But farms are good and useful – turbines are destroyers

burning wind turbine

We learned that some wind turbine greenhouse gas emissions are easily visible.

It is time to eschew the use of the term ‘wind farms’. We should expunge it from our vocabulary, strike it from every text book and exclude it from every school.

Because farms are good and useful things. They are places where natural plants and creatures are bred and nourished to maturity for the good of humanity.

You cannot farm the wind, only further agitate it

In the context of these wind turbines the word ‘farm’ is abused. To apply that gentle word to forests of these ugly, noisy and dangerous machines is a travesty of reason and mocks our language for the sole purpose of making these behemoths seem more acceptable.

The truth is you cannot farm the wind, you can only further agitate it.

Wind turbines are expensive, noisy to the point of ill-health, they kill bats and birds, they catch fire, spill gallons of burning oil and collapse, their blades break off and fly great distances, they wreck our landscapes, fill them with constant motion and destroy our natural peace. Their construction calls for lengthy access roads winding through the wilderness, large quantities of steel and concrete and rare metals from China for their high-tech magnets.

There is a good and sufficient use of wind turbines, which is as a power source far away from civilisation where the wind blows a fair bit, such as a desert island or a mountain village, a yacht at sea or Antarctica.

The only reason these turbines are installed in otherwise sensible modern communities is because the citizens are afraid that their carbon dioxide emissions are dangerously warming the climate. Once again, to be fair, let me reiterate my call for evidence of this (so far no evidence has been seen).

burning wind turbine

Wow! How does the blade catch fire?

In the absence of evidence, there is no good reason for these monstrous erections in our lovely countryside. But wait, there’s more.

Let us suppose our CO2 emissions are warming the climate and therefore we need wind turbines to reduce them. But they still don’t help. We need backup power for when the wind either drops or blows half a gale. That backup burns gas or oil or coal—sometimes it’s hydro, but not often—because that’s the only kind of generation that can be kept spinning for an instant start. So you’ve got to offset the savings from wind by the emissions of its backup, plus the construction and lifetime maintenance of them both. Why bother? Just build another gas turbine and do without the insecurity.

Remember, if you want to persuade me of the wind turbine’s true utility, it’s easy to do: just send me some evidence that our carbon dioxide emissions are dangerously warming the atmosphere.

But whatever happens I shall not allow turbines to be miscalled farms. They are not farms.

Henceforth I shall refer to a windmill as a wind generator or a wind turbine. Or of course a windmill. Where many are situated in an area I shall make those terms into the plural.

The word farm I shall reserve for farms.

Visits: 127

16 Thoughts on “But farms are good and useful – turbines are destroyers

  1. Simon on 18/11/2014 at 9:13 am said:

    Farms are expensive, noisy to the point of ill-health, they kill bats and birds, they catch fire, spill gallons of burning oil and collapse, they wreck our landscapes, fill them with constant motion and destroy our natural peace.

    • To some extent what you say is true, however farms have real-world data showing fully satisfactory success over thousands of years and are not installed solely in a knee-jerk reaction to flimsy, unskilled computer models of a chaotic climate.

    • Andy on 18/11/2014 at 11:01 am said:

      Such utter BS Simon, even by your standards.

      Maybe take a drive up,the M25 between Carlyle and Glasgow sometime, and see what your “lovely windmills” have done to the environment

      You really have no idea until you have been to Scotland in recent years.

    • Simon on 18/11/2014 at 3:57 pm said:

      The ‘dark satanic mills in England’s green and pleasant land’ were not windmills Andy. William Blake’s poem refers to the Industrial Revolution when flour mills were converted to steam and coal. Wind and hydro power is merely a reversion to how the UK countryside originally produced energy 😉

    • Richard C (NZ) on 18/11/2014 at 6:45 pm said:

      >”The ‘dark satanic mills in England’s green and pleasant land’ were not windmills Andy.”


      >”William Blake’s poem refers to the Industrial Revolution when flour mills were converted to steam and coal”

      Not necessarily (and not conversions either).

      ‘What were William Blake’s dark satanic mills?’

      William Blake was a radical Christian, so his dark satanic mills were not the factories of the industrial revolution but the orthodox churches of the establishment. Is this true?

      William Blake did see a dark and satanic mill. At one time he lived in “lovely Lambeth” and every time he walked into the City of London he would have passed by the blackened and roofless shell of the Albion Flour Mills that stood for 18 years after being burned down in 1791. The site of the mill was between the present Tate Modern and Blackfriars bridge on the River Thames.

      The mill, only five years old when it burned down and equipped with the latest steam-powered rotary machinery, could grind wheat night and day, and hence alarmed the owners of wind- and water-powered mills in London and the south-east. Arson was suspected: it was said local millers were seen dancing on Blackfriars bridge in the light of the flames.

      Also in 1791, and only a mile away, the Rev John Wesley, the founder of Methodism – which was thought to be subversive and would lead the lower orders against their betters – had died. So it could be true that the satanic mills were the orthodox churches.

      Peter Butt, Romford, Essex

      Blake’s dark satanic mills are indeed the orthodox churches of the establishment. But they were all churches, all forms of worship, all formal education, and anything that attempted to mould the mind into orthodoxy and received opinion. Blake is the radical’s radical.

      Georgina Robinson, Ruardean Woodside, Glos


    • Richard C (NZ) on 18/11/2014 at 8:00 pm said:

      And did those feet in ancient time [Jerusalem]
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      “Dark Satanic Mills”

      The phrase “dark Satanic Mills”, which entered the English language from this poem, is often interpreted as referring to the early Industrial Revolution and its destruction of nature and human relationships.[8]

      This view has been linked to the fate of the Albion Flour Mills, which was the first major factory in London. Designed by John Rennie and Samuel Wyatt, it was built on land purchased by Wyatt in Southwark. This rotary steam-powered flour mill by Matthew Boulton and James Watt used grinding gears by Rennie[9] to produce 6000 bushels of flour per week.

      The factory could have driven independent traditional millers out of business, but it was destroyed in 1791 by fire, perhaps deliberately. London’s independent millers celebrated with placards reading, “Success to the mills of ALBION but no Albion Mills.”[10] Opponents referred to the factory as satanic, and accused its owners of adulterating flour and using cheap imports at the expense of British producers. A contemporary illustration of the fire shows a devil squatting on the building.[11] The mills were a short distance from Blake’s home.

      Blake’s phrase resonates with a wider theme in his works, what he envisioned as a physically and spiritually repressive ideology based on a quantifiable reality. Blake saw the cotton mills and collieries of the period as a mechanism for the enslavement of millions, but the concepts underpinning the works had a wider application:[12][13]


      Another interpretation, amongst Nonconformists, is that the phrase refers to the established Church of England. This church preached a doctrine of conformity to the established social order and class system, in contrast to Blake. In 2007 the new Bishop of Durham, N. T. Wright, explicitly recognised this element of English subculture when he acknowledged this alternative view that the “dark satanic mills” refer to the “great churches”.[15]

      Stonehenge and other megaliths are featured in Milton, suggesting they may relate to the oppressive power of priestcraft in general; as Peter Porter observed, many scholars argue that the “mills” “are churches and not the factories of the Industrial Revolution everyone else takes them for”.[16] An alternative theory is that Blake is referring to a mystical concept within his own mythology related to the ancient history of England. Satan’s “mills” are referred to repeatedly in the main poem, and are first described in words which suggest neither industrialism nor ancient megaliths, but rather something more abstract: “the starry Mills of Satan/ Are built beneath the earth and waters of the Mundane Shell…To Mortals thy Mills seem everything, and the Harrow of Shaddai / A scheme of human conduct invisible and incomprehensible”.[17


      # # #

      >”Blake saw the cotton mills and collieries of the period as a mechanism for the enslavement of millions”

      >”….the phrase refers to the established Church of England. This church preached a doctrine of conformity to the established social order and class system, in contrast to Blake”

      In other words, “dark satanic” is referring to either or both oppressive mills (not coal) and an oppressive church, depending on interpretation, but from a Christian perspective. I’m think both.

