If these 5860 wind turbines were built at the same rate as the Darling Wind Farm, it would take 970 years. If they were built in the same time as Koeberg, it would mean building more than 12 wind turbines every week for nine years. It is a fallacy that wind turbines can be built more quickly than nuclear power plants.
But this does not tell half of wind’s problems. With nuclear (or coal or gas), the electricity is generated when you want it for as long as you want it. It is reliable and predictable. With wind, the electricity is produced only if the wind happens to be blowing at the right strength, which is seldom and unpredictable. Because of this, one kWh of wind electricity has far less value than one kWh of nuclear electricity, if indeed it has any value at all. (In 2008, our gold mines shut down because Eskom could not guarantee electricity supply. Unreliable electricity was worthless to them.)
Wind for grid electricity depends completely on governments. Because it is so expensive and unreliable, nobody will put a single cent into it unless the government forces taxpayers or consumers to pay huge operating subsidies for it. Governments compel utilities to buy wind electricity at very high prices, whether they want it or not, whenever the wind happens to be blowing. With nuclear, coal and gas, the generator serves the customer. With wind, the customer serves the generator.
The UK has more than 3000 wind turbines with a capacity of more than 5000MW. Because of its latitude, the UK has relatively good wind conditions. But a study by the John Muir Trust (which looked only at the records of electricity production) showed that on 124 occasions from November 2008 to December 2010, the total generation of wind power was less than 20MW. The load factor over these periods was less than 0.4%.
This exposes another fallacy of wind power, that "the wind is always blowing somewhere". In recent cold winters in northern Europe, when electricity was desperately demanded, the wind turbines from Ireland to Germany were producing next to nothing.
If you look at any graph of a nation’s electricity demand, you will see a fairly predictable curve that peaks at breakfast and supper time on weekdays and dips on weekends and at night. The difference between minimum and maximum demand is about two to one. Now look at a graph of wind electricity production. It shows violent, unpredictable fluctuations. The difference between minimum and maximum production is hundreds to one or more.
Article continues on page three...