Monday, March 29, 2010

Anti-Turbinite Lies - Part 2 - More from Those Infernal Media Zombies

Recently there came this beauty across "The Internets" (G.W. Bush thought there were many, and he should know, since at the time, he was the Resident Ruler in the White House).

March 21
Friends and Members of the Chautauqua County Citizens for Responsible
Wind Power:

As you probably are aware, there is another proposal for an
industrial wind power project in the towns of Westfield and Ripley.
With your help the CCCRWP was able to oppose successfully the
previously proposed project. Now, again, the CCCRWP needs your
help to protect the community from the environmental degredation
and erosion of our quality of life posed by another proposed
wind power project.

The project includes up to 82 wind turbine generators 400 feet tall or
taller extending from the ridge overlooking Lake Erie south to the
Town of Sherman. Learn more about the dangers of the proposed
project by reviewing the draft environmental impact statement on
line (at or at the Ripley or Westfield
Library. Plan also to attend the public hearings (Eason Hall,
April 13, 1:00 p.m and Meeder’s Restaurant, May 4, 7:00 p.m.)
and voice your concerns about the loss of quality of life
threatened by this project.

The CCCRWP also needs financial support to effectively work to
protect our communities. Please consider either writing a check to
the CCCRWP or sending a pledge of funding to support the
CCCRWP’s work, which might include taking the towns of Ripley
and Westfield to court if they approve permits for the project.
Legal assistance doesn’t come cheaply.

Send your check or pledge of support to Janet Nass, CCCRWP
Treasurer, 8539 Hardscrabble Road, Westfield, NY 14787.

Thank you for your support.

The Chautauqua County Citizens for Responsible Wind Power

The lies almost seem tame compared to what were spewing out of John Boehner's mouth during his epic (Fail) rant (and comments about that here and here) just before the Health Care Reform Bill of 2009 was voted on, but there are still weasels, innuendo, partial-truths galore embedded in our local Anti-(turbine) people's email, like this classic:
"Now, again, the CCCRWP needs your help to protect the
community from the environmental degredation and
erosion of our quality of life posed by another
proposed wind power project."
Classic Karl Rove disinformation, using the strength of what is the "opposition" and trying to morph it into The Main Weakness. In this case, the strength of the pro-wind energy argument (wind turbines/affordable pollution-free renewable electricity), which is production of electricity combined with the avoidance of environmental degradation via coal and Ngas burning, coal and Ngas extraction and/or use nukes, is used as the centerpiece of the argument against wind turbines (that they cause environmental degradation). The debating trick is to create a phony controversy and re-frame things via term "industrial" wind turbines, where "industrial" is a code for "bad". This is somewhat ironic, as the wealth of this country came from and comes from industry, or at least what is left of it, although it is true that some of that wealth came at a cost.

But things like an electric grid don't just happen by random movements of electrons; investments of trillions of dollars were made in this country, creating tens of millions of jobs, and making possible a very high standard of living for most of us. As has been found through bitter experience, you can't cram billions of people on a planet (at least 200% more than is "sustainable" from just a food standpoint without the use of "industrial" fertilizer to make protein (ammonia puts the "amino" in amino acids) for a significant fraction of humanity in this day and age) and still pretend to be eco-balanced hunter-gatherers or psuedo-eco-balanced subsistence farmers. The last attempt to do this was by China in the early 1960's ("The Great Leap Forward") and more than 30 million people starved to death from that bit of ignorance - and ammonia (or the lack of it) played a key role (see Vaclav Smil's book "Enriching the Earth").. And, we have also discovered that the products or waste products of our drive to "live large" (the U.S. way of life is very energy intensive) can alter the atmosphere to the point where it threatens the ability of most to live - the Ozone Layer depletion via CFC's and HCFC's and the Greenhouse Gas pollution of our atmosphere via (mostly) CO2 dumped as a result of fossil fuel combustion are classic examples. Well, it's now the 21st century, and we have to consume energy sensibly, and make it responsibly, and that means no more Chernobyl like incidents, and in the very near future, less CO2 dumped into the air than is absorbed by the ocean so that the atmospheric CO2 content goes back down to more sensible levels. It was around 280 ppm in 1750 - about the time of the invention of the coal fired steam engine - and now it is north of 390 ppm and going up by 2 to 3 ppm/yr. Such stupidity is surely not the sign of an intelligent species.

So how is the "less CO2 pollution" scenario to be rapidly achieved? Well, one is to let civilization as we know collapse and devolve back to an agrarian one - probably based on peasant farming and new forms of feudalism. But, the transition to that kind of future will likely be ugly and then some, involving a tremendous loss of life/loss in quality of life, and most of whatever knowledge that has been developed to date (no electricity, no computers, no databases, no internet, after all). Or, there could be the widespread use of affordable renewable energy to make electricity, and a much more efficient usage of renewable electricity and renewable sourced fuels (liquid, solid and gaseous fuels are very compact and useful forms of stored energy - just trying plowing 1000 acres of farmland without liquid fuels....).

