1. Maybe Meredith could get some facts on the wind mills along I91 and I93.

    Every time I see them on my way to Maine from Montreal they have been motionless for the last 3 summer drives.

      1. “…And I89 as well. But I see solar panels too alongside I89…”

        In place of majestic firs and maples and lush shrubbery stretching to a serene horizon of unbroken rolling hills crowned with green that’s even more breathtaking in autumn — but which instead are bald with needless whirly beanies.

        James Greenidge
        Queens NY

  2. Daniel

    Our wind capacity factor around here is not too great to start with. It’s hard to get numbers, but less than 30% is probable. So 2/3 of the time, the turbines are not making power. Willem Post tracks this far more closely than I do.

    And during the heat wave….wind was curtailed on the grid. And Governor Shumlin is hopping mad at ISO-NE for doing that to his favorite energy source!

    Today’s Digger article is amazing Read the comment stream, too. Willem Post sails in there with facts.


    1. Meredith

      They shaved off many mountain tops along the Vermont Interstates. They took that from the coal playbook !!!!

    2. So 2/3 of the time, the turbines are not making power.

      @Meredith Angwin

      The imprecision of this statement is mind boggling. Good thing you aren’t submitting it for peer review.

      1. EL, imprecision is inherent in wind. This only boggles YOUR mind. 2/3, 3/4, 4/5, who cares? Waste of money and ugly any way.

    1. Daniel;
      Do you recall a time when a bucolic scenic view was just _priceless_; that beyond just property values you just didn’t allow anything mar the appreciation of natural horizons of unbroken countryside or seascapes or mountain vistas, especially those steeped in history and heritage like the Green Mountain Boys swarming over the hills of Vermont and early pioneers fording the lower Appalachians. It think it was Teddy Roosevelt who said no price was too high to keep our natural heritage unspoilt and alive for later generations, but it seems he was wrong. There is a price that the people of Vermont and other states are cashing in nature by with interest. It’s the cheap witless price of fear.

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

  3. Plants are the natural source of fixing solar energy. Any other method is worth mentioning only if it can do it more efficiently and at lower cost. It should also be good enough to compensate for ugliness.

  4. Regarding wind power generation in Vermont, the following report from the EIA says 109,000 MWh of electricity was generated in Vermont in 2012.
    (See Table 1.17.B, page 52 of the pdf)

    The total wind capacity in Vermont is 119 MW.

    This puts the Vermont wind power capacity factor at:
    109,000/(119 x 24 x 365) = 10%

    Most wind farms in the US Midwest are usually around 30%, but the Midwest has the best conditions. Ten percent capacity factor is pretty poor.

    1. @Pete51

      You don’t think it’s relevant that 61% of this capacity was added in 2012 (the year in which you have production data)?

      1. EL – So … run the figures using only the 46 MW that was installed at the beginning of 2012:

        109 thousand MW hr / 46 MW year = 27 %

        Still pathetic.

        1. Should be fine for a 20 year return on investment, no?

          Meredith went on and on about the size of the rotors in her post. Perhaps they are using high capacity wind turbines (with larger rotors) to capture a greater share of energy from high wind conditions (but at a lower capacity factor). I don’t find 27% for a very small group of turbines for a single year to be too low (considering Vermont’s early efforts in this area).

          1. The 27% figure assumes that none of the 63 MW of additional capacity added in 2012 contributed any electricity during that year — a very dubious assumption indeed. It’s equivalent to saying that 63 MW of new capacity all went online on New Year’s Day 2013. This is an extremely optimistic estimate of the capacity factor of a fleet of brand-new wind turbines.

            That’s why it’s pathetic.

          2. The current trend is quite the opposite, use larger rotors, over-dimensioned with regard to the turbine, that don’t get as much energy from strong wind as would be theoretically possible with a more powerful turbine, but have a better capacity factor.

            I check and Lowell uses such a turbine, Vestas 112-3MW with a 112 m diameter where the 3MW of the past where more likely to use 90m. The brochure explicitly refers to it’s 54.6 long m blades replacing older model’s 44m blades http://www.vestas.com/Admin/Public/DWSDownload.aspx?File=Files%2FFiler%2FEN%2FBrochures%2FOne_turbine_for_one_world.pdf
            Of course, I know the production of this project is averaged with the one of older models, but anyway the fact was exactly the opposite of what you’re describing.

