“Wind farms … do more harm than good”

wind276

Of course I was delighted to read the headline “Wind farms on precious peatland do more damage than good”, over Andrew Gilligan’s excellent piece in the Sunday Telegraph on Feb 24th.  And the comment in the middle of the piece in bold type was equally heart-warming: “This is a devastating blow for the wind industry”.

And yet, and yet…..  We’ve been talking about this literally for years.  I certainly wrote about it in 2011.  I first heard about the special problems of peatland in a seminar in Brussels years ago organised by my old friend Struan Stevenson MEP (Scotland, Con), who has been campaigning against the SNP’s renewables obsession in general, and against wind farms in particular, for years.

I suppose that’s just the way life is, but individual politicians can bang on about an important issue for years.  But it’s only when a prominent national journalist and/or newspaper takes up the story that we actually start to make some progress.

Of course there are good reasons (and I write about them frequently) why no wind farm actually delivers anything like the emissions savings, or the electricity production, claimed for it — because of the inevitable inefficiencies in running the fossil fuel back-up intermittently.  But the case of peatland is far worse.  Peat bogs (I’m told) contain more sequestered carbon than rain forests.  Green campaigners get very excited about rain forests, yet seem unaware of peat.

If you want to put up a large modern turbine on peatland, you need to dig a hole about the size of a pair of ordinary semi-detached houses.  And fill it with CO2-intensive concrete (it takes a lot of energy to make concrete).  And what happens to peat you’ve displaced?  It dries out nicely and releases the carbon back into the atmosphere, as CO2.  Then there’s more peat displaced for roadways and cabling.  Even if you believe that other turbines potentially save emissions, its clear that any turbine on peatland will simply never save enough to offset the peat displaced.

Wind farms bad.  Wind farms on peatland: worse.  Let’s hope that Gilligan’s message starts getting through to policymakers.

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11 Responses to “Wind farms … do more harm than good”

  1. Charles Wardrop says:

    The fundamental question re politicos’ support for these useless, damaging monstrosities is WHY?
    In at least 2cases down South, corruption explains, and that must figure in many more.
    They cannot all, even the Liberal (nondemocrats) be ignorant of the failed experiment that renewables now clearly represent.
    We are allowing our countries to be ruined, for no useful return.

  2. Mike Spilligan says:

    It really needs the mainstream media to pick this up and headline it with the same alarm as they would with the AGW style, “We’re all going to fry by mid-day on Wednesday”. There must be a lot of pecuniary interest in not doing so; though we know about the BBC pension fiasco of course.
    Off-topic: It was good to see you in fully ebullient mood at Coalville on Saturday.

  3. I have learned that the green energy groups are not concerned by the increase in costs, nor the intermittent energy that wind, solar and the like produce – they just want to stop drilling for and using oil. The groups are blinded to arguments or reasoning and will stop at nothing to put a stop to drilling.

  4. Avellana says:

    How many times have I tried to get this point across! The experience of wind turbine construction on peat can be found if anyone feels inclined in one word DERRYBRIEN.other than that walk up to a cluster of susbsided scrap that pretends it is a wind farm. The cuttings, the borrow pits, the blasting, the effects of slumped peat, dried out peat, archaeological sites ploughed through, then walk into a real peat bog.
    A real peat bog is awesome, utterly its own organism, drains differently, has different ecology. If you cut it, you can cause peat slides. It holds CO2, this maligned substance that natural plants need. An International Symposium at Compostella held a few years ago was horrified at the rate of loss worldwide by peat fires and industrial wind turbine construction.
    Peatbogs are undervalued as landscape because they are one of the last places where nature has the upper hand. Short of blasting mountains, this form of landscape along with the poorly understood seabed, the permanent harm must rate as one of the most single handed destructive elements on our natural envirnoment. You can get lost in them, sink in them, till now that was enough to keep mankind from totally wrecking them. Autopsies on the siting of turbines on peat would be a good start, as the massive concrete bases sometimes ‘float’ with the underground water layer below. Sub contractors are left to their own devices to delve into deepest peat, with attendant problems. Isn’t concrete one of the highest emitters of CO2?

