There's a reason the modern age moved on from windmills

Volendam Windmill in Holland Township New Jersey - Image: James@ somethingsighted.blogspot.com

In the UK, the CIVITAS group has just released an economic analysis of wind power. The scathing report confirms what we have been reporting for years here on WUWT: wind power is expensive, inefficient, does little or nothing to offset CO2, and isn’t economically viable without taxpayer funded subsidies. Oh, and they kill birds and bats, plus blight the landscape too.

They report:

[Wind-power] is expensive and yet it is not effective in cutting CO2 emissions. If it were not for the renewables targets set by the Renewables Directive, wind-power would not even be entertained as a cost-effective way of generating electricity or cutting emissions. The renewables targets should be renegotiated with the EU. [p. 30]

Energy experts warn that unwarranted support for wind-power is hindering genuinely cleaner energy 

The focus on wind-power, driven by the renewables targets, is preventing Britain from effectively reducing CO2 emissions, while crippling energy users with additional costs, according to a new Civitas report. The report finds that wind-power is unreliable and requires back-up power stations to be available in order to maintain a consistent electricity supply to households and businesses. This means that energy users pay twice: once for the window-dressing of renewables, and again for the fossil fuels that the energy sector continues to rely on. Contrary to the implied message of the Government’s approach, the analysis shows that wind-power is not a low-cost way of reducing emissions.

Electricity Costs: the folly of wind-power, by economist Ruth Lea, uses Government-commissioned estimates of the costs of electricity generation in the UK to calculate the most cost-effective technologies. When all costs are included, gas-fired power is the most cost-efficient method of generating electricity in the short-term, while nuclear power stations become the most cost-efficient in the medium-term.

Besides the prohibitive costs, the report shows that wind-power, backed by conventional gas-fired generation, can emit more CO2 than the most efficient gas turbines running alone:

In a comprehensive quantitative analysis of CO2 emissions and wind-power, Dutch physicist C. le Pair has recently shown that deploying wind turbines on “normal windy days” in the Netherlands actually increased fuel (gas) consumption, rather than saving it, when compared to electricity generation with modern high-efficiency gas turbines. Ironically and paradoxically the use of wind farms therefore actually increased CO2 emissions, compared with using efficient gas-fired combined cycle gas turbines (CCGTs) at full power. [p. 30]

This means that the cost of having wind is not just carried by consumers but by the environment as well.

The report concludes:

[Wind-power] is expensive and yet it is not effective in cutting CO2 emissions. If it were not for the renewables targets set by the Renewables Directive, wind-power would not even be entertained as a cost-effective way of generating electricity or cutting emissions. The renewables targets should be renegotiated with the EU. [p. 30]

More here (and the report itself):

http://www.civitas.org.uk/press/prleaelectricityprices.htm

h/t to Brian H.

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Phillip Bratby

Ah but if we don’t believ in how effective wind power is, we are all cranks, according to RenewableUK (BWEA), the trade body which profits from the huge wind subsidies. According to Dr Edge, Director of Policy at RenewableUK:
“It is surprising that a think tank such as Civitas has published a report based on the work of anti-wind cranks, repeating the same discredited assertions. The UK’s energy policy over the next ten years will play a critical part in our economic success – offshore wind in particular has the potential to revitalise our manufacturing sector, with the promise of over 70,000 jobs. This report, based on outdated and inaccurate information, does nothing to advance the debate.” Dr Edge concluded.
We’re cranks to think that wind power is intermittent, doesn’t reduce CO2 emissions, doesn’t ruin the countryside and needs huge subsidies to make it viable.

Phillip Bratby

More from the Mail on why we’re not cranks to hate wind turbines.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2084204/Will-winds-change-finally-blow-eye-sores-away.html

D. W. Schnare

There are some problems with the assumptions used in the study. The results over-estimate the inefficiencies. There are, without question, significant inefficiencies, but the study has been seriously criticized for the assumptions and this takes away from the utility of the study.

