In response to the recent letter touting wind energy, I note that Xcel Energy has a program called Windsource where you pay extra to support wind energy. That’s because with a capacity factor of just 29 percent in the U.S., erratic wind is expensive.
Nuclear’s capacity factor is 90 percent. We do have natural gas plants running in start/stop mode, wasting fuel, to back up the erratic wind supply.
I’m not sure what those 200,000 homes in the letter’s wind supply do when wind isn’t blowing and the power goes off. Then there is the factory with electric machines that need to keep running on a quiet night when there is no sun and no wind.
There is a place for wind and sun, but there are reasons that together they currently supply just a little over one quad of our annual 100 quadrillion BTUs of total energy use in the U.S.