Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Telegraph's Delingpole: "Wind farms: even worse than we thought…"

From decidedly "non-warmer" James Delingpole on wind farms (he calls " Bat Chomping Eco-Crucifixes") that:

ruin views, kill birds, cause bats to implode, destroy the British film industry, frighten horses, enrich rent-seeking toffs like David Cameron's father-in-law Sir Reginald Sheffield Bt, drive up electricity bills, kill jobs, create fuel poverty, cause old people to die of hypothermia, wipe out property values, drive people mad with strobing and noise pollution and enable smug liberal idiots to spout rubbish like "Oh, I don't mind them. Actually I think they're rather beautiful", but also by 2020 they're set to drive up consumer bills in the UK alone by £120 billion.

From The Telegraph (James Delingpole; 3/8/2012):

The Global Warming Policy Foundation has produced yet another devastating report: this time on the economics of wind farms. Turns out they're even worse than we thought.

Not only do the Bat Chomping Eco-Crucifixes (TM) ruin views, kill birds, cause bats to implode, destroy the British film industry, frighten horses, enrich rent-seeking toffs like David Cameron's father-in-law Sir Reginald Sheffield Bt, drive up electricity bills, kill jobs, create fuel poverty, cause old people to die of hypothermia, wipe out property values, drive people mad with strobing and noise pollution and enable smug liberal idiots to spout rubbish like "Oh, I don't mind them. Actually I think they're rather beautiful", but also by 2020 they're set to drive up consumer bills in the UK alone by £120 billion.

This is about ten times more than it would cost if we stuck to gas. (Which we have in abundance, just waiting to be exploited, in places like the Bowland Shale).

In the latest Spectator, Matt Ridley delivers the coup-de-grace. Here's a taste:

To the nearest whole number, the percentage of the world's energy that comes from wind turbines today is: zero. Despite the regressive subsidy (pushing pensioners into fuel poverty while improving the wine cellars of grand estates), despite tearing rural communities apart, killing jobs, despoiling views, erecting pylons, felling forests, killing bats and eagles, causing industrial accidents, clogging motorways, polluting lakes in Inner Mongolia with the toxic and radioactive tailings from refining neodymium, a ton of which is in the average turbine — despite all this, the total energy generated each day by wind has yet to reach half a per cent worldwide.

If wind power was going to work, it would have done so by now. The people of Britain see this quite clearly, though politicians are often wilfully deaf. The good news though is that if you look closely, you can see David Cameron's government coming to its senses about the whole fiasco. The biggest investors in offshore wind — Mitsubishi, Gamesa and Siemens — are starting to worry that the government's heart is not in wind energy any more. Vestas, which has plans for a factory in Kent, wants reassurance from the Prime Minister that there is the political will to put up turbines before it builds its factory.

Some readers may occasionally detect in my coverage of wind farms a mild hint of contempt for those involved in the wind farm industry whether as lawyers (that means you Mrs Nick Clegg), paid propagandists/disrupters (see commenters, below), rent-seekers (yep, Sir Reginald) or corporatist blood-suckers feeding off the backs of innocent taxpayers.

One thing is certain: the arguments against wind farms are so abundant and well-known that ignorance is no longer a plausible excuse. If you're involved in the wind farm industry, you're a weapons-grade tosser, simple as that.

"Wind farms are beautiful" meme is in Japan also, despite the complaints from the residents who live near one of them and suffer health problems from the ultra-low frequency from the wind mills. I guess anything can be said to be beautiful after witnessing the wreckage at Fukushima I Nucleaer Power Plant.


Maju said...

When I compare wind farms with every other energy production system, except solar, the advantages show up. Nuclear is obviously disastrous, carbon is most dirty, oil and gas are already rare enough to have prices climbing vertically.

Surely wind energy production can be improved somehow but either we accept that our civilization (broadest sense) is dead (and us as species with it surely) or we find alternative power sources that are sustainable.

And of course global warming is very real. But even if we ignore it, the problems of polluting sources are just impossible to manage at all.

Steve From Virginia said...

Delingpole a notorious climate change denier:

What comes out of my ass makes more sense that what comes out of his head.

Anonymous said...

That Article is nothing but hackery. These same types try to convince you that it's better ecologically to buy a Hummer then a prius.

what a crock.

Anonymous said...

Wind mills are beautiful. The look of a solar farm is absolutely stunning. There is no audible nor measurable noise in typical distance to people's houses and regardless of that cars on roads make a lot more noise than any wind farm ever can do. And yes, I am very liberal and I am absolutely proud of it. The quoted author who said that about wind farms is no better than Tepco.

Elliot said...

Some paid commentors here as well, I see. Who needs bats or birds or anything, as long as you get to feel Pure and Authentic, de-carbonizing your footprint at others' cost? If Dellingpole's facts are facts, his own politics are besides the point, no?

Anonymous said...

nothing would happen - jet stream blows 10000s of trees. If it blew 10000s of turbines - its still the jet stream passively blowing something. trees and turbines dont make wind, they just blow in the wind that is there.

Anonymous said...

The point you all seem to miss is the demand for electricity. Do you have a coffee maker? Air conditioning? Refrigerator? Computer? 5 Computers? TV? Cable? Smart phone? Water heater? Washing machine? Dryer? Electric car? Do you rent a billboard? Do you light the sign to your business? Do you eat fast food? Do you go out to eat? Did you buy a new car? Do you wash your car?

I hang my clothes out to dry. I drive a 41 year old car that runs on Diesel. The airplane I fly is 66 years old I don't run the air conditioner hardly at all. I have a ton of blankets and a woman to keep me warm if I am cold. In the winter I wear a LOT of clothes in the house. This winter I didn't use any amount of heat other than an electric blanket on a couple of nights when the wife made me sleep on the couch. This past weekend I collected rain water in buckets and washed my car with it that required no pumps or any water meant to be used for drinking.

Look around your neighborhood. Is it well lit? Can you see steam rising from the street lights when it rains? Not using LED lights yet? Your government probably sends hundreds of thousands of dollars to the utility company each year if not millions to light your streets. LED lights or no lights at all would cut demand. Beyond the lighting you have water pumps and heating and cooling at all of the public buildings.

Global warming is a hoax. Carbon offsets are a joke.

Obummer says oil is outdated yet he flys around on Air Force One that won't burn anything other than outdated oil.

The earth will be consumed by our sun which will go super nova before eventually burning out. What will all of us tree huggers do then?

If you folks want to be honest then admit we have too many people in the world addicted to energy.

If you folks want to do something then get your own wind turbine and solar setup and live off of that. Get off of the grid. Simplify your life.

If I drive a 41 year old car then why do you drive a car that is 5 years old? Count up the ways the earth is raped by car production, computer production, smart phone production and on and on and on.

Get political. Run for office. City governments are some of the biggest energy consumers to be found. Do your part and make your community as energy efficient (actual) and energy independent as possible. Start in your own home. Set the example.

Get political. All of these subsidies handed out to "green" energy companies are nothing more that political paybacks and insurance for political support and continued paybacks. Tens of millions of your tax dollars year after year are handed out as bonuses to "winners" who quickly find themselves bankrupt without any benefit to anyone other than the corrupt beneficiary companies and their "executives".

Again, get involved. Get informed. Start at home. Get rid of the corrupt politicians, they are EVERYWHERE. Run for office. Set the example. Do good. Don't be STUPID.

Smoking Caster

Anonymous said...

>If I drive a 41 year old car then why do you drive a car that is 5 years old?

Uh, because there aren't enough 40 year old cars to go around?


I think conserving water is important in drought areas. Commercial electricity is lightning in a bottle, use it or lose it. Can't be stored (yet). Google is working on it I hear.

My phone company throttles my cell phone Internet usage as they can't supply the bandwidth because 5% of users use 90% of the bandwidt running bit torrents.

Humans have been wasteful since they used fire torches to run mastodons over cliffs. How do you change human nature? Make them pay for it. And we will indeed.

Wind turbine farms are huge near my home...among the largest in the world. They rarely kill birds and the biggest complaint is they can interfere with over the air TV signals. I would rather freeze in the dark and read by a candle than have electricity gnerated by a nuclear power plant.


