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Wind power just doesn’t add up

There has been a lot of rhetoric coming out of Washington, D.C., and California lately about transforming our electrical power sources to 100-percent renewable energy. We also have heard local comments about replacing the output of Davis-Besse nuclear power plant with wind energy. Both comments are totally unrealistic.

Davis-Besse has a rated capacity of 894 megawatts. Per the Energy Services Group International, nuclear power is on average 91-percent efficient while natural gas is 50-percent, coal is 59-percent and wind power is 32-percent.

So how many wind turbines would it take to replace Davis-Besse’s net capacity of 813MW? If we use General Electric 2.8-127 turbines, which is the turbine model that Seneca Wind plans to use, we would need 936 turbines. This is the equivalent of 4.4 times the number of turbines being proposed for the Republic Wind, Seneca Wind and Emerson Creek project combined! This number of turbines would spread over 600,000 acres, which is 1.7 times the size of Seneca County. Northwest Ohio would look like a turbine forest.

Furthermore, fossil-fuel power generators still would be needed as backup generators for when the wind doesn’t blow or during peak demand periods. Consumers want the lights to come on when they flip the switch and, if we rely on 100-percent wind power, we won’t have that guarantee.

Ohio is part of the PJM power grid that extends from New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and the Chicago area. The power supplied to this grid at 6 a.m. Feb. 15 was 95,000 MW. Wind power contributed 6.6 percent of the power, while coal, gas and nuclear combined to produce 86,000 MW, which equals 90 percent of the total. It would take nearly 100,000 turbines to replace the power generated by fossil fuels on this specific day, but backup power still would be needed. How many turbines would be needed for the entire country?

Given the sheer lack of capacity of wind turbines and their inherent inefficiency, it isn’t practical to consider them as a viable power source to displace nuclear,- gas- or coal-powered sources. So when you hear the rhetoric of green energy, renewable energy and converting to 100-percent renewables, remember that the physics and the math just don’t add up.

At the end of the day, the discussion ends up being all about politics and money at the expense of the taxpayer and the rural residents who are forced to sacrifice their quality of life.

Greg Smith,