American Elephants

A New Economic Analysis Says Wind Power is Worse than a Mistake! by The Elephant's Child

One of the United Kingdom’s leading energy and environmental economists has warned that wind power is an extraordinarily expensive and inefficient way of reducing CO2 emissions. There is a significant risk he said, that annual CO2 emissions could be greater as a result of Britain’s flawed wind policies when compared with the option of investing inefficient and flexible gas combined cycle plants.

Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University found that

—Meeting the UK Government’s target for renewable generation in 2020 will require total wind capacity of 36 GW backed up by 13 GW of open cycle gas plants plus large complementary investments in transmission capacity at a cost of about £120 billion.

—The same electricity demand could be met from 21.5 GW of combined cycle gas plants at a cost of £13 billion — an order of magnitude cheaper than the wind version.

—Under the most favorable assumptions for wind power, the Government’s wind policy will reduce emissions of CO2 at an average cost of £270 per metric ton (at 2009 prices) which means that meeting the UK’s renewable energy target would cost a staggering £78 billion per year in 2020.

The key problems with current wind power policies are simple.  They require a huge commitment of investment resources in a technology that is not very green in the sense of saving a lot of CO2, but which is very expensive and inflexible. Unless the UK Government  scales back its commitment to wind power very substantially, it’s policy will be worse than a mistake, it will be a blunder.

The full report is here. Perhaps someone should forward it to Secretary Chu? Obama? Granted, it’s all delineated in British pounds, but the message is fairly clear.

As far as I can tell, all wind farms go in with the assumption that they will be successful and last for a long time. That does not appear to be the case. I read very recently that their expected shelf-life is only about 20 years. I have also read that you will never see a wind farm where all the turbines are actually turning. There are dreadful pictures available of abandoned wind farms. That’s a lot of metal and electronics and who knows what else to dispose of.

Do we pay attention to warnings like this? Or do we just swallow the promoters songs about capacity? Surely there is someone somewhere who wants to save money? Britain is far from alone in taking a second hard look at wind power.

The problem is government renewable energy mandates  which have locked them in on doing something stupid. The name may change, to clean energy technologies, or some other descriptor, but it’s still the same old cap-and-trade by a different name.

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Granted, it’s all delineated in British pounds, but the message [is] fairly clear.

As of today, 1.00 GBP = USD 1.58. I think Secretary Chu can do the math.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

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