Hard data on why wind energy is bullshit


“Lessons from New York”

(This post appeared on windturbinesyndrome.com.)

— Jack Sullivan, MS (Nuclear Physics, Cornell University), Rutland Herald 14/2/13

As Vermonters grapple with the pros and cons of industrial wind power, many of their questions may be answered by studying thetrack record of northern New York wind projects.

This area has been host to hundreds of turbines for nearly five years.

The wind resource of northern Vermont is very close to that of northern New York. We can certainly expect nearly the same performance from turbines in both locations. I have tracked four northern New York projects since their inception with a comprehensive study centered on the Noble Chateaugay project, which has 71 GE 1.5 SLE turbines and is capacity-rated at 106.5 megawatts. The capacity rating is the maximum sustained output of the project.

The actual annual output of the Chateaugay was only 23 megawatts, giving an efficiency (capacity factor ) of 21.6 percent. The other northern New York projects had similar capacity factors. This is quite far removed from the 30 percent to 35 percent commonly predicted by wind developers.

All northern New York wind projects had more than 1,200 hours annually that they produced no electricity at all (that’s the equivalent of 50 24-hour days) or 14 percent of the time with zero generation. It appears wind developers notoriously inflate expected capacity factors to entice investors and increase chances of permitting approvals.

Both Vesta and GE turbines have a manufacturers’ life expectancy rating of 20 years, yet no northern New York wind project is on track to sell enough electricity in 20 years to pay for itself. There are few locations in the Northeast that have a sufficient wind resource to support a viable wind generating project; not only are area winds light compared to the Midwest, but they have a huge problem of being very intermittent.

Wind power can never supply a steady base-load power, nor can it supply reliable and predictable electricity in any amount. This is especially true in marginal wind areas like New York and Vermont. Large-scale power storage is only a future dream, so a huge influx of wind power only increases its inefficiency.

Vermonters must look carefully at the current rush to cover their ridgelines with giant industrial wind turbines. Wind advocates, including Gov. Peter Shumlin, claim Vermont must switch to wind power in order to avoid another Hurricane Irene.

If this wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable. Irene originated in the Caribbean, so I find it hard to believe that a few wind turbines on Lowell Mountain can stop a major storm forming in the Caribbean. If storms of Irene’s ilk are caused by climate change, then Vermont’s electrical generation is a very minor concern, since 96 percent of its carbon dioxide is caused by heating and transportation. It might make more sense for Vermonters to concentrate on conservation and energy efficiency rather than destroy their ridgelines with inefficient wind turbines.

An in-depth study done by the prestigious Pacific Research Institute found that a wind project needed to have a capacity factor of 35 percent before it could erase its carbon footprint within its life expectancy. Manufacture, transport and construction of a wind project produces huge amounts of carbon dioxide emissions; for example, just moving a single turbine across northern New York produces nearly five tons of carbon dioxide.

Even if Vermont wind projects produced less emissions, little reduction would occur since most of Vermont’s electricity comes from hydro and nuclear, both already emission free.

A driving force behind the Shumlin administration’s strong support of wind power seems to be the desire to destroy Vermont Yankee. The fact of the matter is that it would take more than 1,000 3-megawatt wind turbines to produce the average output of Yankee, and that output would be erratic and unpredictable.

Since Vermont electrical generation produces an infinitesimal part of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, there is no way they have any measurable effect on climate change.

The Lowell Mountain project is interesting in that Green Mountain Power claims its 21 three-megawatt turbines will produce an annual average of 20 megawatts. This would mean a capacity factor of approximately 32 percent, rather unbelievable for a Northeast installation. I fear the people of Vermont are being sold a bill of goods not unlike what happened in northern New York.

Other considerations in the northern New York wind projects were changes in the rural ambiance of the landscape, a major factor for Vermonters as ridgelines are scalped and bulldozed. Here in northern New York woodlot and meadow scenery gave way to an industrial array of 500-foot turbines. The landowners who were near turbine sites found their property values decreasing. Studies in New York, Texas, Wisconsin, the United Kingdom and Ontario all agree that sites in view of turbines less than a mile away lost 20 percent to 50 percent of their value once they were installed.

Additionally, we have had cases of ill health caused by neighboring turbines, a condition known as wind turbine syndrome and verified by medical professionals worldwide. A further negative effect that wind developers in northern New York have generally denied is the death of birds and bats due to wind turbines. It has been alleged that some projects have employees who scour the areas around turbines and remove carcasses, thus literally “knowing where the bodies are buried.”

Vermonters should remember that once their ridgelines are dynamited, bulldozed and covered with giant wind turbines they will never be reclaimed.


Jack Sullivan

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.


  1. Francis Whitesell says:

    The last thing I’d ever want is to see those ridge-lines destroyed.

