November 27, 2007

Colorado: 20% of electricity from wind and solar means 18% new nonrenewables, too

An analysis by the Colorado Energy Forum (CEF) notes that Colorado's Renewable Energy Standard (RES), requiring that 20% of the electricity from investor-owned utilities (and 10% from large municipal and rural cooperative utilities) be obtained from renewable sources, primarily wind, by 2020, will not represent a correspondingly expanded capacity to to reliably supply growing demand.

The CEF analysis estimated that more than 3,300 MW of wind generation and nearly 200 MW of solar generation must be deployed to meet Colorado's RES.

However, after taking into account the intermittent nature of many renewable energy resources, especially wind and solar, a gap in needed power supplies of between 3,700 and 4,500 megawatts will still exists.

"When taking into account the intermittent nature of wind and solar resources, we estimate that the reliable capacity credit for these renewable resources ranges between 330 MW and 1,122 MW," according to the study's authors. "This means that even after the requirements of Colorado's RES are met, significant amounts of new electric generating capacity still will be required to meet the state's needs. Based on the assumptions and data in this study, Colorado will need to address additional resource needs in the range of 3,700 MW to 4,500 MW by 2025." (press release, Nov. 9, 2007)
In other words, all those wind turbines won't keep the lights on. You have to use other sources to guarantee capacity, because the wind doesn't always blow when you need it.

In addition, there is a need of new capacity because of adding a significant amount of wind to the system. The grid requires excess capacity to be able to cope not only with times of exceptional demand but also with outages (inadvertent as well as for maintenance) of some of its plants. The wind is largely unpredictable, especially for the precise needs of the electrical supply, so more excess capacity is required to deal with that extra burden.

Giant wind turbines are not symbols of "green energy"; they are window dressing for a huge expansion of the conventional grid.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism