The answer, my friend…

Some encouraging facts and figures are provided in an interview with the CEO of the European Wind Energy Association, Christian Kjaer, by Yale Environment 360. For the past two years 40 per cent of all new electricity generating capacity in Europe came from wind turbines. (Add solar and other renewables and that rises to 63 per cent.) From Spain to Sweden so many new turbines are being erected that Europe is on target to produce 15 per cent of its electricity from wind by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2050.

Kjaer puts the emergence of wind as Europe’s leading form of green energy down to a combination of government policies, entrepreneurial vision, and public support. Carrots and sticks are involved. The European Union provides tax credits, financial incentives, and priority access for renewable energy to the electricity grid to encourage the growth of wind, solar and other forms or renewables. The stick is the requirement that member states set renewable energy targets or face the possibility of being sued.

The result is that increasingly as plants fired by coal and natural gas reach the end of their lives they are being replaced by wind and solar power. The economic benefits of the transition are clear, with nearly 200,000 people currently employed in European wind power, rising to an estimated 450,000 by 2020. Kjaer has no doubt that green energy is an engine of job creation.

He thinks the early start that Europe gained in wind power, particularly in Spain and Germany and Denmark, gives them an advantage in the new industry and means they are reaping commercial benefits in terms of wind turbine manufacturing and activity further down the supply line. The high quality manufacturing sector, strongly supported by governments, should see Europe retaining an edge over the intensifying competition from Asian countries.  “The winners of tomorrow’s energy wars,” he says, “are going to be those who understand how to develop new technology, deploy new technology and get the benefits of exporting that technology to the rest of the world.

He speaks of the need for Europe to make a serious effort in terms of changing the way they operate their grids, and to move more quickly to develop an offshore grid for utilizing the offshore wind energy. Politicians need to give attention to optimizing and expanding the grid infrastructure to accommodate a larger amount of variable wind power in the system, and also other renewables.

“One of the main reasons for the strong political support for a supergrid is also that we want to create an internal [European] market for electricity, which of course, in the end, should give consumers the most affordable electricity. That’s the whole idea about the internal market, is that it would create the free movement over borders of goods, services, and in this case electricity at the lowest cost. And in order to create an internal market for electricity you need the infrastructure, just as you need roads to move goods around the European Union.”

Concerning policies required for a robust industry Kjaer speaks first of stable long-term frameworks for investing in renewables. Stable frameworks help the European industry by contrast with the US where the framework is unable to be predicted more than one or two years ahead. This means the US is not reaping the job creation benefits of wind energy; a lot of manufacturing has to be imported since no one’s going to invest in a factory in the United States if they don’t know how the market looks beyond the next two years.

As an aside, a news item today reported US steelworkers complaining that in the manufacture of wind turbines and solar panels China is breaking WTO rules by an array of subsidies, tax credits, cut-rate loans, and other policies that give Chinese companies a strong competitive advantage over foreign firms. If Kjaer is right they might do better to complain of their own government’s failure to support green energy development ahead of the fossil fuel industry which is still favoured by extensive subsidies.

To return to Europe. Kjaer identifies three elements in the stable framework Europe is providing for renewable energy. Financial support such as tax credit is one. Access to the grid is another:

“And what European legislation does, it mandated all 27 member states to give priority access to wind energy, which means that if you have a wind farm and a gas plant, and they’re planned projects, the wind energy should be connected first. And also, if you have plants operating on the system, electricity from the renewables plant gets fed into the grid first.”

The third element is more straightforward administrative procedures. Kjaer spoke of hopes of streamlining what in some European countries are extremely tortuous permission processes.

Asked about public opposition to the expansion of wind turbines, he acknowledged it was an issue, more so in some countries than others. Onshore turbines in the UK are particularly difficult.

“But it’s my feeling that the concern from locals is biggest in the beginning of a new market taking off. So the first thousand megawatts are much more difficult to install than the next thousand megawatts. Because people get used to them, they understand that they don’t make noise anymore — the turbines twenty years ago made quite a lot of noise, today you can’t hear them, almost, if you’re more than two hundred meters away.”

Asked whether 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2050 was possible Kjaer explained why he thinks it is:

“Almost two-thirds of our new capacity is from renewables. That figure was about 20 per cent in the year 2000. So in nine years we’ve gone from 20 per cent to 62 — by 2020 of course we can get to 100 per cent of new capacity. And if we can get in 2020 to a situation where all new capacity is renewables, then we will, by definition almost, have 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2050 because all the other power plants will be taken off [line].”

Infrastructure is the absolute key:

“ – we need to build an infrastructure that is different. But, again, our infrastructure in Europe is aging – we haven’t been building power lines since the ‘60s or ‘70s. It needs to be replaced anyway. So we need to make sure that the infrastructure is changed in a way that it accommodates 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2050.”

While I was preparing this post a newsletter coincidentally arrived from the New Zealand Wind Energy Association, welcoming the Government’s continued commitment to its target of 90 per cent renewable electricity by 2025 in the draft New Zealand Energy Strategy and affirming the part that wind generation is able to play.

“In New Zealand, wind generation has increased 10-fold since 2003, helping lift total renewable generation to recent highs of over 70%. With four wind farms currently under construction, together with other new and planned renewable projects, New Zealand is making progress towards the 90% target and the rewards that it brings to the economy and the environment.”

It points to the economic advantage of globally competitive electricity prices that will accrue to New Zealand in the development of its ample renewable energy resources.

“Electricity prices have increased significantly in recent years on the back of rising natural gas prices. Increasing use of renewables such as wind energy, which has no fuel or carbon emissions costs, is helping to check these rising prices.”

There’s a note of understandable exasperation in a section of the newsletter addressing the misinformation barrier which it says is bizarrely making it easier to obtain resource consent for new thermal generation than for renewable generation.

Such misinformation as this:

“In the last few months we’ve seen claims that a proposed wind farm won’t generate the amount of electricity that the developer estimates because wind generation varies with the wind. Such claims overlook that developers’ calculations already take the variable nature of wind generation into account. Developers usually identify both the installed generating capacity of the project in megawatts (or MW) and the total amount of electricity that they expect the project to generate in a year in gigawatt-hours (GWh). This estimate of generation takes into account the wind conditions at the site and that varying wind conditions affect generation.”

