Chicago, Illinois and the surrounding areas of Central and Northern Illinois experienced very high temperatures in the first and second weeks of July. One day topped out at 104 F with air conditioners going full out. It is at times like these that electrical utilities experience their highest demand. They were up to the task although one segment of those utilities that was not. The segment that flunked the test was the wind farms. High temperatures and low temperatures most often are accompanied by near zero wind. Wind farms are most likely to be unproductive at the times when they are most needed.
(picture byYellow Dandelions © 2009)
Lets look at what happened during the heat wave based on the research by Jonathan Lesser
“Illinois wind generated less than five percent of its capacity during the record breaking heat last week, producing only an average of 120 MW of electricity from the over 2,700 MW installed. On July 6th, when the demand for electricity in northern Illinois and Chicago averaged 22,000 MW, the average amount of wind power available during the day was a virtually nonexistent four MW, less than the output of two large wind turbines, or about and enough power to operate 4,000 blow dryers. In fact, the most electricity wind produced on any day during last week’s heat wave was an average of 320 MW on July 3rd, or about 10 percent of the capacity of the wind turbines built in Illinois, when temperatures soared to 103 degrees. Wind power’s failure during last week’s extended heat wave is no fluke. When I performed a similar analysis last summer, the results were the same: the hotter the weather and greater customers’ demand for electricity, the less electricity produced from wind.” To read all of Lesser’s report click here.
The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) calls wind farm-produced energy “non-dispatchable” which means it is too unreliable to be scheduled for use as a supply to the gird that distributes electricity to the many users. State laws often require the grid to use this alternative form of energy. So in order assure the capability of the gird to supply electricity to their customers, they require backup power supply for every MW of installed wind farm power. This backup is typically provided by natural gas turbine power generating facilities. These natural gas turbines are kept hot ––ready to turn on quickly. When the wind quits blowing, the lost wind farm produced electricity must be matched by a new supply. The natural gas turbines are quickly put into service. This means that wind farms capacity must be matched through the expenditure of additional monies for natural gas power generation facilities. Thus the wind farm generated power is not a primary source of power. It is supplemental form of supply. Think about that. Installation of wind farms (and for that matter the even more expensive solar power) are not primary sources but rather supplementary. In plain English, electricity generated by fossil fuel and nuclear power are the primary sources and the expensive, unreliable, non-dispatchable wind farms are supplemental. Every day you are paying for the installation of more wind farms, which are never likely to be the primary. Time you made the politician and their cronies answer why they are foisting this on you.
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