Wind Power: The Parasitic Power Producer

Wind power: a massively subsidised parasite.


Promoting Parasitic Power Producers
Viv Forbes
17 July 2014

Wind and solar are parasitic power producers, unable to survive in a modern electricity grid without the back-up of stand-alone electricity generators such as hydro, coal, gas or nuclear. And like all parasites, they weaken their hosts, causing increased operating and transmission costs and reduced profits for all participants in the grid.

Without subsidies, few large wind/solar plants would be built; and without mandated targets, few would get connected to the grid.

Green zealots posing as energy engineers should be free to play with their green energy toys at their own expense, on their own properties, but the rest of us should not be saddled with their costs and unreliability.
We should stop promoting parasitic power producers. As a first step, all green energy subsidies and targets should be abolished.

For those who wish to read more:

Wind Power Chaos in Germany:

The reality of green energy:

Blowing Our Dollars in the Wind

Wind energy produces costly, intermittent, unpredictable electricity. But Government subsidies and mandates have encouraged a massive gamble on wind investments in Australia – over $7 billion has already been spent and another $30 billion is proposed.

This expenditure is justified by the claim that by using wind energy there will be less carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere which will help to prevent dangerous global warming.

Incredibly, this claim is not supported by any credible cost-benefit analysis – a searching enquiry is well overdue. Here is a summary of things that should be included in the enquiry.

Firstly, no one knows how much global warming is related to carbon dioxide and how much is due to natural variability. However, the historical record shows that carbon dioxide is not the most important factor, and no one knows whether net climate feedbacks are positive or negative. In many ways, the biosphere and humanity would benefit from more warmth, more carbon dioxide and more moisture in the atmosphere.

However, let’s assume that reducing man’s production of carbon dioxide is a sensible goal and consider whether wind power is likely to achieve it. To do this we need to look at the whole life cycle of a wind tower.

Wind turbines are not just big simple windmills – they are massive complex machines whose manufacture and construction consume much energy and many expensive materials. These include steel for the tower, concrete for the footings, fibre glass for the nacelle, rare metals for the electro-magnets, steel and copper for the machinery, high quality lubricating oils for the gears, fibre-glass or aluminium for the blades, titanium and other materials for weather-proof paints, copper, aluminium and steel for the transmission lines and support towers, and gravel for the access roads.

There is a long production chain for each of these materials. Mining and mineral extraction rely on diesel power for mobile equipment and electrical power for haulage, hoisting, crushing, grinding, milling, smelting, refining. These processes need 24/7 reliable electric power which, in Australia, is most likely to come from coal.

These raw materials then have to be transported to many specialised manufacturing plants, again using large quantities of energy, generating more carbon dioxide.

Then comes the construction phase, starting with building a network of access roads, clearance of transmission routes, and excavation of the massive footings for the towers. Have a look here at the massive amount of steel, concrete and energy consumed in constructing the foundations for just one tower:

Not one tonne of steel or concrete can be produced without releasing carbon dioxide in the process.

Almost all of the energy used during construction will come from diesel fuel, with increased production of carbon dioxide.

Moreover, every bit of land cleared results in the production of carbon dioxide as the plant material dozed out of the way rots or is burnt, and the exposed soil loses its humus to oxidation.

Once the turbine starts operating the many towers, transmission lines and access roads need more maintenance and repair than a traditional power plant that produces concentrated energy from one small plot of land using a small number of huge, well-tested, well protected machines. Turbines usually operate in windy, exposed, isolated locations. Blades need to be cleaned using large specialised cranes; towers and machinery need regular inspection and maintenance; and mobile equipment and manpower needs to be on standby for lightning strikes, fires or accidents. All of these activities require diesel powered equipment which produces more carbon dioxide.

Even when they do produce energy, wind towers often produce it at times when demand is low – at night for example. There is no benefit in this unwanted production, but it is usually counted as saving carbon fuels.

Every wind farm also needs backup power to cover the 65%-plus of wind generating capacity that is lost because the wind is not blowing, or blowing such a gale that the turbines have to shut down.

In Australia, most backup is provided by coal or gas plants which are forced to operate intermittently to offset the erratic winds. Coal plants and many gas plants cannot switch on and off quickly but must maintain steam pressure and “spinning reserve” in order to swing in quickly when the fickle wind drops. This causes grid instability and increases the carbon dioxide produced per unit of electricity. This waste should be debited to the wind farm that caused it.

