Article by Alain Prud’homme
Even though I fully give my backing to Renewable Home Energy Solutions, including the micro-generation of electricity from wind power, it may shock you that I don’t support the use of commercial wind power generation as promoted by government and the so-called green lobby.
I will go into the reasons I believe that commercial wind power cannot be regarded as green energy. I have thought long and hard about this subject and my observations have brought me to the conclusions detailed below.
The biggest obstacle to wind power is it’s unpredictability i.e. if the wind blows or blows too hard the turbines stop spinning. This means that these fluctuations in electricity production cause a roller coaster of surges on the power grid linked to these turbines.
The reason for this is that electricity cannot be stored directly on an industrial scale therefore because there are no large electricity storage capacity the commercial wind generators operate in a just-in-time system framework i.e. the electricity generated by these turbines is pushed onto the power grid as soon as it is generated.
To counter this, gas turbines are built as backups to compensate for the troughs. These backup gas turbines have to be resilient as they are throttled up and down depending on demand. When commercial wind generators are linked into the electricity power grid they have to be monitored constantly, second by second, to ensure a constant supply of electricity throughout the grid.
So if you believe the exaggerations sprouted about carbon dioxide being a so-called green house gas then you are going to be sorely disappointed about commercial wind generation as the necessary backup gas turbines still emit carbon dioxide. As the generation and demand have to be balanced on the grid constantly throttling gas and oil turbines up and down to counter losses and gains from wind turbines generates more CO2 per kWh generated than if operated normally.
The unreliability and high cost of wind power. Wind power in the United Kingdom, Europe’s windiest country, comes at a steep price. A price that greatly distorts the markets as the real cost of wind power is hidden.
While the rest of Europe experienced a 15% price rise, the United Kingdom experienced a 29.7 % rise in gas and electricity prices. Ofgem, (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) the government regulator for the electricity and downstream natural gas markets in the United Kingdom, believes that wind subsidies was a prime factor for the difference and questions the logic when, taking all the public investment into account, wind generates a mere 1.3% of the United Kingdom’s energy needs.
According to the United Kingdom’s government statistics, in 2006, the average load factor for wind turbines across the United Kingdom was just 27.4% with the worst performing turbine having a load factor of only 7%. Therefore a typical 2MW turbine only produced 0.54MW on average. This does not compare well with the 90% load factor for thermal plants.
The poor return on investment is obscured by the subsidy system which allows turbine operators and supporters to claim that they make a profit even when wind turbines operate at very low load factors.
Even though people assume that commercial wind turbines have a favorable impact on the environment this does not conform to the latest studies regarding migratory bird and bat mortality. The mortality of within the already declining bird population include raptors and eagles.
There is also considerable public protest over the noise and health effects such as provoked by these installation. Chronic sound trauma due to the low frequency noise generated by the blades and infrasound transmitted through the ground.
Further cause for concern include the devaluation of real estate for neighbouring properties, the degradation of natural heritage and the potential loss of the tourist industries in surrounding areas.
Apart from the above, nobody talks about the construction costs or even the maintenance cost of these wind farms.
The unholy partnership of self interested businesses, so-called scientists, grandstanding politicians, alarmist campaigners and a main stream media pushing their sponsors agendas provide a new twist on a very old practice; companies and individuals using public policy to line their own pockets. This loose grouping, termed the Climate-Industrial Complex do not promote any discussion or free thoughts on the matter but vilify any person not on message. They would make the Spanish Inquisition proud in their labeling any and all dissenters as heretics.
As an afterthought, maybe just maybe, in light of the financial irregularities with minister’s expenses in the United Kingdom, we should follow the money and investigate the relationship between the “partners” of the Climate-Industrial Complex and look at the politician’s personal investments within this industry.
The freedom of information act definitely has its uses. Also as most of these companies are listed on the stock exchange finding out one can follow the paper trail to follow the money.
However, I do believe that wind power has a place within Renewable Home Energy Solutions either as a complementary mix to solar energy or as stand alone provided one stores excess energy in an array of batteries.
About the Author
Alain Prud’homme write about the issues surrounding the micro-generation of renewable energy for homes as well as on the contentious and controversial issues surrounding global warming and climate change. You can find more resources at http://www.renewablehomeenergysolutions.com
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