      Marxism and Socialism also claim William Blake of course, for similar reasons:

      ‘An Analysis of Marxist Views Present in William Blake’s Poem London

      William Blake: A radical visionary – World Socialist Web Site

    • Andy on 19/11/2014 at 3:55 am said:

      It does seem a bit revisionist to suggest that the UK had the equivalent of modern industrial wind turbines during the industrial revolution.

  2. Richard C (NZ) on 18/11/2014 at 9:27 am said:

    >”Let us suppose our CO2 emissions are warming the climate…”

    Then let us spend the next 25+ years attempting to prove it.

    Oops, I digress. That’s the UN FCCC/IPCC. Sorry.

  3. Richard C (NZ) on 18/11/2014 at 10:33 am said:

    >”Henceforth I shall refer to a windmill as a wind generator or a wind turbine.”

    Windmills are individual mills or pumps driven by direct mechanical linkage to wind-driven vanes – no electricity generation involved, no generators, no turbines. They are entirely different concepts:

    Wind Turbine

    >”Or of course a windmill”

    Better, but both harness the power of wind.

    • Thanks for showing the distinction. Still, since windmill is an antique term, it brings a clear note of disparagement when applying it to a modern contrivance. So I quite like it sometimes.

  4. Richard C (NZ) on 18/11/2014 at 11:11 am said:

    >”The word farm I shall reserve for farms.”

    “Farm” is either the concept of enclosure e.g.:

    Enclosure Acts—Great Britain 1700–1801

    Or in terms of what is produced, or the contract structure:

    noun: farm; plural noun: farms

    an area of land and its buildings used for growing crops and rearing animals, typically under the control of one owner or manager.
    synonyms: ranch, farmstead, plantation, estate, family farm, dairy farm, hobby farm; More
    farmland, market garden
    “a farm of 100 acres”
    the main dwelling place on a farm; a farmhouse.
    “a half-timbered farm”
    a place for breeding a particular type of animal or producing a specified crop.
    “a fish farm”
    an establishment at which something is produced or processed.
    “an energy farm”

    verb: farm; 3rd person present: farms; past tense: farmed; past participle: farmed; gerund or present participle: farming

    make one’s living by growing crops or keeping livestock.
    “he has farmed organically for five years”
    synonyms: work the land, be a farmer, cultivate the land;
    rear livestock
    “he farmed locally”
    use (land) for growing crops and rearing animals, especially commercially.
    synonyms: cultivate, till, work, plow, dig, plant
    “they farm the land”
    breed or grow commercially (a type of livestock or crop, especially one not normally domesticated or cultivated).
    synonyms: breed, rear, keep, raise, tend
    “the family farms sheep”
    send out or subcontract work to others.
    “it saves time and money to farm out some writing work to specialized companies”

    Wind “farms” are generally a partnership of land owners (land enclosure, land farming) and wind energy operators (wind farming) with wind energy asset work going to sub-contractors (farmed out). The land owners, unless with sufficient capital, do not necessarily own the wind assets, they appear in the assets of the energy operator/farmer – not the land owner/farmer unless the land owner/farmer is also the wind farmer. And it is not economic for a wind operator to own the land – that’s not their business.

    This is similar to the land owner/farmer in Taupo, Alistair McLachlan, who developed the geothermal potential under his farm at Poihipi (I’ve met the guy) in partnership with Mercury Network except McLachlan contributed land to the partnership rather than lease of it. They went broke and had to sell to Contact eventually. I don’t know whether his land asset went with the sale, I presume so:

    ‘Geothermal plant sale tipped after receivers move in’ – Dec 15, 1998

    Poihipi Power Station

    From the Herald article:

    “But all electricity produced by the plant was to be sold to Mercury, with the price based on a set formula. Because of market deregulation since the formula was set, the price of electricity has dropped significantly and that made it less economic for Mercury to buy power from the McLachlan station compared with other sources. In its latest accounts Mercury wrote off about $50 million on its investment in the plant.”

    A similar, but much more far reaching, problem is sending chills through the Australian wind and banking sectors:

    ‘Australia’s wind turbines may stop spinning as banks foreclose’

    By Giles Parkinson on 1 September 2014

    Australian analysts have warned that some of the country’s wind farms could be forced to close down under proposals made by the Abbott government’s RET Review panel.


