New Report: Economic Analysis Reveals Wind Power ‘Worse Than a Mistake’

Press release from The Global Warming Policy Foundation

Global Warming Policy Foundation

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One of the UK’s leading energy and environment economists warns that wind power is an extraordinarily expensive and inefficient way of reducing CO2 emissions. In fact, there is a significant risk that annual CO2 emissions could be greater as a result of Britain’s flawed wind policies when compared with the option of investing in efficient and flexible gas combined cycle plants.

The study ‘Why is wind power so expensive?’ published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation is the first thorough analysis of the true cost of wind power.

In his report, Professor Gordon Hughes (Edinburgh University) finds that

  • Meeting the UK Government’s target for renewable generation in 2020 will require total wind capacity of 36 GW backed up by 13 GW of open cycle gas plants plus large complementary investments in transmission capacity at a cost of about £120 billion.
  • The same electricity demand could be met from 21.5 GW of combined cycle gas plants with a cost of £13 billion, i.e. an order of magnitude cheaper than the wind scenario.
  • Under the most favourable assumptions for wind power, the Government’s wind policy will reduce emissions of CO2 at an average cost of £270 per metric ton (at 2009 prices) which means that meeting the UK’s renewable energy target would cost a staggering £78 billion per year in 2020.

“The key problems with current policies for wind power are simple. They require a huge commitment of investment resources to a technology that is not very green, in the sense of saving a lot of CO2, but which is certainly very expensive and inflexible. Unless the current Government scales back its commitment to wind power very substantially, its policy will be worse than a mistake, it will be a blunder,” Professor Hughes said.

The full report, with a foreword by Baroness Nicholson, is available here:

Professor Gordon Hughes

Dr Gordon Hughes is a Professor of Economics at the University of Edinburgh where he teaches courses in the Economics of Natural Resources and Public Economics. He was a senior adviser on energy and environmental policy at the World Bank until 2001. He has advised governments on the design and implementation of environmental policies and was responsible for some of the World Bank’s most important environmental guidelines. Professor Hughes is the author of the GWPF report The Myth of Green Jobs.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

Emma Nicholson was made a Liberal Democrat peer in 1997. She was MP for Devon West and Torridge from 1987 to 1997, first for the Conservatives and then for the Liberal Democrats. From 1999 to 2009, she represented South East England in the European Parliament.

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81 Responses to New Report: Economic Analysis Reveals Wind Power ‘Worse Than a Mistake’

  1. Ian E says:

    Yes, but what an efficient way to drive the UK back to the Dark (literally) Ages!

  2. James Sexton says:

    What? Having real economists look at the costs of the pinwheels and whirlygigs? Well, better a decade or so late than never.

  3. Matthew W says:

    “One of the UK’s leading energy and environment economists warns that wind power is an extraordinarily expensive and inefficient way of reducing CO2 emissions”

    We need to get past the silly nonsense that we NEED to reduce CO2 !!!

  4. greg Holmes says:

    Scandal in the highest places, and they wil blame it on the EEC as say they can nothing.
    As a country we cannot afford this so it will have to crash in the end. I am worried how many average people will crash in flames with it. I cannot understand how we signed up to such an open ended silly policy. Obviously it was a political decision to prove some green credential.
    Dire

  5. Ian E says:

    greg Holmes says: ‘Obviously it was a political decision to prove some green credential. ‘

    Plus, lots of vested interests making LOTS of money from the scam – a bit like bacteria multiplying joyously whilst the host slowly dies!

  6. theBuckWheat says:

    “‘Why is wind power so expensive?’

    Facts and logic employed by the little people don’t count. Only the People To Whom The Rules Don’t Apply are qualified to make these decisions. It seems to me that what was obvious to the rest of us is only now becoming obvious to those in charge when they run out of (other people’s) money to fund every other way to deny the obvious.

  7. Dodgy Geezer says:

    When are people going to grasp the nettle, and point out that CO2 emissions are neither bad nor harmful?

    They can sometimes act as a proxy for efficiency – lower CO2 emissions often means less fuel burnt – but in general all they are is plant food. The Climate/Biological system has very efficient mechanisms for scavenging and storing excess CO2, or pumping it out should there be a need.

  8. Nick Luke says:

    [snip. "Denialist" insults not tolerated here. ~dbs, mod.]

  9. Hoser says:

    High per capita energy consumption is not a bad thing. A ligitimate issue is whether the energy use is efficient. We have spent a lot of time and capital on efficiency. Now it’s time to produce more energy cheaply. Green sources are not cheap.

    High per capita energy consumption means a more comfortable life with good food, more machine doing work for you, and less disease. It is beneficial use, and frees both humans and animals from menial labor. The availability of energy makes many things possible you otherwise could not do, like world travel, or not digging potatoes out of the dirt with a stick.

  10. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Don’t worry about it. Groundbreaking new technology from the UK, specifically from a Derbyshire inventor with the help of the respected Nottingham Trent University, will take care of those problems. This innovative new wind turbine design can work with faster wind speeds than current turbines, doesn’t need a tower and can be mounted rather close to the ground in choice locations, is virtually noise free (none of that damaging low frequency blade noise)… Better and cheaper, everything that should have happened with wind turbine technology long ago. And no bird chopping. Still in the prototype stage, send money as needed although it’s already racked up some impressive grants. But once fully developed and deployed, the free and abundant energy from these Wind Harvesters will assuredly insure the glorious reputation of the British Empire will remain sound for generations to come.

    http://www.ntu.ac.uk/apps/news/117321-15/New_style_turbine_to_harvest_wind_energy.aspx

    Besides, if nothing else, the ingenious “reciprocating action” could directly drive a pumpjack, no electricity required. Yup, they’ll love those in impoverished areas worldwide.

