Faults, fallacies and failures of wind power

Wind power is not free. All natural energy resources such as coal, wind and sun appear “free” — no one has to incur costs to create them. But turning a “free” resource into usable electricity costs money for collecting, generating and distributing that energy. To consumers and tax payers, the real cost of wind power is very high, no matter how well it is hidden by politicians.

Wind power is not reliable. No one can make the wind blow when the energy is needed — in fact, wind farms produce, on average, less than 30% of their nameplate capacity, often at times of lower demand.

Wind power harms the environment. Because of the large area of land needed to collect low-density wind energy, wind power requires more land-clearing, needs more transmission lines, kills more wildlife, lights more bushfires and uglifies more landscape per unit of electricity than conventional power. The subsonic whine of the turbines drives neighbours batty and devalues local properties.

Like hydro-power, wind power is limited, with few suitable sites, and every wind turbine slows the wind, thus reducing the wind energy available to any downwind turbines. It is “renewable’ but it is not unlimited.

Wind power is justified by claims that it reduces emissions and thus reduces global warming. However, when all the steel, concrete, construction, maintenance, replacement and rehabilitation are taken into account, wind power contributes nothing to reducing emissions or changing global climate.

However wind turbines DO change the local weather. Wind is a major component of weather. Wind brings moisture to the inland, clears pollution from the cities and changes air temperatures everywhere. Wind towers rob the wind of its energy, affecting local wind speeds and changing local weather patterns.

Wind power is an expensive, intermittent and limited energy source that degrades the environment, kills birds, affects the local weather but does nothing to improve global climate.

It should be paid for by those who want it, not by captive taxpayers or electricity consumers.

Viv Forbes,
Carbon Sense Coalition,
Rosewood, Qld, Australia.
forbes@carbon-sense.com

40 Thoughts on “Faults, fallacies and failures of wind power

  1. Wind power is rubbish

    End of story

  2. Nick on May 10, 2013 at 9:39 pm said:

    Is there actually any credible evidence that wind turbines do not reduce emissions over their full life cycle?

  3. I’ve seen references to studies, so I believe there is. Perhaps someone will give details.

  4. Nick on May 10, 2013 at 10:16 pm said:

    Well I look forward to seeing any details. In the mean time:

    “The life cycle energy requirements (of the wind turbines) were shown to be offset by the energy produced within the first 12 months of operation.”

    http://www.apere.org/manager/docnum/doc/doc1248_090706fiche36.pdf

    I suspect any studies showing that wind turbines do not reduce emissions depend on a specific scenario involving particular type of inefficient gas power stations which is easily overcome. Frankly I consider this to be an issue with the gas power station or the system rather than the wind turbine.

  5. Well if “reducing emissions” is your goal, then you well may be right

    I could drive down the road with a wind powered car and drag a generator behind me, so can use than when the wind dies

    The fact that it might cost 10-100 times at least to run doesn’t even come into the equation ,when the only goal in life is to “reduce emissions”

    The fact is that this fantasy world inhabited by the Warmist Creed and the millionaire club of PPE Oxford educated toffs that prattle on about “low carbon economy” is about to hit a very large and hard brick wall very soon

  6. Oh look, yet another Uk energy adviser has jumped

    http://www.utilityweek.co.uk/news/news_story.asp?id=198545&src=tw

    Funny that

  7. Nick on May 10, 2013 at 11:39 pm said:

    Hi Andy, so you agree that the article above by Viv Forbes which states “wind power contributes nothing to reducing emissions” is in error?

    What ever side of the debate one might be on, I hope we can agree that spreading falsehoods is not helpful. It damages the credibility of the whole article and I’m not sure why Viv would have included it.

  8. Nick on May 10, 2013 at 11:52 pm said:

    It is also worth noting, from Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

    “Denham Capital Management LP, a $7.3 billion U.S. private equity fund focused on mining and energy, has invested $75 million in wind power in Australia, where generation from windmills has become cheaper than coal.” (emphasis mine)

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-05-06/denham-backs-australian-wind-power-that-s-cheaper-than-coal

  9. I don’t know whether it is in error or not because as far as I know no one has done a serious study on whether wind power reduces emissions

    I have spoken with someone who used to work as a senior UK national grid engineer and offered to undertake the study but was refused the finance

    Basically, I draw the simple conclusion that wind energy is a monumental scam and I will not change my mind unless there is serious evidence to the contrary

  10. So if wind is cheaper than coal why does it require such massive government subsidies?

    Bear in mind also that coal has dropped in price recently, due in part to the shale gas revolution

  11. Nick on May 11, 2013 at 12:26 am said:

    Hi Andy, coal receives massive government subsidies as well.

