Weather Dependent Wind Power: Leaves Hurricane Victims Powerless

Oh, the irony.

In one breath we’re told that the climate is changing so rapidly – although, these days, most climate alarmists don’t seem prepared to lay a bet on whether things are getting hotter or colder – that carpeting the world in wind turbines and solar panels – which cultists believe will solve the ‘problem’ – is a matter of the most pressing urgency.

Then, we’re being told by the likes of Australia’s most notorious wind power outfit, Infigen that it can’t spin a dollar because of ‘poor wind conditions’; not just once, but year, after meteorologically miserable, year.

The thing about irony and its cousin, sarcasm, is its ability to make idiots look like idiots, without them realising it.

It’s this simple, really: when your power supply depends wholly upon the weather, expect it to vary entirely at the whims of Mother Nature.

Which brings us to this article from The Australian in which Mark Schliebs gets so close to the point it almost hurts. But, notwithstanding its proximity, it completely evades him (we’ll fill in the gaps in a moment).

Giant wind farm blades make landfall in the path of Cyclone Larry
The Australian
Mark Schliebs
29 September 2017

The first of the 57m-long blades for a $380 million wind farm project in the area where Cyclone Larry once caused devastation to farmland have been unloaded in Cairns.

The blades, made by Danish company Vestas, eventually will be trucked 50km inland to be mounted on 53 turbines being built for the Mount Emerald Wind Farm. The farm is under development by renewable energy company Ratch Australia to produce 180 megawatts of power.

The site, on the Atherton Tablelands, is where buildings were damaged and crops wiped out soon after Cyclone Larry made landfall as a category-4 storm in 2006.

The project has already met resistance from many in the nearby farming community of Walkamin who are angered by the rock-blasting and clearing of vegetation, and concerned about low-frequency noise it will generate.

Ratch Australia said another of its wind farms, at nearby Windy Hill, had suffered “minimal damage” when Cyclone Larry delivered wind gusts of up to 187km/h in March 2006. A spokesman said the turbines, each about 30 storeys high once the blades were attached, could handle “extreme conditions” — including cyclones.

“During a high-wind event or cyclone, the turbines go into survival mode, where the blades are rotated to provide the minimal area facing the wind, and are then locked in place,” he said.

The spokesman noted the wind farm was more than 50km inland, and cyclones diminished significantly in force once they crossed the coast. But he was unable to say what wind speed the new turbines and blades were designed to withstand, and a Vestas representative did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2013, Vestas executive Anders Vedel said its turbines at the time were designed to “survive” winds of up to 60m per second — about 216km/h.

Respected wind engineer Leighton Cochran said the project would have to meet Australian standards. He said those standards could allow a turbine to be built to handle up to 237.6km/h.

In 2013, eight turbines were blown down and a further nine had blades broken off when a ­typhoon hit China.
The Australian

Turbines tumble in Taiwanese Typhoon…

 

Nice to think that Ratch’s Vestas turbines might be able to survive a brush with a howling cyclone like Larry.

But here’s the point that Mark Schliebs and the wind cult completely miss: the purpose of a power generation source is, funnily enough, to generate power as and when it is needed; not merely to withstand the vagaries of the weather.

At the wind speeds referred to, no wind turbine (no matter how brilliant the engineering) will generate any electricity at all.

Instead it will be drawing power from the grid in order to keep its nacelle facing into the wind, blades feathered and brakes locked up, to prevent the kind of chaotic destruction seen in this video:

 

Indeed, wind speeds barely need to reach gale force and these things go into automatic shutdown, as appears on German turbine maker, Siemen’s website – which has this to say about the automatic shutdown of wind turbines when wind speeds hit 25m/s (90km/h):

Nature presents us with different kinds of challenges. High wind can create extremely high loads, and as a result wind turbines are normally programmed to shut down if the 10-minute mean wind speed exceeds 25 m/s. This may pose a significant challenge for the grid system – for example, if turbines in large wind farms shut down simultaneously.

It was precisely that feature of their ‘design’ that led to South Australia’s Statewide blackout on 28 September last year.

A month back, Texans were walloped by Hurricane Harvey.

Despite having the largest wind power capacity in the USA, it was nuclear power that supplied Texans with the electricity they needed throughout the tempest and deluge: its wind power fleet automatically shutdown, going into self-preservation mode, while its nuclear generation plant never missed a beat.

