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Calculating the Real Cost of Industrial Wind Power  

Author:  | Economics, Emissions, Grid, Ontario

An information update for Ontario Electricity Consumers from the Friends of Arran Lake Wind Action Group, Bruce County, Ontario, Compiled by Keith Stelling, November 2007.

Introduction

The history of human technological innovation is littered with projects that have had to be abandoned because they were based on a narrow theoretical view that failed to take into account the whole picture. The commercial exploitation of wind energy is fast showing signs of such failure.

The last ten years in Europe has provided ample opportunity to evaluate the real costs and claimed benefits of industrial wind turbines based on actual operating statistics.

  • Studies by public electricity distributors now challenge the very assumption upon which the ecological value of commercial wind power is based: that it reduces carbon emissions.
  • Energy experts report that industrial wind power is proving to be exceptionally expensive to consumers once required backup and additional infrastructure are factored in. The high cost is caused by (a) the need to maintain backup generating reserve to cover times when the wind does not blow. (b) The need to stabilize the grid when wind produces power that is not needed by current demand. (c) Government subsidization and tax benefits for the wind industry.
  • New studies show that the perceived benign environmental footprint of the industrial wind turbine does not correspond with the latest field studies of migratory bird and bat mortality. Growing public protests over noise and health effects are being provoked by wind turbine installations.

In the United States, Senator Lamar Alexander put it bluntly when introducing his
Envirnonmentally Responsible Wind Power Act of 2005:

My studies suggest that at a time when America needs large amounts of low-cost reliable power, wind produces puny amounts of high-cost unreliable power. We need lower prices; wind power raises prices.

In Ontario, Tom Adams, formerly of Energy Probe, wrote in the National Post on 20
November, 2007:

Without radical technological advances, wind power will only burden Ontario consumers.

The first section of this report explains why the real cost of wind power is much higher than previously understood. It examines some of the actual operational reports of electricity distributors with installed wind power. It looks into studies by experts in the field who explain the difficulties involved when industrial wind turbines are taken beyond the theoretical stage and actually integrated into a mixed electricity grid system. And it discusses why they fail to deliver the benefits once promised.

The next section looks at public dissatisfaction with industrial wind power and the issues involved.

The report concludes with specific recommendations and requirements.

Download original document: “Calculating the Real Cost of Industrial Wind Power

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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