Glenn A. Plant

To understand our efforts to combat AGW, just look up China’s “Great Leap Forward.”
GPlant

Roy

Be thankful we were ever prosperous enough to contemplate windpower. It’s not going to last. I shall be very pleased if we’re still having this squabble come April/May.

Garry Stotel

This is when the word “folly” is used not just as a synonym… And once the madness is over, the taxpayer will still have to pay the decommissioning costs…
Chris Huhne wants to build 32,000 of windmills here in the UK – the nation will face ruin if he succeeds.

Wucash

Good luck changing the whole windfarm ethos in UK, when all the main parties suport it, and so does the media. Even evil right-winger Murdoch supports Cameron and will never go against the Prime Minister in his propaganda media.
There’s too much money involved, and I doubt this whole expensive fad will ever go away.

John Marshall

A man from the British Wind Energy association stated that this report was obviously written by a stupid skeptic in the pay of the fossil fuel companies and that his association’s data were the only true facts about wind power.
The irony of his statement was lost on him.

Next, they have to determine that solar is not a viable replacement at all. Thus, they will nt run off in a useless direction again.
And, finally, they need to learn a little science and discover that CO2 is NOT warming the climate, but is actually feeding the people, greening the planet, and fertilizing the oceans.
There is no downside to CO2. We need more, lots more!
“And once the madness is over, the taxpayer will still have to pay the decommissioning costs…”
Aw, let the windmill owners deal with that part. After all, they reaped huge subsidies from the people, they should give some back.

“offshore wind in particular has the potential to revitalise our manufacturing sector, with the promise of over 70,000 jobs.”
Most of these jobs will be maintenance for the wind towers and the ridiculous related infrastructure and distribution network and back up power and lobbyists. These are not real jobs as they create no wealth of any kind.
The “Green Jobs Revolution” is all about creating busy work with no product; a society of janitors and repairmen.

Pamela Gray

Wind, geothermal, and solar power generation are most effective on-site and at a small scale. It works quite well if your goal is to stay off the power grid or are in a location where electrical power is not available (and there are several areas in NE Oregon where this is the case). On a larger scale, the inefficiencies multiply and the environmental footprint enlarges, overwhelming advantages. That this escapes environmentalists and green power advocates speaks to their rose colored glasses. That it became a part of large power generating company speaks to their willingness to swallow knowledge in order to gain subsidies. Money trumps truth and belief trumps facts.

DirkH

D. W. Schnare says:
January 10, 2012 at 6:03 am
“There are some problems with the assumptions used in the study. The results over-estimate the inefficiencies.”
Who says this? What are the real inefficiencies? According to whom? Links? Sources?

mcates

It’s interesting that proponents of CAGW are quick to throw pull out the precautionary principle, but those sharing their beliefs are not willing to do so when it comes to issues like wind and solar energy.

higley7 says:
January 10, 2012 at 6:15 am

“And once the madness is over, the taxpayer will still have to pay the decommissioning costs…”
Aw, let the windmill owners deal with that part. After all, they reaped huge subsidies from the people, they should give some back.

Unfortunately, when their windfarms go bust, they too are gone with the wind. There’s not there there to “deal with” anything.

Edit note:
The “conclusion” is quoted twice in the posting, at the top and bottom.

Warren in Minnesota

@Pamela Gray:
Wind, geothermal, and solar power generation are most effective on-site and at a small scale. It works quite well if your goal is to stay off the power grid or are in a location where electrical power is not available (and there are several areas in NE Oregon where this is the case).
You succinctly state what I think of wind power generation.

hunter

We will hear, once this report is accepted, that skeptics had nothing to do with this realization. But at the same time, we will be told that the problem is actually the fault of skeptics.

Ceri Phipps

Unfortunately they way the UK power industry is structured and the way the renewables obligation works, means that Electricity companies benefit from renewable subsidies so they are happy to build wind farms and pass the excessive costs to customers. Worse still, the additional power network infrastructure requirements to support wind farms are part of the industry’s regulated income. They are therefore allowed to make a virtually guaranteed rate of return on these assets. What this means is that the electricity generation and distribution industry supports something that most electrical engineers recognise as fundamentally flawed.

Austin

There is a reason why T Boone Pickens, who controls lots of Natural Gas, is a big supporter of Wind. They are co-dependent on each other.
At its root, wind is both a maintenance headache – lots of and lots of big structures that must be maintained – and has a very low ROI – unless the wind blows ALL THE TIME.

Robin Hewitt

Eventually a report like this might spark the media blitz that will make windfarms an election loser rather than a winner. Nothing quite like trying for re-election in a marginal with an albatross hanging round your neck to show you the error of your ways. Probably not this time if the Mail is the only taker, but one day, maybe…

Pamela Gray

The Superfund cleanup program will be the final chapter of wind and solar panel farms. And yes, it will come out of our pockets. The government has become the biggest credit card carrying 16 year old I have ever seen.

1) In Holland the windmills have been employed to pump water out to sea to keep flooding from happening. It does not matter if this stops for hours or even days.
2) In India (and other places) where power is intermittant, apartment blocks and businesses set up their own diesel generators–not exactly the cleanest unintended consequence of intermittancy.

Gilbert K. Arnold

Pamela Gray says:
January 10, 2012 at 6:25 am
You are spot on Pamela. I have no problem with wind, solar and geothermal used locally and for specific sites where they make economic sense. For large scale use, they are not economically viable without huge subsidies.

R. de Haan

Wind energy is no energy at all.
What we need is base load energy capacity.
The big lie is in the fact that people are told wind is a replacement for coal, gas, nuclear and hydro. Unfortunately it’s far from that.
And there are those unpleasant side effects.
A California wind farm jest celebrated the killing 3000 Stone Eagles.
http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fclimategate.nl%2F2012%2F01%2F06%2Fdrieduizend-steenarenden-gedood-door-een-californische-windfarm%2F
and
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1394945/The-green-killer-Scores-protected-golden-eagles-dying-colliding-wind-turbines.html
Today bird kills have become part of the permit
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2017179273_apuswindfarmeagles.html
Environmentalists must be proud of their achievement.
What a useless bunch of clowns.

Claude Harvey

Anyone using a hand-held calculator and in possession of a rudimentary understanding of “capacity factor” and the effects of “energy density” on “capital costs” could have reached conclusions similar to those in the subject report years ago. Further, it can be easily demonstrated that there is no conceivable solution to either the “capacity factor” or “energy density” problems for both solar and wind generation. That brings into focus the following disturbing questions:
“Have the government institutions of the advanced nations of the world no concern for the economic survival of their citizenry?”
“Is it possible that entire civilizations are periodically destroyed by bizarre fads and fashions?”
“Has a cat got a tail?”

I see Nick Molho, WWF’s head of energy policy, is already trying to trash the report. Well, he would, wouldn’t he?
Then there is Tim Edwards, editor of ‘The Week’ (who always loves a story that promotes the AGW meme) who has written an article entitled ‘Top scientist savages think tank’s wind power hatchet job’. The ‘top scientist’ is Dr Robert Gross, Director of the Centre for Energy Policy and Technology at Imperial College in London (ICEPT) and Senior Lecturer in Energy and Environmental Policy at Imperial, who also runs the Technology and Policy Assessment theme of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC). Gross says that the report “ignores the findings of a large body of credible, peer reviewed and professional analyses and selects extreme estimates which have not been peer reviewed, do not emerge from credible engineering/economic simulations or models and are widely out of step with the scientific consensus.”
Pot calling kettle black: Gross was a contributor to the Stern Review, which is economically bogus and not credible, and this makes his criticism of this latest report as using ‘extreme estimates which…do not emerge from credible engineering/economic simulations or models’ sound extremely hollow and hypocritical.
Ah, but then he can play his trump card by calling upon the tyranny of the ‘scientific consensus’, and his self-promoted ‘large body of credible’ findings.
When we look at Robert Gross we find that he is no disinterested commentator. He is Chair of a Technical Advisory Group of the Carbon Trust, which has as its objective ‘commercialising low carbon technologies’. UKERC itself, set up at the initiation of Sir David King, has a vested interest in promoting the sillier means of power generation, so that it can get the generous research handouts associated therewith. ICEPT, by its own admission, is in collaboration with the Grantham Institute, and is heavily biased towards attracting funding for non-carbon or low-carbon generation.
Any institution can freely decide what it wants to research, of course, but people associated with such institutions may not be properly objective. The old carnard about oil shills, that taking funds from oil companies generated reports and findings that favoured fossil fuels, should come crashing down on the heads of the likes of those academics who are looking for the state-funded and other well supplied feeding troughs to stick their snouts in.
Gross lists his research interests as energy policy and climate change; the economics of low carbon energy technologies; the integration of renewable energy; the evolution of energy infrastructure towards low carbon technologies; and emerging technologies, particularly low carbon and greenhouse gas mitigation. Although some researchers have to work in these fields, just looking at the descriptions reveals that he has swallowed the ‘anthropogenic climate change’ meme.
It is very difficult for someone trying to attract funding for study of rubbishy power generation not to overstate the benefits of the rubbish – they have to give some expectation that the research will be profitable. Case studies demonstrate that academics deliberately talk up their unpromising research fields and talk down much more promising research fields (effectively defunding them) in order to get their hands on available funding. They are often hugely partisan and mean spirited. By this often self-serving method academics hinder progress and, wasting taxpayers’ money, impede economic development, negatively impacting us all.

Russ R.

It’s probably worth mentioning that wind power is not cost-effective TODAY, relative to conventional non-renewable power sources (gas, coal, nuclear, etc.).
Since non-renewable fuels are, by definition, finite in quantity, as they are gradually depleted they will become increasingly scare (and more expensive to extract), and their prices will almost certainly rise in the long-run under almost any demand scenario.
If fuel prices increase materially, then wind power MAY become cost-effective at some point in the future. Even this is not certain, as rising energy prices will inevitably increase the cost of building and maintaining windmills, diminishing any relative gains in cost-effectiveness.
The hope that wind power MAY become cost-effective in the future is inadequate justification for public funding and subsidies. (That said, private investors are entirely welcome to do whatever they want with their money, but without the benefit of taxpayer subsidies, guarantees, or bailouts.)

Rod Everson

Pamela Gray wrote: “Money trumps truth and belief trumps facts.”
While I’m convinced that money does indeed trump truth, at least for long periods of time, as we see in the global warming scam and the difficulty dealing with its adherents, when it comes to the latter comment that “belief trumps facts,” a study (that, unfortunately, I can’t cite) was done that, I believe, gives reason for optimism in that regard.
People who with long-held beliefs in terms of what policy worked, or what condition prevailed, actually were shown to rather quickly revise their beliefs when presented with the evidence, i.e., the clear facts that the situation was different than they imagined (believed.) I found this encouraging.
As clear facts become available to the public, public perception can change quickly. But, money trumps truth (those 70,000 jobs are money in someone’s pocket), so it can take a long time for the facts to become both available and acknowledged.
Climategate was an example of a sudden introduction of previously hidden facts, for example, that quickly brought the global warming scam to heel. It’s adherents toil on, since money does indeed trump truth, but the public belief in the worth of their efforts plummeted rapidly in the face of the fact of their duplicity.
WUWT does a tremendous service by dealing primarily in facts, the money be damned.

cui bono

Postdated Memo to Chris Huhne, UK Energy Minister and wind enthusiast:
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

David A. Evans

Something I’ve noticed as the wind capacity has gone up now to 4,006Mw is that the Open Cycle Gas Turbines, which have always been there to combat the vagaries of wind power, are now actually being used
DaveE.

theBuckWheat

“There are some problems with the assumptions used in the study. The results over-estimate the inefficiencies.”
The left loves to scold the rest of us about “sustainability”, yet not a single one of their schemes is ever economically sustainable. But worse than that, because many of their scheme cannot pass the smell test, they must be forced on the rest of us using armed agents of government. So, we are not free to decline using technology that sucks our limited economic resources dry in a way that precludes us from investing in proven technology that is far more cost effective.
But polite people know to not mention that when we allow government to dictate that we also imply the use of coercion and deadly force. We can only say that experts have decided, or the panel has ruled, or the law is such and such. We have ruled, legislated and regulated ourselves into a corner- we have consumed, dissipated and used up our limited economic resources in a way that wastes them far faster than we can create new resources. The result is that we not only will not have enough power for our industry and our homes, but we will be left struggling to pay the interest on the debt left by this foolish adventure into Statism.

Tad

It makes no sense to me that they compare wind coupled with old-fashioned gas generation against the latest gas-turbine generation to measure CO2. Was there a reason for that? To me, it would make more sense to compare wind-with-gas-turbine against gas-turbine alone.
Ha! I love Roy’s comment that we have been blessed to be in a position where we can worry about solar and wind and global warming and so forth. In the “real world” we’d be worrying only about where the next meal comes from.

SteveSadlov

PG&E rate payers have been subsidizing this nonsense for 3 decades.

dtbronzich

Wind power has always been my big pet peeve.
Windpower was originally intended to be backup power, not primary power. It’s great if all you are trying to do is charge up banks of batteries for use during peak hours, or if it’s being used as a single generator to help a single house stay off the grid.
All wind turbines have flaws, and all have some advantage, as well; see this link for the 3 main types: http://me1065.wikidot.com/types-of-wind-turbines-and-associated-advantages

My goodness. Wind does not work well? Whodathunkit?
http://ontariowindperformance.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/chapter-3-1-powering-ontario/
Maybe the problem is everywhere… The drop-outs, the high cost, subsidies, the inefficiency.

Gary Pearse

Why are engineers trumped by green activists? I’m not a power supply engineer, but even I can calculate the madness. 15% of rated output, shutdowns when the wind blows too strong or idles, the size of the subsidies tell us what is required to make an investor get involved – and yet we rely on green accountants to tell us that nuclear is uneconomic using 1960s data. Give the market 1/4 of the wind and solar subsidies and it will be happy to supply nuclear power – the anti-nuclear cranks have scunnerd 40 years of tech development on nuclear or it wouldn’t need any subsidy.

Frank K.

Well, wind power advocacy was never about green energy, but rather about making certain people with government connections a lot of money.
BTW, let me know when the wind power advocates go off the grid with their own private wind turbines…[LOL]

Those windmills in Holland actually were used to pump water, keep the land from flooding, drain swamps, grind grains, make gin, etc. They were quite useful and pretty.
But windmills which add 170pounds per year to the avg household expense, just to meet arbitrary Renewables Obligations, isn’t so pretty.**
The English certainly won’t be planning on being appreciated or thanked by anyone for driving up their living costs, destroying domestic production, or driving down average household income, based on their experiences in the EU, either.
http://ukip.org/content/latest-news/2566-britains-great-escape-on-the-cards
**source: “Current renewable electricity policies intended to meet the EU Renewables Directive in 2020, will impose extra consumer costs of approximately £15bn per annum, which is roughly equivalent to 1% of current GDP. This annual total is comprised of approximately £8bn in subsidy, £5bn in grid integration, and a further £2bn in VAT charged on these extra costs. http://www.ref.org.uk/press-releases/243-climate-change-policies-put-fuel-poor-in-jeopardy

More Soylent Green!

Energy experts warn that unwarranted support for wind-power is hindering genuinely cleaner energy

This quote illustrates a great lesson — when government picks winners and losers, better solutions are overlooked, often deliberately.

