If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Tragedy of Wind Power

I watched the piece on the BBC News the other night about the launch of the 'wonderful' new wind farm off the coast at Thanet. Well, it's certainly better than siting those monstrosities on a lonely hillside and ruining the view for millions of us who like remote and unspoiled landscapes. But I'm still alarmed about the economics.

According to Christopher Booker in the Telegraph,

Over the coming years we will be giving the wind farm's Swedish owners a total of £1.2 billion in subsidies. That same sum, invested now in a single nuclear power station, could yield a staggering 13 times more electricity, with much greater reliability.

Wind farm enthusiasts tend to quote the manufacturers' figures for output unquestioningly, and this one is claimed to have the 'capacity' to power 200,000 homes. Well, that would be so if the winds at Thanet could be guaranteed to blow at exactly the right speed all the time, night and day, winter and summer. Too little wind, and the turbines don't turn fast enough. Too much, and they have to shut down for safety reasons. But just right, and they will produce what is claimed. Probably. The 'load factor' of British wind turbines (the amount they actually produce compared to the amount they could produce in ideal conditions) is around 25%. But this is never mentioned by government ministers wetting their pants over the latest project. Compared with investing the same money in nuclear, which could provide 13 times the power, reliably and whatever the weather conditions, the money is being pissed away.

So, not only do we have a hugely inefficient and unreliable source of energy (remember that each turbine needs 100% of idle, inefficient fossil-based backup for when the weather is calm), but we are paying massive amounts of subsidy to have it. Over the life of the project, the Swedish manufacturers will pocket an amazing £1.2bn in subsidy. And where does that come from? Your electricity bills and mine. Let's be clear: in a time of serious recession, our energy bills are being artificially inflated to support a technology that is unreliable and unsightly, and won't even solve the problem, if there is a problem. Remember that energy costs are a bigger proportion of expenditure for the poor than the rich, so the burden of all this environmental grandstanding falls on the least wealthy. And the money doesn't even stay within the British economy - it disappears to Sweden.

In a related story, James Delingpole has something on the Bilderberg Group which is more than a little alarming:

Bilderberg. Whether you believe it’s part of a sinister conspiracy which will lead inexorably to one world government or whether you think it’s just an innocent high-level talking shop, there’s one thing that can’t be denied: it knows which way the wind is blowing.

He has seen the 2010 agenda:

Which is what makes one particular item on the group’s discussion agenda so tremendously significant. See if you can spot the one I mean:

The 58th Bilderberg Meeting will be held in Sitges, Spain 3 – 6 June 2010. The Conference will deal mainly with Financial Reform, Security, Cyber Technology, Energy, Pakistan, Afghanistan, World Food Problem, Global Cooling, Social Networking, Medical Science, EU-US relations.

Yep, that’s right. Global Cooling.

Which means one of two things.

Either it was a printing error.

Or the global elite is perfectly well aware that global cooling represents a far more serious and imminent threat to the world than global warming, but is so far unwilling to admit it except behind closed doors.

Global Cooling. This is no surprise at all.

In the 70s, we had fears of a new Ice Age (all driven by 'unquestionable' scientific research). But then we had a few warmer years - the 80s were full of the nuclear winter hypothesis, which would at least have been unquestionably man-made - so in the 90s we had the emergence of Global Warming, on which we were repeatedly told the 'the science is settled'. But the weather refused to co-operate, and the climate record showed, to those not blinded by research grants and vested interests, that temperatures have been going up and down for millennia. 'Global Warming' became a little unsustainable in the public eye, so they started referring to 'Climate Change' and, more recently, 'Climate Chaos'.

Well, FFS! If you wanted a definition of a truly chaotic system, then the world's climate is about the best there is. Of course climate is chaotic. It couldn't be anything else. But the phrase 'Climate Chaos' has one great advantage: any significant climatic event - and there are always plenty of those - can be adduced as 'evidence' to the argument that 'the world's climate is getting chaotic - and it's all our fault'. Baking summer, freezing winters, massive flooding, widespread drought, all things which have happened since the beginning of recorded history and beyond, will go into the mix. Even tsunamis and earthquakes will provide supporting evidence for that in the eye of the unthinking public, although any fule kno that earthquakes and tsunamis have nothing whatsoever to do with the weather. Remember Danny Glover? People are easily fooled.

And the next big thing, if Delingpole is to be believed, will be Global Cooling. We are being prepared for yet another about-turn on the future of the planet. One thing you can be sure of - it will cost you.