Wind power outfits across the globe, Ratch in Far North Queensland no exception, are gifted with a ‘to hell with you, you’re on your own’ attitude, when it comes to delivering power to customers around the clock.

And, STT is far from convinced that Ratch’s whirling Danish wonders would survive a direct hit from a tropical cyclone.

Here’s a story from the archive on the fate of Suzlon S88s in Nicaragua, which failed to stand up to a big blow.

One Suzlon turbine destroyed and two badly damaged
Wind Power Monthly
Mike McGovern
8 December 2014

wind turbine suzlon s88 amayo

NICARAGUA: A Suzlon 2.1MW turbine nacelle caught fire and later crashed to the ground on Sunday in an incident involving three damaged turbines at the 63MW Amayo complex in Nicaragua, the country’s first wind project.

“There were no injuries and the site has been secured,” Suzlon told Windpower Monthly in a written statement, confirming the affected turbines to be S88-2.1MW machines.

Suzlon declined to comment on the possible cause, pending further investigation. Nobody at the US-based owner company, AEI Energy, was available for comment.

Local press reports, citing ground staff and fire fighters, said all three machines at the 23MW Amayo II plant — in service since 2010 — suffered failure in their emergency braking systems, leaving them helpless against high gusts of wind. No other turbines were affected, claimed Suzlon.

The turbines caught ablaze at 5.15am, just under an hour after a blackout hit the Rivas municipality, where the wind farm is located.

All three machines reportedly spun uncontrollably. Turbine 28 finally fell and all three blades of turbine 25 were flung off. A blade on turbine 29 was left broken.
Wind Power Monthly

If the story has an upside, it’s the successful bid for “freedom” made by the blades during yet another “component liberation” event (see our posts here and here and here and here and here).

If there’s one thing certain about living in the tropics it’s tropical cyclones or, as Americans call them, ‘hurricanes’.

A couple of weeks back, a particularly destructive Hurricane, ‘Maria’, belted Peurto Rico – a US Protectorate – that has placed way too many eggs in the wind and solar basket. Here’s what happened to its ‘wonderful, clean/green’ energy ‘supply’ when Maria came to town.

When we said that irony is lost on idiots, here’s a couple of classic examples.

Hurricanes Cause ‘Apocalyptic’ Devastation to Caribbean Power Grids
GreenTech Media
Emma Foehringer Merchant
26 September 2017

Last Wednesday, Hurricane Maria passed over Puerto Rico, bringing 140-mile-per-hour winds, pelting rain and extreme flooding. After the storm moved on, Puerto Rico was left with “apocalyptic devastation” and absolutely no power.

The island’s utility – already bankrupt before the storm – says it will be months before electricity is fully restored.

The dire circumstances in Puerto Rico echo similar troubles now enveloping the Caribbean, where hundreds of thousands have been left with no electricity as Hurricanes Irma, Maria, and to some extent, Harvey, pummeled grids this past month, leaving entire islands without electricity.

In the wake of the storm, renewable energy advocates have called for investment in distributed grids to avoid the same situation in the future.

“The tragedy of Hurricane Irma can be a catalyst for government and utility leaders and people of affected countries…to transform destruction into opportunity – an opportunity to build back better and cleaner through sustainable, resilient power and transportation systems,” wrote analysts at the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Indeed, the opportunity for standalone solar and storage – or hybrid liquefied natural gas (LNG) and diesel systems paired with PV and storage – is getting more economically attractive. According to a new analysis of island markets from GTM Research and Wood Mackenzie, hybrid systems are already beating the cost of diesel, and nearing the cost of LNG.

Although many Caribbean islands are investing in renewables and experimenting with different kinds of microgrids, most still rely on imported fossil fuels. And it’s as yet unclear whether a distributed grid structure in Puerto Rico would have fared any better during such a drastic storm.

The storms did underscore, though, that climate change will impact these island countries disproportionately – and power grids will be under increasing threat, whatever the energy mix.

“Unfortunately, we had to wait for Irma and Maria to let the world understand what we’ve been saying to them for a long time – that we are very vulnerable. We are exposed to the ravages of climate change,” said Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, speaking to last week’s U.N. Summit. “We need access to resources to build more resilient societies and countries. We have been playing our part, but the extent of the resources required to put in the mitigation systems is beyond us.”
GreenTech Media

Wind worshippers wanted a ‘distributed’ generation system to overcome Mother Nature, and they got it: Hurricane Maria gladly distributed solar panels and wind turbine blades all over the Island (see above and below).

