Ticking Time Bomb

Windpower a disaster ?. PDF Print E-mail
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Wind power is a complete disaster says Michael J. Trebilcock, Professor of Law and Economics, University of Toronto. Here is a summary of the key points he made in his Toronto Post article dated 8th April 2009.

1. Denmark, the worlds most wind-intensive nation, with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity, has yet to close a single fossil-fuel plant.

2. It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover wind powers unpredictability.

3. Flemming Nissen, the head of development at West Danish generating company ELSAM (one of Denmarks largest energy utilities) tells us that wind turbines do not reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

4. The German experience is no different. Der Spiegel reports that Germanys CO2 emissions havent been reduced by even a single gram, and additional coal- and gas-fired plants have been constructed to ensure reliable delivery.

5. Recent academic research shows that wind power may actually increase greenhouse gas emissions in some cases, depending on the carbon-intensity of back-up generation required because of its intermittent character.

6. Industrial wind power is not a viable economic alternative to other energy conservation options. Take the Danish experience:-

a. Danish electricity generation costs are the highest in Europe;
b. Niels Gram of the Danish Federation of Industries says, windmills are a mistake and economically make no sense.
c. Aase Madsen, the Chair of Energy Policy in the Danish Parliament, calls it a terribly expensive disaster.

7. In debates over climate change, and in particular subsidies to renewable energy, there are two kinds of green:-

a. Firstly - the environmental greens who view the problem as so urgent that all measures that may have some impact on greenhouse gas emissions, whatever their cost or their impact on the economy and employment, should be undertaken immediately. (From Ed Milibands comments on Newsnight tonight, he is one of these).

b. Secondly - the fiscal greens, who, being cool to carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems that make polluters pay, favour massive public subsidies to themselves for renewable energy projects, whatever the relative impact of such projects on greenhouse gas emissions.

Both groups have one point of convergence - their support for massive subsidies to renewable energy (particularly wind turbines).

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