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Sun Dec 11, 2011, 11:51 AM

Wind Power Produces Just 4-14% Emissions of Fossil Fuels, Even With Manufacturing & Decommissioning

http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/wind-power-emissions-4-14-percent-fossil-fuels.html

It's tempting to think that wind power is entirely free of greenhouse gas emissions, but energy has to be used to make, assemble, maintain and ultimately decommission turbines and wind power projects. Even given all that though, a new assessment of the environmental impact of wind power, published in Environmental Research Letters, shows that wind power is a huge improvement over fossil fuel power plants it replaces.

Assuming a 20-year lifecycle for onshore wind farms, and a 25-year timeframe for offshore projects, the paper concludes,
the total emissions of wind electricity range between 4% and 14% of the direct emissions of the replaced fossil-fueled power plants. For all impact categories, the indirect emissions of displaced fossil power are larger than the total emissions caused by wind power.

The paper's authors note that these figures are in high range of other analyses done on the subject from other sources.

<snip>

For onshore projects the wind turbine itself is the single largest emission source at 60-69% (very roughly evenly divided between making the tower, the nacelle and the rotor). In an offshore project though, the turbine itself drops to just 19-35% of the overall emissions, with the installation and decommissioning creating the majority of impact (19-35% and 18-52% respectively). Interestingly, the foundations for the turbines can be up to 11% of the overall emissions for an onshore project, and up to one quarter of the emissions for an offshore project.

<More>

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Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply Wind Power Produces Just 4-14% Emissions of Fossil Fuels, Even With Manufacturing & Decommissioning (Original post)
jpak Dec 2011 OP
wtmusic Dec 2011 #1
jpak Dec 2011 #2
FBaggins Dec 2011 #5
jpak Dec 2011 #19
jpak Dec 2011 #20
FBaggins Dec 2011 #21
Bob Wallace Dec 2011 #4
wtmusic Dec 2011 #10
Bob Wallace Dec 2011 #15
XemaSab Dec 2011 #17
Bob Wallace Dec 2011 #18
Bob Wallace Dec 2011 #3
Dead_Parrot Dec 2011 #6
Bob Wallace Dec 2011 #7
joshcryer Dec 2011 #8
Dead_Parrot Dec 2011 #9
Bob Wallace Dec 2011 #11
Dead_Parrot Dec 2011 #13
XemaSab Dec 2011 #16
joshcryer Dec 2011 #12
wtmusic Dec 2011 #14

Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 12:49 PM

1. Wind power not only doesn't "replace" fossil fuels - it requires them

specifically natural gas to kick in when the wind isn't blowing.

One of the easiest ways to guarantee fossil fuel dependence, and endorsed by natgas magnate T. Boone Pickens.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 12:54 PM

2. Umm - unlike nuclear power - yes?

Oh yeah - the REAL WORLD experience with wind power is that it DISPLACES natural gas-fired electricity and does NOT require an increase in spinning reserve.

But a 1000 MW nuke requires LOTS of spinning reserve in case it trips - which they do all the time.

yup

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Response to jpak (Reply #2)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 10:21 PM

5. That's pretty ridiculous

Spinning reserve backing up a reactor?

A grid necessarily has to have excess capacity well in excess of it's largest generation source... but not "spinning reserve".

the REAL WORLD experience with wind power is that it DISPLACES natural gas-fired electricity and does NOT require an increase in spinning reserve.


Can you document that? Or are you just being clever with words (that the gas generation capacity necessary with increased wind penetration responds fast enough that little of it is "spinning" perhaps?)

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #5)

Mon Dec 12, 2011, 09:54 PM

19. I posted those studies earlier this year - perhaps you missed them

If you go back through the DU2 threads you will find them.

yup

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 17, 2011, 03:02 PM

20. I retrieved this from the carcass of DU2....

Wind energy reduces electricity prices, says independent study

http://www.ewea.org/index.php?id=60&no_cache=1&tx_ttnew...

The review ‘Wind Energy and Electricity Prices’, a comprehensive assessment of studies of the impact of wind energy on electricity prices, was carried out by the independent consultancy Pöyry AS on behalf of EWEA. It brings together, for the first time, the findings of case studies in Germany, Denmark and Belgium.

