Wind turbines generate mountains of waste

Blade waste, other factors prove wind is no more green than solar

Duggan Flanakin

Environmentalists and wind energy opportunists (entrepreneurs who take advantage of overly generous tax credits and multiple other subsidies) want you to believe wind energy is as pure “green” as newly driven snow is white, and as cheap as Taco Bell.

They never tell you about the costs – or the environmental destruction – that they have hidden from you for decades. But neither do most governments, news media or social media.

Ars Technica science editor John Timmer says wind hardware prices are dropping, even as new turbine designs are increasing the typical power generated by each turbine. Timmer did admit that “wind is even cheaper at the momentbecause of a tax credit given to renewable energy generation” [emphasis added]. He cautioned that phasing out the many existing incentives could surely create uncertainties regarding wind’s future cost and dominance. But that’s about it.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s 2018 Wind Technologies Market Report glowingly stated: “With the support of federal tax incentives, both wind and solar power purchase agreement (PPA) prices are now below the projected cost of burning natural gas in existing gas-fired combined cycle units.”

This is despite the fact that the DOE’s own data show wind’s “capacity factor” (percent of time actually generating electricity at full capability) is only 35%, compared to 57% for natural gas plants and 92% for nuclear. In many locations, huge industrial wind facilities actually generate power well below 30% of the year. On the hottest and coldest days, it’s often close to zero. That’s why nuclear power plants actually produced 20% of U.S. electricity in 2019, despite having only 9% of the nation’s generation capacity.

In addition to being weather-dependent, intermittent and unreliable, wind turbines cover vast areas of land; affect scenic views and local wind flow, temperature and moisture; kill bats and birds of prey, with no penalties under migratory bird or endangered species laws; have relatively short life spans and require massive amounts of raw materials, especially for ocean turbines, compared to coal, gas, hydroelectric or nuclear plants; involve enormous air and water pollution in faraway countries where a lot of the mining, processing and manufacturing are done, before turbine parts are shipped to America; and more.

All this is just ignored. Similarly, you might also be surprised to learn that not a single page of that massive DOE report mentions the term “wind turbine waste.”Nor does the DOE’s Fact Sheet, “Advancing the Growth of the U.S. Wind Industry: Federal Incentives, Funding and Partnership Opportunities.” It’s as if wind turbines never die and never leave anything behind.

Typically, when turbines reach end-of-life, the project owner replaces the old turbines and blades with newer models; only a few companies have chosen total decommissioning and removal. Some states (most recently Texas and North Carolina) and localities have their own standards. But the only federal standards (overseen by the Bureau of Land Management) are for facilities on federal lands.

The DOE fact sheet provides information on four tax credit programs, three loan and grant programs, four sources for R&D grants and cooperative agreements, and five sources for technology deployment grants – plus a number of partnership opportunities with DOE national laboratories.

But it is silent on wind turbine waste, including huge concrete and rebar foundations, and blades that are up to 107 meters (351 feet) long. So are most politicians, wind advocates and wind energy publications. In fact, turbine foundations and blades are generally not recyclable, economically or otherwise.

The volume of wind turbine waste is projected to soar in years to come, with mining and manufacturing waste, service waste, and end-of-life waste the major sources. It is estimate there will be 43 million metric tons just of blade waste worldwide by 2050. China is projected to be responsible for generating 40% of the waste, followed by Europe (25%) and the USA (19%).

London-based Principia Scientific International calls turbine blades “a toxic amalgam of unique composites, fiberglass, epoxy, polyvinyl chloride foam, polyethylene terephthalate foam, balsa wood, and polyurethane coatings. Basically, there is just too much plastic-composite-epoxy crapola that isn’t worth recycling.” Until better methods are found, about landfills are one of the few options.

In the European Union, used blades are cut up and burned in kilns or power plants. But not in the USA.

A separate tractor-trailer is needed to haul each blade to a landfill, and cutting them up requires powerful specialized equipment. With some 8,000 blades a year already being removed from service just in the United States, that’s 32,000 truckloads over the next four years; in a few years, the numbers will be five times higher.

Some wind energy companies cut the huge blades into short sections before sending them to landfills, because most landfills lack cutting tools. Today’s turbine blades are 20% longer and their towers up to 200 feet taller than most of those currently being landfilled.

Turbine disposal costs are upwards of $400,000 apiece. That means $24 billion to dispose of the 60,000 turbines currently in use in the U.S. The cost and the toll on existing landfills will rise as more, longer, heavier blades reach their end of life.

Over the next 20 years, the U.S. alone could have to dispose of 720,000 tons of waste blade material. Yet a 2018 report predicted a 15% drop in U.S. landfill capacity by 2021, with only some 15 years’ capacity remaining. We will have to permit entirely new landfills simply to handle wind turbine waste – on top of mountains of solar and battery waste.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. The Locke Foundation cites University of Kansas studies confirming that wind farms create unsafe flying conditions. The rotational force of wind turbines can create extreme turbulence that makes flying dangerous and landing close by nearly impossible. Indeed, a Michigan county bars air ambulances from rescuing citizens living near wind farms, due to safety concerns.

Moreover, generating just today’s U.S. electricity output with wind power could warm continental USA surface temperatures by 0.24o C (0.43o F), with the warming effect strongest at night. This is only a tenth of the warming generated by solar photovoltaic systems, but not insignificant – and the larger the wind farm, the greater the localized warming.

Back in 2013, when turbines were smaller than today, Lafarge North America said it took about 750 cubic yards (2,500,000 pounds) of concrete (plus rebar) to anchor just one wind turbine; Nextera wind admitted to using over 800 metric tons of concrete per smaller turbine. (These figures do not include the significant concrete and asphalt needed to upgrade rural roads to handle heavy turbine components.)

Furthermore, manufacturing concrete is already the third largest emitter of (shudder!) carbon dioxide – after burning coal, oil and natural gas. It also requires nearly a tenth of the world’s industrial water use.

To sum up, wind farms require a lot of carbon dioxide-emitting concrete, steel, aluminum, plastics, rare earths and other materials. They disturb natural air flows. They decimate bird and bat populations, and cause infrasound and light-flicker that impair human health, while generating relatively little electricity at low capacity and high cost. Dead turbine blades overwhelm landfills.

