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Wasteful wind power is a shame

In regards to your editorial “Hepburn Wind continues to make us Proud” in The Advocate on February 13, 2013.

Only if you “feel good” about symbolism but not if you stand still and think this through.

We probably would be wise to reduce the amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) – over time and in a “no regrets” manner – that we introduce into the atmosphere. Although it is a necessary gas for plant growth and a gas all humans generate in their own breaths. The reduction of CO2 emission is behind the rush to wind farms, and other unproven technology such as solar. The fundamental failure line with all such technology is that they are unreliable and variable in electrical output.

When the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine you have no power produced. In any electrical grid system, like the one Hepburn Wind is connected to, the grid controller needs to maintain the accurate balance between what we are demanding from the grid and what the generators are inputting to the grid. Otherwise the system collapses from either high or low frequency or voltage control protection with the result that we have no power. To do this and still accept (as they must by government fiat) Hepburn Wind power when it is available, the grid requires back-up generators, normally gas-fired open cycle units, which can ramp up or down quickly, with some capacity actually running, but inefficiently, as urgent back-up capacity.

A recent paper published in Energy and Environment – Vol. 23, No. 8, 2012, titled “Wind Farms in Eastern Australia – Recent Lessons” by Miskelly looking at actual performance in 2010 concluded: “Proposal by some Australian policymakers to replace major coal-fired power stations with a fleet of wind farms is not technically achievable.

“To address the increased instability due to wind, a fleet of fast acting OCGT (Open-Cycle Gas Turbines) may well be required to back up winds intermittency.”

Apart from other issues with wind turbines such as health, noise, visual pollution, bird destruction, community division, these “movers and shakers” you boast about can be seen to be doing nothing for the prime aim of reducing CO2. However they do seem quite “good” at recycling some of our tax – and the higher power costs they have caused – back into the community. Should we be proud or ashamed of this?

Jim Stewart,