Dutch treat

Owen McShane draws our attention to a report from the Netherlands showing that wind farms are a net cost to human society and the environment.

Who would have thought?

The report is titled Electricity in The Netherlands – Wind turbines increase fossil fuel consumption & CO2 emission, and the author is C. le Pair.

He says the models commonly used to calculate the economic and environmental benefits of wind farms are incomplete and overstate the expected savings.

The conclusion is stark:

The wind projects do not fulfill ‘sustainable’ objectives. They cost more fuel than they save and they cause no CO2 saving — on the contrary, they increase our environmental ‘footprint’.

A decision to invest billions (thousands of millions) of Euros in the construction of wind projects ‘to save fossil fuel and to reduce CO2 emissions’ is irresponsible. There are no savings, THERE IS LOSS!

We do not consider it likely that more knowledge of the factors influencing the present outcomes would change our results appreciably. It is more likely that including the factors we identified as not having sufficient data on, would actually increase the loss.

So far, our New Zealand windfarm operators are happy to go it alone with no overt subsidies, only hidden ones. This post from December 2010 reveals how we help our fledgling wind operators.

But if they start to whinge about losing money, now you know that it’s the nature of wind turbines to cost money and degrade the environment, you won’t let the government waste our money in subsidies, will you?

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19 Thoughts on “Dutch treat

  1. Andy on 07/11/2011 at 8:23 pm said:

    I did actually post this report a while back on one of the threads, but I realise it’s a lot of info to take in, so no worries.

    Nevertheless, the case for wind energy looks pretty feeble, and judging by my ever-increasing number of anti-wind facebook friends, there is a lot of public opposition too.

    However, when I touch on these topics with my rapidly diminishing group of “real” friends in NZ, I am treated like a leper.

  2. bulaman on 08/11/2011 at 7:44 am said:

    Talked to a guy the other day who works for a large electricity generator. They universally hate wind farms because they depress prices on the day(s) they operate. The way our pricing system works means that when the wind is blowing in the Goldilocks zone the wind guys HAVE to sell (no storage options) which depresses the price. So you have the most expensive method of making power having to sell for the lowest price. Law of unintended consequences!

  3. bulaman on 08/11/2011 at 1:24 pm said:

    The bird munchers are owned by different companies, still it does fill dams.. The following explains why we need to get our fracking finger out!


    • Richard C (NZ) on 08/11/2011 at 3:29 pm said:

      A pumped-storage operation could be undertaken by any operator but only if they can purchase off the grid at low wholesale rates (unlikely) and sell back in at higher rates.

      Alternatively, if the pumped-storage operator could purchase directly from the wind operator (also unlikely) in a wheeling arrangement over the grid (term from US railroads – electricity much the same as railroads especially in the US and terminology has been transferred).

      Would be sensible for a wind operator to operate their own pumped storage.

      Micro pumped hydro storage (Google it) might work if a number were built incrementally, with the best chance by night-time wheeling perhaps.

      My personal view is that wind has its place in remote areas but in-your-face and in-your-backyard wind farms as they are being built are:
      a) instruments of torture to nearby residents,
      b) ruinous to adjoining property values,
      c) a blight on many landscapes, and
      d) bird munchers.

  4. Peterm on 08/11/2011 at 1:37 pm said:

    There is an interesting report from deloitte at
    http://www.windenergy.org.nz/documents/economicsnz.pdf but since windfarms have been in operation for a number of years it would be interesting to get a breakdown of actual operating and maintenance costs in light of the obvious difficulties of maintenance and operation, costs forced onto the more stable generators as well as transmission costs.

    • Andy on 08/11/2011 at 2:08 pm said:

      Peterm – that’s a great link you posted there. It answers a lot of the questions I have had about wind in NZ.

      It’ll take a little digesting and reading. I noted in particular that wind energy gets accelerated depreciation in NZ which is therefore a tax break and could be considered a subsidy. (6.6. Tax Benefits, page 19)

      I’ll come back to this later.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 08/11/2011 at 5:38 pm said:

      Quoting from the Deloitte report, page 17:-

      When wind generation is not running higher cost plant runs and sets the marginal price. When the wind blows wind plant is dispatched and displaces this higher cost plant reducing the price which would otherwise be set. Consequently wind plant tends to dampen prices when it runs.


      Despite this wind operates variably requiring backup firming capacity to be available when wind plants are operating. Currently the cost of this firming capacity is not charged directly to the operators of wind plant. The cost of providing this capacity is generally carried by the operators of controllable generation plant who may be able to use this ability to capture prices greater than the TWAP

      Also, I get a total of $39.6m that may have been realized from total carbon credits allocated to wind farms @ $14/tonne, $52.8m @ $20/tonne. A subsidy of between 4% – 18% of known total capital cost if they sold at those prices.

