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Old April 5th, 2011, 02:42 AM
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Default Power and energy

I was curious to know what kind of yields the Palm Springs Wind Farms put out, and the first thing that comes up on Google is this old forum thread. Since it leaves off without a resolution, perhaps I can help clear up a couple of issues.

By the way, the web page with the output stating "A wind turbine's cost can range upwards to $300,000 and can produce 300 kilowatts - the amount of electricity used by a typical household in a month" is not exactly easy to find (http://www.palmsprings.com/services/wind.html).

Point 1) Power output. That's the number you give as 300kW, and the units are correct. Only problem is, who knows what wind speed range is needed to put out that 300kW and how often the winds actually blow in that range. After all, my car can go 155mph, but it rarely does. There are some other figures that would be interesting for a thoughtful evaluation of the site's output. As a starter, though, we need a number in kW-hrs; a monthly average would be a good start.

Point 2) Energy use. If you're going to make a comparison how about comparing two like values? A household on the average consumes (converts) a certain amount of kilowatt-hours of electrical energy in a month. OK, I'll forget about where that house is, in what climate it is sitting, whether or not it is using AC, gas heating, etc. and take your number, whatever it may be, at face value. Very informative for your readers might be the average consumption of a household in Palm Springs! We need a number in kW-hrs.

The comparison of the two figures (monthly average household consumption and monthly average farm energy yield) would be interesting as a thumbnail figure. However, it will still mislead the public as to the farm's usefulness in supplying usable electrical energy. That's because it will not address the key issues of electrical generating capacity: people need electricity in their homes at all hours of all days--on demand. The monthly average outputs and consumptions mask the fact that there is little matching of the demand and output on a minute-by-minute basis.

The only reason you don't worry about this mismatch in Palm Springs is that you are on a grid that includes a huge coal, nuclear and gas-fired baseload. Take away all of the conventional energy conversion sources and your wind farm becomes basically worthless; your houses all get hot really fast (or cold--what's your nighttime low temperature look like out there?) and you spend much of your night in the dark.

My curiosity remains: What is the real yield of your wind farm in average monthly kW-hrs (for each month, since it will likely be seasonal)? What is the number of turbines in that yield count? What is the average hourly farm output, seasonally? What is the average capital cost for each turbine? What is the average monthly downtime per turbine? How about the average monthly maintenance cost per turbine?

Even better: how much is the farm paid per kW-hr (what's you feed-in tariff)? And who pays for the difference between the cost per kW-hr generated and the price paid per kW-hr? Where did the initial investment funds come from?

Just curious.

Ciao,
John in Parma
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