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"The Wind Farm Scam" by John Etherington (the UK environmental civil war builds)

Editor Note: Author John Etherington, formerly a Reader in Ecology at the University of Wales, has extensively researched the implications of intermittently available renewable electricity generation, particularly 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.

 

 It may be a bit too late to order copies of the just published 198-page The Wind Farm Scam (Stacy International, 2009) by British ecologist John Etherington as a holiday gift, but it’s well worth getting (and giving) copies of the book as soon as you can secure them.

The book should be required reading for every high school, college, and university student — especially in those institutions offering energy and environmental programs.

Although the book written about the UK experience, most of its facts about “wind farms” are applicable worldwide.  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.

As in the US, “wind farms” in the UK are being built primarily because of government fiat and huge government-forced subsidies, not because of their true environmental, economic, or energy benefits.  Apparently, the tax breaks and subsidies in the US are even more attractive than those in the UK since two major oil companies, BP and Shell, have pulled out of UK “renewable” energy programs with the intent of focusing their attention (and renewable rent seeking) on the US and Canada.

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.

For example:

a.  Decisions by the wizards of the US Department of Treasury and Department of Energy to give hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to firms (mostly foreign) for “wind farms,” allegedly to promote job creation and economic activity — even though many of the “wind farms” had already been built!!!  (These wizards also continue to ignore the fact that a huge share of “wind farm” capital investment dollars for turbines, towers and blades — flow to other countries.)

b.  Continued promotion by the US DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (DOE-EERE) and the National Renewable Energy “Laboratory” (NREL) of a fundamentally flawed economic model that allegedly identifies the Job and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) of “wind farms” — thus misleading local government officials and citizens who are called on to accept the massive, low energy producing, environmentally disruptive facilities.

c.  Extraordinary expansion of tax breaks (PTC, ITC, 5-Yr.-200% DB accelerated depreciation, bonus depreciation)  and subsidies (direct cash grants in lieu of PTC; more money for DOE-EERE and NREL wind energy “R&D” and propaganda) for “wind farms” as a part of “stimulus” bills enacted during the past year — all at the expense of US taxpayers and our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who will be saddled with the massive, rapidly growing national debt resulting from irresponsible actions by Congress and the last and current Administrations.

d.  The DOE sponsored “study” that purports to show that 20% of US electricity requirements could be supplied by wind energy by 2030 — a clear demonstration that most any outrageous, preconceived notion can be “proven” if one makes the “right” assumptions and ignores reality.

e.  The recent release of a fundamentally flawed DOE-Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) “study” that defies common sense and real life experience by using large amounts of poorly selected, inapplicable, and inadequate data — hidden behind seemingly sophisticated statistical techniques — in an attempt to support a preposterous claim that “wind farms” do not adversely affect the property values of the people who find themselves living in the shadows of the massive, noisy structures.  (The LBNL report has numerous “sound bites” that will undoubtedly be used by aggressive “wind farm” developers to confuse local government officials and ordinary citizens who will never have the time to find their way through the report.)

Be optimistic. Recognizing the developments we have seen during the last few months, we must be at or near the bottom!

Editor’s note: The problems of wind as a primary energy in the UK were recognized by William Stanley Jevons in his 1865 classic, The Coal Question, reviewed at MasterResource.

Appendix: Book Blurb (Stacey International)

The spectre of global warming and the political panic surrounding it has triggered a gold rush for renewable energy sources without an open discussion of the merits and drawbacks of each.
In The Wind Farm Scam Dr Etherington argues that in the case of wind power the latter far outweigh the former. Wind turbines cannot generate enough energy to reduce global CO2 levels to a meaningful degree; what’s more wind power is by nature intermittent and cannot generate a steady output, necessitating back-up coal and gas power plants that significantly negate the saving of greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to the inefficacy of wind power there are ecological drawbacks, including damage to habitats, wildlife and the far-from-insignificant aesthetic drawback of the assault upon natural beauty and the pristine landscape, which wind turbines entail.
Dr. Etherington argues that wind power has been, and is being, excessively financed at the cost of consumers who have not been consulted, nor informed that this effective subsidy is being paid from their bills to support an industry that cannot be cost efficient or, ultimately, favour the cause it purports to support.
“Quite simply, SUPERB.” Richard Phillips, FRIC (retired)
The following national organisations are campaigning against wind farms:
COUNTRY GUARDIAN
NAWAG – the National Alliance of Wind Farm Action Groups. E-mail windaction@hotmail.com
See this link for a Sunday Times feature from Dec 13th 2009, about an attempt to understate the noise nuisance created by wind turbines. 

—–
Glenn R. Schleede has authored numerous papers and reports on energy matters.  Since 2001, Schleede has focused on wind energy. From 1992 until September 2003, Schleede maintained a consulting practice, Energy Market and Policy Analysis, Inc. (EMPA), providing analysis of energy markets and policies. Prior to forming EMPA, Schleede was Vice President of New England Electric System (NEES), Westborough, MA, and President of its fuels subsidiary, New England Energy Incorporated.

