27 June, 2011

Throwing Money to the Winds

From the UK’s This Is Money comes “Energy giants want billions for back-up to windfarms”, by Tom Mcghie:
Britain’s richest energy companies want homeowners to subsidise billions of pounds worth of gas-powered stations that will stand idle for most of the time.  Talks have taken place between the Government, Centrica, owner of British Gas, and other energy companies on incentives to build the power stations needed as back-ups for the wind farms now being built around the country.
It is understood 17 gas-fired plants worth about £10 billion will be needed by 2020.
The Energy Department has been warned that without this massive back-up for the new generation of heavily subsidised giant wind farms, the lights could go out when the wind dies down.  Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of Centrica, said renewables, such as large-scale wind energy, were intermittent and required back-up generation, a role gas was uniquely qualified to fill.  But as power stations that operate only intermittently would not be financially viable, Laidlaw said:  “The building of new gas-fired capacity must be incentivised so that gas can fulfil its role as a bridging fuel.”
To that end, energy companies are asking the Government for “capacity payments”. This ensures firms are paid a fee all year round for keeping a plant on standby.  [...]
Industry sources insist the Government has no alternative but to agree to the “capacity payments” for standby generation if it wants wind power, which also receives huge subsidies, to provide one-third of Britain's energy needs.  In winter, when the most intense cold period coincides with a high pressure front, most wind turbines do not work.
One industry executive said:  “Why would we build a power station—costing about £600 million—that is guaranteed to make a loss because it is not used most of the year?”
Scarcely a day goes by without more evidence to show why the Government's obsession with wind turbines, now at the centre of our national energy policy, is one of the greatest political blunders of our time.  Under a target agreed with the EU, Britain is committed within ten years—at astronomic expense—to generating nearly a third of its electricity from renewable sources, mainly through building thousands more wind turbines.
But the penny is finally dropping for almost everyone—except our politicians—that to rely on windmills to keep our lights on is a colossal and very dangerous act of self-deception.
Take, for example, the 350ft monstrosity familiar to millions of motorists who drive past as it sluggishly revolves above the M4 outside Reading.
This wind turbine performed so poorly (working at only 15% of its capacity) that the £130,000 government subsidy given to its owners was more than the £100,000 worth of electricity it produced last year.
Meanwhile, official figures have confirmed that during those freezing, windless weeks around Christmas, when electricity demand was at record levels, the contribution made by Britain’s 3,500 turbines was minuscule.  [...]
The point about wind, of course, is that it is constantly varying in speed, so that the output of turbines averages out at barely a quarter of their capacity.
This means that the 1,000 megawatts all those 3,500 turbines sited around the country feed on average into the grid is derisory:  no more than the output of a single, medium-sized conventional power station.  [...]
The second great lie about wind power is the pretence that it is not a preposterously expensive way to produce electricity.  No one would dream of building wind-turbines unless they were guaranteed a huge government subsidy.  This comes in the form of the Renewables Obligation Certificate subsidy scheme, paid for through household bills, whereby owners of wind turbines earn an additional £49 for every “megawatt hour” they produce, and twice that sum for offshore turbines.  [...]
The third great lie of the wind propagandists is that this industry is somehow making a vital contribution to 'saving the planet' by cutting our emissions of CO2.  Even if you believe that curbing our use of fossil fuels could change the Earth's climate, the CO2 reduction achieved by wind turbines is so insignificant that one large windfarm saves considerably less in a year than is given off over the same period by a single jumbo jet flying daily between Britain and America.
In Australia, unfortunately, the incompetent Gillard Government and the misanthracist Greens are committed to wasting thousands of millions of dollars on all sorts of airy schemes because their idiotic acceptance of the fraudulent conjecture of CAGW and their myopic, misanthropic neo-Malthusianism.
(Thanks to the Global Warming Policy Foundation.)

UPDATE I (9 July):  see the Institute for Energy Research’sBritain Evaluates Capacity Payments for Back-Up Generators to Wind Power”.

UPDATE II (12 July):  see David Derbyshire, in The Daily Mail, “The wind turbine backlash: Growing public opposition thwarts green energy drive”:
Plans to cover Britain with wind farms are being thwarted by a growing tide of public opposition.
Nearly half of all onshore wind farms in England and Wales are being refused planning permission, figures reveal.
The percentage of such developments being refused planning permission has risen sharply over the last five years.
UPDATE III (12 September):  see Christopher Booker, in The Daily Telegraph, “Wind farms: the monuments to lunacy that will be left to blot the landscape”:
Three separate news items on the same day last week reflected three different aspects of what is fast becoming a full-scale disaster bearing down on Britain.  The first item was a picture in The Daily Telegraph showing two little children forlornly holding a banner reading “E.On Hands Off Winwick”.
This concerned a battle to prevent a tiny Northamptonshire village from being dwarfed by seven 410-foot wind turbines, each higher than Salisbury Cathedral, to be built nearby by a giant German-owned electricity firm.  The 40 residents, it was reported, have raised £50,0000 from their savings to pay lawyers to argue their case when their village’s fate is decided at an inquiry by a Government inspector.
In the nine years since I began writing here about wind turbines, I have been approached by more than 100 such local campaigns in every part of Britain, trying to fight the rich and powerful companies that have been queuing up to cash in on the vast subsidy bonanza available to developers of wind farms.  Having been the chairman of one such group myself, I know just how time-consuming and costly such battles can be.  The campaigners are up against a system horribly rigged against them, because all too often – although they may win every battle locally (in our case we won unanimous support from our local council) – in the end an inspector may come down from London to rule that the wind farm must go ahead because it is “government policy”.

1 comment:

ItsFairComment said...

You mustn't believe the lies of the Green zealots. And I should know - I was one

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2010981/You-mustnt-believe-lies-Green-zealots-And-I-know--I-one.html#ixzz1RPdLLcWT