  11. Hoser says:

    Ack! Legitimate. More coffee please.

  12. Tesla_x says:

    Any paper that does not mention the parasitic power requirements of the turbine is deficient:

    http://www.calwatchdog.com/2011/11/01/wind-turbines-suck-power-like-vampires/

    Any paper that does not look at the life cycle emissions from these turbines is seriously deficient:
    ee comments here: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/inventing-the-energy-future-bill-gates-and-steven-chu-have-a-plan/

    Install a 1.5MW turbine, what do you do to the environment?

    1 med sized turbine, 1 ton of magnetics….
    “roughly one tonne of magnet per 1.5MW turbine”http://www.rechargenews.com/en… you 1.5MW, or at a capacity factor of 15%, just under 2M kwh/yr.of no-emissions ‘glowing green goodies’But at the point of manufacture, it causes/costs:

    -8.5 kilograms of fluorine
    -13 kilograms of dust (thinking PM-10++)
    -2,000 tons of *RADIOACTIVE* mine tailings…dumped into river and ocean
    -9,600 to 12,000 cubic meters of waste gas (423,000cuft/ton)
    containing:
    *dust concentrate,
    *hydrofluoric acid,
    *sulfur dioxide,
    *sulfuric acid,
    *75 cubic meters of acidic wastewater
    (or 19,480gallons)
    *~1 ton of radioactive waste residue (containing water)

    ‘discharged without being effectively treated’
    contaminates the surrounding water environment and irrigated farmlands

    Just in terms of radioactive emissions alone, that is over 100lbs/MWH at a capacity factor of 15% over an expected 20 year life, which makes it into our worlds oceans, and eventually gets HERE.

    Um, at this point, isn’t conventional nuclear energy cleaner?

    http://www.responsiblewindenergy.org/does-this-look-green-to-you-turbines-and-the-pollution-they-cause.html

  13. Edward Bancroft says:

    “…which means that meeting the UK’s renewable energy target would cost a staggering £78 billion per year in 2020…”

    When the 2008 Climate Change act was being enabled we were told that the cost would be £18 billion a year. If the GWPF figures are true then we have been well and truly grossly mislead.

  14. Steve from Rockwood says:

    A sign of where the wind energy industry is headed can be found by scrolling down this link and clicking on one of the many public companies in the alternative energy space.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_renewable_energy_companies_by_stock_exchange

    Not a pretty picture. One company has dropped from $4.00 to $0.045 for a -98.8% return.

  15. Sun Spot says:

    Will the BBC report on this or will they try to hide it from the British citizen, I think we know the answer.

  16. Mike Smith says:

    So, even if you believe in the fantasy that reduced CO2 emissions are necessary, wind farms make absolutely zero sense.

    How on earth did this supposedly intelligent species reach this point of lunacy?

  17. maz2 says:

    From the Red-Green Grauniad:

    “Powys council rejects windfarm plan for Waun Garno”

    “Planners refuse permission for 11 turbines in Welsh countryside amid concerns about their impact on the landscape”

    “Protesters against a new generation of 100m-tall onshore wind turbines have claimed a significant victory after Powys county council refused permission for a windfarm to be built in the Welsh countryside.

    The council’s planning committee on Tuesday unanimously rejected plans for 11 turbines, submitted by Acciona Energy UK for the Waun Garno site which is 12 miles south of the Snowdonia national park. The decision followed a vociferous opposition campaign and is being seen by opponents of onshore wind power as a major setback for the industry in Wales. The application for the 115m-tall structures was the first of a series to be heard by Powys council, which has 17 windfarm applications pending, spokesman said. Next week it will consider plans for a much larger 65-turbine windfarm, which will ultimately be decided by the Westminster government.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/06/powys-council-rejects-windfarm-plan

  18. Silver Ralph says:

    .
    They could have just read my article on WUWT – which was written way back in 2004.

    You don’t need to be a genius to work out that renewable energy is a complete and counterproductive waste of money, all you need is two brains cells more than a politician (i.e. greater than three brain cells).

    Renewable energy – our downfall? (2004)

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/25/renewable-energy-–-our-downfall/

  19. Peter Miller says:

    But David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, says wind power is great, so it’s obvious you are all wrong.

    Official Team Response

  20. Be Green says:

    How come they are able to do it efficiently in Germany? Why would the economics of it work there and not in the UK or elsewhere?

  21. Claude Harvey says:

    Why is this suddenly “new” news? The capital cost and capacity factor of wind power has long been known. As a result of the “variability problem”, the fact that wind must be backed up with quick-response, conventional generation has also been long evident. That left hydro and open-cycle, oil and gas-fired combustion turbines as the required backup machines; forget obtaining permits to build hydro. Put it all together and you find base-loaded, combined-cycle, natural gas turbines as the economic machines of choice against all comers. Anyone with a calculator, etc….

  22. Silver Ralph says:

    >>kadaka (KD Knoebel) says: March 7, 2012 at 8:44 am
    >>Don’t worry about it. Groundbreaking new technology from the
    >>UK, specifically from a Derbyshire inventor with the help of the
    >>respected Nottingham Trent University
    >> http://www.ntu.ac.uk/apps/news/117321-15/New_style_turbine_to_harvest_wind_energy.aspx

    Err, you mean the not-so-respected Nottingham Trent Polytechnic that was deemed to be a ‘university’ because the liberal luvvies in the Labour Party outlawed artisans and the trades as being so low class, and declared that everyone in Britain must have a classics or economics degree. But then they could not find a plumber, so the the liberal luvvies then imported 5 million Polish tradesmen. Now that’s called rational planning based upon ‘real world’ experience…….

    Anyway, back to that wind-power contraption. This is a great idea. If they could then harness that power in the most efficient manner possible, you would get something like this:

    Now that would be a really efficient use of wind power – pumping oil !!! ;-)

    .

