Great Britain demonstrates that spending money on wind power is like pissing into the wind

by editor on July 13, 2011

Smart folks like Barack Obama love ideas like wind power. No dirty fossil fuels, no emissions, no carbon dioxide (something plants need, but hell, they don’t vote) and a chance to pay back the bros at windmill-maker GE. What could go wrong? Everything.

wind-power-great-britain

The green armada may be able to accomplish what the Spanish Armada couldn't

Ace reveals the realities discovered by the British utilizing windmills to lower CO2 emissions:

Problem One. Wind Power isn’t cost effective compared to fossil fuel plants. The only way wind turbines get built is if somebody (via higher electric bills) subsidizes them.

Problem Two. Wind Power isn’t consistent. In the Brit winter you might have 4-5 day periods when little or no wind is blowing. The rest of the time, output will fluctuate greatly which Just Doesn’t Work with a power grid. So you need backup power for your wind turbines.

Problem Three. Not only do you have to pay for 17 gigawatts of wind farms you also have to build and pay for 17 gigawatts of backup gas turbine plants.

[Backup turbines] have the ability to quickly move from idling to full power to compensate for the erratic wind turbines…. The turbines emit more CO2 when they’re idling than when they’re at full power…. The CO2 emitted while idling wipes out any savings you could get from the wind farms!

Spending lots of money to gain exactly nothing – another example of the “brilliance” of the political class, a bunch of silly pompous dicks who live to piss in the wind.

Unfortunately, the taxpayers are the ones whose shoes are getting wet.

– Written by Bonfire of the Absurdities

Source: Ace

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30 Comments on "Great Britain demonstrates that spending money on wind power is like pissing into the wind"

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KimmyQueen
Guest

Every week it seems these stories continue to happen where we see that after a decade or two of trying to please the Gaia worshippers people in general are getting zip for their efforts. Well… except for Al Gore (and others like him) it seems.

Buck O'Fama
Guest

Markets work because, unlike central planners, they are NOT stupid. Individuals are generally better at assessing costs and benefits and allocating capital in their small scope of expertise (their homes, their businesses, their farms, etc) than government central planners are doing it for them on a one-size-fits-all basis from a distant ivory tower in Knowitallsville DC.

Individuals can and will make use of wind and other alternative energy sources where they make sense economically. Any energy source that has to be subsidized generously in order to get people to adopt it does NOT make sense economically. Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, fossil fuels are still our best energy sources based on cost per watt, reliability and safety. Nuclear is also pretty good but the headline risk will prevent usage from expanding. Someday technology like thorium reactors may overcome many of the fears. Solar has potential as the technology improves and costs come down; if solar can someday become cost-effective in less sunny areas like the Northeast, it may be a big winner. Winds’ drawback is simple; the wind simply does not blow consistently enough in most places for it to be reliable. JMHO.

Colorado Russ
Guest

I suggest that wind turbines can store their intermittent and unreliable energy by cracking water into it’s component hydrogen and oxygen gasses.
This fuel can then be used to power fuel cells or hydrogen engines.

perlcat
Member

I suggest we put a dome over DC, and power the nation with methane from all their BS.

RockingHorseGuy
Member

That’s an interesting theory, CR. Now who’s going to pay for the research into the idea?

Rugby1
Guest

You would be incorrect, regarding the amount of subsidies and the overall cost.

Start here: http://www.amazon.com/False-Promise-Green-Energy/dp/1935308416

If you feel that book is biased, read the source material that the authors provide. Current subsidies and other market distortion for renewable and especially wind are extremely high, especially when compared to actual energy production.

“And there’s no externality in terms of changing the electrical grid for Wind or for storage, because that cost is already born when you add a new wind farm just as you would have to alter the grid when you add a new fossil-fuel power plant, and fossil fuel plants are no more able to store produced power than wind plants.”

That is actually not true. Wind farms can only be built in certain areas and most of those areas do not have any of the electrical infrastructure therefore building of the windfarms would require the capital intensive work of altering or adding into our existing electric grid. Because fossil fuel plants can be located by existing grids, capital costs are inherently lower and they produce much higher amounts of energy.

2) I did not accuse you of anything but I do think you kind of glossed over the problems with “Geothermal heat storage, batteries, reverse pumps to fill reservoirs, etc. are alternative ways to store energy during peak production for use during peak consumption” those technologies have their own problems. Batteries for example. Batteries are highly toxic to produce and have a very limited storage capacity meaning you would have to make many in order to capture just a small amount of the power produced during the peak periods for wind. That is all I meant, as I do not think you can just make a broad statement that these untested technologies can fill the gap, without mentioning their costs and limitations.

3) I completely agree. I would be for the removal of ALL subsidies for every type of energy (and on a larger scale all types of businesses/technology) I would do this to let a true market decide as I am have an absolute concern with the government picking winner and losers in specific technologies, as the government often picks things that are in line with what benefits specific producers that line government coffers, not with what assists the consumer.

And if your last statement is true, then why do you skip over so many of the limitations associated with the technologies you describe? My background is in hard science and economics, enough to understand the basis for energy production, transport, and distribution.
You have made sweeping statements regarding the viability of technologies that cannot currently survive without massive government distortions.

Jacques P.
Guest

Barb – thanks, I didn’t know you could “unhide” a hidden comment. Appreciate the reply.

FormerlyDeanH
Guest

A cursory glance at your hidden comment should have been sufficient for an advanced person such as yourself to see the “Click here to see” immediately after it informed that it was hidden due to a poor rating. The site lets the readers ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ each comment. If the margin gets to 3 negative the comment is hidden. If a hidden comment gets enough positive votes it can get shown again, if it gets back inside the margin. I find this method most enjoyable. The visitors of the site determine if they want this space taken up or stashed out of view. IHTM rocks for many other reasons as well.

RockingHorseGuy
Member

College boy couldn’t read those big words.

Babydoll102187
Member

I couldnt understand much of what he was saying, my mind cant wrap that many times. Maybe I need to go back to college to understand chemical engineering and MBA finance speak.

But I admit I gave him a thumbs up the second post, Kudos for trying I guess.

FormerlyDeanH
Guest

I love the thumb down that follows me around. I really do. If that little thumb ever stops pushing my down button I don’t know what I’ll do!

drb
Member

Awww, you must have hurt someone’s feelings too.

FormerlyDeanH
Guest

Yeah. Waaa. Oh well. At least their tail didn’t get caught when I slammed the door.

Jacques P.
Guest

It seems I’m being rated on my orthodoxy, rather than the logic of my arguments. And a site that hides comments because of negative ratings (as opposed to patently offensive or violent language) is an echo chamber, not a place for true dialog.
1) When fossil fuels extraction companies pay almost nothing in extraction royalties, and are further propped up by hidden subsidies for highway transport, and finally are absolved of the majority of the costs of clean up and health (higher asthma rates, water pollution, etc.), I would wager they still outweigh the subsidies provided to wind power – hidden or unhidden. If anyone can point to specific studies that show either case, I’m open to facts, not ad-hominem attacks. And there’s no externality in terms of changing the electrical grid for Wind or for storage, because that cost is already born when you add a new wind farm just as you would have to alter the grid when you add a new fossil-fuel power plant, and fossil fuel plants are no more able to store produced power than wind plants.
2) Where did you partially address storage in your second paragraph? I wasn’t writing a treatise on energy storage, but making a comment in a short space, so what would be the reason to accuse me of glossing over something?
3) A true libertarian or conservative would admit thoughtfully that subsidies or fiats, whether provided to existing programs (fossil fuels) or new programs (wind power) should be equally discouraged to all programs, and to let the market ultimately decide which is better. It’s not rigorous to avoid putting the same level of scrutiny on one energy source while demanding higher levels of scrutiny on another, simply because one is already in use more than the other.
I understand the science AND economics behind it, as I have both a chemical engineering degree and an MBA in Finance. What’s your basis?

brm
Member

Your comment can be opened by clicking “click here to see”.

RockingHorseGuy
Member

You’ll find, Jock, that on a board where liberal policies are not well respected, your college degrees don’t mean much either. Since nearly all colleges are bastions of backward thinking liberalism, we just don’t get all excited about your degrees.
By the way, unless it’s Olivia or one of the racist trolls here, I open nearly all of the posts that are hidden by negative comments. Post a bunch of nonsense for a few weeks in a row, and I’ll quit opening them.

Not so silent
Member

I guess in your “studies” you forgot to read about extration tax, strip mine reclamation and all the other thinsg energy companies do. Most states (the smart ones) charge a exciss tax on coal, oil and natural gas, plus have programs in place to cap old wells and restore the land.

Your statement about paying nothing in extration tax is, sorry, a load of dung. Otherwise how do you explain North Dakota’s oil boom and B ILLION dollar budget surplus? Yea that was Billion with a capital B. States like Kalifornia whine about drilling and want to tax the oil companies because their legislature was too Stupid to create a fair and profit making extration tax…Now Governor Moonbean wants wind and solar and electric cars, which by the way get plugged into the grid and get power from…ah ha coal or hydro…..

If the goverment of President Volt would get out of the way, might have a nationwide energy boom thats ours, can be stored and make us secure..wind is for kites

Not so silent
Member

The only susatinable wind power would be the hot air flowing from near any government building, plus the added plus of a large pile of bullshit, which when dried can be burned for power….

Jim Stewart
Member

At least people who piss into the wind usually stop as soon as they realize what’s happening. The windmill advocates keep right on pissing.

BMF
Member

This was a reply to a earlier post that as apparently been hidden where the author was praising the cost benefits and technology solutions of wind. Therefore, my comment doesn’t make as much sense with the context of the original post. Sorry about that.

So here is my reply to that post——-

And your cost effecitveness arguement ignores the government subsidies given to build and mantain wind turbines that still only produce electricity at a higher cost per KWH than fossil fuels.

You also ignore the growing mountain of evidence that CO2 isn’t harming the environment in any measurable way. In fact, every doom and gloom prediction of environmental disaster attributed to AGW was failed to materialze and/or has been debunked as nonsense since the first Earth Day in 1976.

With regard to your suggestions about consistency, don’t you think if they were viable options the green governments, environmentalist, and even scientists who were still rational would have done all of that by now?

It’s like Ethanol. Everyone who didn’t have a poltical agenda knew Ethanol would increase costs and require massive government subsidies without providing any benefits. Even Al Gore now admits that Ethanol is a bad idea. After only 30 years and about 1.2 trillion in subsidies to Ethanol, even Congress, the last to admit their mistakes, is now talking seriously about ending it because there are no tangible benefits from the program.

And you forgot to mention the tax breaks that the wind turbine manufactures and the companies running the turbines get on top of the subsidies.

You also forgot to mention why oil and coal companies get subsidies in the first place. Actually, they don’t get any subsidies, they get tax credits that liberals call subsidies. And what are those tax credits? Why they are standard tax credits available to thousands of business who do business overseas to compensate for being double taxed both in foreign countries and in the US. Essentially the tax credit levels the playing field so that companies only pay the equivalent of one tax–not two–so they can remain competitive in the foreign markets. That’s your so called subsidies for the big bad greedy oil and coal companies and thousands of other companies that take advantage of the tax credits. Want to get rid of them? Fine, but our foreign trade deficit will skyrocket because we can compete overseas.

On the other hand, the subsides to GE to build wind turbines and to the companies using wind turbines are a pure subsidy straight out of the consumers pocket because wind is not commercially vaible as a source of energy for the foreseeable future. If today you cut every tax credit the oil and coal companies get, they would still be commercially viable in in the US–they just wouldn’t be able to do business overseas.

BTW, GE gets the same tax credits as the oil and coal companies because they sell wind turbines overseas as well. Actually, GE gets more because the government, for political reasons, has capped the oil and coal credits at a lower percentage than what all other companies receive.

If wind were economically viable, companies would be crawling over themselves throwing private capital into the pot and making an honest living. But that ain’t the case.

I think you need to retake Economics 101.

If wind and solar were economically feasible, the government wouldn’t be involved.

