What! More wind turbines? Are you serious?

wind-money

It is now widely recognised that wind turbines are inefficient, costly, environmentally unfriendly, and harmful to humans and other animals. For those who do not particularly care about these things, but are concerned about their personal finances, they are also very hard on the consumer’s pocket, as it is the consumer that is subsidising an industry whose very business model spells financial loss.

Let’s break that down.

inefficient

Inefficient:

“Here’s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? None of the above: it was 0 per cent. That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.

Even put together, wind and photovoltaic solar are supplying less than 1 per cent of global energy demand. From the International Energy Agency’s 2016 Key Renewables Trends, we can see that wind provided 0.46 per cent of global energy consumption in 2014, and solar and tide combined provided 0.35 per cent. Remember this is total energy, not just electricity, which is less than a fifth of all final energy, the rest being the solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels that do the heavy lifting for heat, transport and industry.”

(The Spectator, 13/05/2017).

print money

Costly:

“I worked on advanced wind turbine projects in the 1990’s developing variable speed generators to improve electronic efficiency and utilizing improved airfoil design for capturing energy from lower wind velocity.

The true answer is clouded by several factors. Federal and local tax incentive subsidies obscure the real cost. Maintenance is an expensive consideration that often is not considered in operating expenses. Interest paid on financing projects must also be included. Wind turbines, especially large units, are complex structures that require significant investment to build and operate. They are prone to failures and costly to repair. Downtime for routine servicing and inspections produces no electricity and winds are not always reliable consistent.

Turbine assemblies have a useful lifespan of about twenty years as mechanical and electrical components wear out over time and ordinary use, even under the best operating conditions.

The “carbon footprint” of wind turbines, figuring the manufacturing process and all the materials and manpower, transportation, other infrastructure, such as transmission wiring from remote locations, and site preparations involved in erecting and commissioning the units adds up to a real number that is seldom mentioned. Typical large units can be as tall as 400 feet and weigh up to 300 tons.

The actual pay-back of this “green technology” in terms of replacing fossil fuels and overall environmental benefit, including monetary outlay, is probably in decades rather than years.”

(John Rowen, former Aerospace Engineering Specialist/Technician at General Electric (1980-1995) -20/03/2016).

birds turbines

Environmentally unfriendly:

“As for resource consumption and environmental impacts, the direct effects of wind turbines — killing birds and bats, sinking concrete foundations deep into wild lands — is bad enough. But out of sight and out of mind is the dirty pollution generated in Inner Mongolia by the mining of rare-earth metals for the magnets in the turbines. This generates toxic and radioactive waste on an epic scale, which is why the phrase ‘clean energy’ is such a sick joke and ministers should be ashamed every time it passes their lips.

It gets worse. Wind turbines, apart from the fibreglass blades, are made mostly of steel, with concrete bases. They need about 200 times as much material per unit of capacity as a modern combined cycle gas turbine. Steel is made with coal, not just to provide the heat for smelting ore, but to supply the carbon in the alloy. Cement is also often made using coal. The machinery of ‘clean’ renewables is the output of the fossil fuel economy, and largely the coal economy.

A two-megawatt wind turbine weighs about 250 tonnes, including the tower, nacelle, rotor and blades. Globally, it takes about half a tonne of coal to make a tonne of steel. Add another 25 tonnes of coal for making the cement and you’re talking 150 tonnes of coal per turbine. Now if we are to build 350,000 wind turbines a year (or a smaller number of bigger ones), just to keep up with increasing energy demand, that will require 50 million tonnes of coal a year. That’s about half the EU’s hard coal–mining output.”

(The Spectator, 13/05/2017).

noisy turbines

Harmful to man and beast:

“Health studies into the effect of wind turbines on those living in their vicinity must be explored to prevent potential health problems, a conference on public health heard yesterday.

Alun Evans, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology in Queens University, Belfast was speaking at the 2014 Summer Scientific Meeting at the Royal College of Physicians the second day of which was held in Dublin yesterday.

He said it was “quite possible” if the Dublin array, a proposed €2 billion project which would see 145 wind turbines constructed 10km off the east coast, goes ahead that up to two million people could be exposed to infrasound, a “sizeable minority” of who could potentially experience sleep disturbance.

Prof Evans said there was “clear evidence” that, as the size of wind turbines had increased, so has the infrasound and low frequency sounds generated by them and that they were now emitting “serious amounts of noise”.

“When you measure them with the correct filters you find they are producing noise levels which are far above what’s supposed to be permitted,” he said.

He said while many people are not affected, that others could experience sleep disturbance, adding this in turn leads to increased blood pressure which he said is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”

(Irish Times, 23/05/2014)

 

“Cellular Mechanotransduction is the mechanism by which cells convert mechanical signals into biochemical responses. Based on the mechanical effects on cells it was proposed in this research project that the ground vibrations were responsible for a increased bone growth which was not accompanied by the muscle-tendon unit growth leading to the development of these flexural deformities.”