      No other subsidies and tariff support mechanisms except accelerated depreciation but “a number of earlier developments did however receive Government support through the Projects to Reduce Emissions (PRE)3 scheme in 2003 and 2004”

      Risk on page 24 is:-

      …wind, with its inherently high sunk capital cost and potentially high LRMC, which is project dependent, creates the risk of future returns from wind assets being below investment expectations should low cost gas or more extensive geothermal resources be developed

    • Andy on 08/11/2011 at 6:16 pm said:

      Richard, you beat me to it!
      From the Deloitte report, we can see that wind has a very large Capex so there is a long time to see a return on investment. Therefore we can see large energy providers deploying wind to minimise short term tax liabilities.

      As you say, there is a very large risk factor in assuming that wind will become less marginal as an energy source in the future. Hence we can see wind lobbyists pushing for higher ETS costs.

      Spot the leading questions in the Science and Media Centre’s questionnaire to NZ political parties:

      in particular question (5):

      NZ is expected to become increasing reliant on hydro-electric and wind generation in the move to alternative energy sources. How would your party provide a boost to the science needed to help diversify to other “green” energy sources, such as sustainable wave and tidal power and additional geothermal plants. And what policies would you implement to help households cut their energy consumption to reduce the need for new generation?

      The whole thing stinks of crony capitalism.

  5. Richard C (NZ) on 08/11/2011 at 4:12 pm said:

    Check this out. I was looking at NZ Windpower info and saw a comparison with Reliance Power Limited (RPOWER.BO)


    The live trading is brisk to say the least.

    Reliance Power Limited, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the development, construction, and operation of power generation projects primarily in India. The company is developing a range of medium and large sized power projects with a combined installed capacity of approximately 35,000 mega watts. Its power projects include seven coal-fired projects, two gas-fired projects, and seven hydroelectric projects. The company is also developing coal bed methane blocks to fuel gas based power generation, as well as developing power projects based on renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind. Reliance Power plans to sell power under long-term and short-term power purchase agreements to distribution companies, as well as to industrial consumers. The company is based in Navi Mumbai, India.

  6. Richard C (NZ) on 10/11/2011 at 5:20 pm said:

    Taming Unruly Wind Power

    For decades, electric companies have swung into emergency mode when demand soars on blistering hot days, appealing to households to use less power. But with the rise of wind energy, utilities in the Pacific Northwest are sometimes dealing with the opposite: moments when there is too much electricity for the grid to soak up.

    So in a novel pilot project, they have recruited consumers to draw in excess electricity when that happens, storing it in a basement water heater or a space heater outfitted by the utility. The effort is rooted in some brushes with danger.

    In June 2010, for example, a violent storm in the Northwest caused a simultaneous surge in wind power and in traditional hydropower, creating an oversupply that threatened to overwhelm the grid and cause a blackout.


    Operators can usually keep the system in balance without excessive use of spillways, but in the June 2010 case, they were coping with as many as 2,000 megawatts of wind power, roughly double Seattle’s power use or what two nuclear plants can deliver.

    Wind installations have grown since then. So Bonneville began advertising for volunteers to accept extra electricity, mainly homeowners with electric heat and with water heaters of recent vintage.

    The agency says that some 200 homes will soon have the adapted water heaters, space heaters or both. In hundreds more, it is installing more traditional controls that will allow it to turn water heaters off. Another utility in the region, Portland General Electric, is about to begin a similar program paid for by the federal Energy Department.

    For the time being, the storage devices collectively can absorb the output of only a handful of wind turbines.

  7. Richard C (NZ) on 10/11/2011 at 5:29 pm said:

    ‘Bloodbath’ Seen for Wind Turbine Producers on China Slowdown

    China, the world’s biggest market for wind power, is bracing for a sharp slowdown in wind turbine installations this year, a move that will spark a “bloodbath” among wind turbine producers, industry executives say.

    The slowdown has already claimed its first victim, as Germany’s Repower told the Financial Times that it planned to end wind turbine production in China by selling their majority stake in a turbine factory in Inner Mongolia.


    China has more than 60 turbine makers, all relative newcomers to the markets, and executives expect that 10-12 major Chinese companies will be left standing after the downturn.

    One cause of the slowdown is that wind farm developers are having trouble securing financing because of tightening credit conditions. Beijing has gradually tightened monetary policy this year in an effort to combat inflation, which came in at a stubbornly high 6.1 per cent in September.