By all means, let us end all subsidies for wind power.
However, let’s make an exception for the wind farm planned offshore for Cape Cod, just so the environmentalists who live in that liberal precinct get the benefits of dead birds and unreliable power.

harrywr2

D. W. Schnare says:
January 10, 2012 at 6:03 am
There are some problems with the assumptions used in the study. The results over-estimate the inefficiencies.
Not when you look at how capital is invested or how gas turbines work.
A high efficiency combine cycle gas turbine running in baseload mode can get as high as 60% efficiency, drop that down to load following peaker duty and you are down to something in the neighborhood of 45%.
But if you are only doing peaker duty then is probably isn’t economic anymore to install a combined cycle gas turbine, so you install a simple single cycle peaker turbine instead. So now your efficiency is in the high 30% range.
To make an analogy
If I take the bus to work twice a week and my car three times a week my incentive to invest in the most fuel efficient car is 40% less then the incentive of someone who is taking their car 5 days a week. So the fact that the bus runs twice a week doesn’t save 40% of the fuel, because I have less incentive to purchase the most efficient vehicle.
That’s ‘market forces’ in the real world works.

Ray R.

Becalmed at sea is a very old term. I have spent the past 30 years dismantling wind mills used to pump water for cattle and replacing them with diesel fired gen-sets powering submersible pumps.
Even in remote areas where water (in this case) is crutial on a daily basis wind fails to compare with the dependabliity of carbon based energy.

Latimer Alder

Its like deja vu all over again.
Wind power feel out of favour when the steam engine came along for very good reasons.
And renaming windmills to ‘wind turbines’ in the hope of fooling us that something has changed is stupid. Nothing about the fundamental problems of wind power has changed one iota. No matter how many prayers to Gaia the greenies offer up. Nor how much of our money they are prepared to sacrifice.

Henry chance

My grandad and his boys, the oldest of which is now almost 100 years old, installed thousands of windmills in the prairie. Rural electric removed the demand for windmills at farms. My relatives also were avid travelers by rail. None want to return to rail travel. The list of disadvantages for wind power are hard to deal with. For ideologists, anything makes sense. The windmill was 40 dollars and installation was 25 dollars. No subsidies.

Unattorney

Ethanol is a crime against humanity,worse than DDT suppression. Cheap food has disappeared and world order is at stake.

NetDr

The problem with wind power is that it isn’t available when you need it most.
When it is 110 in the shade there is never a wind. So we would have to build enough redundant power generation capacity to carry this peak load.
Does that make any sense ?

Shhh, don’t tell the loons in Indiana and East Misery (Missouri for those who wouldn’t have caught that.) We’ve got them convinced they want to buy all of the energy coming from our whirly gigs and pinwheels out here in Kansas. They’re going build us a HVDC transmission line! http://suyts.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/kansas-to-export-wind-fantasy/
I think if we keep a lid on all of this, we can still scam people for a few $ billion here and there!

Jeremy

Energy experts warn that unwarranted support for wind-power is hindering genuinely cleaner energy

^^^ That is a headline I would expect from a centrally-planned communist nation during the cold war. Isn’t it amazing just how far the world has devolved back into de-facto central-planned socialism without so much as a blink? Suddenly everyone just accepts our leaders telling us how to get our energy and our goods, and we just whine more when there’s problems.

H.R.

Love the picture! The new ones are high maintenance and throw blades just like the old ones.
You’d think we’d have figured out a way around that by now.

Alan the Brit

“It is surprising that a think tank such as Civitas has published a report based on the work of anti-wind cranks, repeating the same discredited assertions. The UK’s energy policy over the next ten years will play a critical part in our economic success – offshore wind in particular has the potential to revitalise our manufacturing sector, with the promise of over 70,000 jobs. This report, based on outdated and inaccurate information, does nothing to advance the debate.” Dr Edge concluded.
Would he kindly link to those “discredited assertions”, no I thought not, because if he was right he’d do it immediately! Just claim after claim. Yes indeed they will “play a critical part over the next 10 years”, but in our success? I think not! 70,000 manufacturing jobs? in the UK, when all the technology is based abroad in mainland Europe. Sure I know of companies designing the reinforced concrete bases (there’s a carbon footprint & a half) for these, & yes they’ll need people to build them, but 70,000 sounds a tad too high, & the turbines will have to be built abroad! Big Guvment presided over the closure of the only UK based wind turbine manufacturer on the Isle of Wight! AND he talks about debate, when he could have silence the Civitas report with several actual links & references to prove his point!