  23. More Soylent Green! says:

    Wind power sure does cost a lot for something that’s “free,” doesn’t it?

  24. Silver Ralph says:

    >>Be Green says: March 7, 2012 at 9:13 am
    >>How come they are able to do it efficiently in Germany?
    >>Why would the economics of it work there and not in the
    >>UK or elsewhere?

    Wind farming is NOT efficient in Germany. In fact, German wind turbines (being mostly land-based) are the most inefficient in Europe. They generate just 15% of the time, against the UK’s 23% of the time.

    Like all of these scams, German windelecs are only ‘efficient’ because they rely on huge subsidies. As even the ultra-Green Grauniad (Guardian) admits, German energy firms are reluctant to make any new wind farms until they get more money:

    Quote:
    “”Behind the scenes, lobbyists for the power industry are trying to convince the German government to agree to better terms for their offshore wind farms.””

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/16/germany-offshore-windfarms

    This is not about farming the wind, this is all about farming the taxpayer. The fact that a little bit of electricity may be produced (but only on Thursdays and Sundays, and never when it is cold) is completely irrelevant to the industry. All they want is your taxes, and the planet can go to hell (not that reducing CO2 will make any difference.)

    .

  25. Mydogsgotnonose says:

    What’s worse is that once wind penetration into a CCGT/OCGT grid exceeds [at best] 15% of instantaneous demand, the additional windmills cause more CO2 to be produced than without them.

    This is why the Report alludes to negatively green renewable energy, that which trashes the thermodynamic efficiency of the rest of the grid.

    Windmills are not green.except in small amounts and in local grids where they can be switched off.

  26. higley7 says:

    One of the offshore wind engineers pointed out recently that keeping the offshore towers level and intact is hugely difficult and requires lots of maintenance and rebuilding, almost constantly. Imagine the forces involved during storms. Another added expense for an already unwieldy, foolish idea.

  27. James Sexton says:

    Be Green says:
    March 7, 2012 at 9:13 am

    How come they are able to do it efficiently in Germany? Why would the economics of it work there and not in the UK or elsewhere?
    =======================================================

    Uhmm….. where have you been? Germany isn’t “do[ing] it” efficiently. They’ve taken older less efficient coal plants out of mothballs to fill the energy needs of Germany. They’re purchasing from other nations…. and their grid is in serious peril.

    http://www.thegwpf.org/international-news/5035-green-germany-half-a-million-families-sitting-in-the-dark.html

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/06/germany-in-skeptical-turmoil-on-both-climate-and-windfarms/

    http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/energie-anzeige/germanys-green-energy-supply-transformation-has-already-failed/

    Renewable energy, to be put to any use of consequence would require an entirely new infrastructure. The costs of the switching devices alone make such an endeavor a ludicrous pursuit.

  28. kMc2 says:

    Of note, the Future Factory link included the logo information that the FF Project is Part-Financed by the European Union … European Regional Development Fund. Be interesting to know how transparent that financing is.

  29. GaryP says:

    BE GREEN says:
    How come they are able to do it efficiently in Germany? Why would the economics of it work there and not in the UK or elsewhere?

    The solar power industry is collapsing in Germany because the free money of subsidies is being reduced because the govt cannot afford it any longer.
    600,000 households in Germany have had their power turned off because of high prices due to green feed in tariffs.
    Energy intensive industry is threatening to leave Germany because of the high cost of power.

    If these are examples of how well it is working in Germany then guess you have different goals than the average person. Oh yes! The green goals are to destroy modern civilization and take us back to the Stone Age. In that case, green power is working very efficiently in Germany.

  30. Vince Causey says:

    Be Green,

    “How come they are able to do it efficiently in Germany?”

    Do they? Citations please.

  31. Kev-in-UK says:

    So – is there any actual real, calculated breakdown of the cost of renewable power in the UK?
    either from government inception (mid 80’s?) to date, with an associated Total Power produced figure? or perhaps an annual total power production, which could be added up since inception, and then divided by the capital and running costs invested over the years?
    Surely, we could get to see a graph of expenditure versus benefits over the last 20 years or so?
    And surely, the total net cost per kW/h should be decreasing? LOL

  32. TomB says:

    Be Green says:
    March 7, 2012 at 9:13 am

    How come they are able to do it efficiently in Germany?

    You mean building an offshore wind farm in the Baltic but not building the transmission lines to shore is efficient? You mean that dumping excess capacity into the grids of neighboring countries nearly fatally destabilizing their energy grid is efficient? You mean moving heavy manufacturing to other countries because your power supply is no longer predictable or affordable is efficient?

  33. R Barker says:

    An objective cost effectiveness study conducted by an independent and unbiased organization before any public investment was made would have supplied the decision makers with a reasonable range of costs to be incurred relative to other electrical energy sources. It would have saved the UK and everyone else who would have chosen to heed the recomendations an enormous amount of scarce economic resources (money). At least they would have had an idea of how much more it would cost to generate electric power with windmills than with their most economical sources.

    What seems like a “slam dunk” to the lay person, unmindful of the numerous costs involved in collecting “free” energy, would be put into proper perspective by the operations analysts, cost analysts and engineers performing the study. Windmills, solar panels, solar concentrators and the like can have a role now and in the future, but they are basically niche solutions where conventional gridded electric power is not an economically practical option.

  34. JuergenK says:

    OT
    An appeal to german readers. Please visit http://goo.gl/QgSx5 for a poll on climate change at the University of Hamburg.

  35. Peter Ward says:

    For the government it doesn’t really matter how much the wind energy costs. That’s because it’s not funded by tax but by carbon credits. So the energy companies and their customers (us) will be paying that £78b, and not the government. So the government gets the credit for (notional) CO2 reductions while the cost is borne by the consumer. You have to admire whoever thought that one up.

