Many people think that wind turbine generators (WTG) will save fossil and nuclear fuels. I spoke with an electrical utility engineer about WTGs. He told me that their electrical output was ‘unreliable and nondispatchable.’ He gave this explanation.
The WTGs are unreliable because the wind may not blow at the right velocity at the right time of day to meet electrical demand. The electric utility managers/schedulers can’t say with certainty ‘We will use less fossil and nuclear fuel because we know the WTGs will take up the slack.’ They don’t supply dispatchable power, that is, electrical generation you can turn on and off as needed, for the same reasons.
The demand for electricity follows a fairly predictable curve throughout the 24-hour day. The factors that affect this ‘demand curve’ include the seasons and the prevailing economic cycle. Electric utilities use this information to make an educated decision daily as to what the electric demand will be. They must do this, hours in advance! Why? There is no affective storage of electrical power. Electrical generation using coal, natural gas or nuclear fuel cannot be supplied instantly. For economic and environmental reasons, and because the generators are huge, once they are committed they are run for days, weeks or continuously. Generators create excess electricity while ‘idling’ through the early morning hours when demand is low, hence the Ludington Pumped Storage Facility. Plant managers/schedulers use additional fossil or nuclear fuel to raise steam pressure to increase the generator’s electrical output. The decision of how much additional fuel is needed and when to add it is made continuously hours in advance of the anticipated electrical ‘demand curve.’ At the time decisions have to be made, the forecasts of wind velocities are too unreliable for managers/schedulers to confidently reduce the amount of fuel needed to prepare the generators to meet the ‘demand curve’ hours later. Dispatchable diesel generation, used to meet small, unexpected increases in demand, would still be used because no one knows with certainty what the wind will do.
No electrical power plant manager/scheduler who wants to keep their job will ever lower the output of a reliable and dispatchable fossil or nuclear fuel plant by placing their faith in the wind. So the net effect, after we’ve exposed our tourism industry, our property values and children’s well being to these WTGs, is that they will yield little if any usable electricity.
ROBERT GREEN , Hart