The newsletter points out that wind is proving itself in New Zealand on its own merits. (I would add, in spite of the unfair advantages enjoyed by fossil fuels which are only just beginning to have a modest price put on them.) Unlike other countries, New Zealand wind farms are not subsidised. A wind farm will be built here only when it can generate electricity at a cost that is competitive with other forms of generation.

The NZ wind resource is very strong by comparison with other parts of the world where wind farms are being installed. Our wind farms generate almost twice as much electricity per installed megawatt of capacity as the international average.

In response to the claim that new thermal generation is required as back up for new wind farms the newsletter responds that our existing hydro base is sufficient to balance about 2000MW of wind capacity without adding significantly to the price of electricity. Current wind energy capacity sits just under 500MW, so there’s obviously some distance to go before back up becomes a serious concern.

It’s the view of the newsletter that the considerable range of research and practical experience available regarding wind energy after more than 10 years operation in NZ and more than 20 years overseas reveals that many of the claims commonly heard in denigration of wind energy do not stand up to scrutiny.

So, this evidence from Europe and New Zealand, along with that from the US and from China among others, demonstrates that in spite of all its detractors wind generation is advancing rapidly. It’s heartening to see that there are governments prepared to offer the financial and policy support that it needs. Some point sneeringly to that and utter the dirty word ‘subsidies’. In a market place which doesn’t price the environmental costs of fossil fuels there is currently no other way of putting renewables on an equal footing. In any case the imperative to phase out emissions means that we must pay what it costs to do so, just as, for example, we are preparing to pay the costs of repairing the earthquake damage in Canterbury. There are some expenditures which can’t be avoided. Would that our Draft Energy Strategy would recognise that.

114 thoughts on “The answer, my friend…”

  1. Wind farms are a blight on the landscape, they produce virtually no electricity, and there is huge opposition to them by the people who actually use the countryside: farmers, hillwalkers, climbers etc.

    There are plenty of other low carbon alternatives. Thorium looks promising.

    It really saddens me that the countryside in Europe is being systematically destroyed in the name of environmentalism.

  2. Very encouraging Bryan, I wasn’t aware the Europeans were quite so switched on (pun intended). Will the yanks realize the obvious, and get their “A” into “G”, or continue down the slippery slope?.

  3. The American’s will be switched on when they pay the windfarm operators 3* the energy they produce in subsidies.

    There is no other reason to build them. They are functionally useless.

    For each mW of wind power you produce, you need the same amount of conventional power sitting on standby for when the wind does not blow.
    This happens a lot, esp when a large anticyclone sits over Europe and the whole fleet stops working.

    These are facts that you can check for yourself

    1. Backup generation is required for all forms of power generation not just wind (the time horizon differs). For example every 18 months to 2 years a nuclear reactor has to be taken off line for refuelling and maintenance. It can be off line for months. Backup is required for this. Backup is required for outages and regular maintenance for all forms of generation the bigger the geenration block the bigger the backup needed. Wind has the advantage of being modular (lots of little geerneation units) and it can be spread around to minimise the risk of a large volume outage due to local wind condtions.

      New Zealand is currently probably the most unregulated and unsubsidised electricity sectors in the world (not taking into account the externalities subsidies such as free water for hydro and the under pricing of carbon). But in other countries subsidies abound and not just for renewables. Historically New Zealand tax payers subsidised generation in this country. For example based on capital costs Clyde should be selling it electricity at $140 MWh, and Rangipo at $300, current average wholesale price in a normal hydrological year around $40-80 (at this very moment it is $2.20 MWh. However, when these assets were transferred to the SOEs the capital value was written down (at the tax-payers expense) so that the price of electricity would not jump.

      The explicit subsidies for nuclear include one of my favourites the liability cap on nuclear accidents. Yes extremely unlikely but due to the very high risks associated with any major failure if and in the U.S. if it should occur the liability is capped for the company at $10 billion (The Price Anderson Act) any further liability is covered by the government. Apparently if a Chernobyl scale accident were to occur in the U.S. conservative estimates of the impacts assessments start at $300 billion (not sure about these figures but compare to the BP Gulf costs). No nuclear power company could get uncapped insurance from the market, hence the capped liability. This model is widely used around the world in the Vienna Convention, and the OECD’s Paris Convention.

      1. The backup for wind has to be kept spinning continuously!

        Bryan Leyland is the best informed person you are likely to get information from. Incidentally he has a part share of a hydro-electric scheme!

        1. Yes it is called reserve power and it is there for all forms of outages or sudden changes in demand. NZ is very lucky in that the wind persistance models provide a very high reliablity of availability. Linked in with our hydro it works well. In fact that is why Meridian is so keen on it and why we think we can have possibly a very high wind penertration (30%?).

          Meridian’s Otago wind scheme was in effect to be an extension to the Waitaki scheme. They would be run as an integrated unit supporting each other. In this way Meridian could maximise the use of its limited water resource.

          No doubt about it Bryan is very informed about NZ’s electricity system he is an electricial engineer and work of the NZED for many years. He often has a valid opinion on these matters. But there are those in the sector that consider him to be somewhat out dated and that he has not got his head around many of the new technologies and system management techniques coming onto the scene. However, saying that the technical guys in the electricity sector are some of the most contradictory that I have come across.

          Bryan has, on the other hand , demonstrated absolutely no understanding of the carbon cycle, climate science, and economics.

    2. How about the yanks, cut the humongous subsidies to fossil fuels & factor in the environmental cost, as well, into the price. Then maybe they can stop subsidizing their wind farms & other renewable energy sources, letting each compete on an equal footing. Isn’t that what the free marketeers want?.

  4. Don’t know where you are from John D but in NZ we build wind farms without any form of subsidy. Which puts the lie to your claim that they are functionally useless because our power companies (state owned or otherwise) are definitely not charities.

    I’d encourage anyone to check for the facts – but beware that they aren’t coming from anti-windfarm advocacy groups.

    Thorium might look promising – but it needs to be commercially available now to make a difference.

  5. I live in NZ but originally from UK.
    The anti-wind farm lobby in the UK is primarily local conservation groups and other users of the hills.

    Unfortunately, the uplands are where most of the wind is.

    So the result is that the beauty of the hills of Britain are being destroyed by wind farms. It is really quite tragic to see.