    Wind energy has dropped in price recently and will continue to do so as technology improves. Wind itself is, and will continue to be free.

    Which is infinitely cheaper than coal.

  12. Nick on May 11, 2013 at 12:44 am said:

    As presented above, as serious study showing:

    “The life cycle energy requirements (of the wind turbines) were shown to be offset by the energy produced within the first 12 months of operation.”

    http://www.apere.org/manager/docnum/doc/doc1248_090706fiche36.pdf

    Have a look at table 8 which shows:

    “The total net avoided greenhouse gas emissions equate to 35,265 t and 122,961 t of greenhouse gases for the 850 kW and 3.0 MW turbines over a 20-year service life, respectively.”

    Which I think counts as serious evidence. Feel free to present something other than hearsay which shows the opposite.

  13. Andy on May 11, 2013 at 1:05 am said:

    Yes wind is free, unlike the vast arrays of birdchoppers that are needed to harvest the resource, these bat chomping Eco crucifixes have a lifetime of maybe 15 to 20 years in which time isn’t is extremely unlikely that they will have paid back the investment in the construction,

    Anyway, environmentalists like to kill birds and bats, destroy pristine Scottish highlands for their ideological goals based on their Lysenkoist junk science, whilst braying to their trendy urban friends in downtown coffee bars with their santimonious Guardian reading friends with degrees in media and gender studies prattling on about lifestyle goals and aspirations.

  14. Pingback: Climate Conversation Group » Faults, fallacies and failures of wind power | Cranky Old Crow

  15. Nick on May 11, 2013 at 7:21 am said:

    Hi Andy, since this is your pet subject I thought you might do better than the wild emotive language above.

    Do you have any actual, credible evidence for your fanatical allegations or are you going to continue to rely on proof by assertion?

  16. Andy on May 11, 2013 at 9:54 am said:

    Click on my name. I have a small list of articles and pictures that might be of interest.

  17. Andy on May 11, 2013 at 10:05 am said:

    I found this link to a paper written by Bryan Leyland on the topic

    http://nzclimatescience.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=940&Itemid=31

  18. Mike Jowsey on May 11, 2013 at 10:06 am said:

    An interesting study, thanks Nick. Crawford gets a bit woolly around the calculation of net output in ‘primary energy terms’, without explaining how he arrives at a ‘factor of 3.4’:

    As these initial output figures were in delivered energy terms, they were then converted to primary energy terms, using a factor of 3.4 to represent the substituted primary energy supplied by the brown coal fired electricity network in Victoria, Australia.

    A different study raises the issue of variations in wind farm output and concludes:

    The general conclusion from this analysis is that wind farms in South East Australia are not likely to supply any significant base load power that can be relied upon, and thus system operators will have to schedule generators as if there were no wind power at all. Wind farms will load the distribution system with variations in power that are certainly not predictable at the present time and are as significant as the random variations of user demand.

    Backup generation capacity is not factored into Crawford’s calculations. It should be, as this article explains:

    In Eastern Australia the required back up is OCGTs which are far less efficient than CCGTs. As CCGTs are less quick-reacting than OCGTs, the latter need to operate in synchronous spinning mode 24/7/365 (using 6-8 % of their rated fuel consumption while sending no energy to the grid) to instantly provide energy when wind energy is ebbing.

  19. Andy on May 11, 2013 at 10:16 am said:

    Nick, can you describe these massive subsidies that the coal industry receives? It is the first I have heard of it.

  20. Andy on May 11, 2013 at 10:20 am said:

    I think CCGT takes about 30 mins to spin up whereas OGCT is almost instantaneous. I have never seen OGCT used on the UK grid on the bmreports page

    However, wind does require 100% backup for the times when the wind is not blowing, which is quite frequently

    Another issue in the UK and Ireland is building turbines on peat bogs which releases large amounts of sequestered CO2 into the atmosphere. This was a study by Aberdeen University I believe

  21. Mike Jowsey on May 11, 2013 at 10:34 am said:

    Thanks Andy – very illuminating.

