The Wind Farm Scam (Independent Minds)
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110 of 136 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2009
Good for John Etherington who, in this work, marshals relentless evidentiary support for his thesis that wind energy is a scam.

Indeed, industrial wind technology is a meretricious commodity, attractive in a superficial way but without real value--seemingly plausible, even significant but actually false and nugatory. Those who would profit from it either economically or ideologically are engaged in wholesale deception. For in contrast to their alluring but empty promises of closed coal plants and reduced carbon emissions is this reality: Wind energy is impotent while its environmental footprint is massive and malignant.

A wind project with a rated capacity of 100MW, for example, with 40 skyscraper-sized turbines, would likely produce an annual average of only 27MW, an imperceptible fraction of energy for most grid systems. More than 60% of the time, it would produce less than 27MW and, at peak times, often produce nothing. It would rarely achieve its rated capacity, producing most at times of least demand. Whatever it generated would be continuously skittering, intensifying, magnifying the destabilizing effects of demand fluctuations, for wind volatility is virtually indistinguishable from the phenomenon of people whimsically turning their appliances off and on.

Moreover, the project could never produce capacity value--specified amounts of energy on demand, something that should be anathema to regulatory agencies, with their task of ensuring reliable, secure, affordable electricity. The ability of machines to perform as expected on demand is the basis of modernity, underlying contemporary systems of economic growth, wealth creation and well-being. Machinery that doesn't do this is quickly discarded, although this wasn't the case for much of history (look at the early days of television or radio or even the automobile). Only in the last hundred years or so have has the West come to rely on machines with this standard. Capacity value allows society to go from pillar to post in accordance with its own schedule. Wind provides no capacity value and can pass no test for reliability; one can never be sure how much energy it will produce for any future time. And generating units that don't provide capacity value cannot be reasonably--and favorably--compared with those that do.

Adding wind instability to a grid may be an engineer's idea of job security. But for rate and taxpayers, and a better environment, it's criminal. For the grid is then forced to extend itself. As the wind bounces randomly around the system, operators must continuously balance it to match supply precisely with demand, compensating for the ebb and flow much in the way flippers keep the steel ball in play during a game of pinball. Windball expends a lot of energy. In real life on the most grids, more than 70% of any wind project's rated capacity must come from the flippers of reliable, flexible, fossil-fired generation, constantly turned up and back inefficiently to compensate for wind fluctuations. These inefficiencies will result in substantial carbon emissions. And increased consumer costs, as is the case anywhere wind is prevalent, such as in Denmark, Germany, Spain, California.

Yes, engineers can make-work by adding wind flux to the system. They can lead a horse to water; but they can't make it change its spots.... By its nature, wind will require lots of whips and whistles, even at small levels of penetration, in ways that will negate the very reason for its being. This is why people quickly switched to steam 200 years ago. Retrofitting modern technology to meet the needs of ancient wind flutter is monumentally backasswards, a sure sign that pundits and politicians, not scientists, are now in charge. It would take more than a smart grid to incorporate such a dumb idea successfully.

Because of wind's unpredictable variability, it can never replace the capacity of conventional generation. Twenty-five hundred 450-foot wind turbines, spread over five hundred miles, can mathematically offset a large coal or nuclear plant; but they cannot do so functionally--for what must happen when 5000MW of volatile wind is only producing 100MW at peak demand times, a common occurrence?

This business is absurd. The whole point of modern power systems has been to move beyond the flickering flutter of variable energy sources. Prostituting modern power performance to enable subprime energy schemes on behalf of half-baked technology is immoral. As is implementing highly regressive tax avoidance "incentives" to make it appear that pigs can fly. No coal plants will be shuttered and little, if any, carbon emissions will be reduced as a result of this project--or thousands of them.

Indeed, wind technology mirrors the subprime mortgage scams that wreaked havoc with the American economy. Both are enabled by wishful thinking; bogus projections; no accounting restraints, accountability, or transparency; no meaningful securitization; and regulatory agencies that looked the other way, allowing a few to make a great deal of money at everyone else's expense while providing no meaningful service.

