White House Wind Power Whitewash
Yesterday, the White House send out a mass emailing to everyone on its public email list. It makes extravagant claims about the growth of U.S. wind and solar energy.
It stands out because the White House doesn’t often sent out public mass emailings.
It trumpets the one semi-bright spot in President Obama’s energy policy – wind power.
Wind is the fastest growing U.S. power source. It has doubled in the last 4 years. It has more than 60 gigawatts of installed capacity. More U.S. wind capacity was added in 2012 than in any other country… yada, yada, yada.
It’s slick. It’s pretty. It doesn’t lie. Yet it makes about the most blatantly deceptive energy claims you’ll ever read.
The deception: For the $25 billion “stimulus” investment, wind and solar combined were tiny energy suppliers for total U.S. energy needs. They will be for many decades to come.
Claims vs. Reality
60 gigawatts of installed generating capacity sounds impressive to an unsuspecting public.
It isn’t impressive for at least 3 reasons:
1-60 gigawatts is a tiny, tiny amount
2-Wind doesn’t deliver 60 gigawatts
3-Wind’s <60 gigawatts is unreliable
First off, unlike fossil fuels and nuclear that produce 100% of their generating capacity 24X7, wind and solar only produce power part of the day.
The left-hand chart above shows in 2012 that there was 60 gigawatts of installed wind capacity. That works out to 525,600 gigawatt-hours of power for a whole year.
The right-hand chart above shows that there was only 140,089 gigawatt-hours of real power produced by wind in 2012. That works out to only 26.6% of capacity.
With wind, installed capacity isn’t what matters. What matters is how much actual power is delivered and when it is deleivered.
Wind produces only 1/4th of its capacity AND it provides power unreliably, totally unrelated to real customer day/night cycles. And, unlike fossils, it can’t be adjusted to meet needs.
The White House email announcement referenced not one, but two reports:
2012 Wind Technologies Market Report
– Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, August 2013
2012 Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications
– Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, August 2013
Neither showed the single-most relevant piece of data of all in their combined 170 pages!
The relevant data also comes from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It is the 2012 total energy summary…
Look close and you’ll make these real-world discoveries:
- Solar supplied a miniscule 0.235% of all energy in the U.S. last year
- Wind supplied a tiny 1.36% of all energy in the U.S. last year.
- Together wind+solar supplied only 1.595% of all energy in the U.S. in 2012
- On the other hand, fossil fuels supplied 80.8% of all energy in the U.S.
Since Obama, wind power growth is due mostly to federal deficit (ARRA) spending. 2009’s “stimulus” provided $90 billion for science, technology and innovation projects.
Since new “stimulus” money is drying up, wind and solar will have to compete in the marketplace on their own. The days of feasting at the public trough are fading.
In 2012, wind energy suppliers rushed to get power online to take advantage of government ARRA subsidies then set to expire December 31st. Hence 2012 was a good year for wind. Yet even with that, wind supplied a fractional 1.36% of total U.S. energy needs.
Without major public support, wind and solar growth will slow. No major funding is coming.
According to the EIA, all renewables combined, including biofuels, will only supply 13% of total U.S. energy needs in the year 2040, Fossils will still supply 79%. That is less than 2% lower than they provide today.
None of those realities were included in the White House email or any of its references.
The government, as governments do, exaggerated its accomplishments so far out of whack as to make it more fantasy than fact.
Two times not-very-much four years ago is still not-very-much.