Two recent posts on the theoildrum.com look at the question of wind power. The first post looks at the how practical it is to fit wind power into the US power grid. The main problem with wind power are that sometimes the wind doesn’t blow, so the power grid has to have excess generating capacity to meet the demand. Critics say that because of the ‘no blow’ times, wind power can’t replace base capacity, so even if lots of windmills get installed, the US still needs all the coal, nuclear, and gas power plants.
The theoildrum.com article considers the problem and concludes if wind farms are spread out and high capacity transmission lines are built to pool the power wind farms should be able to provide base power at about a quarter of the total installed windmill capacity. The power grid should be able to accommodate somewhere between 25% to 50% of US power coming from windmills.
‘Smart grid’ capability, having devices like A/C that temporarily shut off when demand is too high is also an option. Wind power is also nicely complementary to hydroelectric generation, as a dam stores power and the turbines can be spun up and down quickly as average wind strength varies.
The other theoildrum.com article looks at the cost of wind power and at whether anything limits the prospect of building lots of windmills today. There appear to be no resource that constrains windmill production. Today windmills are cheaper than anything but coal in the US, and modest carbon taxes would make wind power the cheapest power source:
It is time to build windmills, and lots of them!