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« Tamsin on the jet stream | Main | The futility of the EU »
Thursday
Sep132012

Fisking Renewable UK

Delingpole is seeking help in fisking the claims made about wind power by RenewableUK (formerly the British Wind Energy Association). The specific claims are in this article by the organisation's deputy CEO, Maf Smith:

Why I don’t think wind costs the earth

By Maf Smith Deputy Chief Executive, RenewableUK

Britain is the windiest country in Europe so let’s use it to the full. We have enough wind energy installed to supply nearly five million households all year round. We already get five per cent of our electricity from wind turbines – we’re on course to get 25 per cent of it by 2020. Turbines don’t need much wind to start turning that’s why they generate electricity for at least 80 per cent of the time.

We want to keep electricity bills as low as possible. So we have to stop importing massive amounts of expensive fossil fuels from abroad as we have no control over how much they cost. We know exactly how much wind costs: just 2p per household per day – that’s according to independent regulator Ofgem.

Nearly 12,000 people work in the UK’s wind energy industry.

That number is set to increase to nearly 90,000 by 2021.

Independent opinion polls by Ipsos MORI show two-thirds of us want more wind power, and 57 per cent have no problem with the visual impact of wind turbines on the landscape.

There are many myths peddled about wind energy, often by those with a vested interest in spreading untruths.

The fact is that modern wind turbines aren’t noisy. Try standing right under one and hear how quiet they are. No doctors who are experts in the field believe that wind turbines affect people’s health. There’s no peer-reviewed evidence to support any such claims. And there’s no direct evidence that they affect house prices, in fact the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors says they don’t.

This reliable source of power is providing us with a secure supply of energy and jobs while cutting carbon emissions – so wind doesn’t cost the Earth.

 

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Reader Comments (73)

Call Phillip Bratby...

My favourite bit is where the Deputy Chief Executive of RenewableUK says
"There are many myths peddled about wind energy, often by those with a vested interest in spreading untruths."

Sep 13, 2012 at 1:24 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

This just proves what I have always believed; most people in the UK need a comfortable bed in a secure mental institution.
We can start with all the people who believe their energy bills are getting hard to afford, no doubt they have fairies at the bottom of the garden as well.
Then we can round up those who complain about Whooshing noises, we can build a special home for them under one of the big turbines just to prove to them how wrong they are.
Finally we need to turn Broadmoor over to the housing of the twits who say the wind does not blow all the time, OF COURSE IT BLOWS ALL THE BLOODY TIME!!!

Sep 13, 2012 at 1:25 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Question: Does this bloke believe what he's writing or, in private discussion with a confidant would he whisper, "We all know it's hogwash, but you wouldn't expect ME to derail the gravy train, would you?"

Sep 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

I would adise one to look at the EU's own documentation, published in 2005 as a consequence of the first renewable electricity Directive 2001/77/EC:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2005:0627:FIN:EN:PDF

Look at Figure 2 on page 45 and that was Denmark back in 2004, since then more investment and capacity has been installed. In other words a picture tells a thousand words.

In fact the situation in Denmark is now so out of control, at 30 cent per kWh for a domestic rate, that cheaper electricity could be produced in a diesel genset in the garage with the plus that one would get the additional waste heat for free to contribute to the domestic heating.

So how did we get here? The reality of the situation, which is being 'explored' through the Aarhus Convention compliance mechanisms, is that we have a massive programme, which has encurred more than €160 billion in capital investment alone, in which there simply is not an official document, which would pass scrunity as an engineering or environmental assessment. So sadly, it is guys such as the above, who can exploit this vacuum at our expense.

Sep 13, 2012 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

I'm sure there are similar accounting methods that could be applied to solar power to justify an "80% of the time" statement.

I mean, the Sun doesn't have to be actually visible in the sky for enough light to be available to produce a voltage (generate electricity) on the panel terminals. There's plenty of twilight available each day, and the Moon is often up at night reflecting sunlight. Also, in some areas there is plenty of waste light from street lighting. Even if the Moon is not visible, on a clear night there are billions and billions of stars producing more optical energy than you could possibly imagine, it only needs the solar panels to be sensitive enough to pick up on that (Yay for telescopes!).

