Wind turbines are neither clean nor green and they provide zero global energy

From The Spectator

We urgently need to stop the ecological posturing and invest in gas and nuclear

Matt Ridley

The Global Wind Energy Council recently released its latest report, excitedly boasting that ‘the proliferation of wind energy into the global power market continues at a furious pace, after it was revealed that more than 54 gigawatts of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market last year’.

You may have got the impression from announcements like that, and from the obligatory pictures of wind turbines in any BBC story or airport advert about energy, that wind power is making a big contribution to world energy today. You would be wrong. Its contribution is still, after decades — nay centuries — of development, trivial to the point of irrelevance.

Here’s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? None of the above: it was 0 per cent. That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.


Matt Ridley and climate change campaigner Leo Murray debate the future of wind power:

Even put together, wind and photovoltaic solar are supplying less than 1 per cent of global energy demand. From the International Energy Agency’s 2016 Key Renewables Trends, we can see that wind provided 0.46 per cent of global energy consumption in 2014, and solar and tide combined provided 0.35 per cent. Remember this is total energy, not just electricity, which is less than a fifth of all final energy, the rest being the solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels that do the heavy lifting for heat, transport and industry.

Such numbers are not hard to find, but they don’t figure prominently in reports on energy derived from the unreliables lobby (solar and wind). Their trick is to hide behind the statement that close to 14 per cent of the world’s energy is renewable, with the implication that this is wind and solar. In fact the vast majority — three quarters — is biomass (mainly wood), and a very large part of that is ‘traditional biomass’; sticks and logs and dung burned by the poor in their homes to cook with. Those people need that energy, but they pay a big price in health problems caused by smoke inhalation.

Even in rich countries playing with subsidised wind and solar, a huge slug of their renewable energy comes from wood and hydro, the reliable renewables. Meanwhile, world energy demand has been growing at about 2 per cent a year for nearly 40 years. Between 2013 and 2014, again using International Energy Agency data, it grew by just under 2,000 terawatt-hours.

If wind turbines were to supply all of that growth but no more, how many would need to be built each year? The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. That’s one-and-a-half times as many as have been built in the world since governments started pouring consumer funds into this so-called industry in the early 2000s.

At a density of, very roughly, 50 acres per megawatt, typical for wind farms, that many turbines would require a land area greater than the British Isles, including Ireland. Every year. If we kept this up for 50 years, we would have covered every square mile of a land area the size of Russia with wind farms. Remember, this would be just to fulfil the new demand for energy, not to displace the vast existing supply of energy from fossil fuels, which currently supply 80 per cent of global energy needs.

Do not take refuge in the idea that wind turbines could become more efficient. There is a limit to how much energy you can extract from a moving fluid, the Betz limit, and wind turbines are already close to it. Their effectiveness (the load factor, to use the engineering term) is determined by the wind that is available, and that varies at its own sweet will from second to second, day to day, year to year.

As machines, wind turbines are pretty good already; the problem is the wind resource itself, and we cannot change that. It’s a fluctuating stream of low–density energy. Mankind stopped using it for mission-critical transport and mechanical power long ago, for sound reasons. It’s just not very good.

As for resource consumption and environmental impacts, the direct effects of wind turbines — killing birds and bats, sinking concrete foundations deep into wild lands — is bad enough. But out of sight and out of mind is the dirty pollution generated in Inner Mongolia by the mining of rare-earth metals for the magnets in the turbines. This generates toxic and radioactive waste on an epic scale, which is why the phrase ‘clean energy’ is such a sick joke and ministers should be ashamed every time it passes their lips.

It gets worse. Wind turbines, apart from the fibreglass blades, are made mostly of steel, with concrete bases. They need about 200 times as much material per unit of capacity as a modern combined cycle gas turbine. Steel is made with coal, not just to provide the heat for smelting ore, but to supply the carbon in the alloy. Cement is also often made using coal. The machinery of ‘clean’ renewables is the output of the fossil fuel economy, and largely the coal economy.

Read the full article here.

HT/Jeff L

Advertisements

126 thoughts on “Wind turbines are neither clean nor green and they provide zero global energy

  1. Coal with supercritical boilers releases 35% less CO2. That is why it is called “clean” coal.

      • a land area greater than the British Isles, including Ireland.

        Ireland is NOT one of the “British Isles” As it’s name would suggest, it’s Irish.

        The official title is: The United Kingdom of the British Isles and Northern Ireland. So without taking sides on the issues of a divided Ireland, it is decidedly NOT part of the British Isles even according to Her Majesty’s government.

        That the very British toff 5th Viscount Sir Matthew White Ridley pretends not to know that is disrespectful and insulting, not an accident.