Yet, advocates would have you believe wind is cheap, clean, green, renewable and sustainable. The Green New Deal joke would be funny, if it weren’t so economically and ecologically expensive.

Duggan Flanakin is director of policy research for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org)

117 thoughts on “Wind turbines generate mountains of waste

  1. Arecent study claimed that during its expected lifespan, a wind turbine can only avoid as much CO2 as was required to build and errect the turbine. It as no net effect on CO2 levels.

    • Yes
      The ultimate null proposition
      Look at it as just moving money around, mining, processing, manufacture, construction, operate, decommission, bury, to an end result that at best equals zero
      But is undoubtedly less than zero as this is just CO2 and does not encompass all the environmental destruction

      Like listening to a Trudeau speech, in the end it all means nothing

      • Do the math for the CO2 released in just the concrete pedestal for a Wind turbine. Turbines in the 1 to 2 MW range typically use 130 to 240 m3 of concrete for the foundation. Amount increases at almost a square of the increased power due to height and weight and the torque. Have seen data showing that the amount of concrete in the base of wind turbines is approximately equal to that of a nuclear power plant MW for MW. Thus the same amount of CO2 released just from the base.

        • They do a Stokes when any renewable installation produces CO2 it goes into the special CO2 type like all natural CO2. Only CO2 produced by fossil fuels and other to be decided by green lefties is bad.

          • “They do a Stokes when any renewable installation produces CO2 it goes into the special CO2 type like all natural CO2. Only CO2 produced by fossil fuels and other to be decided by green lefties is bad.”

            As usual, no GWh to GWh comparison of emissions from fossil fuel sources. I think we all know why….

      • Dave Yaussy,
        2011 Fred Udo analysed the data put on the internet by EirGrid, the grid operator in Ireland. His web page article was termed by colleagues abroad ‘The smoking gun of the windmill fraud’. He showed that the substantial wind contribution in the Irish republic caused such a small saving of fuel and a corresponding small reduction of CO2 emission, that it shatters the whole economy of the wind policy. He also was able to show that more wind penetration caused an increase of CO2 emissions.
        The real situation, however, is even worse. The way EirGrid derives its data on CO2 emission does not correspond with what is actually happening in fossil fired power plants. Moreover, the Irish data do not enclose some serious other factors that deteriorate the fuel saving aimed at. An indication could be, that the overall CO2 emission in Ireland is 20% higher than the emission calculated in the EirGrid tables, as Udo showed.
        https://www.wind-watch.org/documents/windmills-increase-fossil-fuel-consumption-and-co2-emissions/

    • Kind of like ethanol, Col. Government mandated food based fuel that actually expends more energy from planting, to harvest, to transport, to conversion to ethanol than it saves in CO2 abatement. Plus its use increasing engine wear and repair. All these “green’ initiatives have one think in common.

      They enrich a tight circle of elites: Crony Capitalists, K Street lawyers/lobbyists, Politicians/Bureaucrats, and the suckerfish/leeches in academia that promote the scams.

      • Worse is the fact that ethanol additive decreases gas millage. Miles per Dollar is Better with ethanol free gas than 10 or 15% percent ethanol gas. May not be true in some states but has proven true on all of my trips from WY to PA.

    • Wind turbines and solar farms, though expensive unreliable and low output, are a necessary step to ween us off reliable carbon based or nuclear energy, and the ultimate goal of no available energy and its corollary of subsistence living.

      • “in response to ColMosby:

        Arecent study claimed that during its expected lifespan, a wind turbine can only avoid as much CO2 as was required to build and errect the turbine. It as no net effect on CO2 levels.

        Wind turbines and solar farms, though expensive unreliable and low output, are a necessary step to ween us off reliable carbon based or nuclear energy, and the ultimate goal of no available energy and its corollary of subsistence living.

        A link to this “recent study” please? Does it do an apples/apples all in, life cycle comparison with hydrocarbon supply? IMO, gettin’ into a’lOrangian “People are sayin'” territory..

  2. “Compared to 57% for natural gas plants “

    And I’m sure that figure would be much higher if gas wasn’t being used to balance the grid load, unlike nuclear, which is usually run flat out…

    • Yes
      Gas can run in the high 90s

      In AB , according to AESO, we get just over 30% from our wind installs

      Vs 12 for solar

    • I noticed that 57% as well, Dave. The new combined cycle units in my area typically run at capacity factors in the high 80’s due to the advantage their efficiency gives them in the market.

  3. There are few places where wind turbines make some economic and practical sense.
    One example came to my mind.
    On Greenland there are some remote radio relay stations and classified electronics. These stations were and are powered by diesel generators. It’s very expensive to fly diesel out to these stations.
    Therefore the Danes raised wind turbines to save on diesel consumption.
    Solar panels are out of the question for obvious reason – only Griff may be able to make solar panels work, when covered with snow and no sun half the year.

    The only politician, I know of, not liking wind turbines, is the Norwegian energy minister. I think she ones said something in direction of: Wind turbines are pretty useless, at least here in Norway.

  4. Duggan Flanakin,
    Very good article! Thank you for compiling the information and summarizing it so eloquently.

  5. Extracting that wind energy out of the lower atmosphere has to have some affect on the climate system. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is a lot of energy blowing around at all different altitudes, but extracting that energy out of the low atmosphere on the scale that they propose hasn’t been fully evaluated IMHO. Not to mention all the valid points made in this main post about all the resources required to build out such a fantasy, and that some of the key components, (turbine blades and huge concrete bases) are basically lost resources. There should have to be a truthful, proper and full environmental assessment of Big Wind, if they propose to expand this contentious industry.

    • The general surface level winds that remove air polution from cities is sometimes complex and counter-intuitive. Take the Denver-Boulder-Ft. Collins area. I suspect that air pollution from this region is actually drawn northward toward the Colorado/Wyoming border and then sent packing east by the strong winds along I-80 at ground surface. Place enough wind turbines along the I-80 corridor, and see air quality along the Front Range deteriorate. Perhaps?