/sarc

PS, I am aware that voltage does not equal power, but I don't work for RenewableUK.

Sep 13, 2012 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterReg. Blank

The supreme irony of this 160 billion Euro 'investment' is that in a grid like the UK's, including the CO2 cost of the windmill infrastructure, the windmills increase CO2 emissions/fossil fuel use.

Furthermore, relatively low levels of water vapour, ~10% RH at ambient, mask CO2-IR emission/absorption so there can be no CO2-AGW except in the most arid of deserts!

Sep 13, 2012 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

I would have thought the easiest number to debunk is the 5% one.

Mailman

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

"57 per cent have no problem with the visual impact of wind turbines on the landscape."

I wonder how many of the 57% never leave the city, or regard the country as the greenish bit they pass through en route from metropolis to metropolis?

If these devices are so benign, why not site them in the cities?

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterHector Pascal

I noticed there is no mention of shutting down the wind turbine when the wind is too strong.

According to NETA Max capacity is 4838MW and it is currently giving 2817MW

http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm

" Try standing right under one and hear how quiet they are." - you would have to walk over all the dead birds and bats first

"There are many myths peddled about wind energy, often by those with a vested interest in spreading untruths." - he is dead right and he is one of the them - coming out with the myth that they will not cost the Earth!

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

These two statements taken together:

"We already get five per cent of our electricity from wind turbines"

"We know exactly how much wind costs: just 2p per household per day"

imply that if we went over to 100% wind then an average household could expect to pay 40p a day or £146 a year for electricity. This claim is incredible !

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin

I've got a simple question for Maf Smith.
'If wind is so freely available, cheap and reliable, how come no commercial shipping is wind-driven..?'
I've never seen so much b*ll*cks in one document in my life....

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

If wind costs just "2p per household per day", that's £7.30 per year. So, if "we have enough wind energy installed to supply nearly five million households all year round", then those households can have their annual energy requirements met for a total of 5,000,000 * 7.3 = £36,500,000. But we are told that "nearly 12,000 people work in the UK’s wind energy industry", so even assuming zero costs to the industry outside salaries that's about £3,000 per year per worker - somewhat short of the minimum wage.

Mr Smith hasn't noticed that the claims to the cheapness of the energy pull rather in the opposite direction to his claims about the number of people working in the industry.

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

"Independent opinion polls by Ipsos MORI show two-thirds of us want more wind power." As the philosopher Jagger said, "You can't always get what you want."

Many of us also want more money too. Many want to pay less of it directly in to the pockets of people such as Maf Smith, who only promises less for almost everyone.

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Martin

“40p a day or £146 a year for electricity”

But you’d only get it 20% of the time.. :-)

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:42 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Let's hope this tosser's contract isn't renewable....:o)

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

"Nearly 12,000 people work in the UK’s wind energy industry.

That number is set to increase to nearly 90,000 by 2021"

Based on the fact that 3+ real jobs are lost for every renewable job created, we can look forward to the loss of 300,000 real jobs by 2021.
Brilliant strategy/sarc

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

"Turbines don’t need much wind to start turning that’s why they generate electricity for at least 80 per cent of the time."

The power available from an aerogenerator is proportional to pd^2v^3, where
p is the air density, v is the blade diameter, and v is the wind speed.

Wind speed is _everything_: no wind, no power.

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterSleepalot

And the RSPB says they don’t kill birds!

As the immortal Groucho Marx put it. “who are you going to believe - me or your lying eyes?”

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

There are many myths peddled about wind energy, often by those with a vested interest in spreading untruths.

I'll agree with that. I compiled a list years ago of all the BWEA myths and where they were wrong.

Sep 13, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip

Best place to start might be the comments of this Bishop Hill post from last month.

There might be enough installed capacity generating enough energy through the year for 5 million homes but is it available when those homes need it? Windmills might generate for 80% of the time but the capacity factor is dreadful as not a lot of that 80% is at full power.