So why the denigration of the term "industrial", and it's use only as an image of evil, a term of insult? Like it or not, "industrial" makes life possible for essentially all of us in this country, and if it is currently a messy affair, clean it up. And/or quit reproducing so much....after all, with half that population, in theory only half of the energy currently being made is needed. But, that is too simple a way to view it. As I just heard on NPR, the key descriptor is "an extraordinary escalation in rhetoric".

Meanwhile, these "Hellbound Trains" continue on down the tracks, taking our locality, state, nation and world for a ride, aided by Ms. Koenig & fellow passengers:
Thanks to The Great Recession, the price of "CO2 allowances" dropped by over 40%, to near $2/ton of CO2, from last year's $3.50/ton; so much for RGGI providing a consistent price signal to those emanating mass quantities of CO2 pollutant as the cost of making electricity:
Note the global temperature graph from January on this very nerdy site (just below world oil production rate graphical data):

And the coup de grace: Citigroup dumping all over new nukes (and that effectively kills off new nukes) as being money losing pits of doom (The English Version: ($US 1.50 per Euro at this date)). Using LOW estimates of construction costs, a guaranteed price of ~ 10 c/kw-hr is needed to break even.

The money quote from the Citigroup Analysis:

"The UK government today launched a fast-track planning process for a new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK. The government has selected 10 sites that will be taken forward by the new Infrastructure Planning Commission for approval. Planning inquiries will still be required but will deal with local issues only. The UK government has presented this today as effectively “green lighting” the build of new nuclear stations. However, this is in fact far from the case.

The Five Risks
There are five substantial areas of risk faced by developers of new nuclear power stations. Three of those risk areas are so big and significant that if they go wrong, the developer (even the biggest utilities) could be financially damaged beyond repair. These risks can be classed as Corporate Killers. The government today announced measures to limit Planning risk, which while important in encouraging developers to bring forward projects, is actually the least significant risk financially. The government is still asking the utility companies to take on the three major risks — Construction, Power Price, and Operational. Indeed, at no time, anywhere in the world, has a utility built a new nuclear power station and taken the full Construction, Power Price, and Operational Risk."

The prices quoted in this report are 50% of those that Ontario Hydro received last spring (2009) when they announced the results of 2 x 1 GW nuke RFP. Here is the North American lowdown on the bad finances associated with nukes:

In order to make nukes as "viable" (same goes for coal and Ngas burners), the economic viability of wind turbines needs to be trashed. Groups like CCCRWP perform a valuable function to polluting energy project developers (defined as nukes, coal, Ngas) by raising doubts as to the viability of wind, raising the costs to get a permit, creating doubt as to the likelihood of getting that permit, and equating the sight of a wind turbine with the likes of the Dunkirk coal burner and a Chernobyl style disaster waiting to happen, for starts. Some of the people in CCCRWP probably believe the stuff that they are saying, and some are more than a bit like the recent tea-baggers protesting the milquetoast health care bill (Canadian style would be so much better, fairer, democratic and lower cost) passed this weekend in Washington DC. The disinformation spread by these true believers in the "evildom" of wind turbines serves the interests of some pretty powerful corporate types, but whether there is a funding connection or not has yet to be determined (and there may not be one - why pay for what you get for free?).

And then there is the irony of it all. Westfield has a Municipal Electric Utility (MEU), and gets NYPA power from Niagara Falls by accounting (delivered cost to the MEU of about 2.25 c/kw-hr), but if you were to track the electrons, they come from the Dunkirk coal burner. Some of the more polluting ones in the U.S. But, the standard of living of this rural Western New York (all, to be honest, all of Western NY) nowadays is propped up by money from NYC and surrounding wealthy sub-urbs, especially those on Long Island. And the 3.7 megatons/yr of CO2 pollutant made at Dunkirk is causing ocean levels to rise by melting down the Greenland icesheet (among others), which will lead to drowning out the "golden egg laying Goose" that is NYC/LI. Thus, that coal burning at Dunkirk, which could be avoided with sufficient wind turbines (maybe up to 0.4 megatons of CO2/yr from the proposed 82 commercial scale wind turbines - and every 0.4 megatons of CO2 pollutant avoided helps, after all) is actually killing off their money source, since it certainly is not coming from what remains of our industry and farming to the required extent, any more.

Not that the CCCRWP folks care. Myopia - it's a way of life. And all the rage, from teabaggers sparked off by the Faux media machine, to the anti-turbinites, triggered by a defense of a view that they don't even own, and sustained by Global Warming that they cannot see fit to see.

