Why we don't need Wind Turbines

This is part of an email exchange in which I was involved, taking place on the Wharfedale Community Forum blog. There was an interesting discussion about wind turbines, for and against, and the first post was from a retired Operations Manager at Grid Control, George Wood, explaining why wind turbines were not a realistic way of either generating power economically or reducing carbon emissions.

There were replies from a couple of individuals, one of whom seemed to be quite knowledgeable about energy, so I joined in the discussion. Here's the exchange we had, starting with my first post:

"......We need an energy strategy which minimises waste, delivers energy 24 hours a day at a reasonable price, and enables industry to flourish; we all need jobs.

Everything else should be secondary to that.

Wind energy does not deliver energy at an affordable price.

The real costs of wind power have been exposed in a report by Gordon Hughes, Professor of Economics at Edinburgh University. He has calculated that the bill for wind energy by 2020 will cost consumers 120 billion. Generating the same amount of electricity from efficient gas-powered stations costs 13bn.

Government figures only admit to wind energy being double the price of other sources.

As I understand it, this is because they ignore feed-in tariffs, the Renewables Obligation, constraint payments, the cost of entending the Grid, and the money it takes to maintain the spinning reserve. "

.......A little later I added the following:

The Times reported in late January that constraint payments reached 25 million during 2011 for 149,983MWh of energy-not-delivered. A constraint payment is a payment made to a wind turbine owner for disconnecting his machine from the Grid.

Dividing the energy by the price gives 17p for each unit of electricity not delivered to the Grid. This is the first time that the Grid has released these figures. Apparently it is sometimes cheaper in remote areas to pay off the wind turbine owners than it is to upgrade the network so that the energy can actually be used.

Given the scope of Europe's economic problems, politicians would be be better off dropping the obsession with carbon dioxide and repealing all climate-change legislation. In ten years' time, after we have spent countless billions on 'carbon mitigation', the mainstream media will finally discover that carbon dioxide had no effect on global temperatures anyway.

The reply ....

    "..........Things are never quite what they seem to be:
    DECC - Constraint Payments
    "Less than 10% of all constraint payments are made to wind farms. Most are made to conventional generators such as coal and gas. The impact on a typical consumer bill of constraint payments to wind farms is no more than a few pence per year."
    More: Hansard
    "By comparison, overall payments to all types of generators to balance the system totalled 708 million for the financial year 2010-11."
    More: All power forms receive constraint payments
    Even more: Notes on Wind Farm Constraint Payments
    Background to Renewable Energy Foundation"

My reply:

Dear Sir

Thank you for the five links.

However I do not want to participate in an email-type 'tennis match' where one of us makes a point and the other attempts to discredit it. That's time-consuming and not very useful.

I am assuming that you are well-informed about energy generation, and I hope you are making the same assumption about me. I have been involved with energy for half a lifetime, and I guess you have, too.

Constraint payments are really a side issue; we both know that.

I think the government's energy policy, for want of a better phrase, is misguided.

My mother has trouble paying her electricity bill. She doesn't have much money, yet on the bottom of her last bill was a statement to the effect that 12% of what she has to pay is a levy to help the environment.

I don't like that. She's always helped the environment - grown her own veg, not wasted anything; only thrown away things which have worn out, recycled everything she can. She is on a small pension. Why should she pay a 12% levy?

Secondly, the government admits that wind power costs at least double compared to other forms of electricity generation.

That's another thing I don't like. If it costs double, why are we using it?

Luckily we are both living in a country where we are allowed to express opposite views without being arrested.

I guess that is something to be thankful for.

...the discussion continued..... please see the Wharfedale blog (link at top of page) for the rest ....

habitat21, 10 Jul 12

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