        I doubt the rest of his article is any more honest or accurate.

      • That has to be clear, CO2 is not an enemy, it is the gas of life. Each time that carbon is demonized and not rebutted, the error continues.

  2. There is a difference between global electricity demand and global energy demand.

    so far the biggest advances in renewables are in electricity, not heating or transport.

    It is therefore convenient for those who want to run down renewables to focus on all energy rather than on electricity.

    If you look at renewable electricity in developed nations and in India and China it is clear renewables and wind in particular are making a significant and increasing contribution to the electricity supply and they are both clean and green

      • Hey its Griff! You’re back, spewing grammatically incorrect nonsense with a warmist bias! Where have you been, ole’ buddy? Getting higher rates for spamming other sites?

    • Griff, would you please do us all a favor? Please find a large wind-turbine complex, go to the turbines along a ridge top (where raptors like to ride the wave looking for prey below) and count the dead and mangled birds. Then come back to Watts… and explain how wind-turbines are so important to humans that they should be the only industry to get a pass on this type of carnage.

    • Did you even read the article? The author wasn’t trying to hide anything or continue to deceive as wind-power advocates must do.

      “Remember this is total energy, not just electricity, which is less than a fifth of all final energy,” with the other four fifths being used for “heat, transport and industry”.

      So with a wave of the hand, you want to completely dismiss 80% of the world’s energy needs because wind isn’t of any value in furthering the propaganda. It isn’t important that people can cook or heat their homes and factories, not at all relevant that people and things need to be moved around; that crops need to be grown, processed and shipped; that products need to be manufactured – none of all this matters, just that there is enough wind at the moment to power up your Apple products.

      You probably also missed that the definition of “renewables” that includes burning of wood, peat and feces. Much easier to conflate and deliberately deceive others into thinking that wind is even a significant slice of the “renewable” pie by equating all renewable energy as either PV or wind.

      It seems that you missed the entire point of the article.

      • And a very important point. I use a heat pump to heat my home. The economic crossover point is at 25 oF with todays gas prices. That means more than 75% of the time it is cheaper to heat my home with my HP than the high efficiency gas furnace. The only way every one in the USA can heat with electricity an not have CO2 emissions is when the majority of the electricity is generated from nuclear power.
        Same applies to electric cars and other transportation.

        • Usurbrain,
          Insofar as most of the previous comments have been off topic**, I will do likewise.
          The degrees sign [ ° ] that is standard in such things as 25 oF can be obtained in several ways. I use the ALT key and the numbers 0 1 7 6 ; hold the ALT down while typing the four numbers.
          It is not that we do not know what you mean, but it does look better.

          Ric Werme has provided a handy guide to using the WUWT site. The button for Ric’s page is on the right side, white letters over a blue background.HTML stuff is at the bottom of that long page.

          **For all the pretend geographers in the above comments:
          How long is the coast line of the largest island of the group mentioned, and how do you know, and to what accuracy?
          And they think temperature is hard!

          • Worse than typing 20 oF instead of 20°F, which most people easily understand, is the constant brainless use of the word “bring” when “take” is the proper word. e.g. “When you go to the conference BRING the proposal with you.”

          • …and if you’re on your dumb ol’ smartphone, just type out 25 deg F. Yeah, yeah, 2 extra thumbstrokes from thumbing “o”, get over it cuz it looks better.

          • As long as we’re off-topic anyway, and Usurbrain brought up smartphones, for the last several days, maybe even more than a week, my smartphone (iPhone XS) won’t load WUWT (using Safari). If I start typing the url and then hit “Enter” as soon as autocomplete shows the name, I get a blank screen. If I type in the complete url I get the home page showing the latest postings, but if I tap on a title to try to read the story, it gives a brief blue line and then stays where it was. If I try any of the links in an email, I get a blank screen. Every other website I have visited works just fines. When I go to my Windows laptop everything works just fine, so I suspect an Apple-centric problem, but does anyone have any idea what I can do to reset it? Where do I go to clear it? I have already tried turning the phone off and back on, what’s next?

    • “advances in renewables are in electricity”

      They are not advances.

      Only “advance” is on price.!

      They send countries backwards, environmentally and economically.

      This is the aim, afterall.

    • Just the usual Bovine Scatology from Griff.

      Looking at the Gridwatch figures for the UK at the moment .
      Total demand is 45.5 GW , of which wind is producing 2.1 GW , [ or 4.7% ] .
      And wind gets priority over all other generation types .

      ” Significant contribution ” , only in Griffs mind .

