Rebutting myths and misconceptions about wind energy

I’ve been listening to a lively keynote address given to the NZ Wind Energy Conference earlier this month. The speaker was Lawrence Jones from Alstom Grid. He’s an expert on integrating variable renewable energy sources into global power grids. It was a heartening talk for anyone concerned to see renewable energy, wind in particular in this case, advance rapidly to take the primary position it must do if we are to have any hope of staving off the worst effects of global warming. All the more heartening because it was based on a major research project conducted by Alstom Grid on behalf of the US Department of Energy exploring the challenges and best practices for grid integration in many countries of the world.

I’ll offer a brief overview of the talk here, but I recommend it as worth listening to in full. There’s an audio of it on the Wind Energy Association website, and the accompanying slides are on this pdf file.

The context in which Jones placed wind energy in this talk was not climate change but the needs of a growing world population for energy and overcoming the energy poverty of many regions. He explained in response to a question at the end of his talk that the fact that he didn’t mention climate change was not an evasion but simply because he took it for granted that it would be a major factor in the thinking of the people present.

Things are moving very quickly in the development of wind power, far more so than most were able to imagine. The distribution of wind generation around the world at the end of 2010 lists China as the leading country, a little ahead of the US. Yet five years earlier they didn’t even make the list of dominant players. They are now putting up 36 turbines a day.

Jones showed a graph of the growth of global wind power capacity over two decades: from 2GW in 1990 to 17GW in 2000 to 194GW in 2010. “I challenge you to show me any other industry that has gone through such significant growth in a decade.” The projections show 500GW by 2030. Looking at EU countries’ projections of wind power as a substantial percentage of total electricity demand by 2020 Jones comments that most of that will be from offshore, yet “most people thought ten years ago offshore wind would never happen, was impossible”.  He pointed also to the rapid expansion of wind power in the US and the offshore developments planned there, noting that Google was among the companies wanting to invest.

Yet, in the face of this expansion, myths and misconceptions remain rife. Jones addresses some of them.

  • Wind power is very difficult to predict. That’s not true. You can predict it. The question is how close, how accurate you want your prediction to be.
  • Wind is very expensive to integrate in power grids.  A blanket statement that has to be put in context: Compared to what? In what systems? Under what operating conditions?
  • Wind power needs backup generation. Really? Everything we do in power generation requires some form of backup.
  • We need dedicated energy storage to handle fluctuations in wind power generation. A lot of systems round the world have been able to run high levels of wind generation without high levels of storage in the system.
  • Is there is a limit to the amount of wind that can be accommodated by the grid? No evidence as yet of any limiting factors.
  • Can grid operators deal with the continually varying output of wind generation? The answer is yes. This is the question that led the Alstom team into the study sponsored by the US Department of Energy to hear from a comprehensive mix of operators around the world, including Transpower in NZ, what their experiences were, what the challenges were and how they had been tackled. The message from them is: We can do it. The grid is not a limiting factor. Operationally we can find ways around resolving it. We need tools, we need different kinds of policies to be put in place, but it’s not a limiting factor. Interestingly Jones noted that the small operators are often able to teach the big ones.

Jones is enthusiastic about wind power, but with full recognition that handling wind power’s integration into the grid requires special skills and new technologies. He spent a good part of his talk on the factors which the operators taking part in the survey identified as vital to the continuing development of the industry. They include accurate forecasting down to very short term, the tools for incorporating forecast and uncertainty information into decision making and planning, clear operating policies, smarter electricity grids and technologies, skilled technicians and operators, system flexibility and so on.  Jones explains the various factors succinctly and emerges with a picture of an industry capable of managing a variable energy source much more effectively and successfully than might be imagined by those who haven’t engaged with the detail and hence haven’t grasped the range of new policies and new technologies.

What was most encouraging about his talk was that it was not based on remote theory but on current practice and the understanding of operators already achieving a measure of success in making a variable energy source serve a stable and dependable role in an electricity grid. Often it is the doubters and deniers who are the theoreticians on renewable energy. Pliny the Elder provided a most apt preface to Jones’ address:  “How many things are judged impossible before they actually happen?”

89 thoughts on “Rebutting myths and misconceptions about wind energy”

    1. A storm in a tea cup mate. Shale wells look a bit like a Ponzi scheme. Existing wells productivity falls rapidly and after a short time only a fraction of the initial rush of output is maintained. So off they go with investors money to drill another hole elsewhere….
      US Shale production while having risen rapidly due to a large number of wells drilled, covers still only a small fraction of US oil demand and it will remain to be seen if the US shale energy production increases will be bigger than the annual decline of existing large oil regions. With an annual decline rate of over 5% of conventional oil due to the Hubbert peak on that being in the past (and bigger decline rates coming!) they will need to find a new Saudi Arabia in from of Fracking rigs every few years soon… Not a chance.

      1. So the 25 trillion tons of shale gas that China has discovered (enough to last 200 years) is a “storm in a tea cup”?

        It’s amazing the hoops you guys will jump through to justify your useless bird-choppers.

        1. Shale Gas will save the day: “…Given widespread interest among international oil companies to invest in shale gas extraction in China, it is possible that shale gas could account for as much as 5% of the nation’s gas production by 2020…”

          Yea Right!

          Besides, Gas forms just a fraction of China’s massive current fossil fuel energy requirements. On the balance of things shale gas will perhaps lessen the gradient of the overall decline in oil and gas extraction rates already under way globally.

          The demise of the UK and North Sea gas and Oil production and their steep decline rates (UK North Sea gas production down 25% in second quarter of 2011 alone…) should give pause for thought and perhaps put the whole Shale Dream into the “proverbial (gas) pipe” and into some perspective….

        2. … snarrtz…. the last puff of gas squeaked through the burner, then the lights flickered and went out for very last time.
          AndyS’s great grand daughter looked at the mantlepiece above the fireplace that lay cold since she could remember as the last tree nearby had long been chopped and burned for firewood. She looked at the faded photograph of her great grand dad AndyS. She remembered he had been known to be an avid enemy of sustainable energy generation. She wished there was a wind farm nearby or a solar panel on the roof… but the great grand dad had ferociously objected to anything that at this time would have made her families survival a bit more likely….

