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Wales public official comments on wind power

Many of us here in Wales, UK, have read the article on “Wind Turbines” in your paper on 14-6-07. It has been posted about by e mail. We in Wales UK are planning a national ANTI Wind Turbine demonstration on July 8th.

This horrendous industry will never ever halt global climate change it will only enrich its developers via the obscene level of subsidies being paid in Europe. Are there such massive subsidies your side of the Atlantic?

I enclose some facts as we see it over here:- WIND ENERGY is Kinetic. Mass(weight) of Wind(air) molecules multiplied by velocity (speed) going in to the circumference of turbine blades – minus the mass multiplied by velocity of it going out the other side.

Air is very light and speeds are even low in a storm – the energy available is thus very tiny. Some is lost as friction; transformer heat; noise energy and line voltage drops. Water is a thousand times heavier, thus a Wind Turbine blade has to be a thousand times bigger than a water turbine.

The only plus point is it is clean and free, but in real energy terms it is basically so low it’s farcical. A 400 ft tall Wind Turbine is rated at Maximum at TWO MEGAWATT or two thousand kilowatt. As Wind is so erratic it only averages 24% of 2MgW cutting output down to 480 kilowatts – or 480 single bar electric fires. In a year this sounds a lot :- 480 kw X 24 hrs X 365 days = 4,204,800 kwhrs. Seems big. In a year the UK uses 340,000,000,000 kw hrs.

The concept of big numbers is difficult for the brain to wrap itself around – imagine writing 340,000,000,000 and each figure “0” to be drawn ten times the size of its preceding “0” – try it on paper – after a few it gets so huge you can’t write it even on a large wall let alone paper. So 340,000,000,000 is a truly immense figure and by comparison 4,204,800 is really insignificant.

To power the UK we would in theory need 81,000 giant Wind Turbines desecrating the windy West of Wales and Scotland on land and sea. (Peak winter demand would mean over 100,000).Yet all the UK learned Institutes of Engineers have told the UK Government (which is not listening) that not more than 20% of erratic power could supply the National Grid without power surges causing black outs, and 20% would mean 16,200 giant wind turbines.

Even these would need all the existing Power stations (unless new Gas ones are built) running and burning uneconomically on standby “spinning reserve” – all consuming fuel and still emitting Carbon Dioxide, whether Coal; Gas or Oil, ready to swing in to full output when the wind dies down or simply gusts unsteadily. Meteorological weather records clearly show we get many such periods and even weeks of relatively calm especially on still frosty nights every year.

If we build new Gas Power stations to replace dirty coal we still have to run the main trans-continental gas pipeline gauntlet through the problem fraught Balkans or Middle East to satisfy the equation of Wind supported by Gas. Then there’s crippling costs – currently Carbon (coal) fired power as at Aberthaw (capacity 1,500 megawatt) sells its electricity at about £18 per megawatt in to the Grid.

We buy it at approx £71 per megawatt (7.08p per unit), yet Wind Power sells in to the Grid at £68 per megawatt which is 400% more than coal power via a massive SUBSIDY – although the politicians call it a number of names such as “Carbon levy” or “renewable obligation” etc but at the end of the day Wind Power is the highest ever subsidised commodity since the industrial revolution.

Currently over ONE THOUSAND Wind Turbines in UK supply less than 0.3% of UK electricity – in other words next to nothing – yet if that figure rises significantly the cost of energy will go through the roof, and ruin our economy – and without subsidy there would be no Wind Turbines – it’s as simple as that.

Also remember that electricity generation only accounts for one third of our carbon emissions – ONE THOUSAND GIANT WIND TURBINES only save 0.09% of our Carbon emissions and pollution is a global issue. The bulk of Carbon emissions come from vehicle exhausts; aircraft; domestic heating; factory and basic industrial processes. UK Government claims we could save 30% of our electricity by careful energy saving schemes.

We could cut down dramatically on vehicle exhausts if we really penalised heavy cars and the 90% of unnecessary 4X4 vehicles we see on school runs! These should be the easy immediate targets, while we are achieving these we need to urgently pursue other technologies – clean coal; tidal and even carbon sequestration – being anti wind desecration does not mean pro nuclear although Tony Blair’s New Labour Government is now clearly pro nuclear.

What is an interesting thought provoking FACT is that if the UK reaches all its ambitious Carbon Emission reduction targets in the future it will reduce global Carbon emissions by only four ten thousandths! Does anyone really think that that tiny fraction will alter climate changes in this vast planetary system? If so, what planet are you on?

Ioan M. Richard
City & County Councillor.
Swansea, Wales, U.K.


19 June 2007