Anonymous female said...

"The earth will be consumed by our sun which will go super nova before eventually burning out. What will all of us tree huggers do then? "

Smokey, that's a bit of a far off event to be asking what will the tree huggers do then, isn't it?--4-5 billion years before it becomes a red giant. The sun doesn't have enough mass to go supernova. Just saying. :-)

Atomfritz said...

The UK government is one of the last ones in Europe which wants to increase nuclear electricity generation.
The media spin of the private-owned MSM there is massively pulling into that direction.
Meanwhile even the French people are more nuclear-critical than the British now.
Britain has much wind and could enjoy basically free electricity as wind doesn't need to be imported.

And yes, I enjoy the view of the big wind farms near my village and I am proud that in winter German wind farms helped France out of its electricity crisis when France was forced to shutdown quite some nuclear plants due to low river water levels.

But, to some people, undistorted TV MSM reception seems more important than sustainability...

Maju said...

@Karen: irrational what you said. Windmills are not any relevant obstacle for winds: they do not just have much much more hole than obstacle (compare to cities) but they are small (compared to hills, mountains and skyscrapers) and do not heat nor cool significantly the atmosphere.

So in answer to what you said, I have only stopped for a moment to think about it today but I felt dazed by the absurdness of the question. However as Mairena said, there are no stupid questions, so I tried to make my answer the less stupid possible.

@Elliot: the only interests who could pay hit-people, would be the oil industry (including many of the biggest private companies on Earth, which would like global warming to be false or rather get people to believe it while they make a huge profit with our present and future) and the nuclear industry (who would love to be the replacement of oil when it's gone). Environmentalism does not pay (at least not for most, not in terms of money).

Actually I'm realizing with this post that Ex-SKF (and you, Elliot) are probably what they call in the USA "libertarians" (i.e. extremist ultra-capitalists, aka "liberals" in European language). As this "ideology", in spite of some contradictory details of its discourse, is just a tool for corporate interests and manifests itself as a new variant of fascism/reactionarism, I should not be surprised that it denies the obvious (global warming - or is not obvious that the beginning of spring is moving ahead, for example?) or that it attacks the few alternative energy sources we have at hand.

Maybe technical design corrections should be proposed against the uniform mega windmill standard... but criticizing a technology that has been with us for many many centuries, if not millennia, an that does (almost) not pollute other than with its presence and production, seems totally ill-willed (and hence maybe promoted by a commercial interest?).

Anonymous said...

@Maju, calling libertarians "extremists", you sound like you work for the FED that considers anyone paying cash at an internet cafe is a potential terrorist...

If you think the current windmills are the same as windmills from centuries past, you are nuts.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Oh boy. Now I'm a extremist? What's new? Why am I being abused on my own blog?

Let's see, I have been:
Bad trader
TEPCO shill

Now an extremist?

Any other names I missed?

Maju said...

@Anonymous: they are extremists: they believe in reducing the state, which acts as stabilizer, and giving all the power to private companies (corporations, which incidentally control the FED). Libertarians (specifically Patri Friedman and Peter Thiel) are for example one of the main support of the military dictatorship in Honduras, which is murdering peasants, journalists and other dissidents only to get some such business going.

Capitalist-libertarians have some funny contradictory fetishes like their obsession with the FED and the gold standard but they are not truly central to their ideology and are more like the Nazi obsession with Jews and race: they could have done without it, really, just that their true ideology is so feeble that they actually need to make up things, specially to forge mythical foes around which to rally the dumb and mediocre (and who is not against the FED?)

Also, personally, as someone with a Communist-Libertarian trajectory (Anarchist), I truly feel offended by the hijacking of the term "libertarian" these fascists have done.

Maju said...

I'm not attacking you but the ideology of "libertarianism", La Primavera.

I'm here for the Fukushima info primarily, not for this oil-capitalist propaganda stunt.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Maju, you should bring your argument to Ludwig von Mises Institute, not on my blog.

Anonymous said...

