Wind Turbine Parasitic Losses Up To 25 Percent

A turbine consumes up to 25% of its rated capacity in its own operation
Energy consumption in wind facilities

Large wind turbines require a large amount of energy to operate. Other electricity plants generally use their own electricity, and the difference between the amount they generate and the amount delivered to the grid is readily determined. Wind plants, however, use electricity from the grid, which does not appear to be accounted for in their output figures. At the facility in Searsburg, Vermont, for example, it is apparently not even metered and is completely unknown [click here].* The manufacturers of large turbines — for example, Vestas, GE, and NEG Micon — do not include electricity consumption in the specifications they provide.

Among the wind turbine functions that use electricity are the following:†
  • yaw mechanism (to keep the blade assembly perpendicular to the wind; also to untwist the electrical cables in the tower when necessary) — the nacelle (turbine housing) and blades together weigh 92 tons on a GE 1.5-MW turbine

  • blade-pitch control (to keep the rotors spinning at a regular rate)

  • lights, controllers, communication, sensors, metering, data collection, etc.

  • heating the blades — this may require 10%-20% of the turbine's nominal (rated) power

  • heating and dehumidifying the nacelle — according to Danish manufacturer Vestas, "power consumption for heating and dehumidification of the nacelle must be expected during periods with increased humidity, low temperatures and low wind speeds"

  • oil heater, pump, cooler, and filtering system in gearbox

  • hydraulic brake (to lock the blades in very high wind)

  • thyristors (to graduate the connection and disconnection between generator and grid) — 1%-2% of the energy passing through is lost

  • magnetizing the stator — the induction generators used in most large grid-connected turbines require a "large" amount of continuous electricity from the grid to actively power the magnetic coils around the asynchronous "cage rotor" that encloses the generator shaft; at the rated wind speeds, it helps keep the rotor speed constant, and as the wind starts blowing it helps start the rotor turning (see next item); in the rated wind speeds, the stator may use power equal to 10% of the turbine's rated capacity, in slower winds possibly much more

  • using the generator as a motor (to help the blades start to turn when the wind speed is low or, as many suspect, to maintain the illusion that the facility is producing electricity when it is not,‡ particularly during important site tours or noise testing (keeping the blades feathered, ie, quiet)) — it seems possible that the grid-magnetized stator must work to help keep the 40-ton blade assembly spinning, along with the gears that increase the blade rpm some 50 times for the generator, not just at cut-in (or for show in even less wind) but at least some of the way up towards the full rated wind speed; it may also be spinning the blades and rotor shaft to prevent warping when there is no wind§
Could it be that at times each turbine consumes more than 50% of its rated capacity in its own operation?! If so, the plant as a whole — which may produce only 25% of its rated capacity annually — would be using (for free!) twice as much electricity as it produces and sells. An unlikely situation perhaps, but the industry doesn't publicize any data that proves otherwise; incoming power is apparently not normally recorded.

Is there some vast conspiracy spanning the worldwide industry from manufacturers and developers to utilities and operators? There doesn't have to be, if engineers all share an assumption that wind turbines don't use a significant amount of power compared to their output and thus it is not worth noting, much less metering. Such an assumption could be based on the experience decades ago with small DC-generating turbines, simply carried over to AC generators that continue to metastasize. However errant such an assumption might now be, it stands as long as no one questions it. No conspiracy is necessary — self-serving laziness is enough.

Whatever the actual amount of consumption, it could seriously diminish any claim of providing a significant amount of energy. Instead, it looks like industrial wind power could turn out to be a laundering scheme: "Dirty" energy goes in, "clean" energy comes out. That would explain why developers demand legislation to create a market for "green credits" — tokens of "clean" energy like the indulgences sold by the medieval church. Ego te absolvo.

(One need only ask utilities to show how much less "dirty" electricity they purchase because of wind-generated power to see that something is amiss in the wind industry's claims. If wind worked and were not mere window dressing, the industry would trot out some real numbers. But they don't. One begins to suspect that they can't.)

*Wayne Gulden has analyzed the daily production reports of a Vestas V82 1.65-MW wind turbine at the University of Minnesota, Morris, from 2006 to 2008. Those records include negative production, i.e., net consumption, as well as daily average wind speeds. The data suggest that the turbine consumes at a minimum rate of about 50 kW, or 8.3% of its reported production over those years (which declined 2-4% each year).

