There’s no doubt we live in times where advertisement reigns supreme. And in these times, if you have the capital and or special interest backing, any agenda or movement can drown out the alternative sides of story. Therefore, most movements appear to be one sided in the mainstream, movements such as renewable green energy.
In this article, I would like to defend Consumers Energy (a local utility company) endeavors to build a clean coal power facility, against the likes of Michigan’s Chapter of the Sierra Club ( (environmental advocacy group). The Sierra Club is protesting against the millions of dollars not being invested into cleaner forms of energy, which is understandable. But it’s also important to know that current wind and solar energies cannot satisfy our daily base load power demand because they are intermittent energy sources. Base load power is the minimum power that a utility company has to distribute to its customers hour to hour.
Coal power is cheap ($0.006 per KWH), unlike renewable energy such as wind ($ 0.05 per KWH). With new technologies, the coal industry has significantly increased burning efficiencies while simultaneously reducing emissions. Newer coal burning facilities containing these technologies are able to extract more energy out of less coal usage. It’s also worth mentioning that coal facilities employ at least 5 times more employees as wind farms. That’s music to any unemployed skilled worker ears in Michigan.
We constantly hear about the good aspects of renewable energy. This article will highlight disadvantages rarely shared in the mainstream. Most people who support renewable energies may not know the following.
Important facts about renewable wind energy:
Large scale wind turbines require a great deal of electricity, and unlike coal plants, they do not supply their own energy. At coal plants, the difference between the amounts of electricity consumed compared to electricity distributed is clearly determined. Generally this isn’t true for wind turbines farms. In fact, companies such as GE and Vestas do not include electricity consumption in their specifications. Wind turbines receive their electricity from the grid which is not accounted for unless they contain smart systems. And for those who cringe at the use of fossil fuels, probably don’t realize that coal plants provide power to wind turbines.
Many wind turbines parts require electricity such as the blade pitch control, used to keep the rotors in motion at a constant rate, and the hydraulic brake which is activated to lock the blades during undesirably high velocity winds. Other parts including lighting, sensors, meters, heaters, and oil systems are all controlled by “dirty electrons”. Without a reliable source of energy received, wind farms cannot exist.
Because wind velocity has to blow within certain parameters to reach peak efficiency for wind turbines, on average wind turbines produce 25% of their annual rated output. That’s like paying for a full tank of gas and being able to use a quarter of the gas! Problems such as birds, build up of insects, and salt build up from off shore farms all reduce efficiencies significantly. Studies have shown in the model wind country of Denmark (where there’s a wind turbine for every 900 people in the country), electricity consumption for some wind farms is greater than the actual electricity produced.
So while I remain a huge supporter of renewable energy, I support Consumers Energy new coal plant over any wind farm. That is, until someone invents an electric capacitor that stores massive amounts of energy enabling distribution at will. Until then, I side with the forms of energy generation that’s reliable and creates jobs all while maintaining cheap prices.