Electricity Claim Verification – Wind and Solar

In our post on claims, the Electricity group listed several claims made by Jacobson et al. In this post, we will be assessing the validity of two of those claims. Specifically, we will be addressing these two:

  • There exists sufficient wind capacity to generate 50% of NYS electrical energy¬†using both on- and off-shore wind systems.
  • There exists sufficient solar capacity to generate 38% of NYS electrical energy using rooftop and concentrated solar systems.

With regard to wind, the group found that the claim was valid. This finding was based upon a thorough review of the wind resources available on- and off-shore in NYS. On-shore, wind strength varies considerably, but it is much less variable off-shore. This is illustrated well in the following two diagrams:


Click on image to see full size


Click on image to see full size

Jacobson et al. claim that 4,020 5 MW wind turbines will be sufficient to produce 10% of the electrical energy of NYS by 2030. The group calculates that this would require an average on-shore wind speed of 6.4 m/s. Though wind speeds are variable on-shore, it is clear that there is sufficient area with sufficiently high wind speeds to meet that requirement.

With regard to offshore wind turbines, 12,700 5 MW turbines are purported to generate 40% of the electrical energy of the state. This translates into an average wind speed of 8.5 m/s. Clearly, there is ample wind capacity offshore to meet this requirement.

Looking at solar generation proved interesting. One important realization was that the nameplate generation capacity of a PV panel was not indicative of its actual generation capacity. In conversation with an expert, the group discovered that a more reliable measure of the generation capacity of a panel was its average annual energy generation. With this in mind, it was determined that the claim of 38% solar power was feasible under the stated plan.

The Electricity group will continue validating claims in future posts.


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