  1. Further to Pliny, Bryan, [ nice touch 🙂 ] we have sea-trial reports in commercial cargo shipping of 30 percent fuel oil savings from large sail deployments on vessels..

    added to which I learned the other day of helium balloon type higher altititude enclosures for wind turbines. Wind force is predictably higher and consistent. Ground cabling also serves power transfers to ground..

    1. • ‘After several weeks of cycling, the cells ceased to operate. The observed cause of failure was evaporation of the molten salt electrolyte into the surrounding containment vessel, a mechanism that could be mitigated by alternative cell designs with reduced head space’
      So needs some sorting. Antimony is pretty rare too. Use of molten salts is interesting, as they’re used for thermal storage in concentrating solar power plants, and could be for molten salt nuclear reactors as well

  2. hello Sailrick,

    I’ve seen that video on TED re the liquid metal batteries. So how would the batteries connect to the grid? some massive kind of invertor? or would it be something like one end of the HVDC link?

  3. ‘Jones showed a graph of the growth of global wind power capacity over two decades: from 2GW in 1990 to 17GW in 2000 to 194GW in 2010. “I challenge you to show me any other industry that has gone through such significant growth in a decade.”’
    World nuclear power capacity grew from less than 1GW in 1960 to 100GW in the late seventies and 300GW in the late eighties. But actual nuclear energy production is usually eighty or ninety percent of capacity, while wind is generally in the twenties and thirties.
    The energy in wind scales with the cube of windspeed, so a turbine which could make 2.4MW at 25 knots might make about 0.3MW at 12 knots, but still has to be strong enough to withstand huge forces at 60 knots occasionally. So they have to be huge, very light, very strong, and spread out over large areas; in other words, they’ll never be cheap to build or maintain.
    Some countries have enough hydro to back up the 70 to 80 percent of the time when wind is underperforming, but most industrial countries have nowhere near that much, so effectively they have to use natural gas, as the only other quickly peaking power source. Texas, with one of the world’s biggest buildouts of wind power, gets less than one percent of its electricity from hydro, and is usually in drought anyway, so the wind industry there is a guarantee that 75 percent of the time the likes of T Boone Pickens, the big promoter of wind there, will be selling billions of dollars worth of gas. Similarly in places like Spain and Germany, more wind in the grid has been paralleled by more gas turbines, which on average produce far more energy. Gas only gives you half the CO2 of coal, but with methane leakage all along the supply chain accounted for, it is probably worse for the climate in the short term.
    We just had a week here without a breath of wind. With a dry winter coming up, expect New Zealand’s gas consumption to hit new peaks.

    1. It is one of these misconceptions about wind energy to compare the output always to the “Maximum Capacity” and then bemoan the fact that the average output is “only” between 20% and 40% of that.
      That is nonsensical. You could likewise say that installing a 2KW solar array (max output) is bad because its dark at night and the average output is “only” 25%. Such talk is intellectual nonsense.
      If you drive a car with a 100KW engine you don’t run around with a sad face because you realize that on average when driving you might be pulling less than 20KW from it either…

      Wind and Solar installations are scaled and calculated to their known or expected capacity factors determined by the location and other considerations. Once that is done you should compare the output of the installation with that expected capacity factor. You will then find that the installations perform with a high efficiency and close to the expected output. In fact, I challenge people to compare the actual annual delivery of a wind farm compared to the expected output and then do the same with the coal fired power plant next door.

      Wind Energy detractors will be very surprised to find that wind actually compares very favorably to the likes of Coal generators etc.

      The main argument for detractors who tend to point to “tax incentives and subsidies” though is this: China’s extraordinary expansion into Wind is proof that Wind Energy is rational and very efficient without such incentives.

      Same for NZ where Wind installations are one of the prime targets of international investment such as US Pension funds among others….

      1. The difference is that your car works any time you turn the key, but your wind turbine isn’t working most of the time when you want to turn the light on or cook the dinner. So what you use instead matters

        1. …your wind turbine isn’t working most of the time

          Another myth!
          Te Uku wind farm was generating 93% of the time in its first year of operation. Granted, not at full capacity but as Thomas says it is about comparing expectations.
          Your average wind turbine works one hell of a lot harder than a car. At a 40% capacity factor it is as if your car clocked up 400,000km a year. Most of the time it doesn’t need anyone to turn the key either.

            1. Was that wit? It’s rather hard to tell.

              Do you ever just pull up, andy, and wonder why you bother? The rest of us certainly do…

              Ironically, of course, Captain Research is forgetting that cars are already run by the Wind Industry. We call them ‘Electric Cars’, because they run on electricity. Which is what the turbines produce. You may not know that, as it may never have been mentioned at Bishop Hill in between all the claims that they are deliberately set out to chop-up birds, cause voodoo ailments over amazing distances, and mug old ladies. Oh, and bring about Social!ism.

              Please don’t bother to tell us the Volts etc. don’t work, either.

              Here’s something else for you to sneer at, while those who aren’t embittered, paranoiac naysayers may even learn something / get inspired / other good things folks like you never get.

            2. bill April 30, 2012 at 12:22 am

              Was that wit? It’s rather hard to tell.

              No Bill, it is what is called an analogy based on an average of wind turbines producing at 20% of the time. I know it is hard following these literary constructs.

              Electric cars are powered by coal, primarily, since about 50% of the grid is provided by coal here in the UK.

              Guess what I also found out whilst staying in the “European Energy Capital” (Abredeen) (*) this week?

              (1) Most offshore wind projects have gone over budget and over time.
              (2) It costs a hundred grand a day to get a boat out to service one of these things.
              (3) The public are very anti wind, judging my the recent survey in the local rags.

              (*) It must come as a surprise to you that I actually spend some of my life doing real stuff that doesn’t involve reading Bishop Hill.

