Skip to comments.The true, tragic cost of British wind power
Posted on 03/07/2012 8:07:59 PM PST by texas booster
Analysis Two studies published this week calculate the astounding cost of Britain's go-it-alone obsession with using wind turbines to generate so much of the electricity the nation needs.
Both studies make remarkably generous concessions that favour wind technology; the true cost, critics could argue, will be higher in each set of calculations. One study reckons that the UK can still meet its carbon dioxide emissions targets and save £140bn but only if it dumps today's inefficient hippie technology. The other puts the potential saving at £120bn pointing out that the same amount of electricity could be generated using open cycle gas plants at one-tenth the cost of using wind turbines.
"There is nothing inherently good or bad about investing in renewable energy and green technology," writes economist Professor Gordon Hughes formerly of the World Bank and now at the University of Edinburgh. "The problem is that the government has decided to back a technology that isn't ready for prime time, thus distorting the market."
Hughes' study Why is Wind power so expensive? An economic analysis is published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation today, and simply looks at the costs. The other study, by technical consulting group AF-Mercados, specifically looks at how to reduce CO2 in the cheapest manner by incurring the least collateral economic damage. It's called Powerful Targets: Exploring the relative cost of meeting decarbonisation and renewables targets in the British power sector. KPMG originally commissioned the study, but then got cold feet. Both come to similar conclusions: wind is astronomically expensive compared to other sources of energy and consumers and businesses must pay a high price for the privilege of subsidising such an inefficient technology. Let's look at Mercados' study first.
The Register closes the article with a clear discussion of the government's rationale behind wind power:
One of the problems, Hughes notes in a footnote, is that the UK's civil servants are fanatically optimistic about wind power, to the extent that their calculations are far more bullish than any one else's.
"For example, DECC uses load factors of 38-45 per cent for offshore wind... This is far above the average load factors for offshore wind anywhere in the world and reflects endemic over-optimism about the prospects for renewable technologies," he writes.
Indeed the response to AF Group's report on Monday is one of the most unprofessional and irrational a publically employed PR can ever have delivered.
If this sort of short-sighted analysis informed our policies wed not meet our carbon emission targets and keep the lights on, and the consumer would certainly be worse off," shrieked a DECC spokeswoman to Solar Power Portal, an industry-sponsored 'news' website.
It's a sign that DECC employees are not just hampered by technical ignorance most have History, or English, or PPE degrees they have an irrational, almost religious attachment to wind turbines. It's as if wind is favoured because of its symbolic and very visible presence. "Look at our land, Gaia, and show us mercy".
It may occasionally be worth reminding Department of Energy employees who they ultimately serve including the poor, upon whom the cost of inefficient technology disproportionately falls.
To bad the perfessor can figure out that the CO2 thing is a scam too.