By Rick Greene editor and publisher of Southern Ohio Today
In his column Rick Greene states as fact that human’s use of fossil fuels is causing warming. (Whether that’s the case is definitely still up for debate. (1))
“The scientific community has identified this issue for more than thirty years. It wasn’t fake then, and it isn’t fake now.”
He uses Prof. Michael Mann as a key witness. He goes on to talk about Renewable energy solutions being “at the heart of Democratic platform.” In the second presidential debate Vice President Biden stated that he would emphasize renewables and work to eliminate use of fossil fuels by 2050.
So what are the main sources of energy and which are renewables:
Water is one of the renewable energies. Most of that has to do with major rivers that have been dammed in order to generate electricity. Three of the biggest projects are at Niagara Falls and the Columbia River and Hoover Dam. The obvious question is how much more can water be used as a renewable energy source. One potential that sounds like a possibility is harnessing the tides. But at this point in time that hasn’t been worked out to a degree to be a substantial source of energy. So water as a source of renewable energy is not stressed.
Wind is something that can easily be harnessed and traveling through portions of the country you can see the giant wind turbines that have been put in place. An advantage to wind is can be used 24 hours a day. That is, if the wind is blowing at just the right speed. Some internet research on wind turbines shows that they have both a “cut-in” and “cut-out” speed. What that means is the wind must be blowing at a designated speed before they will start and they will stop if the wind exceeds a certain speed. While the “cut-in” speed varies depending on the source, I saw wind speeds between 5 and 9 miles per hour as the “cut-in” speed. The “cut-out” speed was consistently shown as 55 miles per hour. The speed at which the turbine can generate the maximum level of energy is well above the “cut-in” speed. So wind is only a reliable source of energy where wind is relatively strong and consistent.
Solar energy generation is a different. It takes sunshine to generate solar energy. So the two factors that apply to solar are the normal hours of the day that sunshine can potentially shine and the number of days it actually shines. The number of hours of potential sunshine vary depending on the location and calendar. Locations that are closer to the equator have more consistent hours of sunshine. Those closer to the poles have wide swings in the number of potential hours of sun. Take northern Alaska for example. It is known as the land of the midnight sun in the summer, but is known for days with little sunlight during the winter. The number of days that the sun is partially or totally blocked by clouds varies based on location.
I’ve been tracking the weather in Chillicothe the last few days. Sunday was rainy, but was somewhat windy. Monday was cloudy and had little wind. Tuesday was cloudy and misty and there was little wind. (Last night it was blowing at 4 mph.) Today is supposed to cloudy all day and the wind is currently blowing at 4 mph. They are calling for rain for tomorrow. While this is not an appropriate look at the potential for renewables in our area, it does point out the shortcomings of them. That will be five days in a row where the sunshine was blocked by heavy cloud cover making solar ineffective and and the wind was below the “cut-in” speed much of the time meaning the turbines wouldn’t have been activated. We have no rivers or oceans that would be suitable for generating electricity from water power. Where would the renewable energy come from in periods like this?
There are sources of general information on the hours of sunshine and average wind speed for various locations. The following are links to those factors for Columbus, OH.
Water hardly has any real potential for producing electricity in our area. That means we need to depend on other sources of renewable energy.
Solar is another potential renewable. The chart of hours of average sunshine for Columbus shows it varies greatly by the season. An average month has either 744 hours (31 days c 24 hours per day) or 720 (30 days x 24 hours per day) hours. The three months from November through January average 100 hours of sunshine or less than 15% of the time. The months of May through August average about 250 hours of sunshine or about 33% of the time. So how consistent will solar power be? Will it match the need for power, especially as we convert from gasoline, heating oil and natural gas in favor of electricity. Without the ability to have large and long term storage for the electricity generated by solar power we will have significant disruptions to our electricity supply as the weather changes.
Wind is another potential renewable. Weathersparks.com has a good graph on the average wind speed for Columbus, Ohio. We find the following on the site:
“The windier part of the year lasts for 6.9 months, from October 16 to May 13, with average wind speeds of more than 8.6 miles per hour. The windiest day of the year is January 17, with an average hourly wind speed of 11.0 miles per hour.” “The calmer time of year lasts for 5.1 months, from May 13 to October 16. The calmest day of the year is August 3, with an average hourly wind speed of 6.2 miles per hour.”
So if the “cut-in” speed of turbines is 9.0 mph, the majority of the time the turbines won’t be activated. Even if it is as low as 7.0 mph, during the 5 summer months, from mid-May to mid-October, the average wind speed will be below the “cut-in” speed. If the “cut-in” speed of the turbines is 5.0 mph the there could be some electricity generated from wind each month, but there is no month in the year where the average wind speed comes close to, let alone exceeds, the speed at which the turbines reach their maximum electricity production. So it appears that wind power isn’t a very reliable source of electricity for central Ohio (and much of the Midwest).
So where does that leave central Ohio if the goal of converting from fossil fuel based energy to renewables is achieved? And what would 100% renewables actually mean for citizens and businesses? There are plenty of examples from around the world to look to. Some examples are western and southern Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom. The price per KWH varies around Europe, greatly influenced by each country’s policies on renewable energy sources. Or even closer to home, how about California? There are many stories about blackouts, shortages and higher energy prices.
So should central Ohio actually be converting to renewable energy sources? Especially since the push for them is coming due to science’s biggest hoax in history. More to come on that in the future.
(1) A good source for information on this debate can be found at: SEPP.org