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‘Wind Farm Realities’ Website

Two years ago, I launched Wind Farm Realities, subtitled “Going Where the Evidence Takes Me.” Here’s how I describe my website.

“The more we want it to be true, the more careful we have to be.”  Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.

This web site is in the unenviable position of being a messenger of bad news about wind energy. And wind energy was, at least intuitively, so promising!  Most of us know we can’t keep doing what we’re doing – burning through all the fossil fuels we can find – and wind seems to promise a carbon-free, inexhaustible, and benign source that doesn’t send money overseas.

As much as all of us, including myself, would want this rosy picture to be true, the actual evidence so far paints a far different picture.  I understand that many people will resist hearing this bad news, preferring to label me a NIMBY, a Luddite, unscientific, oil-industry-loving, climate-change-denying, jealous – anything to dismiss me.

I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m simply someone who thinks evidence is a better guide to reality than wishful thinking.  And the existing evidence says to me that wind energy has no redeeming value, while its downsides are substantial.

The first indication that I had of the failings of wind energy was when I had the temerity to actually read the references that the wind industry used to “prove” how beneficial and benign wind was.  As an example, if you read AWEA’s “Fact Sheet” on 20% by 2030, it claims a savings of 825 million tons of CO2. 

But if you follow the references to find out how they got that number, you find out that AWEA itself was ultimately responsible for it.  Worse, that number was not based on any actual measurements – they simply assumed any energy created by wind automatically lessened emissions by an equal amount, an assumption we know is untrue.

One of my more depressing observations is that the wind energy movement has acquired almost a religious following, where faith is more important than real-world facts. But while our souls’ origin and destiny may not be knowable, surely the effects of wind turbines on our power grid and environment are.  In almost every aspect of wind energy the serious (dare I say, scientific) studies that would be needed to settle these issues have simply not been done (or at least, not published).

I’ve been looking on an almost daily basis for several years; I’ve asked the local universities; I’ve been in contact with interested people all around North America; and I cannot find any of the following:

  • A study that confirms the carbon dioxide savings advertised by the wind energy industry, based on real measurements on a real grid. You’d think that at least in Germany or Denmark, and maybe Texas or Spain, such figures would be available, but they aren’t. And the more you look into the details and the actual evidence, the more you suspect there’s no savings at all.
  • A study that shows wind turbine noise levels actually conform to the models that are used to place them. There are several studies that show that too often they don’t, and the complaints from neighbors are growing.
  • An epidemiological (aka a serious, scientific) study of any potential health effects from wind turbines.  The evidence from actual neighbors is pretty strong that there’s a problem.
  • A study that shows how wildlife adjusts (or doesn’t) to wind turbines. As more (and no longer just anecdotal) reports come in, the effects continue to look worse and worse.

The fact that we are spending billions of dollars without any empirical indication it will do anything but further destroy our environment is a problem in itself, indicating a real lack of scientific proficiency.   In spite of conclusive studies not being available, I have found enough evidence to form solid opinions on the various issues relating to the wind energy industry, and as much as I might wish that wind turbines were truly effective and benign, the evidence points differently.

Quite a bit of this evidence is fairly technical and in places pretty detailed, and I won’t apologize for that.  If I knew how to accurately describe reality without getting technical and detailed I would.  I have tried to provide enough references so that anyone could dig as deeply as they wished into the material.  I’ve also tried to provide enough introductory material so any reader can at least be exposed to the basics behind all these issues.

To the extent I’ve failed with this, I do apologize.  Please feel free to ask or comment about any aspect of this site, and thanks for looking.

[I keep a second web site that is more specific to the Amherst and Wolfe Island area.  If you are looking for more specific information about that area or Ontario you might look there.]

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Wayne Gulden lives most of the year in Yellow Springs, Ohio but keeps a cottage on Amherst Island where an industrial wind park has been proposed. Here is how Wayne describes himself:

I guess you could try to call me a NIMBY–but as I started doing the research and looking at empirical evidence I quickly discovered that wind energy’s benefits are non-existent while the downsides are substantial. So my fight is now larger than the Island.  I’m really a NIABY – not in anyone’s back yard.  In fact, more than that – no turbines anywhere until they can be shown to save on emissions.

What about my background?  I don’t have a large number of letters after my name.  I do have an MBA in finance (with honors, LOL), but never used it except to be the treasurer for various non-profits.  Undergraduate was psychology (which I never used either) with a physics minor. 

So what qualifications do I have?  The best one of all – I’m retired and have the time to actually read through the reports put out by all the parties to the arguments and then read through their references as far as I can to find what the basis of their arguments is.  Plus I’ve worked most of my life in a field (large corporate and government computer networks) where rational thought, attention to detail and a fair amount of skepticism are important.

4 comments

1 ‘Wind Farm Realities’ Website — MasterResource « WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO: On Wordpress { 03.28.12 at 8:16 am }

[...] ‘Wind Farm Realities’ Website — MasterResource: …I cannot find any of the following: [...]

2 Jon Boone { 03.28.12 at 8:47 am }

Here’s a quote from Ireland’s Pat Swords that rather nicely states why people like Wayne Gulden offer hope for a better energy future:

“… a huge number of Irish engineers … are completely ineffective at representing the principles of the profession and see themselves as facilitators of whatever political agenda is there, rather than to act as a proper ‘check and balance’ and ensure that proper sound and scientifically based policies are implemented.”

This is true irrespective of nationality. Too many technical experts–and regulators–have assumed a prostrate posture before the political thuggery that imposes such a dumb idea as wind generation on consumers and the public at large.

Three cheers for Wayne–and the way he has shared his knowledge via Windfarm Realities with others.

3 Sue Nunn { 03.30.12 at 12:14 am }

Thanks for putting so much work into researching this issue, Wayne. It seems derelict on the part of policy makers to be promoting more ways to degrade eco-systems and continue profligate energy consumption, instead of emphasizing conservation and non-grid solutions. I, too, wanted to believe in wind energy, until I read more about it. Then I visited an area in NY state with a massive wind turbine installation. The rural area had been transformed into a surreal industrial landscape out of War of the Worlds. If we sell out our natural landscapes, where do we as a species go to heal? The piddling output of electricity from these monsters is not worth destroying the true wealth of our wild places. And there is no evidence that this destruction reduces CO2, as you point out.

4 I Have Pictures! – Wind Farm Realities’ Google Earth Files « WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO: On Wordpress { 03.31.12 at 8:58 am }

[...] Farm Realities’ Google Earth Files March 31, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments Wayne Gulden has done some impressive work – and continues to do more.  If you’ve looked at maps [...]

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