Windmills increase CO2, pollution & costs

An ugly windfarm near Palm Springs, California.

A good man learns from experience; a wise man from the experience of others. The following story describes actual experiences with modern windfarms. It has a Canadian focus, but can instruct us too if we listen. Let us do what we can to prevent these mistakes from occurring in New Zealand.

This story is about windmills proving a disaster, both financially and for energy security, but they are disasters in the literal sense, too. These monstrous machines in our landscapes can cause enormous damage when they fail, which they do quite frequently, adding even more to their great expense, not to mention that people have died. We have pictures of some of the failures. Here’s a site that actually supports wind power, claiming they reduce “carbon footprints”, whatever they are, but loves looking at accidents. It makes chilling viewing. Here’s a sample failure:

windmill failure

See more on our new page of wind turbine failures.


Wind power is a complete disaster

[subheads, emphasis, added]

There is no evidence that industrial wind power is likely to have a significant impact on carbon emissions. The European experience is instructive. Denmark, the world’s most wind-intensive nation, with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity, has yet to close a single fossil-fuel plant. It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover wind power’s unpredictability, and pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have risen (by 36% in 2006 alone).

Flemming Nissen, the head of development at West Danish generating company ELSAM (one of Denmark’s largest energy utilities) tells us that “wind turbines do not reduce carbon dioxide emissions.” The German experience is no different. Der Spiegel reports that “Germany’s CO2 emissions haven’t been reduced by even a single gram,” and additional coal- and gas-fired plants have been constructed to ensure reliable delivery.

Indeed, recent academic research shows that wind power may actually increase greenhouse gas emissions in some cases, depending on the carbon-intensity of back-up generation required because of its intermittent character. On the negative side of the environmental ledger are adverse impacts of industrial wind turbines on birdlife and other forms of wildlife, farm animals, wetlands and viewsheds.

When the government picks winners look out for havoc

Industrial wind power is not a viable economic alternative to other energy conservation options. Again, the Danish experience is instructive. Its electricity generation costs are the highest in Europe (15¢/kwh compared to Ontario’s current rate of about 6¢). Niels Gram of the Danish Federation of Industries says, “windmills are a mistake and economically make no sense.” Aase Madsen, the Chair of Energy Policy in the Danish Parliament, calls it “a terribly expensive disaster.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in 2008, on a dollar per MWh basis, the U.S. government subsidizes wind at $23.34 — compared to reliable energy sources: natural gas at 25¢; coal at 44¢; hydro at 67¢; and nuclear at $1.59, leading to what some U.S. commentators call “a huge corporate welfare feeding frenzy.” The Wall Street Journal advises that “wind generation is the prime example of what can go wrong when the government decides to pick winners.”

An ugly marine windfarm off Copenhagen.

The Economist magazine notes in a recent editorial, “Wasting Money on Climate Change,” that each tonne of emissions avoided due to subsidies to renewable energy such as wind power would cost somewhere between $69 and $137, whereas under a cap-and-trade scheme the price would be less than $15.

Either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system creates incentives for consumers and producers on a myriad of margins to reduce energy use and emissions that, as these numbers show, completely overwhelm subsidies to renewables in terms of cost effectiveness.

The Ontario Power Authority advises that wind producers will be paid 13.5¢/kwh (more than twice what consumers are currently paying), even without accounting for the additional costs of interconnection, transmission and back-up generation. As the European experience confirms, this will inevitably lead to a dramatic increase in electricity costs with consequent detrimental effects on business and employment. From this perspective, the government’s promise of 55,000 new jobs is a cruel delusion.

A recent detailed analysis (focusing mainly on Spain) finds that for every job created by state-funded support of renewables, particularly wind energy, 2.2 jobs are lost. Each wind industry job created cost almost $2 million in subsidies. Why will the Ontario experience be different?

So far NZ hasn’t fallen into the subsidy pit

In debates over climate change, and in particular subsidies to renewable energy, there are two kinds of green. First there are some environmental greens who view the problem as so urgent that all measures that may have some impact on greenhouse gas emissions, whatever their cost or their impact on the economy and employment, should be undertaken immediately.

Then there are the fiscal greens, who, being cool to carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems that make polluters pay, favour massive public subsidies to themselves for renewable energy projects, whatever their relative impact on greenhouse gas emissions. These two groups are motivated by different kinds of green. The only point of convergence between them is their support for massive subsidies to renewable energy (such as wind turbines).

This unholy alliance of these two kinds of greens (doomsdayers and rent seekers) makes for very effective, if opportunistic, politics (as reflected in the Ontario government’s Green Energy Act), just as it makes for lousy public policy: Politicians attempt to pick winners at our expense in a fast-moving technological landscape, instead of creating a socially efficient set of incentives to which we can all respond.