            Isn’t it strange that you as the brave local renewable proponent get the renewable facts wrong, and we end up correcting you ?

          3. @jmdesp

            Developer predicts a capacity factor of around 33%.

            They talk about anticipated adjustments during start-up phase, testing protocols, ISO curtailments, and several possible paths to reduce curtailment (“including installing a synchronous condenser”).

            Why don’t we let them run their plant through early start up phases and learning periods, and then see whether they are meeting their targets or not. Reasonable or not?

          4. @EL : Just above (July 30, 2013 at 7:33 PM) you were saying the opposite of that, that maybe a lower load factor was a normal thing for those new farms.

            Please get the facts first, just like you did just here, and stop trying to claim something when you have no idea yet.

      2. @EL- Some other information I found with a quick Google search seemed to indicate the Lowell Mountain and Georgia Mountain wind farms were operational in 2011. But since 106,000 MWh were generated for the first 5 months of this year, which is almost the same as all of 2012, it appears they didn’t go in service until 2012.

        Using data for the first 5 months of this year, 106,000 MWh have been generated. Extrapolating this to 12 months would be 254,400 MWh.

        254,400/(119 x 24 x 365) = 24.4%

        I don’t know if any capacity was added from January through May of this year.

        1. Certainly a lot better than 10%. Thanks for updating the figure (and please let us know if we get any better figures by some other measure or source). I have family in Vermont (and would be interested in following the issue more closely).

          1. @EL

            Hopefully if Vermont has another hot windy day in midsummer of 2014, they will have revamped their high tension transmission and generation infrastructure to accommodate it.

        2. I don’t know if any capacity was added from January through May of this year.

          Considering that the AWEA claims that 63 MW of new wind capacity was added in 2012 and that 100 MW of additional capacity is “in queue,” I think that its a safe bet to assume that additional capacity has been added in the first half of 2013.

          Your estimate of capacity factor is probably a bit high.

          1. @Brian Mays

            Are we guessing … or do we actually know?

            Why don’t we try and use some real numbers (and actual capacity factors) and not made up numbers (without having detailed info on EIA production data or ISO wind integration and grid capabilities). Whatever the number is … I’m fine with it. But it doesn’t help anybody to throw up on the wall (and say it’s pathetic). Particularly if New England ISOs are not yet prepared to integrate this wind (because projects are incomplete), and appear to be curtailing wind for various reasons (as appears to be the case from Angwin’s comments).

          2. EL – I’m comforted to learn what little faith you place in such advocacy organizations like the AWEA. (FWIW, I don’t trust those bastards either.) I’ll be sure to remember this the next time you start rattling off their numbers again.

            Still, I’m a bit disturbed that you are so quick to dismiss figures from such credible sources as the EIA when they don’t support your predetermined ideologically driven narrative. I find your excuses to be rather silly, tiresome, and frankly, childish.

            Let’s face it, if wind can’t be effectively integrated into the grid on such a small scale as what we see in Vermont (combined it’s less than one-fifth the generating capacity of Vermont Yankee), then that means that the wind doesn’t blow … it sucks.

            And that’s the memo.

          3. @EL- Some other information I found with a quick Google search seemed to indicate the Lowell Mountain and Georgia Mountain wind farms were operational in 2011.

            Lowell Mountain (Kingdom Community Wind Project) interconnection proposal was updated with an operational date of Oct. 01, 2012. News report in January of 2012 suggest project was on schedule to meet this deadline by end 2012. If you have information that it was somehow operating before this time, I can’t find it?

            And to Brian. Nobody is dismissing anything. I’m simply asking for some real numbers matching production data with actual available capacity. Not that hard or very complicated understand. Or at least, most people would think so (without all the folderol and useless kerfuffle about motives, childishness, predetermined narratives, memos, and such).

          4. @EL- The information I had about Lowell Mountain and Georgia Mountain came from the following:

            Lowell Mountain- “NEPOOL interconnection requested Sept. 15, 2009, updated Dec. 15, 2009, for 63 MW operational Oct. 1, 2011…”

            Georgia Mountain- “NEPOOL interconnection requested May 7, 2010, updated July 28, 2010, for 12 MW operational Nov. 30, 2011…”

            I probably don’t understand the context of those dates, because of the 2013 EIA data. It was an honest mistake.