Oh well, so much for the morning vent...

BTW, April 26 is Chernobyl Day (it happened in 1986, and significantly contributed to the downfall of the Soviet Union). Don't forget about it, and let it drop down the memory hole; after all, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it....


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Anti-Turbinite Lies - Parade of the New Zombies - Part 1

One thing about those imaginary beings known as Zombies (the "Doom" and "Resident Evil" types) - they really can't be reasoned with. However, they are moneymakers - the 3 RE movies and the "Doom" movie have grossed (a double meaning, in this case) over half a BILLION dollars to date. The video games on which the movies are based also have been immensely profitable. But anyway, for those mutated from human form, truth, facts, objectivity, and scientific method mean so little to them - such Zombies also seem to have a lot in common to tea-bagggers, as evident from the recent Health Care Reform Law related Faux News inspired "controversy".

And so we have the recent opinion piece from Bradley Parker ("Wind Turbine Industry is Spreading Falsities" Updated: March 20, 2010, 6:40 am / Published: March 20, 2010, 12:30 am - see below), which even includes the standard adjective of "laughable" with respect to claims by some wind turbine proponents (don't "Anti's" know any other words; for example "funny"?). It's like he is repeating from a canned script, or channeling some evil central controlling unit. At least the Borg (another set of relentless imaginary entities) from Star Trek are more or less logical... Anyway, here is the "Anti" rant in question, apparently doing a fine imitation of one of those imaginary relentless ex-humans - remember, it's just an opinion:

from March 23 - The Buffalo News "Everybody's Column"

"Wind turbine industry is spreading falsities"
As confirmed by the Wind Action Group (WAG) in a March 9 News article, the wind turbine industry is plagued by myths.

One is that wind power will reduce our dependency on oil. Since oil provides less than 3 percent of our country’s electricity supply, this assertion is laughable.

Wind advocates falsely claim turbines will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by replacing coal and gas for electricity generation, and provide a cheaper alternative to these reliable power sources.

Denmark proves otherwise. Although it has more than 6,000 turbines, not a single fossil-fuel plant has closed in Denmark and in 2007 it burned as much coal as it did in 1999. The great Danes also have the most expensive electricity rates in Europe.

Another myth is that turbines do not have an adverse impact on nearby residents. As documented in the peer-reviewed Wind Turbine Syndrome, by Dr. Nina Pierpont, turbines in residential areas are deleterious to health. From the D’Entremont family in Nova Scotia to Charlie Porter in Missouri, home abandonment is often a tragic solution to the inimical turbines.

Unfortunately, the Machias Town Board is using WAG for legal guidance in crafting its wind law; a sad case of a pro-wind tail wagging the policy-making dog.

Nationwide in 2008, an average of 2.5 GW of electricity was made by burning oil, and 2 GW was made by oil in 2009 (at 50% thermal efficiency, 1 MW generated for a continuous year consumes about 10,000 bbl of oil). The use of oil to make electricity is steadily going away because oil is a very expensive fuel compared to coal and natural gas, and getting more so with time. Anyway, in NY State a lot of oil is still used to make electricity - especially near NYC. In 2008, about 6.5 million barrels (bbls) were burned to make electricity, and at an average of $120/bbl (a lot is refined oil), this was about $780 million "up in smoke", and sent elsewhere. At 50% thermal efficiency, this would have made about 650 MW on average. In 2008, wind, on average, made 143 MW (1294 GW-hr in 8784 hours, to be specific), and wind derived electricity displaced the some of the most expensive electricity made in NY State, which is oil based (about 143 million bbls/yr). But, given the way that electricity is sold in NY State (via NYISO), this wind sourced electricity significantly dropped the electricity price. And if oil was not displaced, natural gas (Ngas) was displaced, since that is the next most expensive electricity made.

In 2009, the electricity output from wind turbines was about double that made in 2008, as a number of wind farms came online in late 2008 and early 2009. A list of them can be seen at

A megawatt-hour (MW-hr) is a unit of energy, and a MW-hr of electricity made by wind turbines injected into the grid replaces a MW-hr of electricity made via polluting sources (nukes, coal, oil, Ngas). Given the deferred hydro and pumped hydroelectricity storage in and around NY State, wind turbine sourced electricity made in one hour can be stored or used as it is made to displace pollution sourced electricity. It is a lie to state that wind derived electricity does not reduce CO2 pollution in NY State; if that electricity is used, it has to come from somewhere.

