Baseload: When Wind is the Firmest Energy Source

July 5, 2017


Germany’s power grid, with much greater Renewable energy penetration, is 10x as stable as the US.

Maybe they know something Rick Perry doesn’t. (doesn’t everybody?)


The peak season for electricity at the Rim Rock Wind Farm in northern Montana is in the winter, when a steady wind blows from the Rockies and gets 126 turbines spinning. Then the wind flags for a moment, and an unusual chain of events begins.

In San Francisco, at the headquarters of the wind farm’s owner, NaturEner USA, a technician in front of a giant screen observes the downtick. A computer in a locked closet sends an alert to a trader in Vancouver, British Columbia, who immediately buys a small block of electricity from a dam somewhere in Washington state, just enough to make up for the shortfall.

The data about that watery block is routed back to San Francisco, blended with the wind power and delivered on a pre-agreed contract to a utility somewhere on the West Coast, resulting in firm power, the premium stuff, as reliable as any coal plant but with zero carbon emissions.

This is the hybrid solution that a couple of companies in the Pacific Northwest have hit upon as a way to make the wind, the most capricious of elements, into a low- or no-emissions resource than can compete for top dollars in electricity markets.

It also provides a different perspective on the furious debate over “baseload power” now unfolding in Washington, D.C.

Rick Perry, the head of the Department of Energy, is supposed to deliver a report next month that may portray renewable energy as a threat to baseload generation that has traditionally been supplied by power sources like coal and nuclear. Experts across the spectrum have pushed back, saying there is lots of room for renewables to scale up and keep the grid reliable.

NaturEner USA, founded a decade ago with Spanish parentage, doesn’t claim to provide baseload power. But it has gone a step in that direction by figuring out how to provide firm power, where a provider’s hour-ahead guarantee is crucial to shoring up the electric grid.

Another company, Avangrid Renewables, a subsidiary of Spanish wind giant Iberdrola SA, is doing a version of the same thing, supplementing its wind power along the Columbia River with natural gas.

“There has been always this disadvantage, or negative spin, on wind because it’s not firm,” said Candace Saffery Neufeld, NaturEner’s chief operating officer. “And we feel like we’re challenging those presuppositions.”

There’s a reason that NaturEner has such high technology and high security. It also serves as a balancing authority, making up two of the 34 authorities in the western part of North America that play a key role in ensuring that electricity generation and consumption are in perfect equipoise. It is one of the smaller such authorities, since it reigns over only its own wind farms but still needs to meet the standards of the North American Electric Reliability Corp., which are so stringent that it retains three lawyers just to stay in compliance.

NaturEner has crafted a complex ecosystem to perform its balancing duties while also delivering electricity into states and provinces all over the West Coast, each of which operates by its own sets of rates and rules.

Morgan Stanley Capital Group Inc., a trader in energy and metals, keeps an office in Vancouver and sells the output from NaturEner’s wind farms to anywhere in the West that transmission lines allow. It packages the energy into whatever form will fetch the best price. Sometimes what the market wants is firm power.

“Firm means that I show up,” explained Sánchez Seara, offering an example. “I will get you 100 megawatts, and if the wind doesn’t blow, I need to figure that out. I need to deliver what I promised you to deliver.”

NaturEner is constantly estimating how much energy its wind turbines will produce two hours from now. Those projections are often 20 to 30 percent off, too high or too low. This means that when it enters into its firm contracts for an hour ahead of time, there is a good chance that the wind — and NaturEner — will fall short.

In those cases, Morgan Stanley makes a quick buy from an array of hydroelectric dam operators in Washington state that have something to sell.

A custom blend

In Portland, Ore. — about halfway between NaturEner’s California control room and its Vancouver trading floor — is the headquarters of Avangrid Renewables, another company that is blending wind with other power sources to make it a solid block.

The challenge for Avangrid is different. In the Pacific Northwest, it owns 1,400 MW of wind turbines flanking the Columbia River as it wends through the states of Oregon and Washington. Its partner is the Bonneville Power Administration, the federal agency that controls the majority of hydropower dams in this rainy corner of the country.

Avangrid’s supplemental energy source isn’t dams, though. It’s natural gas. In Klamath Falls, Ore., it has a 540-MW co-generation plant and four small peaker plants that can turn on if supplies are tight.

“Bonneville sees a flat product from us. If we tell them we are delivering 1,000 MW, we are delivering 1,000 MW because we are moving resources around,” said Laura Beane, Avangrid’s CEO.


23 Responses to “Baseload: When Wind is the Firmest Energy Source”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    Germany’s problem staying on track with their climate targets isn’t electricity generation. It’s mainly the transport sector which is not moving.

    => Germany Breaks Record: Produces 35% of Electricity From Renewables so Far This Year

    Despite the new benchmark, BEE acting managing director Harald Uphoff told DW that Germany’s transition to clean energy across all sectors is not happening fast enough. The BEE report showed that renewables provided only 5.1 percent of energy consumed in the transport sector and 13.6 percent in heating.

