Wind energy is just not a reliable and useful alternative

November 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

I support effective, economic measures reducing fossil fuel use. I agree with the contributions in the October 24 WMN on renewable energy except for Barry Vaughan’s conclusion ‘wind is a useful, reliable alternative’. He must be unaware of much of the following:

Wind being intermittent, turbines operate effectively on-shore about 25% of the time, off-shore nearer 35%. Generation occurs regardless of need, necessitating virtually 100% back-up from fossil fuelled power stations, which are wound up and down to match wind variability (not possible for nuclear) and must also produce the other 65-75%. Excess wind power our National Grid cannot accept is regularly stopped (major off-shore farms) or dumped (myriad smaller turbine installations embedded into the Grid). Both are still paid for.

The Grid must each minute, everywhere, match electricity supply to demand within 0.5% of wide daily/seasonal fluctuations within national limits of 22-60kMW. Built to distribute outwards from generating plants, it is accommodating random wind input by major costly reorganisation. Increasing risks to supply security proportionate to unreliable ‘renewable’ inputs now force it to commission a huge network of directly controlled, instant response, diesel power plants (3 in Plymouth alone), many being new-build. Their subsidies (guarantees up to £47Kpa for each MW of capacity even if no power is produced, plus high unit prices) dwarf even turbine subsidies (which on-shore double, and off-shore triple, wholesale electricity prices). The bulk of the huge, long-term, guaranteed returns go abroad or to wealthy investors.

Wind energy’s carbon footprint is enormous. Turbine manufacture, ground work, installation and operation, fossil-fuelled back-up inefficiencies, Grid disruption, plus other negatives, e.g. an authoritative recent study puts the economic lives of UK and Danish turbines, particularly off-shore, at some 60% of their claimed 20-25 years.

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Political doctoring of the IPCC’s climate change reports, and wide dissent or doubt among independent climatologists about the extent of mankind’s influence on climate, further undermine wind energy’s fundamental justifications. Major energy users, notably USA, China, India, and Germany, are investing heavily in modern coal and gas fired electricity generation and new oil and gas extraction methods, on both of which the world must rely for many decades. UK ambitions to lead the world in renewable energies are illusory.

UK electricity is about 1% of world energy use, 30% of which is targeted, unrealistically, from renewables, mostly wind. As noted, carbon and fossil fuel negative offsets in related industry are substantial, so our net global contribution is miniscule. The policy effects are to defer adequate investment in efficient coal and gas power stations.

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