When reading an article extolling the virtues of wind power or highlighting a planned or soon-to-be completed wind farm, you’ll probably read that wind power or the wind farm at issue is “enough to serve” X number of homes or “can power the equivalent of” X number of homes. Don’t be fooled. Whatever the number, wind power alone is unlikely to be able to meet the electricity needs of that many homes, unless those homes don’t want reliable power 24 hours a day. In my Texas wind-energy study, I write,
Wind’s unreliability is also reason to question claims by wind-energy proponents regarding wind powering “the equivalent of” a certain number of homes. For example, according to the AWEA, “16,818 megawatts (MW) of wind power plants were in place in the U.S. at the end of 2007, serving the equivalent of 4.5 million average households. By the end of 2008, AWEA expects that number to jump to over 22,000 MW, which can serve the equivalent of over 5.5 million average households.”
This necessarily begs the question of whether such determinations and estimations account for wind’s intermittency (not to mention line loss during transmission). In other words, can 3-4 MW of wind power truly meet the electricity needs of one million households, when wind power is only available to the electric grid a fraction of the day? Stated differently, if no other power sources were available to the grid or as back-up power sources for wind turbines, would these households’ whole needs be met? The answer is undoubtedly no.
Now, over at MasterResource, Glenn Schleede has much more on the topic.
People who use the phrase “homes served” to describe the potential output from one or more wind turbines either do not understand the facts about wind turbines, believe false claims put forth by the wind industry, or are trying to mislead their reader or listener.