    “It is only with a much greater commitment to the spread of renewable energy sources—for electricity as well as for heating and transport—that we will be able to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and reach the renewable-energy targets demanded by the EU,” he said. “Climate protection and economic development must no longer be seen as mutually exclusive.”

    It’s a long tradition of German carmakers lobbying the governments. In Sweden the situation is a bit different: Volvo Announces ‘Historic End’ to Combustion Engine, All Cars Going Electric from 2019 on.

  2. J4Zonian Says:

    “who immediately buys a small block of electricity from a dam somewhere in Washington state, just enough to make up for the shortfall.”

    That and several other comments here suggest what some already know, that one of 2 main things holding progress back on renewables is the compulsion to profit individually and in small conflictual groups rather than benefit society as a whole. A grid in which power was simply transferred from where it was being produced to where it was needed, rather than needing to be purchased, would have a huge advantage. (The other main thing is what causes capitalism–the psychological affliction of civilizationized humanity.) It adds enormously to the size of the task ahead if we have to dismantle capitalism before we can decarbonize, and makes it much less likely we’ll succeed. But it’s beginning to look like that’s true; all attempts to change the US direction have been defeated so far and wealth and power has only been concentrated further since. If that’s what we have to do, we should get on with it.

    • I’m all for solar panels when they don’t obliterate open space, but there’s really no such thing as 100% renewable energy because you can’t build, install, transport and maintain the machinery without fossil fuels (dense, portable energy). It’s just physics. These machines don’t self-replicate like planted grass pods.

      I question the whole gist of this article, trying to play up wind power as “reliable” simply because there are relatively more turbines desecrating Germany’s countryside vs. other places. The uglier, the better? Of course that leads to the biggest problem with wind power. People are eco-izing something that’s creating sprawling industrial landscapes out of former scenic areas, onshore and off (coal mining damage is largely set in its locations, so skip that typical diversion). The wind power industry and its fans continue to ignore this newer form of blight, just like Spicer fielding reporters’ questions. One can only conclude that these people never cared much for natural aesthetics outside limited urban contexts. Sip some coffee, walk 1/4 mile to a park and forget about those mountains 200 miles north that just got spiked into quasi-green purgatory:

      Wind power also kills more birds and bats as it expands. It’s called math. Bats are literally under siege from wind installations now. If you want to spin those deaths as preventable with new technology, dream on. The government is officially documenting the deaths but still too wedded to Big Wind to do much about it:

      In short, a lot of us are at a loss to understand why such extreme construction projects are being touted as environmental champions. It’s as if a brain infection took hold of the Green movement and anything white, 3-bladed and over 200 feet tall (typically 400-500 these days) is invisible to the eyes and inaudible to the ears. (they need fossil fuels and won’t stop AGW) (Man may never do the right thing by nature)

      • J4Zonian Says:

        It’s touching when conservatives put aside their toxic agriculture, (especially meat which takes many times the land and other resources as a plant-centered diet) driving, cats, golf courses, love for development, big buildings and other pet projects that kill birds and other wildlife, for a few minutes, and finally find their compassion for wildlife. I’m curious, however, since those kill several hundred thousand times more birds as wind turbines, and infinitely more other creatures, where your posts and letters to editors, articles and books are condemning all those other killers of wildlife. Can you point them out? Rather than cherry picking small problems and ignoring big ones, compassionate people would be paying attention to the huge problems. So where are your letters about them?

        Coal kills 17 times more birds per Kwh than wind and that’s 1. not counting the horrific effects of climate catastrophe, and 2. including the turbines at Altamont Pass—old, poorly sited, poorly designed and responsible for 40% of the wind bird deaths in the US at one point. Recent designs and siting are better, and huge improvements are being made all the time. And coal, oil and gas (and nukes) kill more birds, and bats, and mammals including people, and trees, and herps, and beneficial insects, and flowering plants, and other beings, as they expand, too, which anti-renewables fanatics never seem to mention. Such beings are under siege from fossil fuels and the worst is yet to come, as the effects of climate catastrophe intensify and societies collapse in chaos, violence and suffering, including higher likelihood of nuclear war. The only way to avoid them are to rapidly and massively switch to renewable energy, reforest the planet and transform agriculture to small-scale, low-meat, organic permaculture, and industry to ecological forms. The way to do that is with a US WWII-level global climate mobilization to reduce fossil fuel use by at least 90% in the next 5-8 years.

        Government is wedded to fossil and fissile fuels, which is why they get 10-13 times the subsidies not even counting externalities, and why so many Republican and more than a few Democrats are dependent on campaign money–one and a half halves of the corporate duopoly party are involved in denial of climate catastrophe and the other half is collaborating with denial of a slightly lesser sort. The idea of the wind industry having more political power than fossil fuels is laughable. If you actually believe that you’re suffering very serious delusions and should see somebody for it.

