Wind Energy is a Failed Technology - evidence from around the world

  • Germany (size of Montana ) is the world's largest user of wind technology. Over the last 20 years, Germany has erected 18,000 wind turbines that have only been able to generate 6% of the country's total electricity supply.

  • In Feb. 2005, the German Government's energy agency released a report that concluded that wind plants were an expensive and inefficient way of generating sustainable energy and also had serious environmental effects.

  • This same report suggested reduction of greenhouse gases could be more effectively and cheaply reduced by simply installing filters on existing fossil-fuel plants.

  • Denmark has 6000 wind turbines; in 2003 that country's greenhouse gas emissions increased 7.3% over 2002 levels.

  • Despite being blanketed with wind turbines, Denmark has not been able to shut down one single conventional power plant.

  • Development of onshore wind plants in Denmark has effectively stopped. The Government has cancelled plans for three offshore wind plants for 2008 and has scheduled the withdrawal of subsidies for existing sites.

  • The California Energy Commission reported that the state's 14,000 turbines produced half of one percent of their electricity in 2002. Extrapolating this record to the U.S. as a whole, it would take over 100,000 wind turbines spread over 10 million acres of land (costing $150-300 billion) to produce 5% of the country's electricity.

  • Kansas politician Frank Miller was quoted in a press release stating wind plants in Kansas were only expected to supply 1% of the energy used in the state.

  • The Wind Industry is meeting much public resistance in Europe, especially in Germany and Denmark , the inefficiency has become apparent and people are angry at the cost of wasted resources. The industry is searching for a bigger market in the U.S. to replace lost sales in Europe .
 

Wind Energy - Inefficient and Unreliable

  • Because of its inherent technical limitations and the fluctuating nature of its power source, no other type of industrial power generation has such poor performance.

  • Wind Developers often dwell on wind turbines' installed capacity ; they provide facts and figures based on what the turbines can produce at 100% capacity.

  • Because of the fluctuating nature of wind, the amount of energy produced by wind plants is expressed as an average annual output called capacity factor. Research proves that average annual capacity for wind plants is only 15-30% of their installed capacity.

  • Because wind is an intermittent power source, the energy output is highly variable and rarely correlates with demand; other sources of energy cannot be taken off line. Because of its intermittent, unreliable nature, wind energy is more difficult to manage and more costly - the cost is passed on to the consumer.
  • The use of wind power will not shut down coal plants. With the extra burden of balancing the wind energy, other energy sources may even use more fuel (just as cars use more gas in stop and go traffic than in more steady highway driving).

  • In a 2003 study, the California Energy Commission studied 3 wind plants and estimated that they had an average capacity credit of 23.9%. The estimated capacity credit for wind energy in the state will be 5%.

  • Evidence available from California , Texas , and Ontario suggests that many wind facilities sited on land will achieve capacity credits averaging only in the single digit range.

  • A study in Germany proved that for more than half the days in 2004, the sum of wind plant output to the grid was lower than 11% of its capacity.

  • In the U.K. 1,010 wind turbines produced  0.1% of their electricity in 2002.

  • It would take over 2000 large wind turbines (with a generous capacity factor of 30%) spread over hundreds of miles to equal the power of one 1600 MW conventional power plant situated on a few acres.

  • Wind turbines produce electricity only when the wind is blowing within the right speed range. They don't produce power until wind speed reaches 8 mph; reach rated capacity around 33 mph, and shut down at 55 mph because of possible damage to the blades. Their output is intermittent, volatile, and unpredictable.

  • This unpredictability causes "grid instability". Electricity grids must be kept in balance (supply & demand, voltage, frequency) which is why wind power must have back up generators to ramp up and down to balance the unreliable output from wind turbines.

  • Many Japanese utilities severely limit the amount of wind generated power they buy because of the grid instability they cause.

  • For the same reason, in Dec. 2003, Ireland halted all new wind power connections to the national grid and have plans to end state supported subsidies.
  • In 2005, Spanish utilities began refusing new wind power connections and in 2006 Spain ended all subsidies.