            3. So, Andy, are you saying that wind blows at the exact same speed over the whole of NZ at any one time? I’d sure like to see your evidence for that.

            4. > If cars were run by the wind industry, I’d have to
              > have 5 of them on the off chance that one of
              > them started at any given time

              You may want to watch your metaphors Andy. Your average car engine has no more than 20% fuel conversion efficiency, so yes, when you turn the ignition you are slaughtering four horses to find one that will carry you

      2. “China will accelerate the use of new-energy sources such as nuclear energy and put an end to blind expansion in industries such as solar energy and wind power in 2012, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says in a government report published on March 5.
        I think China also had tax incentives to encourage wind and solar. New Zealand is almost unique in having a wind industry without incentives, though the Clark government did give it a boost with a moratorium on new fossil burners

        1. … and good on Clark for doing so!!!
          The current governments stance on the big questions of our future (wait, detract, retract, dodge…) are moving us backwards and into the territory of irrelevance towards the real movements necessary to sustain our civilization in a meaningful way into an increasingly resource constraint defined future.
          Kim Hill’s interview this morning is worth listening to for anybody in the discussion about our future:

  4. There are a number of interesting proposals for flying windmills on a string – you’d get better wind without having to build a couple of thousand feet of tower. An Aussie one using gyrocopters
    an Italian one using kites, either let out to make power then pulled down in low-drag configuration, or a lot of them pulling a big ground generator like a circus carousel round
    and an American one which had funding from google, with a glider type thing which flies up to altitude then switches its propellers to windmills
    They’d all be a better bet than anything with a gasbag on it- there are good reasons why balloons are toys, not tools ( apart from disposable weather balloons ) but I think the continuous wear and tear would wreck any of these; an aircraft needs a lot more maintenance than a tower.

    1. I think Peter Lynn Kites (NZ) were involved in this for a while.

      Sounds crazy to me. Mind you, I have seen a subsea version of the kite concept used to generate electricity

  5. Seems like the tide is turning in the UK.

    National Trust comes out against ‘public menace’ of wind farms

    The National Trust is now “deeply sceptical” of wind power, its chairman said as he launched an outspoken attack on the “public menace” of turbines destroying the countryside.

    For years the conservation charity has been a supporter of renewable energy, including wind, to reduce carbon emissions and help fight global warming.

    But in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Sir Simon Jenkins warned that wind was the “least efficient” form of green power, and risked blighting the British landscape.

    Poor old Louise Gray. She usually just cut and pastes from WWF Press Releases.

    1. Poor old andyS, he always just cuts and pastes this stuff out of the trashy papers.
      ‘Sir’ Simon Jenkins has written some pretty daft wind NIMBY stuff in the Guardian where he is a regular columnist, you know the sort of thing, wind turbines are inefficient, they never return their energy invested, “… an average of wind turbines producing at 20% of the time.” – That sort of cobblers. Go and have a look in the Guardian website. He was silly enough to suggest his own personal opinion was the position of the National Trust. However, the National Trust wasted little time in pointing out that was wrong.
      A bit embarrassing for the Chair of an organisation to make claims about their policy only for said organisation to come straight out and contradict him. Almost as embarrassing as claiming over two months later that “National Trust comes out against ‘public menace’ of wind farms” Doh!
      “(3) The public are very anti wind, judging my the recent survey in the local rags.” Why did you go all the way to Aberdeen to read the Daily Mail andyS? I have seen it gracing the shelves in 4square – (Although my heart rejoices at every Mail reader that emigrates, I do feel sorry for the communities where these hard of thinking buffoons settle).
      Some recent surveys on public attitudes to wind power –
      Oh Magoo, you’ve done it again!

      1. The survey was in the Aberdeen Press and Journal. Of course, I wouldn’t expect beaker to be concerned about chopping up areas of outstanding natural beauty.

        Interesting that the Failygraph has two anti-wind stories this morning. One from the Louise Gray again that wind turbines “cause climate change’ (haha) and one from Bill Bryson that wind turbines will “damage the British countryside for a generation”

        Don’t shoot the messenger. This stuff is in the paper, one on the front page.

        1. Blimy, you just can not learn can you. Look at those two stories, in one claiming “A CPRE report shows most of the turbines are being built in areas of outstanding natural beauty” -but an AONB is a statutory landscape designation with a clearly defined boundary, and additional landscape conservation planning policies. Most of the turbines are not being built in AONB, infact applications for turbines in AONB are rare.
          Next story, “Wind farms can cause climate change” says the headline, but if you read it, or better still go to the paper they spin into this tripe, the work was additional evidence of something already known, you can reduce the night time drop in air temperature at ground level when the air is still by inducing a little turbulance, mixing in the warmer air above. You have got to be desperate to trumpet dross like this.
          Don’s shoot the messenger, I quite agree. But do point out and deride anyone attempting to spin the messengers message in such a dishonest and plain old thick maner.

          1. Reporting as I am from the South of England, it is an absolutely howling wind outside.

            What is the grid doing?


            Currently, CCGT 28% Nuclear 19.6%, Coal 41.6% Wind 4.3% and interconnectors (France plus Netherlands combined) 4.7%

            In other words, Britain is currently importing more electricity than it is generating from wind, despite near gale conditions outside.

            Must be the wrong sort of wind

            1. I too am in the South of England, absolutely howling wind outside? Don’t be so melodramatic.
              Moderate to fresh breeze on the Beaufort Scale (western Wales up to Strong Breeze) absolutely howling wind, or another absolute howler?
              4.3%, and that just of the windfarms on the very high voltage grid connection, very few of the UK’s onshore.
              Would you prefer that the wind power was not contributing to this demand?
              Lets build more wind farms, as andyS has pointed out to everyone but his blinkered self, they work.

            2. *bonk!*

              Oh dear – talk about caught out!

              Do you imagine that you’re actually doing your cause any good here, andy? Because, at this stage I’d argue that you come across as someone who was secretly trying to discredit Denial with your antics… 😉

            3. bill May 1, 2012 at 12:14 am


              Oh dear – talk about caught out!