      • If the price of the electricity in the UK was as it would have been without the “renewable s” the demand would have been higher.
        So it saves both ways clearly.
        Ultimately poverty is the greatest way to limit CO2 emissions.

        • As of 1:15 PM Toronto Time, January 10th 2019, for Ontario, Canada:

          http://www.ieso.ca/en/Power-Data

          Demand: 17,075 Mw

          Output:

          Nukes: 11,180 Mw
          Hydro: 4,472 Mw
          Gas: 679 Mw
          Wind: 2,932 Mw
          Solar: 173 Mw
          Bio: 27Mw

          BTW, there is a windchill of -12 C, so that’s -4 with wind of 31km/h, gusts to 46.

          Sure, lets shut down nukes, gas and coal…

          • …..And do you reckon that it just may be economic endeavors that are powered by traditional energy sources that are generating the money with which the taxes are paid so governments can then have money which can be used to provide the financial subsidies that produce the illusion of profitability for “renewables” powered operations?

      • NEGATIVE contribution – because somewhere, there’s 2.1GW of fossil fuel powered generation running inefficiently on back-up in case the wind suddenly stops blowing or blows too hard. Redundant generating infrastructure, and the also needless additional grid management apparatus and manpower, IS NOT FREE.

    • And equally convenient for those who want to push the case for renewables to ignore the fact that the plan is for renewables to supply all the world’s energy needs, primarily by eliminating as far as possible those energy demands that cannot be met by wind or solar. Neither wind nor solar are “clean” (whatever that means) nor “green” (you need to painfully selective in your thinking to come anywhere close to believing that).

      The fuel may be “clean” but its intermittency makes it totally unsuitable as a provider of reliable energy for a civilised society. Perhaps griff would care to explain to us which aspects of civilisation he, personally, would be happy to sacrifice in order for this utopian dream to become a reality.

      • Oh that much is self-evident. All electricity will be supplied by wind and solar, that electricity will be used for the benefit of the ruling green priest class, and the restcpf us can burn renewable wood (as long as it holds out) or dung to cook the birds and bats killed by the windmills and thermal solar plants. This will provide a protein supplement to the subsistence farming we engage in for survival in the shadow of all those windmills. Once the raptor are gone, the rodent population will boom and we may be allowed to hunt those to add to our diet.

    • griff – January 10, 2019 at 2:36 am

      If you look at renewable electricity in developed nations and in India and China it is clear renewables and wind in particular are making a significant and increasing contribution to the electricity supply and they are both clean and green

      Shur nuff, …… griff, ….. any place on earth that currently had/has NO, NADA, ZERO, ZILCH electrical power, …… then any form of electrical generating infrastructure that is installed “would make a significant and increasing contribution” to the electricity supply, ….. even if it was only a “hand-cranked” generator for charging Cell Phone batteries.

    • “giffiepoo January 10, 2019 at 2:36 am
      There is a difference between global electricity demand and global energy demand.
      so far the biggest advances in renewables are in electricity, not heating or transport.
      It is therefore convenient for those who want to run down renewables to focus on all energy rather than on electricity.”

      Oh!?
      Only electricity, not total energy?

      Which is an alarmist desire to ignore that renewables utterly fail to provide the energy necessary for society.
      e.g. Manufacturing, refining, mining, smelting, concrete production, fertilizer production, plastics production, transport by any vehicle, flight by any vehicle, building construction, etc. etc,; even including constructing, installing and maintaining wind turbines.

      Instead, everyone is supposed to wear blinders so they can only view the pathetic wind and solar farms supplying trivial amounts of poor quality electricity sporadically.
      All while consuming huge quantities of raw material, vast swaths of land, and unable to provide reasonable length of service.

      Classic misdirection and false strawman with a desperate desire to avoid the actual topic and instead substitute a limited and controlled alarmist strawman. Pathetic.

    • So griff, have you and the other trolls given up on demanding that transportation, and just about everything else be electrified????

      If not, then it is justifiable to include all forms of energy when calculating what fraction is being produced by renewables.

      In other words, if you want to power everything using “renewable” energy, than it is correct to use all energy when calculating how much more energy renewables are going to have to create.

      • Besides, coal, oil and gas are renewable resources as each is stored solar energy in a usable form, while direct solar and wind are useless as a base load power source.

    • “If you look at renewable electricity in developed nations and in India and China it is clear renewables and wind in particular are making a significant and increasing contribution to the electricity supply …”

      Look at this recent (12/21) thread by Willis Eschenbach: It has many graphs of fuel proportions in different countries. It shows the tiny percent devoted to renewables, and their puny growth rate.
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/12/21/another-look-at-the-fuel-mix/

    • No they’re not Griff. If you look at the development plans for China they intend to have 25% renewables in the energy mix. However, of that 25% only 25% is to be from wind and solar, 75% is from Hydro.