  36. JohnBUK says:

    Don’t panic anyone, IPCC 5 will suggest harvesting sunbeams from cucumbers – no CO2 and they go like the blazes.
    Now’s the time to get into Cucumber futures.

  37. @Be Green
    Read this.

    http://notrickszone.com/2012/01/25/energy-expert-germanys-renewable-energy-transition-will-fail-spectacularly-heavily-damaging-the-economy/

    A quote which exemplifies the “efficiency” of the German approach to wind power, “Construction of the offshore wind parks is now progressing rapidly. But there’s just one problem: the huge high voltage power transmission lines needed to bring their power to Germany’s industrial heartland to the south are missing! More than 3000 km of these lines are needed, but are nowhere near in sight. The government forgot about those too.

  38. More Soylent Green! says:

    Be Green says:
    March 7, 2012 at 9:13 am
    How come they are able to do it efficiently in Germany? Why would the economics of it work there and not in the UK or elsewhere?

    They don’t do it efficiently in Germany. The economics don’t work anywhere.

  39. More Soylent Green! says:

    In the USA, the taxpayers and consumers would save money if no commercial electricity was generated from wind power. The power costs much more than conventional energy and is subsidized. If we can get rid of the mandates to purchase alternate energy, we would all be better off.

  40. George Lawson says:

    This is I’m sure what most MPs and Ministers would all agree with. The great tragedy about politics in Britain these days however, is that the vast majority of MPs are professional politicians who have gone through the constituency process in the early careers with little or no experience of business life, or have any alternative jobs to go to if they lose their seats. This means that few of them are prepared to put their heads above the parapet and speak out against Camerons stupid policies on wind farms and AGW generally for fear of getting on the wrong side of those that matter. Logic no longer applies with most of them, It’s more important not to court the wrath of their seniors for causing trouble. This effectively means that the power of parliament as a forum echoing the voice of the people is reduced considerably, and the nation is the worse for it.

  41. 1DandyTroll says:

    “Why is wind power so expensive?”

    Because it’s free to the green (peace) corporatist lefties who’ve all inv(f)ested in the “free” (tax) market.

  42. Stephen Richards says:

    Be Green says:

    March 7, 2012 at 9:13 am

    How come they are able to do it efficiently in Germany? Why would the economics of it work there and not in the UK or elsewhere?

    THEY DON’T. I suggest you buy some german papers and read. They buy huge amounts of nuclear power from us in france and I now reopening their coal powered facilities. Green power does not pay the user it pays the providers. The germans are learning this very quickly as are all europeans except those on the massive gravy train.

  43. Adam Gallon says:

    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2011/04/fantasies-collide-with-reality.html

    All noted by Christopher Booker, nearly a year ago?

  44. Justthinkin says:

    “Edward Bancroft says:

    March 7, 2012 at 8:52 am

    “…which means that meeting the UK’s renewable energy target would cost a staggering £78 billion per year in 2020…”

    When the 2008 Climate Change act was being enabled we were told that the cost would be £18 billion a year. If the GWPF figures are true then we have been well and truly grossly mislead”

    The GWPF figures are low. And what where you thinking to allow yourself to be “well and truly grossly mislead”?? For the “chilllldreeennn”??
    Winston Churchill said it very well in his statement that the best argument against democracy and allowing Joe Blow to vote was a 10 minute talk with somebody on the street.

    BUT….not to worry.When economies collapse,welfare entitlements will be stopped,and the street people “employed” to blow on the blades,thus allowing the bird blenders to produce enough power to keep God knows what triple a battery thingie running.Darwin was wrong.Mankind is not evolving,we are de-volving at an alarming rate.(Welll-,at least 50% of us)

  45. Justthinkin says:

    And no,I don’t mean to sound cruel.Just tired of PCness stupidity disguised as “love for our planet”.

  46. RockyRoad says:

    George Lawson says:
    March 7, 2012 at 11:18 am

    This is I’m sure what most MPs and Ministers would all agree with. The great tragedy about politics in Britain these days however, is that the vast majority of MPs are professional politicians who have gone through the constituency process in the early careers with little or no experience of business life, or have any alternative jobs to go to if they lose their seats.

    Actually, “politics” IS their “business”–they do anything and everything to keep their “jobs”, even if it includes bankrupting their once-great country.

    Toss the bums out, Englanders–it’s your only hope.

  47. @ kadaka (KD Knoebel) 8:44.

    can be mounted rather close to the ground in choice locations, is virtually noise free (none of that damaging low frequency blade noise …. if nothing else, the ingenious “reciprocating action” could directly drive a pumpjack, no electricity required. Yup, they’ll love those in impoverished areas worldwide.

    I was about to congratulate you on a splendid piece of satire as I thought you were describing the ubiquitous American Farm WindPump invented in 1854.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windpump

    Alas, you were serious.

  48. Curiousgeorge says:

    Nobody disputes that electricity can be produced by a wide range of means. Hell, the ancient Egyptians did it. The question has always been one of economics. Do you know why wind/solar/algae, etc. will always play 2nd fiddle to fossil fuels? Because Mother Nature busted her fine ass for a hundred million years to do all the hard work for us. ;) Sorry, Charlie, there is no way we can replicate that economically.

  49. Mike says:

    Never mind the gas/coal powered backups for wind (aka “fools power”) but here in Ontario according to William Palmer (ex Ontario Power Generation employee) we are sacrificing/derating the output of our nuclear reactors to accommodate the power output of our wind farms (when the wind decides to blow at the optimum speed and direction of course).