And we will have raped all our lonely places for nothing.

I fucking despair; I really do.


  1. Did I not say as much meself just the other day.

    No hat-tip I see.


  2. Anyway,

    I'm wise to yez all. I post a comment on Weasel about ABBA - two days later ABBA is is headline, post a blog about windfarms - two days later it's Richard's headline, post a sarky remark on Subrosa and she blanks it and she never blanks people.

    The truth is here - it always is:


  3. Hat-tip to Jim, with his wildly sensible and crazily reasonable comments on wind farmery .

    Thank you, Jim.. The world just ain't fair sometimes.

  4. Richard,

    That's all right then. That's put right again. Just saying. Consider yourself one of us.

  5. I watched it on Channel 4 news. Wish I could remember who they had in the studio to debate it, but the con side was held up by a committed renewables energy expert who made basically the same points you do. Against him was an oily reptile from the agency responsible for the contract, who did nothing but evade the point and quote glib but unsubstantiated numbers.

    What did particularly annoy me was the apples-and-oranges style of accounting. It cost £780m to build. It potentially generates 200,000 homes-worth of electricity. As completely meaningless a comparison as you could hope to find.

    The only conclusion which can be drawn from it is that the numbers obviously don't add up to good value, either in isolation or by unit comparison to other energy sources. Probably both - bearing in mind that it would be possible to add a fairly substantial "green premium" on unit cost and sell that to the public conscience. My working assumption is that, actually, it's the most eye-wateringly expensive and inefficient method of power generation available by some considerable margin.

    Oh, and completely, obscenely, hideously ugly.

    Absolutely with you on the despairing front.

  6. I'm glad someone else thinks the same way about the ugliness of these things. Anna, and a lot of other people, say they are quite beautiful. I can agree, to a point. In an industrial or urban setting, they look OK - functional and not unattractive. It's when they put them on hillsides, marching across the landscape like an advacing army, that I object. Hamlet probably has the answer: "There is nothing good or bad, Horatio, but thinking makes it so." It's not that these things are objectively ugly - but when I look up at the Cambrian Mountains NE of Aberystwyth and see forests of white turbines, all that I can think of is the con that is being perpetrated on the British people, the green lobbyists rubbing their hands at yet another taxpayer handout, the smug politicians congratulating themselves on being 'climate-change aware'. The people who throw their hands up in horror if anyone in a 4x4 or on a trailbike wants to go there for a bit of recreation, but are happy to destroy the landscape for a bit of 'cool'.

    When all the lonely places are gone, where will we go to be quiet?

  7. Good post Richard. I agree with most of it apart from ....

    " each turbine needs 100% of idle, inefficient fossil-based backup for when the weather is calm"

    It's actually worse than that. Denmark found that they actually required more conventional power stations as they built more wind turbines because of the extra energy required to ramp the power stations up when the wind suddenly drops. The wind is annoying and refuses to follow a regular pattern that the power stations can prepare for. Denmarks' CO2 emissions have risen 36% over 10 years as they brought 9,000 or so windmills online.

    I was thinking about your Bilderberg 'global cooling' thoughts. Maybe they are like us 'skeptics' and know that the climate is warming and cooling over cycles but just want to put their resources into stopping this fact from getting out. More funding of the BBC and the EU etc to squash any talk of 'cooling'. Not that they know what's happening in reality but the public need brainwashing to remove 'cooling' from their vocabulary as the Bildebergers have some serious money invested in the carbon credit scam etc.

  8. Thank you, Don. Do you have a reference for that figure about Denmark? I would like to follow that one up.

  9. Richard..

    Here's one from my bookmarks. I'll search for more links. Used to have hundreds but lost the will to argue with the greenies so dumped most of them :)


  10. Thanks Don. Looks interesting. I will have a good look around in there. If you have any more, I'd love to have the links.

  11. Hi Richard. Here are some more links..





  12. Excellent, Don. Thank you for taking the trouble. I will have a look into these when I get some time (the garden is calling me right now, last decent day for a while, I fear) and perhaps work up a substantive post on the topic.

  13. No probs Richard.
    A good article here today about the windmill foundations being very poor due to the fixed price contracts of each windmill ( encourages cheap materials etc). Delingpole claims it's 'breaking news' but it's been mentioned in blogs for years. Especially in respect to offshore seagull mincers.


  14. I'll have to set aside a half-day just to catch up on all my reading. Great, and thank you again.


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