(The Lusitano Project, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Lisbon, 2013).

wind energy not free

Affecting your pocket:

Germany, once the European leader in the production and subsidising of wind farms, is rapidly abandoning this position, as the German public is now in open revolt, both over the physical impact of the monster turbines, and the ever increasing cost of electricity as a result of ever increasing subsidies.

“Several thousand wind turbines in Germany are likely to be closed down in the next decade because they will no longer receive any subsidies. “If electricity prices do not rise over the next decade, only a few plants will survive on the market without subsidies,” says an analysis by the Berlin-based consulting firm Energy Brainpool. This assessment is shared by most professionals. “In any case, by 2020, the shutdown of existing facilities is to be expected to a greater or lesser extent,” an article by several economists of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig concludes. “

(Translated from the German. ‘Ende der Förderung: Alte Windräder müssen bald vom Netz’; zdf.de-31/10/2017).

enviro unfriendly

I have deliberately sought older citations to show that this information has been in the public domain for a long time. In other words, the Irish government is well aware of this information – it is freely available. Whilst other European governments: Germany, Finland and Sweden in particular (I mention these three as they were at the vanguard of European wind farm building a decade ago) have dramatically reduced and even reversed their wind farm building, the Irish government continues to fully support the building of more windfarms, as evidenced by the slew of planning applications across the country.

This head-in-the-sand mentality is either as a result of stupidity, or corruption. In other words, our rulers are either acting on false or no information; or payments have been made, promises must be kept, and directorships for retired ministers are still the name of the game. You decide.

The Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) is “a standing committee of Dáil Éireann which focuses on ensuring public services are run efficiently and achieve value for money.” (https://www.oireachtas.ie; accessed 15/08/2019). Perhaps the PAC should investigate the subsidy scam?

conclusion

About Neil van Dokkum

Neil van Dokkum (B. SocSc; LLB; LLM; PGC Con.Lit) Neil is a law lecturer and has been so since arriving in Ireland from South Africa in 2002. Prior to that Neil worked in a leading firm of solicitors from 1987-1992, before being admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa (a barrister) in 1992. He published three books in South Africa on employment law and unfair dismissal, as well as being published in numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals. Neil currently specialises in employment law, medical negligence law, family law and child protection law. He dabbles in EU law (procurement and energy). Neil retired from practice in 2002 to take up a full-time lecturing post. He has published three books since then, “Nursing Law for Irish Students (2005); “Evidence” (2007); and “Nursing Law for Students in Ireland” (2011). His current interest is the area of disability as a politico-economic construct. Neil is very happily married to Fiona, and they have two sons, Rory and Ian.
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8 Responses to What! More wind turbines? Are you serious?

    • Neil van Dokkum says:

      Some interesting observations from Professor Evans:

      “Dear Neil
      I greatly enjoyed your latest Blog, but one thing you didn’t mention was the deleterious effects of siting wind farms on bogland. Fifteen years ago I took part in an Irish Heart Foundation symposium in Dublin. It concerned ‘Functional Foods’ and I reviewed such topics as Sitostanol, which is made from vegetable oils or the oil from pine tree wood pulp, and is then combined with canola oil. Sitostanol is used for the prevention of heart disease by reducing high cholesterol. Sitostanol is an ingredient in Benecol margarine and some salad dressings. It was developed as a by-product of the Finnish timber industry and it is the (wet) dream of any industry to be able to sell its waste products. I discussed other waste products which command a commercial value, such as Marmite from the brewing industry, and lipstick from the French wine industry in the 1930s. To these I added Bord na Mona’s marketing of the peat dust, that wasn’t burnt in ESB power stations, as Peat Moss/Turf Mould and this quote from Bord na Móna’s website in 2004:

      “Over 2 million cubic metres of horticultural peat have been exported in 300 bulk ships since the facility opened in 1994. If this peat was piled on a soccer pitch it would reach vertically to a height of 1,000 feet – equivalent to a 70 storey skyscraper.”

      Unsurprisinly, this foolhardy boast has since been removed from Bord na Móna’s website. Then, for balance, I showed another comment which appeared on Environment Watch Ireland’s website that same year:

      “Bord Na Móna has systematically destroyed some of the planet’s most precious bogland to provide turf mould for suburban gardens and to feed its inefficient electricity production partners the ESB. The rest of Europe is conserving its last remaining bogland, meanwhile Bord Na Móna keeps right on destroying it on a huge scale.”