        Musk is building a humongous solar powered solar panel factory; China’s likely to beat him to it with several, and the more renewable energy is built the more renewable energy will be built from it. Know why Iceland and the US Pacific Northwest make so much aluminum? Not because they’re near a lot of bauxite mines… Australia, China, Brazil, India and Guinea are the main producers. Iceland and the PNW have cheap, rock steady electricity in abundance and aluminum is an electricity-intensive product. In Iceland the energy is geothermal, in the PNW, hydro. There’s no physical, logistical, technical, or technological reason keeping us from building a 100% renewable grid and at least 90% renewable primary energy and then increasing from there.

        Turbines are virtually silent already. Their beneficial health effects have been shown in study after study.

        Your disease-and-turbine nonsense is like an old Dave Barry column about Frosted Sugar Bombs cereal being ”part of this nutritious breakfast”, showing it with fruit, juice, milk, etc. It may as well have said ”FSB, adjacent to this nutritious breakfast”, or ”in the vicinity of this nutritious breakfast” because the FSB had almost nothing to do with the nutrition just like the turbines have nothing to do with the effects of White Nose Syndrome. Linking them this way is a despicably deceptive piece of lying.

        One might wonder why you’re trying the old Koch-Exxon-ALEC et al funded lies on this site, but it seems obvious. Either for money or for political—that is, psychological—reasons, you’re against using renewables to avoid global catastrophe. One might wonder why conservatives, who have never shown the slightest concern for the devastating effects of their lives and programs on nature or humans, are suddenly finding their tiny hearts. Of course, no, we don’t have to wonder at all. You should watch Peter’s other videos on the subject, not commenting on them until you know more about the subject.

        PS, your use of the word ”literally” is literally wrong.
        And PPS it’s not about ”man” it’s about humans—all of them.

        • You are arguing against various straw men, so be aware of several things:

          1) I am not a “conservative” in your wind-zealous stereotypical vision of one. I just respect landscapes and wildlife. It’s not complicated. Why don’t you respect landscapes enough to stop such a huge threat to them?

          2) I am not a global warming denier and I don’t like coal mining mountaintop removal. I also don’t like what wind turbines are doing to mountaintops. Why are you so willing to overlook that NEW damage? Even if wind power was effective, it’s too damned ugly to be a friend of nature.

          3) I’m broad-minded enough to understand that Man is destroying nature in many ways, some of which are branded as “green.” Do you really think the Big Wind industry is all about ecology?! They are constantly bragging about how tall and numerous their towers are. They see rural lands and mountaintops as potential industrial parks. Consider for a second that the joke is on you and others who buy their propaganda.

          Every time this topic comes up, defenders of wind turbines fall back on the same excuses:

          A) Other things historically kill more birds. (So it’s OK that even more birds are being killed by new things? And see my other reply to your lie on bat deaths.)

          B) Coal mining and oil drilling scars the land. (So it’s OK that wind turbines are industrializing landscapes in areas that aren’t touched by fossil-fuel energy projects?)

          Try some critical thinking in the full context of your claims. Honest environmentalists have no need to rationalize away a NEW form of damage, especially when it needs fossil fuels to exist and has done little to actually reduce carbon.

          • J4Zonian Says:

            Your demand for critical thinking is 45 years too late and turns out to be unneeded; I’ve been doing it for a while now & it’s exactly why I say what I say. You, otoh, are reading poorly, misrepresenting what I said, and above all, projecting. Everything you say is right out of the Koch-Exxon-ALEC-et al anti-renewable lying points and we’ve heard them a thousand times—literally. My critical thinking is what allows me to detect your fallacies.

            So you can stop with those coal- and oil-funded lies, thank you.
            And since your links don’t open any more than they did the 1st time, you can stop sending them now, too. I went around your inoperative links and looked at the sites and surprise! It turns out they’re just more right wing anti-renewable climate-denying proprietary fracking fluid.

            My argument was not that other things kill birds therefore wind. It seems the straw people are on the other pole now. My arguments are exactly as I said:

            Fewer than 3 thousandths of a percent of human bird kills are because of wind.
            Once habitat loss, very likely the largest killer of birds, pesticides and climate are included it’s likely more than a couple of orders of magnitude less, and that’s not counting any other animals or plants killed. There are many millions of times more other deaths and extinctions caused by fossil fuels. By not caring about any of those vast numbers of other deaths and focusing instead on this microscopically infinitesimal amount, you reveal your incredible hypocrisy. It doesn’t invalidate your argument but you obviously don’t care one tiny bit about wildlife; instead, your simply opposed to renewables. Otherwise your priorities make absolutely no sense for a sane person.

            ”Mountaintop removal coal mining has…been tied to the near-extinction of some kinds of American songbirds.”

            Coal kills 17 times more birds per Kwhr than wind does, even including early less bird-friendly turbine designs and sites. It’s getting even better as coal EROEI goes down and wind and solar EROEI go up and the wind industry, who cares a lot more about birds than you do, further improves siting and design. The necessary combination of efficiency, wiser lives, solar, wind and other clean safe renewable energies is even better. Switching to renewables means killing far fewer birds, mammals, herps, trees, flowering plants, insects and ecosystems.