Industrial wind projects will clearcut hundreds of acres, if placed on forested ridges. Even small 100MW wind facilities would hover for miles over sensitive terrain, threatening vulnerable species while mocking endangered species protections--and scenic highways strictures. They will cause unlawful noise for miles downrange. They will devalue properties in the area as much as 50%, if they could sell at all. Dynamiting will threaten wells and aquifers. Out-of-region workers would perform most of the temporary construction jobs and only one or two permanent jobs would result, at modest wages. There would be little value added revenue. Claims about local tax revenues would be typically unsubstantiated and unsecured.

There is little that is cognitively more dissonant than supporting the concept of minimizing the human footprint on the earth while cheerleading for the rude intrusiveness of physically massive/energy feckless wind projects. The slap and tickle of wind propaganda flatters the gullible, exploits the well intentioned, and nurtures the craven. It is made possible because there's no penalty for lying in the energy marketplace. The country has evidently arrived at a point in its legal culture where no negative consequences seem to exist for making false or misleading claims to sell wind energy--the stuff dreams are made of. But industrial wind is a bunco scheme of enormous consequence. And, as Etherington concludes, people who value intellectual honesty should not quietly be fleeced by such mendacity, even from their government.
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43 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2010
This superb book shows the extreme folly of relying on wind power for reliable electricity supply.

In November 2008, the Minister for Energy and Climate Change said that gas-fired and coal-fired electricity cost £50 per megawatt hour (MWh) to generate and nuclear power cost £38. By contrast, offshore wind cost £92, onshore wind £72.

To keep the uneconomic option of wind power alive, the government has made us all pay huge hidden subsidies, through our electricity bills, to wind power companies. As the 2003 Energy White Paper admitted, "We have ... introduced a Renewables Obligation for England and Wales in April 2002. This will incentivize generators to supply progressively higher levels of renewable energy over time. The cost is met through higher prices to consumers. ... By 2010, it is estimated that this support and Climate Change Levy exemption will be worth around £1 billion a year to the UK renewables industry."

Yet by 2007, Britain's 2,400 wind turbines generated just 1.3 per cent of our electricity, and even this paltry supply was not reliable. The 2008 House of Lords Select Committee on The Economics of Renewable Energy said, "To make up for its intermittency ... back-up conventional plant will be essential to guarantee supply when required, to compensate for wind's very low capacity credit. Wind generation should be viewed largely as additional capacity to that which will need to be provided, in any event, by more reliable means; and the evidence suggests that its full costs, although declining over time, remain significantly higher than those of conventional or nuclear generation."

So wind power cannot replace coal, gas, oil or nuclear - it depends on them `to guarantee supply when required'. Wind power won't even save CO2 emissions. As Etherington points out, "the Government's own figure for saving of CO2 emission by renewables power generation, mainly wind, is just 9.2 million tonnes per year by 2010 ... This is less than the emission from a medium sized coal fired power station."

Wind farms also harm the environment, spoiling our landscapes and killing large numbers of birds and bats.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2013
I always thought wind turbines were wonderful things that brought us 'free' electricity and helped saved the planet so I was shocked to discover that this is not the case. We pay inflated prices for wind power that does little for the environment and actually destroys rural landscapes and kills birds. What are we playing at? Anyone interested in wind power should read this book as part of their education on the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2014
An excellent book that should be of interest to everyone interested in alternate systems of generating electricity, in this case an aerogenerator, or wind mill driving an electrical generator. The author does an excellent job of demonstrating why wind farms are a scam on the citizens, rate payers and taxpayers.

The folks running an electrical utility have to live in a real world, and provide electricity to meet the requirements of their customers. As the electricity provided on the mains must always match the electricity required by its customers at any particular time, the electrical utility has to be able to add or remove electrical generation capacity on demand. Dispatchable is a word used to describe nuclear, coal or gas generator facilities which can be added or removed from the grid as needed by the utility load manager. Utilities have a base load requirement and a variable load which typically goes up in the morning when people gut up and go to work, and then declines until they come home in the afternoon when it goes back until the evening when it falls.

