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How much wind will a windmill mill if a windmill only uses wind?

Greg Fraunfelter asked that question in the Columbus Dispatch today.  And it’s a good question.  Far more complex than it seems on the surface.

For ourselves, we have noticed at times that the turbines in our area will be spinning away on days when there’s not a breath of wind anywhere.  Leaves on the highest branches of a tree will not be rustling or moving even the slightest bit, yet there are those turbines spinning like crazy.  How is that possible?  Does anyone else ever wonder about it?  The blades can weigh several tons.  How can they spin so effortlessly on calm days, supposedly moved solely by the wind?

This weekend, Paul Kuster will be doing one of his articles on this topic, but in the meantime, think about the ramifications of this, if the entire truth is ever discovered.

What if perhaps, the wind companies spin those turbines using electrical power from the grid, just for show?  How bad would it look if day after day, those turbines just sat there doing absolutely nothing?  That would be a nightmare of epic proportions for the wind industry.   It might signal a death knell for these useless sources of energy.   We already know that industrial turbines are inefficient and ineffective on the hottest days of the summer, but what if in actuality, they are spun by the wind even less than we think?

Who monitors how much electricity is used at an industrial wind site?  Is this information available for the public to view and scrutinize?  Paul asked a wind rep at a meeting one time for those stats, which the rep did eventually send to him a few days later, but this is information coming from the wind industry itself and we know from plenty of experience that they are not the most forthright and honest people.  So even though Paul was given some details on how much energy wind turbines actually draw from the grid, how accurate was it?

Eric Rosenbloom from Denmark wrote a piece about this a few years ago.   You can read the full article here.  This is an excerpt for those of you who aren’t familiar with Eric’s writings on turbines.

“For most grid systems, any power produced by wind plants is in practice superfluous. The backup generation (from the grid) is already providing it.

On top of this uselessness, the turbines use a great deal of electricity themselves. Most of them cannot even run without input from the grid. Although they produce electricity intermittently, they consume it continuously.

It may be that large wind turbines use as much electricity as they produce. Whether the wind is blowing in the desired range or not, they need power to keep the generator magnetized, to keep the blade and generator assembly (92 tons on a 1.5-MW GE) facing the wind, to heat the blades in icy conditions, to start the blades turning when the wind is just getting fast enough to keep them going, to keep the blades pitched to spin at a regular rate, and to run the lights and internal control and communication systems.”

So how much wind will a windmill mill if a windmill only uses wind?  

Donna Quixote

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9 Comments on “How much wind will a windmill mill if a windmill only uses wind?”

  1. Dougal Quixote April 11, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    Turbines have to be turned regularly to prevent flat spots on the drive shaft. In the UK the power from this is taken from the Grid but not paid for. So in high pressure conditions when no wind blows, turbines turn. Also have you noticed how often when TV cameras are around, despite not a blade of grass stirring the turbines are merrily spinning around. A year or so back you often saw stationary turbines in press reports. Now far less often. And YOU and I are paying for it!

    • Donna Quixote April 11, 2014 at 9:35 am #

      One way or another, the corruption of this industry will be fully known and something will eventually be it’s downfall.

  2. Alfred Alexander April 11, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    Thank you

  3. Heather Sprott April 12, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    I have asked wind companies, including Dufferin Wind if the turbines are metered for input and output of electricity. My answer was something like….the difference between the two is what they get paid for. I don’t think there is a meter. I have asked to see in the plans where the meter is for reading the turbines consumption. I have never seen one. Perhaps the public needs to demand to see and have access to these meters, if there really is one. I enjoy the connection with Quixotes Last Stand, thank you for doing it. Heather Sprott

    • Donna Quixote April 12, 2014 at 10:14 am #

      Thanks Heather. I think this is something that we need to push for, to find out just exactly what the net benefits are to the grid. We have a feeling that in many cases, these monster machines use far more power than what anyone would ever suspect and that this number is never taken into account when they talk about how much power these things produce.

  4. Nadia Nichols May 2, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    Good question; and why aren’t these pertinent questions being asked by our legislators???

  5. Ric Werme May 5, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

    I have a photograph of a control panel from a Gamesa wind Turbine in Lempster NH that was stopped due to low wind. The panel said wind was 2.66 m/s, power -9 kW. That seems like a fairly reasonable number for running the hydraulic pumps that power the pitch and yaw motors.

    I could post that separately, it’s in a presentation on NH Wind power, http://wermenh.com/wind/wind_in_NH_notes.pdf

    • Donna Quixote May 6, 2014 at 9:45 am #

      Thanks for this information Ric!! Paul is going to check into it and get back to you on this. (He understands this stuff better than I do.) 🙂

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