      So solar and wind are planned to be about 6% of Chinese electricity generation.

    • so far the biggest advances in renewables are in electricity

      grifter, did you read the article? How can near zero percent be a big advance?

    • Senator Stirling Griff, you are back again after being absent with out leave 6-7 weeks..
      Where ever have you been ?

      However I notice that you have not used the time to become better acquainted with the real world on how much renewable electricity is generated even here in Australia or South Australia where you live.

      If you look at this link you will see a chart showing the sources of electricity for the Australian national grid last Thursday the 10/1/2019 here in Oz : https://papundits.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/australian-daily-electrical-power-generation-data-wednesday-9th-january-2019/?fbclid=IwAR0_UAcqX3VZbGUYPHDqaIRl2mM0U7iA1qJZKV9xPEbWKcVR-h-GV5JIe2w

      The reality is that the total amount of solar & wind generating electricity for the AEMO area of Oz, is puny – absolutely puny.. And expensive.

  3. “what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power” and this is the only valid and relevant number. Any other statement with some numbers like capacity is pure propaganda.

  4. With total energy needs increasing at 2% a year what hope for wind and Solar. All the solar and wind ever built would have to be built every year- would there be enough land in the end?

    • All the solar and wind ever built would have to be built every year- would there be enough land in the end?

      Wind? Probably not

      Solar? Yes, although it would require paving much of the planet’s mid-latitude deserts with solar panels, and probably is NOT a good idea using current storage technology. Solar hot water heating incidentally is currently cost effective for a large percentage of the people on the planet and is — along with better insulated housing — something that is both green and worth supporting.

      BTW, the percentage of world energy usage provided by wind in the 18th and early 19th centuries was much higher than today. It fell out of favor because it simply didn’t work very well. e.g. It took the Mayflower NINE WEEKS to make the relatively short trip from England to Cape Cod Bay. And that wasn’t all that unusual.

  5. It’s an old article but still a good one. The whole renewables situation is a farce, funded by taxpayers’ money and by surcharges on electricity bills. Howevere, there’s no doubt that the mainstream media and governments along with so-called “green energy” promoters have done a great job in conning the general public. One of these days, people will finally wake up and put a stop to this scam.

    BTW, I couldn’t get the link to the original article to work. Thanks!

    • You have to hit the link and as soon as it appears hit Ctrl A, then Ctrl C and paste it to Word or something to read otherwise, if you’re not a registered Spectator user, it goes to subscription status etc.

    • Phil Rae

      It’s on Matt’s Blog.

      http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/wind-still-making-zero-energy/

      It also includes the alteration that hasn’t been included in this report which I presume has been cut and pasted from the original Spectator article of some time ago.

      The real number is half of Russia would be covered in wind turbines, not the whole of Russia.

      Not that it makes much difference because it’s only dealing with the 2% annual growth, ignoring the existing energy mix which would still be churning out many tons of the non-pollutant CO2.

      Griff, of course, jumps in with both feet waving his hands about wonderful renewables and misses the point of the article entirely, that merely keeping up with 2% growth would soon swamp the world in wind turbines and we would still need reliable energy from fossil or nuclear.

      The other presentation I enjoy is from a committed green, the late Sir David MacKay, who did a TED talk on the futility of renewables. https://www.ted.com/talks/david_mackay_a_reality_check_on_renewables

      It’s fun rubbing green faces in both Matt and David’s practical outlook of renewables.

      • HotScot

        Yes……I know that but wondered if there was something different in The Spectator article, hence my question. I already subscribe to Matt’s excellent blog and read every article. Thanks anyway, though.

  6. Anyone interested in wind power, pro on con, should be aware of this research. Note (1) it is not about wind power per se but still very relevant and (2) there seems to be quite a bit of objective data.

  7. If a wind turbine uses 200 times the materiel per unit capacity, how long does it have to operate before total CO2 emissions from construction and operation are below, say, a CCGT gas plant of the same output? How does that square with the recent article pointing out that Wind Turbine life is actually only about half the original 25 year expectation?