              Do you imagine that you’re actually doing your cause any good here, andy? Because, at this stage I’d argue that you come across as someone who was secretly trying to discredit Denial with your antics

              Oh dear, the mighty beaker has spoken, he/she must be right.
              When I got off the plane at Exeter last night, it was driving rain. The wind has died off a bit now but it is still whistling around the house.

              Which part of “England” are you in beaker?
              Presumably the wind is the same across the entire south of England.

              Would you prefer that the wind power was not contributing to this demand?

              Yes, and specifically I would hope that the UK billpayer wouldn’t be feeding the trough that your fat snout is feeding out of beaker.

              It’ll be a shame when this scam comes to an end beaker. You might have to find an alternative job, like hairdresser or geography teacher.

            4. So andyS uses Geography Teacher as a term of derision, interesting.
              Anyway, your latest petulant flailing
              “Yes, and specifically I would hope that the UK billpayer wouldn’t be feeding the trough that your fat snout is feeding out of beaker”
              High wind speed depresses the spot price for power as wind, like nuclear, has a low marginal cost. No fuel, no variable cost of generation. Low wind speed, UK bill payers are not putting much in my trough as a wind turbine only gets income and ROC’s awarded against units of power exported to the grid.
              Round and round your tired little arguments go, but no one here has to do much work to point out their lack of any basis. What next, back to birdchoppers again, or some childish photoshop of a windfarm? Perhaps a few more days reading the daily mail will give you some new inspiration.

            5. Perhaps a few more days reading the daily mail will give you some new inspiration.

              Oh such a delightful character aren’t you beaker? Such a contemptible little piece of work.

              Haven’t you got a day job to do dealing with “nimbys”, or are you one of those $7 an hour trolls paid for by UK Renewables?

            6. Ho ho! Now, here’s a man who – in common with pretty-well all of the remainder of his tribe – has no ability to assess his own behaviour from the outside. By carrying on and becoming abusive, andy, the reader is only going to know you’ve been caught out.

              *bonk!* x2

            7. No andyS, I don’t get paid anything to comment your silly anti wind claims. I think it is a little deluded to imagine that anyone would pay someone to debunk your shoddy anti wind nonsense. There used to be a JohnD posting here who similarly thought that their anti wind farm mutterings were important enough to warrant paid professionals being set on him.
              Put simply andyS, I like reading this blog in my tea breaks but am irritated by people posting NIMBY lies. As I know a bit about NIMBY lies I give up the occasional 5min to point out the NIMBY lies. That this gets you so impotently angry is just going to encourage me. Sorry about that.

            8. So beaker, maybe you’d like to comment on these NIMBY lies.

              A pensioner in Scotland was bribed 750 pounds a year by a wind energy company to keep quiet about her objections to more turbines near her property.

              Apparently, she needs to “wear ear mufflers” when out in the garden

              Of course, this is all absolutely hilarious, as it emanates from that well known rag the Scottish Sun.
              (haha!) .

              Check out the photo of the old trout here

              But wait, it gets better.

              This old dear was burned to death in her house!

              Anyway, other than that delightful news, there are 3 letters in this mornings Telegraph about wind energy. As always, these are the top letters. Two “nimby” letters complaining (1) about the decision of the Church in Exeter to become build turbines on their land, and (2) another claiming that Bronte country is no longer worth visiting as it is littered with turbines.

              Again, these are the views of the writers of the letters. There was one “pro” letter, from a representative of Friends (sic) of the Earth.

              Hardly a day goes by when there is no a “nimby” letter in the paper here.

              Must be hard for you guys keeping up the pretense that you are “saving the planet” when there is so much contempt for wind developers in the general community.

              Of course, it doesn’t matter. The rules are made by the EU, you can’t vote them out and no one gives a stuff about anything anymore.

              Have a nice day

            9. Blimy andyS, you managed to respond (after a fashion) to my comment, including links to a story in the Sun and a resumay of NIMBY letters in the Telegraph, in 12 minutes!
              you had previously said on this page
              “It must come as a surprise to you that I actually spend some of my life doing real stuff that doesn’t involve reading Bishop Hill”
              But in reality here you are just lunging at people like a dog on a chain. Quite sad.
              Speaking of quite sad, you are now pointing at stories in the Sun! How low can you go.
              God knows what the Telegraph’s problem is, I suspect it is them just pandering to the UKIP demographic in their readership. An odd paper the Telegraph, some good quality journalism but then, swivel eyed nut job stuff like Booker and Dellingpole. Todays crop of NIMBY letters sound a bit silly, supprise supprise. Church estate looking at wind turbines on its own land? so what. Turbines driving people away from Bronte Country, more NIMBY scaremongering. If the number of letters in the Telegraph from UKIP buffoons were representitive of public oppinion, they would have an outright majority in the Commons, instead of no MPs at all.
              You are a twit.

            10. Beaker May 2, 2012 at 2:32 am

              You are a twit.

              beaker, you don’t seem that up on current British vernacular do you?

              I am sure you can find something more offensive than “twit” to describe me.

              Here’s one for you, via Michael Mann’s facebook page. He proudly announces to the world that he is quoted in the Daily Mail


              Apprarently, “Global Warming: is causing more home runs in Baseball. Mann actually believes this tripe and tells the world about it on facebook!


              Oh by the way Beaker, I checked The Guardian. You know the newspaper that Real People ™ read. caring sensitive Global Warming types. Great article on how UK climate change aid is being used to forcibly sterilise the Indian poor (with great suffering I might add)

              How good does that feel? How amusing! How delightful!

            11. Andy, you really are a twit.

              Why, if The Guardian is the paper that Real People read, and such ‘real people’ are monsters who are unconcerned for the poor and are blithely happy to sterilise them, would the paper be carrying an article drawing attention to the issue in the first place?

              This is the most elementary logic fail.