          5. EL – As long as you’re not bitter. 😉

            You get so predictably cranky when the numbers don’t favor your preferred “green” technology. Aren’t you going to express any gratitude that I was willing to bend over backwards in my assumptions to help out your precious tinkertoys?

            No? None at all? Well, I guess I’m not surprised.

            1. @EL

              Can you help us understand why you think it is the state’s responsibility to build out the infrastructure required to integrate wind?

              Much ink has been spread regarding the sticker shock associated with nuclear projects like Levy County, new Turkey Point units, and new Ontario power plants, but few observers have helped readers understand that the totals included transmission infrastructure upgrades to enable the projects to function on the grid.

          6. @Rod Adams.

            I’m not against charges for additional reserve capacity requirements as a result of larger shares of distributed resources connected to a grid. I’d also like to see this combined with carbon pricing, and also rules that better address economic potential and infrastructure benefits of energy storage. Many are doing this.

            I believe you should already know the answer to your question. A grid typically is shared among all energy resources, and has consumer and developer benefits far beyond generation from a single power plant (most resources are incapable of meeting consumer demand alone on a cost effective, efficient, or reliable basis without a grid). Are you suggesting Lowell Mountain wasn’t approved by a utility or siting commission (and shouldn’t be supported by statewide and regional transmission financing, development, and planning objectives)?

            1. @EL

              Are you suggesting Lowell Mountain wasn’t approved by a utility or siting commission (and shouldn’t be supported by statewide and regional transmission financing, development, and planning objectives)?

              Not exactly. I suppose Lowell Mountain was approved by a siting commission – probably the same politically dominated group that has been doing all it can to shutter Vermont Yankee with its already built infrastructure and delivery system.

              I am suggesting that it is just plain dumb – maybe criminally dumb – to build unreliable generation on top of scenic mountains, thus requiring the extension of transmission lines that have to be sized at about four times the capacity of the average amount of power that the wind turbines will produce. If the lines are not overbuilt in that manner, they would not be able to carry the peak, and the wind generators will complain vociferously to their buddies in the governor’s office that they are being unfairly mistreated.

          7. Integration Study for ISO New England details several key drivers for wind (and they seem to be quite logically laid out in the report).

            The increasing use of wind power is due to the emissions-free electrical energy it can generate; the speed with which wind power plants can be constructed; the generation fuel source diversity it adds to the resource mix; the long-term fuel-cost-certainty it possesses; and, in some instances, the cost-competitiveness of modern utility-scale wind power. Emissions-free generation helps meet environmental goals, such as Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and greenhouse gas control. Once the permitting process is complete, some wind power plants can be constructed in as little as three to six months, which facilitates financing and quick responses to market signals. Wind power, with a fuel cost fixed at essentially zero, can contribute to fuel-cost certainty, and would reduce New England’s dependence on natural gas. In New England, the economics of wind power are directly affected by the outlook for the price of natural gas; higher fuel prices generally spur development of alternative energy supplies while lower fuel prices generally slow such development (p. 1)

            Planning appears to be feasible and consistent with the operational, planning, and grid investment goals recommended by six Governor’s in the region (not one looking to shut down a particular power plant). Report concludes: “The study results show that New England could potentially integrate wind resources to meet up to 24% of the region’s total annual electric energy needs in 2020 if the system includes transmission upgrades comparable to the configurations identified in the [six] Governors’ Study” (p. 14).

            Report goes on to detail these challenges and objectives (geographic dispersion of resources, wind plant modeling, communications and control, etc.), and they don’t appear to be too onerous (or criminally negligent or “dumb”). But coordination of efforts will be needed (planning and learning curves, like anything else), and it sounds like Vermont is just getting started and needs to catch up. I agree, ad hoc planning of resources would be rather dumb and negligent (and that doesn’t appear to be the case here). Regional policy goals seem to be well on their way to being implemented (and already deemed to be in the public interest).

          8. @ EL

            Thank you for the sales brochure.

            I got a good chuckle from the line: “Wind power, with a fuel cost fixed at essentially zero, can contribute to fuel-cost certainty, and would reduce New England’s dependence on natural gas. ”

            I’m sure the person whom wrote that line snickered along too.