    Ref. http://www.masterresource.org/2012/03/ontario-windpower-case-study-ii/#more-18990

    “These deratings are due to surplus baseload generation, largely driven by the policy of the IESO to accept all available wind generation, even if the system does not need it, and even when it requires selling the output at high negative cost to neighbouring utilities in order to prevent an excess generation situation which would make the system frequency rise above 60 Hz, generating instability.

    Contractually, Bruce Power is required to derate Bruce B units on the demand of the system operator when the system is in this surplus baseload situation. To do this, some 300 kilograms per second of live steam at about 4,000 kilopascals (250 degrees C) is dumped into the steam turbine condensers of each unit. Even to non-technical readers, this can be seen to be a large amount of energy, and not a trifling matter.”

    Stop the insanity…

  50. jim hogg, Glasgow says:

    None of this matters. Some very cunning and unprincipled idiots are running the asylum. Way back in the beginning it was obvious to any honest person with only an average IQ that wind power was a ridiculous option. The politicians went ahead with it anyway in the teeth of mountains of argument and evidence that it had no redeeming features at all.

    But what wind policy did have in its favour, was that it would make many people very rich and give politicians something to ally themselves too that allegedly demonstrated they had good intentions if nothing else – though only the gullibles could be convinced of the latter. The politicians cannot have believed that it was a viable option and the moguls who went with it must have been at least as aware of the very serious and expensive shortcomings of energy from wind. And yet they all went with it.

    The already incontrovertible case against gets stronger by the day and yet we still have businesses churning the gear out and making a fortune from it, politicians insulting voters while they defend it, and landowners also coining it. This fiasco is a potent symbol of how dishonest too many politicians, captains of industry and landowners have become (and probably always were). It illustrates how ineffective democracy can be and how parasitic capitalism can become.

    Those on the right who’ll blame the politicians for corrupting the industrialists should ask themselves if they too would make and sell something that they knew was worthless but which sucked the end user and taxpayer dry? I hope not. These are not the kind of people that Rand would have held up as examples of the best we have within us, and they are not the kind of actions that exemplify the best of what capitalism makes possible.

  51. @ Tesla_x. Thanks for the good piece on life cycle environmental damage of Wind Turbines. Not just total CO2, but that sobering point about 2000 tons of mine tailings for the 1 ton of rare-earth magnets.

    That would be worth a Photoshopped poster of a wind turbine next to a pyramid of its leavings. Let’s see, 2000 tons of tailings, about 1300 m^3. Volume of pyramid = LLH/3, 45 degree max angle of repose, so L = 2H, Therefore Volume = 4HHH/3. Height H = (1300*(3/4))^(1/3) = 10 meters, on a 20 x 20 meter base, posted “Radioactive”.

    Parked next to that pyramid should be the tanker trucks holding all the oil-products used or consumed in the turbine’s manufacture, transport, and installation and maintenance. To finish it off, we need to show an estimate of the expected bird kill by species.

    Actually, I would have guessed that the tailings would have been greater than 2000 to 1, but some rare earth ores are richer than I supposed.

  52. Ian W says:

    With the politicians and their families and supporters benefiting from Windmills until there are rolling blackouts they will continue as long as their wallets thicken.

    It is not the first time that politicians have had such a bad reputation – it is a pity that there is no ‘Oliver Cromwell’ around to sort out these politicians…

    His speech at the dissolution of the ‘Long Parliament’ has significant echoes of truth even today – shows that politicians are always going to be the same..


    Oliver Cromwell Speech – Dissolution of the Long Parliament

    It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

    Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

    Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

    In the name of God, go!

    A pity that there is nobody around to make that kind of speech to congress/parliaments today.

  53. m seward says:

    It is without much doubt that the AGW effect of CO2 has been amplified for political effect by the alarmists but the quantum of amplification is still at issue. On the other hand, this report clearly quantifies the cost of responding to that alarmism. That the alarmists have been keen proponents of wind power goes without saying and their lack of real world perspective is now also quantified and the magnitude of it is truly astounding. That they have so easily been played by the eco-investment industry gives the rest of us a good metric on their child like naivete and and also the commercial cynicism of the merchant wankers and scum brokers who make their $alary plu$ bonu$’s from these eco ponzi $cams.

  54. ShrNfr says:

    @Ian W Then perchance it is not an accident that the Price of Wales has the name Charles (with all due respect to that noted luminary of moderation known as CTM), who supports this rot. It is good that they no longer behead such people. The extraction of the head of the adulterous fool from between his cheeks in order to remove it would be a major operation.

  55. Roger Knights says:

    The ratio between the promises made about wind power to its actual performance is one we can use as a yardstick to predict the performance of all other green promises.

    Re: the Cromwell quote: The “green” bay tree.

  56. 1DandyTroll says:

    You know how you’re supposed to ask the oposite question of the problem you’re trying to solve and you have to answer that question first.

    So, with wind power, the main question to anwser wouldn’t be, “why is wind power good”, but, “why does wind power blow”. And you can’t answer why it’s good until you have answered the quesiton of why it blows. :p

  57. David A. Evans says:

    The way I work it, this report is underestimating.

    Let’s say the 36Gw is needed power.

    I’ve rarely seen wind get over 75% of plated capacity and have seen it get as low as 1% so you need effectively 100% backup, 25% of which will be running continuously. So that’s 9Gw of CCGT running continuously.

    If wind drops out totally, you need the backup to be efficient, so that’s another 25Gw of CCGT.

    The next bit depends on how reliable you think your forecasts for wind are.

    OCGT & the 1st cycle of CCGT start in about 15 minutes and we have a Gw or so of pumped storage.

    I think the OCGT need be only about 5Gw accounting for phased switch in of CCGT with pumped storage taking up the slack.

    DaveE.

  58. richard verney says:

    Kev-in-UK says:
    March 7, 2012 at 10:06 am
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////
    In that audit, one should add: how many tons of CO2 emissions have been saved as a result of the construction and introduction of such wind generators. This should properly include all CO2 emitted in the construction, transportation, erection (including concrete base), wiring into the grid etc.

