Seven bad things about wind energy: and one reason why

John Droz has written an excellent post “Twenty-One Bad Things About Wind Energy — and Three Reasons Why” but since it is in the tl;dr category I have broken it into three posts for you.

Trying to pin down the arguments of wind promoters is a bit like trying to grab a greased balloon. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, it morphs into a different story and escapes your grasp. Let’s take a quick highlight review of how things have evolved with merchandising industrial wind energy.  [Reasons 1 – 7]

1 – Wind energy was abandoned for most commercial and industrial applications, well over a hundred years ago. Even in the late 1800s it was totally inconsistent with our burgeoning, more modern needs for power. When we throw the switch, we expect that the lights will go on – 100% of the time. It’s not possible for wind energy, by itself, to EVER do this, which is one of the main reasons it was relegated to the archival collection of antiquated technologies (along with such other inadequate energy sources as horse and oxen power).

2 – Fast forward to several years ago. With politicians being convinced that Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) was an imminent catastrophic threat, lobbyists launched campaigns to favor anything that would purportedly reduce carbon dioxide. This was the marketing opportunity that the wind energy business needed. Wind energy was resurrected from the dust bin of power sources, as its promoters pushed the fact that wind turbines did not produce CO2 while generating electricity. 

Notice the rider “did not produce CO2 while generating electricity”.  The CO2 produced in production, transport and concrete foundation construction will never be off-set during operation.

3 – Of course, that just by itself would not have been a significant incentive, so the original wind development lobbyists then made the case for a quantum leap: that by adding wind turbines to the grid we could significantly reduce CO2 from those dirty” fossil fuel electrical sources (especially coal). This argument became the basis for many states implementing a Renewable Energy Standard (RES) or Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Those undemocratic standards mandated that the state’s utilities use (or purchase) a prescribed amount of wind energy (“renewables”), by a set date.

Why was a mandate necessary? Simply because the real world reality of integrating wind energy made it a very expensive option. As such, no utility companies would normally do this on their own. They had to be forced to. For more on the cost, please keep reading.

4 – Interestingly, although the stated main goal of these RES/RPS programs was to reduce CO2, not a single state’s RES/RPS requires verification of CO2 reduction from any wind project, either beforehand or after the fact. The politicians simply took the sales peoples’ word that consequential CO2 savings would be realized!

Well, why not?  These people have got their hand out for subsidies, they would not gild the lily, now, would they?

– It wasn’t too long before utility companies and independent energy experts calculated that the actual CO2 savings were miniscule (if any). This was due to the inherent nature of wind energy, and the realities of necessarily continuously balancing the grid, on a second-by-second basis, with fossil-fuel-generated electricity (typically gas). The frequently cited Bentek study (How Less Became More) is a sample independent assessment of this aspect. More importantly, there has been zero scientific empirical proof provided by the wind industry to support their claims of consequential CO2 reduction.

The need for idling power plants running in the background ready to step in and cover if the wind drops or blows too hard is somehow gently swept under the carpet.

Studies cited by the wind industry (about wind energy’s CO2 savings) are almost always computer models. As a person who has written some 100,000 lines of code, I can assure you that it’s easy to make a model that “proves” that pigs can fly. Models may be appropriate where there is no actual data. Since there are a few hundred thousand turbines in operation worldwide, there is empirical data. If CO2 is genuinely being saved, the wind industry should be able to show real data.

But first show real data that CO2 actually needs to be saved in the first place, please!

6 – Apparently suspecting that the CO2 deception would soon be exposed, the wind lobbyists took pre-emptive action, and added another rationale to prop up their case: energy diversity. However, since our electricity system already had considerable diversity (and many asked “more diversity at what cost?”) this hype never gained much traction. Back to the drawing board….

Sounds like the “need” for diversity at Board level and all the other places where “diversity” has somehow become critical to the proper functioning of modern society.

– The next justification put forward by the wind marketers was energy independence. This cleverly played on the concern most people have about oil and Middle East instability. Many ads were run promoting wind energy as a good way to reduce our “dependence on Middle Eastern oil.”

None of these ads mentioned that only about 1% of our electricity is generated from oil. Or that the US exports more oil than we use for electricity. Or that our main import source for oil is Canada (not the Middle East). Despite the significant omissions and misrepresentations, this claim still resonates with many people, so it continues to be pushed. Whatever works.

One reason why:

They get away with this scam primarily for three basic reasons.   [Here is the first]

– Wind proponents are not asked to independently PROVE the merits of their claims before (or after) their product is forced on the public.

So, in effect, we have come around full circle. A hundred-plus years ago, wind energy was recognized as an antiquated, unreliable and expensive source of energy – and now, after hundreds of billions of wasted tax and consumer dollars, we find that (surprise!) it still is an antiquated, unreliable and expensive source of energy. This is what happens when science is relegated to a back-of-the-bus status.

Reasons 8 – 14, tomorrow.

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In solidarity with the those in the world’s most despised demographic, WH has decided to ‘come out’ as an old, white, male. WH enjoys exercising the white male privilege, that Whaleoil provides for him, to write the occasional post challenging climate change consensus; looking at random tech issues that tweak his interest, as a bit of a tech nerd; or generally poking the borax at anyone in public life who goes on record revealing their stupidity. WH never excelled on the sports field because his coaches never allowed him to play in his preferred position on the right-wing.  WH also enjoys his MG.