For those of you anti wind folks out there, reading an anti-nuke blog, do you think the correct solution is to continue burning petrochemicals? Do you REALLY think putting ten million years worth of deposited greenhouse gases in a period of centuries is going to have no effect on global climate? The thick bastards that still cling to AGW denial are just some of what's killing civilization, too stupid to know what they're talking about and also too stupid to keep their fucking mouths shut. These seem to increasingly go hand in hand.

Solar? I don't know... doesn't that technology work a hell of a lot better outside of an atmosphere? I say we scrap commercial fusion, which for all we know will forever be a carrot on the end of a stick just out of reach, and really buckle down and focus on space elevator technology. Send robots and a small supervisory crew to the moon, orbit a few solar panels, and with development in microwave power transmission we start beaming electricity to moon's surface to facilitate construction of massive solar arrays, which can produce power that can be microwave transmitted to geosynch collectors around Earth, which carry power back to the surface through atmosphere via carbon monofilament tethers containing a space elevator and a superconductor electrical bus.

The problem with earth based solar? In a word, the atmosphere. Why not take advantage of its presence through wind, then? Mankind will never drive silicon pulling factories that make solar panels with electricity derived from a solar array near the plant. Windmills require material processing but after that machining factories could concievably be (even mechanically) wind-driven, operating only when local output is enough to feedstock production.

Any of the above may not be precisely thought out but certainly it is more viable than, let's burn all the carbon we can squeeze, and if we still haven't solved fusion then dig up all the uranium we can find, and either everything goes fine or...????

Anonymous said...

Libertarians are some of the most dangerous idiots out there. Only a country as screwed up as USA could produce such a political mentality, the folks who want to have their cake and shove it straight up your ass too, and also don't want anyone else to have cake that they self-proclaim the rights to. They are such a joke that they would be relatively harmless except for their uncanny ability to attract those even stupider than themselves, as evidenced by this topic, but if you want real gold peruse the lewrockwell links in your sidebar. Hilariously frightening!

Maju said...

The atmosphere is no big deal for solar power: plants have been using both since the beginning of time.

Solar has economic profitability issues: measured in money (and ignoring all the hidden costs of other methods) it is not profitable enough, although in the last few years there have been a lot of technical advances that improve a lot its efficiency.

But, as with wind, nuclear or even oil itself, most is just political will. Supporting solar (just as other energy systems are being supported, including windfarms) can only cause an acceleration of technological advances and quick increase of profitability.

Solar and other renewables, including wind (plus hydrogen as portable fuel or energy storage method), is the only realistic option for the future. Oil is vanishing and becoming truly expensive, never mind its dirtiness and warming effect, coal and nuclear are not realistic alternatives (extremely dirty and destructive, plus there's not enough uranium nor room for so many nuclear power plants). The only solution is to invest heavily in renewables and, among them, probably solar and wind are king and queen.

It's the future and the countries that invest in them will be the most advanced ones soon.

Anonymous said...

One for your list-
Violin Wing-Nut

Anonymous said...

The pro "renewables" need to consider how much energy is used in producing the wind turbines & solar panels (hint start with the processing of the required rare earth metals needed) and compare with the energy generated by them. And also realise that you either need conventional power gen as backup as wind is very unreliable. Wind and solar are both (like nuke) only possible with vast subsidy and only benefit the companies providing and supporting. They are a con. Ask any competent engineer that knows about this! If you believe in man made climate change, wind and solar (with current tech) are contributors.

Atomfritz said...

Early-generation photovoltaics were indeed of a bad ROI in regards of energy invested to produce energy. And they require high-tech infrastructure to produce. Photovoltaics would be less attractive if taken into account the (still) cheap energy used to produce them.

However, this is not true for wind farms and thermic solar energy usage (=to produce hot water). These are comparably low-tech things. Thermic solar energy also offers the advantage of being storable in form of warmth energy (-> heating).

And, regarding baseload aspects:
It is true that always a part of the installed wind farm capacity cannot produce because of low wind situation.

But this becomes moot as there is always wind somewhere.
If wind farms would be everywhere, there would be always electricity available as there is always wind somewhere.
The limiting factor only is political will to build wind farms and to improve the electric grid so that it can supply frequent generation/load distribution path changes.

