Robert FriBack to OpinionRobert Fri

When bad things happen to good windmills

Ask any proponent of alternative energy and you’ll learn that windmills are good. No pollution, no climate change, no oil, free fuel. Who could complain?

Lamar Alexander, for one. He’s the senior senator from Tennessee and he wants no part of windmills in his revered Smoky Mountains. The Kennedy clan and their friends on Cape Cod, for another. They fought the offshore Cape Wind project for years, finally losing but not without a protracted fight. And Alexander and Kennedy are not alone. Many wind energy projects have attracted passionate opposition from community groups that formed spontaneously when a new project loomed. It’s a puzzle that Roopali Phadke, an assistant professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, studies for a living. Her research into the nature of these groups has produced findings that are both surprising and a bit disturbing.

Most of the early opposition arose in the northeastern United States, where population density and land values are high. The opposition there has been successful; few wind energy projects made it to the finish line in this region. This result, along with the impressive wind energy potential in the Intermountain West, has driven most of the newly proposed wind projects westward. At first blush, opposition to wind energy there seems unlikely. There’s plenty of room for everyone, and the energy business should be an old friend in an area rich in oil, natural gas, and especially, coal. Yet it turns out that the American West can push back against wind farms as hard as the Kennedys or Alexanders.

Phadke says it’s not simply the not in my backyard – NIMBY – kneejerk reaction to change that motivates the opposition. Of course, if your backyard happens to be beautiful, then local communities will resist spoiling the view whether it’s in the Smokies or Rockies. But something more may be going on in the American West. Increasingly, people are choosing to live there to enjoy a lifestyle that is natural, unhurried, even pastoral. For them the landscape is an integral part of a way of life, a respite from the bustle of the hectic, globalized world in which most of us live. Folks don’t move into the American West just because the view is beautiful – though it is – but because the landscape cocoons their lifestyle. So, when a wind farm comes along, it’s a cultural threat, not just a blot on the view. The proliferation of wind machines profoundly industrializes the rural landscape.

It doesn’t help that electricity users far away reap most of the benefits of this industrialization. Of course, the place that gets the windmills also gets a few jobs and maybe some cash compensation, although the cash doesn’t necessarily go to the local residents. Still, if the cost is mainly cultural, money isn’t the most important currency. Phadke held a workshop in Wyoming in 2009 where participants convincingly demonstrated the role that cultural values play. The workshop report recorded a perceived “injustice” in the intrusion of huge arrays of wind machines, especially when the power they produced was exported to places considered “over the top,” like Las Vegas.

Renewable energy advocates may be surprised that wind farms aren’t warmly embraced, and may believe that local opposition to wind projects can simply be dismissed as not serving the greater good of green energy. But I suspect Phadke is onto something here. In fact, it sounds familiar, and that’s the disturbing part. The history of the energy business is littered with fine ideas that failed because the technologists and policy wonks were, well, thoughtless. They knew they had a great project and they found the perfect spot to put it. But they forgot to listen to the locals, so the project ground to a halt. Think Yucca Mountain.

The National Academy of Sciences says that renewable energy, much of it wind power, could produce a quarter of our electric energy within 25 years. That won’t happen, though, if every project encounters the resistance that we’ve seen so far. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Social scientists know a lot about how to find ways of siting controversial projects that keep most people happy most of the time. If we really want to transform our energy system into one that’s cleaner and more secure, the “design, build and defend” approach of the past won’t work any better for green technology than it did the first time around. We’ll have to learn how to ask permission.

Robert Fri is a visiting scholar at Resources for the Future, a nonprofit organization that studies natural resource and environmental issues. He has served as director of the National Museum of Natural History, president of Resources for the Future, and deputy administrator of both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Research and Development Administration. Read his full bio.

 

Comments

  • Beam Me Up Scotty

    Both solar and wind require too much real estate.
    How fast could we get 4th generation nuclear on line?