The report finds that in the studies reviewed by Pöyry, electricity prices were reduced by between 3 and 23 €/MWh depending on the amount of wind power. It concludes that the studies “essentially draw similar conclusions” and that “an increased penetration of wind power reduces wholesale spot prices.”

“It has already been well-established that wind reduces CO? emissions,” said Christian Kjaer, EWEA’s Chief Executive. “But now we have stronger evidence than ever before that wind power also reduces electricity prices for consumers. The message is clear – if you want affordable CO?-free electricity, increase the amount of wind power in your electricity mix.”

Wind power replaces CO? -intensive production technologies, the report finds. The technology that sets the price on the wholesale market is usually hard coal. Wind replaces hard coal power plants during hours of low demand and gas-fired power plants during hours of high demand in all the countries the report analysed.

<more>

Wind Power in New England - Reducing Pollution from the Electricity Sector

http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/technology_and_impac...

A network of power lines, called the electricity “grid,” connects power plants with electricity users. The grid operator— the Independent System Operator (ISO) of New England—continually monitors the flow of electricity from more than 350 power plants and coordinates their output to match energy demand. Generally, ISO New England orders the power plants on the grid with the least expensive electricity to operate first to meet hourly demand. When demand increases and the most expensive plant currently operating reaches its full capacity, the next least expensive plant is turned on, and so forth. When wind energy is added to the grid, less electricity is needed from conventional power plants, so the most expensive power plant operating is turned down, or even off. As a result, the emissions associated with this plant are reduced.

Most of the time in New England, natural gas power plants are the ones turned up or down to match rising and falling energy demand. During times of peak energy use, however, especially in the winter, wind energy can displace more polluting oil-fired power plants. At periods of low electricity use, wind occasionally displaces coal power generation.

Sometimes a hydropower plant may also be displaced, which usually allows more water to be stored behind the dam for displacing fossil fuels at a later time.

Periodically, ISO New England examines the emissions associated with the power plants that are turned up and down as demand fluctuates (known as marginal emissions). Based on this emissions analysis,<1> if the region’s currently proposed wind projects are built, millions of tons of pollution could be avoided each year.

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The Facts About Wind Energy and Emissions
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/20...

For those who have not been following this misinformation campaign by the fossil fuel industry, here is a brief synopsis. Back in March 2010, AWEA heard public reports that the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States (IPAMS), a lobby group representing the oil and natural gas industry, was working on a report that would attempt to claim that adding wind energy to the grid had somehow increased power plant emissions in Colorado.

Perplexed at how anyone would attempt to make that claim, AWEA decided to take a look at the relevant data, namely the U.S. Department of Energy’s data tracking emissions from Colorado’s power plants over time. The government’s data, reproduced in the table below, show that as wind energy jumped from providing 2.5% of Colorado’s electricity in 2007 to 6.1% of the state’s electricity in 2008, carbon dioxide emissions fell by 4.4%, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions fell by 6%, coal use fell by 3% (571,000 tons), and electric-sector natural gas use fell by 14%. (Thorough DOE citations for each data point are listed here (PDF).) Two conclusions were apparent from looking at this data: 1. the claim the fossil fuel industry was planning to make had no basis in fact, and 2. the fossil industry was understandably frustrated that they were losing market share to wind energy.

In early April, AWEA publicly presented this government data, and when the fossil fuel lobbyists released their report later that month it was greeted with the skepticism it deserved and largely ignored. Case closed, right? We thought so, too.

After the initial release of the report fell flat, the fossil fuel industry tried again a month later. John Andrews, founder of the Independence Institute, a group that has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from the fossil fuel industry, penned an opinion article in the Denver Post parroting the claims of the original report. Fortunately, Frank Prager, a vice president with Xcel Energy, the owner of the Colorado power plants in question, responded with an article entitled “Setting the record straight on wind energy” that pointed out the flaws in the fossil industry’s study and reconfirmed that wind in fact has significantly reduced fossil fuel use and emissions on their power system. Having been shot down twice, we thought that the fossil industry would surely put their report out to pasture.

