Why, people ask us, is the ABD interested in wind power?
Well there are many reasons:
Wind power is being promoted by governments and green groups as a means of 'reducing carbon dioxide emissions' and thereby 'controlling the climate'. Such claims are also the justification behind many anti-car policies. We regard the scientific foundation behind these claims as non-existent.
Many people like visiting scenic areas by car or motorcycle and don't particularly want the beautiful scenary to be spoiled by a forest of gross white monstrosities.
Some drivers, including some of our members, are also birdwatchers. They don't want to see birds, especially birds of prey, killed by these monstrosities. Some people can't understand why birds get killed by something so big that they can be seen for miles. It's simple really: birds don't see a wind turbine, they see a big silver birch tree with three branches — and they just don't expect the branches of trees to suddenly swing round and whack them out of the sky. The blade tips can move at speeds of up to 180mph!
Facts about Wind Power
Wind power is our fastest growing renewable electricity source, though it still represents less than 0.5% of UK electricity supply, a tiny fraction showing how present wind farms barely even scratch the surface of demand
Wind power in the UK receives a largely covert subsidy under the Renewables Obligation which currently doubles its value to the owning generator and which unlike conventional taxation-sourced support is not open to public view or Parliamentary attention. This subsidy comes from you and me.
"Without the Renewable Obligation certificates, nobody would be building wind farms"
Daily Telegraph 26/03/2005
A big wind turbine onshore costs, overall, £1 million per megawatt of installed capacity and once functioning earns about £200,000 per megawatt installed per year, but without the the subsidy this would be £100,000.
Offshore costs are 25% higher.
In addition to the consumer-sourced Reneweables Obligation another advantage is given to the renewable generator as non-renewable fuels pay a climate change levy (don't laugh) tax of £4.30/MWh, but renewables are exempt and so, effectively, are given an extra £4.30/MWh for their electricity
The total subsidy is now nearly £50/MWh which is nearly 300% of the price of conventional electricity.
Many wind turbines are of 2.0 MW or greater capacity and about 120 m in height. Because of limitation by wind speed a 2.0 MW machine produces a quarter or a little more of its rated capacity, i.e. 0.5 MW on average
One half of annual generator company income per turbine is from the consumer-sourced subsidy, without which each machine would be close to 'bankruptcy' hence the comment in the Daily Telegraph above that nobody would build any turbines without our taxes subsidising the process.
In February 2005 the Auditor General reported that "The Renewables Obligation is currently at least four times more expensive than the other means of reducing carbon dioxide currently used in the United Kingdom."
If 2.0 MW wind turbines were to replace the output of just one large 2000 MW conventional power station it would require at least 3000 turbines spread over 750 km2 of countryside...and the 'replaced' power station could not be closed as its electricity would still be required to fill the considerable gaps when the wind turbines are not fully generating
The main reason given by government for installing wind power is that it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and consequently reduce the rate of global warming (again, don't laugh) yet the government's own projection for CO2 saving by renewable electricity (mainly wind) in 2010 is just 9.2 million tonnes, which will be between one thousandth and one ten thousandth of man-made emissions — some impact, even if their optimistic projections are right
In a letter to HAT (Humberside Against Turbines) in 2005, Mike O'Brien as Energy Minister agreed the figure of 0.43 tonne CO2 / MWh as a reasonable figure for the emissions saving and an ASA adjudication (December 2005) and the Sustainable Development Commission (November 2005 corrected edition) also agreed that future projections of saving must be based on a lower figure than BWEA's claim of 0.86 tonne CO2 /MWh - i.e. the industry claim for benefit was found to be exaggerated by 100% which considerably improved the cost-benefit analysis (artificially and wrongly).
In Denmark, where, unlike the UK, a significant proportion of the power supply is generated by wind, and where domestic electricity is nearly twice the UK price, Danish carbon dioxide emissions have increased compared with the pre-wind-power years.
In 2003 the Head of Information for the West Denmark transmission authority compared the operation of the Danish electricity network to driving a giant articulated truck with no steering or brakes or any other controls.
Windfarms have a habit of killing many birds and bats, the infamous Altamont wind farm in California is a prime example — each of Altamont's 5,000 wind turbines produces enough electricity to serve 20 homes but the facility kills more birds of prey than any other wind farm in the world as golden eagles, hawks, and other raptors fly into the spinning turbine blades, a recent five-year study by the California Energy Commission estimates that every year 1,300 raptors are killed at this one site including more than a hundred golden eagles.
Researchers in West Virginia discovered that a single 44-turbine wind farm in the Appalachian Mountains killed 4,000 migratory bats, with similar findings reported at wind farms in Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
Wind farms are not aesthetically pleasing to many people, leading to moves to build more off-shore at the greater cost indicated earlier; without subsidy each offshore turbine would be 'bankrupt' and nobody would build such a money losing waste of effort in the first place.
Wind turbines are painted white because, well ... what other colour would you paint a white elephant?
Why should wind power organisations seek to intimidate individuals and shut off debate in a manner reminiscent of the climate change debate (see extracts below from BWEA Web PR document):
Intimidatory messages published by The British Wind Energy Association.
We have removed the surnames from the one on the right.
So do write to the press and spoil their petty little numbers game, and do ask the editor not to publish your address because the BWEA have previously intimidated people who have written letters to newspapers.
The Times — Urban turbines struggle to turn a profit 2007-02-17
“Having spent £13,000 on installing a wind turbine at his home, John Large is disappointed at the return on his investment, which amounts to 9p a week. At this rate, it is calculated, it will take 2,768 years for the electricity generated by the turbine to pay for itself, by which time he will be past caring about global warming.” Duuuugh.