    As far as NZ is concerned, I am quite puzzled by the go-ahead for windfarms without subsidy. Perhaps NZ has more consistent wind than Europe.

    The Danish case has been a failure. Most of the energy produced by Danish wind is dumped onto the Norwegian grid at a cost far below the cost of producing it.

    A recent Times Educational Supplement article showed that the UK would need a 10km wide belt of offshore wind farms around the entire country to meet its renewable energy needs. Clearly, this is never going to happen. The maintenance costs themselves are horrendous.

    Agreed, Thorium is a long way of production capabilities, but I believe this shows a lot of promise as a low carbon fuel source, as it produces so much energy compared with uranium, and is relatively clean.

    How would New Zealanders feel about all their national parks getting covered in Windfarms? This is what the UK and Europe is facing right now

    1. Given the choice of (a) covering national parks in wind turbines and (b) doing nothing about global warming and suffering the consequences, I know which I’d choose. I believe it’s called a nobrainer.

      I was recently in Spain and France and saw wind turbines across the landscape. Things of beauty as far as I’m concerned.

      By the way I wouldn’t believe everything you read in the Times.

      1. The alternative of course is nuclear (and probably the only real alternative in an energy hungry world).

        Nuclear has outstanding advantages from an environmental perspective:

        1. Very low emissions.
        2. Dense – requires far less materials and land than wind, hydro and solar. Materials have an environmental cost as does land use. High level nuclear waste is nasty stuff, but relatively speaking there is not a lot of it. It is impossible to overstate the advantages of a dense energy source because far fewer of earth’s resources are required to service it.

        Nuclear has huge advantages from the electricity generation viewpoint:

        1. 24×7 operation. Downtime is largely scheduled downtime for refueling etc. In the US and South Korea, in recent years a capacity factor of over 90% has been consistently achieved. Compare the 90% capacity factor of nuclear where the downtime is scheduled with the 30% capacity factor of wind where the downtime is only partially predictable in the short term and unpredictable in the long term.

        2. It is entirely possible to build load following NPPs. The French do it. Supply can follow demand, whereas the reverse is true for wind.

        3. Nuclear is a drop in replacement for coal. As far as the grid is concerned – nuclear or coal it doesn’t really matter.

        While no form of electricity generation is 100% safe, nuclear is amongst the safest.

        1. There has never been a fatality attributable to a radiation accident in a civilian nuclear power plant in an OCED country. This is an outstanding record and orders of magnitude better than fossil fuels.

        2. In non OECD countries, even including the terrible Chenobyl incident, nuclear has still resulted in fewer deaths per tWh than any other form of electricity generation.

        Nuclear is sustainable.

        Most current reactors are pressurized light water reactors. Their use of fuel is inefficient which leads to two orders of magnitude more waste than is possible. Development of Generation IV nuclear will resolve that issue and forever remove any doubt that there is sufficient uranium or thorium for thousands of years. Gen IV will also be able to consume existing stockpiles of depleted uranium and spent fuel vastly reducing any current issues with waste.

    2. The Danish experience with wind generated electricity is such a failure that they have now set up the Ecogrid project to consider how to double their wind energy penetration from 25% to 50%.

      Yes NZ has more consistent wind than Europe although parts of Europe (eg NW Scotland) are not that far behind us. We also have lower electricity prices.

  6. leapy,

    You seem to live under the illusion that Windfarms will “solve” the global warming problem.

    As for things of beauty, perhaps you’d like to live near one of these things, with its 24×7 low frequency hum that has known mental health problems.

    You can check the numbers for yourself. You don’t have to believe the Times.

    Anyway, it will all end soon.

    1. Oh I definitely don’t have a delusion that wind turbines alone will solve global warming, but with other renewable energy sources, they have a role to play.

      Your last cryptic comment is interesting, as it may well all end soon if we sit all Neroesque and fiddle while the world climate changes.

  7. We’re lucky in NZ in that we have hydro-power and geothermal energy sources. Overseas they seem to be taking more and more serious measures to help diversify energy sources (as you would with a financial investment portfolio I suppose). Wind is a component. There are drawbacks such as aesthetic considerations and possible health issues (as living next to high voltage powerlines seem to incur), but the world is changing. In the meantime, JohnD can seagull all he likes.

    Then he cryptically comments; ‘Anyway it will all end soon.’,
    Pray tell, what will end soon?

  8. Madjack,
    You might want to read “The wind farm scam” by John Etherington

    Dr Etherington is a conservationist.

    It greatly saddens me that so-called “environmentalists” are prepared to sacrifice the one thing that we all treasure, namely the environment.

  9. Yes, yes, ok John D. We get it. You are hostile towards wind generation.

    Now that this has been established can I ask: do you feel wind generators are more destructive of the environment than, say, the desertification of Southern Europe or the inundation of low lying nations such as Bangladesh or the Netherlands?

    Nobody is claiming that wind power is the only solution to the problems facing us but it will surely help. Wind generators have a minimal physical footprint on the ground and can be removed as quickly as they are installed if or when less obtrusive options become available.

    1. You might be surprised just how radioactive beaches are already! Most beaches in Queensland will drive your scintillometer off-scale when you fly over them at 50 metres or so. Monazite is the source not a nuclear power station!

      1. But the point is that it has happened at all. According the industry these things shouldn’t happen.

        Using your own standard I should be prefectly justified in requiring that nuclear power generation should NOT be implemented until we have the absolute certainty that any accident of any kind will not happen. Until such time we should wait.

  10. 14 Sept: FinTimes: Guy Dinmore: Anti-mafia police make largest asset seizure
    Italian anti-mafia police have made their largest seizure of assets as part of an investigation into windfarm contracts in Sicily. Officers confiscated property and accounts valued at €1.5bn belonging to a businessman suspected of having links with the mafia.
    Roberto Maroni, interior minister, on Tuesday accused the businessman – identified by police as Vito Nicastri and known as the island’s “lord of the winds” – of being close to a fugitive mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro.
    General Antonio Mirone, of the anti-mafia police, said the seized assets included 43 companies – some with foreign participation and mostly in the solar and windpower sector – as well as about 100 plots of land, villas and warehouses, luxury cars and a catamaran. More than 60 bank accounts were frozen.
    Until his arrest last November, Mr Nicastri, based in the inland hill town of Alcamo, was Sicily’s largest developer of windfarms, arranging purchases of land, financing and official permits. Some projects were sold through intermediaries to foreign renewable energy companies attracted to Italy by generous subsidy schemes…
    The renewable energy sector is under scrutiny across much of southern Italy. Some windfarms, built with official subsidies, have never functioned.
    A separate probe in Sardinia has involved political allies of Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister. They have denied bribing officials to win tenders….