Maju said...

"hint start with the processing of the required rare earth metals needed"...

That's the kind of things that if you don't move decidedly forward, you only delay dealing with: once the economy focuses on that, then these problems will be solved more easily. Big progress has already been made. Not being any expert I have been collecting (and mentioning at my blogs) snippets some of the promising developments of the last years:

- Dyes make solar energy 10X more efficient (2008).
- New cobalt-phosphate catalist to make hydrogen-solar energy cheaper and cleaner (2008).
- Photosynthesis 'replicated' with a manganese catalyst (2008).
- New iridium photovoltaic cell converts 41% of solar input (2008).
- Carbon nanotubes work as efficient solar cells (2009).
- New materials to replace the costly electrolites and cathodes in solar energy production (2010).
- First practical 'artificial leaf' developed (2011).
- Another tech advance to improve solar energy's efficiency by 80%.
- IPCC report claims that renewables can power the world in few decades.
- Cuba investing in solar energy.

I can't be sure if all these advances are mutually compatible (probably not all) nor exactly how much cheaper and cleaner solar is but, from these news (and others I surely missed), I get the quite clear idea that solar energy is today much cleaner, cheaper and efficient than five years ago. I also get the idea that most of these advances have taken place in the USA and Europe but that, if these do not use them, others (like Cuba) will. And whoever does will be best placed in energy production in the near future.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you're right 8:15, nobody in the renewable camp takes into consideration that one actually has to build a windmill in order to reap payback energy from it. Please.

Takes money to make money, as they say. This is not at all different from a coal plant, NG genset, nuclear reactor, hydro ect.

Any energy infrastructure is rendered useless should it run out of it's required resource, nukes need fuel, the disappearance of water resources is well documented, fossil plants need fossil, windmills need... hmm, well aside from any miscellaneous petroleums mechanically required, they essentially run on air, nothing short of a solar nova is likely to deprive us of that anytime soon and unlike impure coal or oil even air that is polluted to some degree will probably work just as well.

The point you actually illustrate here, probably without realizing it, is the desperate need to do whatever we can to make our current infrastructure as efficient as it can be, expending a minimum of resources to do it, and then gear ourselves industrially towards the replacement of nonrenewables in our global energy base.

It can be done. But those in money (power) don't have an interest in it because their interest (money) is most geatly capitalized upon in the impending collapse of fossil fuel markets. Personally I see an unsettling future ahead if we don't commit now to a different course than we are presently set upon.

Maju said...

Many in the renewable energy camp think that the first thing to do is to reduce the consume of energy and products and use money for toilet paper... but I'm trying here to be "pragmatic" and specially pedagogical for you bourgeois-minded people who can't live without a car. Or do not roads need investment or does not the fuel and airplanes (and airports and roads) used in, say, bringing oranges to Europe from Chile cost anything?

The whole system is badly designed to spend much more energy and resources than we really need because in capitalist economic "science" (more like pseudoscience or dogma) GDP grows the more we consume (overall) and unused wealth sources (nature mostly) are considered to have zero value (what is absurd and false). All is conceived as if "wealth" grows the more we waste: if I only need 2500 Kcal of food but I eat 3000 or more, then it's "good" for the economy (someone makes money = universal coupons from it), while if I just eat what I need or less because I need a diet, then the GDP decreases and it's "bad" for the economy.

It's crazy!

So, yes many people in the environmentalist camp has thought in all that but does not bother telling you because you don't seem prepared to pay any attention to any discourse that claims necessary or at least convenient to reduce consume and hence GDP (in general, some people in poor areas of the world would obviously still need an increase of their GDP but overall Planet Earth needs less GDP, less work, less trade, less economy and less "wealth").

And you and me are part of Earth, believe it or not.

Anonymous said...

Europe has small wind turbines only 1 metre across that produce almost as much as the big turbines like (I'm not associated with this company in any way). I'm sure if there wasn't a huge oil and nuclear lobby we humans would have solved our energy problem years ago. A simple fresnel lens used with solar cells works wonders on their efficiency also. I'd like to know what the net energy production of a nuclear power plant is after you subtract all the energy used to build them and then run and cool them while they are productive and after they are decommissioned. Is there any or is the whole thing a sham?

