Friday, October 14, 2005

Wacky windfarm math

"Lee anticipates that the five turbines would provide four times as much energy as Searsburg's 11 smaller turbines."

That's Harley Lee of Endless Energy, who wants to erect five 1.8-MW turbines on Little Equinox Mountain in Manchester, Vt., as reported in the North Adams (Mass.) Advocate Weekly.

The existing wind facility in Searsburg, Vt., consists of eleven 555-KW turbines for a total capacity of 6 MW. Four times that capacity is 24 MW. Lee's proposed project has a total capacity of 9 MW.

Nine megawatts is quite a bit short of four times six megawatts.

Even if he expected a better capacity factor (actual output as a fraction of capacity) than Searsburg's 21%, it would have to be an impossible 56% to so produce four times as much as Searsburg. When Searsburg was erected, they too expected output about twice what they actually get.

It is not surprising that these salesmen exaggerate the prospects for their product so brazenly, while downplaying their negative impact. What is so troubling is that so many people just smile and nod and enthusiastically eat it all up, ignoring the actual record for this technology.

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