  5. John Carter says:

    Am open to all argumetns re wind turbines. Unforunately, last time I read a Helmer posting on Wind Turbines, written in reponse to a report in the Guardian on some scientifc research, it was obviously a shallow piece of spin. It was clearly bashed out in some desperation because the carefully argued and well documented research represented a threat to anti-wind lobby arguements. I shall read carefully the words of Messrs Helmer & Gilligan, and hope I find something more substantial.
    Those of you, some clearly with heart-felt views about, in this case, peat bogs and wind turbines, who see Mr Helmer and Ukip as allies, need to be sceptical when the latter feel justified in using cruder propaganda techniques.

    • Chris says:

      You quote the Guardian as a resource of unbiased information on wind turbines? Feel free to show a link to the disputed work.

    • mikestallard says:

      John, please will you kindly explain how a wind farm produces electricity when the wind stops blowing?
      While you are at it, please will you explain how solar panels produce electricity at night or when the sun is obscured (as it sometimes is in the UK).
      Oh and please will you tell me why we have to shut down out coal fired power stations when our comrades in the German Regions of the EU seem to be building twelve new ones?

      Once the lights, heating and cooking stoves go out, I am sure people will be really convinced of your well stated case.

  6. ogga1 says:

    We are flogging one of the remaining dead horses outside of a pie,all the time vested interest takes
    a hand. Ask dave.

  7. This is why more energy needs investing in solar or other sources eg. harvesting electromagnetic energy from the air, recycling old vegetable oil etc – thus both parties will be satisfied. No one will be fracking (which places the UK in danger of earthquakes, so I seem to have read) and no one will be putting wind farms on peat bogs.

    Mind you, how many wind farms do end up on peat bogs? Aren’t most of them just put on normal hillsides? Peat bogs should be protected by law, can they be registered as SSSIs? That might help.

  8. christensen411 says:

    Mr. Roger Helmer:

    I would like to share an excerpt of a letter written to Mr. Michael O’Brien MP, Minister for Energy (Australia):

    “As the Minister for Energy I ask that you demand a full and independent forensic carbon audit of the Eastern Power grid and all the generators that are linked to it.”

    “This will expose the billion-dollar fraud that is being thrust upon the Victorian consumers through the wind farm industry.”

    “I know the government is worried about all the super funds and other money that has been sunk into these projects, but I also know the government is fully aware that wind farms do not abate GHG, but are good vote grabbers. (‘Look, we are doing something!’)”

    “Allowing the fraud to continue just allows the problem to get bigger and bigger until the wheels fall off, just like in Germany and Spain last month…”

    stopthesethings.com/2013/03/05/well-minister-are-you-going-to-expose-the-billion-dollar-fraud/

    The title of the blog where this letter is posted is: “Well, Minister, are you going to expose the billion-dollar fraud?”

    I pose the same question to you: “Well, Mr. Roger Helmer, are you going to expose the billion-dollar fraud?” PLEASE demand a full and independent forensic carbon audit of the Great Britain National Grid. Do it for your country — do it for the world.

    PS — Robert Peltier, editor-in-chief of POWER magazine:

    “Forgotten by many proponents is the justification for the PTC in the first place: to reduce CO2 emissions…. [Yet] … many utilities with large amounts of wind generation steadfastly refuse to release operating data for analysis. I suspect to do so would mean the release of empirical data to build the opposition’s case for insignificant CO2 reduction and poor operating economics. I was unable to find one study of existing wind energy installations that found the CO2 reductions predicted by AWEA.”

    [“POWER’s Peltier: Show Your CO2 Hand or Fold, Windpower” – masterresource.org/2012/12/peltier-wind-co2/]

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