  • In 2004, Australia reduced the amount of wind power that utilities are required to buy bringing wind projects to an almost stand still.

  • Switzerland is also cutting subsidies as too expensive for the lack of significant benefit from wind power.

  • It must also be noted that months of peak demand for electricity (summer months) coincide with months of low or no wind.
 

The Winners & The Losers - huge tax breaks for the Wind Industry while the taxpayers and electric customers pick up the tab.

  • On a per kilowatt basis, no other form of industrial energy has recently received higher public subsidy than wind.

  •  Wind plants are now being built primarily for tax avoidance purposes, not because of their environmental, energy, or economic benefits.

  • The tax breaks and subsidies have more value to wind plant owners than the revenue from the sale of the small amount of electricity they produce.

  • The big winners are the Wind Industry, the Wind Developer, and a few landowners who lease their land. Electric customers and taxpayers are the big losers.

  • Many states have approved Renewable Portfolio standards (RPS) that force utility companies to purchase electricity from wind plants at extremely high prices - this cost is passed on to the consumer.

  • Publicly funded tax schemes (production tax credits and double-declining depreciation) reimburse as much as 75% of the wind plant owner's capital cost for each of the $1.65 million wind turbines. You, the taxpayer, are practically paying for the wind plants and will also be paying higher prices for the expensive, small amount of electricity wind turbines produce.

  • According to Citizens for Tax Justice, Florida Power and Light Group, (FLP) (largest owner of wind capacity in the U.S. ) paid NO federal income taxes in 2002 and 2003 while reporting net income of more than $2 billion. Those were the years that FLP invested heavily in wind plants. They took more than $1.2 billion in depreciation in those years.

  • The Wind Industry has powerful lobbyists in Washington , D.C. placing intense pressure on our politicians. In the not so distant future, if the Wind Industry and Wind Developers are successful, hundreds of thousands of massive turbines will dominate our landscapes while doing virtually nothing to solve the problems of fossil fuel dependency. Subsidies given to industrial wind technology diverts money that could be used in research for other more reliable forms of alternative energy.

  • Despite the facts, its unclear if legislators, local government officials, and regulators will temper enthusiasm for wind energy, since so many have accepted the false claims and inaccurate information distributed by the wind industry and advocates. Also, they are well aware of wind industry lobbying power and campaign contributions.

  • Wind Developers claim that they increase the local tax base. Research proves those gains are more than offset by the loss of open land, loss of tourism, the decrease in property values, and the taxes and fees consumers must pay to subsidize the industry.

  • A survey of property assessors in the UK found that a nearby wind facility lowers property values by up to 15% per year for 2 years.

  • In the discussion of property values, it must be remembered that in most places values increase steadily. So any slowing down of that normal rise because of wind power facilities is in fact a loss of value.

  • The wind industry claims to create many jobs - in reality very few permanent local jobs are created. Most of the jobs are temporary and are imported by the wind developer.
     

Collateral Damage - wind energy is NO FRIEND to the environment

  • Ordinary citizens are beginning to realize that wind plants are not environmentally benign. Instead, wind energy has high economic, environmental, ecological, scenic and property value costs.

  • Commercial wind projects cause considerable collateral damage. A single turbine requires clear cutting 3-5 acres to provide room for construction and to reduce wind turbulence during operation. Loss of interior forest habitat is even greater, 15-20 acres per turbine. Interior forest, defined as forest habitat that is more than 100 meters from a clearing, is essential for maintaining viable populations of many birds and wildlife.