            All technologies have effects, but a hocketed system of wiser lives, efficiency and clean safe renewable energy is the most benign energy system ever invented. Wind farms supplying a part of our energy are built once and then can exist in place for centuries. Individual turbines will be upgraded, and replaced and recycled eventually, but unless energy use expands faster than the already-increasing efficiency of turbines, the amount of land need never expand once it’s built, and 98% of the land the farm is on can be used for other functions. Mining for capital investment materials is a tiny fraction of mining for coal, oil and gas’s capital, let alone mining for ongoing coal use.

            With fossil and fissile fuels, the devastation of mining, storage etc. keeps expanding as long as people keep using the fuel. And of course it’s not just subjective distaste caused by propaganda and psychological issues; it’s gross, objective extreme harm—arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, radiation, other heavy metals, soot, particulates and other pollution. Then there’s the Resource Curse; fossil fuels lead to inequality, oppression, and war. This is in addition to the never-ending expansion of the harm to the landscape, which I’ve experienced firsthand, decades after the coal mine was supposedly rehabilitated. Most places on the planet have been significantly degraded by fossil-based industrialism; most renewable energy can go there—roofs, parking lots, roads, degraded lands, etc. or in places you’ll never see where it will have minimal effects on the ecosystem.

            Wind’s efficiency and production jumps have been accomplished largely by those increases in turbine height and blade size that you don’t like, reaching stronger and steadier winds and expanding the area in which wind can offer meaningful contributions to the grid (the US SE, eg.).

            Some people want a carbon tax. While not a bad idea, it’s not nearly enough to change the outcome of the crisis. But we could do it and supplement it with a kill mitigation fee—every being killed “above” say, bacterial and fungal level costs the energy producers money. If implemented at any adequate level it would kill fossil fuels as surely as nationalizing them to shut them down. Which is what we need to do as we ramp up renewables.

            You’re clearly denying some part of climate catastrophe in order to delay its solutions. I suspect one thing is its direness, which is reaffirmed almost weekly, as it was again this week. (Or it may be that the crisis can only be solved by technologies that happen not to be big and macho.) The only plan that can save civilization and millions of species is a global US-WWII-style citizen and industrial mobilization, rapidly and massively building clean safe renewable infrastructure, transforming agriculture, industry and forestry to ecological forms.

            You may be denying because of capitalism; but if you’re particularly opposed to unrestrained wind expansion you should believe in the power of coordination by the people, through the agency of government, and the regulation of systems, a small part of which is advocates of wind power.

            You owe us an apology for your ridiculous denial that renewables can be built with renewable energy, and the even more absurd appeal to physics. Tesla and the Chinese are proving you wrong. Equally ridiculous—and despicable—is your denial that renewables are replacing fossil fuels.

            ”Man” is not destroying anything. Humans are. And in fact, rich humans are, almost exclusively. You haven’t adjusted to reality with your language or thinking since the 1960s and you deny you’re a conservative? Good one.

            Coal, oil and gas have horrific effects on human and ecological health and threaten extinction for all life on Earth. Nukes are too slow, too expensive, too dangerous, too water-intensive, too destructive of equality and democracy and have similar mining and waste problems to fossils, some slightly better, some infinitely worse. The nukes that some people claim are not all of those are still most of them and have that other problem, of um, what was it, again? Oh yeah… They don’t exist. They may never exist and certainly won’t in time to help with the current crisis and therefore shouldn’t have any resources wasted on them now, as that will only take resources away from solving our actual problems with the solutions that work: clean safe renewable energy, reforestation, small-scale low-meat organic permaculture and ecological forms of industry.

            But sure, as long as you don’t like to see wind turbines we’ll put all that on hold and not allow climate catastrophe to happen in your town.

            Like gingerbaker and others, btw, I love seeing wind turbines in the landscape; it makes my heart soar both for the pure esthetics and the meaning and symbolism. So is your position really that your subjective view (real or fake) outweighs not only ours, but outweighs massive incontrovertible objective evidence of dire harm as well? If you can’t argue that—and it would be astoundingly arrogant if you did—you have nothing, because once all the other lies and nonsense are ectomied, your esthetic preferences are all you have to support your opposition to renewables.

        • “And coal, oil and gas (and nukes) kill more birds, and bats, and mammals including people, and trees, and herps, and beneficial insects, and flowering plants, and other beings, as they expand, too, which anti-renewables fanatics never seem to mention.”

          Again, you’re pretending that NEW, cumulative damage to those elements doesn’t matter, and you’re simply wrong about bats. Don’t take it from me:

          I posted that link previously and you ignored it, preferring to rant in favor of magnificent towers that can do no wrong. You can tell someone’s myopic when they refuse to discuss the negatives of their pet projects.