    While wind farms in Australia can have long term power purchase agreements out to 2030, the financing arrangements are much shorter, usually around 5 years.

    This means that most, if not all, wind farms, will be up for refinancing in the next few years. When that happens, the major banks will review the state of the market, and are either likely to raise the price of debt, or do an “equity sweep” – calling on project owners to invest more cash.

    None are likely to do so.


    All of Australia’s big four banks are at risk, but particularly NAB and ANZ, who have project financed most wind farms in Australia. [See Figure 2]


    There’s no risk to the land farmer/owner if the land is not part of the wind energy partnership e.g. just an occupancy fee of some sort paid to the land owner. But if the land owner/farmer is also the wind farmer or his land is part of the partnership, then he is at double the risk as everyone else because his risk is land assets + wind assets if he has borrowed heavily, probably against his land. The risk generally is with the wind farmers and their lenders though.

    NZ wind farms are only economic because of the indirect subsidy by govt which is the excess taxation of fossil fuel generators (also geothermal) by way of carbon tax.

    0$ carbon charge ranking as MW increase (from graph):-
    1 CCGT
    2 Geothermal
    3 Either – Hydro Peaking or Minor Coal or IGCC/CCS or Lignite
    4 CCGT/CCS
    5 Major Coal
    6 Minor Wind, Geothermal, Hydro ROR and one of the 3rd rank
    7 Major Wind

    There will be tears in NZ too if the indirect wind subsidy goes.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 18/11/2014 at 11:46 am said:

      Also see the NZ dairy equivalent of sharemilking to land owner-wind operator: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharemilking

      Typically sharemilkers own their own cows, and will often take the herd with them when shifting between properties on “Gypsy Day”.[1] The model is not exploitative, and over time, sharemilkers often slowly buy out the landholder, or alternatively use the system as a method to save for their own property.[2]

      This practice helps dairy farmers anywhere who do not wish the burdens of owning their own land, as it allows them to focus their investment in livestock and equipment. Sharemilking also profits former dairy farmers who have given up their herds, by providing them with an income from rental of fields, pastures and barns.

      # # #

      In this case the land owner is not the land farmer anymore than a land owner is not a wind farmer unless he owns the wind assets. A wind farm will probably be located on marginal agricultural land (or desert) so there’s no opportunity cost to the land owner and it is an alternative use for the land that draws more revenue than agriculture (or nothing at all). But it would be daft for a land owner to lease prime dairy land, even in part, to a wind operator instead of a sharemilking agreement where the land is wind productive (rarely I concede) because dairy use trumps wind use hands down financially.

      Similar for cropping in Holland:


      No wind farm in those 2 photos. Just individual wind turbines few and far between, not situated on cropping land as much as possible, and minimal footprint when they are because the cropping is so intensive.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 18/11/2014 at 3:17 pm said:

      >”‘Australia’s wind turbines may stop spinning as banks foreclose’”

      ‘Wind Power Investors: Get Out While You Can’

      Wind power companies – like any company – raise capital by borrowing (debt) or issuing shares (equity). Bankers price the risk of lending according to the likelihood that the borrower will default and, if so, the ability to recover its loan by recovering secured assets.


      Bankers have also baulked at lending to new wind power projects, keeping their cheque books firmly in the top drawer over the last 18 months or so. However, having lent $billions to wind power developers over the last 13 years, Australian banks have more than their fair share of exposure – exposure, that is, to the insolvency of the wind power company borrowing from it.

      Ordinarily, bankers protect themselves by holding valuable security over the assets held by the borrower (eg the mortgage you granted over your patch of paradise when you borrowed to buy it). However, the value of the security granted by a wind power company is principally tied up in the future stream of income guaranteed under its PPA with its retail customer (the true value of which is tied to the value of RECs).

      In the event that the RET were scaled back or scrapped it is highly likely that retailers (left with a bunch of worthless RECs) will seek to get out of their PPAs, making the bank’s security largely worthless. A wind farm with a fleet of worn-out Suzlon s88 turbines – on land owned by someone else – is unlikely to yield all that much for a receiver or liquidator charged with recovering the assets of an insolvent wind power company for its creditors.