<more>

Study: In Texas, wind power beats natural gas

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-9916968-54.html

Wind power is worth it, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

ERCOT studied the costs and benefits of wind power in three scenarios and concluded that expanding wind power in Texas would outweigh the total costs of boosting the state's electrical grid with conventional technologies. (Renewable Energy Access has a more detailed story here.)

The organization estimated the costs of putting in 5.1 gigawatts (GW), 11.6GW, and 18GW of new wind energy as well as the required grid connections. The 5.1GW plan would bring with it a $3.8 billion premium, but save $1.2 billion in fossil fuel costs a year. The 11.6GW plan would cost $4.9 billion, but save $1.7 billion in fuel costs annually. (Estimated fuel cost savings were not included for the 18GW scenario, but will be included in a future study.) Either way, both programs would pay off in about three years. Wind turbines last for decades; thus, new turbines would save billions over time as well as cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

<more>

http://cleantechnica.com/2011/05/01/cost-of-wind-power-... /

Wind Power Costs, Prices Dropping Worldwide

“Prices have dipped below €1m per MW for the first time since 2005, according to the latest edition of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Wind Turbine Price Index,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance wrote in February, 2011. For us Americans, that translates to about $1.48 million per MW.

“The cost of electricity generated from wind is now at record lows: several projects in high resource areas (US, Brazil, Sweden, Mexico) display a levelised cost of energy – excluding the impact of subsidies but after including the cost of capital and maintenance – below EUR 50/MWh ($68/MWh). This compares to current estimated average costs of $67 per MWh for coal-fired power and $56 per MWh for gas-fired power.” (In $/kWh, the figures would thus be less than $0.068/kWh for wind, $0.067/kWh for coal, and $0.056/kWh for gas-fired power.)


The Department of Energy, which seems to use this 30-year assumption, found the price of electricity from new wind farm plants ranged from 4 to 9 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2009, which is competitive with other new power plants and essentially the same as AWEA reported above. However, if a 30- or 40-year lifespan were used for the projects, the costs would be much lower, as the huge majority of a wind project’s costs are from the initial investment (wind, the ‘fuel’, is free and there are minimal operating and maintenance costs).

Wind is MUCH Cheaper than Coal & Natural Gas (if You Know How to Add)

Now, as I hinted at the top, if you take the full health costs and environmental costs of various energy sources into account, wind comes out looking even better. A recent study out of Harvard found that if one adds in the hidden costs of coal then its actual price in the U.S. is more like 9-27 cents higher per kilowatt hour. The authors write:

<more>

Blustery States Boost Wind Power Over Gas With U.S. Tax Break

http://www.puertoricosuppliers.com/blog/post.cfm/bluste...

A U.S. tax break has helped wind power stem the growth of natural gas as a power-plant fuel in blustery states.

The natural-gas share of electricity generation increased by less than 1 percent over the past decade in states such as North Dakota that have strong winds to drive turbines, a Bloomberg Government Study found. It grew 17 percent in states such as Florida, where there was no wind to compete with gas.

A production tax credit valued at 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of wind energy has encouraged the growth of the alternative energy source. Natural gas accounted for 16 percent of U.S. electricity generation in 2000 and grew to 24 percent in 2010, according to the study.

“With the benefit of the federal and state subsidies, wind-generated electricity has tended to push out the more expensive sources of electricity generation,” Paul Hughes, a senior economic analyst for Bloomberg Government, wrote in the study. “In many cases that displaced energy has been generated from natural gas.”

<more>

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Response to jpak (Reply #20)

Sat Dec 17, 2011, 07:36 PM

21. That explains how I "missed" them... they don't support your prior post.

It's a bit of a document dump (which would otherwise imply that you're not comfortable with your position), so let's pare it down a bit.

There's no point in throwing in bunches of paragraphs about how wind power cuts GHG emissions (not disputed) or has grown rapidly (obvious). It's also silly to make wildly unsupportable statements like "Wind is MUCH Cheaper than Coal & Natural Gas (if You Know How to Add)" (Did you read your earlier thread re: that new wind farm in Germany?)

Let's look at just what was argued. The claim that you were replying to was that wind doesn’t “replace” fossil fuel dependency because wind power actually requires natural gas generators to be available to kick in when the wind wasn’t blowing. Your reply was that this was actually true of nuclear power and not wind. That a GW reactor required lots of spinning reserves in case it “trips” and that wind power displaces gas-fired generation and didn’t need a spinning reserve.