  59. Hans Kelp says:

    What do they mean with “expenisve”?

  60. Power Engineer says:

    Cost of CO2 removal:
    Wind- $300-450 per ton (simple calculation from data in recent studies)
    Market- $ 10-50 per ton ( much lower cost solutions are nuclear, repowering old units with natural gas, fuel switching, etc)

    Most studies don’t calculate the cost of CO2 removal….and one can see why. Policy makers should demand a cost of CO2 reduction metric.

  61. Myrrh says:

    , but some rare earth ores are richer than I supposed.

    Ian W says:
    March 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm
    With the politicians and their families and supporters benefiting from Windmills until there are rolling blackouts they will continue as long as their wallets thicken.

    It is not the first time that politicians have had such a bad reputation – it is a pity that there is no ‘Oliver Cromwell’ around to sort out these politicians…

    ———————-

    Ah yes, Cromwell the self-elected dictator mass murderer as alternative – iirc, it’s still illegal to have mince pies at Christmas..

    Maybe we should just agree to abolish governments. The Americans made the best go of it, but look how quickly that got screwed.

  62. Michael Palmer says:

    It’s worse than we thought!

  63. Richard S Courtney says:

    Friends:

    An explanation of the problems of windpower for electricity generation in the UK is provided in a Prestigious Lecture I had the honour to provide six years ago. It can be read at

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/courtney_2006_lecture.pdf

    Its synopsis says:
    “The UK Energy White Paper was published by the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry
    (DTI) in May 2003. It proposed the objective of a contribution to reduction of carbon dioxide
    (CO2) emissions by use of ‘renewables’ mostly in the form of windfarms (i.e. local assemblies
    of wind turbines) to provide 20% of UK electricity supply. This objective was endorsed by the
    UK’s Energy Review that was published by the DTI on 11 July 2006. However, this paper
    suggests the use of windfarms cannot make significant contribution to reducing the emissions
    and suggests the construction of tidal coffer dams instead. Windfarms for power generation
    provide intermittent power so they merely displace thermal power stations onto standby mode
    or to operate at reduced efficiency while the thermal power stations wait for the wind to
    change. They make no significant reduction to pollution because thermal power stations
    continue to use their fuel and to produce their emissions while operating in standby mode or
    with reduced efficiency that can increase their emissions at low output. And this need for
    continuously operating backup means that windfarms can only provide negligible useful
    electricity to electricity grid supply systems. But the large scale use of windfarms requires
    upgrading of an electricity grid, more complex grid management, and operation of additional
    thermal power stations to protect against power cuts in time of supply failure. These effects
    increase the cost of electricity supplied by the grid in addition to the capital, maintenance and
    operating costs of the windfarms themselves. And the windfarms cause significant
    environmental damage. Tidal coffer dams would not have these problems and could provide
    continuous and controllable power supply at similar cost to off-shore windfarms.”

    I find it interesating that some above comments suggest Germany has discovered some of these problems (e.g. upgrading of an electricity grid) to be insurmountable.

    Richard

  64. jjthoms says:

    Stephen Rasey says:March 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm
    @ Tesla_x. Thanks for the good piece on life cycle environmental damage of Wind Turbines. Not just total CO2, but that sobering point about 2000 tons of mine tailings for the 1 ton of rare-earth magnets.
    ==========
    There are ways:beyond rare earths:

    “ENERCON WECs produce clean energy without neodymium
    29.04. 2011
    ENERCON wind energy converters (WECs) generate electricity in an environmentally friendly way without the use of the controversial element, neodymium. The gearless WEC design on which all WEC types – from the E-33/330 kW to the E-126/7.5 MW – are based includes a separately excited annular generator. The magnetic fields required by the generator to produce electricity are created electrically. By design, and unlike the majority of competing products, ENERCON WECs do without permanent magnets whose production requires neodymium.

    ENERCON feels that these environmental and health aspects support its choice of WEC design. “We are a high-tech company that sets great store by environmental protection,” says ENERCON Managing Director Hans-Dieter Kettwig. “Our choice to rely on separately excited generators was the right one, not only from a technological but also from an environmental point of view.” According to Kettwig, renewable energies need to be viewed in their entirety in order to offer a convincing alternative. Producing clean energy is one thing; however, sustainability in production is just as important.”
    I posted elswhere but I’ll repeat here

    http://climateandstuff.blogspot.com/2011/05/efficiency-of-power-plant-operating.html

    Hot start one hour cold start 3 hours.for a stag CCGT

    “The LMS100 is the Right Solution:
    Outstanding full- and part-power efficiency Low hot-day lapse rate
    High availability – aero modular maintenance
    Low maintenance cost
    Designed for cycling applications
    No cost penalty for starts and stops
    Load-following capability
    10 Minutes to full power
    Improves average efficiency in cycling
    Potential for spinning reserve credits
    Reduced start-up emissions
    Synchronous condenser capability”

    not quite as efficient as a CCGT but 100% full power in 10mins.

    So just how fast do Windturbine go from full to zero power.
    Take a look at UK energy supplies in “real time”:

    http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/~dcurtis/NETA.html

    Pick a rapid loss of windpower point and do the sums
    2011/12/23 o3:00 2700MW
    2011/12/23 07:00 1491MW
    1209MW in 3 Hours
    This compares to a scrammed nuclear station dropping 1000MW in less than a second.
    Both these outages have to be handled and so it is obvious the nuclear poses greater problems.
    The costly spinning reserve is required for scramms
    but even a cold start STAG generator can reach full output in 3Hours!

    So in conclusion CCGT can be used as backup for wind. These can stanby at cold srt consuming little gas until predicted wind loss requires them to be brought up to power.

