May 14, 2005

Not so insignificant harm

From today's Herald Sun of Melbourne:
Andrew Richards, external affairs manager for Australia's biggest renewable energy company, Pacific Hydro, admits that as wind power generation increases, more work needs to be done on how it fits into the existing power grid.

But he rejects outright claims that wind farms can increase greenhouse gases because they cause existing brown coal generators to "throttle back" and produce higher emissions.

"Coal-fired power is at its most efficient at maximum load, there is no doubt about that," said Mr Richards, who also sits on the board of the Australian Wind Energy Association.

"But it is a bit of a furphy to say that wind power is causing greater emissions at this stage.

"With the current state of output from wind in Victoria, we are just background noise compared to demand fluctuations."
That is to say, if in the future there is enough wind power capacity installed that when the wind blows just right its output rises well above "just background noise," then other plants will be forced to operate at less efficiency, increasing their emissions. So, as long as wind power's presence on the grid is insignificant, there is no need to worry about its fluctuations causing greater emissions from coal plants.

As noted in response to a similar comment about spinning reserve, yet another advocate seems to be asserting that wind power works great as long as it's not actually contributing anything of significance.

Yes, it's working great for the developers and green credit marketers. But it is destroying more and more of our last rural and wild places. It is destroying the lives of people and animals. For nothing.

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