            I wish in personally knew an Exxon Mobile board member that I could send this to, but I’m sure he’d already be aware of the bizarre concept that wind and solar will negatively effect their sales and profit margins already. After all, if their sales and profit margins were threatened by Wind/solar/biomass/conservation, they wouldn’t put all 4 on their own paid for advertising, don’t you think?

          9. @John Chatelle.

            The shift is taking place from coal to natural gas. Coal is almost virtually absent from New England (where it made up 18% of generation in 2000). And yes, a 24% share from wind by 2020 does decrease New England’s dependence on natural gas. It seems like a pretty fair and accurate assessment to me. Not even nuclear (after 50 years) managed to get such a stunning and rapid shift away from coal generation in a region of the US.

            1. @EL

              You are a pretty optimistic man. According to the EIA statistics spreadsheets, year to date generation through May 2013 for New England is 45,622 GW-hrs (http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_6_b). For wind, the number is 839 GW-hrs (http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_17_b).

              That means that wind production represents exactly 1.839% of New England’s production.

              Do you honestly believe that it will achieve a 24% share by 2020? That is a 1300% increase in just 6.5 years!

              Perhaps a better word for your acceptance of the wind industry’s marketing claptrap is gullible, vice optimistic.

          10. @Rod Adams.

            Agreed, they aren’t going to achieve this level of production from wind. This is described as an “extra-high wind” penetration feasibility scenario in report, and not a projection. But with natural gas in excess of 50% of generation in New England, wind will degrease dependence on natural gas (and not increase it). This is clearly stated and accurate (as I described) in the report.

            The only State with significant output is Maine (6% of generation and some 300% additional capacity in the queue). New York gets 2.2% (and 138% in the queue). And offshore remains an untapped resource. The wind build out scenarios range from 2.5% – 24% of annual energy production from wind: partial queue build-out (2.5%), full queue buildout (9%), medium wind penetration (14%), high wind penetration (20%), and extra-high wind including 12 GW capacity onshore and 9.7 GW offshore (24%). I don’t think anybody thinks the extra-high wind scenario is achievable in six years. Nobody is really getting their feet wet offshore in any significant way (New England included).

            1. @EL

              And yes, a 24% share from wind by 2020 does decrease New England’s dependence on natural gas. It seems like a pretty fair and accurate assessment to me. Not even nuclear (after 50 years) managed to get such a stunning and rapid shift away from coal generation in a region of the US.

              Oh, I’m sorry, I must have misunderstood. I thought that statement was phrased as a prediction, not as an extreme scenario quoted from a document produced by one of the largest wind turbine producers in the US.

              When wind marketers team with natural gas salesmen to drive already built nuclear plants off of the grid, that does NOT reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On a life cycle basis, wind by itself MIGHT have total emissions on a par with nuclear, but there is no doubt that a combination of wind + gas “firming” is a more potent source of CO2 than a combination of baseload nuclear with gas peaking plants.

  5. Oh No,

    Another blow to Energiewende

    Turbine Trouble: Ill Wind Blows for German Offshore Industry


    The reason is that Riffgat has a cosmetic defect: the wind farm is still missing part of its power line to the mainland. For the time being, instead of producing energy, Riffgat is actually consuming it. To prevent the rotors from corroding in the salty air, they have to be supplied with electricity produced with diesel generators.

    A windmill facility missing its primary transmission line has a little bit more of a problem then just a “cosmetic defect”

    That would be called a fiasco elsewhere in the developed world.

    So why doesn’t the facility have a transmission line?

    Grid operator Tennet, which readily admits that it is underfinanced, has also failed to connect wind farms to the power grid on schedule in other locations. But the industry is mostly critical of the lack of investment security.

    Wait…What??? … underfianced …… lack of investment security?????

    Economics Minister Philipp Rösler, a member of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), and Environment Minister Altmaier announced plans for a cap on electricity prices in February. This could reduce the guaranteed feed-in tariffs for green energy in order to keep costs low for consumers.

    Oh that lack of investment security….The possible end of taxpayer funded subsidies because the true cost of wind power is finally being felt by the ratepayer. Those pesky rate payers aren’t liking the constant rate hikes for green energy when the European economy is still shaky, what with German money backstopping Greece, Portugal and other less finanically sound countries.