  • America Stewart

    Someone’s going to have to overcome some selfishness sooner or later. At this point, this shift is necessary and the values of those who don’t want to “spoil the view” or who vainly imagine they can escape the rest of the world are quite simply bad values.

  • Yvonne Russell

    Citizens may have to keep sharing about this to find a way to use this energy source. People who move to the American West want their electricity too. Electric cars may need “refueling”. Wind and clean air go together. Much of the resistance seems to be fear of change and trouble understanding when progress is good progress vs just refuse all.

  • Qaliqo

    All major energy production operations are enormously destructive to the social and environmental fabric of our nation, so we have to choose our poison, not let our poison choose us. Compare the current situation in the Gulf of Mexico (or in West Virginia where mountaintop removal mining goes unchallenged) to the minor inconveniences cited by opponents of wind farms; there really is no comparison to the rational mind, and those who oppose the new solution should move closer to the old one and see how they like it.

  • California Girl

    The biggest problem we face is overconsumption. We must stop living beyond our means in all facets of our society. If we didn’t consume soooooo much energy we wouldn’t need as much oil, wind, solar, or whatever you want to use. Wind is a great way to go! Cheaper than solar and lets face it, we are out of money! Unsightly…? Get over it. Coal and oil are not our friends people.

  • maxxi

    I’m all for solar and wind power. We have a fixed idea of what a windmill will look like, which is functional and minimalist. Might it be more palatable on the landscape if they were more attractive? Could we turn to help from artists and designers?

  • immabe

    I think they look beautiful. It’s an excellent harmony between technology and nature that does less damage than the other alternatives we currently use.

  • msgirl

    Look who the oil companies have picked on for off shore drilling. . . three of the poorest states in the nation. LA, AL, & MS. People in those states don’t have the individual money or power to fight back like the Kennedy’s, the Alexander’s and let’s don’t forget that Jeb Bush kept offshore drilling off the Florida coasts. The poorer states are over a barrel for jobs. It’s not right.

  • Momecat

    Cell phone towers can be integrated into places and things that make them virtually invisible. If designers can do similar things with windmills, they will take a huge step forward. No one wants to look at a huge eyesore on the landscape. I think a lot of the opposition to windmills is linked with misunderstanding. Public education campaigns can greatly help to change that. There is work to be done and we are late in the game in moving forward.

  • Descutner

    Far more devastating to the view are telephone and electrical wires. There’s nothing uglier than a wide swath of them crisscrossing across hills and valleys. Windmills are actually quite graceful and soothing to watch. Why they don’t bury the wires is beyond me.

  • Judi L

    One thing about wind farms is that they take up a huge amount of land. One west of Salina, KS, stretches for 20 miles or more as far as the eye can see north of I-70. When it first looms into view, it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road and steer safely because it is so arresting. When people in the West resist the altered view, they are saying that the wind farm changes their landscape so it no longer looks like it did when it was The West, and they value that look. The change for them is as profound as the loss of a mountain top in Appalachia. The good thing about wind is that all of those metal poles and blades (and they are huge, too–ever meet one going down the highway–it takes several trucks to haul just one) can be removed with little effect on that landscape. It’s hard to put a mountaintop back after it has been stripped off. One concern environmentalists have is how the wind farms will affect migratory birds and other species on the plains. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know until some are in place and the effects can be studied. A casino operator wants to put a casino, a hotel and entertainment complex, and a wind farm (to power the complex) in the Mississippi River floodplain at the historic confluence with the Missouri River north of St. Louis–right adjacent to a conservation area that has been cultivated to attract migratory birds to the wetlands. I’d feel better about that wind farm if I knew it wouldn’t slice up or stun the migrating birds, some of them endangered, or scare them away from the sanctuary our tax dollars have built for them. I’m all for wind power in theory, too. But people living next to these proposed new factories do have a right to raise concerns and have them addressed. Traditionally, land in the West has been sold separately from the mineral rights (coal, gas, oil, etc.) Do these landowners who lease their property to the wind farm operators now also have a claim on the “wind rights” since they can generate a profit for someone????