      • What you are describing makes sense. If enough turbines were placed there it probably would. But likely it would require more than are practical economically.

      • Simple thought (’cause that is all I am capable of)

        Do you think you could put in enough fans along I-80 and run them, when there is no wind, so they would create enuf draw to impact the air movement in Ft. Collins?

    • “..There is a lot of energy blowing around at all different altitudes, but extracting that energy out of the low atmosphere on the scale that they propose hasn’t been fully evaluated IMHO…”

      Eartling2: This is one of the numerous things about wind energy that I have been wondering about. What exactly are the consequences to the weather and climatic systems from harvesting wind energy from them? Have there been any studies on this?

      It seems to me that the more we choose to harvest that energy, the greater the potential consequences are. I don’t think it is a very bright idea to do this on an ever-expanding scale without having definitively answered this question. We obviously are not going to get an answer from wind energy advocates and supporters when their vested interests in it pretty much preclude them from even caring about this issue.

      To me, it is hypocritical to claim you care about the environment and the climate when you ignore this question and the environmental problems with wind. Keeping the American people and the world in the dark about these things only serves to demonstrate the level of deceit going on in the climate alarmist and environmental movements today. I can only hope and pray that the truth comes out someday, but I am not holding my breath.

      • Given that no climate model can get the answers right, much less be useful at predicting the effects of gross changes from human caused wind interference.

    • Earthling2,
      The available mechanical energy in the atmosphere is 10^5 J/m^2 (see https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14367) and the surface area is
      5.1×10^14 m^2 making a total available energy of 5.1×10^19 J. While the
      total installed wind power is 651 GW or 6×10^11 J/s. Or to put it in context
      about 10 billionths of the available energy. So any effect on the climate system
      is likely to be small.

  6. Unlike fossil or nuc, most of these waste products are inert. But if you’re worried about the costs, make ALL forms of energy put $ back based on their estimated lifetime production. Oops! Fossil fuel sourcers have been communizing most of these costs onto the rest of us for over a century, and total nuc asset retirement costs are practically incalculable. Sorry, never mind.

    As for the birds, fossil fuels cost many more of them /GWH. And that’s even before wide adoption of the already proven measure of painting the blades.

    • Sorry charlie, but that cost is part of the electric bill,m part of the regulations, – less than a penny per kWh. Which wind and solar do not collect or restore – they leave it to rot/rust away.

      • “Which wind and solar do not collect or restore – they leave it to rot/rust away.”

        These sites are MUCH easier to restore than hydrocarbon fields. Any older facilities that were properly cited to begin with, will be rebuilt with modern equipment, with the old stuff gone. Because, you know, unlike fossil fuels, wind and sun are not depleting resources.

        As an adult lifelong petroleum engineer, I know of whence I speak, when I say, not the case for oil and gas. The CONUS, along with the rest of the world, is littered with old hydrocarbon fields that are essentially Superfund quality. And there will be many, many more when the antique fields now supposedly still operating are finally abandoned by the operators, who will go bankrupt, and will thereby skip out on obligations freely assumed. And please point me to that closed nuc plant which is both completely restored and that has all of it’s waste in secure, final containment….

    • Which costs?
      Near as I can tell the fossil fuel guys give reliable power and an increasingly green planet and increasing crop yields tied to increased CO2 , increased wealth and human standards of living as a result of cheap available energy.
      Compare that to some pollution.
      And all future negatives tied to CO2 are pure speculation based on biased models

      For wind, they are net negative on CO2 so there is no advantage whatsoever
      It’s all negative

      • “Which costs?”

        The 13-14 figures of shirked and soon to be shirked oil and gas asset retirement obligations, accumulated world wide, for over a century. Some will be paid by you and I. Some restorations will never be properly executed and will impact quality of life in predominantly low income areas of the world for centuries to come. The entities that freely and legally assumed them will mostly fade away, stolen cash in fist….

    • bigoilbob, you may be right, dunno, but now we have the waste from these windmills IN ADDITION to your concerns. How does that help?

      • “bigoilbob, you may be right, dunno, but now we have the waste from these windmills IN ADDITION to your concerns. How does that help?”

        (ALL) costs for the production and disposal for the equipment for ALL forms of energy needs to be compared, along with ALL other cradle to grave costs. If B is cheaper OVERALL (feel free to discount), then use that. IMO, I’m much less concerned about having to bury concrete, rebar and turbine fiberglass (a.k.a. sand)- none of which will be immersed in carcinogens and naturally occurring radioactive material (i.e. oilfield scale) -than about the plugging out of millions of hydraulically incompetent single and multilateraled, vertical and directional, old and new, holes in the round, ALL designed without plug and abandonment in mind.

        And again, renewable project property maintenance, unlike that in old oil and gas fields, is naturally attractive. By definition, the older projects were the best sited, and the energy source will be about the same for millennia. OTOH, do a word search for “depletion” in any fossil fuel publication. It’s a fact of life…

        • Didn’t answer my question, please read it again.

          If all you say is true, none of that changes with wind turbines. They don’t replace anything, they just add to the burden.

          • “bigoilbob, you may be right, dunno, but now we have the waste from these windmills IN ADDITION to your concerns. How does that help?”

            This question? Yes, I did, but I’ll try and distill. It “helps”, because green sources have a much lower “waste” cost, than their competitors:

            “Waste” is just one component of evaluating competing forms of energy. But even isolating the question of which “waste” is worse, green sources win big. Yes, with wind, you will be trucking large masses of several inert forms of waste to land fill/burial. Next to none of it will be toxic at all. Most could be barged to sea and dumped (it is MUCH cleaner than the offshore rig debris that the oil industry wants to leave on the seabed floor). There is also a continuing revenue source for this, unlike that for any extractable resource. The sites themselves will be modernized over and over, since they are, by definition, the best available for exploiting non depleting resources. No clean up, no re-use.

            OTOH, oilfield “waste” is many orders of magnitude more toxic, and extremely difficult to properly get rid of. Just the naturally occurring radioactive material in discarded oilfield tubulars constitutes a problem so acute that most oilfields have bone yards full of it, and are fighting to delay any real solution. Bigger pic, much of this will be the gift that keeps on giving, to lower income areas. Politically, the oil and gas biz is set to skate on most of these obligations.