    Ungrateful louts. Don’t they know wind and solar are saving the world for future generations. Tis a small price to pay… power bills have only doubled or tripled in ten years. Sheesh … who can’t afford that?

    So to bring it home…Off-shore wind facilities are being built without main transmission lines…

    Coastal towns are going through a boom-bust cycle apparently in less then a 24 month period…..

    The insufficient number of off-shore transmission lines is due to an underfunded grid operator because the government can’t gaurantee the money for feed-in-tarrifs…..

    And…And… workers are leaving to find other jobs, like with Airbus, because they like putting food on their tables and keeping a roof over their heads since the false hopes of the off-shore wind pushers can’t deliver.

    How can anyone say Energiewende is a failure with all those positives going for it. (end of sarcasm)

    1. I enjoy reading Michael Fröhlingsdorf, really good example of some of the kookiness out there. 14 months of construction, and Tennet is a few weeks behind in laying submarine cable. Oh my. A few weeks. Better write a scathing story about this.

      1. @EL,

        For someone who has gone on and on about boom and bust cycles of uranium mining, you suddenly don’t seem to care about the workers and townspeople in Germany who were victims of an apparent off-shore wind bust.

        And the article you linked conveniently leaves out the political problem of the feed-in-tariffs issue which I assume will eventually become a contract issue. Tennet, which is not a German company by the way, may find themselves needing to decide if they can finish laying cable for the rest of the wind facilities. They will also have to decide if they can support the daily requirements of multiple off-shore wind facilities since it appears they will be the grid operators since it appears the is a disagreement on what it will cost to deliver off-shore wind power.

        Any decision TenneT makes that is not favorable to the German government may then need to go to Brussels for resolution. So now laywers will then become involved thereby raising the cost of the off-shore facilities even further. Brussels has shown it is becoming less agreeable to the support provided by the German government to keep Energiewende propped up.

        So just because the cable will be laid and the facility may become operational within 2-4 months doesn’t mean the fundamental technical, operational and political issues are resolved.

        From TenneT’s website:

        The number of applications to connect renewable energy sources to the grid currently exceeds the capacity of the German high-voltage grid. Moreover, new onshore projects must be completed in time to keep pace with offshore developments (e.g. wind farms).

        The pool of government money for subsidies will shrink no matter who wins the election next month. Keeping Europe afloat is far more critical than a false transition to wind and solar that must rely on coal and natural gas to ensure grid stability and security.

        There is a reason Merkel isn’t attending the ceremony on Aug 10th. She doesn’t need the political embarrassment of a bad German planning hanging around her neck right before a key election. Nor can she afford to have that type of photo op come up later in her next term if she wins and the wind facilities turn out to be a very expensive albatross.

        The fundamental issues raised by TenneT will not be easily solved even if she is reelected.

        And all this hype and hundreds of millions of euros for a 108 MW facility

        Wow, just stunning the depths of the political and financial machinations going on in Germany to prop up their failing policy.

  6. A couple of things, Rod.

    First, your brief mention of the “LFTR folks” in this podcast sounded a little to me like the whole “if we haven’t done it, then we can’t do it” way of thinking that is far too prevalent in nuclear circles these days. Yes, we have lots of experience with LWRs and I do agree that we have made them safe and can operate them that way, with discipline. However, I also think that there are some pretty significant advantages to the MSR approach and I think poo-pooing it as untested, unbuilt, and unengineered, however technically true that may be, doesn’t enhance the larger conversation which should include all promising technologies. We HAVE had some significant experience with MSRs, and we DO know most of what needs to be addressed in order to deploy them, and yes, all of that does mean there is a lot of work to be done (which is perhaps your main point). So, let’s get started with that work (on LFTRs!), I say. My $.02.

    Also please, please ask your podcast participants to invest in a $35 USB headset (or podcast mic, of course), instead of using their open laptop computer. As a fifty-something guy with bad ears, who listens while commuting to/from work on my bicycle, the lack of clarity results in my brain having to work pretty hard to listen, especially to the female (higher pitched) voices. Appreciate your considering that.

  7. During this show someone mentioned a movie/video about the Nuclear Sub Savannah. I have looked around and can’t find the video. Does anyone know where I can find it?


    Frank from Chicago

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