  • smitty

    Wind farms are darn ugly! I go hiking and my favorite view is now ruined. Can’t they put them in more hidden places or design them differently. They remind me of those monsters that came out of the hills to attack people. I can’t remember the movie. I also wonder how effective they really are and farmers are complaining about the noise. I agree we should use oil less but these things are not the answer as they are a blight on the landscape.

  • annep

    Better design, less intrusive projects, real science on how wildlife is affected, smaller individual installations but maybe more of them, better siting, and giving up the idea that bigger is better.

    Nationally we need a concerted effort to establish dispersed power for individual buildings or clusters, using a variety of power generation technologies.

  • Jeannie Counce

    What does Phadke say about transmission lines? I live in Montana and that is a really big rub. No one wants to lose value on their property by having massive transmission lines (there still is very little energy infrastructure) run across their land. Keep in mind that a 1,000 acre ranch can be significantly devalued, especially if the owner was planning to one day develop it into a residential neighborhood.

    The fact that we’ve been consistently ripped off by energy companies selling “our” resources to out-of-state buyers for less than they charge us as consumers is also an issue–it’s not as much about the destination as it is about being gouged.

    The giant wind farm out near Judith Gap takes my breath away every time I see. We have Big Sky, but that place has big potential!

  • George Bingham

    One alternative is that all land & and home owners become responsible for generating the amount of power that each place needs. This won’t work for everyone right away of course, but if those of us who are capable of deploying small PV arrays, vertical or propeller style wind turbines, solar heat collectors, reflectors, water power generators etc. functionally landscaped onto and around our homes, decks, garages etc., with consideration of the general character of the neighborhoods we could go a long way towards mitigating the need for industrial style windmill or other “industrial” style energy generation beyond that which we currently have.

    Everyone who can should be doing their part to ensure that they become capable of generating the amount of power they require for a modest, efficient lifestyle. This is achievable nowadays for about the price of a decent used car. The next generations of each piece of any current hi-tech PV equip or Inverter or whatever only will be getting cheaper and better, so the time keeps getting better, but the costs are cheap enough.

    Make it aesthetic and put it in your own back yard!

  • Holly Seiferth

    Frankly, the first logical flaw in this argument is the predisposition to grid energy distribution. Local generation is possible so transmission lines are not a fundamental necessity. http://www.off-grid.net/2010/04/11/60-of-power-is-lost-in-the-grid-exclusive/

    With regard to the argument “for a view,” I frequently find those who make “the view” argument sidestep the point that guaranteeing “a view” typically requires the ownership of a not insubstantial amount of land by either the private party largely exclusively enjoying said view (like the Kennedy family), a private party who simply has not yet gotten around to developing that land and obstructing said view, or the public who may eventually sell said land to secure needed revenue and again obstruct said view. To make this argument in defense of opposition to wind farms is a slap in the face to those of us who enjoy relatively modest lives in pastoral areas and all too familiar with the fact that property rights are a trump card, and that your span of control extends within the limits of your property lines. We who are lucky enough to have located ourselves in areas with landscapes of character to enjoy our surroundings have had developers move in behind us and no one jumps to our defense, instead citing the need for balancing the property owner’s rights, the developer’s right to earn a living, the common good of a strong economy and property tax revenues, the buyers rights to own homes, etc. If I were to lose landscape I would prefer to lose it to wind farms – fundamentally a public investment.

  • John Frum

    Some of these responses are just too precious. Breathtaking, really. Wind turbines (not the outmoded “windmill”—sorry) are ugly? When I see a wind farm, I see a thing of *beauty*. A wind turbine is graceful, unlike a nuclear plant, coal-fired plant, gas-powered plant, or any other source of electrical power. A lot more graceful. A wind turbine looks more like a tree than like a typical product of industrialization. A wind farm resembles a forest.