Puerto Rican Solar Farms Heavily Damaged By Hurricane Maria
The Weather Junkies
Dakota Smith
September 28, 2017

Hurricane Maria’s flooding rains and raging winds heavily damaged Puerto Rico’s solar farms – an emerging energy source for the U.S. territory.

In the first sixth months of 2017, solar surpassed wind as Puerto Rico’s top producer of renewable energy. This trend comes as several large solar energy projects have found a home in the Caribbean Island in hopes to help solve their energy crisis. It’s a trend in jeopardy, though, as new aerial imagery shows several of these farms destroyed after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island.

Puerto Rico’s second largest solar farm, located in Humacao, took a direct hit from Maria’s eyewall. The farm currently accounts for nearly 40% of solar-produced electricity on the island and is currently under expansion to produce even more. Unfortunately, a majority of the newly added solar panels were ripped from their foundation and completely destroyed by Maria’s strong winds. These panels are so recent, the “before” image seen below doesn’t include the expansion.

Another large solar farm, outside of Guayama, fared a little better but still saw some damage from Maria. This farm, dubbed the “Ilumina Project”, was built in 2012 and was the first utility scale solar farm on the island. At one point, the project was the largest solar field in the Caribbean but has since been passed by several other Puerto Rican projects. It is considered one of the main catalysts for Puerto Rico’s rapidly growing solar industry.

The fates of several other large solar facilities, including the island’s largest site, are unknown as aerial imagery has not reached the entire island yet. More imagery is expected as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) performs daily flights to collect aerial footage. This story will be updated as more images become available.

A smaller solar field attached to Humacao’s sewage treatment facility was found to be nearly completely destroyed by Maria (below). The demolished solar panels provided the sewage plant with 60% of its energy and was part of a two million dollar private investment approved by Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Padilla.

While the future of Puerto Rico’s energy industry is the last thing on anyone’s mind, Maria has undoubtedly setback one the island’s fastest growing energy sources.
The Weather Junkies

Direct exposure to the weather is NOT recommended …

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. singletonengineer says:

    Some have missed my point.

    As simple as I can:

    Discussion of the reality or otherwise of CO2-induced climate damage is irrelevant to consideration of the reliability and cost of renewable electricity. One relates to something that is or is not happening over a period of decades.

    The other relates to the real costs and reliability of weather dependent electricity today, right now, as managed (or otherwise) by those responsible.

    Why antagonise a readership that is interested in the question of cost of renewables? Some, apart from me, might not agree with the red herring and thus end up being lost.

    I have thick skin – strong words and personal accusations as to what I do or don’t think about climate change are part of everyday life. I do, however, take note and instead of becoming angry tend to discount much that accompanies the accusations, some of which are in comments above.

    Folks, do you or do you not want to call others names, accuse them of stupidity, ignorance or worse and thus drive them away, or do you want to do something to fix our unreliable, expensive electricity generation systems?

    IMHO very few businesses ever improved their market share by insulting their customers, very few guests stay where they feel unwanted and even fewer listeners will try to sing over the top of the choir.

    It is up to you.

    • Firstly, STT is not a ‘business’, we have never earned a single penny from the hundreds of posts that we have provided to people like you.

      Every one of our contributors (engineers, economists, lawyers, acoustic experts etc) volunteers their time, energy and effort. So too, our editorial team. STT will continue to express robust opinions, based on facts.

      Here are a couple. And we will keep it simple.

      Renewable energy (by which we mean intermittent wind and solar) constitutes the greatest economic and environmental fraud of all time.

      The Genesis of that fraud is a theory that man-made (rather than naturally occurring) carbon dioxide gas has caused and will continue to cause dangerous global warming (AGW).

      Advocates for this theory refer to CO2 as ‘carbon pollution’. A scientific nonsense if ever there was one. CO2 gas is a naturally occurring beneficial trace gas essential for life on earth.

      When STT was exposed to high school biology, CO2’s role in the miraculous phenomena known as ‘photosynthesis’ was made abundantly clear. No CO2. No chemically generated sugars. No life on earth.

      In the absence of this theory that man-made carbon dioxide gas is a threat to our very existence, there would not be any wind or solar industries FULL STOP.

