Saturday, August 09, 2008

Picken Apart Pickens

Bob Zubrin discusses the T. Boone Pickens plan to replace natural gas electricity with wind based efficiency. He seems a bit weak in understanding how wind and natural gas electricity are complimentary. So I wrote a comment:


Evidently you don't know what natural gas is used for in America. It is not for base load, it is for peaker plants. Wind and natural gas are dispatchable in the same time frame. About 15 minutes. So if the wind is blowing you can shut down the peakers. When the wind declines you can start them up again.

In addition distributed wind can supply about 20% of nameplate rating as base load. Not bad since a wind plant delivers about 33% of nameplate rating on average.

Love your flex fuel plan for autos. Your understanding of the electrical generation market indicates further study is required.


Let me add here that using natural gas for home heating is its most efficient use. Wind would lower natural gas demand and thus lower heating bills. That would be a good thing.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values


Hoots said...

The cited article says "wind power is intrinsically unreliable. When the wind speed drops in half, power output drops by a factor of eight, so wind simply cannot provide the baseload power. Rather, it can only be used as an as-available auxiliary" etc.

I'm not an expert but my take on the Pickens vision was a vast grid down the middle of North America sending electricity East and West via an infrastructure yet to be completed. An engineer friend says superconductor delivery systems are already in use in parts of the Northeast, so the technology is not all that exotic even if the scale is of Chinese proportions.

If all the above is true, then the only time wind power would be "unreliable" would be when no wind blows anywhere on the grid. Seems to me the wind will always blow somewhere
(aside from armchair engineers).

What am I missing?

M. Simon said...


You aren't missing anything.

My guess is that the transmission will be 2 MV DC rather than superconductors but that is a minor quibble.