    Some say they want the West to remain “undisturbed.” Funny, they don’t complain when it’s a barn on the landscape. Or a silo. Or a billboard. Or a gas station. Or a truck stop. Or an outlet mall. Or a … where does it stop?

    Others complain falsely about the amount of land that wind farms consume. In reality, they are typically placed on ranches, where the ranchers are only too happy to earn lease income from the turbines, all while their ranching operations continue undisturbed. Not bothered by “noise.” Meanwhile, some claim that alternatives like nuclear plants require less space. That is, if they aren’t thinking about waste requirements. And if anyone thinks a belching nuclear plant is less an eyesore than a forest of wind turbines.

    Then we get the canards, like that wind turbines are “slicing” birds and that they’re “loud.” That’s when you know you’re dealing with ideologues who haven’t bothered to check facts. These concerns have been addressed, many, many times. It isn’t difficult at all to investigate the history and the answers.

    It’s beyond bizarre that people would reject wind farms based on this bogus rationalization, given that every single one of the alternatives besides solar necessitates fouling the landscapes they purport to hold dear. One has to wonder what the real, undisclosed objection is. Are they beholden to a competing industry? Or do they only (and erroneously) perceive renewables as belonging to people with a “liberal mindset,” which they would shun at any cost?

    One thing I do agree about is the unsightliness of power transmission lines. Those have got to be minimized through efficiency (higher conductivity, if not superconductivity) and buried. Period.

  • Patty B

    Amen to everything Mr. Frum had to say! It is inconceivable to me that people can object to these. When I see them, I think of a ballet of prosperity and thoughtful stewardship of this place we all call home. One question that always comes to mind though – why can’t they be placed closer together? And then I remind myself that it is a fledgling industry; which given a change will evolve and become more sophisticated over time. Let the wind blow, and God-willing, let us be smart enough to utilize it’s awesome power.

  • Albert Jungers

    I tried to leave a link to the solar panels I installed in St. James the Apostle Anglican Church, Sharon, Ontario, Googling the project, it’s like a great well kept secret, disambiguated over countless variants of each word. It was a bumblebee from the very first, a system the engineers said wouldn’t fly, but resulted in massive savings, clean and comfortable heating for the church, and allowed the budget to be put to use for the community. We completed the work in 1980-81, with work from the men of the parish, a hot air active flat panel collector with a heat sink, supplemented by clean electric backup, immediately realising $3,000+ Canadian in savings per annum. I don’t see clean energy as anything to be ashamed of or kept secret.

  • Albert Jungers

    Why they don’t bury the wires is because the other things in the ground conflict with the, like the electrical charges on the iron mountai I live on, that regularly pops lightbulbs in our house and zaps my wife as she walks out the back door. Other than that I could see self sustaining turbines here and panels that take us off the grid, The Amish alternstive. We’d have a lot of squawks fro the pseudoconservationists though. I don’t like the big windmills that look treacherous and land intensive, but could see omnidirectional collumnar towers, sufficient for local energy, like the small windmills that used to drive pumps and generators on out of the way farms. Green energy doesn’t always have to translate into electrical energy either. Why not use heat for heat, light for light, and mechanical energy to drive machinery, with less energy lost in the ransference?

  • Josh Kerson

    Once people understand the actual situation of our society, and the need for alternative fuels, Windmills are one of the most beautiful solutions in the World. They are very inspiring to see the winds of positive change coming. We hope to see more and more
    popping up all over all of the fields and hills in our beautiful country.

    The technologies are proven all over europe, and finally are
    coming to the states. Great to see positive change.
    More wind power to the people. Peace, Josh K.

  • Long Islander

    I live on Long Island, N.Y. which is almost 200 miles long. We have the most expensive electricity in North America. The thought of foreign oil, domestic coal (clean coal?, mountain top removal, cave-ins…), natural gas (Frack NO!) , considering the alternatives, wind is simply beautiful! We have been working toward a farm of wind turbines 2 miles off shore for years now. They don’t kill birds. Birds don’t fly into trees that move in the wind… and I have recently stood under a 200 ft wind turbine and I could not hear anything but the air moving! We need to get over HORSE POWER and join this millennium. Haven’t we had enough with oil spills, rivers that burn, mountains leveled and spilled destroying how many rivers and communities. Let’s get smart!

