We hear a lot about wind power, mainly from vested interests (and that includes politicians).
It’s supposed to be clean and green, creates all these jobs in construction, after construction, full-time, part-time, and even ‘some-time’, but it has a dark side.
According to three European studies, for every job created in the renewables sector nearly three are lost in the non-renewable economy. In Spain, with its thousands of wind turbines, each job in renewables is estimated to cost $819,000 in taxpayer subsidies.
Which country will make the turbines and nacelles – China, a lucky guess, as it does with solar panels? Certainly not Australia; too costly.
Wind is horribly expensive: about $120 per megawatt hour against coal at $40 and gas at $60. Firstly, there is the initial cost then there is the extra cost of coal or gas generation 24/7.
The only justification for wind-generated electricity is that it does not directly or indirectly cause the emission of carbon dioxide or the so-called greenhouse gases which are causing global warming.
If only it were true. But wind suffers from an incurable and fatal disease – intermittency.
We all know that the wind is unreliable and fluctuates wildly and when it does it is kicked off the grid, which requires stability at all times.
And what happens when there is no wind during our balmy summers? No electricity.
If there is too much wind the turbines have to be shut down.
It gets worse. If it’s too hot, over 30 degrees, they have to be shut down because the gearboxes over-heat. On average, South Australia experiences 14 days of these temperatures and above every summer (just when you want the air-conditioning) and yet it has the largest wind capacity in Australia.
Did someone check the operating manual or perhaps there was a political motive in play?
Yes, it gets worse.
Wind power cannot be stored; the batteries have not even been invented.
Yes, it gets worse. Can it be counted on for peak load? No, too intermittent. Can it be counted on for base load? Again no, too intermittent.
This means that there must be standby electricity generators (coal, gas and hydro, if there is any water) running all the time to rescue wind when all or any of these things happen.
And what do coal and gas-fired generators do they emit the so-called greenhouse gases.
So, where are the greenhouse savings?
There are none to speak of.
Yes, it gets worse. The wind industry claims that turbines produce on average 30-35 per cent of installed capacity. This figure is grossly inflated. The real figure is closer to 20 per cent, even below. Great Britain’s wind industry lobby has admitted this, massively lowering the claimed saved greenhouse gas tonnages and number of homes “electrified”.
Yes, it gets worse. It takes 5-10 hours just to ramp up a coal-fired generator down in the Latrobe or Hunter valleys. You can’t turn a coal generator on and off like a tap. All you can do is to divert the steam to ‘by-pass’. Gas generators are better off, emitting less greenhouse gases and taking 20-30 minutes to ramp up, ideal for peak load.
But as they are constantly on stand-by or in ‘hot spinning reserve’ they are still emitting greenhouse gases.
So, where are the savings? Worse still, gas generators are the first to be displaced from the grid if wind comes on.
Yes, it gets worse. If wind farms are deployed across southeastern Australia to allegedly meet the Federal Government’s 2020 target as planned, the cost of the infrastructure such as transmission lines, standby gas generators and sub-stations will make the National Broadband Network’s $37 billion look like tuck shop money.
Yes, it gets better for some. If you are big wholesaler like Origin you can make a millions from consumers out of wind’s intermittency if you happen to operate some fast responding gas generators which can be charged out at premium prices when wind predictably fails.
So, why would you install these huge 150-metre-plus high towers, with a jumbo-sized wing-span the area of the MCG industrialising our landscape, depreciating neighbouring land values by up to 40 per cent, kill millions of birds (2,200,000 in Germany last year) and bats each year, cause health problems for nearby residents because of audible and inaudible noise (‘wind turbine syndrome’) along with shadow flicker, glint, amenity disruption and dividing communities? Some benefits!
Uneconomic, inefficient, ineffective, and un-environmental and yet the Government and Opposition with access to this evidence perpetuate this silly RET subsidy which sustains wind. Is it just political after all?
* Randall J. Bell is president of the Victorian Landscape Guardians
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding