Today I hope to change the pace here at the Sandpit so I invite you all to consider the issue of alternate sources of energy. Our friends who follow the Green religion are very keen to suggest that anything is better than coal but I think that the reality is that wind certainly isn’t a better way to make electricity for the times when we actually need it.
“People are fed up with having their property devalued and sleep ruined by noise from large wind turbines,” says the association’s president, Boye Jensen Odsherred. “We receive constant calls from civic groups that want to join.”
In one typical battle, in the central city of Svendborg, the local council set height and number limits on turbines under heavy pressure from locals. “The violent protests and the uncertainty about low-frequency noise means that right now we will not expose our citizens to large windmills,” said the deputy mayor, Lars Erik Hornemann.
There has also been growing scrutiny of the wind industry’s macro claims. Though wind may indeed generate an amount of electricity equal to about a fifth of Danes’ needs, most of that electricity cannot actually be used in Denmark.
Except with hydropower, electricity cannot be stored in large quantities. The power companies have to generate it at the moment you need to use it. But wind’s key disadvantage – in Denmark, as elsewhere – is its unpredictability and uncontrollability. Most of the time, the wind does not blow at the right speeds to generate electricity. And even when it does, that is often at times when little electricity is needed – in the middle of the night, for instance.
So most of the wind electricity Denmark generates has to be exported, through interconnection cables – to Germany, to balance the fluctuations in that country’s own wind carpet, or to Sweden and Norway, whose entire power system is hydroelectric, and where it can be stored. (The Swedes and Norwegians use it themselves – or sell it back, at a profit, to the Danes. If they use it themselves, there is, of course, no saving whatever of C02 – because all Norway and Sweden’s domestically-generated hydropower is carbon-neutral anyway.)
“I would interpret the [export] data as showing that the Danes rely on their fossil-fuel plants for their everyday needs,” says John Constable, research director for the London-based Renewable Energy Foundation, which has commissioned detailed research on the Danish experience. “They don’t get 20 per cent of their electricity from wind. The truth is that a much larger unit, consisting of Denmark and Germany, has managed to get about 7 per cent – and that only because of a fortuitous link with Norwegian and Swedish hydropower.”
But worse till is the fact that the large subsidies that have been paid to build these turbines have resulted in much higher energy prices for the average Dane
Unfortunately, Danish electricity bills have been almost as dramatically affected as the Danish landscape. Thanks in part to the windfarm subsidies, Danes pay some of Europe’s highest energy tariffs – on average, more than twice those in Britain. Under public pressure, Denmark’s ruling Left Party is curbing the handouts to the wind industry.
Take note of this Comrades because under the influence of the Green Faith we will see a lot more of these three-legged white elephants built in this country under the pretence that they are “good for the environment” or that they will help to “reduce our Carbon footprint” when in fact they are neither. Here in Australia we lack both the precipitation or the geography to store the energy by pumping water for Hydro-power we have no neighbours who can do that for us and as the Danish experience shows subsidising alternative energy by increasing the cost of electricity just distorts the market for no overall gain in energy security. There is a lesson here too for those who advocate a carbon tax. The rational for a “carbon price” is that making the cost of energy form fossil fuel more expensive the relatively more expensive (and less reliable) alternate sources of energy become more competitive. This strikes me as being a completely arse about line of thinking. The efforts should obviously be addressed at the short comings of the alternatives rather than adding a burden on the systems that work to make things like wind and solar appear viable.
The other thing that I think will happen is that once we reach a fairly low saturation point with domestic Photovoltaic installations that are connected to the grid we are going to see the enthusiasm of utilities to buy the energy thus collected rapidly decline, quite simply because it will be produced at a time when it is least needed and once there are enough people claiming a credit off their energy bills for what is essentially unusable energy the utilities will have to raise the general cost of electricity per KWH to compensate for the added expense that they are incurring.
Ah the distorting effect of ideologically induced subsidies!
Ain’t it grand?
Well I suppose we had better get used to it because this is just the sort of nonsense that the Warminisitas have in mind for the country as they flex their tail muscles in preperation for wagging the Labor Dog.