Previously, Schleede was Executive Associate Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (1981), Senior VP of the National Coal Association in Washington (1977) and Associate Director (Energy and Science) of the White House Domestic Council (1973).  He also held career service positions in the U.S. OMB and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

He holds a BA degree from Gustavus Adolphus College and an MA from the University of Minnesota.  He is also a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

22 comments

1 Major Mike { 12.19.09 at 1:43 am }

Wind power is such a stupid idea it is no wonder it is so popular with the left. It is expensive, unreliable, requires 100% conventional generation backup, kills endangered species birds, visually pollutes scenic vistas, and must be located far away from population centers. To “solve” this last objection, the most ludicrous plan I’ve seen for wind power was first for New York city, and recently for San Francisco, to install urban wind turbines – with no apparent appreciation to their noise and vibration characteristics, loss of generating capacity because of wind drag from buildings and the necessity to use relatively small wind turbines, and the unsafe conditions caused by mechanical stresses on the buildings upon which they are erected. In farcical attempts to design ways to overcome the intermittent power generation factor – it is an exceptional wind farm that produces at 25% of rated capacity – there are proposals to use excess energy generated during the night to compress air (or to store energy in some other mechanical way) to generate power when the wind doesn’t. Of course these alternative power schemes will be very expensive and, as yet, have not been created to operate in the real world.
I lived nine years within sight (but thankfully not sound) of the wind farm at the Altamont Pass, California, and observed that most of the time none of the turbines were turning, and when some were, a lot were not because they were down for maintenance. About the only thing they did well was kill eagles and hawks – thousands each year. I would hazard a guess that more energy went into creating the Altamont Pass wind farm than was generated by it, and that its operation never made, and never will, make economic sense.

2 Rod Adams { 12.19.09 at 6:38 am }

Wind is also popular among establishment energy companies. It provides excellent cover to allow them to claim environmental concern, gives them a claim on government subsidies that enable profitable projects, and does not produce enough useful power supply to affect their existing business of selling fossil fuel as a scarce commodity.

It is not an accurate assessment of the situation to blame support for wind on “leftists”. It is largely the result of a focused marketing effort by Big Business with a few token “Greens” put out in front as hired spokesmen.

3 Blogengeezer { 12.19.09 at 1:28 pm }

Excellent depiction of the fascinating wind farms, as well as thoughtful comments. Personally witnessing the massive proliferation and construction of wind farms with thousands of Turbins, across the west Texas landscape, We are in awe of the engineering involved. The ‘static’ time is prolific, as noted at Altamont Pass. As previously noted, only the labor and transportation to install on site, has any bearing on ‘employment’ of Americans.

The units themselves are comprised of resources definitely Global (offshore) in nature. Therefore the ever rising flood of U.S. dollars abroad is more than significant. The manufacturers in northern Europe, tout their value endlessly. The latest factor to be accounted for, is the complex web of transmission lines to remote areas. T Boone Pickens, for one, is somewhat instrumental in raising these funds.

The ‘Go Green’ scam has attracted many big investors. As such, they are Not accustomed to loosing their investments. Taxpayer funded Guarantees are insisted upon. The Public is sufficiently duped by the politically agenda driven MSM, to believe anything now. One can only Pray that the endeavor only slowly affects the economy with it’s predictable Negative result. solar energy, with it’s present very low overall efficiency holds much the same promise today. The future? possibly? Nuclear is clearly the favorite for efficiency, but public attitude has been Agenda driven to such an extent, it will have many obstacles to overcome. TORT Law as it stands in the USA is disastrous for any creativity.

In reference to the massive Turbins, I would use as an analogy the Pyramids of Giza, but they lasted for over 5 thousand years and attract tourism worth billions.

4 “The Wind Farm Scam” by Dr. John Etherington – a review « Allegheny Treasures { 12.19.09 at 9:02 pm }

[...] We provide the text of Mr. Schleede’s review for your convenience below, but recommend you proceed to MasterResource, a comprehensive and informative blog dedicated to analysis and commentary about energy markets and public policy, as they also published Mr. Schleede’s review but with additional information about the book.  Please make your way to MasterResource via this link:  “”The Wind Farm Scam” by John Etherington (the UK environmental civil war builds)“ [...]

5 Jon Boone { 12.19.09 at 10:21 pm }

Good comments, all. Ron is correct about wind technology’s bipartisan support, from both sides of the political aisle to virtually every shade of corporate investment, including large energy corporations. Absent increases in nuclear, the more wind–the more coal and particularly more natural gas. Hardly a competitive situation.

Nonetheless, it is difficult to believe that such feckless energy schemes as wind and solar could have achieved their stunning level of public acceptance and vast political support without decades of relentless shilling by mainline environmental groups–which bend “science” to fit their ideologies, then use it to sell soap.