            So, just “waste to waste” green stuff wins out. And that’s even before it’s main bennie. Less pollution, less AGW…

          • I’ll try one more time:
            I don’t care how good you think the “green” technologies are, they don’t reduce the problems you see with other technologies one bit.

            I disagree with your assessment of the how dirty current technologies are, and I disagree with your assessment ofhow green the new technologies are. But that doesn’t matter.

            Even if:
            “oilfield “waste” is many orders of magnitude more toxic, and extremely difficult to properly get rid of. Just the naturally occurring radioactive material in discarded oilfield tubulars constitutes a problem so acute that most oilfields have bone yards full of it…”

            That will still exist. It doesn’t go away with newer technologies, they still need backup. So all you will do is add the problem. It’s not a choice of A (bad) or B (better), it’s A + B (worse). Why do that?

          • ” It doesn’t go away with newer technologies, they still need backup.”

            I agree, and that’s why I never said differently. We don’t yet have the grid capacity and storage that will end up being required when the fossil fuel era ends. What is undeniable is that a current mix of sources, with constant technical improvement, is better and cheaper for all of us.

            ” It’s not a choice of A (bad) or B (better), it’s A + B (worse). ”

            Wrong. Business as usual always needs scrutiny. Your base case is not the best way to go, as has been proven by current trends. You seem blind to the fact that the fossil fuel era – the biz I’ve devoted my pro life to – will be a blink of an eye in human history. The shift to renewables is unavoidable, no matter how many times you click your slippers together. It’s just a matter of converting in the most thoughtful way possible.

          • bigoilbob, you haven’t begun to convince me that the addition of renewable energy sources will make a difference to the problems you bring up with fossil fuels.

            Your comments in quotes:

            “I agree, [that we need backup] and that’s why I never said differently.”
            – Good, we agree. But you haven’t explained why adding something that needs backup will reduce the need for fossil fuels.

            “We don’t yet have the grid capacity and storage that will end up being required when the fossil fuel era ends.”
            – Renewables won’t change that. They still need backup. Other than existing pumped hydro, with little will to add more, there is no grid scale storage.

            “What is undeniable is that a current mix of sources, with constant technical improvement, is better and cheaper for all of us.”
            – Undeniable? Most articles on this website deny it. I deny it. See California. Or Germany. How have renewables helped them?
            – Extra comment: the term “undeniable” has strong negative emotional connotations (to use polite phrasing). I’ll accept it for now, I won’t cancel you.
            – How about applying constant technical improvement to the problems of fossil fuels? And nuclear?
            – Haven’t heard of any place where energy has gotten better or cheaper for anyone because of renewables. Have heard of many places where energy became unreliable and more expensive though.

            “Wrong.”
            – You haven’t explained why it’s wrong. (A) Fossil fuels have problems. (B) renewables have problems. (B) has no effect on (A). Adding renewables does nothing to clean up the problems with (A).

            “Business as usual always needs scrutiny.”
            – Agreed. Business as usual today is fossil fuels + renewables. I’ve scrutinized it and I don’t like it.

            “Your base case is not the best way to go, as has been proven by current trends.”
            – I didn’t say anything about the best way to go. I said fossil fuels + renewables is a worse way to go. I see nothing in current trends to convince me otherwise – I see higher electricity prices, brownouts, blackouts, grid instability, fuel poverty, more dead birds, more ecosystems destroyed. And more toxic waste.

            “You seem blind to the fact that the fossil fuel era – the biz I’ve devoted my pro life to – will be a blink of an eye in human history.”
            – What I seem to you is your opinion. Unless you’re psychic, please don’t guess at what I’m aware of. I’ve extended the same courtesy to you. Thank you.
            – You may have devoted your professional life to fossil fuels, but I don’t accept argument from authority without question. Nullius in verba. You may be overstating the problem or it may be worse than you describe, but I’ll leave it to others to challenge you if they’re so inclined. For now, I’ll accept that there are problems.
            – We weren’t discussing the length of the fossil fuel era. Might be a blink of an eye in human history, but these events are happening right now, and affect us right now.

            “The shift to renewables is unavoidable, no matter how many times you click your slippers together. It’s just a matter of converting in the most thoughtful way possible.”
            – The shift to renewables may be unavoidable, not because it makes sense, but because it’s popular. My take is that it is emotionally satisfying, not rational, and provides an excuse for increased control (power) over others.
            – You say that when we run out of fossil fuels, renewables will take over. How can they possibly take over if there are no fossil fuels to build them? Or back them up?
            – I can take the comment about slippers in a number of ways, anything from insulting to humorous, with many choices in between. I choose to make an ironic reply: my slippers don’t click; they’re made from fossil fuel derivatives.
            – This conversation is an attempt to determine the most thoughtful way possible.

            Fourth try: please explain how adding the toxic mess of renewables to the mix has made one bit of improvement to the toxic mess of fossil fuels you’ve described.

  7. Why would the base of a wind turbine need to be recycled? Seems likely that it could be retrofitted to accommodate a replacement tower if it was well engineered in the first place.

    • You assume there is economic reason to put up a new tower and turbine.
      Many existing wind facilities were developed to “harvest” the subsidizes – that’s why some people call them farms. Likely the investors have taken their harvest and moved on to a new feeding spot on the public trough.
      I suspect there are multiple spreadsheets used to determine whether or not the base/tower/turbine can be kept in service, or whether it should be shut off for ever.
      There is a small Darrieus wind turbine (vertical axis) on a ridge about 80 miles east of Seattle WA. It was erected about 35 years ago, never started, and still standing. Stuff happens.

  8. Strange that no states requires an Environmental Impact statment or decommissioning plan to “return to original” of wind turbines or commercial solar panel “farms.”

  9. The wind industry depends on the subjective assumption we all have, that the wind is free.

    True but and a big BUT: The harvesting of it is very expensive. The maritime industry came to terms with this many moons ago and this seems to have been forgotten. We can go round the houses arguing about where the expense lies; but this doesn’t alter the facts.
    Wind is opportunistic, intermittent, dangerous and therefore not a reliable basis for humanity to depend upon.
    We have done that in the past in the absence of alternatives and had to accept its disadvantages. Best not return to that situation.
    Meanwhile I loved sailing; but always had a good diesel to get me home in time for tea.

