Salazar’s Wind Power: First Open Mouth, Then Change Feet

Posted on Sat 04/11/2009 by


Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, please read this.

I wasn’t going to comment on this because over the last 14 months I have covered this in quite some depth, but after some thought, I decided to actually construct a post. I did this for the sole reason that these people appointed as Secretaries of Government Departments in this or any Administration should have at least some idea of the job they are doing. If they have no idea, then it is incumbent upon them to actually find out about what it is that they are actually commenting on.

Ken Salazar

However, as seems to be the case, most of them just prefer to wing it, and to make statements with the confidence of the office they hold behind them backing them up, they give the people the impression that what they say is something that actually can be achieved. Such is the case with Secretary for the Interior Ken Salazar.

Here is some of the text of his statement:

Windmills off the East Coast could generate enough electricity to replace most, if not all, the coal-fired power plants in the United States, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday.

“The idea that wind energy has the potential to replace most of our coal-burning power today is a very real possibility,” he said. “It is not technology that is pie-in-the sky; it is here and now.”

Salazar said ocean winds along the East Coast can generate 1 million megawatts of power, roughly the equivalent of 3,000 medium-sized coal-fired power plants, or nearly five times the number of coal plants now in the United States, according to the Energy Department.

Salazar could not estimate how many windmills might be needed to generate 1 million megawatts of power, saying it would depend on their size, and how near or far from the coast they were located.

Without even bothering to find out about what he was talking about, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar made a series of statements at a recent meeting where he was asked to speak. He just ‘put it out there’, and those sections of the media reporting on it accepted what he said blindly, thinking possibly why would he say it if it wasn’t something that could be accomplished. Those same sections of the media then reported it, again without checking it first. The people hearing what Salazar said, and reading it in the media then think something like this can be done, and when it is pointed out to them the absolute impossibility of it, that then is perceived as a slur on Salazar for blatantly political purposes.

So then let’s look at what Salazar actually said, and trust me Sir, if you are reading this, it is going to get very, very embarrassing, I’m afraid.

Well Secretary Salazar, it is in fact something that can readily be calculated, so let me do that for you.

Your total of one million MegaWatts (MW) of power is currently just a tiny bit under the whole total for installed capacity of power produced in the U.S. from every source, and three times the total of the installed capacity for all the coal fired plants in the U.S.

As to the Wind power statements you made, those calculations can also quite easily be worked out.

Currently Wind power is running at about 30% efficiency. I quote this number only, because although wind plants currently in operation in Europe are only running at between 15 and 20% efficiency, I’m willing to believe the Company line that they actually can operate at the stated 30%.
What that means is that even though the stated nameplate capacity of the nacelle on top of the tower may be able to produce its maximum power, that power extrapolated out over the whole year only amounts to that rated amount of power being delivered for 30% of the time, or averaged out at 30% of that stated nameplate capacity.

So, then let’s find an example. One is already in planning, that being Cape Wind in the shallows of Nantucket Sound. The nacelles on top of the towers there have a nameplate capacity of 3MW.
So to produce your one million MW of power, you can calculate the number of towers needed.
1,000,000 MW divided by the 3MW nacelles and then rated at 30%, so you will need 1.12 million of these towers.
Each tower is 285 feet tall, just 20 feet shorter than the Statue Of Liberty, not just the statue itself, but from ground level to crown tip. The 3 blades have a swept diameter of 364 feet.

So then we have the dimensions for the towers themselves, so from that we can calculate how many of them would be needed along the Eastern Atlantic Coast line as he says.

That coastline is 2069 miles long.
So it’s only a matter of dividing that 364 feet into that 2069 miles. Remembering to keep a distance between the blade tips so they don’t crash into each other.
So that means along the whole and entire length of that Eastern sea board, we can fit 30,000 of them, and that’s cutting it fine with just a few inches between blade tips.
So now, for Ken Salazar’s 1,000,000 MW of power totalling out at 1.12 million of those towers we would need 38 rows of them, stacked tip to tip.

38 rows of 30,000 towers in each row, each one 375 feet from the one next to it, along the entire Atlantic Coastline.

Getting the picture now?