There is also the matter of reactive power (VAR). As wind facilities are typically built in remote areas, they are often called upon to provide VAR to maintain line voltage. Thus much of their production may go to providing only this "energy-less" power.

See also:  "Tehachapi's four turbines may be scuttled", Gordon Lull, Nov. 7, 2012: "[N]ow some question whether the turbines actually cost more money, in terms of electricity usage and maintenance expenses, than they generate in power." ... "[T]he turbines themselves, intended as renewable energy generators, must draw significant amounts of electricity from traditional non-renewable sources when being started."

Much of this information comes from a Swedish graduate student specializing in hydrogen and wind power, as posted in a Yes2Wind discussion. Also see the Danish Wind Industry Association's guide to the technology. The rest comes from personal correspondence with other experts and from industry spec sheets.

An observer in Toronto, Ontario, points out that the blades of the turbines installed at the Pickering nuclear plant and Exhibition Place turn 90% of the time, even when there is barely a breeze and when the blades are not properly pitched — in a region acknowledged to have low wind resource.

§'In large rotating power trains such as this, if allowed to stand motionless for any period of time, the unit will experience "bowing" of shafts and rotors under the tremendous weight. Therefore, frequent rotating of the unit is necessary to prevent this. As an example, even in port Navy ships keep their propeller shafts and turbine power trains slowly rotating. It is referred to as "jacking the shaft" to prevent any tendency to bow. Any bowing would throw the whole train out of balance with potentially very serious damage when bringing the power train back on line.
    'In addition to just protecting the gear box and generator shafts and bearings, the blades on a large wind turbine would offer a special challenge with respect to preventing warping and bowing when not in use. For example, on a sunny, windless day, idle wind turbine blades would experience uneven heating from the sun, something that would certainly cause bowing and warping. The only way to prevent this would be to keep the blades moving to even out the sun exposure to all parts of the blade.
    'So, the point that major amounts of incoming electrical power is used to turn the power train and blades when the wind is not blowing is very accurate, and it is not something the operators of large wind turbines can avoid.
    '[Also, there is] the likely need for a hefty, forced-feed lubricating system for the shaft and turbine blade assembly bearings. This would be a major hotel load. I can't imagine passive lubrication (as for the wheel bearings on your car) for an application like this. Maybe so, but I would be very surprised. Assuming they have to have a forced-feed lubrication system, given the weight on those bearings (40 tons on the bearing for the rotor and blades alone) a very robust (energy-sucking) lubricating oil system would be required. It would also have to include cooling for the oil and an energy-sucking lube oil purification system too.'
    —Lawrence E. Miller, Gerrardstown, WV, an engineer with over 40 years of professional experience with large power train machinery associated with Navy ships.

Also:  'The wind farm operator ... has to keep the sensitive equipment — the drives, hubs and rotor blades — in constant motion ...' (The Automatic Earth, Oct. 27, 2012)

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Comment by Willem Post on February 27, 2021 at 1:01pm

Monitoring/Recording Electricity Data


The output of every electricity plant, which has a name and a number, in every state, is monitored/recorded, on a minute-by-minute basis, in real-time, by the regional grid operator, such as ISO-NE


The electricity drawn from a regional grid by a utility, such a GMP drawing from the NE grid, is monitored/recorded, on a minute-by-minute basis, in real-time, by the grid operator.


All that data is forwarded to the Energy Information Administration, EIA, a department within the US Department of Energy, which posts the data on its website.


The data can be obtained by the public, but that requires some complex Googling. Here is an example.


Account Settling Procedures


Every utility has power purchase agreements, PPAs, with owners of electricity power plants.

Such agreements cover MW, MWh, timing and prices, $/MWh

The grid operator uses the monitored/recorded data to debit the utility account and to credit the owner account, based on the terms of the PPAs.




Various commentators have been blaming the electric grids of California and Texas for the lack of delivery of electricity during unusual weather events. Almost all of these commentators are not energy systems analysts. They often merely echo what they see/hear elsewhere, and are rushed to meet publishing deadlines, and driven by their editors to increase reader attention.