    • As an installer of Gas Turbine combined cycle units for 28 years I can tell you some facts about their output. Once they are commissioned the average for the reliability and output is 98% for a years worth of run time. I will concede 2% of the total output for regular maintenance and some upsets due to line conditions or unwanted shutdowns. That is running at the total output of the name plate rating regardless of the size of the unit. The newer Combined cycle units are low emission units that provide reliable power at 1/10 of the emissions that a unit from 1980’s would produce. The total payback on the units footprint depends on the rate given for the power sold but the average I have worked out is 7 years to zero out the emissions required to manufacture. Now a British study looked at the total output from all of the wind turbines installed in Britain over seven years and found that in that time the highest output from ANY wind turbine on any given day never went over 30% of name plate. So if the green crowd is spouting off about wind mills for energy then if they can not get them over 30% of name plate then the whole argument to install these bird choppers is a very unicorn like fallacy for reliable energy.

  8. Need to mention recent study that showed large wind turbine’s lifespan just half that promised, doubling costs of power produced.

  9. Find the original non subscription article here:
    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/wind-still-making-zero-energy/

    As a coal miner himself, its odd he doesn’t seem to know how steel is made.
    Yes, you make iron, take all the carbon out of it then put just a little back in. And other stuff like vanadium, Chromium, Manganese, Obtainium whatever whatever..
    (This is where Chinese steel recyclers go so badly wrong and thus produce Junk Steel – they don’t have any Obtainium. Junk is very apt doncha think?)

    But you need the chemistry of carbon reducing iron oxide to iron primarily.
    That’s where the coal goes, into the blast furnaces.
    Iron Oxide + Carbon > Carbon Oxide + Iron

    Adding limestone helps somehow but mainly in producing truly epic soil/dirt conditioner and plant-food in the shape of Basic Slag

    How are the fusion reactors gonna work that I wonder?
    Can you eat neutrons?

  10. I just heard Climate Barbie on the radio. She thinks that, if we keep working hard, renewable energy will become practical. She also calls life-giving CO2 pollution. That’s like describing water as pollution. She also keeps blaming bad weather on CAGW. Is there no truth in advertising legislation we can nail her with?

    • You’re joking, right? Hasn’t been any such thing in the USA for decades. I think the last company nailed for that was Listerine. England may occasionally require truth if prodded, or that’s what I have read.

    • Catherine McKenna has degrees in law and international relations. She has no scientific education at all. Her job is to promote the Liberal Party’s social justice agenda.

      • Yes, but to liberal\progressives\leftist\greenist\etc., law IS science.

        Or, as the newest political star in the US would have it, if you believe yourself to be morally right, you don’t have to be accurate about anything.

        See: banning straws because you believe the US throws out 500 million straws A DAY.

        Please keep these drips out of real science and engineering. BTW, any updates on that “feminist” bridge collapse in Florida last year?

  11. […]a very large part of that is ‘traditional biomass’; sticks and logs and dung burned by the poor in their homes to cook with

    It is disgustingly immoral that Greens would categorise life-threatening, Stone-age lifestyles as being ‘renewable’. They are anything but.

    • seems to me that burning all of that traditional biomass doesn’t do anything in the way of limiting CO2 emissions. I may be wrong, but isn’t CO2 created by oxidizing (burning) any carbon based material??

  12. the proliferation of wind energy into the global power market continues at a furious pace, after it was revealed that more than 54 gigawatts of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market last year’.

    The only word missing- and it’s key – from that quote is: ‘unreliable’.

  13. 350.000 wind turbines are needed, each 2 MW. Or 29.200 if each is 12 MW. Danish company Vestas has already produced more than 60.000 windmills! In Denmark windmills produce more than 43% of electricity!

    • 60K over how many years?
      43% is what they managed to produce one time, one day. Denmark is connected to other grids that keep the system from crashing when the wind stops blowing unexpectedly.

      • It is unbelievable that you express this without a questionmark! 43% is over the whole year of course. 60K is over the years, starting around 1970 I guess.

          • Correct is ca 66.000 wind turbines and Vestas started in 1979. Not so many and small capacity windmills to begin with.

            My first number was wrong. 58.400 wind turbines each of 12 MW. We have a big future in front of us with many windmill manufactures at similar size as Vestas. So within not so many years these wind turbines will be built. Some people will be annoyed by this.

          • As long as tax money isn’t being used to buy or operate them, why should anyone be annoyed.
            As long as tax money is being used, why would anyone fail to understand why others are being annoyed.

        • In Denmark, 39% of the wind power in total electricity consumed in 2014 was responsible for only 5% of total energy produced. Notice that the units are different: consumption vs production.

          So yeah, you’re still a long way away from “Net-Zero”.

          • How precise do you want to be? Energy produced as energy produced in an engine? In that case the efficiency is about 30%. Denmark produced 200 TWh (mainly oil and gas and wind power) in 2014, 13 TWh of this was from wind turbines. From oil and gas they got 187 TWh or net 56.1 TWh. The percentage of wind energy is then 18.8 % (13/69.1).