      STT leaves the finer debate about CO2 and its purported role in destroying the planet to other specialised blogs, who have the time, energy and interest to deal with that topic properly.

      But, having picked up 31,600 international followers and received 2.1 million hits, on more than 1,800 posts on the energy topic since December 2012, STT is pretty comfortable with our knowledge of what is responsible for the media/political classes’ obsession with wind and solar power. And those numbers tend to suggest that we don’t antagonise our followers, as you suggest.

      In short, the hysteria attached to the AGW theory gave birth to subsidised wind and solar, and the maintenance of that hysteria continues to give those industries licence, both at a public and political level.

      In the absence of the ‘CO2 causes global warming’ story, there would be no wind or solar industries. Anyone suggesting otherwise has not been paying attention to energy policy over the last 20 years.

      If you associate with proponents of the AGW theory and wish to defend that theory we wish you luck. Theories are made concrete by evidence, not by belief or semantics.

      STT did not accuse you of anything.

      You took umbrage at a few words in the post above, reacting with what appeared to be high moral indignation in your comments above and below.

      As pointed out by ‘truth’, the IPCC itself is not prepared to lay a bet on which way the weather is headed: the fact that temperatures haven’t budged for over 18 years probably explains their reticence.

      Growing up in the 1970s, STT was inculcated with another alarmist theory about the weather: then it was the next looming ice age, which was apparently bearing down and set to ruin us by the following winter.

      So much for that theory.

      The latest version of the theory turned ‘global warming’, to ‘climate change’: whatever that might mean? Does that mean temperatures will rise or fall? The so-called experts don’t seem able to say. Which is the basis of our comment, to which you took great offence.

      Adherents to those theories are responsible for subsidised renewable energy. And yet you assert that there is no relationship between those theories and the wind and solar industries. And that the former bears no relevance to the latter.

      Pretending that AGW alarmism is not responsible is nonsense. Accordingly, from time to time, STT will take a shot at those responsible for destroying Australia’s once reliable, secure and affordable power generation system, who happen to propound the theories mentioned. STT will continue to advocate for such a system, rather than one based on the sun or wind.

      As we said above, we are not in the ‘business’ of anything and we are certainly not in the business of debating proponents or opponents of the AGW theory.

      STT didn’t call you names. But we will not ignore the reality of our present calamity. Australia’s energy system is on the brink of collapse because a handful of people became obsessed with what they ridiculously call ‘carbon pollution’, meaning CO2 gas; a critical ingredient in photosynthesis and the essence of life on earth.

      Simple enough?

  2. singletonengineer says:

    Half a dozen words in an article of 2000. Why?

    The opening paragraphs of this post include reference to “climate alarmists” who “don’t seem prepared to lay a bet on whether things are getting hotter or colder”.

    This slur against scientists in general and many of your readers does nothing to convince them to read further. I’m glad that I did, but this type of language obscures the message and for no good reason.

    There is plenty of meat in discussion of the cost, unreliability and other undesirable attributes of weather-dependent electricity generation devices such as wind turbines and solar PV arrays and in discussion to build support for rational, least cost, socially acceptable and environmentally sound electricity generation, which I understand to be STT’s primary goal.

    On the other hand, there are plenty of quite good reasons to agree with the vast majority of relevant experts that our climate is being damaged due to emissions of gases such as CO2, yet there are as many reasons not to needlessly offend those who appreciate the points that you are making.

    I am one of those who values much of the work done by STT. I value the factual material that is gathered and presented to the public.

    Opinions, even strongly worded ones, are OK. Insults are best edited out.

    • OK, lay your bets. Will it be hotter or colder, 50 years from now?

      • Colder !!! The only thing definite on this planet is that the Sun will shine 24 hours a day “Qualified scientific prediction” and zero temperature is -273 degrees kelvin. The other improbable scientific and social human trait of disaster belief and the crazy moronic crusades to overcome human frailty will continue ad infinitum.

    • I share STT's understandable frustration, Singletonengineer. I think many people do.  I've had a gut-full of the finger-wagging, overpaid, PC, Leftist elite of our scientific institutions, not to mention the bloated, $1.3B p.a. "their" ABC that totally disenfranchises half the population with its wall-to-wall biased Green/Left view of the world.

      With the rapid march of the Left through our institutions I fear Australia is well on the way to becoming the Venezuela of the south seas – another resource rich, failed, socialist experiment.