          Again, I’m not “anti-renewables” just anti industrial wind power. Solar PV is great when it’s not built on open space or farmland. All renewable energy is not the same just because it’s broadly categorized as green! Big Wind is filling nature with the largest machines we’ve ever seen, in quantities much greater than the biggest oil rigs. It all adds up to the destruction of nature.

          Text alone can lack impact, so I invite you to listen to this audio discussion and see if any of it registers:

 (laments the new “attack on wildness”)

          • J4Zonian Says:

            I ignored nothing and pretend nothing; you continue to misrepresent and use straw person arguments. You clearly have been exposed to and fallen for the Koch-Exxon-ALEC et al denying delayalism campaign; you spit out every lie, distortion, and distraction they’ve concocted about wind power.

            Everything humans do has effects. We can’t use fossil fuels any more. Do you deny that? Nukes have more unsolvable problems than than all the other energy sources put together and even if we wanted to build more they’re too expensive, decades too slow, use and heat too much water, produce unacceptable waste, and destroy inequality and democracy. Do you deny that?

            Given that solar, hydro and other clean safe renewable energy sources will be significantly more expensive and much slower to replace fossils without wind (causing immense irreparable ecological damage and hundreds of millions, maybe billions of extra human deaths, collapse of societies into chaos and violence making the implementation of solutions impossible, and will require considerable government coercion to make happen fast enough without the balancing power of wind…what energy system would you recommend?

  3. “Germany’s power grid, with much greater Renewable energy penetration, is 10x as stable as the US.”

    Superficially, that sounds like progress, unless you respect what’s left of natural scenery and wildlife, which is a taboo topic among green groups trying to cover for wind power’s biggest flaws. “Don’t tell anyone that they’re ugly and lethal to birds and bats, more so as they grow. They MUST be beautiful and harmless or we’ve been lying to ourselves!” (articles you’ll never see on this pro wind power blight site)

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      They are not ugly – they are beautiful. Stop lying.

      They kill hardly any birds. They don’t kill a lot of bats. Stop lying.

      You are just a whirling twirling Gish gallop of bullshit about problems, problems, problems with renewable energy, ain’t you!

      Tell us, Mr Respect Silence, do you get paid to make comments on media? No? Please show me your tax returns. Cause you, sir, are a troll.

      • “They are not ugly – they are beautiful. Stop lying.”

        How smug can you get?! You can’t just tell people what’s beautiful and ram it into their rural communities. Real environmentalists prefer nature to legions of giant machines all over the place, and I’m tired of people who claim scenery is just a sticking point for rich people in mansions. Read the writings of John Muir sometime (his Sierra Club sold out to wind power and he would have resented it). Muir was far from rich during his early wanderings as he documented scenery and plants. You must have no real clue what environmentalism is, or was. You’re a groupie for the anti-carbon cause, which is a good cause, but wind power is no solution.

        This is what your “beautiful” wind turbines are doing to landscapes, particularly mountains:

        “They kill hardly any birds. They don’t kill a lot of bats. Stop lying.”

        Show me your sources for that casual nonsense. Bats are being hit especially hard. Look up the word “lying” while you’re at it, then check the mirror. (read that article and others related to bats) (the Audubon Society can no longer pretend wind turbines are harmless)

        “Tell us, Mr Respect Silence, do you get paid to make comments on media? No? Please show me your tax returns. Cause you, sir, are a troll.”

        I am not paid to do anything. I just respect nature that’s not constantly under assault from “clean” energy and/or dirty energy. It’s very strange to see “environmentalists” defending huge construction projects and selectively deciding what’s ugly or not. “Single action bias” is one aspect of it. Wind power appeals to people who desperately want to latch onto to a “solution” and tune out all its negatives. I wish they’d divert all their fanaticism into solar PV, which has a small footprint if done right.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          So you’ve chosen to keep using deceptive and manipulative tactics—straw person arguments, unwarranted assumptions, false dichotomies, etc. Did anyone here say anything about ”rich people in mansions”? or is that a straw person argument you’ve never seen anywhere?
          I can’t speak for anyone else here but I’ve read everything I could find by Muir, and lots of other nature writers past and present; I’m a deep ecologist who’s life always has been and continues to be devoted to helping the Earth through the worsening eco-psychological crisis caused largely by fossil fuels, and help civilization survive to become something worth saving. (Muir was in fact quite well-off, so you’re close to batting .1000 on being wrong.)

          ”…very strange to see “environmentalists” … selectively deciding what’s ugly or not”
          But that’s exactly what you’re doing—only you’re doing it under the influence. You continue to focus on comparatively infinitesimal effects of one energy system you seem to have an irrational fear or hatred of and ignore the vastly greater problems with the only other energies we have. Why is that? The truth is, contrary to your ludicrous fear of the power of the mighty wind industrial complex, there’s a real, right wing anti-renewables campaign funded to the tune of many billions by Koch, Exxon, ALEC et al. and organized by right wing PR firms masquerading as think tanks. Where that campaign has spread lies, more people believe—and believe they experience—all kinds of bad things about the esthetics and imaginary health, financial and other effects of wind. I suspect you’ve been a willing victim of that PR campaign because of psychological susceptibilities to their particular lies.

