How advantageous that national security and stability depends on abundant energy. In that respect the U.S. is certainly blessed. Our land has sufficient natural gas, oil, and wind to make most other nations envious.
The people in the Ukraine and East Europe understand firsthand how a lack of industry and natural resources can put them at the mercy of thugs like Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Just a few years ago it would be difficult to think of natural gas as an energy weapon and influence. But he has made it so.
Now instead of flexing U.S. military muscle, it’s possible to flex industrial muscle by providing a reliable source of fuel and the tools for Europeans to produce their own. And because this is a windpower magazine, it makes perfect sense to advocate the use of wind power to supplement the use of natural gas. The two are natural allies. One would assume Europeans would heat their homes and power their factories with the gas, while wind power would augment electricity production when it’s available.
For those who would scoff at the ideas of wind turbines supplementing natural gas, let me remind you that in the U.K., the only country where the fuel seems in sufficient supply, people pay about $10/million Btus. In this country, a recent price for it was less than $5/million Btus. So consider what a modest wind farm of 100 MW, working with a 35% capacity factor would produce:
P = 100 MW x 0.35 x 24hr/d x 365 d/yr
= 319,375 MWh/yr
An online converter says that 1 MWh = 3.412 MBtus
So, at $10/MBtus, this small wind farm produces an equivalent of:
Pg = 319,375 MWh/yr x 3.412 MBtus/MWh x $10 MBtu
In the energy world, this is a small figure, but because there is no charge for the fuel that drives wind turbines, they provide price stability and a useful product, qualities sorely lacking in the Ukraine.
You might argue that selling natural gas to Europe means there is less to use here. Correct to a point. But this is what allies do: they help each other. Especially those with a well-established and growing wind industry, which means to offset the relatively small amount of gas sold to Europe, build more wind farms here.
Of course, when natural gas is scarce, its price will rise above the $10 figure and the wisdom of wind power will become more obvious, even to those who scoff. The message is clear: economic stability comes in part through low energy prices …and wind power.
Filed Under: News