Darth3/11 said...

While not directly a "wind turbine" comment, here in Tokyo I compared my local grocery store selection of tangerines. Some were from the USA! No way I am going to support the carbon footprint on that one. I bought some mandarines from Japan, where they grow like crazy. Just one example of something one can do while waiting for solar/wind to come online.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links. I think most of the public is not aware that windfarms have a carbon footprint that is worse than that of Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGT). So for people who want to find a replacement to nuclear plants, and who have a concern for carbon footprint, it is better to install CCGTs than windfarms.

Gordon Hughes, "Why Is Wind Power So Expensive?", The Global Warming Policy Foundation, GWPF Report 7, 05 March 2012,

Page 5 : "every 10 new units' worth of wind power installation has to be backed up with some eight new units' worth of fossil fuel generation."

Page : 32 "Suppose that 10 GW of wind turbines substitute for 10 GW of gas combined cycle plant operating on base load. (...) Under such a regime the thermal efficiency of the [backup gas OCGT plants operating on a stand-by basis] is unlikely to be higher than 35%, so total CO2 emissions would be 32.1 Mt of CO2 per year. When wind generation displaces efficient base load plants it is correct to claim that more wind capacity leads to increased – not reduced – emissions of CO2. Indeed, the situation is much worse if wind generation displaces nuclear power with minimal CO2 emissions."

Maju said...

To the last anonymous: you are spreading propaganda of a sectarian cartel of climate change skeptics, presided by Nigel Lawson, who was minister of finance with nothing less than Thatcher (!) and who directed the privatization of several big public companies, including British Gas plc.

He's a well-known climate change skeptic - but winter, yet another year, came late (later) and spring early (earlier) - never mind the tornadoes.

The so-called Global Warming Policy Foundation has been denounced not just as a small but vocal fringe group with just some 80 members but also as having major finance sources (oil companies and such obviously) and orchestrating a propaganda campaign. They have been accused of double standards when demanding transparency all around but for themselves. Some have asked for a public inquiry.

In any case the GWPF can only be considered as a dangerous propaganda appendix of the Oil lobby.

Anyhow, gas is most dangerous because of fracking. Years ago I would not have been so worried about gas but nowadays it is clearly a most dirty and dangerous source. In Europe anyhow natural gas usually means bowing to Putin. Similarly oil usually means bowing to Washington... so alternate sources are needed as a matter of economic sovereignty.

Wind and solar are the main candidates, although I'm open minded as long as they do not produce notable residues. It is pollution (and not necessarily only as CO2 what scares me). Another potential source is biogas (a way to using manure before using it as organic fertilizer).

The problem these all have is that they are not controlled so easily by large corporations, which have monopolized energy production and distribution since the early 20th century. It's a political problem: oil barons or us.

I choose us.

Previous anonymous said...

Yes, but, Maju, how do you get rid of gas if you use wind turbines ? How do you generate electricity on the days without wind ?

Previous anonymous said...

"Wind electricity generation in this case produces extra CO2, which is a truly counter intuitive result. If this level of inefficiency is truly the result of wind energy use, a cynic could observe that Putin and OPEC might want to promote wind energy in countries like Germany in order to increase its dependency on fossil fuel. "

K. de Groot & C. le Pair , "The hidden fuel costs of wind generated electricity. "

Maju said...

@Previous anonymous:

There are two elements of answer:

(1) you need an storage system and that is surely hydrogen (which can also be used as portable fuel for vehicles and such). The main problem of hydrogen is that it's extremely flammable (security concerns which can be reasonably tackled) but its product (and source if produced by electrolysis) is just water, so, even in case of catastrophe, it does not pollute.

(2) Reducing fossil fuel generation to the minimum does not necessarily mean total elimination: they can still be used as secondary sources of electricity or for some transport while other alternatives develop.

But in general I think that hydrogen tech is the panacea (with the mentioned security caveat and issues of technological inefficiencies which are already being addressed to at least some extent).