So let’s score those claims by your posted articles:

1)Spinning reserve for nuclear – not supported in any way in your material (not surprising since it isn’t supportable). Nuclear requires the same reserve as any other generation source. The grid needs to have enough excess capacity to handle a percentage of the plants being closed at any given time.

2)Wind power doesn’t require a spinning reserve – Not supported (in fact, refuted “if you know how to add”). But it’s hard to tell whether you intended a rhetorical sleight of hand there. The claim wasn’t that wind required a spinning reserve, but a rapidly available reserve (usually met with natural gas) which might or might not be “spinning” (depending on load and variability).

3)Wind replaces natural gas. Not supported in the context of this debate. Your links provide solid (and somewhat obvious) proof that when the wind is blowing, those turbines necessarily replace generation from something else (except in the rare situations where more power is generated than can be used)… but that doesn’t refute wtmusic’s point – it reinforces it. The gas generation and the wind generation team up to provide reliable generation while burning less fuel. Absent significant storage, a sizable wind penetration requires a backup generation capacity which is almost always provided by natural gas (and this should be included in any “MUCH cheaper” calculation. So it would be correct to say that it replaces some of the actual gas, but not the need for the gas generation capacity.

That was the point you were trying to refute. That significant wind penetration requires backup generation (though I’ll add “or really solid demand-side flexibility that doesn’t currently exist”).

Nuclear, OTOH, doesn’t (not any more than any other generation sourc)... and that’s the difference: Build a 1GW nuclear plant and you can shut down a 1GW coal plant. Build a 3GW (nameplate) wind farm and the only way to shut down that coal plant (all else being equal) is to open up a 600MW gas facility (ignoring all of the obvious points about how you don't assign an individual plant to back up specific other plants). YES, that facility will burn much less gas than such a plant that was intended to provide baseload power, but that really isn't the point under dispute.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 10:07 PM

4. You're partly, temporarily correct...

Here's your near term choice:

1) Wind blowing half the time and natural gas burning all the time.

2) Coal burning all the time.

Which requires more fossil fuel?

----

Here's your 'a bit in the future' choice:

1) Wind blowing part of the time, solar, tidal and wave producing part of the time, geothermal producing all of the time. Hydro and storage along with load-shifting filling in the blanks. Perhaps a little bit of natural gas or biogas if times get tough.

2) Coal burning all the time.

Which requires more fossil fuel?



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Response to Bob Wallace (Reply #4)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 10:58 PM

10. Since you left out gamma rays from outer space and squirrel cages

let's just leave out all unproven, pie-in-the-sky tech and logistical switching nightmares, and construct a nuke plant every week.

In 50 years we could say goodbye to fossils forever.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #10)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 11:46 PM

15. Well...

The only unproven tech I included is wave generation.

Renewables cause no more logistical switching nightmares than do fossil fuel and nuclear plants going off and on line, demand suddenly appearing and disappearing. In fact, it's a lot easier to incorporate wind and solar than deal with an abruptly disappearing nuclear plant like we experience a few times each year. Wind and solar ramp up and down slowly if you've connected input over a wide area.

We can build a renewable grid in a lot shorter time frame than 50 years and end up with cheaper electricity.


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Response to Bob Wallace (Reply #15)

Mon Dec 12, 2011, 12:07 AM

17. Solar ramps up and down slowly and predictably

but not necessarily during times of peak demand.

Wind can ramp up very quickly. In some areas it's predictable, and in some areas notsomuch. It also may not function at all during times of peak demand.

Especially for wind, storage is key.

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #17)

Mon Dec 12, 2011, 12:41 AM

18. Yes, we will need storage...

and load/demand shifting.

Wind ramps slowly if you connect multiple wind farms over a modestly wide area. Individual solar arrays can go on and off line very quickly as clouds pass over, but connected arrays over a wider area tend to smooth things out.

I saw an interesting study a few days ago in which they showed that you can deal with the variability of a single solar array by adjusting the air flow in a commercial building. They had the software crank the fan speed up and down depending on solar output and the results were seamless to the occupants.