As for Denmark, it now gets over 25% of it's electricity from wind, on average, with the completion of the second Horns Rev offshore project. The variations in Danish wind turbine output are buffered via deferred hydroelectricity set-ups in Norway and Sweden, pumped storage systems in Germany and also the wind turbine outputs in areas remote from Denmark, such as Germany, France and the Netherlands. As to the DELIVERED PRICE of electricity, Denmark taxes electricity usage significantly to discourage waste and frivolous consumption as well as encourage energy efficiency. The actual cost of most wind derived electricity in Denmark is quite low, because most of the wind turbine investments have been or are close to being paid off. Denmark is likely to beat its goal of 50% electricity from wind by 2030. And they keep innovating - for example, 3 x 3.6 MW x 120 meter rotor diameter units are being installed in Copenhagen, next to a multi-fuel co-gen (most efficient in the world) within 100 meters of the shore - see here - new additions to the Avedore facility.

As to the hypothesis put forth by Nina Pierpoint, this remains completely NOT peer reviewed by scientifically competent people, though her friends and relatives probably did spell check it. There is still no evidence of of any damage due to infrasound (low frequency sound); to claim otherwise is just another lie. Of course, there is always "make believe peer reviewed", significantly based on collated anecdotes and rumors. And when all else fails, revert to subjectivity, and whip up an internet frenzy. For a bit more objectivity, try here: and And there is also a new rebuttal from a real acoustic expert, Dr. Geoff Leventhall, former President of the UK Institute of Acoustics.

Finally, there is the cost of production of electricity topic; the price paid to generators averaged 3.1 c/kw-hr in Western NY in 2009. This absurdly low price does not include the external costs of air pollution, resource depletion, balance of payments for imported fuels, CO2 air pollution, proper nuclear waste disposal (actually, presently does not exist in the US), nuclear proliferation (and how is that to be "costed"?) or catastrophic insurance for nuclear reactors. Almost all electricity generators in NY State are OLD and fully depreciated/paid off, and they have essentially no capital costs associated with them (except for Nine Mile 2, and those are now being "socialized" as "stranded costs"). When you compare new production facilities for coal, the required prices with pollutant CO2 disposal are well in excess of 15 c/kw-hr. And a new nuke will require guaranteed electricity prices of over 20 c/kw-hr; that is why this option was rejected by the extremely pro-nuclear Ontario Power Generation entity in 2009. The unsubsidized prices needed for onshore wind derived electricity range from 5 to 10 c/kw-hr, and even the more expensive offshore units are less expensive than an extensively subsidized new nuke.

Of course, inquisitive minds would like to know the real agenda behind the anti-(turbine) people, and it should be easy to find out if they ever seriously debate it; after all, to quote a famous Sage of our times, "I know that the hypnotized never lie". But, more likely than not, we get to be exposed to this march of the zombies. And don't let then bite you....the resulting changes can be quite nasty, just like the intent of these new wave media zombies.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Erie County Homegrown

Energy, in case you were asking.

After all, there are lots of "homegrown" things - and as we move on into the future, making as much of the energy needed for us to live as close to where we live will become increasingly important. That's just one of the consequences of "Peak Oil" and "Peak Oil Exports" - more and more people will be bidding on stagnant or decreasing supplies, forcing prices up, and requiring a lot more blood, sweat and/or tears to pay for oil and oil products, like gasoline, diesel and kerosene (jet fuel). And as for electricity...well, exporting money to import electricity, or fuels to make that electricity may also be a huge burden to our economy, for similar reasons. And as most know, it tends to get cold (not as much so as in the past due to Global Warming, but cold enough to freeze to death); staying sufficiently warm is not only life or death, but also a matter of quality of life.

Energy is also important to our economy, and on the negative side, is a reason to go to war or to trash the Global Climate system, based on how much CO2, methane and N2O is present in the air. It would be nice to make our own energy in a way that does not involve a huge export of money to buy fuels or electricity, and do so in a manner that does not trash the Global climate control system. But, in Erie County, New York, is it possible?

So, let's start with some Erie County facts. The estimated human population is 910,000 people dispersed over 1044 square miles with "title" to 183 square miles of Lake Erie surface (bottom-lands of the lake are owned by all of us New Yorkers via the entity known as NY State). Via the Census Bureau, our income is a bit less than the average for NY State, but typical for the US. We have 423,000 households, and a home ownership rate of about 65% (NY average is 53%), and the vast majority of the population lives in either Buffalo or its surrounding sub-urbs. The northern part of the county is relatively flat, and the southern part is quite hilly, with a number of ridges in a NNW to SSE direction, getting higher as one goes south. Given half a chance, the native vegetation is hardwood forest, such as maples, oak, beech and ash.

Climatewise, for the Buffalo area, the average insolation (percent of direct sunlight) is about 50% of maximum (time of no clouds/rain/snow/fog). However, due to "reverse lake effect" (cold lake, warmer air), summers tend to be fairly sunny (65% insolation); winters and fall tend to be cloudier. Precipitation tends to be uniform across the year. Winds are significantly directional, especially by the Lake Erie coastline (prevailing is WSW; most winds flow from the SW quadrant). There is a windy season - from October to April, peaking in December. The NY State Wind map for Erie County is shown below. The fastest winds are estimated to be near Sturgeon Pt in Angola; winds are estimated to be 8.55 m/s at 100 meters above the ground - almost worthy of the Lakota Sioux lands in South Dakota.

