The SPECTATOR - Matt Ridley - Aug 2019
Wind turbines are neither clean nor green and they provide zero global energy. We urgently need to stop the ecological posturing and invest in gas and nuclear
The Global Wind Energy Council recently released its latest report, excitedly boasting that ‘the proliferation of wind energy into the global power market continues at a furious pace, after it was revealed that more than 54 gigawatts of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market last year’.
You may have got the impression from announcements like that, and from the obligatory pictures of wind turbines in any BBC story or airport advert about energy, that wind power is making a big contribution to world energy today. You would be wrong. Its contribution is still, after decades — nay centuries — of development, trivial to the point of irrelevance.
Here’s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? None of the above: it was 0 per cent. That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.
Matt Ridley and climate change campaigner Leo Murray debate the future of wind power:
Even put together, wind and photovoltaic solar are supplying less than 1 per cent of global energy demand. From the International Energy Agency’s 2016 Key Renewables Trends, we can see that wind provided 0.46 per cent of global energy consumption in 2014, and solar and tide combined provided 0.35 per cent. Remember this is total energy, not just electricity, which is less than a fifth of all final energy, the rest being the solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels that do the heavy lifting for heat, transport and industry.
Such numbers are not hard to find, but they don’t figure prominently in reports on energy derived from the unreliables lobby (solar and wind). Their trick is to hide behind the statement that close to 14 per cent of the world’s energy is renewable, with the implication that this is wind and solar. In fact the vast majority — three quarters — is biomass (mainly wood), and a very large part of that is ‘traditional biomass’; sticks and logs and dung burned by the poor in their homes to cook with. Those people need that energy, but they pay a big price in health problems caused by smoke inhalation.
Even in rich countries playing with subsidised wind and solar, a huge slug of their renewable energy comes from wood and hydro, the reliable renewables. Meanwhile, world energy demand has been growing at about 2 per cent a year for nearly 40 years. Between 2013 and 2014, again using International Energy Agency data, it grew by just under 2,000 terawatt-hours.
If wind turbines were to supply all of that growth but no more, how many would need to be built each year? The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. That’s one-and-a-half times as many as have been built in the world since governments started pouring consumer funds into this so-called industry in the early 2000s.
At a density of, very roughly, 50 acres per megawatt, typical for wind farms, that many turbines would require a land area greater than the British Isles, including Ireland. Every year. If we kept this up for 50 years, we would have covered every square mile of a land area the size of Russia with wind farms. Remember, this would be just to fulfil the new demand for energy, not to displace the vast existing supply of energy from fossil fuels, which currently supply 80 per cent of global energy needs.
Do not take refuge in the idea that wind turbines could become more efficient. There is a limit to how much energy you can extract from a moving fluid, the Betz limit, and wind turbines are already close to it. Their effectiveness (the load factor, to use the engineering term) is determined by the wind that is available, and that varies at its own sweet will from second to second, day to day, year to year.
As machines, wind turbines are pretty good already; the problem is the wind resource itself, and we cannot change that. It’s a fluctuating stream of low–density energy. Mankind stopped using it for mission-critical transport and mechanical power long ago, for sound reasons. It’s just not very good.
As for resource consumption and environmental impacts, the direct effects of wind turbines — killing birds and bats, sinking concrete foundations deep into wild lands — is bad enough. But out of sight and out of mind is the dirty pollution generated in Inner Mongolia by the mining of rare-earth metals for the magnets in the turbines. This generates toxic and radioactive waste on an epic scale, which is why the phrase ‘clean energy’ is such a sick joke and ministers should be ashamed every time it passes their lips.
It gets worse. Wind turbines, apart from the fibreglass blades, are made mostly of steel, with concrete bases. They need about 200 times as much material per unit of capacity as a modern combined cycle gas turbine. Steel is made with coal, not just to provide the heat for smelting ore, but to supply the carbon in the alloy. Cement is also often made using coal. The machinery of ‘clean’ renewables is the output of the fossil fuel economy, and largely the coal economy.
A two-megawatt wind turbine weighs about 250 tonnes, including the tower, nacelle, rotor and blades. Globally, it takes about half a tonne of coal to make a tonne of steel. Add another 25 tonnes of coal for making the cement and you’re talking 150 tonnes of coal per turbine. Now if we are to build 350,000 wind turbines a year (or a smaller number of bigger ones), just to keep up with increasing energy demand, that will require 50 million tonnes of coal a year. That’s about half the EU’s hard coal–mining output.
Forgive me if you have heard this before, but I have a commercial interest in coal. Now it appears that the black stuff also gives me a commercial interest in ‘clean’, green wind power.
