Free energy is very expensive

Politicians tell us wind power will provide limitless free energy.  Why then does every place that installs windmills see their power bills go up?  Could it be that politicians are lying?  Or, are they just incredibly stupid?  With politicians it is always hard to tell the difference.

Wind power is expensive for a very simple reason.  The wind does no necessary blow when you need power and electricity is very difficult to store.  I once did the numbers.  The battery on a tesla weighs over 1200 pounds and holds about the same amount of energy as 50 pounds of gasoline.  Storing large amounts of electricity in batteries is just not feasible so if windmills are generating power when you don’t need it, your only choice is to sell it at a steep discount.

Ontario sold that power for an average of $31.47/MWh (megawatt hour) or 3.1 cents/kWh (kilowatt hour). It only generated $1.185 million.

This means we lost money on the deal. Here’s why: We pay $135/MW for wind generation due to the producers contracted “first-to-the-grid” rights and we are required to pay $120/MW for what IESO rejects. So, our costs (ratepayers and taxpayers) were in excess of $5.3 million. This means, adjusted for what IESO sold it for, we were forced to absorb a total of $4.225 million for power we didn’t need.

Tying windmills in to a grid guarantees you will routinely sell power at a loss to some other jurisdiction that was smart enough not to install windmills.  This is bad enough but it still does not capture the complete cost of what happens when the wind blows when you don’t need it.  Most places use nuclear or coal plants as base load power.  Essentially they both do the same thing they both produce heat which is used to produce steam.  The steam then flows through steam turbines that turn generators.  These plants cannot be turned up and down quickly.

This is a real problem when the wind starts to blow.  Nuclear and coal plants are now producing steam that is not needed.  They actually consume electricity to turn fans that condense the steam so that it can be fed back in to the boiler.  So the net power from the windmill is not what it produces.  You must deduct the extra electrical load at the nuclear and coal plants used to condense steam.

You could gradually produce less steam but that would be a very bad idea because no one can tell when the wind will stop blowing.  When the wind does stop blowing you will need the steam again more quickly than you can ramp up steam production.  So base load plants continue to make steam while the wind is blowing.  They do not use any less fuel and they consume more electricity.  Australia uses coal.  When they introduced wind power their coal consumption did not change.  They continued to emit the same amount of CO2.

Anyone who knows anything about electrical grids could explain this to politicians in very small words but no politicians are even remotely interested.  They are far too busy saving the planet.  People who know nothing about how the world works should never be given authority.  Stupid people who think they are smart are dangerous.  Give them any authority and they can be deadly.  So far this green lunacy is only costing us money.  Once we push it far enough to have brown outs in winter, it will cost lives.