The grids of California and Texas are not perfect, but neither are other grids in the US and Europe.


Germany has had increased grid instabilities, due largely to its high level of unstable wind and solar generation.

The German grid has very strong connections to nearby grids to spread those instabilities all over the place, and have THOSE grids deal with them.


Most of those countries do not mind, because they obtain that electricity (subsidized and expensively generated in Germany) at very low, or negative wholesale prices. Germany boasts about "we are green" and "be like us", etc.


When Germany is short, because of a lack of wind and solar, those countries are happy to supply Germany at high wholesale prices.


German electricity ratepayers are screwed both ways, in addition to paying for various energy subsidies, taxes, fees and surcharges.

Germany and Denmark have the highest household electric rates in Europe, by far.




Newsom and his cabal are extremist proponents of idiotic RE policies, that have driven California to the brink of disaster regarding electricity generation, which has become increasingly unreliable and expensive, just as in Germany and Denmark, which have the highest household electric rates in Europe, by far.


The long-suffering, over-taxed, over-regulated California people have had enough of Dem/Prog RE shenanigans

Governor Newsom will be recalled. That is at least several years overdue.


California imports about 30% of its annual electricity from nearby Southwestern states and from Washington and Oregon to cover any electricity short-falls; it has major connections to those grids. This mode of operation sufficed, until the US southwest had a major, multi-day, heat wave; during heat waves winds are minimal.


As a result, electricity supplies, from mostly coal-fired plants from Southwestern states, to California were curtailed by the exporting states. The result was rolling black-outs for several days, with 115F temperatures, because, among other RE zealot idiocies, California had closed 15 of its 19 Pacific Coast, low-cost, highly efficient, low-CO2 emitting, minimal-polluting gas plants, because they were warming up the Pacific Ocean. The other 4 were due to close down, but that idiocy has been placed on hold, not cancelled.


None of the above had anything to do with the California transmission and distribution grids.


The real deficiency was: 


1) A lack of realistic energy policies

2) A lack of the usual imports during the heat wave

3) Insufficient spare generating plant capacity, MW, fueled, staffed, ready to serve, at a moment's notice.


Germany, another RE maven, has the same lack of spare capacity, but it has strong connections to nearby grids.




Texas does not import electricity, because it has minor connections to nearby grids.

Texas prides itself going it alone. Don’t mess with Texas.


NOTE: New England imports about 19% of its electricity, because it has major connections to New York and Canadian grids.


The New York Times, February 20, 2021, displayed a very revealing and useful graph, based on Energy Information Administration, EIA, data, of Texas electricity production, by source, a few days before, and a few days after, the major winter snow storm, which started early evening, February 14, 2021. You can google it, but it is behind a paywall. The graph showed:



Gas plant output was about 43,000 MW. The output decreased to about 29,000 MW about one day later, a 33% reduction (largely due to piping freeze-ups), then output went up and down, at an average of about 29,000 MW, to quickly/seamlessly counteract the output changes of other sources, especially of wind and solar.



Coal plant output was about 11,000 MW. The output decreased to about 8,000 MW about one day later, a 27% reduction (largely due to piping freeze-ups), then the output was about 7,000 to 8,000 MW



Wind plant output was about 9,000 MW, from an installed capacity of 30,904 MW (about 15,000 wind turbines); the capacity factor was 9000/30904 = 0.29. The output decreased to about 1,000 MW about one day later, an 89% reduction (largely due to freeze ups of 12,000 MW of capacity (per ERCOT, the grid operator), i.e., about 12000/30904 x 15000 = 5,825 wind turbines, or 5825/15000 = 39% of all wind turbines. Then output increased to about 4,000 MW for about a day, then decreased to about 1,000 MW, etc., due to wind-velocity variations, i.e., bouncing around at a low level, due to a lack of wind. The relatively few wind turbines on the Texas Gulf Coast were unaffected by the snow storm, and performed as usual.


NOTE: Winterizing natural gas generation, coal-fired power plants and the South Texas Nuclear Generating Station would be a good start, as would increasing natural gas storage.


NOTE: “Wind works well in Texas, because it’s cheap”.


When the wind blows, other sources of power are forced to vary their outputs to counteract the variations of wind (and solar), 24/7/365.