      I gave Health evidence at the Derryadd Oral Hearing in Longford in June and learned about the destruction of the raised bog which had been there. Bord Na Móna had acquired the bog surrounding the Shannon at the top of Lough Ree by Compulsory Purchase and then set about ruthlessly plundering one of the best carbon sinks in Ireland. Having totally degraded the bog and the surrounding wetlands it was planning to inflict further misery on the local population by seeking to erect 24 185 m high turbines (with BESSs beside a school!). I haven’t heard the outcome but, no doubt, it will be justified as ‘Strategic Infrastructure.’ This comes at a time when most countries are fastidiously investing in the reinstatement of their damaged boglands, thanks to the growing realisation of their crucial importance in combatting Climate Change.

      Several years ago, that champion of wind farms, The Irish Times, ran a series entitled ‘Picture of Ireland’ presented in the form of maps. One of these showed ‘Where the Wind Farms are’ (8-12-2012) which was followed a few months later by one showing ‘Where are our Peatlands’ (39-03-2013). One map could be superimposed on the other, such was the similarity between the distributions. In the latter map the peatlands were mainly of the blanket variety, predominantly on the western uplands. The text quoted research from Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency stating that:

      “It is estimated that Ireland’s remaining near-intact peatlands absorb the equivalent of 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Unfortunately, this process is reversed when peatlands are degraded. As a result, Irish peatlands are very significant net contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, releasing 9.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. This is roughly equal to the total combined emissions of industry and commerce.”

      As you will appreciate, it is not just the enormous ‘hardstandings’ required for wind turbines but the many kilometres of service roads that need to be constructed which degrade the peatlands.
      There is also a paper: Wind farms on undegraded peatlands are unlikely to reduce future carbon emissions. Smith J, Nayak DR, Smith P. Energy Policy (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2013.10.066i
      which questions the wisdom of constructing wind farms on blanket bog because more carbon dioxide is released than is saved.
      I suppose the only other thing worth mentioning is the thousands of miles of powerlines needed to distribute the unreliable electricity generated and these comes with their own economic and health costs.

      Tragically, the Irish Government really is serious about pursuing its absurdly ill-informed wind energy strategy.

      With all best wishes
      Alun

      Alun Evans MD
      Professor Emeritus
      Centre for Public Health
      The Queen’s University of Belfast”

  1. Michael Jankowski says:

    As a person who was impacted at 4.7km downwind from am array of 5 Vestas v100b turbines, who saw my family impacted as well, who acquired a SINUS sound measurement system and saw my home was quite contaminated with WT BPFs, who reported approx. 100 times to our ministry of environment, but received no response, who testified at an ERT with ninety pieces of scientific evidence, which was all discounted when an occupational health doctor, flown in with in part my tax dollars said “wind turbines do not produce infrasound” and “I find it odd he would have these issues at this distance”, who underwent a 2.5 year medical diagnostic process, at the conclusion of which, my doctor said in writing “I find no other cause for these issues”, and who left his beautiful 10 acre home to live next to one of the busiest highways in North America, but we all healed here – I thank you for your time and capability applied out of concern for your fellow person on this complex and impactful issue.

  2. Nigel de Haas says:

    The consumer is not only subsidising an industry whose very business model spells financial loss, but is at the same time destroying the biodiversity upon which our survival as a species depends.
    Sadly, this blog is bang on in saying that this information has been in the public domain for a long time and clearly shows what can be easily verified in an evening of online cross-checking in today’s connected world.

    We owe it to ourselves and our children to stand up and demand that our elected representatives call a moratorium on this the wanton waste and destruction until a proper cost-benefit exercise has been carried out that looks at ALL aspects of this despicable industry.

  3. Jim Wiegand - Wildlife Biologist says:

    These corporate wind thieves would sell taxpayers a dog turd if they could get away with it. And if they did, taxpayers would be much better off because dog poop at least contributes to a healthy environment. On the other hand, these turbines, no matter how many lies are told and no matter the amount of fraudulent manufactured research that is created, are highly toxic. The industry has known for decades how incredibly deadly for raptors and how inefficient these turbines are. But they rigged impact research and their energy production numbers so they could keep reaping taxpayer billions. Over the last 4 decades, 1 – 2 trillion has been wasted on this sprawling dead-end blight.

  4. Jim Wiegand - Wildlife Biologist says:

    What impact on global warming can wind turbines have? The multi-trillion dollar answer is pretty much zero and it can be proven by this industry’s own production numbers. Also keep in mind, wind industry production numbers are being inflated by this profit driven self-regulated industry. Just looking at production numbers, it is very easy to see that these turbines are absolutely worthless as an energy source. After 4 decades of building, they still produce far less less than 1% of this worlds energy consumption.

    If we let it happen, this crooked industry would sell their blighting infrastructure for 400 more decades and promise that 100% will happen.

    So, for how many more decades will the idiots of this world, continue to believe the lies being manufactured by this scam of an industry?

    Conclusion……..Turbines can never possibly improve global warming because they can NEVER replace any other primary energy sources. At their best and on small scale, you might get a large number of massive turbines, with battery backup, to run the lights and appliances in a small city. But even this has never been proven.

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