  11. ‘so little time…’

    And that is exactly the point though I suspect that was not your meaning.

    You mention thorium reactors; well they can be put in the same basket as carbon sequestration and nuclear fusion ie. advanced technologies that promise to resolve some energy issues at some indeterminate time in the future.

    Wind generation is available now. It can be installed in quantity now. The engineering and construction expertise is on hand now.

    In essence you are advocating doing nothing. You are saying we should just wait for the scientists and engineers to come up with a fix. Apart from anything else that is an abdication of personal responsibility to reduce energy consumption. It is also defeatist in that you imply we ‘ordinary’ folk can do nothing useful in the meantime.

    Well I’m sorry, there is no technological white knight charging over the hill to save us from ourselves.

    “so little time…’ so painfully true.

    1. “In essence you are advocating doing nothing. You are saying we should just wait for the scientists and engineers to come up with a fix. Apart from anything else that is an abdication of personal responsibility to reduce energy consumption. It is also defeatist in that you imply we ‘ordinary’ folk can do nothing useful in the meantime.”

      What a load of nonsense. We should do nothing simply because the probabilities are not quantified, the costs are not quantified, the time frame is not quantified and we may well be better off with a warmer earth anyway. You have not a shred of evidence that we will be worse off. Running around like chickens with their heads cut off, as you lot are, will help no-one.

      1. Probabilities not quantified – well only at more than 95%. Costs not quantified – so much for the Stern report. Time frame not quantified – I can read an AR4 scenario plot, why cant you? And better of with a warm earth? Maybe but definitely NOT better off if warms too quickly. This has to be the most astonishing piece of wishful thinking.

        Are you sure this isn’t simply a scream of “but it might cost ME personally, my dollars more, in some way”, sure in knowledge you wont be around when the costs of warming come in?

            1. If that kind of wild accusation against the body of scientific opinion is all you’ve got to offer I suggest you’ve exhausted your contributions to this thread.

            2. If you disregard all expert scientific opinion, then you can come up with Roger’s assertion. It would be interesting to what methodology and authority you would exist. None I would guess if you could find someone, somewhere that would some aspersion on it??

              The most solid statement of probability come from comparing actual observation with model results assuming no CO2 forcing. Of course that doesnt exclude the alien heat gun on Mars but its good enough for 95% in my book.

        1. “so much for the Stern report.”

          Indeed; I expected him to sell us the Sydney Harbour Bridge along with his main line in bullswool.

          The AR4 scenario! It is a long time since I read a fairy story.

          1. Gee. What politics are they advocating? New world order? The Science Ascendency? An unholy alliance of higher salaries for scientists and politicians from carbon taxation? Can you give me some examples from WG1 of political advocacy or even political statements to back that assertion?

            1. Pardon??? Summary for Policy maker is the summary of published science for the use of policy makers. After all the IPCC is charged with examining the science and summarizing it for the consumption by policy makers. You think this is “political advocacy”? Again what politics are they advocating?

            2. The summary for policy makers is a summary of the contents of the IPCC reports. They are written by the leading authors of the chapters in conjunction with representatives of the world’s governments. If anything, experience has shown that the summaries are toned down in terms of severity so as not to upset the officials’ political masters.

              For example the summary for the AR4 Saudi Arabia was one of the more recalcitrant parties due to their large vested interested in a certain product. Much diplomacy was required to get them to finally sign off on the wording in the summary.

              This is what always confuses me. While the IPCC is mostly made up of the voluntary efforts of scientists it is still finally answerable to all the individual governments that make up the UN. What vested interested do they have on inflicting on their people all this uncertainty and need for change? Don’t they have enough to worry about with health, education, the economy, and all the other environmental issues?

  12. ” April 12 (Bloomberg) — A Spanish trade group called on authorities to investigate possible fraud among solar-power generators after a news report said that some were getting paid for producing power at night.

    ASIF wants the “identification, charges and rigorous application of the law” applied to any power producer guilty of such practices, the Madrid-based association for Spain’s photovoltaic-panel industry said today in a statement.”

  13. “The CDM delivers the greatest green scam of all”

    …Even greenies have become so outraged by this ridiculous racket that the Environmental Investigation Agency has described it as the “biggest environment scandal in history”. Two weeks ago the UN announced that it is suspending payments to five Chinese firms pending an investigation, with a view to a major reform of the system. Last week the EU’c climate change supremo, Connie Hedegaard, said she would be asking her officials to prepare a proposal whereby these particular CFC payments might be halted after 2013.

    More scams to come.


    1. Spare us Christopher Booker. We’re not so silly as to think there won’t be abuses in these areas. Please don’t go hunting for more examples and parade them triumphantly before us. Credit our readers with some sophistication.

        1. John D
          The nature of non-violent civil disobedience was explored on that thread, and yes it is a sophisticated concept albeit arising out of simple moral concern. Ghandi and Martin Luther King, to say nothing of the long line of other practitioners stretching back in history were hardly simpletons. But I suspect you are ramping up to abusing all and sundry, as so many of our visiting denialists eventually do. Please pull back and give your comments some content, preferably related to the post, or else go away.

          1. But I suspect you are ramping up to abusing all and sundry, as so many of our visiting denialists eventually do.

            Why would I ramp up to abuse?

            After all, you called me a denialist. No problem with that???
            I have been told to “piss off”

            I have been called an “ignorant troll”

            Why on Earth would I ramp up to abuse?

  14. ROFLMAO! John Daly as a source of scientific criticism! Criticism that the summary doesnt contain the full text of the report and then an attempt to discredit with debunked skeptic talking points.

    You still have pointed to “political advocacy”. WHAT POLITICS ARE BEING ADVOCATED HERE?

    If you want to produce criticism of the IPCC conclusions, then you need to back it with references to published science not editorial rants. However to back your claim that the IPCC report is not evaluation of the science by experts, but instead is political advocacy, we need to see evidence of the politics being advocated.