              I note you don’t provide a link. So I will. Now people can read the article and see if, in fact, ‘climate change aid’ is being routinely used to ‘forcibly sterilise’ people in quite the straightforward, indeed monstrous, way you’ve claimed.

              The fact that UK aid money is being used to fund sterilisation programs (not, in the main, compulsory, as such, but frequently coercive, particularly among the poor, with some dreadful examples listed in the article) that can have serious deleterious health consequences is a real concern to precisely the kind of people who read the Guardian, (as opposed, one suspects, to those reading the Scottish Sun.)

              As is the fact that the climate impact of a burgeoning population is listed as one justification for the funding.

              However, a population problem is what India has – on current trends it’s set to overtake China as the most populous nation prior to 2030 – and sterilisation has been their major method of dealing with it for a long time. Read the article.

              Because I’m going to speculate that you actually didn’t bother to read the original – it was published more than 2 weeks ago, after all – but just got your feathers all in a ruffle with the usual suspects over at at.. wait for it! – Bishop Hill! a couple of days ago…

              I’ll answer the question I raised in the 2nd paragraph myself: The Guardian, like its target audience, has a long and distinguished history in wishing to ensure that any measures that are taken in achieving environmental and humanitarian goals are not unjust and oppressive – they were prominent in point out the food-production issues relating to bio-fuel production, for instance.

              One can scarcely take issue with the Department for International Development’s stated aim of ‘giving women access to family planning, no matter where they live or how poor they are.’

              But The Guardian is only acting as a good liberal watchdog in bringing any abuses to the attention of its motivated – and genuinely empathic – audience.

          2. Woah; well overwrought. Still smarting from the humiliation, andy?

            And hey, who decides which letters go in the paper again?

            Tell me, andy, while over at the Scottish Sun, did you take part in ‘Great British sex census:’ after all ‘THOUSANDS took part with results on everything from fantasies to p*rn’? (they’re big on UPPER CASE in the Sun!) Or check out Maria Fowler’s ‘little too teeny’ bikini? Are you planning to join in the hunt for the ‘hoodie’? Were you horrified by the ‘brute mum’.

            Doubtlessly the ‘hoodie’ and ‘brute’ stories are attached to real tragedies – shamelessly exploited by this dreadful rag.

            There are always going to be siting issues and conflicts in establishing any energy, or industrial, infrastructure. Genuine concerns for those really hard done by are one thing: blinkered and tendentious carry-on – bordering on outright witch-burning hysteria – deliberately inflamed by the likes of this, ahem ‘publication’, however, scarcely help. Except perhaps in boosting circulation and the background level of sullen – and potentially dangerous – resentment in the community.

            (If you remember there’s a rather famous inquiry going on right now in the UK delving into the tabloid media’s sincere concerns for their readership’s interests!)

            Please tell me the ‘burned to death in her house’ isn’t some Stoopid (‘drug addled’, perhaps? 😉 ) insinuation.

            Where’s ‘here’ this time, by the way? And what’s the weather like outside?

            You and Donald Trump saving the world from the evil wind industry, eh? Of course, he can plough up wild dunes for a high-falutin’ golf-course no pensioner’s ever going to get near, and that’s just fine…

            1. I find it interesting how little concern the warmist creed have for other humans. I guess when environmentalism is fundamentally an anti-human religion then this isn’t surprising.

              Most energy companies employ PR consultants that spin up their products. The wind “industry”, on the other hand, treats everyone with contempt.

              It’s quite interesting really.

            2. bill May 2, 2012 at 12:43 am

              Woah; well overwrought. Still smarting from the humiliation, andy?

              Which humiliation?

            3. How despicable and low life can some one get than AndyS’s mocking of this poor old lady.

              Check out the photo of the old trout here

              But wait, it gets better.

              This old dear was burned to death in her house!

              That has got to be the most scurrilous comment I have ever seen. I’m sure Mrs Robinson’s friends and relatives didn’t think that “it got better”.

              You should be ashamed of your behaviour. Just goes to show the low level of empathy and consideration for others you selfish and arrogant deniers have.

            4. You should be ashamed of your behaviour. Just goes to show the low level of empathy and consideration for others you selfish and arrogant deniers have.

              I am not mocking the old lady Forrester. I am emulating the kind of talk the warmist creed would use

              If I showed any empathy for this woman, I would be mocked.
              Of course, I feel a great deal of empathy for the old lady, and none whatsoever for the pondlife that tried to bribe her to keep quiet about the noise that she was having to endure.

              The fact that she is referred to as a NIMBY completes my complete and utter contempt for anyone vaguely involved in the wind “industry”.

            5. I am not mocking the old lady Forrester. I am emulating the kind of talk the warmist creed would use

              No you’re not – you’re merely projecting your own stunted values and contempt for others outwards.

              Exactly the kind of dreadful cynicism that fuels the likes of ‘the Scottish Sun’. Isn’t it interesting that your side must so frequently resort to the absolute gutter press in order to reinforce its tawdry world view?

              ‘If I showed empathy I would be mocked’?! No, andy, if you showed empathy we would be shocked.

              It’s just like the Golden Eagles, and the fate of the Greeks prior to that – this woman only has utility to you as a stick to try to hit the warmists / wind industry with in your increasingly desperate and sad little vendetta. Beyond that… phhhtt!

              Even you can’t credit your own crocodile tears for those you’re conveniently – and temporarily – selecting as ‘worthy victims’, hence the increasing agitation and abusiveness, which is also exacerbated by your being so frequently and blatantly caught-out in miscasting information and failing to back up your claims.

              I repeat; all you’re achieving here is making the warmists look good.

              You should be ashamed, but will never be brave enough to admit it to yourself.

    2. AndyS, I have a homework assignment for you:

      Work out how much energy in total the Global installed wind farms have made available in 2011 (you can find this I am sure).
      Then express this in Ton Coal equivalent (how many tons of coal you would have needed to produce the same using coal fired power stations)
      Then express that in length of a coal train using the average length and ton capacity of coal carrier wagons.
      If you had paid some attention you might have saved some time as I did that example for the German wind energy output a while ago.
      Report back here with the length of train.

      1. Wind avoids the shoveling of coals into the furnaces of these stations when it is available. Germany produced 38.0 TWh of electricity with its farms in 2009, thats 7% of their national consumption. At 2,460 kWh/ton of coal that is 15,5 million tons of coal or at 100t per rail car a train with 155,000 freight cars, a train of 2400km length…..

        That’s what you said last March here, according to a quick Google search.

        The question I have is, do you have any evidence that wind reduces the net CO2 output from electricity generation? That is, by the time you factor in the manufacture of the equipment, the concrete bases (5 times as much concrete and steel is used by wind compared with nuclear per MW generated, according to Patrick Moore), the cost of servicing (esp offshore), and most importantly the inefficient use of gas backup once wind penetrates a significant proportion of the grid.

        As you know, there are studies that show the net effect of wind is to increase CO2 emissions overall. As far as I know, these haven’t been “debunked” yet.

        1. You paid attention! Great.
          So when you take the global wind energy output, you will find that that train needs to be multiplied by a significant factor! It would probably reach more than half around the globe.

          As far as Myth about wind energy goes: You are seemingly simply clueless:

          The CO2 payback time of wind farms is in the order of 3 to 4 years depending on where they are built.

      1. No, andy, but cars do, certainly with Golden Eagles (Wedgies) as their habit of eating roadkill makes them particularly susceptible. This became such an issue in Australia that there was a significant campaign to drag roadkill carcasses well onto the shoulder.

        (A reminder that if you really want to talk animal slaughter on a massive scale the bitumen ribbons of death are where we should be looking.)

        In fact, if you remember we established that your linkspam ‘licence to kill’ turned out to be a permit for 55 turbines to kill up to a total of 3 birds in 5 years: I suggest any stretch of nearby highway that had to meet the same standard would be closed down pronto. You’d object strenuously, of course…

        Because you don’t give a shit about the birds, as your complete lack of knowledge about them clearly indicates. You’re also carrying on as though you’ve established something, but no-one’s likely to be fooled by your risible little bluff – particularly if they read the exchange following the second link I’ve added – and all you’ve really succeeded in establishing is that you can’t be bothered to do any research and hate wind farms merely because you don’t want any solutions to AGW to work (or us to have any post-oil resources, either, for that matter!), for some mind-numbingly Stoopid reason…

      2. Why doesn’t someone attach a windmill to AndyS’ head? He generates so much wind I’m sure he will be able to generate lots of KW hours.

        It seems that there is an organization in the UK which is 100% dedicated to saving birds. It is called the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. If windmills are so dangerous to birds then surely the one organization that would be totally against wind farms would be the RSPB.

        However, they are going to build one for themselves at their head quarters in Sandy, Bedfordshire. In fact RSPB comes out in favour of wind farms:

        Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director said: “We are keen to promote the use of wind energy where it does not result in unacceptable impacts to wildlife and we are confident that this is a suitable location to do so.

        “All of us have a part to play in helping to meet the UK Government’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, and this turbine will be one more step along the way.

        “We need a revolution in the way we generate and use energy – but we want that revolution to take place in harmony with the natural environment.

        “We know that with the right design and location wind turbines have little or no impact on wildlife. The RSPB has commented on over 1,500 wind farm applications. In the small number of cases – around six per cent – where we feel there is likely to be a significant impact on wildlife we have lodged an objection. In many of these cases the developers have listened and redesigned their plans to make sure they do not threaten wildlife”.

        AndyS keeps on making himself look more and more stupid and uninformed with every post he makes.

        As Bill said:

        you come across as someone who was secretly trying to discredit Denial with your antics… 😉

        If AndyS is so concerned about birds maybe he should think of sending them a donation so that large areas of the country side won’t need to be torn up and converted to strip mines or for building nuclear plants. That is what is killing birds..

        1. If you bothered to look at the link I provided above, you would notice that the Scottish branch of RSPB is receiving money from the wind industry.

          As I say over and over, the concept of corruption, greed and self-interest never seems to find its way into your drug-addled synapses.

          1. Gareth, please stop AndyS’ arrogant and personal attacks on me. He knows nothing about me and I get very angry when idiots like him make unsubstantiated comments for which he has absolutely no support. This is an ad hominem attack at its worst.

            AndyS you truly show how much of a scurrilous scum bag you are. And please note, my comments are not ad hominem because they are backed up by the vile comments coming from you and show your despicable behaviour.

            1. OK, I apologise. “Drug addled’ was possibly a little off colour.

              “Partisan” maybe what I meant to say.

  6. ‘…your wind turbine isn’t working most of the time ‘

    ‘Another myth!
    Te Uku wind farm was generating 93% of the time in its first year of operation.’
    If you say your turbine can power a hundred houses but it’s only powering ten, sure it’s working but not particularly hard. As far as the other ninety houses are concerned, it’s not working. As I pointed out previously, at half the turbine’s ideal windspeed only one eighth of full power is available, so having a lower cut-in speed doesn’t make much difference to total power production. Ability to keep working in stronger winds is more important.

    1. And there you go with yet another myth…this one being that wind developers work out the “number of houses” powered by using the maximum wind farm output.

      I can tell you that no one I know in the industry does this. For two good reasons a) the wind is variable and b) the demand is variable. The calculation is on average annual energy production and average annual demand. On an annual basis a windfarm output is predictable and less variable than hydro (for example).