EVs should be a great help in dealing with supply variability. Cars sit parked about 90% of the time. That makes them a great place to stick supply peaks and later we might see them feeding power back to the grid. There's a program starting up in Denmark to give V2G storage a try.

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 10:02 PM

3. Those numbers won't hold...

The first generation wind turbines at Altamont Pass are just now being replaced after 30 years of use. Newer technology should last longer. I'd guess we're looking at a 40 year lifespan for onshore. Offshore, having no gear boxes, should last longer.

Then, as time goes on, the amount of coal and oil used to recycle/rebuild/replace turbines will drop. More of our grid feed will be from renewables and less from coal. More of the transportation used to move stuff around with be from electricity and biofuels, less from oil.

Concrete. We need a better solution. Perhaps one of the new processes will work out....

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 10:24 PM

6. Higher than I would have thought

But as Bob point out, most of that is grid/transport energy that is (hopefully) being de-fossiled. The tricky cement bit isn't too bad (at least for onshore)

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Response to Dead_Parrot (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 10:45 PM

7. Cement...

Quite a bit in turbine tower foundations.

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Response to Dead_Parrot (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 10:46 PM

8. Yeah, approximately double Jacobson's estimates.

Possibly because they use a shorter life cycle and lower capacity factor than Jacobson.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #8)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 10:56 PM

9. Weird, it's not like Jacobson got his figures straight from the AWEA-

-Oh wait.

Nevermind.

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Response to Dead_Parrot (Reply #9)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 11:11 PM

11. Well, Jacobson lists a few pages...

of references. The AWEA is one.

The World Nuclear Association is another. As is the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

And a selection of sources starting with the letter "E"...

Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) (2002) Water & Sustainability (Volume 3): U.S. water
consumption for power production – the next half century, Topical Report 1006786, March 2002.
www.epriweb.com/public/000000000001006786.pdf.

Energy Information Administration (EIA) (2002) Updated state-level greenhouse gas emission coefficients
for electricity generation 1998-2000, http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/ftproot/environment/e-supdoc-u.pdf.

Energy Information Administration (EIA) (2005), Energy consumption estimates by source,
www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/states/sep_use/total/use_tot_us.html.

Energy Information Administration (EIA) (2006) Average capacity factors by energy source,
www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/figes3.html.

Energy Information Administration (EIA) (2007a) Nuclear power plant operations, 1957-2006,
www.eia.doe.gov/aer/txt/ptb0902.html

Energy Information Administration (EIA) (2007b) Emissions of greenhouse gases report,
www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/carbon.html.

Energy Information Administration (EIA) (2008a) U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from energy sources
2007 flash estimate, www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/flash/flash.html.

Energy Information Administration (2008b) Annual energy outlook 2008,
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/electricity.html.

European Nuclear Society

But if your goal is to slander a researcher then I guess you wouldn't want to mention all the other sources....

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Response to Bob Wallace (Reply #11)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 11:17 PM

13. Just yanking chains to see what happens :)

Prof. Jacobson's numbers and methods have been the source of much, err, discussion.

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Response to Dead_Parrot (Reply #13)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 11:52 PM

16. DTM

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Response to Dead_Parrot (Reply #9)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 11:16 PM

12. I already closed the PDF to compare, I think they're in the same range.

Just the baseline was approximately double, but don't quote me on that, I'm going by a cursory glance at the gCO2/kWe number...

Still wildly superior to basically every other technology, though.

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun Dec 11, 2011, 11:25 PM

14. The paper assumes each MW of power capacity will be 300m away

(on average) from a high-voltage grid connection - including those offshore:

"Based on a survey of wind power projects, we assume 0.4 km of internal cabling and 0.3 km cabling for connection to grid is required per MW wind farm capacity. Submarine cables are steel armored. Material and energy requirements are derived from manufacturer data and previous LCAs . Because data on energy use in manufacturing of infield cables is missing, we assume equal energy per weight ratios for internal and external cables. Each wind farm is connected to a high-voltage transformer, for which material composition and direct energy inputs during manufacturing we derive from reports by manufacturers . The offshore transformer platform is modeled as one wind turbine foundation."

When the paper is constructed on assumptions like that, cement is the least of their problems.


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