It is possible for the utility to use the non dispatchable generation capacity to meet the load increases, where non dispatchable could include wind, solar, tidal etc. The system must be putting out electricity when needed by the utility. As discussed in the book, the output is really not a sure thing. The windmill very rarely produces at the rated nameplate capacity, and in the UK have been as low as 2% or the nameplate in winter. Windmill output can vary significantly over a comparatively short period of time. As discussed in the book the utility using power from a windmill farm must have another dispatchable generator such as a coal plant turning over as it takes a period of time to get the dispatchable generators up from cold iron to putting out stable electricity so that they can be up on line to support the grid. Gas is typically the quickest, if it is run straight through a gas turbine, which is not the most efficient method, and may not be available to the utility. THe stand by running generator has to be available as the wind may die, or just reduce by 5 miles per hour or so, and significantly reduce the output of the wind farm. The alternative to spinning back up is to have rotating blackouts when the wind dies, until another generator can be brought up from cold iron to putting out sufficient electricity to be put on line.

The forward by Mr. Christopher Booker brings out the fact that Denmark which has extensive wind farms has the most expensive electricity in Europe, which is not a good thing for the citizens of Denmark.

The author addresses the impact on landscape which is significant in many otherwise pristine parts of Great Britain. The health impact from noise, shadows that are moving due to the blades, and flicker are addressed. Not a great deal of attention has been paid to the health issues.

The windmills being installed now and for the past number of years are large industrial machines, which are being plunked down in the countryside. There are dangers associated with the windmills such as structural failure where the windmill falls over, or fires in the generator hundreds of feet up, or blades flying off, or ice flying off in the winter time are all real hazards. They are a hazard to installation and maintenance personnel who must get up to the generator in the nacelle. Then there are the nuisance impacts from the windmill.

The windmills impact the value of the property, and make the area less attractive for tourism.

ll in all, a well researched and written book. I recommend this book to everyone who wants factual information about windmill use for generation of electricity.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2010
This book should be read by every politician who thinks wind power can be a serious source of electricity. Dr. Etherington uses simple language to demolish the idea that green energy in the form of aerogenerators can replace thermal power stations. Indeed, the more wind used the more thermal generators required. Wind is very expensive and very ineffective. In short it is a con of the first order.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
John Etherington has written a cogent, entertaining, yet factually undeniable account of the wind farm scam.

The title alone of this book gives more than a clue as to its contents, and conclusions. Given the factual information and the voluminous documentation that the author has assembled in this book, it is impossible to arrive at a different conclusion, unless you are a committed alarmist to whom facts and verifiable documentation are inconsequential, and to whom denying science has become a new faith, a new religion, based only on emotions.

We all know that sometimes the wind blows, sometimes it blows hard, sometimes it does not blow, and the only constant about the wind is that it is variable. Even in locations that show a relatively constant wind, there is still a great deal of variability from minute to minute, and throughout each day and night.

A windmill makes energy by having the wind push the propeller, which rotates a generator (or alternator), producing electricity. This is like the V-belt under your cars hood, that connects the engine to the alternator, and when the engine is running, the alternator is producing electricity, primarily to charge the battery. The electricity produced by anything has to be synchronized with the electricity flowing through the grid. This is much more technically challenging than just charging a battery. As the author explains, there are five specific technical requirements to linking a source, any source to the grid:

1) The Alternator must have equal line voltage.
2) It must have the correct frequency
3) It must have the same phase sequence.
4) It must have the same phase angle.
5) It must have the same waveform

If any of these items is not properly synchronized, then a "spark", or surge of current would, at best trip out circuit breakers, and at worst, "cause such a serious overload that damage would be done either to the electrical or mechanical parts "of the grid and/or supplying alternator/wind farm.

Per the above noted variability of the wind, then the variability of output of wind farms is staggering. When the wind is not blowing, or is too light, of course, no electricity is being generated. When the wind is blowing too hard, to the point of damaging the windmill, it shuts down, or it uses some expensive and technically complex soft and hardware to partially unhook the propeller from the alternator, or phase the blades to not catch as much wind.

Regardless, the only thing about windmills and wind farms is that the electricity they produce is incredibly variable and incredibly unreliable. No wind farm on earth makes more than about 25% of its rated capacity.

