- Series: Independent Minds
- Paperback: 300 pages
- Publisher: Stacey International; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1905299834
- ISBN-13: 978-1905299836
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #980,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Wind Farm Scam (Independent Minds) 1st Edition
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Personally, I found Dr. Etherington's well-researched and clear-headed discussion of wind energy a very welcome relief from the wind energy madness now underway in the US.' 'The book should be required reading for every high school, college, and university student. It explains wind energy, and its limitations and environmental insults, in easily understood terms. It explains why wind will never provide a significant, reliable source of electricity.'
Glenn Schleede - Master Resource
About the Author
John Etherington was a Reader in Ecology at the University of Wales, Cardiff. Since his retirement from the University in 1990, he has devoted himself to researching the implications of intermittently available renewable electricity generation, in particular wind power. He is a Thomas Huxley Medallist at the Royal College of Science and a former co-editor of the International Journal of Ecology.
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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.
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.