Shock report: Wind Farms do not reduce emissions!

Wind turbines are expensive, unsightly, noisy and damaging to health.  But Chris Huhne tells us we need them to reduce emissions and prevent global warming.

Now a new report shows that the turbines fail even on that rather suspect objective.  Wind turbines do not reduce emissions!

This is a counter-intuitive conclusion.  Surely if they generate any “clean” energy at all from wind, they must reduce emissions, at least somewhat?  But because wind is intermittent and unpredictable, it needs conventional back-up to fill in the gaps.  Most commonly, the back-up is gas, because that is the only mainstream generating technology sufficiently flexible to balance wind.  But a conventional gas-fired power station is most efficient — in both costs and emissions — when it’s run consistently, close to capacity.  It runs inefficiently when it’s constantly ramped up and down to reflect changes in the wind.  I’ve been arguing this case for years, and those who promote wind rarely consider the back-up costs and emissions.

Now new research from the Netherlands shows that the total CO2 emissions of the system — wind turbines plus gas back-up — are as great or greater than the emissions for the same output from gas alone.  This research is incorporated in a recent report published by think-tank Civitas, and written by the estimable Ruth Lea, a first-class economist of very sound views. 

So let’s just think it through.  First of all, we’re paying twice for our generating capacity — turbines, plus gas back-up.  Then, we’re getting very expensive wind power, mixed with relatively expensive gas power.  High energy prices are a huge and unnecessary burden on our economy.  Then, to cap it all, we’re not even getting the savings on emissions that Chris Huhne thinks we need.  It’s a lose-lose-lose deal — and that’s before we think of the visual intrusion, the housing blight, the industrialisation of the countryside, the environmental damage, the birds and bats killed, the noise, the flicker, the negative health impacts on local residents.  All for nothing.

You can sense that change is in the wind when the Guardian (of all newspapers) reports the claims that wind power can actually increase emissions.  I’ve no doubt that their environment correspondent Leo Hickman choked on his cocoa when he saw the Civitas paper, and with the assistance of the vested interests of the wind industry, he sets about debunking it.   As he says, analyses of the efficiency of wind power are complex.  But however you cut it, and making every allowance for alternative views and special pleading by the industry, it’s a moral certainty that any potential emissions savings from wind power are way less than Chris Huhne imagines.

And this conclusion is based not on one single report from one country.  Just days after the publication of the Civitas report, we hear of similar results from Ireland (See tenth letter down).   This letter cites a study by Dutch engineer Dr. Fred Udo.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that wind power, far from being “free, clean energy” is quite simply a scam.  Not a scam in some vaguely metaphorical sense, but quite literally.  We’re being conned out of money, we’re damaging our economy, we’re desecrating our countryside, on a promise of emissions reductions that simply cannot be delivered — even if you thought that emissions reductions were a priority, or that the EU alone could ever deliver them when the rest of the world, quite rightly, is losing interest.  And wind farms are massively regressive.  They deliver millions of pounds to rich landowners (including David Cameron’s father-in-law), while driving millions of families into fuel poverty.

This is a wholly damaging policy which simply has no redeeming features at all.

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8 Responses to Shock report: Wind Farms do not reduce emissions!

  1. Thank you for that piece of news!
    Christopher Booker has been saying as much for some years now. It is surprising, really, how long common sense takes to sink in.
    Next week: the solar panel scam!
    Week after that: Fracking – is it the new Saudi?

  2. This battle of report countered by report, is becoming increasingly tiresome, and with no transparent conclusions. The claims and counter claims made in Leo’s guardian article would require a huge effort to unravel. The first thing that jumps off the page is a claim by the Portpilo response that CCGT gas power stations are not as large as 500MW and not typical, for comparison purposes. But this is surely not correct? As CCGT gas power stations in Lincolnshire are larger than this. 860MW at Spalding, for instance, and not much less at Sutton Bridge. The suggestion that 250MW plants would be better for consideration doesn’t seem to fit the situation that I’m familiar with. The explanations put forward by the renewable industries themselves do not clarify the situation, but seek instead to attack the credibility of their critics.
    Is this situation really so complicated that it cannot be explained clearly, in a way that anyone could understand, using indisputable data.

    • Mike Roi says:

      But you are still overlooking the fact that wind energy is at best an intermittant and very costly to construct power system. Far superior and more useful are stored water generation systems. We seemingly need hundreds of the wind generators spoiling our visual and actual environment to get a relatively small amount of energy return. Are we also failing to take into account the huge initial costs of sourcing materials, construction, all the various transportation costs, the installation in often remote, difficult to work locations and all the cabelling required to link the wind generators into the grid system. All this for a generating system that impartial analysis has shown fails to consistantly deliver the claimed outputs! PLUS the very important fact wind generators still require alternative means of filling demand when they are unable to do so. They were only ever viable for niche markets and places that were difficult to arrange an alternate supply. If this was not the case, why the enormous level of subsidy to aid their implementation that has pushed our energy bills to the limits of the majority of payers affordability? I grow tired of my hard arned income being swallowed by unaffarodable political correctness, misplaced eco-logic and flawed energy plans. What the modern generation seems to lack is a sense of proprtion and a large dose of common sense! Now, to show that this mature thinker is not averse to new technology – what about more investment in fusion technology? We have an excellent centre for this right here in the UK in Oxfrodshire!

  3. Mike Spilligan says:

    Mr Helmer: You are continuing to assume that it just needs some kind of “breakthrough” on the technical side to convince Huhne and everyone down from his position (as well as the PM) that this really is so. I’m sure I couldn’t count the number of reports, analyses and assessments I’ve read on this matter; but the truth is that this is contrary to the political agenda – supported, no doubt, by the civil service – so nothing will change that. A partial list of the “final nails in the global warming coffin” sent to my MP (East Midlands) had no effect other than to produce a standard CCHQ reply about the “consensus” and the “precautionary principle”. I despair, as it seems that most of our MPs are almost totally innumerate – or at least, pretend to be.

  4. Peter Hulme Cross says:

    Wind Turbines with permanent magnet generators use a ‘rare earth’ element called neodymium.
    This is produced mainly in Inner Mongolia, by boiling ores in acid which leaves lakes of radioactive tailings so toxic no creature goes near them. This article gives more details…

    The logic of this is… ‘As long as we save the planet over here in the UK, it’s OK to poison it over there in China and Mongolia’.
    People who think wind farms are the answer might like to think about that.

  5. Oh, and by the way, the Chinese probably have as much control over these essential minerals as the Russians have over the gas pipeline. Not good news. R.

  6. Pingback: “Sustainable energy” just isn’t …. well, sustainable | Roger Helmer MEP

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