    • from the 10th June to the 12th of July when the system demand was at its highest, the output was below 50% for about 60% of the time and was below 10% for some of the time;
    • the output was highest during October and November when it was raining and the snow was melting and the prices were below average;
    • the output was low from June to August when prices were above average.

    So backup generation is a must and is not calculated as part of reductions in CO2 emissions.

  22. Andy on May 11, 2013 at 10:35 am said:

    John Etheringtons book The Wind Farm Scam is a good place to start.

    http://www.amazon.com/Wind-Farm-Scam-Independent-Minds/dp/1905299834

  23. Andy on May 11, 2013 at 10:40 am said:

    In NZ they claim that wind can be offset by hydro, which may be true because hydro can spin up almost instantaneously. However,what is the point? It may save some water, but does it increase capacity?

  24. Andy on May 11, 2013 at 10:43 am said:

    The book review by Jon Boone at that link above is good, too

  25. Nick,

    Wind itself is and will continue to be free.

    All natural resources come “free” — and we live on nothing else.

    We face only the cost of collecting them. That cost varies, depending on where they are located and what trouble we must go to to find them. Coal or iron ore at the surface are easy to reach and inexpensive; buried hundreds of feet deep their recovery is expensive.

    Our labour for natural resources ranges from a walk into the back yard to pluck an apple from a tree to months of effort to construct a mine to obtain coal or the destruction of a landscape to build a wind farm and miles of power line to collect the wind.

    Our topic concerns the cost of collection, not the cost of the resource itself and we should remember this. Wind holds no advantage for being “free”, because everything is “free.”

  26. NZ Blogger NZClimateChange has written quite a few articles on wind energy that are worth a read

    http://newzealandclimatechange.wordpress.com/?s=wind+

    I quite liked his analogy of the workforce in a factory that turns up at random times and in random amounts

  27. Slightly on topic, the man possibly most responsible for the wind farm scam in the UK, Chris Huhne, crawls out of jail after only 8 weeks inside and slimes his way into some green consultancy opportunities that he has managed to engineer for himself

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2322854/From-porridge-snout-trough-Chris-Huhne-cashing-green-energy-industry-funded-minister-released-prison.html

  28. Richard C (NZ) on May 11, 2013 at 10:13 pm said:

    >“Denham Capital Management LP, a $7.3 billion U.S. private equity fund focused on mining and energy, has invested $75 million in wind power in Australia, where generation from windmills has become cheaper than coal.”

    Business Week server is down so I can’t check the background but if NZ electricity economics are anything to go by, the carbon tax distorts the electricity generation market by effectively subsidizing wind at the expense of every other electricity generating energy source, not just coal but mostly coal, operationally (gets automatic priority) and financially.

    With the collapse of carbon prices, that $75m DCM investment may not now be as rosy as it once was because the generation alternatives rankings have changed again after favouring wind at higher carbon (sic) prices (estimates of AU$29 in the article below say). That carbon price is still fixed at AU$25 in OZ so the effective wind subsidy will still be there for a little while longer but when OZ goes to an ETS, different story – rock-bottom market rates. Australia is now looking at a AU$9bn per year carbon tax budget black hole and tax rebates that were going to go ahead have been canceled “due to a drop in the projected carbon price”:-.

    ‘Labor abandons promised carbon price tax cuts’

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/federal-budget/labor-abandons-promised-carbon-price-tax-cuts-20130508-2j6ix.html

    Andy and I have already raked over the NZ electricity generation alternatives rankings wrt wind integration in ‘Economics here:-

    ‘Wind Integration – the long view (NZ)’

    https://www.climateconversation.org.nz/open-threads/climate/economics/#comment-111311

    And ‘Energy and Fuel’ here:-

    ‘Analysis of wind integration’

    https://www.climateconversation.org.nz/open-threads/climate/climate-science/energy-and-fuel/comment-page-2/#comment-111289

    And here:-

    ‘Introducing the Electricity Demand and Generation Scenarios (EDGS)’

    https://www.climateconversation.org.nz/open-threads/climate/climate-science/energy-and-fuel/comment-page-2/#comment-112849

    And bits elsewhere in ‘Energy and Fuel’ sub-threads where others have chipped in.