Okay, Secretary Salazar was pretty sanguine that this could actually be done, so then let’s look at the cost, again easily calculated.
Cape Wind, in the shallows of Nantucket Sound will cost $1.2 Billion for its 130 towers, so extrapolating that out to Salazar’s 1.12 million towers, that makes for 8,616 plants of the same size, so that’s $1.2 Billion by 8,616.
The cost for this comes in at $10.4 Trillion. Read that number again. $10.4 Trillion, and keep in mind that’s for shallow water. As you get further out in those 38 rows, the water will start getting deeper, so the costs will be considerably higher, but gee, $10.4 Trillion is so hopelessly out of reach as any larger number would be. Also needing to be accounted for is that with 38 rows, not only are you getting out into the really deep water near the Continental Shelf, you need to keep them out of International Waters, and I also feel sure that all the inshore and deep water sea lanes can be legislated to take into account all these 1.2 million wind towers.

Okay, Secretary Salazar still thinks its feasible, and after all, he doesn’t expect it to be done tomorrow. The target might actually be 2050 if you go on all the junk science from those green environmentalist idiots demanding all this. Keep in mind also Cape Wind will be 12 years in the making from first plans to delivery of power.

So, a 2050 target date brings it into perspective, but we’re still talking today’s dollars, and the cost doubles every 7 years, so realistically that cost now blows out to, well, it’s all pretty academic really, but $50 to $60 Trillion isn’t out of the question, so 40 years cost spread means around $1.5 Trillion each and every year, so there’s double the amount of the Stimulus package right there, and that’s each and every year for the next 40 years.

Still, he seems to think it’s feasible.
So then, let’s get to it shall we.

First we’ll need to construct the factories to actually construct those nacelles, the towers, the fans, the infrastructure involved with all that.
The best case average for production of tower/nacelle units sees existing manufacturers rolling out 250 each year.
So 1.2 million towers in 40 years means 30,000 a year. At 250 from one factory, that means before you start, you’ll need to build 120 huge factories first. Each factory would employ 1400 workers going on current figures, so you’ll then need to train a work force of 170,000 people, and more, remember because they’ll be working flat out for 40 years.

Then consider the construction of an engineering project on a scale never before imagined on the Planet. Imagine the monstrous infrastructure just to get those towers in place, just what the carbon footprint might be, considering this is spread out over 40 years, constructing what in reality amounts to the construction of 215 Cape Wind sized plants each year, or around one plant of 130 towers every 1.7 days, if you work every day of the year, and working in daylight that amounts to around 8 towers each hour, or one every 7 to 8 minutes, and to keep that up for 40 years. Imagine the size of the construction work force needed, considering this scale, the heavy lift helicopters, the inshore and offshore sea traffic to enable all this. The onshore facilities needed considering the scale, the skill sets needed for all the electrical work. The huge underwater electrical wiring to get the power back ashore, the onshore electrical installations needed, and then connecting all this up to existing or new grids. Imagine also the extra cost on top the existing $10.4 trillion already allocated.

Still with me Secretary Salazar?

So, let’s pretend this actually can be achieved, The amount you quote here is currently 12 times the current existing World total for wind towers, so that means you’d have to construct one third of that current total each year, and do it for the next 40 years.

However, it’s all academic, because all that power can only be used in a limited area, because power cannot be transmitted over distances one fifth to one sixth the way across Continental U.S. no matter how smart the grid is, so even saying this ridiculous idea could power the whole of the U.S. is an absolute impossibility.

So, we have, just for the towers nacelles and fans:

A workforce of 170,000 people, just to work at the plants to construct them.

120 huge factories to construct.

Wind towers every 375 feet for the whole length of the Atlantic Coastline and stacked 38 rows deep.

Construct those towers, nacelles and fans at the rate of one every 8 minutes for 40 years, in the Atlantic Ocean.

$10.4 Trillion in today’s dollars (conservatively).

40 years work.

All completely useless.

Secretary Salazar, I’ll bet you wish you hadn’t said this.
You must be so embarrassed.

Pity is you’ll never even bother to read it, and in fact you won’t even see it, so you’ll blindly go on believing this actually can be accomplished. No one in your Administration will draw attention to it. No one even from your own department will even draw your attention to it.  No one will report on this, especially from the media who will disappear into your fundament rather than check the facts. Not that any of this even matters. People will prefer to believe this outrageous impossibility from you than real facts from anyone, let alone from me. You just put out this preposterously stupid statement, it was reported, and people will actually believe it can be done.

This cannot be done, and it will not be done, EVER.

This was a blatantly political statement to try and make you and your Administration look a bright green.

Next time, check the facts. Get a flunky to do it for you. Don’t build up peoples hopes with this type of patently false information.
Save yourself the embarrassment. Just shut your mouth. Want to see what a fool looks like. Look in the mirror.

TonyfromOz writes from Australia