    • “True but and a big BUT: The harvesting of it is very expensive.”

      Compared to what? A common feature of all WUWT’s on this subject is ignoring all of the head to head, all in, life cycle comparisons between energy sources. They’re easy to find and when you read thru them you can see why they are not part of the WUWT experience

      Let’s take the Libertarian approach and make EVERY source compete, based on TOTAL costs, with no gummint hep. That includes military/security costs, asset retirement costs, environmental costs, AGW costs. If you agree, then I’m happy to lose those relatively tiny (and rapidly disappearing) green start up supports….

      • Taking a comely libertarian stance with all caution thrown to that same wind, you’ll be interested to know that expanding big gummint is the whole point of replacing energy production with such intermittent means that don’t even save that much released CO2 as is their promoted purpose, while needing conventional forms as backup for times of their inadequacy so that the total expenditure is the greater for carrying them both on a destabilized electrical grid. A very attractive proposition indeed.

        And then that burgeoning gummint regime that was the intended result all along can command that all malcontent libertarians shut their mouths about all the illiberal aspects that the succeeding ‘green’ polity has in store for you. Even more comely to your favored individual liberties!

        • “with such intermittent means that don’t even save that much released CO2 as is their promoted purpose, while needing conventional forms as backup for times of their inadequacy so that the total expenditure is the greater for carrying them both on a destabilized electrical grid.”

          Sollee. All published, head to head, all in, life cycle comparisons point the other way. Remember, hydrocarbon power conversion has both pollution and AGW consequences, and any source that doesn’t consider the COSTS of them is bogus. But since this is now YOUR assertion, feel free to link to any superterranean source to back it up.

          Christopher Hitchens — ‘That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.’

          • I take it you’re new to this site Bob, as anyone who is genuinely curious about the evidence available in the informative articles, responses of commenters, and top of page reference tabs will be as grateful as I am for this mother lode. But along with the sadly dependably prickly Mr. Hitchens, well mimicked while he was yet with us in your shouting at a conversant who had already indicated his care regarding possible troubles coming your way, you’ve cited that very ticket to an incurious poverty of uncommon knowledge via dismissive rhetoric that can only leave us poorer for your company. I wish us all a neighborly correspondence.

          • “and top of page reference tabs will be as grateful as I am for this mother lode”

            Such as Principia Scientific International? This is cubic echosphering. And as usual, NO apples/apples comparison to alternative power sources.

            It seems from time to time that WUWT wishes to pop up from under ground. A few dozen sycophantic group gropers swapping the same base free wishful thoughts amongst them does not inspire confidence is those with true scientific/technical curiosity….

          • “t seems from time to time that WUWT wishes to pop up from under ground. A few dozen sycophantic group gropers swapping the same base free wishful thoughts amongst them does not inspire confidence is those with true scientific/technical curiosity….”

            But calling people you don’t know names helps, naturally.

          • “hydrocarbon power conversion has both pollution and AGW consequences,”

            WRONG !!

            Real pollution is controlled heavily.

            There is NO evidence that human released CO2 causes anything but enhanced plant growth.

            Only “anthropogenic” global warming is through data mal-manipulation.

  10. It is astonishing how many wind turbines have been installed in the English channel. Flying into London, it looks surreal.

    Wind turbines wear out at around 15 to 17 years while government studies use a lifetime of 25 years and then do not include the cost and energy to replace the wind turbines.

    So Germany is now at the point where they need to replace wind turbines. Problem is the new wind turbines are too high for local wind turbine restrictions.

    More maintenance and reality issues for wind turbines

    In high winds, ironically, the turbines must be stopped because they are easily damaged. Build-up of dead bugs has been shown to halve the maximum power generated by a wind turbine, reducing the average power generated by 25% and more. Build-up of salt on off-shore turbine blades similarly has been shown to reduce the power generated by 20%-30%.

    This is one of a number of studies that found actual wind turbine power maximum capacity reduces year by year.

    It is reduced by 50% for a wind turbine that is 15 years old.

    The reality is wind turbines need to be replaced some time between 15 to 20 years for on shore wind turbines and say 13 to 17 years for offshore turbines while government reports list a lifespan of 20 to 25 years.

    “they (wind turbines) will continue to generate electricity effectively for just 12 to 15 years.

    The wind energy industry and the Government base all their calculations on turbines enjoying a lifespan of 20 to 25 years.

    …. The report concludes that a wind turbine will typically generate more than twice as much electricity in its first year than when it is 15 years old.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/12/29/wind-farm-turbines-wear-sooner-than-expected-says-study/

    The wind energy industry and the Government base all their calculations on turbines enjoying a lifespan of 20 to 25 years.

    The study estimates that routine wear and tear will more than double the cost of electricity being produced by wind farms in the next decade.

    Older turbines will need to be replaced more quickly than the industry estimates while many more will need to be built onshore if the Government is to meet renewable energy targets by 2020.

    The extra cost is likely to be passed on to households, which already pay about £1 billion a year in a consumer subsidy that is added to electricity bills.

    The report concludes that a wind turbine will typically generate more than twice as much electricity in its first year than when it is 15 years old.

    • Any chance you (or anyone else) has a link to the actual study being discussed there? I can only find a link to the Telegraph article, and that’s paywalled so I can’t see if it links to the study.

      • Sorry I do not. The reality about wind power’s defects. 50% reduction in power after 15 years. Reduction in power due to salt build up. Damage to the leading edge of the blade due to sand and grit. And so on.

        There is no money to tear down and replace wind turbines. The Left have sold wind green energy as a one time cost. The cost for wind farms grows with time.

        This story is not going away as, there is now negative money to waste now on green stuff. Some EU countries are going to bankrupt. Bankrupt countries are not going to be able to spend money on any green energy,

        • “William Astley September 26, 2020 at 2:59 pm
          Sorry I do not. The reality about wind power’s defects. 50% reduction in power after 15 years. Reduction in power due to salt build up. Damage to the leading edge of the blade due to sand and grit. And so on.”