      1. He is implying that conservationists are communists (green on the outside, pink on the inside). Comes from the same school of thought that all scientists are in it for the dosh.

        1. He is implying that conservationists are communists

          No No No (to quote Vicar of Dibley)

          Environmentalists, not conservationists.

          I count myself amongst the latter.

          The former support the destruction of landscape and birds through windfarms. They care nothing of conservation.

          I used to vote Green until I realised they were a bunch of hard-left nutters with no connection with reality whatsoever.

          1. John, to be honest I would agree with your characterizations of greenies in general. The assumption that only leftist policies can save civilisation is poisoning the debate.

            However, I strongly disagree with the idea IPCC WG1 is “watermelon”. It tells governments what they need to know about the science. That the planet is warming. That human activity is largely responsible and that various scenarios will likely have these effects. Can you seriously suggest that this is NOT a good summary of the published science?

            What it does not do is advocate any policy. It is for politicians to decide whether to mitigate, adapt or bit of both. It is for politicians to decide by what means mitigation could be achieved if that is the choice. The IPCC document is there to help politicians make choices informed by the published science.

            I challenge you to find any advocacy for policy in WG1.

            1. I do not consider the IPCC reports to provide a balanced summary of the known science. A balanced summary would include the opposing arguments.

            2. Roger, you actually read WG1? Unless of course you mean the opposing arguments of blog “scientists”. Now which published science (not letters to E&E) do you think were missed by IPCC in informing governments of the state of science. I stand by the assessment that is it a good representation of the published science.

          2. I’m surprised to hear you are a conservationist, given the implication for biodiversity of rapid climate change. What do you seek to conserve? Old buildings?

            1. Phil,
              I am anti-wind because of the environmental impact on the countryside (including roading infrastructure), on birdlife and bat life, and on the impact to tourism and the recreational use of that land. Does that not make me a conservationist?

              In my view, the only low-carbon energy source that has any viability at present (excluding hydro and geothermal which few countries are blessed with) is nuclear.

              This is borne out by the French example, which has some of the lowest emissions in Europe. I realise that there are other issues with Nuclear, but modern reactors are very safe, and the Thorium prospect may solve the waste issues.

              Whilst I would love to be able to wave a magic wand and conjure up infinite renewable energy, I don’t believe the current solutions stack up.

            2. Well I think you have balance recreational and aesthetic needs against biodiversity and human harm. You cant have the existing world – you take change somewhere or other.

              I would also agree that for some places on planet and UK in particular that nuclear seems best option. I liked MacKay’s “Sustainable Energy without the hot air” (My NZ version is here) which led to similar conclusion. Not so for NZ however where we have many renewable choices and a small population.

            3. So one of your areas of objection is the impact on birdlife and bats? I presume you are suggesting that wind turbines have a destructive impact on birds and bats?

              Can you provide some data and references on that, please?

    1. Cashew or Brazil?

      A tad cryptic. Can you please ask your nutty friends at the 9/11 truth commission to stop putting DVD’s and pamphlets in people’s mailboxes.

      The IPCC is not involved in political advocacy. Their mandate is to assess the scientific literature and summarise in terms policy makers can understand.

      No conspiracy here, move along!

      1. The IPCC is not involved in political advocacy.

        I suppose you will tell me next that WWF is not a political advocacy group, and there are no non-peer reviewed WWF papers in AR4

        1. All I am saying is that almost all your comments on here are highly “flavoured” with preconceived and unfounded opinion. Which is why in the most part people give them the thumbs down! For instance – your terse “watermelon” comment above is a derogatory term used by persons on the right of the political divide to denigrate all and any “environmental” position.

  15. Oh well. I work in oil and coal. However, I think I owe to my children to look for what true whether it is convenient or not. And you have a very unreal picture of scientist salaries if you think its a gravy train. Just suppose for a moment that its all true. Are you thinking that scientists behavior would different from you observe now?

  16. Back on topic, namely windfarms….

    Is wind power as green as it seems?Denmark is the world’s most wind-intensive state with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity. But this figure is misleading, says Tony Lodge of the Centre for Policy Studies. Not one conventional power plant has been closed in the period that Danish wind farms have been developed.

    In fact, the Danish grid used 50% more coal-generated electricity in 2006 than in 2005 to cover wind’s failings. The quick ramping up and down of those plants has increased their pollution and carbon dioxide output – carbon emissions rose 36% in 2006.

    Meanwhile Danish electricity costs are the highest in Europe. The Danish experience suggests wind energy is “expensive, inefficient and not even particularly green”, says Lodge

    1. You forgot to mention that the Centre for Policy Studies is a Danish right wing think tank and its report was prepared for the American Institute for Energy Research which promotes free market energy and permissive environmental policy, according to Wikipedia. The Los Angeles Times has described the Institute as “a Washington-based hotbed of global warming denial supported by oil and coal interests”

      1. and that makes the conclusions incorrect?
        A classic case of ad hominem arguments.

        Presumably, you can check the figures for yourself.

        The undeniable truth is that the electricity system needs a baseload supply. The only viable options for countries not blessed with Hydro are (a) coal or gas, and (b) Nuclear

        In Feb and March this year, the UK wind fleet produced virtually no power.
        So, the power had to come from conventional sources.

        Luckily for you, the UK will soon put this all to the test when it decommissions a good chunk of its fossil fuel stations. With no new nuclear stations on the horizon, the capability of wind to supply the UK’s needs will be put to the test.

        Want to bet on the lights going out?

        1. Some countries are blessed with geo-thermal, and many countries could do baseload with solar-thermal.

          A few countries like Oz and the US have -all- options available. Most countries have a few. Non-island countries with limited options have neighbours. Many of those neighbours can supplement an inadequate grid supply.

          It’s just a question of being clever about getting the mix right.

          (The first, cleverest thing would be to eliminate subsidies to the old established fuel companies and then see how the newbies stack up.)

            1. Try reading some of Hot Topic’s previous posts to get yourself better informed. This one for example, on the use of molten salts in concentrating solar power.

            2. Well, let me think. That would be by means of the thermal storage part of the name, solar–thermal.

              Ta daa!

