Myths

by Matt Rudd, Sunday Times, www.thesundaytimes.co.uk 17 July 2011

         Are the turbines outside your window yet?

         Well it won’t be long now.


         It’s a full-on invasion.

         
When did wind become big business?

         Is it the only option?

Click here to read Matt Rudd's complete article – courtesy of National Wind Watch

Here is an extract from the Turnbull report issued in May 2011 by the Global Warming Policy Foundation. The GWPF is, according to their website, "an all-party and non-party think tank and a registered educational charity which, while open-minded on the contested science of global warming, is deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated."

Here's how they describe their ethos:-

We are in no sense 'anti-environmental'. There is a wide range of important environmental issues, which call for an equally wide range of policy responses. Our concern is solely with the possible effects of any future global warming and the policy responses that may evoke.
 
The GWPF is funded entirely by voluntary donations from a number of private individuals and charitable trusts. In order to make clear its complete independence, it does not accept gifts from either energy companies or anyone with a significant interest in an energy company.
Extract:-

The logical economist’s approach[to energy generation] is to rank policy responses according to the cost per tonne of CO2 abated and then work through the merit order, starting with the most effective. Or, what amounts to the same thing, set a price on carbon and then let the various technologies – gas, coal with CCS, nuclear, wind, tidal, energy efficiency etc, fight it out for market share.

  

But the EU Renewables Obligation is the denial of this logic. One particular set of technologies, and especially wind, has been given a guaranteed market share and a guaranteed indexed price, regardless of how competitive it is.  The current pursuit of wind power is folly. Its cost per kWh substantially exceeds that of other low carbon sources such as nuclear when account is taken of intermittency and the cost of extending the grid far from where consumers are located. There is a constant confusion between installed capacity for wind and its actual output, which is, typically, about 20-25 percent of the former. There is also the problem that the coldest periods in the UK often coincide with low wind speeds.

     

There has been in this country initially hostility to nuclear power and now at best a half-heartedness. The Secretary of State at Department of Energy and Climate Change has called nuclear a tried, tested and failed technology. It may be that in the UK historically it has not been as successful as it might have been but it has for 50 years provided around 20 percent of our electricity reliably, competitively and safely. Just 20 miles from our coast France has produced over 2/3rds of its electricity from nuclear and regards this as a great success. Clearly events in Japan are raising new questions about nuclear power. We cannot yet say whether there is a general lesson about current designs or whether the lesson is about 40 year old designs in seismically active areas.

There is something profoundly illogical in Nick Clegg’s demand that nuclear power can only go ahead in the UK if it receives no public subsidy whatsoever, while at the same time promoting huge subsidies for renewables.

The feed-in tariff mechanism is fast becoming a scandal. Those lucky enough to own buildings large enough on which to install solar panels, or enough land for a wind farm, have been receiving 30-40p per kwh, for electricity, which is retailed at only 11p. The loss is paid for by a levy on businesses and households. It is astonishing that the Liberals who attach such importance to fairness turn a blind eye to this transfer from poor to rich, running to £billions a year. If you live in a council tower block in Lambeth you don’t have much opportunity to get your nose into this trough. The good news is that, at last, the government is beginning to cut back on subsidies to large solar operators, following the trend set in Germany and Spain.

There is a major new development which fits the description of a disruptive technology, that is the introduction of new drilling techniques which make it possible to extract gas from shale[4]. This has dramatically widened the geographic availability of gas, has produced a massive upgrading of gas reserves and is decoupling gas prices from oil.

There is no peak in hydrocarbons. Gas has the advantage that it produces less than half the CO2 that coal produces. So we face a happy prospect that we can replace a lot of coal burning with gas, reduce energy prices, and make a big reduction in CO2 emissions, albeit not the complete decarbonisation sought by some, achieving in effect a dash for gas at the global level. Certainly the opportunity cost of renewables has risen, and perhaps that of nuclear power too.

To read or download the full report (15 easy to read pages) click here.

Andrea Leadsom is MP for South Northamptonshire. She has initiated a three-hour Commons debate about onshore wind farms and their impact on Britain’s landscape earlier in the month Click here to read some of what she had to say

“Wind farms will desecrate the countryside pointlessly.” – James Lovelock

We've just added a new page [click here] about what seems to be blind institutional faith vested in wind turbines. It draws on the work of  Professor David MacKay (Professor of Physics at Cambridge University & Fellow of the Royal Society) in his now highly respected book, ‘Sustainable Energy – without the hot air’ (2009, pp 32& 33). Here's the summary:-

  1. There's a limit to wind power output which depends on the area of land devoted to turbines regardless of turbine size.
  2. Even if we covered as much as  10% of the country (UK as a whole) with wind turbines we end up with a startling output of 20 kWh/day per person – which amounts to “half of  the power used by driving an average fossil-fuelled car 50 km per day”!
  3. the turbines needed to provide the UK with 20 kWh/d per person amount to "50 times the entire  wind hardware of Denmark ” who’ve been building them for 30 years and “double the entire fleet of all the wind turbines in the world”!

To read the article in full [click here]

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