Financial Post
Michael J. Trebilcock is Professor of Law and Economics, University of Toronto. These comments were excerpted from a submission last night to the Ontario government’s legislative committee On Bill 150 [Green Energy And Green Economy Act].

4 Thoughts on “Windmills increase CO2, pollution & costs

  1. kint verbal on November 28, 2015 at 3:36 am said:

    No tech is at its best in the beginning. When energy storage will improve, and things ARE on the horizon due to the availability of virtually free energy, CO2 footprint WILL change. Just try to see more than one quarter or one year into the future and your myopia may go away.

    In the meantime, what about solar + wind? (they work together very well)

  2. Wind energy is useless. As James Lovelock succinctly stated, “monuments to a failed civilization”

  3. Richard C (NZ) on November 28, 2015 at 9:48 am said:

    >”In the meantime, what about solar + wind? (they work together very well)”

    Well let’s see………..

    ‘Obama green energy project Abengoa on verge of bankruptcy; demise recalls Solyndra’

    If you were wondering what the Spanish word for “Solyndra” is, this week provided the answer: “Abengoa.”

    Abengoa is a Spanish company that was another of President Obama’s personally picked green energy projects, and it’s now on the verge of bankruptcy too, potentially saddling taxpayers with a multibillion-dollar tab and fueling the notion that the administration repeatedly gambles on losers in the energy sector.

    The renewable energy firm, which is constructing several large-scale solar power projects in the U.S. and has received at least $2.7 billion in federal loan guarantees since 2010, said Wednesday it will begin insolvency proceedings, a technical first step toward a possible bankruptcy.

    The news comes at an especially awkward time for Mr. Obama. On Sunday he’ll travel to Paris for a historic climate change summit and is expected to call on world leaders to reject fossil fuels and spend heavily on renewable energy, including solar power.

    Abengoa’s looming demise is eerily reminiscent of the fall of solar power firm Solyndra in 2011, a colossal failure of government investment that left taxpayers on the hook for more than $530 million.

    A potential Abengoa bankruptcy could be much worse for taxpayers, although it’s unclear how much of the guaranteed loans the company has paid back. Neither the White House nor the Energy Department responded to requests for comment Wednesday seeking information on how much the company still owes on the loans, for which the federal government might be left on the hook.

    Critics say Abengoa is yet another reminder that the administration’s meddling in the energy sector — and its insistence that, with enough government financial backing, ambitious renewable projects can compete in the free market — leads to disaster for taxpayers.

    “When you have a company that is based on subsidies, it is no surprise they run into financial trouble because their business model isn’t based on economics; it’s based on politics,” said Daniel Simmons, vice president for policy at the conservative Institute for Energy Research, a leading critic of the administration’s spending on renewable fuels and of the president’s energy policy more broadly.

    “The government money fueled Abengoa’s growth. They fueled their desire to take on more debt. It’s now obvious they have a very serious debt problem,” Mr. Simmons added. “What is troubling is that if there are large projects that private-sector people think they’ll be able to make money on, there’s no need to take those projects to a government. That’s where these projects go wrong: thinking governments will necessarily make good investment decisions.”

    Wednesday’s news sent Abengoa’s stock price falling by about 60 percent. International banks’ total exposure to a full Abengoa bankruptcy stands at about $21.4 billion, according to Reuters news agency, meaning the company’s downfall would end up being the largest bankruptcy in Spanish history.

    The announcement came after private Spanish backers said they were bailing on plans to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the company.

    Company officials say they’re continuing to work with creditors in the hopes of staving off a full-on bankruptcy filing.

    “The company will begin the negotiating process with its creditors with the aim to reach an accord to guarantee the financial viability under Article 5 of the Bankruptcy Act, which the company intends to request as soon as possible,” Abengoa said in a statement.

    The company has received loans from governments around the world. In the U.S. the administration awarded the company about $2.7 billion for two majors projects — the Solana Generating Station in Arizona and the Mojave Solar Project in California.

    Mr. Obama personally touted the company in 2010 in an attempt to justify to taxpayers why he was committing nearly $1.5 billion to the Solana project.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/nov/25/abengoa-obama-green-energy-project-on-verge-of-ban/

    # # #

    >”No tech is at its best in the beginning.”

    No, especially when the economics don’t stack up and the “tech” is on a shaky basis to start with.

  4. Richard C (NZ) on November 30, 2015 at 9:18 pm said:

    ‘Giant “Green Energy” Boondoggle Flops in Spain’

    November 27, 2015 | Author Pater Tenebrarum

    Conclusion

    Businesses that cannot possibly survive without subsidies are ipso facto not economically viable. In spite of all the high-minded pronouncements about the “need to save the planet” and how this valiant effort can allegedly be “combined with economic growth”, their existence serves primarily one function: to distribute money looted from taxpayers and consumers to assorted cronies of the political class, who in turn provide the latter with kickbacks. That is all there is to it.

    http://www.acting-man.com/?p=41628

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation