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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Ian E

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

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

“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 !!!

greg Holmes

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

Ian E

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!

theBuckWheat

“‘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.

Dodgy Geezer

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.

Nick Luke

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

Hoser

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.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

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.

Hoser

Ack! Legitimate. More coffee please.

Tesla_x

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

Edward Bancroft

“…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.

Steve from Rockwood

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.

Sun Spot

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

Mike Smith

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?

maz2

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

Silver Ralph

.
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/

Peter Miller

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

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?

Claude Harvey

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….

Silver Ralph

>>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:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/ff/Nodding_Donkey_-_geograph.org.uk_-_109679.jpg
Now that would be a really efficient use of wind power – pumping oil !!! 😉
.

More Soylent Green!

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

Silver Ralph

>>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.)
.

Mydogsgotnonose

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.

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.

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.

kMc2

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.

GaryP

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.

R. de Haan
Vince Causey

Be Green,
“How come they are able to do it efficiently in Germany?”
Do they? Citations please.

Kev-in-UK

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

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?

R Barker

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.

JuergenK

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

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.

JohnBUK

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.

@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.

More Soylent Green!

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.

More Soylent Green!

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.

George Lawson

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.

1DandyTroll

“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.

Stephen Richards

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.

Adam Gallon

http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2011/04/fantasies-collide-with-reality.html
All noted by Christopher Booker, nearly a year ago?

Justthinkin

“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)

Justthinkin

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

RockyRoad

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.

@ 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.

Curiousgeorge

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.

Mike

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…