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Information you probably didn’t know about wind turbines  

Credit:  The Muskegon Chronicle, www.mlive.com 5 July 2011 ~~

Every so often the issue of Wind farms keeps coming up, so I just thought I would like to pass on some information you probably didn’t know before you are, excuse the pun, ‘blown away’ by a fast talking wind farm salesman.

First Muskegon areas annual average wind speed is only about 10.7 mph, and it takes a 9 mph wind just to get an idle wind turbine to start turning. That means half a year its spinning but also means that half a year they are NOT working at all! Talking about an idle wind turbine, did you know wind turbines consume an unknown amount of electricity constantly sucked off the existing power grid it is hooked too? The exact amount is unknown, because turbine builders are not forthcoming with that data.

Examples of power consumption of a wind turbine:

Yaw mechanism (has to turn the 90 some ton turbine into the wind)

Blade-pitch control (to keep the rotors spinning at a regular rate)

Lights, controllers, communication, sensors, metering, data collection, etc.

Heating the blades – (keep from icing) this may require 10%-20% of the turbine’s nominal (rated) power (idle or turning)

Heating and dehumidifying the nacelle (inside turbine housing) during periods with increased humidity, low temperatures and low wind speeds. (what is that going to be in or next to Lake Michigan plus the cool Michigan climate)

Oil heater, pump, cooler, and filtering system in the gearbox

Hydraulic brake (to lock the blades in very high wind)

Thyristors (to regulate the connection and disconnection between generator and grid) 1%-2% of energy passing through is lost.

Magnetizing the stator – the induction generators used in most large grid connected turbines require a “large” amount of ‘continuous’ electricity from the existing grid to actively power the magnetic coils around the asynchronous “cage rotor” that encloses the generator shaft. At the rated wind speeds, it helps keep the rotor speed constant, and as the wind starts blowing it helps start the rotor turning (see next item), the stator may use power equal to 10% of the turbine’s rated capacity, and in slower winds, possibly much more.

The stator must use existing grid power to start the some 40 ton blade assembly spinning, along with the gears that increase the blade speed some 50 times faster for the generator, not just at cut-in, but at least some of the way up towards the current full rated wind speed. Also when there is no wind, the stator has to be used to slowly turn the rotor shaft to prevent warping of the blades. (That is why you see some wind turbines slowly turning when there is no wind).

How much power does that take? The Turbine manufactures will not tell us. The only numbers I’ve seen how much electricity they use is about 15,000kw-hr per turbine per year, which averages out to 1700 watts, roughly equivalent to 2 smaller homes. And multiply that times each turbine in the farm.

The above tells me the each turbine could be consuming more then 50% of its own rated capacity during its own operation. If a turbine which may produce only 25% of its rated capacity annually, (like the low wind in Muskegon), would be using (for free, because input electricity isn’t metered) “twice” as much electricity as it produces and sells.

It sounds to me; like we will need to build a new Coal power plant, just to power the wind turbines!

I think we need to know a lot more about wind turbines, then we are currently being told. Hopefully not just go ahead and build them here because of all the political and cultural hype that it is the “green” and right thing to do to save our environment, and everyone else are building them, and we don’t want to look bad if we don’t I don’t think its economy sound to build Wind Turbines here since it looks like they might cost more to run, then they might produce. If I can be guaranteed that wind turbines built here will economically produce more electricity then they will consume I will lesion. By the way the average life span of a wind Turbine is only 20 – 25 years.

Tanner Matthews


Source:  The Muskegon Chronicle, www.mlive.com 5 July 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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