March 19, 2011

Wind power kept going in Japan by other sources surviving earthquake

The blogosphere is aquiver with a press release from the Japanese Wind Power Association noting that all of the country's wind energy facilities survived the recent earthquake. Since only one facility is in or even anywhere near the hardest hit region, and they are designed to withstand earthquakes (as were the Fukushima nuclear plants -- it was the tsunami that took them out), that is hardly surprising.

In all the parroting of this self-serving and shamelessly opportunistic industry press release, not one blogger attempts to establish context. How did Japan's 100,000 MW or so of coal, oil, gas, hydro, and most nuclear plants fare? Compared with the <300 MW (<100 MW actual average output) of wind, those other sources obviously are what is keeping Japan going. But what should be most informative is the fact that 36% of the wind plant was inoperable because the rest of the grid was down. In fact, wind turbines require power from the grid to operate, though in this case it was probably transmissi­on that was down. So the remaining 64% were still operating only because the other sources on the grid were still operating.

wind power, wind energy