6 NMorris { 01.08.10 at 9:48 am }

Wind energy is not a panacea for either global warming or peak oil: nothing is. Nor is wind energy perfect. However, the solution for our current energy profligacy will be made up of a large number of individual components. Wind energy will likely have to be one, valuable, low Carbon, element of the overall solution. The problems of wind power are well recognised by its thinking proponents, and people are actively looking for ways to manage them (wider geographic spread of farms to smooth supply, more efficient turbines to generate more, storage systems to ameliorate intermittency etc.) However, egregious political boonswoggles, and rapacious grabs by investment banks etc are not reason to denigrate the technology or to throw the baby out with the bath water. It seems to me that the discussion should be about how to use the range of different elements to create a mosaic that will sustain us, and future generations, in a lifestyle that is enjoyable and productive. The discussion should be based on informed comment and transparent research. The “discussion” should not be an ideological rant from either side which denies any legitimacy for anyone who doesn’t hold the self same view. In my view, efficiency, and reduction in our bloated consumption, are the quickest, cheapest and most sustainable elements of the overall solution. But governments and electorates are too comfortable and lazy to address consumer habits that are driving the problems.

7 J. Burdick { 08.02.10 at 12:26 pm }

My small town of Pentwater, Michigan is currently “at battle” with Scandia Wind and our state government over a proposed wind farm in our beloved Lake Michigan. It is designed to have 100 turbines that are located only 3 miles off shore. I have done extensive research on Wind Energy and I have ordered Mr. Etherington’s book (should arrive tomorrow). I am witnessing the political frenzy and inaccurate use of data firsthand and it is not only appalling, but very frustrating to try to overcome the huge government subsidies propoganda! I am notating my research and I will be writing my local and state politicians again with links to many online resources that explain the Wind Energy Scam. I am very disheartened by the lack of knowledge in our government officials but I will do my best to present them with the information and hope that they study it. Wind Energy is truly a “propped up” political response to our green energy trend in America and it has resulted in small rural towns like Pentwater becoming an experiment that is doomed to failure.

8 Nettie Pena { 09.24.10 at 3:55 pm }

You can go to You Tube to see the New Trailer for the documentary ‘They’re Not Green’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpRe1VLpyVk#
Please check out my updated website http://web.me.com/thrnotgreen/thrnotgreen
PayPal is available on my website so anyone can purchase the one hour documentary.

The biggest problem is the Greed of the wind power developers and politicians who perpetuate the myth
that wind power is the answer to our clean energy needs. So wrong!

9 sid { 11.11.10 at 5:15 pm }

http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/
The founder of this company Dale Vince, MD of Ecotricity has risen from being a traveller in a bus to a millionaire on the back of the taxpayer, no one would build or have the money to build windfarms if it wasn’t for the massive subsidies from the taxpayer and to make it even more of a ripoff we are then told we have to pay high electricty prices to pay for them.
Britian has a new breed of parasites that live of the backs of the honest taxpayers. We need some frenchies to show us how to deal with our politicians.

10 Time to terminate Big Wind subsidies | Watts Up With That? { 05.09.12 at 12:16 am }

[...] advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say [...]

11 HACER Weekly News Report USA | US: Time to terminate Big Wind subsidies – by Paul Driessen { 05.09.12 at 6:37 am }

[...] advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say [...]

12 Time to terminate Big Wind subsidies | Quixotes Last Stand { 05.10.12 at 4:41 am }

[...] advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say [...]

13 Time to terminate Big Wind subsidies | Nat-n-Bio { 05.10.12 at 10:36 am }

[...] advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say [...]

14 PAUL DRIESSEN: TIME TO TERMINATE BIG WIND SUBSIDIES | RUTHFULLY YOURS { 05.11.12 at 5:18 am }

[...] advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say [...]

15 NetRight Daily » Time to terminate Big Wind subsidies { 05.11.12 at 8:37 am }

[...] advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say [...]

16 Time to Terminate Big Wind Subsidies « PA Pundits – International { 05.12.12 at 5:05 am }

[...] advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say [...]

17 Time to terminate Big Wind subsidies « Eco-Imperialism – Paul Driessen { 05.14.12 at 1:13 pm }

[...] advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say [...]

18 End Big Wind Subsidies | The American Conservative Union { 05.18.12 at 6:09 am }

[...] advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say [...]

19 Militant Libertarian » Time to terminate Big Wind subsidies { 05.21.12 at 2:54 am }

[...] advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say [...]

20 FreeWestRadio.com » Blog Archive » Time to terminate Big Wind subsidies { 05.25.12 at 11:18 am }

[...] advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say [...]

21 Time to terminate Big Wind subsidies { 10.25.12 at 11:47 am }

[...] advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say [...]

22 Big Wind’s Subsidies Breaking Up? | Industry Market Trends { 02.18.14 at 11:52 am }

[…] the same in America as in Britain — even worse, actually, according to a review in MasterResource of the 2009 book The Wind Farm Scam, written by John Etherington, formerly a Reader in Ecology at […]

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