    As many have stated gas generators are dirt cheap so perhaps 10% of cost is tied up with cold gas generators but at least many Cu metres of gas have not been lost from future generations use.

  65. Jean Parisot says:

    Mike,

    Your saying that even when wind is running efficiently, it is costing more because equivilent baseload is being dumped. Baseload that has to be there because wing is unpredictable.

  66. Chuck Nolan says:

    m seward says:
    March 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm
    It is without much doubt that the AGW effect of CO2 has been amplified for political effect by the alarmists but the quantum of amplification is still at issue. On the other hand, this report clearly quantifies the cost of responding to that alarmism. That the alarmists have been keen proponents of wind power goes without saying and their lack of real world perspective is now also quantified and the magnitude of it is truly astounding. That they have so easily been played by the eco-investment industry gives the rest of us a good metric on their child like naivete and and also the commercial cynicism of the merchant wankers and scum brokers who make their $alary plu$ bonu$’s from these eco ponzi $cams.
    ——————–
    They don’t mind. It’s not their money they’re spending to get contributions for their next election. It’s our tax dollars they’ve given away to ‘soon to be’ bankrupt companies.

  67. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Stephen Rasey on March 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm:

    @ kadaka (KD Knoebel) 8:44.

    I was about to congratulate you on a splendid piece of satire as I thought you were describing the ubiquitous American Farm WindPump invented in 1854.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windpump

    Alas, you were serious.

    Hey, just because it was real and “new” doesn’t mean I was totally serious.

    I find it hard to believe that over the millenia of human innovation, including extracting wind energy, this wasn’t tried before. I know there’s a reason we prefer machines with continuous rotary motion, when the motion of solid mass is started or stopped there is wear, and reciprocating motion has great potential for wear. Likely dozens of inventive souls have tried this in the past, and quietly abandoned it. Well, maybe not that quietly, but likely not loudly in public.

    But we have more durable materials nowadays, this looks cheaper to deploy than current wind turbines, since they can be deployed without a tower the maintenance should be cheaper and more practical. The economics of wind power are still inherently lousy, but this approach appears to make it somewhat more practical, on a small scale, thus it’s worthy of a mention and giving it a shot.

    Plus don’t forget all the videos of squirrels and chipmunks catching a ride on those flat blades. Maybe even some cats. That’ll make it all worthwhile, don’t you think?

  68. _Jim says:

    greg Holmes says on March 7, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Scandal in the highest places, and they wil blame it on the EEC as say they can nothing.
    As a country we cannot afford this so it will have to crash in the end. I am worried how many average people will crash in flames with it. I cannot understand how we signed up to such an open ended silly policy.

    Is this the modern-age equivalent of being sentenced to ‘wander in the desert for 40 years’, in this case for attempting to build the ultimate ‘Golden Calf of renewable energy’ by following false ethos (ginned-up authorities/authoritative figures fostering untruths), twisting/playing with and on the public’s pathos (emotions; smiles, and instilling fear if necessary), while excluding logos (economics, engineering, science)?

    .

  69. Wayne Delbeke says:

    Transalta wind farm in southern Alberta shut down for at least 2 weeks for inspection after and 18 year old tower collapses: http://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/03/07/cowley-ridge-wind-farm-shut-down/

  70. DirkH says:

    JuergenK says:
    March 7, 2012 at 10:30 am
    “OT
    An appeal to german readers. Please visit http://goo.gl/QgSx5 for a poll on climate change at the University of Hamburg.”

    I went through it until they requested detailed information about the persons I communicate with. I aborted it there. Looks like a typical von Storch “bringing in the social sciences” type of thing. Exploring the communication networks of skeptics and all that.

    Notice this: von Storch is a strong proponent of Climate Science as a post-normal science. He also parroted Revkin’s attitude on the Gleick affair. Don’t trust the people behind that survey, would be my advice.

  71. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From jjthoms on March 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm:

    So just how fast do Windturbine go from full to zero power.
    Take a look at UK energy supplies in “real time”:

    http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/~dcurtis/NETA.html

    Pick a rapid loss of windpower point and do the sums
    2011/12/23 o3:00 2700MW
    2011/12/23 07:00 1491MW
    1209MW in 3 Hours
    This compares to a scrammed nuclear station dropping 1000MW in less than a second.
    Both these outages have to be handled and so it is obvious the nuclear poses greater problems.
    The costly spinning reserve is required for scramms
    but even a cold start STAG generator can reach full output in 3Hours!

    This wins my personal notice as the most stupid thing I’ve read this week.

    A nuclear plant suddenly shutting down electricity production, especially a core shutdown “scram” (only one “m”), is incredibly rare. You’ll be lucky to see a nuke plant do that even once a year. The only instances I can recall in the US offhand involved a glitch in the power grid elsewhere registering as a surge causing an automatic shutdown. They don’t need spinning reserve.

    A wind turbine will naturally shut down perhaps several times a day, and even get shut down due to too high wind speeds. They need reserve. Spinning is optional, depending on how fast generation can be added elsewhere in the grid. But the wind could have a lull of a half hour or less that shuts down wind turbines, this is saying said STAG generator is up and running in three hours from cold. And as also mentioned, one hour from hot, and there are generators that can be running in ten minutes. So you’ll have pricey reserve for that quick ten minute response, which will be shutting down after twenty minutes of generation when the wind picks up again, which might not be needed again all day, or for another week. Yup, that’s sure a smart way to spend money, when it’s Other People’s Money and you’ll be getting a piece of the action.

    So it’s a bad comparison, with a false premise thrown in for additional justification. Stupid, most stupid thing I’ve read this week so far, and that’s even with this being election season.

