Green New Deal Plan - Interstate Renewable Electricity System

Interstate Renewable Electricity System, Wind Farm Network

Constructed over a 20 year period, the Wind Farm Network of the Interstate Renewable Electricity System will generate all of the electricity that the US currently consumes, approximately 4,000 terrawatt hours. The Federal government is best placed to construct this system because of the system's cost, time span, and spatial characteristics. As shown in cost, the total cost over 20 years will be approximately 3 trillion dollars. Markets can handle neither the time scale nor the size of such an investment.

In addition, the spatial siting of the wind farms will be critical to using the Interstate Wind System as a base load for the country's electrical system. In other words, wind farms will have to be situated such that there enough wind farms receiving enough wind at any point in time that the supply of supply of electricity will be constant. The Interstate Wind System is an example of a system: the structure of the system is as important as its elements. The placement of the elements withing the system is critical to the functioning of the system. Only the government can design a system in which the structure is critical; markets cannot place the wind farms where they need to go, in terms of the country as a whole

Another important aspect of the design of the placement of wind farms is that by placing wind farms in the Great Plains, in particular, the destruction of ecosystems and birds and bats can be minimized, as well as any discomfort for people living in the immediate area of wind farms.

Total And manufacturing jobs for Interstate Wind System

In general we can estimate the number of jobs a wind system would create by estimating the number of jobs created per gigawatt wind capacity. We estimate on the wind cost page that that we need 1,500 Gigawatts of capacity.

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), in "High Wind Penetration Impact on U.S. Wind Manufacturing Capacity and Critical Resources", p.22, estimates that 4,300 full-time jobs are created per gigawatt of capacity of wind power. The Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP) estimates in a report (p. 46) that one gigawatt yields the need for 3,000 manufacturing jobs, and since they estimate that manufacturing accounts for 70% of wind employment per dollar, then about 4,300 jobs total are required for each gigawatt of wind capacity. 17% of jobs are for installation, and 13% for operations and maintenance

According to REPP, each gigawatt would break down this way in terms of need for workers:

Manufacturing: 3,000
Installation: 700
Operations/Maint:600

We need 1,500 gigawatts over 20 years, or 75 gigawatts per year. For the first year, this would translate into:

Manufacturing: 225,000
Installation: 52,500
Operations/Maint:45,000
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Total 322,500

The operations and maintenance staff would increase by 45,000 every year until the 20th year; we would still be manufacturing and installing 75 gigawatts per year on the 21st year, since in the 21st year we would start to retire the wind turbines built in the 1st year. So in the 21st year we would have the following employment totals:

Manufacturing: 225,000
Installation: 52,500
Operations/Maint:900,000
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Total 1,177,500

However, let's assume that the first years would have more manufacturing, thus we would still average about 1.2 million jobs per year.

Cost of building and maintaining the wind portion of the Interstate Renewable Electricity System

The cost of building a wind system that generates all of the nation's electricity per year depends on a number of factors:

How long it takes to build the whole system: Since big turbines are rated to last about 20 years, let's assume that we will take 20 years to build the whole system, at the end of which time we will need to start all over again. That is, each year, for the indefinite future, we need to build 5% of our system.

Total generating output: We have to know how much electricity we need. We want to build a system in 20 years. So we would like to know how much electricity we need in 20 years, and generally people assume a certain rate of growth. However, since we know what we are using now, and we don't know whether we can continue on our present course, we will assume the current rate of generation, which is approximately 4,000 Terrawatt hours (one terrawatt is 1000 gigawatts, which is 1000 megawatts, which is 1000 kilowatts, which is 1000 watts; in other words, one terrawatt is one trillion watts).

Capacity: We have to know what fraction of the the potential output of a set of wind turbines actually turns into electricity. Since wind is intermittent, that is, the wind which moves the turbine which creates the electricity is not always blowing, then we have to know how much electricity comes out of, and can come out of, a set of turbines. There are several ways to determine this:
1) In 2017, wind generated 254 terawatt hours (TWh) with a capacity of 88 gigawatts ( according to the Department of Energy (p.9)) , which is a capacity factor of almost 30, that is, about 30% of the maximum capacity of wind was being used.
2) The Energy Information Administration estimates that the average capacity factor for wind turbines in 2018 is about 37%.

Using 33% to be safe, since we know we need 4,000 terrawatt hours, then we need three times 4,000, or 12,000 terrawatt hours capacity; 33% of 12,000 is 4,000. Capacity is not put in terms of hours, however; just to make things more complicated, capacity is rated assuming that the equipment was producing 24 hours per day. So we have to divide the 12,000 by the number of hours per year, and we arrive at 1,370 gigawatts capacity. However, we probably lose about 10% of our electricity through transmission; so let's assume that we need 1,500 gigawatts of wind capacity.

Now that we have this information, we can try to figure out how much 1,500 gigawatts of wind capacity would cost. So we need:

Cost per gigawatt capacity: According to the wind industry, cost varies from $1,300 to $2,200 per kilowatt hour. Costs are continuously declining, but assuming current fairly large, up-to-date turbines, let's figure $1,750, per kilowwatt, half way in between. Now we can figure:

Total Cost over 20 years: if a gigawatt costs $1,750, and we need 1,500 gigawatts, then we need 2.625 trillion dollars, or about $130 billion per year.

Reading List:
Renewable technologies cost analysis: Wind power
The economics of wind energy
Renewable energy power costs 2014
Wind power tech brief, irena
Solar and Wind cost reduction potential to 2025