      Were banks forced to write off $billions in loans to wind power companies as bad and doubtful debts, then shareholders in that bank can expect to see the value of their shareholdings fall. Now would be a prudent time for those with shareholdings in banks to find out just how much that the bank has lent to wind power companies and, therefore, the bank’s exposure and risk they face as shareholders of that bank.

      [AU bank exposure US$m http://reneweconomy.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/bnef-debt.png ]

      Shareholders in wind power companies, of course, have direct exposure to the declining fortunes of the wind industry. A decline in the share price obviously reduces the value of the shareholder’s investment. However, in the event of insolvency shareholders rank last behind all creditors, which means their shares are, ordinarily, worthless. In the case of wind power companies this will be invariably the case, as the companies in question are merely $2 companies with no real assets to speak of.

      However, it is superannuation funds that have, by far, the greatest total exposure to the imminent collapse of Australian wind power companies. Australian superannuation funds (particularly industry and union super funds) have invested very heavily in wind power. These investments are either directly through shareholdings (equity) or through investment banks lending to wind power companies (debt). Examples include Members Equity Bank and IFM Investors (outfits run by former union heavy weight, Gary Weaven and Greg Combet) which have channelled $100s of millions into wind power operator, Pacific Hydro. It’s little wonder then that Labor apparatchiks and Union bosses come out swinging whenever the RET faces attack.


      ‘Green energy on tenterhooks’
      Australian Financial Review
      Tony Boyd
      30 April 2014

      […] Shares in wind farm operator Infigen Energy have fallen 25 per cent since the RET scheme review was announced. Its shares are being priced for a negative outcome from Warburton’s review.

      […] The key words used in the terms of reference in relation to sovereign risk are as follows: “The review should provide advice on the extent of the RET’s impact on electricity prices, and the range of options available to reduce any impact while managing sovereign risk.”

      […] End Australian Financial Review article

      Yet again, the wind industry and its parasites seek to hide behind the furphy of “sovereign risk”. “Sovereign risk” and “regulatory risk” are two entirely different animals: the wind industry is the product of Federal Government regulation which, of course, is prone to amendment or abolition at any time.

      “Sovereign risk” is the risk that the country in question will default on its debt obligations with foreign nationals or other countries; and, by some definitions, includes the risk that a foreign central bank will alter its foreign-exchange regulations thereby significantly reducing or completely nulling the value of foreign-exchange contracts.

      It has nothing at all to do with changes in legislation that impact on industry subsidy schemes – which is precisely what the mandatory RET/REC scheme is: the prospect that a subsidy might be reduced or scrapped is simply “regulatory risk”.

      To claim that the alteration of a government subsidy scheme is “sovereign risk” is complete nonsense.

      At one point during the RET review panel’s meeting in Sydney, as Dick Warburton spelt out the panel’s mission, the boys from Infigen howled from the back of the room: “but, what about sovereign risk?!?” To which a nonplussed Warburton retorted: “what about it? Sovereign risk is your problem, it’s not our problem.”

      And, indeed, it appears that Infigen has serious problems (whether or not “sovereign risk” is one of them).

      Infigen is bleeding cash (it backed up a $55 million loss in 2011/12 with an $80 million loss, last financial year). It’s been scrambling to get development approvals for all of its projects so they can be flogged off ASAP. If it finds buyers it can use the cash to retire debt and fend off the receiver – who must be circling like a vulture all set to swoop.

      Reflecting its fading fortunes, Infigen’s share price has taken a pounding in the last 8 months (if the graphs below look fuzzy, click on them, they’ll open in a new window and look crystal clear):

      [graph here http://stopthesethings.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/infigen-1-8-13-5-5-14.png ]

      Note the drop after the Coalition took office in September; the dive after the RET Review was announced in January; and the plummet in April, when the Panel defined what its mission was about, as it called for submissions

      The drop seen above – from the year high of $0.32 (in August 2013) to $0.20 (now) – represents a 36% loss for investors who bought in at the top of the market this financial year. But spare a thought for those that bought in back in 2009 – when Infigen emerged from the ashes of Babcock and Brown:

      [graph here http://stopthesethings.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/infigen-2009-5-5-14.png ]

      The early movers have seen their shares freefall from over $1.40 to $0.20 – representing an 80% loss. Ouch!