If you want to keep energy bills as low as possible stop making us pay feed for in tariffs and renewable energy certificates.

Jobs are a cost not a benefit.

On the issue of noise : "There’s no peer-reviewed evidence to support any such claims.". Dr. Carl Phillips from the US was mentioned in this Daily Mail article. He wrote a paper titled Properly Interpreting the Epidemiologic Evidence About the Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines on Nearby Residents.

Sep 13, 2012 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

I'm just off home but thought I'd put a thought out there about maintenance.

I live on the seafront and can proimse you that salt air will eat anything that you leave outside wood, metal and plants doesn't matter, so was wondering where is the oldest off shore wind farm and how is the maintenance costs going for it. Like I said just a thought.

Sep 13, 2012 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

"Gresham’s Law of Green Energy"

"High-cost subsidized renewable resources destroy jobs and hurt consumers."

http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv33n4/regv33n4-3.pdf

"THE WIND PTC THE HIDDEN COSTS OF WIND POWER "

Presentation to: Republican Study Committee Jonathan A. Lesser, PhD September 10, 2012

http://www.eenews.net/assets/2012/09/10/document_pm_05.pdf

Sep 13, 2012 at 3:25 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Here is an interview with an acoustics expert

http://blip.tv/windturbinesyndrome/dr-nina-pierpont-interviews-robert-rand-of-rand-acoustics-5803063

Sep 13, 2012 at 3:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterMack

"Britain is the windiest country in Europe"

Is an argument for not erecting turbines in the UK as they have to be stopped when it is windiest.

Sep 13, 2012 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Nicholas Hallam & 2:17 PM

You're assuming that only the 5M households pay the £7.30 per year. I read it to mean that all households pay (20M?) which bumps the potential salary (assuming zero running costs) per worker to £12,000.

Sep 13, 2012 at 3:49 PM | Registered Commentersteve ta

To echo Shevva's point, the depreciation on an offshore wind turbine must be absolutely immense. Personally, I'd want them written down over no more than three years. But my guess is the claimed economics have them depreciated over 25-30 years minimum. Even then they probably ignore what must be pretty massive maintenance costs.

But, of course, if you're prepared to lie in the accounts using unrealistic depreciation schedules, even the fattest and most unathletic pig can be made to seem to fly for a while.

Sep 13, 2012 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterTaylor

I see from LinkedIn that Maf Smith studied MSc European Environmental Regulation & Policy:

uk.linkedin.com/pub/maf-smith/25/131/768

Maybe Lewandowsky has a point ;-) I'm suddenly conjuring up images of the European Union grooming "future talent" as part of a long term plan to kill nation states through the vehicle of climate fear.

Sep 13, 2012 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Blofeld

Is there a reliable source even for his first statement - namely that the UK is the windiest country in Europe? Rather annoyingly, wind enthusiasts in this country make a great play on how windy it is, as if they thought this constituted a reason for expanding the industry.

Sep 13, 2012 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

When will the RIA grasp the nettle and propose getting wind turbines out of sight by the razing and replacement of all private residences with clusters of 100-story cylindrical tower blocks powered by Burj Dubai tall wind turbines atop them.

If each accomodates 630,000 souls, just 100 equidistant Windhenges could house all Britain, with nary a wind farm in sigt, and as long as residents noise-canceling ear implants work, no complaints abourthe overhead heli thrumping either.

Sep 13, 2012 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Being the windiest country in Europe means the spectral range of energies from wind arrays is also the widest in Europe. This means we have to have enormous pump storage or lots of OCGTs to damp out these oscillations. If the former are pumped with nuclear power, they'll be CO2-free. The latter cause a significant rise in fossil fuel use with the windmills compared without them. Windmills are a dead loss above a fairly low penetration.

Sep 13, 2012 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Jobs are a cost, never a benefit. If an industry requires more people to produce a little bit more then it is being extremely inefficient. An efficient industry will cut the number of jobs as it gets more bigger and better.

