In May of this year the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources launched the “Green Paper on Energy Policy in Ireland”. Many of my readers probably have not read the Paper, and who could blame you? Some of you might have battled though parts of it, some of you might have read the executive summary. I dragged myself through the whole thing and the recurring thought that flashed through my mind was “hot air, lots of it”. This thought was quite appropriate as the document, although pretending to be a comprehensive renewable energy policy, was little more than an homage to the wind farm.
Rather than go through the entire sordid document, I thought that over two days I would look at two recurring themes in this Green paper about wind energy and show them for what they are: calculated, but nevertheless blatant, lies.
Lie #:1 Wind energy is a “free and plentiful” form of energy
Let’s just get one thing straight from the outset: Any form of renewable energy is not cheap, and most certainly not free. Renewable energy is far more expensive than energy from coal, for example, which is very cheap but also very dirty. Coal is so cheap at the moment that the ESB are actually buying more and more (American) coal for MoneyPoint, which seems a bit daft when the poor consumer is paying more and more for the electricity coming from the wind farms. Somebody’s getting rich but it ain’t you or me.
This is not something we are doing to save money. It is something we are doing to save the planet; and because the EU (ruled by the wind industry) has a gun to our head. So when the Minister talks about how the wind is free and doesn’t Ireland have a lot of it, that is a blatant lie.
If we accept that we need renewable energy, and that we are going to pay though our noses for that renewable energy, does it not make sense to try and produce more of the cheaper forms of renewable energy?
Wind is the most expensive form of renewable energy. It is also unreliable because the wind does not blow all the time, and sometimes it blows too hard and so the turbine is shut down (before it catches fire), but you pay for it 24/7. Two other far more reliable forms of energy also happen to be a lot cheaper: biomass and solar.
The cost of energy has become a life or death issue as more and more Irish families experience fuel poverty – many citizens simply cannot afford to light or heat their homes. That’s a huge problem, especially in winter.
Here’s the price comparison:
Wind costs €135 per ton of carbon saved. There are very few jobs in the Irish wind industry as the turbines and accessories are all built in other countries, and so the technicians and maintenance crews come from other countries. The only Irish jobs would be short-term installation jobs – low skills, poorly paid.
Domestic Solar PV costs €100 per ton of carbon saved, and it would create loads of jobs as people would need solar panels fitted on their houses. I know you are going to say that the sun and Ireland don’t really belong in the same sentence, but these things run on daylight as opposed to sun, and they really do make a difference.
The conversion of MoneyPoint power station to biomass would cost €60 per ton of carbon saved. That means it costs less than half the cost of wind! It also means that the huge carbon footprint of MoneyPoint would rapidly diminish as it stops burning that dirty American coal. Finally, there would be loads of good long-term jobs as the biomass industry in this country becomes profitable and so can flourish.
To recap: Any renewable energy is expensive and we must pay for it. There is no such thing as free green energy. There are three proven sources of renewable energy: wind, sun, and biomass. Both sun and biomass are cheaper than wind and will create far more Irish jobs. Finally, the sun and biomass do not need huge pylons and wind farms, so no loss of tourism, local industries, agriculture and food production, and no adverse effects on our health.
Now, is that a no-brainer or what?
Tomorrow: Lie #2: Wind energy generation is ‘clean and green’.