The point of running through these numbers is to demonstrate that it is utterly futile, on a priori grounds, even to think that wind power can make any significant contribution to world energy supply, let alone to emissions reductions, without ruining the planet. As the late David MacKay pointed out years back, the arithmetic is against such unreliable renewables.
The truth is, if you want to power civilisation with fewer greenhouse gas emissions, then you should focus on shifting power generation, heat and transport to natural gas, the economically recoverable reserves of which — thanks to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — are much more abundant than we dreamed they ever could be. It is also the lowest-emitting of the fossil fuels, so the emissions intensity of our wealth creation can actually fall while our wealth continues to increase. Good.
And let’s put some of that burgeoning wealth in nuclear, fission and fusion, so that it can take over from gas in the second half of this century. That is an engineerable, clean future. Everything else is a political displacement activity, one that is actually counterproductive as a climate policy and, worst of all, shamefully robs the poor to make the rich even richer.
Matt Ridley discusses wind power
Wind Turbine Lubrication and Maintenance: Protecting Investments in Renewable Energy
Tulsa - By Justin Martino | 5.21.13
Like any other piece of major equipment in the power industry, wind turbines represent a large investment for the companies that rely on them to generate both electricity and revenue. Unlike gas turbines or boilers in coal-fired power plants, however, wind turbines present some unique challenges.
Repairing wind turbines can often be difficult for several reasons. Most wind farms are located in remote areas, making it difficult to reach the site. Once at the site, workers are faced with making repairs while anywhere from 75 feet to nearly 400 feet in the air. Also unlike natural gas-fired or coal-fired plants, operators can expect to repeat this process multiple times because of the comparatively small capacity of wind turbines.
One of the keys to preventing costly, time-consuming repairs is planned maintenance, said Julie Rushton, marketing category specialist for Petro-Canada Lubricants Inc. Proper turbine lubrication is an important part of that maintenance.
“Wind turbines are very expensive pieces of machinery, and the lubrication system is very important to keep that machine working well,” she said. “There are lots of different parts of the wind turbine that need to be lubricated, using lubrications from greases to gearbox fluids to hydraulic oils.”
Keeping a wind turbine’s gearbox properly lubricated is important in extending the life of a wind turbine, Rushton said. Petro-Canada’s Harnex 320, designed to be used in wind turbine gearboxes, is a fully synthetic oil designed to withstand the conditions wind turbines may be subject to, whether that is extreme temperatures or the potential of corrosion from saltwater for offshore wind turbines.
The type of oil that is used in a turbine’s gearbox — and for all other parts of a wind turbine — is generally designated by the original equipment manufacturer for the units. One of the main differences is whether the oil is a synthetic oil or mineral oil.
Shell Global Solutions US Inc. offers both synthetic and mineral-based oil for wind turbine gearboxes. Shell Global Solutions Product Application Specialist and Team Lead Felix Guerzoni said one thing the company looks at when designing products is making sure customers can rely on the product to last a significant amount of time without needing additional service.
“With the remoteness of these units, they’re really only serviced, as far as the regreasing, every six months at best,” he said. “In terms of the gear oil, customers want to use the gear oil and have that last anywhere from three to five years without change out, because there are some very significant costs involved in changing the gear oil out as well as in the event of failure of a gearbox and having to change the gearbox out. The rental of specialty cranes is a very significant cost as well.”
The gearbox is not the only part of the turbine that requires lubrication, however. The generator also requires lubrication, and there are lubrication points on the blades. Wind tower blades have bearings that will essentially feather the blade so operators can optimize the blade angle to match wind speed. The main shaft bearing also requires grease for lubrication, as well as the drivetrain and yaw and pitch drives. The turbines also use a hydraulic system that is used to provide a braking mechanism for a unit, but can also be used for hydraulic pitch control on the blades.
With all these different parts requiring lubrication, multiple products could be required in order to maintain a single turbine. Guerzoni said Shell attempts to create products that can be used for multiple purposes when it can be done without losing quality.
“We’re trying to optimize that as much as possible, because obviously from a service engineer’s standpoint, the fewer lubricants they have to apply the better,” he said. “Some companies will try to do a single solution, but then you have to look at the overriding reliability of the unit relative to trying to rationalize the number of products. You can get much better performance and reliability out of a product that is really designed for that specific application, especially when we talk about greases. So there’s a bit of a tradeoff there.”