As pesadia notes above, 3 real jobs are lost for every green job, it's not good for the UK's GDP to have lots of people producing expensive electricity. We want fewer people producing electricity so that more people can actually use it to make stuff.

The whole jobs thing is like the changes from agricultural to manufacturing to service. Originally there were lots of labourers on farms, but then along came tractors and suddenly all those people could go and do better things in the cities. And it so it goes on.

Basically Maf Smith is admitting that his industry is crap.

Sep 13, 2012 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterSadButMadLad

I submitted this comment on the Delingpole blog but for some reason it was deleted. BH readers may recognise that I composed it mainly from recent BH articles and comments.
I would like Maf Smith, Deputy Chief Executive, RenewableUK to explain how consumer electricity bills will remain affordable when we are building two entirely duplicated sets of generating capacity, one to use when the wind blows and the other to use when there is no wind.
I would also like him to explain how consumer electricity bills will remain affordable when a consumer price “double whammy” is created by heavy reliance on wind power i.e. because wind power has priority over thermal power, when the wind blows the high wind power feed in tariff (double or triple the cost of gas-fired electricity) has to be paid and when the wind doesn’t blow, the reserve thermal plant spot price is higher than it would otherwise have been without all the wind turbines, because the overheads are spread over shorter output periods. For details see the Poyry Report on Wind Intermittency: http://www.uwig.org/ImpactofIntermittency.pdf.
Finally, I would like him to comment on the fact that the EU renewables energy programme has recently been declared illegal by the UN Economic Commission for Europe, because it breaches the Aarhus Convention on transparency and justice in public consultations. See press release for details: http://www.epaw.org/press/EPAW_WCFN_media_release_26August2012.pdf.

Sep 13, 2012 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered Commenternimrod29

SadButMadLad

I agree. The industry should be trying to produce energy with the fewest number of employees. It's called productivity and until recently the golden rule of industry, if it wanted to thrive and survive was to keep improving productivity. Reduced productivity, as encouraged by the wind industry, is yet another sign of this counrty's decline as the benefits of the Industrial Revolution are rapidly reversed.

Sep 13, 2012 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"Windiest place in Europe" might be from this ASA decision

Sep 13, 2012 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Wind power is a money generating scheme, not a job creation scheme. It has recently been announced that up to 90 jobs could go at Aberpergwm colliery in the Neath Valley, with the US owners (Walter) blaming low global coal prices and threat from a wind farm application.

If the wind farm goes ahead, it will effectively sterilise the area as far as further expansion of coal mining is concerned, because of the risk that subsidence may damage the precious bird and bat mashers.

If the wind industry get away with this in the South Wales uplands, they will no doubt use it as method of preventing coal and gas extraction from other areas of Britain, that might be in competition with them.

Sep 13, 2012 at 5:20 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Shale gas in cheap in USA. Small Solid Oxide Fuel Cells will be soon on the market. Dumping the grid for silent cheaper home generated electricity will soon be possible.

Sep 13, 2012 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

"We have enough wind energy installed to supply nearly five million households all year round."

No you do not. You have never supplied that quantity all year round and there are periods when you have supplied SFA.

Sep 13, 2012 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

TerryS

Thank you for the ASA report on Mackie's. Unbelievable!

And their ice-cream is nothing like as nice as Lidl's...

Sep 13, 2012 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Be optimistic folks!

I think the projected growth in jobs to 90,000 is simply an admission that by 2021 they will have to start pulling them all down.
This should help stop people stealing the lead off their local church roof hehe

Sep 13, 2012 at 5:46 PM | Registered CommenterDung

When Esbjorn Wilmar, of Infinergy, which builds and operates turbines, introduced himself to the Duke at a reception in London, he found himself on the end of an outspoken attack on his industry.

