Wind-Generated Electricity in India and China

Photos from an article in yesterday’s New York Times by Keith Bradsher Wind-powered turbines set up by Suzlon Energy near Dhule, India, are part of the technology increasingly reaching the country’s rural regions. Photo: Scott Eells for The New York Times

The Patils, father and son, plow a field below Indian wind towers. Photo: Scott Eells for The New York Times

Excerpt: “The demand for wind turbines has particularly accelerated in India, where installations rose nearly 48 percent last year, and in China, where they rose 65 percent, although from a lower base. Wind farms are starting to dot the coastline of east-central China and the southern tip of India, as well as scattered mesas and hills across central India and even Inner Mongolia.

Coal is the main alternative in the two countries, and is causing acid rain and respiratory ailments while contributing to global warming. China accounted for 79 percent of the world’s growth in coal consumption last year and India used 7 percent more, according to statistics from BP.

Worried by its reliance on coal, China has imposed a requirement that power companies generate a fifth of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. This target calls for expanding wind power almost as much as nuclear energy over the next 15 years. India already leads China in wind power and is quickly building more wind turbines…”

https://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/28/business/worldbusiness/28wind.html

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

14 Responses to Wind-Generated Electricity in India and China

  1. The article doesn't explain how such an intermittent and highly variable source as wind is expected to reduce coal use, which generally provides base load power and can't be turned off and on as the wind blows.

    Tom Gray's sales pitch is the opposite of the obvious: The potential of wind to contribute to world energy needs is quite small. It is also very expensive, wasting resources that could be better spent on something that actually makes a difference.

  2. TG carefully specifies that wind displaces "generation." That is a necessity if the grid is required to accept energy from wind facilities (whether it needs it or not).

    That is not the same as reducing the "use" or consumption of other fuels to corresponding degree.

    If you lift your foot from the accelerator of your car a bit because you're going downhill, you're still burning gas. And for every downhill there's an uphill, requiring more gas and canceling the savings. In fact, your car uses more gas in hilly areas, and so the extra load fluctuations due to wind energy would be expected to similarly cause other sources to run less efficiently and use more fuel.

    In any case, countries with substantial wind plant (Denmark, Spain, Germany) don't appear to have experienced a corresponding reduction in their use of other fuels.

  3. TG carefully specifies that wind displaces "generation." That is a necessity if the grid is required to accept energy from wind facilities (whether it needs it or not).

    (1) Actually, the reason I specified it is that no one can argue about it. There is no serious basis for disputing it as there is with whether wind displaces "capacity."

    (2) But, the grid (utility system) is not required to accept energy from wind facilities whether it needs it or not. Utilities manage their systems so that the cheapest electricity sources available are generating at all times. Since wind uses no fuel, it's usually one of the cheapest options available, and so it is used in preference to more expensive electricity from fueled power plants.

    That is not the same as reducing the "use" or consumption of other fuels to corresponding degree.

    Yes, it is.

    If you lift your foot from the accelerator of your car a bit because you're going downhill, you're still burning gas. And for every downhill there's an uphill, requiring more gas and canceling the savings. In fact, your car uses more gas in hilly areas, and so the extra load fluctuations due to wind energy would be expected to similarly cause other sources to run less efficiently and use more fuel.

    There is indeed such an effect, but it is trivial. Green Mountain Power Co., an investor-owned utility, said it best in a press release about its wind farm on September 21, 2006: "Every kilowatt-hour generated by wind avoids a kilowatt-hour generated by another source, which on the New England grid is generally natural gas or oil-fired during the peak periods when wind generation is at its height." [emphasis added]

    In any case, countries with substantial wind plant (Denmark, Spain, Germany) don't appear to have experienced a corresponding reduction in their use of other fuels.

    References please. Be sure they also prove that more electricity is not being generated with the same amount of fuel.

    Regards,
    Thomas O. Gray
    American Wind Energy Association
    http://www.awea.org
    http://www.ifnotwind.org

  4. Tom, Thanks for straightening out some fuzzy thinking. If I take my foot off the accelerator, I'm saving gas. Period. When I drive by the 1000s of wind generators in the Altamont pass, I think about all the power they are generating, and the fact that it's that much less that needs to be produced by fossil fuels.

