By Roy L Hales
As Carsten Vittrup, of Energnet DK, said, “no other countries have as large a wind power capacity in proportion to the size of the electricity consumption, as we do in Denmark.” Or to paraphrase Jack Nicholsen, “this is as good as it gets.” If you want to know how well wind technology works, look at Denmark.
I have developed several reservations about this technology:
- I find Jim Wiegand’s research, on how wind turbines are wreaking far more raptor casualties than is being acknowledged, conclusive.
- The manner in which wind farms are being forced upon the residents of East County and Ocotillo, in California, is morally offensive.
- Furthermore, the Ocotillo Wind Farm does not really work! Jim Pelley has been documenting the lack of wind since the project went online. Though his report has not arrived yet this morning, I suspect it will be yet another video of wind turbines that are not moving and wind speeds of somewhere between 0 and 4 mph. You can see hundreds of his videos – 373 at last count – at the youtube site Save Ocotillo: https://www.youtube.com/user/SaveOcotillo
- Though I have heard a few stories about wind farms that work, there are even more about those that do not.
Two weeks ago I found an online register of Denmark’s power. You can go there by clicking on this link: http://energinet.dk/Flash/Forside/UK/index.html
After 16 months of reports from a wind farm that usually does not have enough wind to turn the blades (Ocotillo) – I found this exciting. This is what I wrote on April 13 & 14: The figures for energy being produced by wind turbines (3407 MW) and electricity consumption (3,608 MW) in the graph to the left . At the moment the wind turbines are producing a little more than 94% of the energy being used. When I first saw this site, last night, the turbines were producing between 96 and 97%. Earlier this morning, it was close to 100%.
Googling the site, I came across a report from last fall that shows the Danes frequently produce +90% of their energy demand.
As I am typing this, the wind picked up and those turbines are now producing 99.7% of the energy Denmark needs.
I love the simplicity of this system! Rather than waste our time with the hypothetical capacity that turbines seldom reach, the Danes show you how much is being produced and consumed at any given moment.
The graph at the top of this page is much more complex because Denmark imports a fixed amount of energy from Germany and exports surplus energy to Norway and Sweden.
In addition to wind turbines, the Danes have Central power stations and Local CHP stations.
At the moment they are exporting 813 MW. The wind has picked up a little and if consumption had not increased even more, they would now be at +100%. Instead, they are meeting 93.38% of the amount domestically consumed.
I have heard of wind farms that work, but seeing really is believing.
I do not know how long these turbines will continue to produce this amount of energy, but Denmark did not derive 55% of its energy over the course of a month prior to December.
Two weeks have passed and I decided to take another peek. It is 6:59 am Pacific Time on April 27, 2014. Now the turbines are only producing 37.21% of the amount consumed. That’s quite a drop from the +90% figures I was recently looking at. As you can see, at the left, the word “eksport” has been replaced by “import.”
According to the chart below, wind energy only supplied 33.2% of the nation’s energy in 2013, but that number rose to 54.8% in December.
Carsten Vittrup, of Energnet DK, wrote that 2013 was less windy than average, but production is up because of the installation of facilities like the large-scale offshore wind farm at Anholt. These numbers hold a promise for the year ahead, the Danes might even break the 40% mark for annual production. Their goal is to reach +50% a year by 2020.
Denmark’s system works because it has a ready supply of energy to import, when the wind is not strong enough, and neighbours ready to receive the energy when there is a surplus. The intermittent nature of wind energy makes this necessary.
(A similar situation, in Ontario, is said to be disastrous because the Americans refuse to pay for all the energy being dumped on them. So Ontario often pays to produce energy it gives away. )
This system would appear to require a large outlay of cash to set up, which raises the question of it being an economically feasible model for the world to follow.
North Americans should not be building wind farms in areas where they are not economically feasible. When Patrick Jenevein got out of the wind business, he said the industry was being driven by politics rather than economic:
“Wind energy will make marginal—not revolutionary—contributions. The industry’s success in Texas (where my company is based, and which is the nation’s largest and cheapest producer of wind power) suggests that wind farms do make sense in relatively windy areas where electricity shortages occur. But policy matters. California, which isn’t located in the “wind belt,” is America’s second-largest wind-energy producer but also its costliest. The state’s high costs are partly due to “aggressive renewable energy policies . . . that give developers a strong negotiating position…”
Jenevein believes that US government subsidies should be eliminated so that the industry will focus “less on working the political system and more on research and development.”
I have no interest in perpetuating a system that creates, and then refuses to acknowledge, a fiasco like the Ocotillo Wind Farm.
The next question is whether it is environmentally friendly?
Assuming that every other question can be answered, we should not be eradicating raptors. If the wind sector cannot deal with this problem, we should be looking at alternative technologies like solar. That applies to Denmark as well as North America.
(Image at top of page: Screen shot from http://energinet.dk/Flash/Forside/UK/index.html)