      And actually cut in speed does make a difference and is more important than a higher cut out speed – except on extreme sites.
      A turbine with a low cut in speed will have a fatter power curve all the way from cut-in to rated speed so there is more power being generated over a greater range of conditions (say 4 to 12 m/s). Ability to run at extreme wind speeds (>25 or 30) still doesn’t get you more than rated output and generally those high speeds are of short duration

      1. Never liked the ‘ powers x houses’ metric either but you read it every time there’s a wind farm in the paper.
        Variable hydro over a year is much more useful than erratic wind over a day

        1. The ‘powers x houses’ metric is a quite simple and is very often misconstrued, but is used because the level of understanding of how a grid works is very poor indeed. It is simply a way to put into context a statement that you expect each wind turbine to generate x units of power in an average year.
          “Variable hydro over a year is much more useful than erratic wind over a day” You could run a grid on 100% hydro but not 100% wind. But even better than a 100% hydro grid would be adding wind power to it. NZ looks like it is going to need additional generation, if anyone claims that it can be all hydro/wind/geothermal/shalegas/lignite/thorium (delete as appropriate) it is a big clue that you can go and find someone else to talk to who may know what they are on about.
          Wind is a beneficial addition to the NZ generation mix, is very low carbon, scaleable and cost competative.

          1. But even better than a 100% hydro grid would be adding wind power to it

            If your grid is 100% hydro why do you need to add anything to it?

            1. Evening andyS.
              Do you remember some power cuts in NZ a few years ago? I am sure some of the others here do.
              Can you remember what one of the contributing factors for the load-shedding was?
              Have you noticed any of the deliberations in the local press over the planning of new Hydro power dams – admittedly they probably don’t cover these issues at Bishops Hill.

            2. Oh so wind is now a backup for hydro? Funny how all the wind blows in the spring when the lakes are full.

              No problem for me though, I’ve just bought a generator.
              I guess you won’t read about that in the guardian.
              I won’t be relying on bird choppers for emergency backup

            3. “Oh so wind is now a backup for hydro” No, a fuel, or in this case water saver. Have you not even learned that from your efforts here.
              “…all the wind blows in the spring…” Blimy that is strange wind you have there. I had not realised that NZ wind turbines only generate in the spring! Another absolute howler by any chance?
              If you are fortunate enough to have full hydro reserves and wind power output high, you have very cheap electricity as the Hydro plants drop their marginal cost to avoid spilling. Even less coal and gas burnt as a result.
              Well done by the way for lasting nearly 30min before lurching at my last comment. Progress, of sorts.
              While your skin is crawling as you wait eager to snap at someone else’s heels, perhaps you could do a little review of your efforts on this page or at all of Hot Topic over the last few months, and point out any worthwhile contributions you have made.

            4. Perhaps you’d like tto review your contribution to this discussion too beaker. All I seem to recall is a continuous stream of sneering, patronizing remarks about nimbys and the occasional link to press release from a lobby group. You seem to have no interest in the actual genuine problems that are becoming all too apparent with this 18th century technology that you have tried to resurrect.

              Wind in Spring? Yes this is when the strongest winds blow on NZ beaker, not in winter when the big blocking highs come in. However, I am sure my real world expérience will be dismissed by a some tedious patronizing commenter who will waft in drearily pronouncing their intellectual superiority.

            5. Tedious is you just making stuff up Andy.
              I know you don’t like facts to get in the way of your opinions but since this thread is about busting myths I have to offer a fact here.
              In North Canterbury the seasonal wind resource variation is roughly 90% of average in winter and 110% in spring.

            6. AndrewH May 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm

              Tedious is just you making stuff up Andy.

              What is even more tedious is getting these assertions that have no references or factual basis. You may well be right, but we get these cretinous statements like “wind needs backup is a myth”.

              Of course it’s not a myth! Wind needs backup, End of.

              Other forms of energy need backup – yes of course when they go down for maintenance. But wind needs 100% backup because it is intermittent.

              But no, we get this mindless propaganda thrust upon us. The wind “industry”, like its near cousin the warmist creed, likes to treat the general public like everyone is a moron.

              If you actually bothered to deal with the issues and treat people with some respect, someone might actually listen.

              The latest piece of eco-garbage here in the UK is the so-called “drought”. It has been raining for a month and yet we are told there are serious water shortages. Therefore, we have a drought.

              Everyone knows that this is primarily because of lack of investment in infrastructure over the last few decades. They are cancelling reservoir projects in favour of new housing.

              get used to it. No one is listening to the activists or the government. No one takes anything you say seriously, and will continue to treat you with the contempt you deserve
              Have a nice day.

            7. 10 minutes to get that reply posted up, must be really frothing at the mouth this morning.
              “Of course it’s not a myth! Wind needs backup, End of.” But, as the existing grid generators are still there, adding a wind turbine or farm does not require adding a new backup generator.
              “What is even more tedious is getting these assertions that have no references or factual basis.” But when given references to follow up you just ignore them, for instance after having this source to follow up you still come out with the claptrap of “But wind needs 100% backup because it is intermittent.” and complain of “…we get this mindless propaganda thrust upon us.” You are a twit.
              “If you actually bothered to deal with the issues and treat people with some respect, someone might actually listen.” Your activity appears to have earned you a serious respect deficit here.
              “The wind “industry”, like its near cousin the warmist creed, likes to treat the general public like everyone is a moron.” I have never seen the wind industry or the ‘warmist creed’, whatever that is, treat the general public like morons. They are not so why would they. For my part I make no apologies for treating someone who makes repeated moronic statements (see ‘warmist creed’) as a moron.
              “The latest piece of eco-garbage here in the UK is the so-called “drought”. It has been raining for a month and yet we are told there are serious water shortages. Therefore, we have a drought.” This claim of yours would make sense if we could pump potable water out of storm drains. Having had an unusually dry winter, our current high rainfall is not effective at recharging the aquifers (most going to soil retention, transpiration and runoff). Thats why instead of having a drought, we have hosepipe bans and appeals to conserve water in those distribution network areas that are heavily reliant on aquifers.
              “Everyone knows that this is primarily because of lack of investment in infrastructure over the last few decades. They are cancelling reservoir projects in favour of new housing.” Is that everyone in UKIP? Investing in aquifer recharging winter rain is a bit tricky. Yes some of our privatised utility monopolies, such as Thames Water, could do more to renew their pipework (leaking vast quantities of purified drinking water under urban areas where it is of no use) – bit of a shame that they were privatised in such a hurried and short sighted manner. As for cancelling reservoirs in favour of new housing, could you elaborate? I have spent many years in land use planning in the UK and this is news (or entirely made up) to me.
              If you had spent a little more than 10 min on your diatribe above, it may not have been quite so silly.