  29. Richard C (NZ) on May 11, 2013 at 10:27 pm said:

    BTW, Monckton calculates the AU$25 carbon (sic) tax costing $162.3 bn over 10 yrs to have the following effectiveness:-

    “The cost of the tax: The tax, as enacted in Australia’s Clean Energy Act 2011, is costing $10.1 bn/year, plus $1.6 bn/year for administration (Wong, 2010, p. 5), plus $1.3 bn/year for renewables and other costs, a total of $13 bn/year, escalated under the Act at 2%/year, and by a further 2%/year to allow for economic growth. Conservatively, the total cost over the ten-year term will thus be $162.3 bn.”

    “Global warming abated by the tax – the ten-year parameter multiplied by the forcing abated – would be 0.33(0.00016) = 0.00005 Cº, or 1/20,000 Cº.”

    http://o.b5z.net/i/u/10152887/f/Is_CO2_mitigation_cost-effectove_Single_Page_Lord_Monckton_Foundation_Briefing_20130411.pdf

    Is abatement of 0.00005 Cº over 10 yrs really worth forking out $162.3 bn for?

  30. Richard C (NZ) on May 11, 2013 at 10:37 pm said:

    Relevant to this sub-thread:-

    ‘EU’s carbon crisis blows back on Australia’

    The unprecedented collapse in European carbon prices is shattering Australia’s budget assumptions just as corporate resistance to the market weakens in the developed world’s biggest per capita polluter.

    The cost of permits on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange, fast becoming the benchmark price for Australia as the nation prepares for market-based trading in 2015, fell to a record 2.75 euros ($3.50) a metric ton last month. That’s about 12 per cent of the $29 Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s government was counting on, meaning tax cuts will be deferred and the budget will have to be revised before it’s delivered on May 14, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said today.

    […]

    Australia agreed in August 2012 to link its carbon market with the EU system, the world’s largest emissions-trading program.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/eus-carbon-crisis-blows-back-on-australia-20130509-2j8t0.html#ixzz2SylMMpb0

    Ironically, the carbon (sic) price crisis will blow back on wind too.

  31. I hope everyone has enjoyed the same fabulous weather we’ve had in South Canterbury. The sun and the snow capped mountains made for a joyful autumn weekend

    The wind turbines didn’t have such a good time though. A large high is not conclusive for wind generation, as this screen shot shows (taken just now)

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/48940782/NZWind12052103.pdf

    The gas turbines seem to take most of the slack on these days.

  32. Wind not worth the effort.
    http://nzwindfarms.wordpress.com/

  33. Thomas on May 16, 2013 at 8:17 pm said:

    Richard Treadgold said:

    All natural resources come “free” — and we live on nothing else. We face only the cost of collecting them.

    See Richard, here you demonstrate your state of understanding of the entire matter of resources use. You are not alone and most cornucopians share your short sightedness: [I would prefer you to establish fault with my reasoning ahead of your pontification on my mental acuity. – RT]

    With the collecting and using natural resources comes the requirement to deal with the after-effect of their use. With burning fossil fuels comes the need to deal with the CO2 that is produced. This is the problem you see. There is no ‘free lunch’ as in ‘absence of consequences’ for anything we do. The failure to grasp this is at the foundation of your denial. [This comment is mysterious and offensive, as you have failed to mention what I might have denied. – RT]

  34. I didn’t mean to imply that the cost of collecting a resource is the end of the costs of obtaining it. There might still be refining or purifying, etc. But the resource itself is provided without our effort. Elsewhere I’ve written about the need to avoid or remedy pollution. I’ve also said the CO2 is not a pollutant. There are no consequences for emitting it save that we contribute to a more productive environment. The vegetation of the world has become something like 30% more productive over the last 30 years or so, if I remember correctly.

  35. Andy on May 16, 2013 at 8:57 pm said:

    Thomas, can you tell us how much steel and concrete is used to manufacture a wind turbine, how long the plant will last, and how much backup generation is required from conventional fossil fuel power stations

    When you have done that, perhaps you can provide us with examples of countries that have successfully deployed large scale wind projects and scaled back their fossil fuel generation. Germany would be a good start. They have carpeted their formerly attractive land with industrial turbines and are in the process of building 24 coal fired power stations.