  14. Overheard, 100 years ago: “We must break from this morbid fascination with coal long enough to modernize our society, and usher in a glorious future of clean energy supplied by beauteous, bountiful, endless oil and its many byproducts! 300 years hence our great civilization will still be purring along on this marvel. All we need do is make the oil derrick safe enough to reside in your town, and that means raising stacks over a hundred feet into the sky to carry that useless, dangerously explosive gas that accompanies the oil up into flares that shall burn day and night.”

    Overheard, 50 years ago: “Well who could have possibly foreseen that? We’ve closed down almost all the wells now and capped them off so that useless, dangerously explosive gas does not escape. So now we must break with this morbid fascination with coal and domestic oil to consider the exciting prospect of meddling in the affairs of Middle Eastern governments to ensure a bountiful, endless supply of petroleum arriving on ocean tankers. Surely this prosperity and mutual cooperation will endure for 300 years! Long live the Shah of Iran!”

    Overheard:“No nukes! No nukes!”

    Overheard, 25 years ago: “Well shucks, who could possibly have known how much trouble the Middle East would become. It’s time to break with this morbid fascination with coal and Middle East oil long enough to modernize our society, and that means retreating into dreamland and proposing marvels of technology that will change everything. The 1990s will go down in history as the decade when fusion energy became closer than ever! Remember, fusion is not fission so it’s okay to talk about it. It’s been around the corner for a while now, that means it will be better than ever! Fusion ships, fusion plants, fusion cars, fusion pacemakers. Every other science story is about fusion, it’s that close! As soon as fusion pops into existence tomorrow it will become our kind’s energy miracle for the next 300 years! And the next.”

    Overheard:“No nukes! No nukes!”

    Overheard, 15 years ago: “Well it looks like fusion is still around the corner. Why not dispense with this morbid fascination with coal and fusion and put all our effort into solar and wind? Let’s manufacture in other countries countless delicate machines from toxic components and place them out into the elements where they will underperform and wear out quickly. Let us deceive the public and ourselves by failing to mention that all these things together, should we give over completely to them, would support a comfortable utopian modern civilization if we get rid of 95% percent of the people (through Population Control), with the remaining few descending into a Medieval lifestyle in the ruins as the regional grids finally shut down. By scrounging all available parts left over from the Golden Age, the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Wind might maintain a ceremonial electric light that will still be burning in 300 years…”

    Overheard:“No nukes! No nukes!”

    Overheard, 10 years ago: “Hey… remember that useless and dangerous gas byproduct? April fool! We’ve been using it all along despite that CO2 thing. Well it’s time to finally do away with coal and the nice gas will help us to hold on to that solar and wind dream a little longer. We can even use it to help eliminate those 95% of people who are still alive, another unsolved problem. Let’s uncap those wells, dig deep and extract even more of the gas, and crisscross our continent with explody pipelines until all modern civilization is hanging by a tiny thread! Let’s prove to the world that were are smart by changing over to use the gas completely, even spending more energy to compress it and sending giant explody-ships to sell it overseas! Let’s calculate… after more than 80 years of flaring off a terrifying amount of it, fracturing some rock to get a little more, using it almost exclusively for powering the grid, selling out what future we may have by mass exporting it overseas, accounting for leakage in the whole system which now has trillions of parts where it once comprised millions… that leaves us… [deletes result] 300 years! Yes — 300 wonderful years of gassy prosperity while fusion comes around the corner, we eliminate 95% or people (through Population Control) and do some other things, like mopping up the Middle East to obtain a little -surplus-…”

    Overheard:“No nukes! No nukes!”

    Overheard, 8 years ago: “I have a friend who’s trying to start a rare earth mine in Missouri. ‘Jim, how much thorium do you think you’ll be digging up a year?’ And he goes, “I think about 5,000 tons.” 5,000 tons of thorium would supply the planet… with all of its energy for a year. And he goes ‘And there’s like a zillion other places on earth that are just like my mine. It’s a nice mine, but it’s not unique, it’s not like this is the one place on earth where this is found.’ Every time mankind has been able to access a new source of energy, it has led to profound societal implications. Human beings had slaves for thousands and thousands of years. When we learned how to make carbon our slave, instead of other human beings, we started to learn how to be civilized people. Thorium has a million times the energy density of a carbon-hydrogen bond. What could that mean for human civilization? Because we’re not going to run out of this stuff. We will never run out. It is simply too common.”

    Overheard:“No nukes! No nukes!”

    Perhaps he read my letter.