  72. M Courtney says:

    Call me cynical but I’ve always said windfarms are great for the purposes of making lots of money for landowners.
    You see windfarms convert greenfield sites (where you can’t get permission to build houses) into brownfield sites. Complete with power cables and nice new roads and a stated Goverment policy to build new housing on brownfield sites which aren’t flood plains.
    There aren’t that many places like that in the UK.
    Exclusive housing with great views (just below the rim of a hill) is worth a lot more than sheep-grazing land.

  73. John Marshall says:

    Well certainly better than the Stern Report which was good mix of stupidity and ignorance.

  74. Gail Combs says:

    It should be pretty obvious to even the most oblivious politician that the Wind Power Scam has run its course. It might have had a much longer run except for the internet. With wind turbines earning the reputation of bird choppers and eye sores Politicians could still sweep the negatives under the rug and continued to push wind power onto the public which they did. However when you add in recent lawsuits by people suffering adverse effects from the sound of wind turbines, turbine fires and blade accidents (1,500 reported accidents/‘incidents’ in the UK in 5 years), the NIMBYs now have real ammunition without even resorting to the economics of the situation.

    SO what is a savvy political party to do? Why get to the front of the pack and look like they are leading the way. That is what this article is about. It is a power play to make sure the political party now in power STAYS in power.

    So do not hold your breath, the watermelons are not about to give up their stranglehold on power and the taxpayers purse they will just morph into something else. They are very good at re-inventing themselves, they have been doing it since long before any of us were born.

    Just remember Professor Stephen Schneider who was screaming about the coming Ice Age in the 1970s before converting to promoting of man-made global warming fears more recently.

  75. Nick Luke says:

    To the Mods: I’m sorry that I incurred you anger, I can only assume that the first line of my post raised your hackles. I wanted to shock people into reading the whole of my post which was not at all anti-sceptic. The thrust of the post was that this report clearly showed that wind generation is a costly mistake, and the only people making money from it are those involved with providing land and capital and that subsidy farming was the name of the game. I’ll try to flag my sarcasm next time, if you’ll allow me back.

    [REPLY: It is sometimes very difficult to tell sarcasm from other things. Please read up on site policy here and be sure to end sarcasm with a /sarc -REP]

  76. Brian H says:

    Power Engineer says:
    March 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Cost of CO2 removal:
    Wind- $300-450 per ton (simple calculation from data in recent studies)
    Market- $ 10-50 per ton ( much lower cost solutions are nuclear, repowering old units with natural gas, fuel switching, etc)

    Most studies don’t calculate the cost of CO2 removal….and one can see why. Policy makers should demand a cost of CO2 reduction metric.

    The Green response is: “But someday it will be cheap! And we have to save the world from burning up! So, suck it up and fork over!”

    Thanks, but no thanks.

  77. Brian H says:

    DirkH says:
    March 7, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    JuergenK says:
    March 7, 2012 at 10:30 am
    “OT
    An appeal to german readers. Please visit http://goo.gl/QgSx5 for a poll on climate change at the University of Hamburg.”

    I went through it until they requested detailed information about the persons I communicate with. I aborted it there. Looks like a typical von Storch “bringing in the social sciences” type of thing. Exploring the communication networks of skeptics and all that.

    Notice this: von Storch is a strong proponent of Climate Science as a post-normal science. He also parroted Revkin’s attitude on the Gleick affair. Don’t trust the people behind that survey, would be my advice.

    I went thru it too, with a bit of backup from Google Translate. I called the contacts they wanted Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. They said pseudonyms were OK ….

    As a reward I’m now in a draw for an iPad or 25 Euros worth of Amazon pelf.
    :)

  78. Jessup says:

    “Global Warming” is nonsense. CO2 emmisions are also nonsense, jobs for the boys, a paradise for parasites all on the gravy train. Piers Corbyn is the man!

  79. Dave Wendt says:

    In regard to nonsense that fossil fuels are more subsidized than wind and solar

    http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2012/03/68-of-2011-tax-preferences-went-to.html

    68% of 2011 Tax Preferences Went to Renewables

    “The chart above is based on data in the Congressional Budget Office’s report “Federal Financial Support for the Development and Production of Fuels and Energy Technologies,” and displays the allocation of energy-related tax preferences for Fiscal Year 2011, by type of fuel or technology. Of the $20.5 billion in energy-related tax preferences in 2011, 68% and $14 billion went to renewable energy, and 15% and about $3 billion went to fossil fuels, for a ratio of more than $4.50 in tax preferences for renewable energy for every $1 in tax preferences for fossil fuels.”

  80. jjthom says:

    kadaka (KD Knoebel) says: March 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    A nuclear plant suddenly shutting down electricity production, especially a core shutdown “scram” (only one “m”), is incredibly rare. You’ll be lucky to see a nuke plant do that even once a year. The only instances I can recall in the US offhand involved a glitch in the power grid elsewhere registering as a surge causing an automatic shutdown. They don’t need spinning reserve
    ====================
    If it is possible it has to be handled. The unexpected can bring down a large part of the grid.
    Spinning reserve is used in the UK although it is possible to import power via other dc links from other countries.
    An industry-wide rate of unplanned scrams (shutdowns) of 0.6 per 7000 hours critical means that such a shut-down without warning is expected to happen about once every year and a half.[11] However, no matter how low the rate of unplanned scrams, this is largely irrelevant – what matters is the fact that it can and does happen, and measures have to be in place to deal with it.

    In 2008 both Sizewell and Longannet power stations both stopped unexpectedly within minutes of each other, in fact causing widespread power failures, as substations were tripped off using prearranged under-frequency relays.[12]

    Reports of May 2008 outage
    National grid http://www.nationalgrid.com/NR/rdonlyres/E19B4740-C056-4795-A567-91725ECF799B/32165/PublicFrequencyDeviationReport.pdf:

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