  • Dan

    I’m all for wind turbines. A project has been proposed for a totally unspoiled mountain ridge near my home. I would still support it, except it is a forested area. An enormous area of forest would have to be cleared. This is why I oppose the project. There are large areas of clear land south of this area, so I feel it needs to be sited elsewhere.

  • Gerrit

    Years ago I worked on a wind farm in the Palm Springs area when I made the following observations. To install and maintain these wind farms impacts the land just like building a housing or industrial development on the same piece of land. You dig a huge hole in the ground to place the foundation, you dig trenches to install the transmission cables to convey the power from the turbine and you have to install transmission corridors. Solar has the same impact on the ground.
    To me a better solution would be to install solar panels on existing structures like homes and businesses. The building occupants would use the power generated to supply their needs and the excess would be sold to the local power company and transferred to the grid. During periods when the panels are not producing the home/business would draw energy off the grid, most likely during off peak times. This would result in no new ground disturbance for the solar energy produced. It would still require some offsite production, but not as much.

  • TRick Conradalk2rickconrad

    Here is a bit more information. The first paragraph is my assessment of what is driving the push to do these projects. Rick Conrad

    Anyone armed with a sharp pencil and a list of facts about wind energy conversion can easily show it just does not make economic sense. Why are so many wind developers trying to do projects in Goodhue County? The answer is politics and energy policy. The United States government and the Minnesota government both have wisely realized that we must plan for a cleaner more reliable energy future. Minnesota has placed goals on energy production requiring that utilities get 25 per cent of the electricity that they sell from renewable sources by the year 2025. They also placed an even higher requirement on any utility that operates a nuclear power plant (Xcel Energy Prairie Island) of getting 30 per cent of their electricity from alternative sources. Faced with having to meet these goals to continue operating. And not wanting to deal with thousands or tens of thousands of people hooking up small net metered generation systems all over the State. Utilities have chosen to promote utility scale wind generation or industrial wind. Even though it costs the utility more to for the wind generated electricity the government incentives will help them to make up the difference in cost or they will raise their rates or both. Industrial Wind allows the utilities to maintain control of electricity production and control of electricity prices.

    Are you aware that CBED status allows the developers, for a limited time which I think is just thru 2010, to instead of taking a production tax credit PTC for ten years to take a one time payment equal to about 30 percent the total investment in their project? I think there is real danger here if they are not required to immediately pay for the equipment with this money that this money will be pocketed by the developers before they dump the projects on local investors.
    As to how green wind turbines are I have heard that it takes 15 to 16 years of turbine operation to offset the carbon emissions from the construction phase of a wind project. Also a British study found that the carbon saving realized over the lifetime of a wind energy project ( 20 years) could be achieved in about two years if you took the money you were investing in a 2 MW turbine system and instead used the money to insulate about 500 roofs of houses that are not properly insulated.
    I hate being against wind energy development. I have dreamed of putting a wind mill since the early 1980’s and having the electric company pay me. Net metered systems should be more profitable than industrial wind because you should get the retail rate for the electricity that your system produces. Utilities must hook up net metered systems that meet all the requirements they place on them but the dirty little secret that you don’t hear much about is that once they are getting two percent of their capacity from net metered systems they will be able to refuse to hook up any more. You don’t get to 25 percent alternative energy by 2025this way. What is needed is better energy policy with more encouragement for innovation and less market protectionism.
    Rick Conrad

    I did the following analysis months ago. I have since learned that the true cost of a 2MW turbine system is 4 million dollars or more. Another thing to consider is design speed. If actual wind speeds do not match very closely to design speed getting even 35 per cent efficiency will not be possible. The money that can be made or lost on turbines turns on the wholesale price of electricity. Pennies make the difference between losing millions or making millions. The 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour was my best guess at the time. The price they reached in the two PPA agreements are “trade secrets”.