Note: anything with dark green or better on land is commercially viable (especially for turbines with large rotor diameter to generator ratios, like the Vestas V-100 x 1.8 MW units), and even more so if near transmission lies or a dedicated customer. But, light purple or better leads to commercial grade winds. As for offshore, winds are estimated to be between 7.5 to 9 m/s at hub height (generally 8 to 8.5 m/s), which are commercial scale for "moderate speed" wind turbines, such as this other Vestas V-112 x 3MW system. However, there are other vendors for wind turbines, both on and offshore, like GE, Siemens, Gamesa, Clipper, Nordex, Fuhrlaender, Acconia, and Suzlon, and perhaps others like Enercon (with manufacturing in Quebec) who might want to enter the US market.

Let's say that Erie County residents decide to go renewable, electrically speaking. Given the high cost for PV, the inaplicability of solar thermal electric, the two choices for electricity seem to be run-of-river hydro and wind turbines. Some important questions that need to be answered are how much electricity is needed, and what are the available resources. Any photovoltaics (PV) added is "gravy". And while the case for solar hot water and passive solar/active solar residential/commercial heating is MUCH more logical than for PV (lower investment, energy yield of at least 800% of PV as low grade delivered heat), that too is assumed to be "gravy" - and a fine addition to our energy mix, too.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, NY consumed 141,102,467 MW-hr in 2008, an average of about 16.064 GW. This averages out to about 0.82 kw of continuous usage per capita (19.4 million people). On a prorated basis, Erie County would need an average supply of 746 MW.

Niagara River: The average flow is about 5796 m^3/s, and the drop between Lake Erie and the intakes above the Falls is about 3 meters (most of this drop happens by the Peace Bridge). The total energy potential is 170 MW, but not all of that could be captured. If 20% of this was tapped, that is 34 MW of run-of-river (no dams needed). If each run of river unit could tap an average of 25 kw, that would be 1400 of these units. A company named Free Flow Power (Gloucester, Mass)
has already applied for permits for this part of the river (840 of them). So far, no local politician has mentioned the manufacture of these items in Buffalo....

Biomass co-gen: Lets assume that 12 MW of electricity is co-produced by biomass fired boilers. That leaves 700 MW to go...and it would also eliminate a lot of natural gas usage at some major users (UB?, Buffalo State?, downtown Buffalo?). At about 1.5 ton/hr of wood per MW, this would require a source for 18 tons/hr of wood. At 5 tons/acre per year, about 32,000 acres would be required to grow this resource (160 wood farmers at 200 acres/farm, crop sold at $40/ton). While that sounds like lots of land, that works out to 50 square miles, or about a 7.1 x 7.1 mile square (4.7% of Erie County land). The by-product heat could displace 1.6 billion cubic feet per year of natural gas, saving customers about $16 million in avoided natural gas purchases (at $10/MBtu); it would also avoid the export of that money out of the area. The wood crop (willow, for example) would cost about $6.3 million/yr to grow/harvest/transport.

Wind: With 46 MW down, that leaves 700 MW to be extracted from wind. This could be done via a combination of on and offshore wind. The offshore part is easiest to estimate, so that will get calculated first.

Offshore: There are 183 square miles of available water surface. If ~ 25 % is assumed to be reserved for shipping lanes, that leaves about 135 sq miles of "tappable" water with a depth that is less than 20 meters, in general. Since the Lake Erie bedrock is a limestone composite with the characteristics of concrete, a foundation capable of withstanding ice flows seems a definite possibility (wind turbines located in the Baltic Sea have been dealing with such problems for over a decade, so the problem of ice is solvable).

A reasonable turbine "density" is about 8 MW capacity per square kilometer (Horns Rev 160 MW wind farm in Denmark waters), or about 20 MW per sq mile. At 135 sq miles, total capacity is thus 2700 MW of capacity. At an average output of 40% using wind turbines suited to the "mild" offshore conditions (relative to the North Sea, for example), this is 1080 MW on a delivered basis. This is enough to completely power up Erie County, electrically speaking, on average. However, there may be some days when the winds are slack, and other days that the wind is more than sufficient, but electrical energy storage is easily dealt with Erie County.

If only 1/3 of the 1080 MW delivered is used (or 25% of the available offshore resource), an average of 360 MW output could be obtained. Using 1/6 of the offshore resource (12.5% of the water surface would be used in offshore wind arrays), 180 MW could be obtained. Since offshore tends to be more expensive than onshore, let's go with 180 MW delivered, or 450 MW of capacity, worth about $1.8 billion in capital investment. About half of that is likely to be local (foundation and marine work, substation, cabling, etc) spending/labor/business, worth about 14,400 job-years as well as associated spin-off jobs.

