As stated in my Dec. 5, 2019, Monroe News letter to the editor (There’s More to the Renewable Energy Story) wind turbine generators only generate electricity 30 to 40% of the time and suffer from a cube power law: If the wind speed drops by 10% electrical output drops 30%.
What’s not reported or is common knowledge is that large wind turbine generators consume electricity from the electrical grid to operate and manufacturers of large wind turbine generators do not include electricity consumption in their specifications. Some of the wind turbine generator functions that use electricity include:
• Oil heater, pump, cooler and filtering system in the gearbox running 24/7.
• Heating and dehumidification of the generator compartment during periods with increased humidity, low temperatures and low wind speeds.
• Spinning the propeller blades and generator rotor shaft to prevent rotor shaft warping when there’s no wind.
Also it’s not common knowledge that wind turbine maintenance costs are very high due to propeller blades and gearboxes failing prematurely as the turbines age. Wind turbine gearbox bearing failures are a tough technical problem worldwide and gearboxes designed for 20 years of service life often fail between 2 and 11 years.
As an example, in 2009 the city of Zeeland, spent $457,000 for two wind turbines. In August 2019, the city removed/scrapped its two 50 kW wind turbines and two 125-foot steel towers after experiencing a propeller blade safety issue and incredibly expensive maintenance issues. It barely generated any electricity during the 10 years it operated.
The wind turbine project cost the city of Zeeland $600,000. Google: “Zeeland Michigan Wind Turbine Generators” and “Abandoned Wind Turbines” for additional information.
Wyoming News reported several wind farms in the state are sending over 900 non-reusable wind turbine propeller blades to the Casper Regional Landfill to be buried because they can’t be recycled. Prior to burying the cumbersome, sometimes nearly 300-foot long blades, the landfill has to cut them up into smaller pieces onsite and stack them in order to save space.
Fiberglass propeller blades aren’t exactly compostable and the Casper solid waste manager told Wyoming News it will take hundreds of years to biodegrade. As if that’s not bad enough, NPR reports researchers estimate the U.S. will soon have to grapple with over 720,000 tons of blades over the next 20 years.
So much for saving the environment with 100% clean renewable electricity!