Does Wind Power Produce Greenhouse Gases

Mark asks…

Commercial and residential electricity generating/ green house gas emissions?

How does Commercial and residential electricity generating create green house gas emissions

Windmill Farms answers:

Electricity can be generated in many different ways. Some methods don’t produce any significant amounts of greenhouse gases such as geothermal, hydro, nuclear, solar, tidal, wind etc. However, most electricity is generated by burning coal, and to a lesser extent by burning oil or gas.

Coal, oil and gas are types of fossil fuels and this means that they are made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms. When they’re burned they react with the oxygen in the atmosphere, the hydrogen atoms bond with oxygen atoms to form water and the carbon atoms bond with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases, other common ones include water vapour, methane and nitrous oxide. These gases have a unique physical property which enables them to trap heat within the atmosphere.

By burning fossil fuels to generate electricity we end up releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide, this accumulates in the atmosphere and retains heat. Power generation accounts for about a quarter of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

Lisa asks…

Why can’t everything be windmill and solar powered?

Why do we seek out other sources of energy. I mean I understand that we use a lot of energy but it also has a harmful effect on earth with all the greenhouse gasses and pollution. I was looking up some information on the Internet and it said Wind power, as an alternative to fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation and uses little land. As for solar power it’s also another good source of energy. How come we can’t we go strictly wind and solar to help the earth?

Windmill Farms answers:

Because we don’t currently have the proper infrastructure to provide for more than a few percent of our energy needs.

A lot goes into why, including profit motives for oil and coal companies lobbying to continue dirty energy subsidies. Good news is that you can make a difference by seeing if solar power:

or wind power:

is a viable option for electricity generation in your local area.

George asks…

What are alternative energy resources?

as in like a defenition…I know there are many like solar, nuclear, wind, etc. but i want a defenition

Windmill Farms answers:

Alternative energy resources are resources that are reusable, regenerating and do not leave or emit toxic waste products and produce greenhouse gases. Alternative energy sources include ethanol, wind power and solar power.

Paul asks…

gas or electricity?

Which is most eco -friendly: to boil the kettle on bottled gas or with electricity?

Windmill Farms answers:

It depends on where your electricity comes from and what you mean by eco-friendly. Because electricity is produced form a thermodynamic cycle (except for the very small amount from wind and hydropower) it takes about 3 times as much fuel to make the same heat. That’s right, 2/3 of the energy used in an electric power plant is thrown away as waste heat. That is the nature of converting heat to electricity.

Almost all electricity is produced from either natural gas, coal, or nuclear power.

If your electricity is from natural gas, is it much better to burn the gas at home and use only 1/3 as much fuel. And 1/3 as much greeenhouse gas as well. Natural gas (CH4) does produce less greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) than bottle gas (C3H8) since there is a higher proportion of carbon. The hydrogens produce water vapor which does not accumulate in the atmosphere. This benefit of natural gas is offset by the inefficiency of producing electricity.

If your power is from a coal fired plant, consider that coal is more abundant than oil and gas. However, for the same amount of energy, it produces even more greenhouse gas since the product of burning coal is all carbon dioxide.

If your power is from nuclear, there are no greenhouse gases associated with producing the power. The 3 to 1 rule still holds as far as energy to make electricity. The ecological effects of nuclear power are entirely different involving safety issues of working with nuclear materials and long term storage of nuclear waste.

Laura asks…

Is wind power another ‘ethanol-style’ knee-jerk reaction?

Should we learn by our neighbor’s mistakes?
Wind power promises a clean and free source of electricity. A little research, however, reveals that wind power does not in fact live up to the claims made by its advocates, that its impact on the environment and people’s lives is far from benign, and that with such a poor record and prospect the money spent on it could be much more effectively directed.
Because of the intermittency and variability of the wind, conventional power plants must be kept running at full capacity to meet the actual demand for electricity. Most cannot simply be turned on and off as the wind dies and rises, and the quick ramping up and down of those that can be would actually increase their output of pollution and carbon dioxide.
Despite their being cited as the shining example of what can be accomplished with wind power, the Danish government has cancelled plans for three offshore wind farms planned for 2008 and has scheduled the withdrawal of subsidies from existing sites. Because Danish companies dominate the wind industry, however, the government is under pressure to continue their support. Spain began withdrawing subsidies in 2002. Germany reduced the tax breaks. The Netherlands decommissioned 90 turbines in 2004. Ireland in December 2003 halted all new wind-power connections to the national grid. In 2005, Spanish utilities began refusing new wind power connections. A German Energy Agency study released in February 2005 after some delay [click here] stated that increasing the amount of wind power would increase consumer costs 3.7 times and that the theoretical reduction of greenhouse gas emissions could be achieved much more cheaply by simply installing filters on existing fossil-fuel plants.”

Dana, no offense… but that link you supplied is pretty darn desperate. I’m disappointed.

Windmill Farms answers:

Its been in use long enough now to get some actual empirical data & its obvious we need to change the output rating.
For example its been widely assumed that a 1 megawatt turbine could be depended upon to average 1/3 (.35 mw) most of the time.
But in California in 2006 during the 5 highest peak hours of demand their wind farms were producing at 12% of capacity.
As these wind farms are in the most ideal locations this practical data demonstrates we need at least 8 1MW turbines to supply a 1 MW demand.
In addition you would still need a conventional 1 MW generator to supply a 1MW demand under adverse conditions..
So unfortunately wind power can only be called a very expensive feel good supplement to conventional power production.
If an effective way is ever found to actually STORE electrical energy for later use, wind power COULD become economically competitive.

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