          Please show a reference to 50% reduction in power. A REF report suggested a lower reduction but unfortunately they did not account for the reduced wind in the latter part of the monitoring. Wind now of course returned to normal strength

  11. There you go again, with FACTS.
    Enough facts, already. We must heart the planet. So wind power is not renewable. Big deal.
    So there is no juice when it is too calm or too windy or too cold or too hot.
    You gotta believe.
    So the only renewable energy is nuclear.
    Just go green and plug your electric car into the dead outlet.

  12. ” Nextera wind admitted to using over 800 metric tons of concrete per smaller turbine.”

    Wind proponents like to imply that when old turbines are removed from service new more efficient ones will be installed at the old location. They never explain that to be competitive new much larger turbines must be installed (4MW). The old concrete bases are too small and need to be at least twice as large (good luck with the economics).

    By this point in time it should be obvious to even casual observers that wind turbines are worth less than nothing junk and perpetuating this folly is an economic and environmental disaster. Combined cycle natural gas now and NuScale nuclear gradually phased in from 2030-2050 when molten salt reactors are expected to be commercial.

    • “The old concrete bases are too small and need to be at least twice as large (good luck with the economics).”

      Are they not doing the economics? I’m guessing they are. Or are you inferring that all of these Trumpian YUGE (sarc, just in case it flew over some comb overs) green subsidies are to blame? OK, let’s lose them for ALL forms of energy. Ok?

      • Bigoilbob. You’re incredibly biased. Nice side stepping of everything that doesn’t suit your prejudices though.

    • LOL you might want to read that all again and consider the cost and CO2 emissions in that whole process. It was obviously done to make a good news story, Infrigen in Australia has been trying to salvage it’s reputation by doing that sort of thing.

      • True dat about kiln burning. Thankfully, even with coatings and trim, turbine blades are certified as landfill qualified all over. Volume wise, they add a few parts/hundred thousand to landfill fillup rates.

        Interestingly, the same folks who want us to believe that offshore “rigs to reefs” is acceptable are pearl clutching over dumping rebar and fiberglass (i.e. silica) in landfills or the deep sea.

    • Burned? Well sort of. Just like end-of-life fiberglass boat hulls can be burned. So can old tires. All have hydrocarbon content in the epoxy matrix and foam core materials of the FRP or the rubber in tires. But I doubt old blades nor boat hulls nor old tires are economical sources of fuel, even for cement kilns.
      Contrary to the article, the blades are not an amalgam to toxic materials. Epoxies are durable thermosetting polymers, some used in food packaging like lining aluminum beer cans and steel tomato cans. Polyurethanes are the durable top coatings on automotive finishes (and are used for medical implants). Cans and cars are readily recycled without any toxic product production. The glass fiber doesn’t pose a toxic problem. The PET is the same class as water bottles. That leaves balsa wood….

  13. The commenters above must all be mistaken! The problem is pollution associated with fossil fuel operations, according to the green spokespeople in this article about a rare event in the UK:

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/09/25/uks-first-deep-coal-mine-30-years-should-go-ahead-council-says/

    According to objectors:

    The report, from think tank Green Alliance, disputed claims that the mine would reduce carbon emissions by 5.3 million tonnes over its lifetime by replacing energy intensive imports of steel.

    The authors say the calculations ignore emissions from extraction and processing of the coal.

    So there!

  14. If blades are not toxic standing in the air, are they (really) toxic when they would be buried somewhere in the oceans? Ships that are sunk in not too deep waters (tenths of meters) become a refuge for sea life: corals grow on the wrecks and lots of fish are found in and around them. Wrecks are important diving hot spots. Sandy areas on the sea bottom without any fixed structures demonstrate less diversity in sea life and have a much smaller quantity of biomass. If blades are not really (!) toxic in such an environment (what I don’t know, I mean: everything can be supposed to be toxic but when sea life would flourish on the blades I have my doubts) the blades could be used to build underwater structures that could be the starting point for a diversified and rich sea life. Covered with calciferous structures they will enrich the surrounding sea and possibly/probably even start new coral structures. If so, I would say: cut them up in large pieces and put those pieces on appropriate locations on the seafloor. Even if not 100.000% perfect, other solutions might be worse.

    http://divemagazine.co.uk/travel/8729-top-ten-best-scuba-diving-destinations-2019
    “The USAT Liberty is regarded as one of the world’s best wreck dives”
    “WRECKS The USAT Liberty was torpedoed in 1942 and managed to beach near Tulamben in Bali. A volcanic eruption in 1963 pushed the wreck back into the sea and it now sits at 30m (100ft) and is swarming with marine life. Many argue it is one of the best wreck dives going.”

    https://principia-scientific.com/50000-tons-of-useless-wind-turbine-blades-dumped-in-the-landfill/
    Incinerating these things would be a disaster, burning fiberglas resins are toxic and the carbon fiber doesn’t burn and who knows what else is in there.

  15. I met a traveler from an antique land
    Who said: a rusting column, overgrown
    Stands on a hillside. With it, close at hand
    Half sunk, a long and curving shaft lies prone
    Though crumpled and corroded by the rain
    Its sculptor’s purpose still is plain to see
    A giant windmill, spinning to entrain
    From tortured gearing, electricity
    And on the pedestal these words appear
    “We are the Legion of the Green New Deal
    Look on our ranks, deniers, and despair”
    Nothing beside remains, round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, the meadows fair
    And forests breathing life stretch far away

    • I like it. You have real prosodic empathy. A+. Perhaps the Spectator spoof poetry competition could do one on green themes? I will try to remember to suggest it.

  16. To be perfectly “green” , convernments should require that the manufacture and maintenance of wind based electrical generation equipment must not involve the use of fossil fuels in any way. So foreign made parts and equipment cannot be used because of fossil fuels used in transportation. Materials cannot be hauled to construction sites by truck and workers cannot commute to the work site via the use of fossil fuel based transportation. Workers should not be allowed to wear clothes or eat food that has at any time been transported by truck. In getting to and from work, the workers are not allowed to make use of roads whose construction involved the use of fossil fuels.