          1. Let’s take solar as an example. There is undeniably plenty of sunshine in Australia, but what would solar cost?

            The world’s largest solar plant at Blythe California seems to be getting the go ahead. The nameplate capacity will be 1Gwe and the projected cost $6 billion. Sounds great, and competitive with nuclear but the devil is in the detail. The capacity factor will be just 24% and the reality is that it will be four times as expensive as nuclear. This may be not be the end of it, since as a first of a kind project costs may well escalate substantially.

            Nobody is going to pay this kind of money for capacity on a grid wide basis. Will costs drop – well maybe or maybe not. The crunch is the large amounts of material to build this sort of thing. Those mirror fields are never going to become cheap as chips.

            1. “The crunch is the large amounts of material to build this sort of thing. Those mirror fields are never going to become cheap as chips.” – quokka

              No doubt, but others like Vinod Khosla for instance, have invested a lot of money in solar thermal – using cheap parabolic reflectors to heat water.

              There will be no one magic bullet to solve the problems with future energy alternatives, but if they don’t come soon it will all be pretty pointless anyway. Quibbling over the details is just another inactivist excuse.

            2. You won’t get any argument from me that tackling emissions is not a matter of real urgency.

              The reality is that if alternatives to fossil fuels are too expensive they are just not going to happen. That’s just the way the world is and isn’t going to change over the 10-20 year time window we have to build the energy infrastructure to contain warming to say 2C. I’m not particularly optimistic that it will happen.

              The upshot is that we need to think critically and realistically about the alternatives and not fall victim to wishful thinking.

              What I do have a problem with is ideologically anti-nuclear renewables advocates who do exactly that because really understanding the limits of renewables can only lead to a conclusion that nuclear is mandatory to have any real chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. This is hardly an original thought and as much has been said by the likes of Hansen, Lovelock, MacKay etc.

              Not being a Kiwi, I don’t know what would be suitable for NZ. Perhaps a certain amount of wind would be good with hydro backing. It will vary around the world on a country by country basis. What is important about nuclear is it can be done just about anywhere. Most importantly in Asia where most of the worlds new capacity is being built, nuclear is highly competitive price wise – which is good for all of us.

              Energy is such a critical issue that we have to be ruthlessly honest about the viability of alternatives.

          1. But you have not done the sums to show that John D is wrong.

            The EEC requires old inefficient coal in the UK is to be shut down by 2016 or so. A rough ballpark estimate of 10GW installed anytime-dispachable capacity no longer on the grid. Do the sums, that’s an absolutely gigantic area. I make it very roughly 600 sq miles of wind farm or double that for solar.

            And that’s quite apart from the energy storage problem. Would you like to calculate how many million tons of molten salt is needed to store say 20 GW-weeks electrical equivalent of thermal energy? Don’t forget the 40% absolute-max thermodynamic efficiency of the generation process.

    2. The capital costs of both the wind farms and the coal fired plants have be amortized. It is probably fair to say that the operating costs and amortized costs per kilwatt-hour are similar, at least they should be. They will be if the total cost, that is operating cost and amortized cost, is to be minimized. That is the most simple explanation why wind power with back-up will be more expensive than anything else. If you wish to argue the toss on this one at least first read the first two chapters in Economic Decision Making For Engineers and Managers by F P S Lu.

  17. Some say that Ka Le is haunted—and it is. But it’s haunted not by Hawaii’s legendary night marchers. The mysterious sounds are “Na leo o Kamaoa”– the disembodied voices of 37 skeletal wind turbines abandoned to rust on the hundred-acre site of the former Kamaoa Wind Farm…

    The ghosts of Kamaoa are not alone in warning us. Five other abandoned wind sites dot the Hawaiian Isles—but it is in California where the impact of past mandates and subsidies is felt most strongly. Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy’s California “big three” locations—Altamont Pass, Tehachapin (above), and San Gorgonio—considered among the world’s best wind sites…

    California’s wind farms—then comprising about 80% of the world’s wind generation capacity—ceased to generate much more quickly than Kamaoa. In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned.

    Guess who?

  18. Regarding the Kamao Wind Farm (according to wikipedia);

    In 1987 the Kamaoa Wind Farm began operation with thirty-seven Mitsubishi 250 kW wind turbines with an operationally typical total peak output of 7.5 MW.[21] By 2006 the turbines at 18°59′33″N 155°40′5″W / 18.9925°N 155.66806°W / 18.9925; -155.66806 (Kamaoa Wind Farm) were falling into disrepair, and they were finally shut down on August 15, 2006. At the end of August 2006, components for a new set of wind turbines were transported to South Point. The Pakini Nui project consists of 14 General Electric wind turbines constructed at 18°58′20″N 155°41′21″W / 18.97222°N 155.68917°W / 18.97222; -155.68917 (Pakini Nui Wind Farm), about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the old Kamaoa wind farm. Completed in April 2007, Pakini Nui supplies up to 20.5 MW of power to the island electricity grid of Hawaiian Electric Industries.[22] The wind farm is operated by Tawhiri Power, LLC. It is the southern-most wind farm in the United States.[23]

    So twenty years operation and replaced by a new wind farm. I suspect JD’s excerpt is a bit on the negative side…

  19. According to a well-known, er, person, Australia will need to build 35 nuclear power stations, or 8000 solar ones, all within the next 10 years, in order to meet its 2020 targets.

    I guess this is another case of do the maths. If this is true, then there is no way the Australia has any hope of meeting its targets.

    8000 solar plants is over 15 a week built for the next 10 years.

    Maybe someone can “debunk” these arguments provided by Ms Nova??

    1. I have only done the maths for NZ so cant comment on OZ, but the other way to buy time is forestry. How many million hectares for your target? One guaranteed way not to meet a goal, is never start. topping out at 450ppm would be good, but if it doesnt happen, I would prefer 500pmm to 600ppm.

  20. Here’s another interesting set of numbers on the cost of Wind, this time from Jeff Id

    So, if the true (not exaggerated) generation capacity of this 2 billion dollar project is spread across 72500 homes, the cost to these taxpayers is: $27,586 USD per home. This number doesn’t include the cost for backup generation when the wind isn’t blowing. The lifespan of a turbine is expected to be about 20 years or $1,400 USD/year for equipment costs – no interest included.

    If you figure then about a 2x multiplier for maintenance and profit, again ignoring the need for backup generation, you would end up with about 200USD/month for your electric bill at 11000kWh/year or 916 kWh/month or $200/916 = $0.22 USD/kWh whereas most pricing is about 0.08 currently. I thought wind was supposed to be more competitive than this!