Onshore: Subtracting 180 MW from 700 MW means that "only" 520 MW on a delivered basis of wind derived electricity would be needed. Since onshore yields tend to be lower than offshore yields due to slower winds at hub heights (estimate is about 30% of capacity), this would require about 1730 MW of capacity. The investment required is about $3.4 billion, and the number of turbines required depends on the size of them, and the particular characteristics (some new turbines are designed for lower winds and might get an average of 35% output, requiring "only"1485 MW, using the same winds that would push another turbine attuned for higher wind speeds to a 30% output level). Between 700 to 825 wind turbines would be needed for this effort. The $3.4 billion investment would make 54,400 job-yrs - mostly wherever the turbines and components were manufactured. Obviously, it would be in Erie County's best interest to land some wind jobs, and wind component manufacturing facilities.

Is there enough area to house 700 wind turbines. The short answer is yes. For example, there are 159 x 1.5 MW wind turbines in Wyoming County, but just next to Erie County (Sheldon and Whethersfiled 2 wind farms, total capacity of 238.5 MW, and probable output averaging ~ 83 MW. BNut, to put this into perspective, assume that 6 rows of 21 miles of turbines (2.5 MW) were deployed along the coastline, as well as along the ridges, spaced 300 meters apart and perpendicular to the prevailing WSWwinds. Misson accomplished. Or, try this as a thought experiment - imagines a 20 mile x 20 mile (400 mi^2) portion was largely avoided - as being part of the city, or of various sub-urbs. Of the 644 mi^2, assume that half of this is located on the wrong side of the ridgeline, or in a valley. That leaves 322 mile^2 to put turbines on. Assuming a turbine "density" of 6 x 2.5 MW = 15 MW per square kilometer. This is equivalent to 38 turbines per square mile; a total of 19 square miles would be needed, out of 322 mi^2, or about 6% of Erie County's likely wind turbine suitable land area (1.8% of total land area). In fact, there is room for plenty more. Since the "actual area used by the turbines is quite small (1/16 of an acre per turbine, but lots of space between them), only 44 acres of actual landspace (tower diameter, transformer) would be needed for 700 turbines.

Since a number of wind arrays in Erie County (on and offshore) would still produce a variable output, connections to other regions with renewable energy potential would be needed - such as Ontario and Quebec, as well as other parts of NY State. Fortunately, there is a very oversized electricity grid in Erie County, mostley cenetered around the Buffalo area, with massive substations in Buffalo, Tonawanda (Huntley facility), Elma, West Seneca and Lackawanna, interconnecting Niagara Falls, Huntley, the Dunkirk and Somerset generation sites, and also connecting Erie County to Pennsylvania (Seneca Pumped Hydro, Kinzua Dam, other parts of NY (especially the Utica "junction box") and Ontario. There are also 3 existing pumped hydro facilities nearby (Seneca at Kinzua, 430 MW, Niagara Falls USA (240 MW) and Niagara Falls Ontario (170 MW), as well as the emergency reserve of up to 2 GW of deferred hydro (when both sides of Niagara Falls "drain the Falls". There seems to be no need for any more pumped hydro in this region, but if that was necessary, it could be arranged. For example, a 200 MW system composed of a 100 acre pond 100 feet deep on a 800 foot drop (such as areas seen along US 219 near 10 to 15 miles north of Springville), or in the Boston Hills south of Buffalo (could use Lake Erie water). The 100 care pond/100 ft deep pond with an 800 ft water drop could produce 100 MW for close to 24 hours, or 200 MW for 12 hours; it would provide significant energy buffer to "weather" slow wind time periods. Correspondingly, during high wind events, it is a great way to store energy which can be exported to regions during their peak consumption (and most expensive energy) times.

Liquid Fuels:
Unfortunately, Erie County is highly sub-urbanized (beneath urban?), and this sets up County residents for significant fleecing from oil producing parts of the world, some of them (Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Nigeria, Iraq, Iran, Angola, Libya) who are amongst the nastiest and/or most corrupt governments/ruling cliques in the world. And sub-urbanization is, at present and for the forseeable future, an acronym for petroleum consumption, and petroleum addiction. Totally not wise.