If the government wants to help, then it should establish an agency much like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and call it the Commercial Advanced Research Projects Agency (CARPA) to conduct pure research into new commercial technologes and then fairly and without bias giving those technologies to the commercial markets to use. Instead of giving GE billions in subsidies for politically mandated wind turbines, let CARPA use that money to find economical ways to solve the techology problems in the area of energy and the let the free market use them for the betterment of us all in a cost effective way.

TednP
Guest

BMF, totally agree with your points except for the part about the gov doing the research. Bad, bad idea. The government idiots suck at research. The biggest reason why is they they have no agenda bigger than continuous funding. Which means they can spin wheels for half of an eternity. Anything the lifer college students that work within the government get involved in turns to shit. That’s why they work for the government and not for-profit companies. They could never hold down a real job.

hisham
Guest

“Anything the lifer college students that work within the government get involved in turns to shit. That’s why they work for the government and not for-profit companies. They could never hold down a real job.”

You’re probably right, the perpetual college student never has to grow up, never has to be challenged, never has to make an adult decision, never has to justify his efforts, or lack thereof, and never has to stop smoking dope!

jukin
Guest

1+1=POTATO!!!!1111!!!!eleventy

Navyvet
Member

On the surface all this touchy feeling stuff sounds good. Especially when it is pimped by the slimy media. (Pardon the redundancy) But when you begin to scratch the surface and see just a few facts, it all turns to shit. The pol’s and grant grubbers are just blowing smoke up the public’s ass. People need to WTFU! (Fat chance)

Jacques P.
Guest

There are several factual errors as well as conceptual myopia in this article.
1) The cost effectiveness argument ignores the hidden subsidies enjoyed by fossil fuels (e.g. tax breaks, significantly reduced mineral rights royalties, transportation subsidies, etc.) and the ignored externality costs of fossil fuels as well (econ 101, tragedy of the commons: who pays for dirty air, dirty water, and there’s no such thing as “clean coal”, etc.). You start taking those into account, and wind doesn’t look so expensive and coal so cheap.
2) The only answer to the consistency problem isn’t turbines. Geothermal heat storage, batteries, reverse pumps to fill reservoirs, etc. are alternative ways to store energy during peak production for use during peak consumption.
3) Turbines do NOT emit more CO2 when they’re idling vs. running at full tilt: it’s basic Thermodynamics. What does happen is the idling CO2 is “wasted” because it’s not being put to productive use. That certainly is bad and does offset CO2 reductions from wind power, but like I said above, turbines are by no means the only answer to the consistency problem.
Rather than trying to “pay back your bros” at Big Coal, a more conservative energy policy doesn’t rely on any single power source but looks a mix of alternatives and the true costs associated with all of them to come to a balanced solution.

Rugby1
Guest

1) Actually no. Despite the costs of the tax breaks associated with oil companies, wind sources and renewable resources receive MUCH higher tax incentives than those traditional energy companies. Moreover you have completely discounted the externalities associated with wind power while highlighting the externalities of carbon based energy. What about the massive capital costs associated with changing our current electrical grid infrastructure, what about the support during the intermittent down periods for wind generation, costs to bird and wildlife population (don’t liberals love animals?), noise pollution, transmission issues, and no capacity for electrical storage. Any ideas on all those or are you simply glossing over them.

2) I addressed this partially in my first paragraph but storage capacity for those things you mention is almost non-existent and reliant on further assumptions about their operating abilities.

3) I will complete grant you the lower CO2 emissions. And I will grant you the need to look at additional energy sources, what I do not want is for new energy sources to be forced onto us by government fiat, especially when I will be forced to bear the costs in forms of higher energy prices and less reliable energy output.

Do you actually understand either the science or costs associated with the technology you speak of?

hisham
Guest

Isn’t CO2 a trace element? Isn’t the gasified form of CO2 so negligible as to be almost unworthy of notice? And if the planet begins to cool rapidly, wouldn’t we want as much of it as possible? You star struck unicorn milkers want your cake and you want to eat it too. Grow up!

Big Al
Member

The more that you know about wind power the less there is to like.

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