    1. US example – you wonder how NZ windfarms compete without subsidy – well it is frankly a much better wind resource. What you get with islands located in the Roaring Forties. Also, when subsidize fossil fuel frantically, then you have to subsize renewables as well. Why the US (and the rest of the world) doesnt just kill all subsidies on fossil fuel as first step is beyond me. Surely a politics acceptable to all except fossil fuel companies.

  21. ohnmacmot September 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    So one of your areas of objection is the impact on birdlife and bats? I presume you are suggesting that wind turbines have a destructive impact on birds and bats?

    Can you provide some data and references on that, please?


    I can provide references and anecdotal evidence, such as the UK headmaster to has to go to school every day to clear up the dead birds from his school playground, killed by a nearby windfarm.

    However, you will just respond with some spin from the Wind Lobby PR industry. So I have no intention of going down that route.

    I realise that part of the Global Warming “church” is to uncritically accept that wind is good, despite the overwhelming evidence it is expensive, inefficient, and completely useless in mitigating CO2 emissions.

    1. Now there’s a surprise. Selective anecdotal examples are fine to support your beliefs and prejudices.

      You are obviously aware there is quite a deal of genuine research that shows things are a little less clear on bird and bat deaths than you would like things to be. But to evade dealing with that, you tell us that peer-reviewed research is “spin”, and you “have no intention of going down that road.”

      That’s really rational and convincing.

        1. Well, JohnD, it was you that said this:
          “However, you will just respond with some spin from the Wind Lobby PR industry. So I have no intention of going down that route.”

          You are clearly stating that any evidence that doesn’t support your view is “spin”.

          Now I realise you don’t actually deal in science, and your arguments are ideological. If I’m wrong, prove it with peer-reviewed science, not your usual cherry-picked flim-flam.

          Over to you.

            1. Right, so you have no evidence for that particular assertion.
              We can discount that one then, can’t we?

  22. “So one of your areas of objection is the impact on birdlife and bats? I presume you are suggesting that wind turbines have a destructive impact on birds and bats?”

    You will find the evidence lying underneath these wind turbines!

    1. Very good, Roger. So you agree with your comrade that the evidence that convinces you is anecdotal.

      Further evidence that you don’t actually do science either.

      You sure you and JohnD aren’t related?

      1. @Johnmacmot

        If I stand in the middle of a highway for long enough, the chances are that I will get run over.

        If I put a wind farm on top of a ridgeline, then there is a good chance that a soaring bird of prey will get hit by the blade of a turbine at some stage.

        Why do I need to provide “peer-reviewed evidence” to back up either of these statements?

        1. LOL! So that is the level of your argument, JohnD? It doesn’t get weaker than that.

          Unsupported assertions, no evidence, cherry-picked examples and anecdotes. Shallow and empty rhetoric.

          If you want to make a case you have to do a little more work than that.

          1. Since the moderator decided to block my work, here goes again:

            Wind farm ‘hits eagle numbers’

            Wind farm turbine blades are killing a key population of Europe’s largest bird of prey, UK wildlife campaigners warn.
            The RSPB says nine white-tailed eagles have been killed on the Smola islands off the Norwegian coast in 10 months, including all of last year’s chicks.


            Upland birds face disturbance threat from poorly sited wind turbines


            Why Wind Turbines Can Mean Death For Bats

            Ninety percent of the bats they examined after death showed signs of internal hemorrhaging consistent with trauma from the sudden drop in air pressure (a condition known as barotrauma) at turbine blades. Only about half of the bats showed any evidence of direct contact with the blades.


            Bat Fatalities at Wind Turbines: Investigating the Causes and Consequences

            Dead bats are turning up beneath wind turbines all over the world. Bat fatalities have now been documented at nearly every wind facility in North America where adequate surveys for bats have been conducted, and several of these sites are estimated to cause the deaths of thousands of bats per year.


            On a Wing and Low Air: The Surprising Way Wind Turbines Kill Bats


            Wind Turbines Lethal for Migratory Bats


            Preliminary Study Tackles Wind Power, Bat Issues

            No one had a good answer as to why the bat mortality rate seemed so high, but researchers had a good place to start from. Bat migrations occur during the fall, so the cooperative scheduled a study at Mountaineer to determine how bats “interact” with wind turbines


            Large-Scale Wind Turbines Killing Bats and Birds

            It’s hard to justify this kind of bird and bat slaughter for the amount of electricity we’re generating here,” council spokesman John Sheehan said. “Ultimately we think there are good places to put windmills and wind turbines, but we need to do some study before we start putting them up, and that wasn’t done here.”

            Wind farms put pressure on bats

            Bats are at risk from wind turbines, researchers have found, because the rotating blades produce a change in air pressure that can kill the mammals.


            Sea eagles being killed by wind turbines

            Eddie Chapman, a UK-born ornithologist resident in Norway, said he had been reliably informed that a further sea eagle was killed last September and three more so far this year. That brings the total to 13 since the windfarm – spread over an area of 20 square kilometres – became fully operational in the country’s main eagle population centre two years ago.

            Windmills Are Killing Our Birds


            Rare Red Kite Killed by Turbine on Scottish Wind Farm


            Eagles killed by wind turbine


            1. All the references you give had dates (apart from the ones I couldn’t find) of 2008 or earlier, mainly 2006.

              I’m sure I’ve seen a couple of teev things and read others about research results, not just proposals, that have successfully reduced bird kill numbers in several places. Bats are a bit more complicated, but progress has been made. I’ll follow up tomorrowday.

            2. Yes bird kills do happen. They were especially bad in the early projects with small, high rotation speed, closely situated turbines. There is need for more work to address this problem further.

              However, some perspective is needed, millions of birds are killed each year by them flying into large picture windows and being hit by vehicles. Is John also seeking the banning of these things?

            3. Has anyone managed to find evidence that new designs of windfarms are reducing the incidence of bird kill?

              I am particularly interested in the fate of the Sea Eagle in Norway and Scotland.

              It is not an appropriate comparison to use with bird strike against buildings and cars. When was the last time you ran over a sea eagle or saw one dead on Auckland’s Queen St?

              The Hebridean Islands are home to Sea Eagles in Scotland. It is windfarms that are killing them, not high rise buildings or cars.