Some of this consumption can be reduced by using electricity for transportation - such as the Metro Rail, obviously, this system needs to be expanded, and subsidized more by taxpayers until the effects of Peak Oil are really felt ($6 to $10/gallon gasoline, for example). A good way to lessen gasoline and diesel consumption would be a 50% x 50% plan - 50% less miles traveled in cars, and 50% fuel consumption rate per car (i.e. doubling mileage from US average (~ 23 mpg) to 44 mpg, the present European average. Since NY State consumes about 5.8 billion gallons per year (bgy) of gasoline and 2.8 bgy of diesel (well below U.S. national averages - a result of the MTA system centered around NYC), on a prorated basis, Erie County would consume 270 million gallons/yr (mgy) of gasoline and 130 mgy of diesel. Dropping that by eventually 75% would lead to a yearly demand of 67.5 mgy of gasoline and 32.5 mgy of diesel. There is also a lot of jet fuel consumed (kerosene); however, a decent high speed rail system connecting Albany/NYC, Erie (Pittsburgh/Cleveland) and Toronto could also take most of the need for short haul air traffic away.

As it turns out, yields of biodiesel (plus protein by-product) from oil seeds like canola produce around 100 gallons/acre per year. Corn based ethanol has a productivity of about 500 gallons/acre-yr (175 bushels per acre, 2.85 gallons EtOH per bushel); it takes about 1.3 gallons of EtOH to match gasolines performance, unless high compression engines are used (performance then becomes about 1.3 gallons of gasoline per gallon of EtOH). And cellulose to fuels (EtOH, gasoline and or diesel-like) can produce about 400 gallons of fuel per acre.

Thus,for liquid fuels, 67.5 mgy of gasoline would require approximately 135,000 acres, or 211 square miles of corn, or 264 square mile of cellulose crop (usually harvested at 5 tons/acre-yr, but only once every 3 years on any given acre. Celloluse harvesting can take place throughout the year, but crops like corn, potatoes and sugar beets don't work that way. For diesel, about 127 square miles of cellulose would be needed, or some combination of 100 square miles of oilseed/protein crops and 100 acres of cellulose. In any case, up to half of Erie County land would be needed for energy (fast growing wood and shrubs) and/or energy food (corn, canola, potatoes, sugar beets, etc) crops.

Economically, this would be a major boost to rural Erie County - the conversion of many socially destructive "ex-urbs" back to farm/woods would actually be economically viable. At present prices, Erie County EXPORTS $1.2 billion/yr out of NY State for gasoline and diesel. However, when prices rise to $10/gallon and above (say, by 2020), the money drain/"needle in the arm" will cost Erie County inhabitants over $4 billion/yr. This is a disaster on so many levels.... However, re-injecting and recycling most of that money from urban to rural Erie County (and also providing jobs in Buffalo and towns like Angola (Lake Erie cooling water/rail access) to convert the crops to fuels would actually create hundreds of jobs (farming plus biofuels). Keep in mind that a typical ethanol facility produces 55 to 110 mgy.

In addition, as more and more transport is electrified (most car users only travel 20 miles per day in Erie County, a perfect application for a battery powered car), more electricity would be required. But since fuel and fuel-food crops are perfectly compatible with wind turbines, no additional land would be required for the dual crop + wind turbine arrangement (also great for farmer incomes).

Probably the one energy usage that is rarely considered is that of natural gas (Ngas) for heat. But, like garbage put out once a week, the natural gas for heat is also a 20th century concept that has to go the way of the garbage. On that same note, any garbage that cannot be recycled/composted also has to be incinerated and converted into electricity (but there is a facility in Niagara Falls that already does that). After all, there is nothing clean about Ngas (in extraction or combustion); but it is "less dirty" than coal. On a statewide basis, NY uses about 1.2 trillion cubic feet/yr (tcf) of Ngas; on a pro-rated basis, Erie County would use about 55 billion cubic feet per year (bcfy). Some of this could be displaced by using wood in co-generation systems, and some would be difficult to displace for high temperature heat. In NY, Ngas usage is approximately equally divided between electricity production, residential/commercial use and industrial use. Since there are presently no Ngas electricity users of note (5 MW co-gen at General Mills in Buffalo), Erie County's Ngas consumption is probably near 38 bcf/yr. At the current low price of $10/MBtu delivered, this is $380 million/yr; but when gas prices potentially triple by 2020 (to match oil price rises), this will also be an EXPORT of over $1 billion per year. Uggh.....

If an 85% thermal efficiency for Ngas consumption is assumed, that means that only 32.3 bcf of Ngas is actually used as 100% delivered heat. Taking into consideration the 1.6 bcfy biomass equivalent, about 30.7 million MBtu (30.7) bcfy of Ngas replacement is needed. This works out to 1026 MW of direct resistance electric heat. Most of this would be seasonal use - basically, when the windy season (winter) occurs. If 40% of this is assumed to be used as direct resistance heat, and 10% as heat pump compressor motor energy, then winter usage of electricity for heat would require about 500 MW of electricity.

