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REF report, London, United Kingdom

Friday 19 Sep 2008

The Great Wind Scam

REF report by WAN Editorial in London, United Kingdom
REF report by WAN Editorial in London, United Kingdom
Your comments on this project

No. of Comments: 8

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24/09/08 mobsta, new zealand
We are building wind farms in New Zealand at a great rate of knots (pun intended).
But then we are a maritime climate with plenty of wind.

It is said that our 'farms' will be operating at, or near, peak about 50% of the time.
Enough to make them viable.

The problems seem to be from the NIMBY's and the Greenies (ironically) who do not want them marring our beautiful landscapes.
I personally think they look rather cool.
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24/09/08 Nick Medic, London
Dear Sirs,

Your hostile editorial on wind on September 19th is wildly off the mark. Obviously, you have the right to publish whatever you like on whatever topic, yet this article seems to suggest that you are not in possession of all the facts, and that you should perhaps consider the following points:

When it comes to wind energy, there is no "scam". At the moment there are 2033 large wind turbines in the UK with an installed capacity of 2.5GW. These turbines operate at an average load factor of 28.3%, meaning that they will produce this year around 6000 GW/h of electricity, or enough energy to satisfy the annual needs of around 1.3 million homes. Average load factors are simply a way of expressing percentage utilization compared to full capacity over time.

Whether the above refers to delivered or potential numbers, why dont you simply look at BERRs energy statistics for 2007. Generation figures from different sources are there for all to see, including the fact that in 2007 for the first time wind in the UK contributed more electricity to the grid than hydro (Energy Trends June 2008 page 19). In terms of numbers the total figure for wind generation in the UK was 5274 GW/h. To save you looking for the link go here http://stats.berr.gov.uk/energystats/dukes7_4.xls.

Regarding: "Another worrying fact that comes to light in the study is that when it's really windy, the turbines have to be turned off to avoid overloading", I don't understand why would this would cause you any worry and/or sleepless nights. Nuclear reactors have to be shutdown too when they overheat, as does any other generating device to stop it operating outside its safety limits.

Finally, I will leave your comment on Lenin's old adage, which I'm not even sure is attributable to Lenin without comment, and ask you to do the gentlemanly thing and publish a clarification in next weeks editorial or you can be consistent and do an article on "The deception that is hydro-power",

Kind Regards,

Nick Medic
Communications Manager
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23/09/08 Max, Philadelphia
As an employee of a renewable energy developer, I can say the entire power market (except for many consumers) understands that one of the basic factors about wind and solar generators is they do not always produce to their "name-plate" capacity (it's not always windy or sunny). When we evaluate a potential project, our target for long-term, average capacity factor (CF) is usually below 50% for it to be economically feasible - due to intermitency of the resource. With that being said, NO generator (coal, natural gas, hydro, even nuclear) runs at 100% CF - due to maintenance, fuel cost volatility, unexpected down-time, curtailment, transmission constraints, etc. All market participants understand that, but name-plate capacity is still the industry standard label for ALL types of power plants.
I understand that stating name-plate capacity as the size of a wind generator - without qualification - can be misleading. My industry could do a better job explaining this when addressing the general public. Something else we could do better is to clarify what we mean when we say a project can generate enough to supply 'Y' households. These are over-simplifications better-suited for radio commercials than effective education. Perhaps a better metric to use is "PREDICTED to produce" as opposed to "capable of producing." Then an "average household consumption" amount - specifically listed, so each consumer can compare to their own usage - could be use to determine total households served.
I understand why some may feel they're being intentionally deceived, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to provide some explanation. I'd encourage everyone who feels misled to learn more about the benefits of wind-power at www.AWEA.org and www.NREL.gov - among many other helpful websites.
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23/09/08 LucW, Wroclaw
Dave, Brandon, swampy - I agree with you.
In addition:
1. for how many years ie. germany and scandinavia have been using alternative sources of gaining energy, and how many problems/issues they reported?(the report from independent sources such as Finish VTT or UK HPA should be made).
2. To say that some solution produces energy in alternative way does not mean it is good or ecological - ie. solar photovoltaic panels, produce energy from free, solar media unfortunately to build PVP there is way too much ENERGY and diferent materials involved that make the whole thing unsafe, not ecological and certainly not vernacular.
good day
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23/09/08 SK, Dubai
It is unfortunate that UK press is quoting energy generation numbers of turbines at full capacity. Feasibility studies are made from existing wind data and turbines are placed in strategic positions to harness the best wind conditions. There are endless misquotes by biased or poor journalists, and the reality of installing wind turbines is very different where for example many individual owners find themselves selling power back to the grid and making a hansom profit. Wind energy cannot be compared to bio fuels or hydrogen cells where they create more CO2 than their yield. Solar is more that 4 times more expensive per kW/h produced than wind turbines and wind turbines pay back their hold life carbon content in the matter of years.
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23/09/08 swampy, glasgow
This appears to be a very biased piece of journalism which hypes up a common misunderstanding. your mistake is not everyones! Get a grip and give a balanced view!
23/09/08 Brandon, OKC
This is just another one of big oil's deceptive tactics to try steering attention away from cleaner alternatives. Fact: wind generators produce electricity. End of story there. Since the wind does not always blow and blows at different speeds the amount of electricity produced would of course vary. To assume that just because it produces a certain amount at maximum potential that any less means it's a scam is ridiculous. Wind power is as reliable as the wind itself so obviously we would have to supplement this with solar and other alternative sustainable technologies in order to have a reliable energy future that does not negatively impact the environment. Instead of finding faults with the new technologies why don't we focus our attention on improving them and coming up with new alternative solutions. This article would be more beneficial if it described the negative aspects of fossil fuels since they are where the real problem lies. I for one would much rather stick with wind and solar power than rely on fuels that are dirty, environmentally damaging and dwindling supply.
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23/09/08 Dave, Paris
Drill baby, drill!

New report lambasts wind farms as hopelessly ineffectual 

First it was Bio-Fuels. They were going to help save the planet but as we all know now, it turns out they (mostly) accelerate its destruction. Now it’s wind farms. Confirming views on WAN (Comment: Are wind farms just hot air? 20 December 2007) a new study by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) dismisses the hype surrounding wind farms, “The market for renewable energy is an artificial one created and maintained by Government legislation.” Adding, “the UK (Gov) subsidy is encouraging energy firms to build as many farms as possible because it is more profitable.”

The scam, picked up by Christopher Booker writing for the UK’s Sunday Telegraph is centred on the constant misquoting of wind farm output. Most turbines operate at around 25% of capacity due to varying wind strengths but are almost universally quoted as being, “capable of producing ‘X’ megawatts, enough to power ‘Y’ homes with electricity.” X and Y being maximum potential, not deliverable numbers.

It seems almost impossible that this scam is being rolled out on such a vast scale, but Lenin’s old adage, “A lie told often enough becomes truth,” seems to be working.

In his article, Booker goes on to describe the current craze for wind energy as “one the greatest self-deceptions of all time.” Another worrying fact that comes to light in the study is that when it’s really windy, the turbines have to be turned off to avoid overloading. Oh well.

Should we give up on wind farms? Tell us your views: Use the Your Comments yellow box on the left......

Michael Hammond

WAN Editorial

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