  • Often it is necessary to blast through bedrock, potentially disrupting water flow to existing wells downhill.
  • Adverse impacts include erosion, destruction of wildlife habitat, interference with bird migration paths, massive bird kills, destruction of scenic vistas, noise, lowering of property values, distracting blade flicker and aircraft warning lights.
  • A 2007 study from the American National Academies of Science expressed concerns about bird and bat kill, and also stated that wind projects will not significantly reduce emissions.
  • We must take into consideration the greenhouse gases that are produced by the construction and installation of wind plants: the manufacture of steel, the concrete bases, asphalt for roads, the fuel burned by earth-moving equipment, production of tension lines, pylons, substations, and back-up generators - all for a technology that performs at 15 -30% capacity.

  • A wind plant stands to be seen from at least 20 miles around, meaning it has the potential of degrading the scenery of 1,256 square miles. Western N.C. economies are dependent on the vacation home business and tourists that are attracted to the area for its scenic views, and natural undisturbed environment.
  • Then there is the bird problem. The California Energy Commission reported that in 1989 the wind turbines in Altamont Pass killed 60 golden eagles and 300 redtail hawks, not to mention smaller birds.

  • Norway researchers Winkleman and Karlsson counted 49 birds killed by a single turbine during one night of migration.

  • The U.S Fish and Wildlife Services estimate that European wind power kills 37 birds per turbine per year. Extrapolating that figure to 50 turbines equals the potential for a small wind plant to kill almost 20,000 birds over a 10 year period.

  • At least 2000 bats were killed on Backbone Mountain in West Virginia in just 2 months during their 2003 fall migration.

  • A 2002 study in Spain estimated that 11,200 birds of prey, 350,000 bats, and 3,000,000 small birds are killed each year by wind turbines and their power lines.
     

Enter at Your Own Risk - Noise, Fire, and Health Hazards

  • The Wind Industry typically plays down the noise problem but it is widely known that in the leases between land owners and developers there is a "noise easement" to protect the wind company from liability. Any complaints or lawsuits would be against the land owner.

  • The noise problem is well documented - in Oct. 2005, Germany hosted the First International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise and discussed perspectives for noise control.

  • The European Union published results of a 5 year investigation into wind power and found noise complaints to be valid, and that noise levels could not be predicted before developing a site.

  • A Meyersdale, Pa resident, Bob Laravee, who lives 3000 ft. from a wind plant, documented noise levels over a 48 hr. period. The results showed an average reading of 75 decibels. According to the EPA, 45 decibels disturb sleep.

  • It is difficult to predict noise levels in mountainous terrain. Only a "swishing" may be heard directly underneath a turbine, but farther away the resulting sound of several turbines together has been described to be as loud as a motorcycle or a jet engine.

  • In March 2006, Dr Nina Pierpont testified before the N.Y. State Legislature Committee about "Wind Turbine Syndrome" which affects many people living in the vicinity of wind turbines, This syndrome includes chronic sleep problems, severe headaches, dizziness, concentration problems, inner ear problems, etc. People with a history of car sickness, migraines, and inner ear problems are more susceptible.

  • Dr. Pierpont also reported that some people feel disturbing pulsations in their chests and ears even when they can't see or hear the wind turbines. Sensitivity to low frequency vibration is highly variable in people and poorly understood. The strobe effect of turbines can also provoke seizures in people with epilepsy.

  • An interesting note - the Nazis used low-frequency noise as a form of torture.
  • Wind turbines are subject to metal fatigue and the effects of ice and wind, parts and whole blades have torn off because of malfunction, flying as far as 8 kilometers and through the window of a home in one case. Whole towers have collapsed in Germany (as recently as 2002) and the U.S.
    (e.g. Oklahoma, May 2005).
  • Turbine related fires are not uncommon. A single turbine may contain up to 200 gallons of oil; the transformer at the base of each turbine may contain another 500 gallons of oil. In rural areas even a spark can easily develop into a large fire before discovery is made and fire fighting can begin.
  • There are currently many lawsuits around the world due to wind plant noise, lowered property values, and negative health effects. Communities are angry at being forced to become live-in power plants.

Should we sacrifice a North Carolina Treasure for an expensive, inefficient, and insignificant contribution to an ill conceived attempt to solve a global problem?

 
 

 

 

 

 

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