    Wind Power Conversion

    The amount of power in the wind varies greatly as the speed of the wind increases or decreases. Wind speed is extremely important for the amount of energy a wind turbine can convert to electricity: The energy content of the wind varies with the cube (the third power) of the average wind speed, e.g. if the wind speed is twice as high it contains 2 x 2 x 2 = eight times as much energy.
    A given wind turbine has a “design point” that generally defines its peak efficiency at the wind speed for which the system is designed. At wind speeds above and below the design speed the efficiency is the same or less – maybe much less. If a turbine’s best efficiency is 40% at a wind velocity of 20 mph, it will be 40% only at that wind speed. At all other wind speeds it will be something worse. That wind turbine will generally operate at lower than its best efficiency, because wind speeds are never constant or average.
    The electric power actually produced will be still lower because the generator efficiencies are also less than 100% (generally in the mid- or low-90′s at best), and there are further losses in the conversion electronics and lines. When all these losses are figured in, you might, if you are lucky, be getting 35% or so of the wind’s energy actually delivered as useful electrical energy to the end user in the very best conditions. The average might only be in the twenties or lower depending on the wind.

    The best case scenario.

    1) A modern wind turbine has a maximum capacity of around 2000 kilowatts (kW) or 2 Megawatts (MW)
    2) There are 8760 hours in a year (365 days x 24 hours)
    3) A 2 MW wind turbine will generate around 30% of its maximum theoretical capacity resulting in 5256 Megawatt hours (MWh) per year if the wind speeds that year closely match the design point speeds.
    4) The amount of money that a 2 MW wind turbine will generate each year will depend upon the Purchase Power Agreement that you are able to obtain. I believe at best you will get 3.7 cents a kilowatt hour. That would mean revenues per 2 MW installed of $194472 dollars per year. You would have to get almost 7 cents a kilowatt hour just to get revenues sufficient to pay back the initial investment in ten years without interest.

    Presently wind turbines of the 2 MW capacity range cost $3 million to $3.5 million dollars each.

  • TRick Conradalk2rickconrad

    Here is a bit more information. The first paragraph is my assessment of what is driving the push to do these projects. Rick Conrad

    Anyone armed with a sharp pencil and a list of facts about wind energy conversion can easily show it just does not make economic sense. Why are so many wind developers trying to do projects in Goodhue County? The answer is politics and energy policy. The United States government and the Minnesota government both have wisely realized that we must plan for a cleaner more reliable energy future. Minnesota has placed goals on energy production requiring that utilities get 25 per cent of the electricity that they sell from renewable sources by the year 2025. They also placed an even higher requirement on any utility that operates a nuclear power plant (Xcel Energy Prairie Island) of getting 30 per cent of their electricity from alternative sources. Faced with having to meet these goals to continue operating. And not wanting to deal with thousands or tens of thousands of people hooking up small net metered generation systems all over the State. Utilities have chosen to promote utility scale wind generation or industrial wind. Even though it costs the utility more to for the wind generated electricity the government incentives will help them to make up the difference in cost or they will raise their rates or both. Industrial Wind allows the utilities to maintain control of electricity production and control of electricity prices.

