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While installed wind capacity has nearly tripled in the US over the last four years, there still remains zero installed capacity in Connecticut. For those who are interested, the 50GW of installed capacity represents approximately 12.5GW of actual capacity given generous assumptions about actual output. This is about the size of 10 large coal fired power plants. You should do some research to ask yourselves how many coal-fired power-plants have actually been taken offline as a direct result of wind substituting for it.

3 Responses to “Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Wind Installation Edition”

  1. Harry says:

    That’s a lot of power, WC, at how much per kilowatt hour?

    Note that this reader is lazy, leaving all the sweat research to WC.

    I am less concerned about coal than some, at least crediting them with keeping Adirondack lakes clear, or is it the peat?

    But I thought that the EPA was about to impose new standards upon several (15?) coal-fired plants in Texas, and I think I read about that at the Sierra Club site. End coal and we had better put up a lot of more windmills. How much per kilowatt hour FOB the PJM Western Hub?

  2. wintercow20 says:

    Wind costs about 30% to 50% more per kilowatt hour than the better coal and gas plants – somewhat less than this if the “externalities” are all priced. It typically has (in an NPV sense) about 9 cents per kilowatt hour cost. This is, notably, about HALF the cost of Solar PV and other fancy technologies and actually cheaper than nuclear too. Except, this says nothing about intermittency, maintenance in practice – these are estimates based on models. Also, they say nothing of land use – which would be considerable. But wind is at least on the playing field of competitive.

    Of course, take that with a grain of salt – if the PTC expires at the end of this year, the industry itself claims it will lose over half its employment, and the industry also survives in large part due to power purchase agreements – I don’t know if it would survive without those mandates.

  3. Trapper_John says:

    Had an interesting conversation this weekend with my buddy who works in energy. Fracking has brought the price of natural gas down from the $10+ range to under $3 per thou cubic feet. This is insane. And awesome.

    Points he made:
    1. Coal plants take 8+ hours to warm up, so they, along with nuclear, are almost exclusively baseline power providers. They’re cheap, but cannot be used to address spikes/peak demand.
    2. Natural gas comes on by flipping a switch (it’s like a jet engine that has a generator attached), so it is ideal for filling in the gaps when demand spikes.
    3. Wind and solar are only really useful when paired with natural gas, because a) they’re not baseline generators (too unreliable) and b) they’re not good spot generators to address peak demand (peak use is typically in the evening, when the sun is not shining and wind is inconsistent).
    4. When solar/wind are paired with coal plants, they provide little or no net benefit, because you have to keep burning coal just in case of clouds, wind dying, etc. This (plus their flight from nuclear) is partly why European power prices are so high.
    5. Subsidies on wind in West Texas were so large a couple of years ago, it was actually profitable for wind farms to PAY THE GRID to take their power up to $37 per megawatt hour. Seriously.
    6. Wind and solar won’t be viable until we figure out how to store power more efficiently so we can use it when we need it.

    Just thought this was interesting–natural gas and solar/wind are strange bedfellows…

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