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Documents > Inefficiency > Shock report: wind farms do not reduce emissions!

Roger Helmer MEP

January 20, 2012

Shock report: Wind Farms do not reduce emissions!

Wind turbines are expensive, unsightly, noisy and damaging to health. But Chris Huhne tells us we need them to reduce emissions and prevent global warming.

Now a new report shows that the turbines fail even on that rather suspect objective. Wind turbines do not reduce emissions!

This is a counter-intuitive conclusion. Surely if they generate any “clean” energy at all from wind, they must reduce emissions, at least somewhat? But because wind is intermittent and unpredictable, it needs conventional back-up to fill in the gaps. Most commonly, the back-up is gas, because that is the only mainstream generating technology sufficiently flexible to balance wind. But a conventional gas-fired power station is most efficient — in both costs and emissions — when it’s run consistently, close to capacity. It runs inefficiently when it’s constantly ramped up and down to reflect changes in the wind. I’ve been arguing this case for years, and those who promote wind rarely consider the back-up costs and emissions.

Now new research from the Netherlands shows that the total CO2 emissions of the system — wind turbines plus gas back-up — are as great or greater than the emissions for the same output from gas alone. This research is incorporated in a recent report published by think-tank Civitas, and written by the estimable Ruth Lea, a first-class economist of very sound views.

So let’s just think it through. First of all, we’re paying twice for our generating capacity — turbines, plus gas back-up. Then, we’re getting very expensive wind power, mixed with relatively expensive gas power. High energy prices are a huge and unnecessary burden on our economy. Then, to cap it all, we’re not even getting the savings on emissions that Chris Huhne thinks we need. It’s a lose-lose-lose deal — and that’s before we think of the visual intrusion, the housing blight, the industrialisation of the countryside, the environmental damage, the birds and bats killed, the noise, the flicker, the negative health impacts on local residents. All for nothing.

You can sense that change is in the wind when the Guardian (of all newspapers) reports the claims that wind power can actually increase emissions. I’ve no doubt that their environment correspondent Leo Hickman choked on his cocoa when he saw the Civitas paper, and with the assistance of the vested interests of the wind industry, he sets about debunking it. As he says, analyses of the efficiency of wind power are complex. But however you cut it, and making every allowance for alternative views and special pleading by the industry, it’s a moral certainty that any potential emissions savings from wind power are way less than Chris Huhne imagines.

And this conclusion is based not on one single report from one country. Just days after the publication of the Civitas report, we hear of similar results from Ireland (See tenth letter down). This letter cites a study by Dutch engineer Dr. Fred Udo.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that wind power, far from being “free, clean energy” is quite simply a scam. Not a scam in some vaguely metaphorical sense, but quite literally. We’re being conned out of money, we’re damaging our economy, we’re desecrating our countryside, on a promise of emissions reductions that simply cannot be delivered — even if you thought that emissions reductions were a priority, or that the EU alone could ever deliver them when the rest of the world, quite rightly, is losing interest. And wind farms are massively regressive. They deliver millions of pounds to rich landowners (including David Cameron’s father-in-law), while driving millions of families into fuel poverty.

This is a wholly damaging policy which simply has no redeeming features at all.

Roger Helmer MEP


Download Civitas' report


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