An electrical grid needs a constant, steady, supply of electricity that is indeed constant from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, with some reserve capacity to ramp up when demand starts to exceed supply. The only way to ramp up the supply quickly, on an hourly or daily schedule, is to use gas turbines; in effect, giant jet engines. As anyone who has ridden a modern large airplane knows, there are a couple, or three or four large, cylindrical engines hanging below the wings or at the tail of the plane. These engines start up, taxi the plane out to the runway, ramp up and supply take off power, then throttle back at cruising altitude, etc. The can ramp up and down, but they use a tremendous amount of fuel (kerosene or natural gas) per kilowatt/hour compared to a large nuclear, coal, or waterfall driven power plant and turbines, when they are varying their output. Of course, the nuclear, coal, or Hoover dam cannot ramp up or down, minute to minute, to match the wind. Thus, large jet engines, turbines, which can ramp up or down, minute to minute, to fill in for the fluctuating supply of the wind are needed.

Jet engines are most efficient when they are running at a constant speed. Ramping them up and down is very inefficient. Plus, every time, you have to match the five items noted above to keep from crashing the system.

There are no magic battery or other energy storage systems to take up the excess from the wind farms, or to supply when the wind dies. It is all still a laboratory level scientific experimental endeavor. There is no viable system on the horizon. Until there is a viable system (which is a lot more than a "smart" grid), wind farms actually use more fuel and do not reduce the production of CO2. (For the record, read my review of The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud**And those who are too fearful to do so, and the rest of my reviews, and one will begin to understand the overwhelming scientific data that supports that CO2 is not a pollutant, that there is no global warming, and that climate change is not now, and will never be caused in our active biosphere by CO2 or mankind).

Wind turbines need regular maintenance; several hundred feet up in the air. They do break down, and destroy themselves. They also wear out. This last point is critical. Every windmill wears out and needs to be replaced before it is paid for. The Turbine, the bearings, the propeller mechanisms, all wear out in 15 to 20 years. With the irregular, 25% of capacity level of electrical generation that is the rule, it takes 25 to 30 years to pay for a windmill. Would you buy a car, or a house, that wore out before you could pay for it? How stupid can we be!

Electricity from a coal plant in England costs about $78 per MWh (Mega Watt hour). Expressed as $78/MWh.

Electricity from a gas turbine plant (running at a constant capacity) is also about $78/MWh. Electricity from a gas turbine plant that is a backup to a wind farm plant is horridly expensive, since it is not running at a constant high capacity, it is up to twice as expensive, or comparable to an offshore wind farm.

Electricity from a nuclear plant in France costs about $47/MWh.

Electricity from onshore wind farms in England costs about $113/MWh.

Electricity from offshore wind farms in England costs about $145/MWh.

Electricity from wind farms is very expensive. To use electricity from wind farms, whole banks of jet engines need to be purchased, installed, kept on-line, ready to go, with some at a fast idle or more, constantly, to make up for a fall off in wind power generations when the wind speed drops, so more fuel is used than if the electricity has just been generated by gas turbines in the first place. This almost doubles the investment, which is a huge money loser for just the wind farm from the beginning. There is no reduction in CO2 produced than if there were no wind turbines (wind farms) due to the necessity of all the gas turbines.

Through a variety of taxes and subsidies, wind farms are subsidized at around a level of $94/MWh. This reduces the direct cost to the immediate consumer to a low of about $35/MWh. But where do these taxes and subsidies come from except from the taxpayer and the general economy? It is a drag on the entire economy, for the energy cost is double of the normal coal plant. Therefore, the energy cost to any company, or manufacturing facility, is over twice what it should be. That the subsidies and taxes come from everybody just to benefit a very few is robbing Peter to pay Paul, and there are a lot more Peters around than Pauls. This is the reverse of robin hood - we are robbing the great numbers of the poor and middle class to reward the rich few.

This is insane. Even after the initial subsidies are used up, there are ongoing subsidies. Even then, these wind farms will continue to be an economic boat anchor for as long as they exist, until they are just shut down and scrapped.

Denmark has more wind turbines per capita than any other European country. They are cutting back, hard, on building any more, and are wondering what to do with the ones they have. They weren't generating much electricity, it was the single most expensive electricity produced in any country in all of Europe, and there had been no reduction in CO2 emissions. The Danes are asking themselves: why did they support such a stupid idea!

Etherington covers many other drawbacks to wind turbines.

They kill birds and bats. Including killing large eagles and hawks. Large raptors and bats are not killed by speeding cars and other man-made items. It is illegal kill many raptors, and in some places, also bats, but wind turbines can murder them by the thousands with impunity.

They confuse and degrade land animals that are near them, both due to noise from the propellers, and the flickering of the light off of the propellers and as the tips come near and then recede.