This mode of operation causes increases in: 1) wear-and-tear, and 2) Btu/kWh, and 3) CO2/kWh, and 4) c/kWh, and 5) less kWh is being sold, plus 6) requires grid augmentation/expansion, of which costs are shifted to ratepayers and taxpayers, and added to government debts, plus 7) traditional generating plants are forced to act as back-up/babysitters for wind (and solar), 24/7/365.


Wind only looks cheap because it is able to force most of its costs onto others.


The turnkey cost of a wind plant/MW is greater than for natural gas, and the capacity factor of wind plants is much less than gas plants. 

People, who need steady work, and steady electricity, for a living, probably think gas is the overall “cheaper” way to go.


NOTE: Wind turbines, whether producing or not, require electricity for self-use, i.e., each of those frozen wind turbines and all operating wind turbines would demand 30 to 60 kW from the grid, 24/7, for self-use, where ever the electricity would be available. See explanation in this URL


NOTE: Warren Edward Buffett explains it well:


Quote: “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit, if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without tax credit.”



Nuclear plant output was about 4,000 MW. The output became about 3,000 MW about one day later (largely due to piping freeze-ups), a 25% reduction



Solar plant output was near zero on the early evening of February 14, 2021. The output increased to 3,000 MW, from an installed capacity of about 13,000 MW during the following midday. On a sunny day, peak midday production from 13,000 MW of panels is about 13000 x 0.8 = 10,400 MW, but peak production was only 3,000 MW, i.e., 6,000 MW/ 0.8 = 7,500 MW of panels, or 7500/13000 = 58% of all panels, were covered with snow. Then solar output went to near-zero again, starting late afternoon/early evening, etc. Solar is almost never there when it is needed.


NOTE: In New England, which is much smaller than Texas, a wide-spread snow storm would cover almost all panels, at least for a few days, longer if icing would occur.


None of the above had anything to do with the Texas distribution and transmission grids.


This had to do with an unusual freeze-up, which: 


1) Temporarily, a few days, reduced output of traditional sources.

2) Covered 39% of wind turbines with snow and ice.

3) Covered 58% of solar panels in many areas


Texas should be:


1) Investing in insulation to protect critical power plant and grid systems

2) Retrofitting wind turbines with freeze protection systems, as do New England and northern Europe, a multi-year effort.

The output decrease of gas, coal and wind plants was due to freeze-ups in progress, on 16 February, 2021

Texas would up the creek without a paddle, if it had no gas plants to provide reliable electricity



Subsidies and Cost shifting is the Name of the Game for Wind and Solar


From 2006 to 2019, wind and solar generators in Texas received about $19.4 billion in subsidies and benefits from taxpayers and consumers. It is estimated generators will receive another $15.9 billion over the next decade. In 2018, about 28% of renewable generators’ income comes from subsidies. Investors have flocked to these subsidies. And why shouldn’t they? Free money and subsidized transmission from the government makes for a very attractive return on investment.


Warren Edward Buffett explains it well:


For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit, if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit”


The image shows the subsidies for wind and solar.



Comment by Willem Post on February 25, 2021 at 12:31pm

A wood-burning power plant needs self-use energy to operate various electrical devices on the plant island, and diesel fuel, etc., for other tasks.

Energy into the plant island is 400 MWh, from dry wood chips, after its water was evaporated.

Efficiency is 25%

Gross production is about 108 MWh

Energy sent to grid is about 100 MWh, aka, net production

About 8 MWh are used on the plant island.

About 2 MWh of energy, such as diesel fuel, etc., is used on the plant island

Comment by Frank Haggerty on February 25, 2021 at 7:09am

Question -In Texas the utility companies charge excessive amounts of money in one case a single electric ratepayer was $17,000 for a couple of days. How much did the wind turbine owners pay for their parasitic power use?

Comment by Willem Post on February 24, 2021 at 9:56pm


Yes, that is true.

When winds are minimal, the output is minimal, and parasitic consumers will take a significant percentage of that low output. That percentage becomes less as output increases.

About 5,500 wind turbines froze in Texas, but parasitic consumption went on.

Parasitic consumption is highest when operating and heating the blades and the bog box on the mast, during cold periods.

None of the wind turbines in Texas have low temperature protection systems.

Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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