…a voluntary group of people concerned about the extent to which carbon is wrongly vilified in Western societies, particularly in government, the media, and in business circles. We aim to restore balance and reason to the carbon debate, and to explain and defend the key role of carbon in production of most of our energy for heat, light, and transportation, and all of our food.The scientific method involves methodical study and measurement and prudent researcher should examine sources and our own biases. The article is not a scientific article but I believe that it makes valid points about problems associated with wind farms. In part, the executive summary reads
Wind power is very dilute, and thus a large area of land is required to gather significant energy. Wind energy needs a wide network of roads, transmission lines and turbines which degrades any area containing wind farms. It has a huge land footprint.
The operating characteristics of turbine and generator mean that only a small part of wind energy can be captured.
Wind power is also intermittent, unreliable and hard to predict. Therefore large backup or storage systems are required. This adds to the capital and operating costs and increases the instability of the network.
Wind farms are uniformly hated by neighbours and will not be willingly accepted without heavy compensation payments. Their noise, flicker, fire risk and disturbing effect on domestic and wild animals are well documented.
The wind is free but wind power is far from it. Its cost is far above all conventional methods of generating electricity. Either taxpayers or consumers will pay this bill.
The third paragraph begins, “Wind power is also intermittent, unreliable and hard to predict.” The article provides evidence from Texas and reported in the Daily Kos.
Wind turbines are prominent in Texas, but a cold snap in early 2008 caused power demand to soar and winds to drop. This sudden loss of wind power (from 1,700 MW to 300 MW) just as demand reached the evening peak caused the grid operator to declare a power emergency and start shedding load and cutting power to customers. The operator cut supply by 1,100 MW within ten minutes.The authors also comment on carbon emissions associated with wind. Note that they do not say if wind generates more or les carbon emissions than a coal fired plant, but that wind produces a lot of carbon.
Superficial commentators think that because wind itself does not rely directly on carbon fuel, its introduction thus reduces carbon dioxide emissions. This is not necessarily so, and promoters should be required to prove their case.Finally, the authors compare the cost per kilowatt hour of various energy sources.
Firstly wind requires backup to maintain steady power generation when wind power fails. The best backups are probably hydro power or gas power, both of which can be turned on and off as quickly as the wind changes. Coal and nuclear can provide backup, but it is very expensive to do it that way. Nuclear is forbidden in Australia and coal of course emits the dreaded carbon dioxide.
Secondly, wind farms are usually in remote locations and the turbines themselves are necessarily spread over a large area. Each turbine has 1,500 tonnes of concrete, 2 tonnes of rare earth metals, and lots of steel and copper and requires much heavy transport and earth moving equipment to construct the towers, the access roads and the transmission lines. They also need maintenance over this large area. Every one of these activities emits carbon dioxide.
Eventually, we will run out of oil and coal and these energy sources produce pollution even if you believe that these fuels contribute little to global warming or that the cost associated with global warming are relatively small. My point is that other energy sources, particularly renewables, are expensive and dirty. Rather than subsidize alternative sources of energy, the government should tax each according to the level of pollution they generate. Setting the tax would be contentious but I would prefer this problem to rewarding government funding based in part of the political pull of recipients.
Energy Source USA Cents/Kwh Natural Gas 8 Coal 9 Nuclear 11 Hydro-electric 12 Wind 14 Wind offshore 23 Solar thermal 26 Solar voltaic 40