          You’ve already been told that coal kills 17 times more birds per Kwhr than wind (a huge understatement of the harm fossil fuels do and will do and overstatement of the effects of non-Altamont turbines), and that fossil fuels kill many, many, many more other plants and animals including people, and that the system of harmonized renewable resources—that to work, must include wind in most areas of the world—is even more benign. You keep linking to nonsensical anecdotal data that doesn’t make the tiniest bit of logical sense. I have no idea why the USGS has such an atrociously unscientific polemic on its site, but it’s the equivalent of claiming that a combination of a paper cut and a 79 story fall killed someone, and then saying paper should be banned because of it.

          In short, to deny that wind is a vast improvement over fossil and fissile fuels is irrational and makes us wonder what your real conscious and unconscious motives are. What you’ve said about wind is false and what you’ve said about your motives is extremely unlikely. You can stop lying to us about wind and start telling us the truth about that—if you know it. If you don’t, I suggest therapy to help you find out.

          • The way an adult debate happens is one person makes a point and the other replies, but all you’ve done is ignore my reply about your casual, smug claims. You are so fixated on the glories of wind power that nothing will get through. I’ve seen this before on this very site. I once respect its author (Sinclair) for his climate change efforts until he turned out to be wind-blinded. Remember, you claimed without any proof that I was some sort of right-wing shill. That shows how your mind works – classic zealotry.

            Since you changed the subject, I can only refer you back to my original reply to your claims of wind turbines being “beautiful,” as if millions of affected acres of scenery are useless, and your willful lack of knowledge about their impacts on birds and bats. Yes, literally millions of acres have been visually tainted by wind turbines (they used to be free of tall, distracting structures). And wind turbines are the number one killer of bats by machinery, per USGS studies. Multiple mortality events is their technical term for those deaths; look it up.

            Three main issues with wind power are:

            1) They turn rural and mountain scenery into vast industrial complexes.
            2) They inflict mechanical and air-resistance noise on local people and animals. The noise is very real.
            3) They kill birds and bats in greater numbers as more are installed, with no house-cats for miles.

            You’d think environmentalists would care about all of that, but it simply doesn’t register with some of them. I call them quasi-environmentalists, and that’s being kind.


    • J4Zonian Says:

      Yes, the one-time construction of wind and solar is much worse than the never-ending expansion of waste areas caused by fossil fuels.

      • There you people go again, showing a photo of everything BUT wind turbines! You must know that’s dishonest cherry-picking when the topic is wind turbines (newer blight) vs. older blight of a different type. Visually, you can drive right past many mines and barely see them, like some low-slung coal operations in Wyoming. Mountaintop mines are bad, but so are mountaintop wind turbines. Wind turbines have a vertical prominence that’s unmatched. It can’t be ignored just because propagandists decide to spin it as beautiful. (actual context of wind turbines vs. scenery instead of a mine in the foreground on purpose)

        Below is one of the few landscapes where wind turbines actually fit in, but even that’s misleading since they tend to be much taller than other infrastructure, and that’s a side aerial view vs. ground level. (It’s an industrial zone with cranes and oil tanks, in case the image doesn’t load.)

        • J4Zonian Says:

          Everyone here is simply telling the truth, except you–using dishonest tactics and laughable false equivalents to try to skew reality.

          You equate your dislike of the look of clean safe resilient wind energy with the devastating physical, mental (lowering IQ of children, causing black lung, asthma, emphysema, heart disease, cancer, eg) and devastating ecological effects of coal, oil and gas. It’s absolutely ridiculous. It might be laughable if it weren’t so sad, pathetic, and dangerous. To say that you “don’t like” wind and “don’t like” MTR as if that matters or it means their problems are equivalent, is to try to make your taste as important as the deaths of 4 1/2 million people a year along with the deaths of uncountable other animals and plants every year, and the degradation of ecosystems and the entire biosphere, and the imminent extinction of millions of species if we don’t radically change direction now. It’s flabbergastingly narcissistic.

          You say there are no turbines in the photo then admit you know there are. You deny that your photos are at least as manipulative as mine, because the mine-and-turbine photo uses ”context” Huh? You complain about the esthetics of wind turbines which most people have no trouble with and the only thing you have to replace them with is the esthetics of coal, oil and gas, which virtually everyone hates a lot more. Have you complained about the power lines you go by every day? The roads you drive on? Do you eat meat? If so, why? The extra devastation of forests, tropical, temperate and other, that eating meat causes compared to very low meat or vegetarian diet, is phenomenal. Mining is bad. Unless you’re advocating destroying civilization, the only thing we can do is reduce it to a bare minimum. The way to do that is with clean safe renewable energy, and that must include wind, on its own and in concert with the other forms of WWSE, hundreds to thousands of times more benign than any other energy system humans have ever invented.

