Posts Tagged ‘The Financial Post’

Just days after we have the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association’s Kristopher Stevens ranting against Parker Gallant in The Financial Post, claiming green energy is responsible for jobs and wealth in Ontario, we have the truth: a global picture of wind power development as a “House of Cards.” Here is the article by Steve Goreham. Executive Editor of this publication is Robert Bryce, author of Power Hungry, also one of the speakers scheduled for the conference in Picton, October 29-31.

Wind energy’s house of cards

Steve Goreham

The Energy Tribune

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently issued their 2009 Wind Energy Report. Brian Smith, chair of the IEA Wind Executive Committee, states that wind member countries “installed more than 20 gigawatts of new wind capacity” (nameplate capacity). The report was written by representatives of 20 member countries, consisting of 14 European nations, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and the United States.

The report is very optimistic about wind energy’s prospects. Member nations report on “how they have progressed in the deployment of wind energy, how they are benefitting from wind energy deployment, and how they are devising strategies and conducting research to increase wind’s contribution to world energy supply.” But a deeper analysis shows that the wind industry is a house of cards built on a foundation of sand.

The house of cards is a global industry based entirely on subsidies, price guarantees, and mandates. Wind generation systems are not deployed anywhere in the world without extensive government financial or mandated support. Fourteen of the 20 IEA member nations use feed-in tariffs (FITs) to force utility companies to buy electricity from wind farms at above market rates. Examples are FITs used by Finland, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, which are set in the range of 7.8-12.1 Eurocents per kilowatt-hour, equal to 11.2-17.4 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour. These are subsidized wholesale prices, yet significantly above the average U.S. retail price of 9.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. Nine of the twenty nations mandate that utilities supply a percentage of electricity from renewables. Nations that have provided little government support for wind, such as Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Norway, have seen little growth in installations.

In the U.S., the 2009 Recovery Act authorizes a direct cash grant of 30% of the total value to wind projects. Alternatively, the federal government provides a 30% investment tax credit, or a 2.1 cents per kW-hr production subsidy. State governments add loan guarantees, further investment tax credits, and the forbearance of property and sales taxes. Twenty-nine states have enacted Renewable Portfolio Standards to force utilities to purchase renewable energy, primarily wind. These mandates raise the price of wind energy, a further subsidy to the industry. In total, taxpayers are subsidizing 30-50% of the price U.S. wind energy installations. Wind must be subsidized because it is much more expensive than electricity from coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, and nuclear sources. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wind-generated electricity is about 80% more expensive than coal-fired power, and off-shore wind is significantly more expensive. The IEA representatives from Denmark and the United Kingdom estimate costs for offshore wind at roughly double the cost of onshore wind. The planned Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound reportedly will deliver electricity at a whopping 27 cents per kW-hour, compared to the Massachusetts average price of 16 cents per kW-hour and the U.S. average of 9.7 cents.

US Electricity Generating Costs

Advocates claim that subsidies are needed to help wind energy move down the learning curve to become cost competitive with other technologies. But wind turbines have been deployed for more than 20 years. As of 2009, the United States had installed about 33,000 wind turbine towers. World installations have exceeded 140,000 turbines. When will this cost competitiveness be achieved?

Despite the growing number of installations, total wind energy costs are increasing. Wind installation costs per kilowatt-hour decreased from the early 1990s until 2001, but have been rising since. For example, U.S. installations reached a cost low of $1,285 per kw-hr in 2001, but have since risen steadily to $2,080 per kw-hr in 2009, an increase of 62%. It’s unlikely that electricity from wind will ever be competitive with conventional fuel sources.

A close read of the IEA Wind Report reveals issues with actual wind turbine operating lifetimes and maintenance. Wind turbines that were installed in the 1990s are now being replaced in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, and other nations. In the harsh weather environments of high-wind corridors, many of these turbines have not reached the 20-year lifetimes claimed by manufacturers. In comparison, operating lifetimes for coal-fired power plants consistently reach 50 years.

Very costly repairs are often required to maintain wind turbine operation. Japan reports that lightning hits and typhoons have damaged “a considerable number of wind turbines,” finding that on average, each turbine will fail three times over its 20-year life. Denmark reports that each turbine’s gearbox must be replaced on average four times during its lifetime, costing about 20% of the price of a wind turbine.

The story of Denmark is illustrative. Over the last 20 years, Denmark has installed 5,100 wind towers, one for every thousand citizens. A map with a black dot for each wind farm shows that 300-foot-high steel and concrete towers can be seen from almost every field, farm, hill, and seashore of this nation. In 2009, these towers provided only 767 megawatts of electricity, less than the output of a single conventional coal-fired power plant. This single power plant would occupy the space of one black dot on the map.

wind farms in denmark

Wind towers provide only about 10% of Denmark’s electricity, but contribute to electricity rates of 28 Eurocents per kilowatt-hour, the highest in Europe and four times the U.S. price. Yet, Danish government officials are proud of their wind system. Why would they install 5,000 towers instead of one coal plant? It’s because they believe they are reducing global warming.

In fact, the global wind industry is built on a foundation of sand—the hypothesis that man-made global warming is destroying Earth’s climate. The IEA report contains repeated statements about carbon emissions saved by wind installations in each nation. Yet, mounting satellite temperature data, new studies of ocean cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and research on solar activity, show that global warming is due to natural cycles of the Earth,not man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Should global warming alarmism fail in its efforts to promote wind energy, the subsidies will disappear, and the house of cards will collapse. Then the world will be left with 140,000 silent monuments to Climatism.

Steve Goreham is Executive Director for the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of Climatism! Science, Common Sense, and the 21st Century’s Hottest Topic.The link is here:


To contact the North Gower Wind Action Group, please email northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

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As we previously noted, the Citizen reporter missed seeing Glenn Brooks at the April 13th information event: he was there for much of the meeting, and has now posted his own news summary on his weekly update. Here it is:

North Gower Wind Turbine Action Group:
About 250 local residents attended the meeting, chaired by Gary Chandler. The speakers were varied and well versed with the wind turbine issue. I was most interested in realtor Chris Luxemburger’s comments. His report, “Living with Wind Turbines”, is a result of a study of hundreds of properties in the Shelburne, Ontario area. His research suggests property values are impacted by the proximity of wind turbines.

If Mr Brooks had had more space in his brief newsletter he might have added that the extended effect on the impact on property values for homes near the wind turbines. Chris Luxemburger said that councils are not looking at the effect of “depreciated tax values” on the tax base as a whole, which will affect EVERY taxpayer in Ottawa, and in other communities where turbines are operating, or planned.

It is interesting to note from news reports across the province that the more council members start reading about the issues associated with industrial wind turbines (health effects, noise in the rural environment, effects on property value etc.) the more of them start to object to the fact that the Green Energy Act has completely removed the democratic process at the municipal level in this province. Cities, towns, villages and townships are now completely powerless to protect their citizens.

(Wind Concerns Ontario has now shipped 5,000 signs “STOP the wind turbines” and “Health studies before wind turbines” across the province. http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com )

A more complex issue is what is going on with the Ontario electricity market. Retired banker Parker Gallant concludes his excellent series in The Financial Post today, with his article “Ontario’s Power Trip: a megaplex of costs.” He concludes that Ontario is hell-bent on destruction with its “green” energy plans. “Ontario’s official tourism slogan is ‘There’s no place like this!’ It’s an appropriate slogan for the province’s electricity market.”

To email us: northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

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