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  • Aug 23, 2014
  • Updated: 1:47am

Wind power is not free and not green

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 December, 2012, 3:13am

Laurence Brahm ("The great green grid", November 28) promotes a massive push by China to invest in so-called "green" energy - including industrial wind energy (IWE) and solar photovoltaics (PV) - to reduce coal use and pollution.

There is globally a crucial need to phase out fossil power and control carbon emissions, but IWE is not part of a sensible solution to climate change. "Free and green" energy is an attractive idea, but, as is being shown worldwide, IWE is not free and not particularly green.

The main problem is that it is not dispatchable ("on demand"), and without efficient, large-scale energy storage (which doesn't exist), can't replace conventional generation from fossil, hydroelectric and nuclear sources.

This isn't "a technological issue that can be addressed through finance and investment", as Brahm says.

Massive green-energy subsidies were legislated in Ontario, Canada. The result, detailed in a 2011 Ontario auditor general report, was a giant boondoggle, with subsidies going to pay other jurisdictions to take excess power when the wind is blowing hard and to generate "windfall" profits for the industry at ratepayers' expense.

More importantly, the billions of dollars squandered on "big wind" did little to reduce carbon emissions.

Wind, and PV, require backup from responsive conventional resources which can come online quickly when the wind dies or the clouds roll in.

In the case of wind, studies have shown that when the conventional fossil fuel generators are kept idling to respond quickly, and are ramped up and down to match the wind's variations, they operate inefficiently and their emissions increase substantially. It is not clear that IWE makes any meaningful dent in carbon emissions.

There are about 1,300 coal-fired power stations on the drawing boards around the globe. The average size of US coal plants is about 240 megawatts.

In order to replace one average coal plant with industrial wind, you need about 720 MW of wind (which generally operates at less than one-third of rated capacity). That's 360 large (2 MW) wind turbines, each sterilising about one sq km area (using Ontario's 550 metre setbacks, which are arguably insufficient). And you still need to keep the coal station running for when the wind dies.

To replace 1,300 coal stations with IWE will require nearly 500,000 square kilometres - the area of Spain. And we will still need to build most of the conventional stations as backup.

Ian Dubin, Kingston, Ontario, Canada


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Absolute RUBBISH. Wind power is clean, coal is dirty and gives off GHG that cause global warming...........FULL STOP.
@ megafun -- You have to stop believing the propaganda put out by Big Wind multi-billion dollar corporations. Just because wind falls under the 'green' umbrella, don't think for one second that this isn't all about $$$$$$. Wind power is NOT clean and it does nothing to combat C02 emissions.
Wind energy is the biggest wealth transfer scam ever perpetrated in the history of this planet. It's about making the little guy pay to line the pockets of the rich and don't ever believe otherwise. This is where they suck you in. Everyone wants to 'save the planet'. But industrial wind turbines will never do that. They're inefficient, unreliable, extremely expensive, and a terrible pollutant during the production of these things.
Not to mention, they are placed on valuable farmland, in fragile ecosystems and WAY too close to homes. It's really important that people start to educate themselves on this ecologicial, environmental and economical disaster known as wind energy.
moningglori - well said, you have clearly been paying attention and doing your homework. Thanks for saving me the trouble of replying to megafun's unfortunate ignorance.
megafun - there is no question we need to reduce carbon emissions - the issue is that Industrial wind doesn't make any meaningful reduction in carbon and is hugely expensive, unreliable and can be very damaging to the local (and not so local) environment. I suggest you start to educate yourself by reading this report
You may also want to google 'carbon reduction from industrial wind' and 'health impacts of industrial wind turbines'


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