      The collapse in Infigen’s share price simply highlights our warning to bankers and investors. Remember this is an outfit that used to be called Babcock and Brown – which collapsed spectacularly in 2009 – taking $10 billion of investors’ and creditors’ money with it on the way out (see this story). Get set for a replay.

      Consider this STT’s fair warning to anyone with exposure to wind power companies – be it shareholders, bankers or those who face exposure through their super fund’s investments – grab your money and get out while you can.


      ‘IFM investors accept $685m write-down on Pacific Hydro’ 06 Oct 2014

      Heavyweight fund manager IFM Investors has taken a $685 million write-down on its Pacific Hydro renewable business, and roughly half was due to proposed changes to renewable energy policy and weaker electricity demand.

      IFM Investors has $50 billion under management and is owned by 30 super funds with more than five million members, including funds such as Australian Super, Cbus and HostPlus.

      The hefty valuation changes to Pacific Hydro, which has hydro, wind, solar and geothermal projects in Australia, Brazil and Chile, follows businessman Dick Warburton’s review of the Renewable Energy Target.


      Compounding the sector’s woes, the Australian Energy Market Operator in June made big cuts in its forecasts for electricity demand over the next decade


      Dangers of regulatory change

      Underscoring the dangers of regulatory change Pacific Hydro’s Chilean assets have taken a $210 million hit after tax reforms proposed by Chilean president Michelle Bachelet were approved by the Congress. […]


      # # #

      So much for free wind energy and “renewable business”.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 18/11/2014 at 6:31 pm said:

      Very few pure wind plays on the ASX. The Wind Index (in Component Sub-Indices) was discontinued after 2011 on the Australian CleanTech Index due to too few companies. Woeful anyway:

      ACT Wind Index: -40.1% FY10, -24.4% FY11

      Page 5

      More interesting is Pacific Hydro owned by IFM Australian Infrastructure Fund:

      About Pacific Hydro Australia

      Pacific Hydro is a global clean energy solutions provider.

      Operating for over 20 years, we develop, build and operate renewable energy projects and sell electricity and carbon abatements products to customers in our chosen markets.

      With hydro, wind and geothermal power projects at varying stages of development, construction and operation in Australia, Brazil and Chile, our vision is to create economic, social and environmental value by being our customers’ preferred clean energy solutions provider.

      In Australia, we offer solutions for medium and large organisations looking for a reliable, flexible and cost-effective service to meet their electricity needs.

      Founded in Australia in 1992, Pacific Hydro is wholly owned by the IFM Australian Infrastructure Fund, which is managed by IFM Investors. IFM Investors is a uniquely-structured global fund manager with assets under management across infrastructure, debt investments, equities and private capital. IFM Investors is wholly owned, through Industry Super Holdings, by 30 Australian superannuation (pension) funds.

      Through its ownership structure, Pacific Hydro provides sustainable infrastructure investment opportunities for around 5 million Australian members of Industry Superannuation Funds.


      A$685m Pacific Hydro write-down by IFM in 2014. IFM valued the company at A$725m in 2005 when Pacific Hydro was publicly listed:

      ‘IFM launches Pacific Hydro counterbid’ – 20 April 2005

      PACIFIC Hydro’s largest shareholder, Industry Funds Management, has topped the $709 million takeover offer made by Spain’s Acciona with a friendly bid that values the renewable energy company at A$725m.

      Pacific Hydro’s independent directors have now retracted their endorsement of the Acciona bid to recommend the higher IFM offer.

      “IFM has been a strong supporter of Pacific Hydro for almost nine years and is in a good position to recognise the inherent value of Pacific Hydro,” Pacific Hydro chairman Bernard Wheelahan said.

      IFM, which has $6 billion in workers’ funds under management, already holds 32% of Pacific Hydro.


      # # #

      Pacific Hydro de-listed after IFM takeover and is now worth a fraction of the $100s of millions of union money poured into it by IFM.

  5. Richard C (NZ) on 18/11/2014 at 12:09 pm said:

    Probably worth making the distinction between wind farms and subsidy farms – different modes but rarely mutually exclusive:

    [Warren Buffet] – “…. 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.”

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