Wind powerstations do not need fossil backup

Various technical topics related to science, energy, climate change and coal & gas.

Wind powerstations do not need fossil backup

Postby HVPA_research » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:07 pm

Ken McAlpine from the Climate Spectator published a valuable paper A lot of hot air where he effectively destroys arguments of some of the professional wind power generation critics. Here are some quotes:
For years the various professional protesters that spend their lives criticising wind energy have claimed that “wind energy is more expensive than it seems” because “the wind doesn’t blow all the time” and hence wind farms need to be “backed up” with tried-and-tested thermal power sources such as gas or coal.

Wind farms are not individual power “islands” with a special need for their own “back-up”. They are just a small part (1.5 per cent) of the NEM, the world’s longest interconnected power system. Growth in wind energy is forecast to rise in future years, but as the South Australian experience has shown us, this is not the problem that some people would have us believe.

If you are looking for the biggest threat to power prices over the next few years then you should be looking elsewhere. Australian electricity users face a triple whammy in coming years, none of which is related to renewable energy: high levels of distribution network expenditure programs, the cost of uncertainty over a lack of a carbon price, and the threat of a rise in gas prices if and when an east coast LNG terminal starts operation.

Ken McAlpine is director of policy & government relations at Vestas Wind Systems

From the discussion that follows the article it seem that Ken McAlpine's enemies are not slow to respond. Some bring in nuclear power cost calculations into the fight. That is all good, we need to plan and discuss how we cover the future energy needs. However, for that it is not necessary rubbish and kill the emerging wind power industry. David Mackay in his recent book "Sustainable Energy – without the hot air" demonstrated that we will need ALL forms of non-fossil-based energy in order to survive. I am afraid that this includes the nuclear energy no matter what the Greens and Labour may think.

There is no doubt that in the overall energy scenario peaking gas-fired power stations could be useful. That does not mean that in order to extract coal seam gas (CSG) required for domestic power generation we must also destroy our agricultural land, water, air and rural residential communities (seeHVPA Concerns). The proponents of the CSG industry are also forgetting to mention "the threat of a rise in the domestic gas prices if and when an east coast LNG terminal starts operation" as Ken MacAlpine correctly points out.
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