    Another reason is that Beijing is cracking down on low-quality turbines with new regulations, after several major blackouts caused by wind farm surges earlier this year. These include measures aimed at slowing down the building of new wind farms and China’s first turbines certification programme.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 12/11/2011 at 3:56 pm said:

      U.S. Wind Market Set to ‘Fall Off a Cliff,’ Vestas CEO Says

      U.S. wind turbine sales may “fall off a cliff” unless lawmakers extend tax credits supporting the market beyond 2012, said Ditlev Engel, chief executive officer of Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the biggest maker of the machines.

      The so-called production tax credit gives an incentive of 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour of wind power on payments by turbine operators. Markets have disappeared in the past when such relief is removed, Engel said yesterday in a telephone interview.

      “Our concern is that if the PTC is not extended, history has shown us that these markets tend to fall off a cliff,” he said from the company’s main office in Aarhus, Denmark. “We should prepare ourselves for it.”

      Ending the program would be a blow to producers including Vestas and General Electric Co. (GE), the third-biggest wind turbine maker, already struggling with falling prices amid increased competition from Chinese rivals. Lewis Hay, CEO of clean energy company NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE), last week said he didn’t expect the business to develop any new wind projects in 2013 and 2014.

      Vestas delivered 1,093 megawatts of turbines to the U.S. in 2010, or 19 percent of sales, according to its annual report.



  8. Richard C (NZ) on 11/11/2011 at 4:48 pm said:

    Ontario’s Predictable Energy Disaster; Mortgaged To Falsified Climate Science.

    by Dr. Tim Ball on September 28, 2011

    Ontarians are paying for the green energy agendas created by Maurice Strong as former head of Ontario Hydro. David Suzuki and Dalton McGuinty push to continue Strong’s disastrous policies, which guarantees shortages and higher costs, even if McGuinty is defeated. It will take years to rebuild adequate facilities. Strong and Suzuki found willing politicians who refused to understand. It’s willful because of the clear evidence of false science and failure of similar policies in any place that pursued green energy.


    Wind turbulence restricts the number of turbines to 5 to 8 turbines per 2.6 square kilometers. With average wind speeds of 24 kph it needs 8,500 turbines covering 2590 square kilometers to produce the power of a 1000 MW conventional station. To put this in perspective Ontario closed two 1000MW plants in 2011 – the Lambton and the Nanticoke coal fired plants. Besides the land, you still need coal-fired plants running at almost 100 percent for back up.

  9. Richard C (NZ) on 18/11/2011 at 7:45 am said:

    14000 Abandoned Wind Turbines In The USA

    There are many hidden truths about the world of wind turbines from the pollution and environmental damage caused in China by manufacturing bird choppers, the blight on people’s lives of noise and the flicker factor and the countless numbers of birds that are killed each year by these blots on the landscape.

    The symbol of Green renewable energy, our saviour from the non existent problem of Global Warming abandoned wind farms are starting to litter the planet as globally governments cut the subsidies taxes that consumers pay for the privilege of having a very expensive power source that does not work every day for various reasons.

    The US experience with wind farms has left over 14,000 wind turbines abandoned and slowly decaying, in most instances the turbines are just left as symbols of a dying Climate Religion, nowhere have the Green Environmentalists appeared to clear up their mess or even complain about the abandoned wind farms.



  10. Richard C (NZ) on 18/11/2011 at 8:26 am said:

    Dutch fall out of love with windmills

    (Reuters) – When the Netherlands built its first sea-based wind turbines in 2006, they were seen as symbols of a greener future.

    Towering over the waves of the North Sea like an army of giants, blades whipping through the wind, the turbines were the country’s best hope to curb carbon emissions and meet growing demand for electricity.

    The 36 turbines — each one the height of a 30-storey building — produce enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 100,000 households each year.

    But five years later the green future looks a long way off. Faced with the need to cut its budget deficit, the Dutch government says offshore wind power is too expensive and that it cannot afford to subsidise the entire cost of 18 cents per kilowatt hour — some 4.5 billion euros last year.

    The government now plans to transfer the financial burden to households and industrial consumers in order to secure the funds for wind power and try to attract private sector investment.

    It will start billing consumers and companies in January 2013 and simultaneously launch a system under which investors will be able to apply to participate in renewable energy projects.

    But the new billing system will reap only a third of what was previously available to the industry in subsidies — the government forecasts 1.5 billion euros every year — while the pricing scale of the investment plan makes it more likely that interested parties will choose less expensive technologies than wind.

    The outlook for Dutch wind projects seems bleak.



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