Like computers and other innovative technologies, the more demand there is for them, the cheaper and more efficient they become. It may not happen overnight but it's clearly the way to go looking a couple of decades ahead.

Political will should help. Personally, (in a capitalist context), rather than subsidizing this or that energy methods, I'd tax heavily pollution and security risks, etc. (also foreign origin, specially if it comes from dictatorships or polluting economies). That would make the hidden costs of fossil fuels and nuclear more apparent and would deny them the passive subsidy in terms of future environmental destruction (= health and resource costs and all that).

Like with nuclear, fossil fuel energies are subsidized because the future shared costs are not accounted for. Where is the true cost of DWH or Fukushima catastrophes accounted? Nowhere. But not even the dumping of nuclear residue or that of CO2 and sulphide emissions is even considered anywhere. So tax them like Irish garlic imports: 230%!!! Dissuasive taxes may work where the economists mathematic formulas fail.

Atomfritz said...

This backup capacity theory anon 12:59 tells us is flawed because there is always some wind somewhere.

You just need enough wind park capacities evenly spread over the continent together with sufficient grid capacity.
The larger and evenlier distributed the network is, the bigger and reliabler its baseload capacity becomes, reducing the need for conventional non-renewable energy sources.

However, this would require substantial investments that do not return in a few months, but long-term.
However, capitalist short-sighted profit thinking ("shareholder value") prevents this.
Instead of granting plant life extensions, governments should imho concentrate of renewing and upgrading prehistoric electric grids to make them able to support renewables.

Maju said...

The details are a bit technical but it's clear that diversification of sources is not harmful. While larger scale is somewhat different I'm familiar with energy management at the scale of an isolated farmhouse (where renewables become very interesting because the grid is not going to you as in the city) and there you surely want a couple of different renewable energy sources (like wind and solar, or solar and biogas, or...) plus storage (usually batteries) plus an emergency fuel generator because sometimes everything else goes awry.

I guess that in a distributed grid all this should be actually more manageable but diversity of sources both in space as in production and not just a one type of energy source are almost invariably better.

Just thinking now that biogas actually is a gas power plant where the benfit comes that all that gas would be produced anyhow and is now instead used as fuel before. Biogas has been available for long being similarly efficient to fossil "natural" gas but for some reason it has not been promoted. Is collecting and processing manure from cows and pigs and even humans ourselves so costly that can't compete with fracking, oil sands and even the almost infinite cost of nuclear energy? I don't think so. Instead I suspect that we are before another ideological and corporativist lobbied (bribed) political choice.

Previous anonymous said...

@Maju Wind turbines supply 30% or so of their nominal power, because there is not a strong wind every day. So you must find how you supply the remaining 70% to the consumers. I think in countries with plenty of hydro power like Switzerland or Austria, a combination of wind and hydro power could be a solution. But in other countries it is difficult to find an abundant carbon free technology to complement wind.

Biogas must be analysed on a case by case basis about its carbon footprint and its impact on deforestation which is said to be a major source of CO2.

Solar alone cannot complement wind. You will need a third power source during the nights with no wind.

@Atomfritz : could you provide litterature substantiating the claim that there is "always some wind somewhere". For example, we have a plot with wind production in Ireland in April 2011 at . From which country should Ireland have imported wind-generated electricity during the 25 April - 30 April period, while there was almost no wind in Ireland ? Can you find another country which had abundant wind during these six days ?

Previous anonymous said...

@Maju George Monbiot said "Switching to green fuels requires four and half times our arable area. Even the EU’s more modest target of 20% by 2020 would consume almost all our cropland." :

Maju said...

@Previous anonymous: have you even read what I wrote?

(1) Solar + hydrogen alone is a very good solution and will no doubt be the main power source 20 years from now in at least some countries, which will be then considered the most advanced ones.

(2) Other complementary options, including wind, biogas, hydro (I really think hydro is more harmful for the environment than wind but well) and even fossil fuels are to be considered according to local needs and circumstances.

Do you have any conflicting interests to declare? I ask because you sound like working for some big energy industry.

Maju said...

What Monbiot says is about producing biofuel and what I said is about using already existing manure to generate biogas.