    With respect to preventing that: it would be extremely helpful for the purpose of convincing skeptics of the numbers in this article to have direct links to the studies regarding efficiency versus life-expectancy of installations. I’m inclined to believe that more people invested in the future of Vermont (and any other location, for that matter) would be more inclined to take the risks and the irreversible local climate damage more seriously if the hard facts behind the hard facts, so to speak where directly accessible via this article.

    [Example: “An in-depth study done by the prestigious Pacific Research Institute found that a wind project needed to have a capacity factor of 35 percent before it could erase its carbon footprint within its life expectancy.” (above)] I’d very much like to read this study, and any related literature, if someone would be so kind as to provide direct links to the published material, or at the least a journal citation that I could trace.

  2. Jack Sullivan this piece should be on the front page of every paper East to West, North to South. The media should be publishing the statistics of how much more carbon enters the air every day because of the industrial wind turbine agenda, how inefficient they are, how many people and communties they are making “ill” healthwise and financially, how no one is safe from the affects, how one side of town will have to pick up the pieces for technology gone horribly wrong in higher assessments and taxes because of property values lost on the othe side of town. Nimby this is not, this will affect everyone’s back yard. As a stakeholder I am tired of my money being spent on such a poor investment. This is a plague and should be reported about as such. This agenda must be stopped.

  3. A few weeks ago, whilst standing in the front of my workshop, I observed 4 low loader semi trailers coming down the Road. Loaded with huge cylinders, each semi trailer had a support vehicle front and back with flashing orange lights, and going as fast as they could. One could be forgiven to thinking that there could have been on each, a small polly styrene box containing organ donations. So I get’s to thinking…
    High Grade iron ore from Western Australia, shipped to China, High Grade High energy black coal from Eastern Australia shipped to China, to produce cokeing coal for the Blast furnaces,to convert the iron ore to steel with the help of cheap electricity produced from the black coal. Cheap electricity to run the rolling mills and the manufacture the Wind Turbine components. After Manufacture they are shipped all the way back to Australia, carted from the Shipping port 200 kilometers and placed on the hills to the South of Crookwell and in so doing,
    1. Receive huge subsidies from the Australian Taxpayer, from
    money borrowed from overseas.
    2 . Claim Tax consession
    3. Renewable energy Certificates
    4. And generally stuff the lives of Communities and Neighbours
    who live in the near vicinity.
    All this Money, all this effort, to give us the Worlds dearest
    Electricity ……………SOMETIMES.
    To Grant Winberg, the owner of the Gullen Range Industrial Wind Turbine site is GOLD WIND, a Chinese Wind Turbine Manufacturer. Don’t you just love the name.
    We export millions of tonnes of coal to China each year but are
    not allowed to use it here. China has one billion people and we
    have 23 million and 32 coal fired power stations which our Government wants to close down. By 2020 China will have
    1000 coal fired power stations and guess where it will still be
    getting it’s coal. Export Wind Turbines and import Coal,China
    is getting richer we are getting poorer and that’s a fact. Our Politicians just don’t get it. Or sorry, we are going to save the World, forgot !!!!!

  4. Rather than too hard for them to see the uselessness of these wind turbines, it is simply irrelevant. The fallacy that this fiasco was perpetrated on the people in order to “improve” our environment, has been shown to be just a ruse, to lull the people into a false sense of security, knowing that the government is taking the steps that it needs to, in order to combat global warming. Nothing could be further from the truth. There has been no sign of global warming since the 90’s….but they don’t want to talk about that. “Global warming fearmongering” was all part of the world-wide wind scam, and it is a pyramid scheme more wide spread than any other that I’ve heard of before. These schemes have only one purpose…..to funnel money out of our pockets, and have it going directly into theirs, and they need give us NOTHING in return for the billions of dollars they will take, mainly from people who cannot afford it. We have to demand an end to this, before our communities are destroyed, and our assets have dwindled down to nothing!

  5. Grant Winberg says:

    A succinct summary of the case against industrial wind turbines as it applies in upper New York. It is to be hoped that the relevant consent authorities in Australia apply such thinking to applications before them, ie cost/benefit analysis, which would be incredibly easy for them to do as they would now have plenty of empirical data in the respective areas from up and running (sometimes) comparable “wind farms”.
    A difficulty for them may be the calculation of a minimum capacity factor before each “wind farm” could erase its carbon footprint within its life expectancy. One reason for this might be that “…Australia doesn’t have a manufacturing capacity for wind turbines above 2MW..(eg all proposed turbines in the Upper Lachlan Shire of NSW will be above that figure).., and so the point you make about turbines being foreign-manufactured and imported is true. I’m not aware of any manufacturers in Australia…” – reference Legal Manager – Union Fenosa). How could say the NSW Department of Planning etc calculate the carbon footprint attribution to turbines etc manufactured in say China and transported to the Upper Lachlan Shire?
    Is it all just too hard?

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