America uses 4,047,765,000 megawatt hours of electricity … 4.047 billion megawatt hours
The latest wind turbines produce a maximum of 2.5 megawatts when the wind speed is perfect.
Wind turbines start operating at wind speeds of 4 to 5 meters per second and reach maximum power at 15 meters per second. At very high wind speeds, around 25 meters per second, wind turbines shut down. Over the course of a year a wind turbine placed in an optimal location generates 30 percent of theoretical maximum output. So it takes approximately three times as many turbines as one would predict based on their 2.5 megawatt rating.
That works out to 4.86 billion turbines.
At $4 million each the cost would be $19.43 thousand trillion. To put that in perspective our national debt is a mere $17 trillion.
Replacing our electric generators with windmills would consume an amount equal to 1,143 times our national debt. That leaves out the cost of the additional grid to move power from the windmills, located in windy areas, to the cities where it is consumed. It also leaves out maintenance costs and the cost of money.
I suspect the cost to put these things up varies widely – as well as the outputs. The ones out in Nantucket sound would probably cost a mint, but the ones out in the desert are probably pretty cheap when you erect them in large numbers. On the other hand, I read some literature a while ago that stated how much more efficient the water based systems were than the land based due to the more “laminar” wind flow over water. Holland gets a big percentage of their power from wind I believe, and they use a lot of turbines over water, so there must be a good tradeoff point. All that said though, this still has to be a wildly expensive way to produce power. Maintenance would be a HUGE issue also – these things aren’t free to operate.
If one person can maintain 100 turbines, it would take 48 million workers to maintain the 4.8 billion turbines needed to power the country. Therefore, we’ve fixed the unemployment problem. And with one person working on 100 turbines, he’d have to drive/fly/boat all over the place – in an electric vehicle of course – which would increase power consumption, requiring even more turbines, requiring even more workers, and so on.
This is the greatest invention since sliced bread!
High paying jobs for all, free power (it’s the wind), no more natural disasters (because we eliminate climate change), nationalize the system (since private enterprise will not fund it), and best of all – the turbines are all free because the government will print currency to pay for them all…and the Chinese will loan us the money.
Mathew Hurwitz lives in Stow.
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