    • “To be perfectly “green” , convernments should require that the manufacture and maintenance of wind based electrical generation equipment must not involve the use of fossil fuels in any way. ”

      Why? The goal is practical improvement over an unacceptable status quo. Or should I quit riding my e bike because there are a few places I go, and a couple of months in the year, and an occasional day of inclement weather, that require me to drive?

        • “No, you should quit riding your E-Bike and ride a real bike.”

          What “real” bike can can tow a Bob bike trailer with a 50#load, at 18 m/h, up and down hills, for 25 miles, with a rider not breaking a sweat? Look in any bike shop now, and talk to its owner. Unless it specializes in overpriced toys for Spandex heroes, no e bikes, no economic business volume.

          • “What’s wrong with breaking into a sweat, you wuss.”

            The e bike is a primary form of transportation, not a toy. And somewhere between my Masters Swimming, running, and weight bearing exercise, I manage a 48 b/m resting heart rate….

      • “The goal is practical improvement over an unacceptable status quo.”

        Who could argue with phrasing like that?

        1) What is the “unacceptable status quo” (and why)?

        2) Why do we have to pledge to be CO2 neutral by 2050 (or whenever) to facilitate something as simple as “practical improvement”.

        3) Does “practical improvement” mean that those that can’t afford (financially or physically) BOTH the car and an e-bike (or e-anything) are reasonably and practically shit outta luck for those few months a year and those few days of inclement weather?

        • “1) What is the “unacceptable status quo” (and why)?”

          The current rate of AGW induced earth enery accululation.

          “2) Why do we have to pledge to be CO2 neutral by 2050 (or whenever) to facilitate something as simple as “practical improvement”.”

          Because I define “practical improvement” as that which has e high enough ratio of benefits/costs. CO2 neutral by 2050 is not only achievable, but can be achieved with no discernible life style changes. That is, unless you are still driving an F450 from your garage to the en of your driveway to pick up your Amaxon deliveries.

          “3) Does “practical improvement” mean that those that can’t afford (financially or physically) BOTH the car and an e-bike (or e-anything) are reasonably and practically shit outta luck for those few months a year and those few days of inclement weather?”

          Total straw man. Most of us in the US have about a car/driver. In my house it’s half that. Lots of garages full of toys, even amongst lower income. Next to no mass transit use. Even in China, e cars, bikes and e bikes abound. Pulling rabbit ears is silly. It’s no accident that amongst the happiest people on earth, the Danes and the Dutch, they not only use more mass transit, ride more bikes, live longer, stay healthier. Go to Vienna, see how clean, modern trains leave for your destination every 3 minutes. Then/ ponder losing that F450. After awhile, you might even be able to see yourself without a mirror….

          • “The current rate of AGW induced earth enery accululation.”

            Again nice sounding answer, but I’m simple enough that I don’t know what it means.

            1) How does AGW (or any GW) induce earth energy accumulation? I would think it would be the other way around.

            2) What is the current rate of AGW induced earth energy accumulation? What was it 80 years ago?

            3) What is the current rate of non-AGW induced earth energy accumulation?

          • “1) How does AGW (or any GW) induce earth energy accumulation? I would think it would be the other way around.”

            Not per Arrhenius and virtually every other modern climate scientist.

            “2) What is the current rate of AGW induced earth energy accumulation? What was it 80 years ago?”

            Flat from 1880-1920, for the oceans, which comprise almost all of it.

            ~0.7*10^22 joules/year, since 1990. I.e., a lot.

            “3) What is the current rate of non-AGW induced earth energy accumulation?

            No reason to believe it is not flat, per 1880-1920, with only the relatively tiny oscillations from natural oscillatory mechanisms. Your Big Foot “natural causes” of modern earth energy accumulation, unparallelled in modern human history, don’t pass the arithmetic test, no matter how hard you try to widget them.

          • Your definition of “practical improvement” includes the assumption that “CO2 neutral” can be done without discernible lifestyle changes. You said “discernible”, not significant or major, but “discernible”.

            After that you go on to use China & Vienna as the reasonable lifestyle standard. And you tell me that it would be good for me to live the Vienna standard. (And Viennese trains leaving “for your (my) destination every 3 minutes”; that is a crapload of trains, but for now I’ll take your word for it).

            Something doesn’t quite add up. I don’t own anything even close to a F-450 (I don’t even know anyone that owns a F-450), and living a China or Vienna lifestyle would be a very recognizable change for me and EVERYONE that I do know.

            [I am sorry about your F-450/penis envy, but that is something that you need to face on your own.]

          • So, Global Warming is the cause of “earth energy accumulation”?

            (per Arrhenius and virtually every other modern climate scientist.)

            And increasing “earth energy accumulation” is what we have to fear.

            What does “earth energy accumulation” cause?

          • Where did you go Bob,

            What does “earth energy accumulation” cause?

            Does it cause warming of the atmosphere, warming of the globe, global warming?

  17. The Green Blight, Green Glut has been endowed to meet a lower threshold of environmental fidelity, and human service, predicated on the consensus belief in [catastrophic] [anthropogenic] climate cooling… warming… change and [quasi-religious/ethical] precautionary principle.

  18. And is the USA not littered with old industrial sites, many of them extensively polluted, with tons of concrete and metal junk decaying in place?

    I don’t see them being recycled or removed

    • That makes it all OK I guess?
      Just like all those sparrows and blackbirds killed by cats means that wind turbines get a hall pass to kill endangered eagles, hawks and owls?

      • “That makes it all OK I guess?
        Just like all those sparrows and blackbirds killed by cats means that wind turbines get a hall pass to kill endangered eagles, hawks and owls?”

        No, that’s not why it’s ok. It’s ok because wind turbines are responsible for only a fraction of the bird deaths as that from hydrocarbon sources, on a /GWh produced basis.

      • boobgob
        Rare birds killed by wind turbines are struck by a real metal blade and found dead at the door of the eco alter. Their deaths are in the real world.

        Bird “deaths” from fossil fuel burning on the other hand exist only in computer models written by activists. Even sporadic oils spill deaths are now minuscule compared to wind turbine bird kills.

