Patrice Cahart has spent his entire career in senior administration, more precisely at Bercy, where he was Inspector General of Finance. Traveling through the countryside of France during his free time, he came up against, abstractly, the wind turbines which dot the landscapes all over the place. In retirement, Patrice Cahart set about writing an incisive but educational and substantiated book, the title of which announces the color: Aeolian Plague (Hugo Publishing) is a severe attack on the giant masts the government is planting all over the place. “One of my main duties was to track down the waste of public money everywhere,” explains Patrice Cahart. With wind turbines, I remain in the tradition and the furrow of the financial inspectorate! “
Point : Another book denouncing wind turbines! Why is a former financial inspector interested in this in turn?
Patrice Cahart: I am a Parisian by profession, but also a man of the countryside, in particular from Perche. I am very attached to landscapes, and I am vice-president of an association, The historic house, which fights against damage to homes and landscapes. However, these are very damaged by wind turbines. The Perche is pretty much spared, but it hits more and more! At the beginning of my book, I cite the case of a businessman entrenched in the canton of Zug, Switzerland, one of the most secret places in the world. Nobody knows him, but he is installing wind turbines 10 kilometers from my home!
The title of your book is very aggressive. Doesn’t he risk doing your disservice?
I have been interested in wind power for ten years. Since that time, I bring figures and reasoning, I write articles. The effect on politicians is almost nil. So there comes a time when you have to raise your voice. Moreover, according to my analysis, the pursuit of wind power expansion in France has no advantages. It only has drawbacks. So I have no reason to spare its authors.
How is this a political problem?
The subject of wind turbines is approached from this point of view alone. No economic or environmental considerations are included. Look at Emmanuel Macron. Deep down, I very much doubt that he is pro-wind turbines. Didn’t he refuse the establishment of a wind farm off the coast of Touquet (where his wife owns a vacation home, editor’s note)? The head of state also gave a speech in Pau at the beginning of last year, where he acknowledged that wind turbines are poorly accepted in France. Two months after this declaration, the government announced a massive increase in the number of wind turbines, both on land and at sea. We are in full contradiction! Our president is afraid of being set on fire by the Greens if he withdraws his support for wind projects. Environmentalists are screaming very loudly, if we abandon these projects they will scream even louder! But now, they are influential, they can turn the political landscape upside down.
Wind power is useless, in your opinion. Isn’t that a bit of a stretch?
We are told that it is used to lower our CO emissions2, but we can hardly lower them any further in France. Our sources of energy are nuclear, hydroelectricity, coal and fuel, the latter two being condemned. There remains natural gas, which in a normal year represents about 5% of the country’s electricity supply. The problem, with wind power but also with solar power, is that we are obliged to have a minimum of additional energy to compensate for their intermittence. I remind you that wind turbines only deliver 24% of their power on average in a year. If we continue the development of wind turbines, as the government wants, we will need more and more additional energy, and the only one that can be developed in France is called natural gas. However, it is a fossil fuel (it emits half the CO2 than coal, but forty times more than nuclear, editor’s note), increasingly imported from Russia, which poses problems of dependence. In short, wind power needs fossil fuels to develop. It is harmful energy.
You talk a lot about the costs, exaggerated in your opinion, that this energy generates
Wind power has a perverse effect. The financial needs are enormous. I evaluated in my book the sums necessary for its programmed development at 145 billion euros from 2020 to 2035, including photovoltaics. Investors are rushing because the State guarantees them, for twenty years, a receipt roughly equal to the double of what their current will be worth on the electricity markets. No other sector of the economy enjoys such an advantage. The problem with this system is that the sums invested could be more useful for the climate elsewhere, such as in building insulation or electric vehicles. I add the masses of money that must be invested to develop roads for each new project, the purchase of machinery abroad, the networks of lines to be built, etc.
One of the main problems with wind power is its intermittence. However, it could be overcome by efficient storage of electricity. You do not trust researchers to develop such a process in the coming years?
Today, no large-scale, reliable storage system exists. For example, if we transform wind power surpluses into hydrogen and then return them to the electricity grid, we lose 70% of the energy in the process: this is prohibitive. There will undoubtedly be progress, but it will take time. However, the lifespan of a wind turbine is twenty years. The machines that are being installed today will therefore be out of date before a correct storage process is found. Instead of rushing by installing so many wind turbines, we should rather be patient. My wish is to stop the wind projects and to review the business in fifteen or twenty years. By then, the reactors in place will be able to supply without any problem.
Nuisance, especially noise, is obviously one of the negative aspects that you raise. However, there are a whole bunch of standards aimed at limiting them.
I’ve been to several houses that are 500 meters from wind turbines, which is the minimum distance required, and I assure you it’s awful. This distance is too short. In Bavaria and Poland, we take the total height of the machine, blades included, and we multiply this figure by 10. With a wind turbine of 180 meters, we therefore obtain almost two kilometers of minimum distance between a wind turbine and the first houses. . The previous governments refused this solution for France. Perhaps we could agree on a median solution, namely the height multiplied by 7?
I think that the tendering procedure should also be imposed for all projects. This is the guarantee of healthy competition, which would lower prices, and allow the public authority to determine the locations for wind turbines, while it is the developers who choose them. Today, there is no tender procedure for projects comprising less than seven wind turbines, on the grounds that these small operators would not have the means to respond to them. It’s a joke: they are all subsidiaries of large groups! In the absence of a supervised procedure, these operators therefore go to the prefects to obtain a permit to set up a wind farm, and the prefect always signs!
Wind power at sea is not a solution for you either?
It is hardly better. The French coast does not have shallow depths, which leads to high costs for installing wind turbines. The funds are around 30 meters in France, against 5 in the United Kingdom and Denmark, the champions of offshore wind power. On average, offshore wind turbines therefore produce electricity in France at a price twice that of onshore wind turbines, which is itself twice the market price! And I am not talking about the disadvantages of offshore wind farms for fishermen, tourism or the seabed. What I just said concerns the wind turbines attached to the bottom. Perhaps the performance of floating wind turbines will be better, but we have no feedback yet.
Renewable is therefore not clean, do you write …
The two concepts are not equivalent. Nuclear power is clean considering the very low CO emissions2, but it is not yet renewable (it could be if we develop the supergenerators). Wind power needs additional energy, which can only be natural gas. However, this gas is neither clean nor renewable. The wind power associated with it is therefore a false clean energy, a false renewable energy. We deceive the good people with illusory terms.
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