          The solution to our crisis is to use the power of aroused democratic government in a US-WWII-like citizen and industrial mobilization. See

          • You just keep ignoring the flaws of wind power, or claim that everyone must put up with them as a must-have option (arrogant technophilia). It’s clear I can’t reach you, but rational readers should note the main ways people create unnatural landscapes:

            1) Gouging or drilling into soil & rock (mining, blasting, road-building and wells)

            2) Removing plant cover (logging, fire-clearing, etc.)

            3) Building structures on the land (cities and everything that supports them)

            Wind energy projects do all of the above except for deep drilling, and they are now the tallest structures in rural areas, especially on mountaintops. Wind turbine advocates ignore or downplay those impacts based on the psychological fable that anything fighting carbon (truly or ostensibly) must not be harmful.

            I’m willing to admit that fossil fuels are harmful but the wind mob will say nothing bad about their noisy, lethal eyesores, outside of weak admissions that “careful siting” is necessary, knowing that this finite planet has a dwindling number of locations left, with most already protested.

            In the big picture of human impact, saying that “wind turbines are beautiful” is no less absurd than saying “global warming is a hoax.” The key takeaway is that NATURE CAN BE HARMED BY MORE THAN ONE THING AT A TIME.


  4. danialcblog Says:

    Tesla to Install World’s Largest Lithium-Ion Battery in Australia.

  5. J4Zonian Says:

    Wow, windbagger,

    Project much? Spread lies much? Distort and misrepresent much? Believe psychotic psychopaths willing to see civilization and millions of species wiped out so they (and you?) can avoid unpleasant feelings and having to examine their own bankrupt ideology…much?

    I once ran a place in the forest where people stayed. A woman came out from the city (driven by someone else, fortunately) who was distraught to the point of hysterics because she had seen a deer who had been killed by a car (I don’t think she actually saw it killed, fortunately). She was horrified, and demanded something be done. It couldn’t be impressed on her that living creatures die, or that we were in no position to change the world enough to prevent deer being killed by cars, and was certainly in no shape to consider the hopelessly abstract question of what would happen to the deer population in the absence of predators and cars. (There was no hunting in the area as I recall.) She was adamant and had to be talked down over the course of 30 minutes or so by a number of (fortunately caring and patient) people. It was so unacceptable to her that this single deer was killed and visible to her that she failed to see that it’s absolutely unavoidable that cars will kill deer and she and her friend had driven a hundred miles to get there. (Fortunately no one pointed out that fact to her; I’m sure that wouldn’t have gone well.) Obviously, there was something else going on with the woman that made her so grossly overreact. At the time, I had no idea what it was.

    What’s going on with you that makes you so willing to use despicable tactics, not see or admit that you’re doing it, overreact to the more visible but far, far, far less numerous deaths that you repeatedly ignore, and that you’ve been led to by ideologues who are using you as a blunt weapon? What’s going on with you that you’re so grossly misunderstanding and misprioritizing our problems?

  6. J4Zonian Says:

    Wind farms kill roughly 0.27 birds per GWh.
    Nuclear plants kill about 0.6 birds per GWh. (2.2x wind)
    Fossil-fueled power stations kill about 9.4 birds per GWh. (34.8x wind)
    A detailed (almost 6000 words) summary of Sovacool’s study by the author
    “While this paper should be respected as a preliminary assessment, the estimate means that wind farms killed approximately seven thousand birds in the United States in 2006 but nuclear plants killed about 327,000 and fossil-fueled power plants 14.5 million.”
    I think this was first and may still be one of the main studies although others have been done since. Wndbaggers and Kochroaches seem to hatehatehate this study and it’s obvious why—it shows them to be wrong. Sovacool’s figures were twice what I said but half was climate catastrophe, and windbaggers seem to be particularly incensed by the threat to their bodily integrity that talking about climate catastrophe represents. Sovacool’s numbers on that are projective, even speculative, so I leave that part out, but the fact is every study drastically understates danger to birds (and all other beings on Earth) from fossil fuel-caused climate catastrophe.
    If not stopped, climate change will destroy civilization, and we won’t go peacefully. War is inevitable, nuclear war very likely, and the combination of climate Götterdämmerung, war, and the devastation, depletion, simplification, and toxicity we leave as a legacy of civilization may well destabilize Gaia (the self-regulating, self-perpetuating cybernetic system of all life on Earth) and end all life on Earth. At the very least fossil fuels and climate catastrophe will cause the extinction of millions of species and on the way kill many more through toxicity, habitat destruction and more.
    The necessary complementary combination of wind, solar, efficiency, conservation, changed lives and other clean renewable energies is the best thing humans have done for wildlife in 10,000 years. If you want to save birds, bats, and other beings, work to replace fossil fuels with renewables as fast as humanly possible. Consider other factors: offshore wind is even more reliable than onshore, and even more benign for wildlife. And emphasize various forms of reduction of energy use, and decentralized and low-tech methods (passive solar heating and cooling, PV and water heating, solar cooking (essential in the 3rd world), ACES, etc.)
    “Clearly, bird deaths caused by wind turbines are a minute fraction of the total anthropogenic bird deaths–less than 0.003% in 2003 based on the estimates of Erickson et al. (2005).” [National Research Council, May 2007]
    “Want to save 70 million birds a year? Build more wind farms.”
    “Human causes kill up to 1.5% of birds annually; wind farms kill 0.00000075%”
    “Wind turbines have tended to kill larger birds such as raptors and vultures in
slightly higher numbers… However, bird deaths per turbine have dropped off their in recent years with the elimination of older, lattice-tower turbines that were used as roosts by raptors.” One might add that most (40%) of the raptor deaths happen at one old site: Altamont.
    “Declines in insectivorous birds are associated with high neonicotinoid concentrations”
    and an EPA study showing there’s little benefit from [neonics] anyway:
    While the ecological costs of fossil fuels soar due to declining EROEI, having to go farther, deeper, and more dangerous to get fuel, resorting to tar sands and other insane post-oil fuels, etc. renewables’ EROEI improves dramatically, reducing harmful effects. And improvements in technology, siting and other facets continue to reduce harm while boosting benefits. Many studies and practices are being done to further improve the situation.
In 2009, there were 12.5 bird kills per MW of installed wind capacity. 
In 2012, there were 9.5 bird kills per MW of installed wind capacity. 
That’s a 24% decrease [in just 3 years!]. A very major improvement in bird safety. And we aren’t done yet.”
    All these make perfectly clear what we knew already; the (mostly conservative) people attacking wind don’t give a scram about birds, bats, herps, or other wildlife or plants—or humans, for that matter. If they did they’d have been against all the things they’ve been for all along: fossil fuels, war, fossil fuels, nukes, senseless economic and industrial development, equally senseless forestry and agricultural practices (biocides, monocultures, high meat consumption…) fossil fuels, and more.
    “(B)ased on preliminary analysis of data collected from more than 100 wind farms presented at the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative biennial research meeting in November 2012 it is estimated that approximately 200,000 birds collide with turbines annually at current installed wind energy capacity (60+ Gigawatts – enough to power the equivalent of over 15 million homes). This number pales in comparison to other sources like buildings (97-970 million), telecommunication towers (4-5million), and oil and waste water pits at oil and gas production fields (2-3 million), among other causes of mortality.”
    Wind: Less than 3 thousandths of a percent of bird kills/yr (A LOT less, since that doesn’t even include those killed by pesticides and habitat loss, among the largest killers and extinction factors)

    Where are your posts on these killers, windbaggers?
    If you care about birds and every other kind of wildlife, why aren’t you fighting all these things and promoting clean safe renewable energy, the most benign energy system ever invented by humans?

  7. J4Zonian Says:

    Windbagger, aka Please stay silent:

    To reply to your offsite comment,

    ”One wonders if someone with a goose in their profile has a shred of concern for what wind turbines are doing to birds and bats around the world…”

    Does one? This one wonders why you didn’t just reply here. Serving creepy notice that you can find me? Other unfathomably twisted reasoning? If you want to continue this please do it here.

    You seem to be projecting your lack of concern for wildlife (and humans) onto me. Please stop doing that; it’s not serving anyone. You seem to be vulnerable to the lies of the psychotic psychopaths running fossil fuel corporations and put into government and media by them, unable to tell the difference between cherry picked polemic and fact. (You quote the Spectator, a conservative rag, referencing Benner, 1993. That bit of biassed [sic] nonsense is answered here:

    You’ve been told the facts a number of times now and have not shown any sign at all of having considered them, let alone absorbed them. But sure, let me state the facts once more in hopes others will understand how simple they are and how delusional or dishonest you are. (I make no judgment which, it just has to be one or the other.)

    National Audubon Society’s annual count … likely to spot fewer winter migrants and more warmer-weather birds that have no business up north.
    Precipitous drops in the populations of birds such as wood thrushes, finches, and waterfowl.
    314 of 588 bird species studied in North America would lose over half their climatic range
    Grist Briefly Sabrina Imbler Feb 17, 2017

    A few more examples can be found here and in 2 other adjacent comments:

    All energy systems have costs. Everything humans do has ecological and other impacts. Replacing coal and other fossil fuels with a hocketed system of wind, solar, hydro and other clean safe renewable energy means REPLACING devastating effects of fossil fuels on birds, bats, whales, fish, mammals including humans, herps, bees and other insects, soil communities, trees, flowering plants, and all other beings on Earth with the tiny fraction of impact that renewables have on birds, and the essentially zero impact it has on all the others. Not adding to the impacts, stopping them and replacing them with drastically smaller impacts. That means it would be better. B-E-T-T-E-R. FEWER animals and plants of all kind killed. I wonder what it is in your emotional makeup or job description that keeps you from understanding or admitting that?

    Until we deal with that question all other responses by you will be ignored; the only issue left is either your job as an anti-renewable troll or your emotional state explaining why you’re unable or unwilling to see or admit the truth.

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