Travis Lail, Americas Industrial Marketing Adviser for ExxonMobil, said his company takes a similar approach to specializing lubricants for different parts of a wind turbine, but also attempts to make multipurpose products when there would be no decline in quality. The company produces Mobilgear SHC XMP 320 for turbine gear boxes as well as several other products for wind turbines, including Mobil SHC Grease 460 WT for use in main, pitch and yaw bearings and Mobil SHC 524 lubricant for use in hydraulic systems.
“Our approach to the industry is providing products that are optimized for specific applications,” he said. “Of course we try to help customers use the fewest number of correct lubricants possible in order to meet their lubrication needs.”
Optimization the number of potential applications while producing the highest quality product isn’t the only area at which companies look in their research and development process. As turbine technology continues to develop and companies produce larger wind turbines, companies producing the lubrication also need to produce lubricants to keep up with the industry.
Lail said the larger turbines being produced by companies require oil that can handle the extra stress created by the extra size.
“The gearbox actually creates additional stress, and the essence is it challenges the oil’s ability to maintain a sufficient film strength,” he said. “You have to improve your additive packages and base oils that you use to make sure you’re able to optimize your oxidation resistance but still maintain low temperature fluidity.”
One way to ensure products are optimized for different wind turbines is to work directly with the original equipment manufacturers, Guerzoni said.
“We’ve got a very well-proven and successful product line at the current time, but as these turbines are getting larger in size with higher towers, longer blade lengths and higher megawatt class, that’s adding new challenges and putting more stress on the unit and more stress on the oil,” he said. “As a result of that the specifications are changing at a very rapid rate, especially on the gear oil side, and so as an oil supplier we’re constantly looking at the updates and changes in trends of the design and bringing out new products to meet those requirements.”
Turbine lubrication, however, is just one part of the process of maintaining equipment at wind power farms. Dennis Pruett, who leads Services Global Operations for GE Renewable Energy, said planned maintenance can also include services such as filter changing and the torqueing of bolts, while unplanned maintenance can also include electrical component failures and part replacements.
“Wind turbine maintenance is important for the same reasons that regular maintenance to your car is important,” he said. “A turbine is a complex machine made up of numerous moving parts that handles extreme loads, pressure, and stress on a regular basis. Maintenance is important to ensure that the wind turbine is running at its highest capacity and efficiency.”
GE Renewable Energy is not only an original equipment manufacturer for wind turbines, but also provides maintenance services to the turbines. Many of GE Renewable Energy’s customers sign service agreements at the same time they purchase their new units, and when the turbine comes off warranty, it undergoes a post-warranty Inspection and the owner decides of they would like to move forward with the OEM as the service provider, use a third-party service provider or self-perform maintenance, Pruett said.
Pruett said GE Renewable Energy has more than 22,000 units installed globally, with about 6,000 of those units currently under warranty. The U.S. has seen a large increase of wind power generation recently, especially with the production tax credit currently in effect. Around 183 wind power projects were built in 2012, producing 13 GW of new wind power capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association. That number is nearly double the 103 wind power projects built in 2011.
“The standard warranty for a wind turbine lasts tw years, so in the next few years there will be a large number of turbines coming off of warranty,” Pruett said.
Robert Bergqvist, vice president of sales and marketing for UpWind Solutions, said he expects to see growth in the turbine maintenance business over the next few years. UpWind Solutions is one of the third-party operations and maintenance companies turbine owners may choose to contract with rather than the original equipment manufacturer and manages around 13,000 turbines.
Bergqvist said asset management needs for wind projects needs to be looked at slightly different than for gas fired or coal plants.
“If you have one turbine down for unplanned maintenance, then you’re going to have a pretty large cost associated with that replacement,” he said. “The trick in the wind industry, as far as asset management goes, is to be able to make unplanned maintenance a thing of the past.”
Bergqvist said his company looks at grouping together different types of maintenance that avoid spread out leases of cranes or other equipment. If it’s possible to identify 10 units that will probably have some kind of failure, operators can schedule a proactive replacement of those units at the same time.
Monitoring the equipment is also an important part of preventing expensive and unnecessary repairs, he said. UpWind Solutions offers condition-based monitoring solutions for operators that include taking samples of oil, measuring the vibrations in the gearbox and using software that continually evaluated performance of units based on oil temperature, rotation speed and other information.
The combined results allow the company to create “an intelligent, predictive analysis identifying the outliers and what will probably break down,” he said.
“If you’re able to take care of problems before they become a major problem, then you’re going to extend the life of the unit,” Bergqvist added.
The bottom line is for the people to regain their original, moral principles, which have intentionally been watered out over the past generations by our press, TV, and other media owned by the Illuminati/Bilderberger Group, corrupting our morals by making misbehavior acceptable to our society. Only in this way shall we conquer this oncoming wave of evil.
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