Going back to the wind turbine numbers, the required wind energy needed on a delivered basis would rise to ~ 1200 MW, from around 700 MW, or an increase of 71%. If this is split equally between offshore and on shore, then the wind turbine capacity would be:

309 MW delivered = 771 MW capacity = 21% of water surface in arrays = 257 x 3 MW turbines
Capital Cost = $3.1 billion (40% net output per turbine assumed)
Total jobs made (manufacture + installation) ~ 50,000 job years

891 MW delivered = 2742 MW capacity* = 3.2% of land surface in array = 1097 x 2.5 MW units with an assumed efficiency (net output) of 32.5%.
Capital Cost = $5.5 billion
Total Jobs made (manufacture + installation) ~ 88,000 job years

Anyway, that's a plan for Erie County to go homegrown, energy wise, create 138,000 job-years of mostly manufacturing jobs. Over a 20 year period, that is another 6900 direct jobs, and close to 30,000 support jobs (grocery clerks, real estate agents, bartenders, teachers, nurses, government workers and business bureaucrats) and about $21.5 billion (multiplier of 2.5:1 for manufacturing only basis) of economic activity. It would also avoid the export of $80 billion over a 20 year period; on average, about $4 billion/yr (assuming energy prices are 3 times present levels in 20 years, and on average, prices rise in a linear manner). Note: this is a 5%/yr growth rate in energy prices (rate = [Ln(3)]/20; multiply by 100 to get percentage).

The result of this would be significant independence from foreign (Texas, Louisiana, Saudi Arabia) oil sources, methane (Ngas) sources and coal (West Virginia, Wyoming), essentially no CO2 pollution for electricity, heat and transportation, and a lot more manufacturing and rural employment (farmers, not ex-urbs). And by not exporting all that money and instead recycling it into local manufacturing, economic growth might actually occur. Some of the money should be plowed into mass transit, of course, as this will lessen the quantity of money exported for liquid fuels, which could be more concentrated to construction and farming uses (difficult to electrify). Another great use for renewable fuels would be back-up electrical power.

Some future tweeks to this would include making ammonia (farm use - this puts the protein in plants) in a renewable manner - involving renewable electricity and also possibly cellulose plus renewable electricity. And the yield of EtOH from an sugar/starch to EtOH plant can be increased by 50% if the CO2 by-product from fermentation of sugars is reduced to EtOH or some other fuel by hydrogen made from water and renewable electricity. Thus, that 110 mgy EtOH facility could go to 165 mgy with no increase in crop production, but a need for ~ 288 MW of electricity.The oxygen by-product from water electrolysis could then be used to convert cellulose to fuels via the syn-gas intermediate. You know, better living though chemistry...

Anyway, none of this will happen unless the price of the energy (electricity, biofuels, heat) justifies the investments. But, the alternative is to import impoverishment by importing fossil fuels form other parts of the US and especially from other parts of the world. Now, some may like the high unemployment rates in Buffalo (they won't spread to the 'burbs, right?) as a way to keep labor wage rates depressed, but to most, such thoughts are evil. Unfortunately, there are more than a few people with such attitude in positions of political or economic (business, banking, etc) power, and their main arguments will be that energy prices won't rise so fast, Peak Oil won't happen so fast, Ngas is going to be cheap for decades, and besides, there is no such things as Sanat Claus and Global Warming. Except of course when it comes to government handouts for the upper income brackets; then it is expected to be Christmas at least every other day.

And as for the micro-hordes of nuke, coal, Ngas and petro-whores who get feverishly overwrought with visions of wind turbines within their field of view (and with non-polluting energy as the dominant energy source, you can see that much farther, thus magnifying the manufactured and imaginary tizzy), grow a suitable pair. Don't like wind turbines - then plunk your money down for a non-polluting electricity source that odds are will be much more expensive. And grow up. After many years, whoring for mega polluting energy concerns wears heavily on people and society, and it's no longer cute. I'm personally sick and tired of Oil Wars, and seeing people in this country forced by economic necessity to fight as mercs for the likes of evil corporate entities like Xi (ex-Blackwater) and in the US armed forces. Cannon fodder on behalf of the upper class as a career choice sucks - it's not much of a choice, anyway, and is almost always reserved for those with minimal amounts of money in the family lineage. Aren't we sufficiently in debt yet - that IraqNam misadventure will end up costing $3 billion in just money costs, not to mention the American dead and wounded and the Iraqi dead and wounded (between 10 to 100 times the US casualties)? How many must die so that a few have a view of the sunset that doesn't have the occasional wind turbine (and remember, 3.5% of the land surface might be within 1000 (2/3 of a mile) meters of a rotor blade and tower)? And a world ravaged by Global Warming in preference to seeing a wind turbine on the horizon - yeah, the kids and grandkids will really give thanks for that one..... yeah, right.

So, any comments? If so, send them to, or your political representatives.



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