There is the constant thrumming, low level, "vibration" which defeats double glazed glass and earplugs. It comes up through the ground through the floors of your house, up your legs, spine and then throbs in your head. How far away from people wind mills must be spaced is still under investigation, but it is many miles.

The flicker of light, primarily from the sun, off of the blades, can be a strobe effect, even from miles away, that is constantly flashing in the corner off your eye, constantly annoying, distracting, and in epileptics, even worse.

There is nothing as annoying as having your quality of life destroyed by a stupid wind turbine!

Having wind farms can destroy the countryside, scenic vistas, and tourism. Building a plant or office anywhere near them, building homes, on and on and on, are all complete disasters.

Wind turbines can fling pieces of ice, from freezing conditions, for miles. If a propeller breaks up or breaks off, they can take out other turbines, and anything else within ½ a mile or so. The bearings can overheat and fail, causing grass fires. They can interfere with TV, radio, cell phone signals, and radar signals, possibly interfering with airplanes and defense systems.

Chapter 10 is titled "Misrepresentation and Manipulation". This thoroughly documents how the supporters of windmills, as enumerated above, lie about what they can do, dismiss the problems with them, and deliberately manipulate the data to indicate that wind farms are economic winners, when they are really economic disasters.

The final chapter is titled "Climate change and Kyoto - Is it all necessary?" He spends almost 20 pages covering, in brief, the entire hoax of man made CO2 caused climate change. There is no space to cover his points in this review, but his subtitles are: "Temperatures in the Past", "Consensus is Crumbling", "CO2 Concentration is Increasing a Lot; How Can it Not Cause Warming?", and an "An Inconvenient Untruth". Overall, in this chapter, he thoroughly excoriates the alarmists, documenting, in brief, that they don't have any arguments, and zero scientific facts, that are valid. They are science deniers.

This is an excellent read on a vital subject. Are we going to allow our energy future, which has a great deal in determining our economic well being, and, ultimately, our economic improvements, to be in the hands of a group of alarmists that don't understand a basic demand/supply curve, or are we going to let facts, documentation, and verifiable scientific knowledge be our guide?

It is time that all wind farm subsidies are stopped. It is time that we started acting as adults, working in the best interests of everyone, rather than a few alarmists that think with their emotions.

Etherington has done a great service to civilization with this excellent book.
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on June 23, 2014
Europe is the centre of the alternative energy storm. The imbroglio over carbon rests upon the shoulders of European decision makers. Wood pellets are imported from Canada and North Carolina to burn as nuclear, coal and natural gas substitutes. Coal use has increased across the continent in an impassioned attempt to reduce such use. The Potemkin village of England as the journeyman for the wind industry is well documented here.
The U K has been forthright in its support for wind, which only makes sense given its abundance. Try as she might, England has failed at properly exploiting wind energy - or has demonstrated quite clearly the impossibility of do so. Energy density is the real challenge, despite wind's preponderance. The recent withdrawal of corporate support for the largest wind farm in Europe - the Bristol Channel -is clear evidence of the policies of failure.
Mr. Etherington has done a masterful job of explaining the resource play and its failure. Birds, people and power supplies have each suffered enormously at the hands of rent seeking developers drawing from the veins of a paternalistic government.
Thank you for your seminal work!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2014
written in europe but applications apply world wide. Everybody should be vey weary of this big push for wind power. It is NOT as it is being portrayed
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2013
I had a toxic electromagnetic exposure from a high powered solar photovoltaic system and this made me curious about alternate energy systems and the toxicity of them. I was not surprised to find that there were problems in wind power as well. They both use electronic inverter systems that produce harmonics. There has been little to no research done on the toxicity of electronically generated AC electricity and the human health impacts. This book does a good job of exploring the problems around wind turbines and I hope that the next edition adds a chapter on electronically generated energy, high electromagnetic fields, stray voltage/current/frequency, and the known human health effects.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2013
Wind Farms are not the answer to Renewable Energy when they are destroying the fabric of the societies they are placed in with hazardous nature to wildlife, design, maintenance & noise problems they are too expensive and as an Engineer it goes against my grain to accept them with so many problems this book supported my own hypothesis but is recommended to those who are not qualified to evaluate the real problem they are!
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