  36. Thomas on May 16, 2013 at 10:11 pm said:

    Richard: Since you build everything on this assertion:

    I’ve also said the CO2 is not a pollutant. There are no consequences for emitting it save that we contribute to a more productive environment.

    I am sure you can back that statement up, especially the point that there are no consequences for emitting it, by a pile of peer reviewed science. Because otherwise its just that: an assertion made by somebody with an opinion on the matter.
    So please list your peer reviewed sources that state the same. You will have to provide some extraordinary evidence in order to plausibly deny the role of CO2 in ocean chemistry (acidification) and climate forcing plus the consequences arising from both. [Heh, heh! Nice try! I won’t be doing that. Carbon dioxide, I happen to know, is an odourless, colourless, non-toxic gas produced naturally by the gigatonne. If you say it’s toxic (do you say it’s toxic?) or whatever, you provide evidence. I’m not falling for that old trick. Man has been emitting CO2 from his fires for a long time, with Nature right alongside him emitting thousands of times more than he. Now you say it’s dangerous. That’s new. So prove it. If it’s so dangerous, why are greenhouse owners allowed to pump it into their greenhouses? They even walk around in there. They use propane burners – did you know that? I’ve got to go now.]

    BTW: if you edit your the comments of the people posting here so they sound more favorable to your position, at least indicate the same in the usual way like [snipped] or [deleted] or something…. [Oh, sorry! I forgot that. I started with a strike-through so everyone could see your bad manners and then I couldn’t be bothered (it’s extra coding). I only wanted to remove the poison from the emissions of a foul mind. Frankly, it didn’t occur to me that a comment might sound more favourable by removing the filth, but you’re right. I put up with hundreds and sometimes I object, to be honest. But I’ll put these ones back. I’ve nothing else to do, you, you, you sunflower! – RT]

  37. Thomas on May 16, 2013 at 10:22 pm said:

    Andy, catch: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/02/16/207534/life-cycle-study-coal-harvard-epstein-health/

    It pays Andy to google your points first. For somebody who is an old activist like yourself your tactic of playing ignorant is not working…..

    Plus, didn’t Solid Energy in NZ end up in a spot of bother of late, requiring in all likelihood some significant taxpayer bailout in the not so distant future?

  38. Thomas on May 16, 2013 at 10:32 pm said:

    Andy, that was a $75 million investment, not subsidy, made by people who can calculate one would imagine. Same in NZ, were US pension funds, you know, conservative people, have invested with no state subsidy in sight. They do so because its profitable in its own right, something surely even ACT should applaud…..

  39. Andy on May 16, 2013 at 10:44 pm said:

    Thomas, do you seriously expect me to take anything that think progress say at face value?

    During my time observing the wind industry, I come to the conclusion that it is the most corrupt and deceitful industry on the planet today

    It is hardly surprising that organized crime like the Mafia are so heavily involved in it.

    Nothing you say, or the parasites that operate in this criminal ring has any value whatsoever.

  40. Thomas on May 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm said:

    Thanks for putting the deleted parts of my comment back in (see above).

    As to the rest of our discussion:

    a) I did NOT say – NOWHERE – that CO2 is toxic! You made that right up!

    b) I DID say however that rising CO2 is responsible for ocean acidification. I do not need to cite to you the volume of evidence. Anybody taking part in this discussion for such a long time as yourself would have informed themselves on that point and a simple web-quest on the term “ocean acidification” will shower you with the links to all the references in the science literature.

    c) If you compare natural releases of CO2 to human ones, again, you would certainly have informed yourself of the scientific literature on measuring the quantity of human releases of CO2 from fossil fuel burning VERSUS natural current sources such as Volcanism and others. If you do, you will see with clarity that the rate of our current human caused release of CO2 is massively overwhelming the current natural releases of additional CO2 into the atmosphere.

    And I don’t think many people will have difficulty understanding what I meant with : The foundation of your denial (of the connection of human activities with climate change) is based on your belief that emitting CO2 into the atmosphere to the extent of soon doubling its atmospheric content is without consequence.

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