“He said they were absolutely useless, completely reliant on subsidies and an absolute disgrace,” said Mr Wilmar. “I was surprised by his very frank views.” Mr Wilmar said his attempts to argue that onshore wind farms were one of the most cost-effective forms of renewable energy received a fierce response from the Duke. “He said, 'You don’t believe in fairy tales do you?’” said Mr Wilmar. “He said that they would never work as they need back-up capacity.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/prince-philip/8901985/Wind-farms-are-useless-says-Prince-Philip.html

(Philip is patron of some 800 organisations, particularly focused on the environment, industry, sport, and education. He served as UK President of the World Wildlife Fund from 1961 to 1982, International President from 1981 and President Emeritus from 1996.) (from Wiki)

Sep 13, 2012 at 5:48 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

I suspect most of these "Facts" will have been checked already and references ready to be presented if they haven't already. The debunking will be in whatever has been missed out, as Mr Macintyre often says - watch the pea.

Sep 13, 2012 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

As noted in the thread last month
http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/8/21/yup-desperate.html

the 2p per day claim is only the cost of the Renewables Obligation Certificate (actually the half of the ROC attributable to wind power).

DECC's own figures show that climate policies cost far more than that (see Annex D on p62
in this pdf: http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/about-us/economics-social-research/3593-estimated-impacts-of-our-policies-on-energy-prices.pdf)

DECC says that taking all the costs of "energy and climate change policies" together comes to £89 per household per year in 2011 = 24p per household per day or 7% of gas and electricity bills.

I can't see any way in which the 2p per day figure can be said to be 'the cost of wind energy'. It does not include the wholesale price of electricity generated from wind or any infrastructure and transmission costs nor does it include feed-in tariffs.

Sep 13, 2012 at 6:00 PM | Registered CommenterDR

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/prince-philip/8901985/Wind-farms-are-useless-says-Prince-Philip.html

It's too bad about the eldest son, isn't it?

Sep 13, 2012 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterdcardno

Turbines don’t need much wind to start turning that’s why they generate electricity for at least 80 per cent of the time.

Is that per windmill, or nationally? What percentage of maximum power is the minimum the generate? 1% could count in his equation.

Be useful to have a graph per hour over a month of power generation from windmills as a percentage of power consumption nationally.

Sep 13, 2012 at 6:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

"Turbines don’t need much wind to start turning that’s why they generate electricity for at least 80 per cent of the time."

There are lots of images available from a Google search showing typical power vs wind speed curves, but they're all in new fangled metric measure. This is from one of the Dutch reports recently publicised here, and in knots (1.1 x mph for the "oldies")
http://tinypic.com/r/2ee8xhv/6
In light winds they may be turning, but actually contributing bugger all to the grid...

Sep 13, 2012 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave ward

"Britain is the windiest country in Europe so let’s use it to the full."

We should not forget that just because the country is the windiest, the wind speed needs to be compatible with the wind turbine. If it is too low or too high, electricity will not be generated. Therefore, being the windiest is not necessarilty the most productive since there could be a high occurence of wind too strong for turbine operation.

Sep 13, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

Reg. Blank said:

I'm sure there are similar accounting methods that could be applied to solar power to justify an "80% of the time" statement.

I mean, the Sun doesn't have to be actually visible in the sky for enough light to be available to produce a voltage (generate electricity) on the panel terminals.

In the Second World War the British Army sometimes used "Monty's moonlight" for night time operations. Search lights would be shone at clouds and some of the light would be reflected downwards creating just enough illumination for the soldiers to see what they were doing.

As Britain is a rather cloudy island we could use wind turbines to power search lights pointing at the clouds and some of their reflected light would illuminate solar cells so that their productive time would not be limited to the daylight hours.

Of course this would be completely barking mad, but would it be any dafter than other "green" schemes?

Sep 13, 2012 at 7:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

For a minute, there, I thought it said Fisting Renewables ... ho hum

Sep 13, 2012 at 7:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterqwerty

Doesn't the whole spiel fall down when you challenge the "80%" operating efficiency - that is the intent of the
stat, right, that 80% of the time wind turbines are operating as desired.

The Netherlands was 26% efficiency, right?

Sep 13, 2012 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

"We want to keep electricity bills as low as possible."

No you don't: you object to reduction in Feed In Tarrifs. Feed In Tarrifs increase the cost of electricity.

Sep 13, 2012 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

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