the tax-payer.

      • Bob_Wallace

        That’s where Frank’s claim really falls on its butt.

        There’s no way a wind farm could be selling electricity cheaply if they were having to purchase a lot of electricity from the grid.

        It looks like when the annual wind market report comes out for 2014 we’ll hear about a wind PPA for 1.5 cents. Add back in the subsidy and that’s less than 3 cents per kWh. Now wind farm could purchase a lot of 6 cent wholesale electricity and produce for under 3 cents.

        • neroden

          There are regions where the wind PPAs are coming out negative, indicating “unsubsidized” numbers below 1.5 cents.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Where? Source? Link?

            I’ve heard rumors of a PPA at 1.5 cents. Take away the subsidy and the price would be just under 3 cents.

            Please – show me a negative PPA. A “Here, please take our electricity and some money as well”.

    • vensonata

      Frank, welcome to the shark tank. We need people like you occasionally to roll around like a loose cannon on the deck. Then I am able to be better informed about all such matters, as you are eaten alive by commenters who actually keep up on all things wind related. I don’t know much about wind so it is good to go through the various red herrings that will be thrown out there by fossil fuel shills trying desperately to defend a wounded and dying monster.

    • Ross

      I think you mean anti-wind vested interests and nimbys have invented the term.

      • Joseph Dubeau

        I know exactly what his “Parasitic Consumption” is.
        I’m feeling very tired after reading his comment.

    • Ulenspiegel

      What is the energy need of conventional powerplants (coal and nuclear)?
      Then get correct data for windturbines and come back. At the moment you are BSting.

    • Hans

      Please cite a credible source or withdraw your statement.

    • djr417

      looking at Franks history online, he could be a paid anti-wind blowhard (pun intended).

      • Bob_Wallace

        A blowhard whose comments suck?

        I really don’t understand people who take up a wrong idea and hang on to it when others clearly explain why the idea is incorrect.

        I can’t see the fossil fuel industry funding someone to repeatedly make just plain dumb comments such as his. I would think they would spend their money on more talented trolls.

        It’s kind of like these “I believe this and no facts can shake my belief” people have a personality disorder. They seem to make an issue-related break with reality.

      • globi

        He’s probably more something like a “moon-landing-denier”, where facts are just as irrelevant.

    • eveee

      This Bud’s for you. FUD.

      Get some perspective. Hidden from the public? Get a grip.

      Conventional generators consume a far larger percentage of power, from 2 to 16%. Wind turbines? 0.1%.

    • waddawadda

      Here is a graphic showing how BS this is. Comparision with other forms of generation.

      Can you spot the ancillary power? Look real carefully. 0.1% is hard to see.×1308.png

      lets see what percentage conventional plants are.

      Oh my. 2 to 16%.×1502.png

    • Rick Thurman

      Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe “parasitic load” was around for fossil fuel generators well before wind and solar plants. The coolant pumps that get the water running through coal, oil, gas, and even nuclear plants don’t start themselves by magic, and continue to require some power even after the plant is running. It’s worth looking at the relative amounts of power needed for turning wind turbines into the wind or solar panels to the sun versus what’s needed to start FF & nuclear plants from a dead stop (water pumps plus fuel pumps or coal conveyor belts). The FFs & nukes either need smaller diesel generators to start those, or grid power to start themselves. PV and wind are much closer to being self-starting, or “black start” plants.

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