            8. even more tedious is getting these assertions that have no references or factual basis


              Sorry Andy – I thought that was your preferred mode of debate. Have a look at the Long Term Synthetic Wind Dataset . Download the spreadsheet. Knock yourself out.

              And then you go on to say……

              we get these cretinous statements like “wind needs backup is a myth”

              . I for one and I suspect Beaker and Lawrence Jones too would agree that this is a cretinous statement…so I went looking for who made it. Guess what I found. You!

    1. 9 out of 10 may want more renewables, but that is not the view of investors. Also in the Guardian..


      Andrew Shepherd-Barron, a specialist in the clean tech sector at brokers Peel Hunt, has just come up with a review of share price performances and describes the green scene as a “graveyard” for investors globally. He claims alternative energy, water waste and carbon companies have performed “worse even than the dotcom experience”. A year ago, 18 of 27 early-stage clean tech stocks tracked by Peel Hunt had disappeared from the market after floating, with minimal returns to shareholders.

      (My emphasis)

      Some more cheery news from Der Speigel, who reports the collapse of the solar industry in East germany,1518,830188,00.html

      The global solar industry has entered a brutal phase of consolidation and nowhere are the effects as dramatic as in eastern Germany. Several companies have already declared bankruptcy, leaving towns and cities in the region struggling with job losses and tax revenue shortfalls. The future bodes ill.

        1. Actually I stayed with a friend (a retired BP geologist at age 50) who has a massive solar array in his garden.

          He is very happy to be sucking money out of poor peoples pockets via the feed-in tarrifs.

          Personally, I wouldn’t bother, but then it takes all sorts.

      1. I’m getting really sick of the derogatory and toxic projections, andy, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Learn to back up your claims, rather than just spit poison at people.

        The consolidation is indeed brutal, as the new generation of panels is significantly cheaper, so anyone marketing the older generation is in serious trouble. This is your much-loved Market at work. It’s nothing to do with demand.

        So, andy, the world will carry on ‘renewing’ , despite your venom and your desperate hopes

        1. I’m getting really sick of the derogatory and toxic projections, andy

          Oh dear Bill, a taste of your own medicine perhaps.

          [Snipped. Keep it polite, or play elsewhere. GR]

          1. AndyS, you are simply once again completely wrong with your conclusions. The solar PV industry has globally installed record breaking amounts of PV and the cost reductions make PV profitable in many new places now. Germany alone installed 7.5GW of new PV solar in 2011, that is more than the entire electricity generation capacity of New Zealand! The trend globally is up with especially the developing nations rapidly growing now as their cost point of traditional energies is rising while Solar is falling.
            We see what is happening in the PV industry repeat the cycle of consumer electronics. First generation manufactures closed their factories in Europe and the US while Asian companies grew rapidly. The overall success of consumer electronics was not at all affected by this shift, to the contrary the gearing up of the Asian manufacturing started the mass market opportunities for the market sector. The current “crisis” of the old manufacturers is simply a sign that the market is turning into its big-time phase now with costs sinking so fast that costly solar panel efficiency gains are quickly becoming irrelevant. If you can manufacture panels at well under $1/Watt, who needs an efficiency increase of 20% if it raises cost by 50%?
            So all is actually rather great and interesting now as solar PV is going mainstream. Your revisionist rants are utterly irrelevant to our future.

            1. Your revisionist rants are utterly irrelevant to our future.


              That’s what andy and his ilk are most afraid of, and why they are becoming increasingly hysterical – they can see the world moving on, disregarding their strident (and in the case of the Great Wind Farm Witch Hunt, increasingly surreal and disturbingly paranoiac) claims of impending catastrophe.

              Picture their bedraggled little cabal left behind in the dust, clutching their dog-eared copies of Heaven and Earth and Atlas Shrugged, bleating forlornly that science is a conspiracy and the future is impossible.

              And no-one paying attention anymore.

              This abject humiliation must not be!

              And so the small coterie of superannuated Don Quixotes, haplessly squired by their online Sancho Panza fanboys, are forever condemned to tilt at windmills…

            2. ‘…Germany alone installed 7.5GW of new PV solar in 2011, that is more than the entire electricity generation capacity of New Zealand!’
              Not Quite. From wikipedia
              ‘The installed generating capacity of New Zealand (all sources) as of December 2010 was 9,667 megawatts (MW), composed of 54.3% hydroelectricity, 23.2% natural gas, 7.6% geothermal, 6.4% coal, 5.6% wind, 1.6% oil, and 1.3% other sources (mainly biogas, waste heat and wood)’
              More importantly, the capacity factor for the German PV was only eight percent ( 18 TWh from 25GW capacity. This will be a little low, as newly installed panels haven’t been working all year)

              ‘A total of 43,137 GWh was generated in New Zealand in 2011, a slight decrease from 2010 where 43,401 GWh was generated, with the decrease largely attributed to the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The electricity generated in 2011 was 57.6% hydroelectricity, 18.4% natural gas, 13.4% geothermal, 4.7% coal, 4.5% wind, <0.1% oil, and 1.5% other sources'
              So 32TWh from New Zealand renewables, well over half again as much for a population one twentieth as big

          2. Also, grow up, andy.

            You have presented us as relishing the prospect of an old woman having been burned to death, and as finding the death of a dog ‘absolutely hilarious’.

            As well as being disquieting windows into your own soul, these are grossly offensive – in fact, hateful – remarks by any standards.

            This is hardly a one-off. You apparently genuinely feel you are entitled to crash someone else’s place and say anything. Yet again, andy, you’re not much of an advertisement for your cause.

            1. “The comments in this mornings article in The Telegraph capture the mood in the UK quite well”
              Hold the array of successive opinion polls, some regulars have made comments under a story on the online copy of a newspaper.
              I think some are just keen to attract the attention of

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