    Overheard, 2 years ago: [President Trump] “We will begin to revive and expand our nuclear energy sector — which I’m so happy about — which produces clean, renewable and emissions-free energy. A complete review of U.S. nuclear energy policy will help us find new ways to revitalize this crucial energy resource. […] the Department of the Treasury will address barriers to the financing of highly efficient, overseas coal energy plants. Ukraine already tells us they need millions and millions of metric tons right now. There are many other places that need it, too. And we want to sell it to them, and to everyone else all over the globe who need it…”

    Overheard:“No nukes! No nukes!”

    Too little, too late. Amidst the infantile hype about solar and wind and its insidiously deceptive crypto-advocation of natural gas as THE primary source for grid power generation… and the fusion delayers — no, not the scientists working on the problem, but the every day investors and people putting stock in an ridiculous and unaffordable dreams… they have all been useful idiots.

    But in the end, might the least useful idiots of all have been within the industries who have been generating nuclear power from fission over the decades without much fuss.

    Clearly more fuss was called for.

    Nuclear Energy professionals are excruciatingly polite you see, tragically polite. It is an unfortunate side effect of their safety culture and utopian mindset. They believed that simple performance and demonstrated results would make their case for them, even amidst an ignorant public outcry. They believed nuclear energy would be embraced by neo-hippies who loathe CO2 as nuclear is an emissions-free resource that is guaranteed to succeed. It is maybe the first one that COULD last those ‘300 years’. They were fools.

    So they went about their business, and neglected to do the one thing that might have changed the course of history… getting behind the pursuit of Alvin Weinberg’s vision of molten salt reactors and active processing that reduces necessary waste storage to a small volume and brief 300 year span, from a cheap and limitless fuel source.

    Nuclear plant operators watched as the percentage of US nuclear feeding the grid rose (much too slowly) to around 20% even as it had reached as much as 70% in another countries, then they watched started dropping again. They have witnessed whole decades without new US construction, or even useful research into molten salts. They have been ‘playing nice’ with everyone, not stirring up much of a fuss. Years ago they became excited about the AP-1000. How many are there operating in the US, today?

    The problem is, it’s actually a war and not some public relations challenge. And the modern lifestyle and abundant energy hangs in the balance. When ignorant and unworkable ideas become commonplace, it’s time to lose the politeness and call out the idiocy and engineering-stupids. Raise a fuss.

    Overheard:“No nukes! No nukes!”

    It’s time to say S.T.F.U. and show those people the door.

  15. “50 acres per megawatt, typical for wind farms”

    That is typical for current wind farms. As the best sites are used up, future wind farms will have to be placed in less optimal locations and as a result, average density will go down.

    • If we build floating wind turbines in a small part of the North Sea we could produce hundred times more electricity than needed during one year in Norway. That is quite much even seen from an EU perspective. And better still, the capacity factor will be 60+% (produced energy/max power energy).

      • And a rogue wave comes through and they all sink, except for the broken off fibreglass blades that pollute the shores and are a menace to navigation.

      • Once again, your made up numbers fail to come anywhere close to reality.
        Filling the entire sea around Norway would only produce a fraction of the energy needed for Norway. 60% capacity is way above what real world numbers show.
        Recent studies show that these things only last about half as long as originally claimed and require much higher maintenance until then.

        • So many false statements in a few sentences. As far as I know the five floating wind turbines outside of Scotland work perfectly with capacity factor larger than 60%.

          • How many years have those five windmills floating off of Scotland’s shores been operating?

            What site, what lat/long, what is their nameplate rating and what is their yearly production of kw-hours thus far?

            How many million barrel of fossil fuel were needed for their ships to install them and maintain them? How many MegaWatt-hrs were needed to build them, mine their metals and plastics, and machine the parts?

          • I thought this net site was a serious place with serious discussions. Now I understand your comment after reading about this net site in Wikipedia, WUWT is a “blog promoting climate change denial”. So it is to be expected that you deny most facts of positive climate development! I hope I am wrong.

          • I found the “Hywind Scotland” floating wind farm. It was commissioned October 2017, so not even a year of operation yet. I can’t find anything about capacity factor.

            But hey, Ketill Jacobsen, don’t get your nickers in a twist just because we ask you prove your grandiose claims.

          • Statoil and Masdar aim to reduce the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to EUR 40-60 (USD 50-75) per MWh by 2030.

            Don’t get too excited, as an engineer I can tell you that cost is only the difference between keeping it running, or walking away from it when you still have to pay off the R&D and the construction loan. There is nothing in the article about how much government money they sucked up to get it built, nor how much to keep it operating.