Wind turbines also consume energy from the grid when they are idle – for lubrication, heating, cooling, lights, metering, hydraulic brakes, energising the electro-magnets, even to keep the blades turning lazily (to prevent warping) and to maintain line voltage when there is no wind.

A one-month study of the Wonthaggi wind farm in Australia found that the facility consumed more electricity than it produced for 16% of the period studied. A detailed study in USA showed that 8.3% of total wind energy produced was consumed by the towers themselves. This is not usually counted in the carbon equation.

The service life of wind towers is far shorter than traditional power plants. Already many European wind farms have reached the end of their life and contractors are now gearing up for a new boom in the wind farm demolition and scrap removal business. This phase is likely to pose dangers for the environment and require much diesel powered equipment producing yet more carbon dioxide.

Most estimates of carbon dioxide “saved” by using wind power look solely at the carbon dioxide that would be produced by a coal-fired station producing the rated capacity of the wind turbine. They generally ignore all the other ways in which wind power increases carbon energy usage, and they ignore the fact that wind farms seldom produce name-plate capacity.

When all the above factors are taken into account over the life of the wind turbine, only a very few turbines in good wind locations are likely to save any carbon dioxide. Most will be either break-even or be carbon-negative – the massive investment in wind may achieve zero climate “benefits” at great cost.

Entrepreneurs or consumers who choose wind power should be free to do so but taxpayers and electricity consumers should not be forced to subsidise their choices for questionable reasons.

People who claim climate sainthood for wind energy should be required to prove this by detailed life-of-project analysis before getting legislative support and subsidies.

Otherwise we are just blowing our dollars in the wind.

For those who wish to read more:
UK Wind farms will create more carbon dioxide than they save:
Wind energy does little to reduce carbon dioxide emissions:
The High Cost of reducing carbon dioxide using wind energy:
Wind power does not avoid significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions:
Why Wind Won’t Work:
Energy Consumption in Wind Facilities:
Growing Problem of Grid Instability:
Contractors prepare for US$81 Billion boom in decommissioning North Sea wind farms:
Time to End Wind Power Corporate Welfare:

Viv Forbes
17 July 2014

Money Wasted

5 thoughts on “Wind Power: The Parasitic Power Producer

  1. One of the harmful side effects of pseudo-green “renewable” solar energy is the apparent support it gives to statements like
    “In many ways, the biosphere and humanity would benefit from more warmth, more carbon dioxide and more moisture in the atmosphere”.
    There was once a whole order as big as the Coniferales, called the Gingkoales, of which exactly one species exists today.
    For instance, a study by four researchers at says
    “Terrestrial ecosystem collapse at the end of the Triassic Period coincided with a major mass extinction in the marine realm and has been linked to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, global warming, and fire activity.”

    It is true that methane, CH4, leaking from shale fractured to supply gas turbines with what doesn’t escape is a worse greenhouse gas than CO2. It is also a product of methanogenic bacteria in bogs. One of the unknown, possibly calamitous tipping points of ocean warming is the existence of methane clathrates, which are methane sequestered with H2O at cold sea bottoms. The point at which these might erupt is difficult to predict. Some have already started.
    In a vast number of ways, the organisms of the biosphere have evolved to require the temperature ranges of, let’s say, the 18th century. It is perhaps irrelevant to the happiness of the majority of humans whether Emperor penguins and polar bears exist, or the flora and fauna of high mountains in Costa Rica.
    But the progressive acidification of the oceans is bad for the coral reefs which are important to the ecology of more species than we can analyse.
    The loss of the North American, land based ice is quite likely to diminish the Gulf Stream drift that keeps Britain’s west coasts comfortably warm.

  2. In the reference list just a minor typo guys:

    Contractors prepare for US81M boom in decommissioning North Sea wind farms:

    That’ll be a USD81B with a “B” for Billion boom to decommission the North Sea wind farms alone:

    “Two international advisory firms Douglas-Westwood and Deloitte have estimated the value of this market at GBP47.5 billion (USD81.2 billion) in the North Sea alone.”

  3. Like you in Australia, we in the UK have the same problem but the Abbott administration is onto this scam. So let’s hope the message gets to the EU that the World is not warming.

    1. See my much longer comment, but the reason for the progressive melting of polar ice is the heat that the oceans are absorbing. If hald the ice in your beer cooler has melted, you have beer cooler warming ever if the beer is still cold, and a thermocouple in the air just under the lid still registers zero Celsius.

  4. These wind weasel and greentards goons are nothing more than parasites, very much like the mosquito. What parasites, we do not need crap like them!!!!!!

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