Biogas is not biofuel: biofuels are oils or alcohol, liquid stuff, biogas is methane which will in any case be released to the atmosphere as byproduct of human or animal life.

You don't grow pigs for biogas, you grow them for ham and steaks and use their manure for something else than polluting. You don't grow humans for biogas but we do produce it anyhow.

Previous anonymous said...

@Maju "using already existing manure to generate biogas". Manure is not an efficient way to produce biogas. As far as I know there are no biogas facilities currently using manure only. I heard that manure can be mixed with other vegetal or animal products, and by doing so, the total efficiency of the biogas facility becomes lower than if you use no manure at all.

Perhaps solar and hydrogen will be a good solution 20 years from now. But what should Japan do now and in the coming 20 years if it chooses not to restart its nuclear plants ?

Maju said...

That's to make compost: you can use (in theory at least) domestic trash if properly separated and you'd recycle human and animal excrements into biogas and compost (excellent fertilizer).

But to make biogas dung alone is good enough, specially human and porcine one because these are too strong to be composted directly. Any other rotting organic trash will produce biogas almost naturally, however this product needs refinement to make it 98% methane (the basic gas contains also CO2 and traces of corrosive H2S (which is the one producing the odor).

Anyhow nothing that is not available today. Can you bother at least reading the corresponding Wikipedia entry before throwing falsehoods (no doubt good faith errors, but also no doubt laziness-caused errors as well) around?

Maju said...

Japan? Japan should begin evacuating Fukushima department altogether and maybe all Eastern Honsu. That's something in which the Japanese state has failed its citizens miserably.

Seen what we have seen this year, I doubt that Japan can ever recover and it's a true pity because the Japanese culture may have some defects like irrational obedience to authority or xenophobia but it also has great attributes which for me are most apparent in some of its best art, which has no equal on Earth.

Japan also is one of the most advanced countries on Earth, so they should have no problem implementing and even developing further renewable energies. But maybe they need to go radically socialist in order to do that - I do not know for sure but I know that money is nothing but printed paper, convenient exchangeable coupons, not at all a slim fraction as real as life or death, never mind the products they pay for.

You can't evaluate economy only on monetary terms but in order to escape from them, at least partly, some form of socialism in which mere monetary gain, let alone private gain such as TEPCO's, becomes at least less important.

Environmentally sustainable economic systems surely need socialism, at least to some extent, in order to work. But on the other hand they are extremely necessary, so they may be the ultimate reason why we go socialist after all, rather than just raw classical class war.

In the end it is a problem of how Humankind (and its local or ethnic parts) will survive its own science and power. It needs rational management of such power for the good of all, something that irrational markets alone can't do.

Previous anonymous said... "Biogas in Germany is primarily extracted by the co-fermentation of energy crops (In German science mostly the term ‘NawaRo’ is used that means ‘nachwachsende Rohstoffe’ = renewable resources) mixed with excrements or rather manure, the main crop utilized is corn"

This is what I meant when I said: "as far as I know there are no biogas facilities currently using manure only".

Maju said...

Ok, maybe in Germany there are some questionable methods. But in principle the concept of biogas is conceived to use as much as possible residues. In Britain it's produced from landfills, in China, where it's being used since the 1950s (the Maoist government saw no reason to let waste such a precious resource as dung) it is produced from dung in cooperative farms... their model can be installed for $300-1400 and needs little maintenance...

The fact is that resources are there for us to use, we just need to get into the right mindset as societies and get them working. There's no need to be so highly dependent on fossil fuels and nuclear anymore.

The main reason why oil can still be hard to get rid of is vehicle fuel. While hydrogen is a realistic possibility in the mid-term it really needs much more dedicated political focus than renewable electricity production, which is already developing at some decent pace, even if not good enough.

Val Martin said...

no conventional generation plant has ever been shut down anywhere in the world due to wind turbines. The world is burning more fossil fuels now than ever. China have invested big time in wind yet are building 2 coal fire power stations every week. Wind power is only a passenger on the electricity system. It is all a scam to tax you fools more but make you feel good about it.

Maju said...
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