  23. Now there’s a surprise. Selective anecdotal examples are fine to support your beliefs and prejudices.

    Of course, the irony of this statement is not lost on me, coming from a committed warmist blog.

    1. Strangely enough, JohnD, the irony of a number of your statements are not lost on me or any other readers here.

      I guess you can’t see that – not surprising for an idealogue like yourself.

      I’ve challenged you to produce some quality science on one unsupported assertion among many. Go on, surprise us all with some evidence…

  24. The Answer My Friend — so far a great header for this blog! So okay, yorll know what it left off.

    (For those who don’t allow me add Is Blowing in the Wind)

    Catches the mind a header with its leave the rest to their imagination, or memory, or.. whatever..

    Hey Roger, how are ye today? My number 89. Could be yorll have a call soon, for shift up.. or down. Folks here probly don’t know what I’m saying. Good that you do tho..heh.

    JohnD = that’s the one doesn’t give a damn for this thread or its folks.. nope, post-normal is/was his earlier beat. But no suckers ..hah. So.. the blah de blah. But tell you tru johnboy, go find the new Lenin before it’s you he suckered. too.

    Like Connie Francis sings Everybody is Somebody’s Fool

    BTW, there was a onetime science traducer who misattributed one of his claims to a German energy company. That company – RWE – is bigtime into renewables, not least wind power, and dumping future coal plant as UNECONOMIC.

  25. TRCA (Toronto and Region Conservation Authority) calls for Turbine


    For Immediate Release – Saturday, September-18-10

    Contact: Sherri Lange, Founding Director, Toronto Wind Action


    A meeting with Board Members of TRCA (Toronto and Region Conservation
    Authority) yesterday, September 17th, included several deputations regarding
    possible industrial turbine developments and the converging authority of the
    TRCA. Toronto Wind Action Founding Director Sherri Lange and Shiv Lombardi,
    an engineer well versed in the effects of turbine sound and human health,
    made a compelling case for a moratorium. A third deputation was provided by
    Roy Wright of Save the Toronto Bluffs. The commentary from Lange focussed on
    the complexities of migration, measuring bird and bat fatalities, the
    fallacies of “green” washing, and the myths of carbon reduction and coal
    plant closings. Lange outlined that many of the most important studies
    related to possible problems with turbine construction in the province have
    not been done, and that some of these would take possibly up to and more
    than ten years. Lange pointed out that Dr Scott Petrie, Executive Director
    of Longpoint Waterfowl, is currently undertaking a Lake Erie migration
    study, but long term widespread studies are essential before dotting the
    Lakes with turbines.

    “We’ve recently seen hundreds of industrial wind farm proposals ‘rubber
    stamped’ throughout Ontario without effective environmental, wildlife or
    human health studies,” said Lange. “If the industry standards on land are
    insufficient, and understudied, why would we accept water based turbines?
    No environmental studies have been conducted, no studies have been done on
    sound and vibration across water, no erosion and vibration effects studied,
    no migration studies at all. Bats are among the most vulnerable species, as
    they are fatally attracted to turbines, and as vast consumers of insects,
    perform miracles of pest control universally.”

    Lange pointed to the recent “six-month” wildlife study that reported nearly
    2,000 birds and bats had been killed by the industrial wind turbines
    operating on Wolfe Island, near Kingston, Ontario. The wildlife mortality
    results, which the environmental group, Nature Canada, described as
    “shockingly high” came from field studies done over just 77 days between
    July 1 and Dec. 1 last year. She also added that the “bird mortality” study
    conducted at the fated CNE turbine, which has not worked properly from day
    one, was aborted before migration began, so the reported result of only two
    dead birds was totally inaccurate.

    Lange added that underreporting is rampant. In conversation after the
    meeting, Lange added that even Mass Audubon had been infiltrated as they had
    accepted a payout of 8 million dollars to count dead birds, or as the
    industry says, “mitigate.”

    According to Lange, TRCA Board members, led expertly by Chair Gerri Lynn
    Connor, Uxbridge Mayoral candidate, had a competent grasp of the issues, and
    showed tremendous leadership. Councillors Mike Del Grande and Paul Ainslie
    took a strong initiative to communicate to the Board that their
    responsibility to protect as the Conservation Authority must be clearly
    stated and communicated to the Ministry of the Environment. Councillor Del
    Grande’s motion asked that the staff report which had been submitted to the
    MOE re offshore setbacks of 5 km be amended. He asked for more and detailed
    studies, commissioned independently by the TRCA before any statement could
    be supported. Councillor Ainslie requested a total moratorium, citing
    international concerns and widespread municipal moratorium motions (50 in
    Ontario alone). Both motions passed handily.

    According to Lange, TRCA conducted business yesterday “with elegance of
    purpose and will,” and she says the example of this group’s decision
    restores public trust. TRCA will obviously continue its mandate to protect
    the wildlife, fragile shorelines and local residents, human, and natural
    occupants, along Lake Ontario, along with the conservation of fresh water
    that is most vulnerable with intrusive, massive industrial turbines. Lange
    further pointed out that each mammoth turbine requires between 800-1000
    gallons of lubricating oil, which eventually leaks, or needs replacing.

    Lange added, “The Ministries have embarked on a process that will alter
    landscapes, continue to create ill-health, create habitat fragmentation of
    the highest order. With the vastness of emerging data and documented
    experiences, why the rush to industrialize 20% of the world’s remaining
    fresh water reserves? It just doesn’t make any sense.”

    Concern is being raised south of the border as well. A map that displays
    potential offshore turbine proposals for both the US and Canadian Great
    Lakes is “precipitous and very frightening,” said Lange. The moratorium
    motion passed by the TRCA yesterday, she said, is a “welcome home sign to
    wildlife, birds and bats in Ontario.” Lange said that she applauds the TRCA
    for leadership and incisiveness. She hopes that the bravery shown by
    Councillors Ainslie and Del Grande on this important issue will provide
    inspiration to Board Members of other Conservation Authorities in Ontario.
    On September 17th, 2010 at Black Creek Pioneer Village, common sense won the

  26. “Has anyone managed to find evidence that new designs of windfarms are reducing the incidence of bird kill?”. What like:

    this one (and referenced research). RSPB reports are contaminated by greenies I suspect in your eyes.

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