            @Ketill Jacobsen that’s all we’re asking, if wind is such a great idea, kill the subsidies and mandates, cancel the feed-in tariffs, if they’re the best thing since slice bread they don’t need ’em!!! So far, no wind project has been able to get off the ground without government putting its thumb on the scale somehow. Thus our instant skepticism.

        • Hywind Scotland had a capacity factor of 65% in its first three months (November 2017 to January 2018). I have not been able to find newer data of production. One of the largest wind mill manufactures (maybe GE) is saying that they expect to obtain a capacity factor of 63% with their 12 MW floating wind turbine.

          The EU countries have an electricity production of ca 2900 TWh per year. If the North Sea was built out with a wind turbine farm within a square with sides 950 km long, this amount of electricity can be produced. There is enough area to be used in the North Sea!

          • Equinor (who built Hywind Scotland) expects a price of € 40 to 60 per MWh within 2030. This price is about the same as the market price at Nord Pool. No subsidies will be required in the near future (onshore windmill electricity is already the cheapest energy)!

  16. The Artificial Green Blight is the CFL of niche energy converters normalized in collusion with Environmentalists and other special and political interests.

  17. I’m supposed to be simultaneously concerned that there is too many people, and we are going to run out of space to grow food, climate change will make it worse via sea level rise, drought etc, we need to plant more windmills and solar cells which take up an enormous amount of space per energy unit?

  18. Another way to look at this is that if we want to go ‘100% renewable’ using wind and solar, then taking the best case estimate of 2% of world energy replaced so far in 10 years, that would take 500 years at current installation rates. Current spend is about $350 billion a year.

    So, if we wanted to go 100% renewable in 20 years (which some climate alarmists say is necessary) then we would have to up the expenditure by a factor of 25, to nearly nine trillion a year.

    The overall cost would be in the region of $175 trillion. For comparison purposes, the Apollo project’s cost was about $270 billion in modern money. So, going 100% renewable would cost as much as 648 Apollo projects. Not allowing for economies of scale and assuming six missions with a 3-man crew per project, that would be just under 12,000 astronauts making a trip to the Moon and back.

    Even this ignores the need for energy storage to make wind energy practical as baseload, also the R&D for a moon program only needs to be done once and then you just spend the rest on building rockets at much lower cost. So the actual cost comparison would be worse than this.

    Basically, we could put a sizeable colony on the Moon for the same money. That’s how crazy the cost is.

  19. I’d be interested to know what the ‘net’ energy produced by wind turbines is. That would be their actual total output with the total amount of energy required to manufacture, transport, install, and maintain them subtracted.

  20. Read the article in the Spectator when it first came out and am therefore disappointed that this is only a re-run- it needs to be promulgated all over again in as many public places as possible . Some hope, but let’s hope

  21. To those who believe the wind and solar and electric cars are our salvation, let me comment that while watching a California traffic cam of Donner Summit I80 during the latest snow storm, I would have not wanted to be in aa electric car crawling along with the head lights, wipers and heater (temps in the low 20,s) on.

  22. The capacity-weighted average installed project cost within our 2017 sample stood at $1,610/kW. Using that number then using the number of 2 MW turbines turbines needed just to keep up with projected expansion [see article] “The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum.” Then, 350,000 times $3Million/ installation = $1,050,000 Million. About 20% of that $1Trillion would be for the USA, about $200Billion a year, 70,000 Wind turbines a year. Then there is the transmission line and substation construction, Backup generators, and New NG power plants.
    Don’t forget, these Wind Turbines will be sucking off about 8 -10% of nameplate output for maintaining equipment operation within the WT. That means that the proliferation of wind turbines alone will increase the load on the grid. For example, if 50% of the power used in the USA was generated from wind turbines, then 4 – 5 % of that power is going back into the idle wind turbines just so they can operate.
    Get ready for a whopping electric bill and much higher federal taxes to pay the subsidies.

  23. Matt Ridley’s article is good. But he misses another problem with wind turbines.

    The steel used on them needs to be high quality tensile steel… And this also leads to a huge amount of Caron Monoxide being generated during it’s production..I recently heard from a former worker that the Wyalla steel plant here in South Australia when making this steel, generated 1500 ppm of CO wheres the health standard requires just 10 ppm.

    What to do with all that toxic, invisible, odourless Carbon monoxide ?

    • Roger
      Keep out of it and wait until it oxidises to CO2.
      I got “gassed” on the high tops of a blast furnace in the Newcastle Steelworks. I recognised the systems and descended to ground level and survived.
      Incidentally, I worked on the commissioning of the reheating furnace of the Whyalla structural mill, but this was before the BOS steel making plant was built.

Comments are closed.