Economics and Output Prove Industrial Wind and Solar is Hot Air

By Rich Davenport, published December 19, 2021

Broken Turbine
A broken wind turbine at NY’s Orangeville Wind Factory in Wyoming County, NY

New York continues its march into darkness in the name of “saving the planet”, but as the desperation of the political agenda grows, glaring discrepancies and undeniable realities concerning the renewable energy initiatives in New York and elsewhere are rapidly coming to light, laying bare the simple reality that no public benefit is delivered by industrial wind and solar arrays whatsoever. As the battle in New York rages on, it is clear that political agendas and crony capitalism, and not “cleaner” energy and “saving the planet”, is the true driver behind these scams, and as more people push back, the crazier the proponents of failed technologies become.

Recently, an article appeared in the Dunkirk Observer celebrating wind energy setting a new output record in NY, with an undertone of county pride, as this record was made possible by the recent expansion of NY’s wind portfolio from two new wind factories in Chautauqua County – Arkwright Wind Factory and Cassadaga Wind Factory, which upped the total NY installed capacity for wind energy to 2,200 MW. This excitement was brought about by a single day showing just over 1,800 MW being contributed by wind energy to the NY electric grid; excitement that clearly is an embarrassment in the eyes of those who understand electrical energy production and the demand for 24/7/365 electrical energy output.

In response to this embarrassing article, Mark Twitchell, a Chautauqua County resident and member of Citizens Against Wind Turbines in Lake Erie, or CAWTILE, penned a scathing letter to the editor exposing the truth behind this folly, taking advantage of the door that was inadvertently opened via desperation of the political supporters of this folly. In the process, it provided an opportunity to bring more people to the output records collected and published by NYISO, the grid operators in NY, who collects output by fuel type information in 5 minute intervals, for every power plant in NY. The reality is nowhere near as rosy and wonderful as portrayed.

Audits of the energy data from NYISO, which provides data for every 5 minutes of every single day dating back to December 2015, proves beyond a shadow of doubt that wind energy is simply unsuitable for industrial grid integration. While the grid demands steady, consistent, dispatch-able power sources to maintain base load, provide for base demand, and meet the peak demand periods, matching output with load every minute of every day, it is readily apparent wind delivers none of this, as the problem is the variability of the wind itself. In fact, while on December 6, 2021, NY did set an output record of 1,808 MW for wind energy, the days before and immediately after showed the collective 2,200 MW capacity struggled to deliver a measly 100 MW to the industrial grid. In fact, such output from wind energy happens for roughly 9 days out of any given year – reaching an output of 60% or more of nameplate capacity – something that natural gas, dual-fuel, nuclear and hydro all deliver to the grid over more than two-thirds of any given year. This information is publicly available from NYISO’s real-time energy dashboard, and their archives of output by fuel type for all to consume.

NYSERDA, or New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, an organization tasked with development of efficient energy and delivering proper new technologies for use in NY’s energy mix, has gone round the bend in trying to put lipstick on the political renewable pig, which has created glaring conflicts with NYISO’s own findings based on actual real-world experience with these unreliable energy sources. After an October 1, 2021 webinar conducted by NYSERDA in support of offshore wind energy development, these glaring conflicts between NYSERDA’s theoretical and NYISO’s real-world data prompted a litany of questions from NY Energy and Climate Advocates’ executive director Leonard Rodberg. Conflicting information was discovered across the board from NYSERDA in their attempts to make wind and solar appear more productive than what has been found, and less costly than Energy Information Administration (EIA) studies have determined, and even fudging capacity factor values to portray a predicted output that simple will never exist. The list of questions from NY Energy and Climate Advocates can be found on the Concerned Citizens of Cassadaga Wind Project Facebook Group posts.

Output doesn’t rise to the demands the industrial grid requires of all power plants, and this problem is compounded by the costs just to construct these renewable facilities alone. Each year, the EIA releases the annual outlook for energy sources in the united States, with the latest outlook published February 2021, for the year 2021. According to the February 2021 US Department of Energy Cost of New Generating Technologies Report, overnight capital expense expressed in dollars per Kilowatt (kW) breaks down a comparison for all power plants, with some staggering realities exposed. For NY, the most costly form of energy is offshore wind, carrying a capex of $5,384.00/ kW for the NYC area, but this cost rises 21% to $6,652.00/ kW in upstate NY. When comparing costs to other fuel sources, such as hydro, which upstate NY is blessed with having an abundance of, or to simple combustion turbines using natural gas as a fuel, we see the pursuit of this folly is wholly a detriment to public interest and carries no public benefit. Cost for developing hydro runs $3,722.00/ kW, and building a simple combustion turbine (CT) is a very economical $771.00/ kW! But here’s the kicker – each power plant and fuel type carries a capacity factor, or what percentage of nameplate, or installed capacity is realistic to expect in terms of output to the grid. This figure is critically important to forecasting to meet expected demand, while also holding a reserve output that can be called upon in the event of a sudden spike in demand, or loss of a power plant due to weather, maintenance or failure. Hydro and natural gas carry a capacity factor of close to 80%. Meanwhile, wind carries a factor of only 26%, and solar performs even worse, with 14% factor being realistic.