        Wind proponents like to narcissistically celebrate renewable milestones like days with no coal burning. A more relevant milestone on wind power will be when local extinctions of rare birds begin to occur.

    • Did any of them PRETEND to be “Green” ?

      Once again you make stupid statements in a childish attempt at distracting from the massive pollution and environmental damage from what is touted to be “Green” and good for the environment

      You have FAILED yet again

      And at least those factories where needed at some point. They would have produced something.

      Wind and solar with all the environmental and economic damage and all the related toxic pollution are a totally anti-science and unnecessary imposition to overcome a fantasy NON-problem.

      1… In what ways has the global climate changed in the last 50 years , that can be SCIENTIFICALLY proven to be of human causation?

      2. Do you have any empirical scientific evidence for warming by atmospheric CO2?

    • Brownfield sites are extensively being remediated and porpoised. The process was hung up to decades because the government had poorly thought out cleanup standards or methods to indemnify the people who purchase the property for cleanup.

  19. As someone on Fox News said, when the automobile was introduced no action was taken to aid the auto industry and there was no incentive to keep the blacksmith jobs or to help the buggy industry. The point is the market place decided. Typewriter replacing the pen, phone replacing smoke signals and ect.

    And who has proven that oil, natural gas and coal are not renewable and generated naturally in the earth.

    There should be research for new energy sources but anything found should be good enough to replace current sources without forcing it on the public.

    • “And who has proven that oil, natural gas and coal are not renewable and generated naturally in the earth.”

      It is. Just over geologic time. If you don’t believe me, just ask denier petroleum geoscientist David Mittleton. Whatever his blinders w.r.t. AGW and the short/medium term durability of his profession, he knows better. If he says otherwise, he will have not only gone full QANON, but will be at odds with his probable pro organiztion, the AAPG

      • I’m calling BS on you bigoilbob. A hydrocarbon “field” can be and realized in a corn field, a pasture, among houses, cotton fields, and countless other acres of land that are being used for activities other than oil production. Bacteria eat the oil and it’s hardly going to become a large scale superfund site. What nonsense you spout. I see you included the lefty leaning bit about how it affects the poor more than anyone else. What lefty bilge you spout. I worked in the oil field for a good bit of time and I know you are full of it.

        • ” A hydrocarbon “field” can be and realized in a corn field, a pasture, among houses, cotton fields, and countless other acres of land that are being used for activities other than oil production.”

          So? Just because there is space between wells/pads means nothing. The CONUS is swarming with literally millions of shut in wells. Both in existing fields, and orphaned. Many are hydraulically incompetent and are leaking. And new well construction methods only guarantee that a higher fraction of them will end up leaking – not only to the surface but between strata. The new gen wells will also be extremely hard to plug properly. They are drilled with laterals, directionally, and many will require tractor operations (i.e. cubic $) to even begin to try. As I said, 12 -13 figures just for the Conus. 13-14 figures, world wide. Almost none of which is now, or will be, available.

          “Bacteria eat the oil and it’s hardly going to become a large scale superfund site. What nonsense you spout. ”

          Dream on. Bacterial reduction is a glacial process that can’t be counted on to remediate even a tiny fraction of the problem. Produced hydrocarbons contain literally hundreds of dangerous compounds, most in concentrations that require Superfund type clean up efforts if bled out into the environs. Oilfield drilling and completion fluids are also a big part of the problem, for many reasons. They are also chemically complex, and remain present, on the ground and in the reservoirs, often for beyond the producing life of the fields. And oilfield water (which is MOST of what gets pumped out of the world’s oil wells) is radioactive enough to require special handling of it’s scale. Google oilfield NORM to see the scope of this problem.

          Spent 55 years in the oilfield, with only a break for Navy CEC service. 40 of them in petroleum engineering. You’ve got nuthin’……

          • OMG – oil might enter some rock! What can we do? Shut-in wells are filled with cement. You got nothin’ lefty.

          • “OMG – oil might enter some rock! ”

            You are totally clue free. Hydrocarbon migration into upper strata is a Trumpian YUGE oilfield no no. Both from an environmental standard, and per API best practices (look them up). As is leakage all the way to surface. Many, MANY wells, both new and old were constructed low bid, and that’s why you can actually measure methane emissions from most fields.

            “Shut-in wells are filled with cement.”

            Again, clue free. Most “shut in” wells are not plugged at all. State and federal regulators have been bullied and bought into delaying these operations, often for decades. And a majority of those that are P&A’d (plugged and abandoned), were done so under antique regs that. If they were replugged properly, would be doubly difficult. The remainder have selected cement PLUGS, and are not at all “filled with cement”. These plugs routinely leak, as do the tubulars that remain in the well. As for the newer shale fields, read my earlier post and find ANYTHING in it that you think is false.

            Not even going with the problems in steam floods and natural gas storage fields……

          • You know BoB, politically motivated ex-spurts like you undermine the public’s confidence in science and technology. Sure, there will be some problematic wells, but no real crisis. Technology will overcome. It’s reasonable to say the oil business is 170 years old, although petroleum was in use well before that. In the big picture, this is a pimple on the real problems of humanity. Natural gas and oil is a gift to humanity. Drill, baby, drill!!!

  20. Am I the only one that read that opener as “as newly driven as Snow White”? I have never heard that before, but that’s a good one. LOL

  21. The highest mountain in Wyoming is soon to be the landfill cover over piles of sawn up wind turbine blades. Mix in all the birds that are killed annually by turbine hits and Wyoming soon will boast the highest peak in the lower 48.

  22. I love Phil Salmon’s verse 26 September- so clever. My IPhone display has a top and tail advert for a company selling methods of detecting and curing yaw errors in wind turbines. Is this a good place to spend that publicity budget?

  23. Sell the stuff to the Chinese for island building. Or better, the USA can build their own islands off the Atlantic or gulf coasts. But oops that will cause sea level rise…..

  24. Sim City 2000 has a lot to answer for. Whereas every other type of power station in the game would blow up after exactly 50 years, wind turbines were hugely effective and lasted forever. Unrealistic games create generations of people with unrealistic ideas about what wind power can do.

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