Wind Power: Blowing Smoke


Published on 21 May 13; reproduced here by permission of the writer, Lyndsey Ward.

After reading the letter(13 May) from Niall Stuart of Scottish Renewables, whose membership includes wind farm developers, I thought he was protesting far too much. Mr Stuart, along with the rest of the wind industry, is painfully aware that excessively subsidised wind energy is losing public and political support. He tries, unsuccessfully, to defend the indefensible.

His rose-tinted look at wind energy and what other countries are embracing fails to report that Germany has realised the inability of wind to deliver a ­reliable energy source, despite its many turbines, and has turned to constructing 29 new coal-fired power stations to keep the lights on.

A recent Freedom of Information request to the Scottish Government revealed what was not taken into account in the calculations of carbon dioxide (CO2) savings from wind power.

These included the grid connection (pylons, poles, cables, supply and installation), turbine parts from overseas – including extraction, processing of rare earth minerals and manufacture of carbon fibre for the turbine blades – decommissioning (and all that entails and if concrete bases and infrastructure were to be removed), employment of foreign workers and equipment from abroad and their transportation and costs over and above those expected from local ­workers.

The official response was that these “embedded emissions are not typically counted and nor are they for any other form of generation, so to do so would be misleading”.

What is misleading is the fact that wind power (which we subsidise through our energy bills) is sold to us as “clean and green” and that it saves CO2 emissions – other conventional forms of generation do not make such absurd claims, so the same rules for CO2 calculations should not apply. Without doubt, if all the ­relevant issues, including those listed here, were factored into the wind power CO2 calculations we would be lucky to see any displacement at all.

Come clean, wind industry, because the energy source you promote surely can’t.

Lyndsey Ward, Beauly, Inverness-shire

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