  5. "Every kilowatt-hour generated by wind avoids a kilowatt-hour generated by another source."

    Nobody disputes that. The issue is how much emissions from those other sources are actually reduced.

    That information is completely missing from the wind industry's self-promotion. Since they propose industrializing wild and rural landscapes, the burden is obviously on them to show actual — not theoretical — benefits.

    As Flemming Nissen, Head of Development for the utility Elsam in Denmark, has stated, "Increased development of wind turbines does not reduce Danish carbon dioxide emissions."

  6. As Flemming Nissen, Head of Development for the utility Elsam in Denmark, has stated, "Increased development of wind turbines does not reduce Danish carbon dioxide emissions."

    Thanks for finally providing some substance, KM. I'll track this down and let Lloyd's readers know what I find out.

    In the meantime, here is a citation that directly contradicts your quote, the latest emissions data from the Danish Energy Authority showing CO2 emissions–after adjustment for weather variations and exports or imports of electricity–peaking at about 62 million metric tons in 1991 and then declining steadily to approximately 51 million metric tons in 2004.

    Says the Energy Authority, "Gross energy consumption has been more or less constant over the last 10 years; however, the fuels used have changed considerably. The shift from coal to natural gas and renewable energy etc. has meant that, year by year, less CO2 is linked to each unit of fuel consumed. Thus, in 2004 each GJ of adjusted gross energy consumption was linked to 61.2 kg CO2, against 74.2 kg in 1990. This corresponds to a 17.5 per cent reduction.

    "One kWh of electricity sold in Denmark caused 526 grams of CO2 emissions in 2004. In 1990, CO2 emissions were 937 grams per kWh of electricity sold. This corresponds to a reduction of almost 44 per cent. This large reduction is attributable to fuel conversions in electricity production and the growing significance of CHP [combined heat and power] production and wind power." [emphasis added]

    Tom

  7. KM refers above to a quote from Flemming Nissen of Elsam. I have been in correspondence with the utility company that replaced Elsam as the electricity supplier to western Denmark. They say they believe the quote is out of context and go on to repeat that wind energy production has indeed lowered CO2 emissions from Denmark. Details here.

    Regards,
    Thomas O. Gray
    American Wind Energy Association
    http://www.awea.org
    http://www.ifnotwind.org

  8. Professor Mark Jacobson of Stanford university presented at the Rhode Island Conference "From Local to Global the RI Model for Harnessing Wind Power Worldwide"* a paper that explains that when wind electricity becomes widespread as it did in Denmark, Spain, and Germany, there is always a minimum amount of electricity generated that can be counted on as a "wind baseload generation" with statistical certainty (I just coined this term wind baseload generation – unless others have done this already)
    http://windri.org/conference/downloads/sessions_web/Session_1_Vision_Future_of_WindPower/Mark_Jacobson_Macro_View_of_Wind_energy.pdf
    By the way baseload units go off-line suddenly with no warning. There is huge cost to generate additional electricity to cover sudden stoppages from units such as Brayton Point that generates 8% of New England’s grid. In fact last spring it was down when I happened to be visiting. They had lost all power with no warning and took them two weeks to figure out and fix. As you all know it takes as much as three days to build up the steam for these enormous turbines to start. I suspect wind generation does not have the cost of backup electricity for such sudden events.
    In fact during the years of expansion of the German wind industry there were nuclear (obviously base load) units that were retired and not replaced as it is theoretically predicted by Jacobson's paper.
    Q.E.D. (quod erat demonstrandum)
    * the title of this wind conference comes from the presentation of a study that proved that we have enough wind in Rhode Island for 75% of our electricity needs. Now RI is doing EIS studies for ALL the areas so we will create preapproved areas for installation. You may see the RIWINDS study – and all the presentation from this conference at:
    http://windri.org/conference/downloads/sessions_web/Session_5_RIWINDS_results/URI_Wind_Conf_RIWINDS_Presentation_Final_Mendelsohn.pdf

  9. Thank you very much for sharing the information. I am from India, and i see a lot potential for wind power in India. However, i have read in soeme literature that, wind power is costlier than coal/hydro electricity as of now on Rs. per unit basis. But I think if wind power gets good attention, and if more manefacturers enter the market, the cost might come down. Plese let me know your views.
    Thank you

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