Factoring out the costs for comparison, and using a simple 100 MW power plant, a comparative analysis shows the insanity of renewable energy:

  • Traditional Hydro – $3,733/kW x 100,000 kw = $372.2 MIL, which delivers 78 MW out of 100 MW installed.
  • Simple Combustion Turbine – $771/ kW x 100,000 kW = $77.1 MIL, which delivers 82 MW out of 100 MW installed.
  • Offshore Wind – $6,652/ kW x 100,000 kW = $665.2 MIL, which delivers 26 MW out of 100 MW, when the wind is blowing at the right speeds! Output is ZERO when the wind doesn’t blow.
  • Fixed Solar with battery storage – $1,656/ kW x 100,000 kW = $165.6 MIL, which delivers 14 MW out of 100 MW, when the sun is shining brightly! Output is ZERO when the sun isn’t shining, as in at night.

Besides the cost being untenable for what can be expected, the unreliable fuel creates unpredictable output, which creates an unstable electric grid, something that demands 24/7/365 power or else rolling blackouts and brownouts ensue, which means disaster for our modern economy and way of life.

Now all of this nonsense is being done to “save the planet” from carbon dioxide, which has no impact on the climate, and is in fact a vital gas for all life to exist, as without CO2, plants cannot perform photosynthesis, which is the chemical reaction between the chlorophyll and sunlight, which takes H2O and CO2, and turns this into beta-glucose (C6H1206) and oxygen (O2), providing the building blocks for cellulose and emitting the necessary oxygen for life to breathe. What is stunning is when we actually dig into the science of a greenhouse, the use of CO2, which is considered a greenhouse gas, stimulates increased photosynthetic activity by up to 50%, by increasing levels of CO2 above the ambient atmospheric concentration which runs between 340 and 400 parts per million (ppm), to levels between 800 and 1300 ppm. While affects of photosynthesis increase with more CO2, this activity decreases more rapidly as levels drop below the ambient atmospheric concentrations, with all photosynthesis ceasing if levels dip below 150 ppm. What exactly are these scams supposed to accomplish?

Environmental damage comes with anything man decides to build, but when it comes to power plants, the idea is for a small footprint and high density of output. This is wise use of the natural resources, while limiting the damage to as small an area as possible. Yet, the opposite is true with wind and solar, as large tracts of land are required for a density to be reached for either solar arrays or wind turbines. And as capacity factor shows, the thousands of acres, not a couple hundred acres, forever altered by wind and solar, to get intermittent and unreliable power when the fuel is available, causes far more harm to the planet, both plants and animals, and even via alterations in water tables and documented local weather pattern changes, compounds this absurdity further. And since a developer cannot rely upon the product (electricity) being available to sell to pay for these projects, taxpayers get to foot the bill with astronomical subsidies, while having the pleasure of paying far more for the monthly electric bill due to the inherent scarcity of energy produced. Brilliant. And the end result is more reliance upon candles and oil lamps to boot.

Add in the pollution factor of toxic rare earth metals, the shedding of bisphenol A, a far more toxic substance than originally believed, low frequency noise pollution, leaking lubricants from nacelles, the need for using highly toxic aqueous film forming foam to extinguish battery fires, blade throws, non-recyclable components like turbine blades and spent panels, concrete foundations, transmission line trenches and spent lines, all of this unrecoverable, cannot extend the life, no retrofits, difficult and costly to upgrade with no power most of the time realized. On top of that, we have blade throws, panel degradation, the killing of bats and birds and butterflies, sicknesses caused by shadow flicker and infrasound, tremendous losses to property values, jeopardy to National Security, all in the name of creating fictitious jobs that will never materialize, and those jobs that do exist will go to out of state and out of country workers, as the ironworkers union discovered back in 2010, protesting this condition via blockade of barges carrying wind turbine parts to the Dansville Wind Factory. We all are familiar with the promise of 1,500 jobs for the Solar City and Buffalo Billion waste of money that never materialized. This pursuit of folly will be deja vu all over again.

The only option we have is to say no to this nightmare, and if the politicians do not listen, we need to elect new leadership in the next election cycle. We need to apply the science that we have learned, not believe in the folly of scientists seeking money and politicians seeking more control. We need policies that deliver public benefit, not crippling the communities, and elected and appointed government servants to uphold the public trust, not run roughshod over it. And as the failed ideas become obviously propped up by lies and deception, more active involvement from everyday people that could wind up unwillingly footing the bill to deliver is back to 1825. Our future indeed depends upon it.

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