August 7, 2013
Misleading DOE August 6, 2013, Press Release and Report on Wind Energy
The highly misleading August 6 DOE press release and report claiming that, in 2012, wind was
“thefastest growing source of power in the United States” raises two
Why does the highly trained scientist heading the US DOE allow such a misleading claim to be issuedby his Department?2.
Why do so many reporters and editors repeat such misleading claim?Electricity Generation vs. Capacity.
With respect to question 1,
Secretary Moniz must know that there isa huge difference between wind generating CAPACITY (measured in megawatts
MW) and the amountof electricity that wind turbines actually GENERATE (measured in megawatt-hours -- MWh). There is ahuge difference because wind turbines produce electricity only when the wind at the turbine is blowingat the right speed (i.e., in a range of roughly 6 to 55 MPH). In fact, the output of electricity from windturbines is, therefore, intermittent, highly variable, and unreliable
unlike the output from reliable(dispatchable) generating units powered by natural gas, coal, oil, nuclear energy and, perhaps, biomass.In fact, natural gas
was the “fastest growing” source of electricity generation in 2012 as
clearly demonstrated in the table below which is based on data from the US EIA.Electricity Price per kWh vs. Value. The misleading DOE press release and LBNL report also claimed thatthe price of electricity from wind under 2011 and 2012 power purchase
contracts “…averaged 4 cents
per kilowatt hour
making wind competitive with a range of wholesale electricity prices seen in 2012.”
Secretary Moniz must know that the VALUE of a kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity produced by windturbines is much less than the VALUE of a kWh of electricity from reliable generating units because:a.
Wind turbines tend to produce electricity at night and in colder and shoulder months, NOT on hotweekday afternoons when electricity demand and true VALUE is high.b.
As indicated above, wind turbine output is intermittent, volatile, and unreliable.c.
“Sale price” for electricity from wind does NOT take into account the huge federal and statesubsidies for “wind farm” owners that permit them to sell their electricity at artificially low prices –
which subsidies are much higher per KWh for wind that for conventional energy sources.The sale price of electricity per kWh produced by wind turbines cannot validly be compared to the priceof electricity from reliable generating units that can be counted on whenever needed, including duringpeak demand periods when the output of wind turbines is often at or near zero.
Quite likely, Secretary Moniz also knows that the claimed $25 billion “investment” in wind turbines
(heavily subsidized by taxpayers) could have purchased a lot more generating CAPACITY and electricityGENERATION if it had been invested in combined cycle generating units. They would also have providedmany more jobs over a much longer period and the final cost of the electricity to electric customerswould have been less. Further, the generating units could be built near populated areas where theelectricity is needed, thus avoiding the need, cost, and adverse environmental impact of transmissionlines that would be required to move wind generated electricity from remote areas.