    Are you aware that CBED status allows the developers, for a limited time which I think is just thru 2010, to instead of taking a production tax credit PTC for ten years to take a one time payment equal to about 30 percent the total investment in their project? I think there is real danger here if they are not required to immediately pay for the equipment with this money that this money will be pocketed by the developers before they dump the projects on local investors.
    As to how green wind turbines are I have heard that it takes 15 to 16 years of turbine operation to offset the carbon emissions from the construction phase of a wind project. Also a British study found that the carbon saving realized over the lifetime of a wind energy project ( 20 years) could be achieved in about two years if you took the money you were investing in a 2 MW turbine system and instead used the money to insulate about 500 roofs of houses that are not properly insulated.
    I hate being against wind energy development. I have dreamed of putting a wind mill since the early 1980’s and having the electric company pay me. Net metered systems should be more profitable than industrial wind because you should get the retail rate for the electricity that your system produces. Utilities must hook up net metered systems that meet all the requirements they place on them but the dirty little secret that you don’t hear much about is that once they are getting two percent of their capacity from net metered systems they will be able to refuse to hook up any more. You don’t get to 25 percent alternative energy by 2025this way. What is needed is better energy policy with more encouragement for innovation and less market protectionism.
    Rick Conrad

    I did the following analysis months ago. I have since learned that the true cost of a 2MW turbine system is 4 million dollars or more. Another thing to consider is design speed. If actual wind speeds do not match very closely to design speed getting even 35 per cent efficiency will not be possible. The money that can be made or lost on turbines turns on the wholesale price of electricity. Pennies make the difference between losing millions or making millions. The 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour was my best guess at the time. The price they reached in the two PPA agreements are “trade secrets”.

    Wind Power Conversion

    The amount of power in the wind varies greatly as the speed of the wind increases or decreases. Wind speed is extremely important for the amount of energy a wind turbine can convert to electricity: The energy content of the wind varies with the cube (the third power) of the average wind speed, e.g. if the wind speed is twice as high it contains 2 x 2 x 2 = eight times as much energy.
    A given wind turbine has a “design point” that generally defines its peak efficiency at the wind speed for which the system is designed. At wind speeds above and below the design speed the efficiency is the same or less – maybe much less. If a turbine’s best efficiency is 40% at a wind velocity of 20 mph, it will be 40% only at that wind speed. At all other wind speeds it will be something worse. That wind turbine will generally operate at lower than its best efficiency, because wind speeds are never constant or average.
    The electric power actually produced will be still lower because the generator efficiencies are also less than 100% (generally in the mid- or low-90′s at best), and there are further losses in the conversion electronics and lines. When all these losses are figured in, you might, if you are lucky, be getting 35% or so of the wind’s energy actually delivered as useful electrical energy to the end user in the very best conditions. The average might only be in the twenties or lower depending on the wind.

    The best case scenario.

    1) A modern wind turbine has a maximum capacity of around 2000 kilowatts (kW) or 2 Megawatts (MW)
    2) There are 8760 hours in a year (365 days x 24 hours)
    3) A 2 MW wind turbine will generate around 30% of its maximum theoretical capacity resulting in 5256 Megawatt hours (MWh) per year if the wind speeds that year closely match the design point speeds.
    4) The amount of money that a 2 MW wind turbine will generate each year will depend upon the Purchase Power Agreement that you are able to obtain. I believe at best you will get 3.7 cents a kilowatt hour. That would mean revenues per 2 MW installed of $194472 dollars per year. You would have to get almost 7 cents a kilowatt hour just to get revenues sufficient to pay back the initial investment in ten years without interest.

    Presently wind turbines of the 2 MW capacity range cost $3 million to $3.5 million dollars each.

  • Rick Conrad

    Dan it sounds like you are a closet nimby. The truth is that unless there is something in it for you, you will always feel that there is a better place for the wind turbines than out your living room window. Its nothing to be ashamed of. Wind energy has comes at a price. It lowers your property value unless you are receiving wind lease payments then it might raise your property value if the compensation is high enough.

  • Rick Conrad

    Dan it sounds like you are a closet nimby. The truth is that unless there is something in it for you, you will always feel that there is a better place for the wind turbines than out your living room window. Its nothing to be ashamed of. Wind energy has comes at a price. It lowers your property value unless you are receiving wind lease payments then it might raise your property value if the compensation is high enough.

  • Kamden

    ur site sucks

  • Skyler Folkerts

    i just need to know if windmills are good or bad