In an October 7, 2012 posting, Al Fin introduces us to a paper by William Korchinski entitled The Limits of Wind Power. (You can download the PDF version of the study here.)  The thesis of this study is that wind is unlikely to achieve the high rates of electricity penetration suggested by wind advocates. The authors conclude that “a more practical upper limit for wind penetration is 10%.”  Hence, it is not the panacea promoted by environmentalists to reduce CO2 emissions.

Here is what Al Fin has to say:

The most that big wind, for example, can safely contribute to a modern power grid, is between 6% and 20%, at the most.

The analysis reported in this study indicates that 20% would be the extreme upper limit for wind penetration

Very high wind penetrations are not achievable in practice due to the increased need for power storage, the decrease in grid reliability, and the increased operating costs. Given these constraints, this study concludes that a more practical upper limit for wind penetration is 10%.…(Kochinski Report)


…wind turbines by themselves do not add electrical capacity to a grid. They must be paired with other generators of equivalent power to compensate for wind variations and for the stability of the electricity grid.

This pairing—wind and backup—has limits because of the huge rapid variability of wind that must be compensated for by the backup power source. It is estimated that this pairing can account for only 20 percent of the capacity of the grid. This means that wind can be only 6 percent of the generation (.20 x .3). This limit has already been reached in Europe by countries such as Germany and Denmark. _Ulrich Decher, The Economics of Wind Power

In addition to Germany and Denmark, other countries under EU environmental laws and regulations — including the UK — are in danger of entering the blackout zone via a green dysfunction of faux environmental zeal.

But there is a huge difference between using wind (and solar) for off-grid residencies, and attempting to use large-scale wind as a large proportion of total energy generating capacity for a finely balanced continental power grid.



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