      Bon (CentralVictorianengineer)

    • What ARE the ‘good reasons to believe our climate is being damaged due to emission of gases such as CO2’…since IPCC itself in the AR5 report—the body of it, not the SPM…said there had been no increase in either the severity or frequency of cyclones and hurricanes ….and confirmed the ‘pause’of the last 18 years? U disagree with IPCC…on what evidence?

      IPCC AR5 admits there’s no agreement on the sensitivity of the earth’s climate to a doubling of CO2…which is absolutely the crucial factor in whether or not increasing CO2 causes catastrophic warming.

      For the earth to be warming, the oceans…70% of the earth system …must be warming…but until 2005 and the advent of the ARGO float system….there was no way of reliably measuring the temperature of the oceans…and WITH ARGO no significant warming was found.

      Before ARGO unreliable XBTs had been used and before that…buckets dipped in the ocean ….some scientific method when fractions of a degree are the difference!

      So how is it possible to know if the ocean has warmed beyond the gradual warming expected as the earth warms slightly and steadily as it emerges from the LIA….when there’s no starting point for any trend because past measurements are not anywhere near as reliable as now? A trend must have a start and a finish.

      If the world wasn’t warming slightly now…what WOULD it be doing…it wouldn’t be static…it would be COOLING…something to really fear.

      Never has there been such a dangerous bet with the potential to destroy millions of lives…..on the basis of such shallow dodgy knowledge …and the bet was made and its outcome …the consensus…was set in concrete by warmists when most of the science hadn’t even been done…when CLOUDS….an absolutely crucial element of earth’s climate hadn’t been studied….their feedback not known—still not…when T of 70% of the earth system…oceans… hadn’t been reliably measured…sensitivity unknown…

      So you think it’s OK…must not be questioned…for the world to be turned inside out…the dysfunctional ..activist ..ridden UN taking over and demanding adherence plus billions from democratically-elected governments …to be redistributed from democracies to Socialist/Communist dictatorships of varying degrees…including to China…all this on the basis of lies and coverups…fudging of science…losing of raw data…corruption of peer review…intimidation of dissenting scientists…..fake inquiries…and even when UN officials like Figueres and Edenhofer have admitted it’s not about the environment at all—it’s about the ‘transformation’ of the global system—destroying capitalism …to give the UN the whip hand and central global control over the world’s resources and finances.
      Because Australia’s a resource country and the global totalitarians believe if they can’t force us to leave our resources in the ground and put ourselves in the hands of a ‘seamless global CONSUMER cartel’ run by the despots of the UN…if they can’t force US to do it…their global ‘transformation’ will fall apart.

      To supposedly look after Australia’s interests we have a PM who’s there by coup….Australian PM the international warmists wanted.

      Turnbull wants us 2 to think he’s King COAL to keep us quiet until it’s all too late…but everything he’s done for many years has been designed to KILL COAL…

      MT supported Rudd’s CPRS/ETS….Gillard’s carbon tax…the huge RET and its huge subsidies that Tony Abbott tried to curtail…Turnbull rushed to ratify Paris when he didn’t need to.. to lock in the destructive subsidies when he must have known by then that the former AEMO boss Matt Zema…just before his death…had said that the NEM system faced certain collapse because of the RE subsidies…Turnbull tried to sneak a coal-destroying EIS past us…stacked his PMO with Greens-even a former Greens candidate…approved a US RE zealot to head AEMO knowing she wanted COAL GONE…know that was Labor policy…not that of the party he took by coup…whose policy was to KEEP COAL.

      We’re a people betrayed by this Socialist-approved PM and his LW MSM facilitators who helped him to get rid of the PM the Australian people voted in a landslide to lead us.

      We’re in a suicidal slide towards energy insecurity and 3rd world de-industrialized status.

      Our internationalist CoupPM with his own undisclosed family vested interest and his backers in the rentseeking community of the global financial behemoths and the uber-rich who …like the American AEMO boss…see Australia as the petrie dish for their great experiment …with us as lab rats….to take control of the world’s energy generation …their last ditch stand to control the world .

      Meanwhile YOU seem to think we should just roll over and let Turnbull and his backers shift TPM from the Australian poor to the coffers of uber-rich international carpetbaggers…ie have low and middle-income-earners pay the subsidies so the carpetbaggers can destroy our country’s prosperity and our children’s futures …and then move on.
      The time for pussy-footing’s long gone.

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