A Free-Market Energy Blog

Oxymoronic Windpower (Part II: Windspeak)

By Jon Boone -- January 19, 2011

Windspeak: Language used by those who profit financially, politically, or ideologically from wind technology that disguises, distorts, or reverses the meanings of words in order to promote the technology. Oxymorons, which combine incongruous or contradictory terms, abound in windspeak—viz, windpower, wind capacity, responsible windpower (double oxymoron), windfarms, windparks, wind jobs, wind reliability workshops, and wind as alternate energy. Generally any claim made for the technology in windspeak produces the virtually opposite effect in reality.

With the right story and no accountability, Madison Avenue can sell fantasy wholesale. Rock Hudson’s ad executive did just this 50 years ago in the charming send-up to our commercial culture, Lover Come Back, when he successfully marketed a non-existent product, VIP.

Nothing illustrates this idea better than the au courant fantasia about wind technology, where public relations legerdemain has deployed the power of windspeak to give wind a complete makeover, transforming a klutzy pretender into a seemingly benevolent superhero unbound by the laws of physics and even its own history. This is due in no small part because of the way wind has been entwined in stories deeply embedded within our cultural consciousness.

Giving the Middle Ages a contemporary look, J. K. Rowling borrowed much from fictional works by J. R. R.Tolkien, a medieval history and literature scholar who thought Shakespeare too modern and vulgar. Her Harry Potter books invite comparison to the current wind propaganda narrative. Like these stories, wind is presented as a coming of age chronicle, complete with the use of magical powers and the idea of transforming ancient technologies into modern elixirs. Although wind in its latest incarnation has been at the public trough for nearly 40 years, windspeak portrays its hero as an infant wizard preparing to save the world; it simply needs more time at Hogwarts-like institutions such as Stanford and MIT.

What is even more striking is how wind has franchised itself, much like the Harry Potter phenomenon, through self promotion, using product placement and embedded, leveraged marketing techniques a la GE/NBC/CNBC. A quick Internet search revealed the following items, under “Wind Marketing:” mugs, t-shirts, boxer shorts, thongs, back packs, lunch boxes, posters, tote bags, hats, aprons, yoga mats, license plate frames, wall clocks, keepsake boxes, greeting cards, buttons, decals, gym bags, desktop wind turbine, Lego’s wind turbines, a Lionel wind turbine cargo car and O gauge wind turbines. And, from our good friends at Greenpeace, there’s the Wind Farm Game. In fact, for nearly every product used to leverage the Potter Syndrome, there is a counterpart with wind.

In addition to associations with Harry Potter, one of the most successful contemporary coming of age wind memes is the recasting of the David versus Goliath story, variations of which provide the media with cozy melodramatic boilerplate. In this account, the little shepherd boy of wind is pitted against the philistine forces of coal, natural gas and oil, which so many now believe are assaulting Nature’s God. Like King David himself, wind technology, given enough faith and support, will eventually emerge victorious, backing down the many evils of fossil fuel use, such as the rapine mining practices and chemical side affects now degrading Gaia.  With Manichean panache, millions believe wind will lead the hosts of renewable energy as they battle a vulgar evil empire narcotized and exploited by multinational corporations in thrall to fossil fuels. Wind will literally light the postmodern world with premodern power.

Windspeak’s Most Grandiose Howler

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) carefully cultivates the idea that wind is a mortal enemy of fossil fuels. Those skeptical about the technology are vilified as fossil fuel industry lobbyists spreading lies “ to avoid losing marketshare to wind energy.” AWEA compares them to the groups and pundits from the tobacco industry that once told Congress there was no causal link between cigarettes and cancer. However, this is windspeak’s most grandiose howler, a triumph of PR over reason and empiricism made possible because the plots of fiction, especially fairy tales, are not accountable to reality.

In reality, people and corporations heavily involved with coal, natural gas, and oil are also deeply involved with wind. In the 1990s, Enron’s Ken Lay, helped by then Texas governor George W. Bush (today a leading wind booster), resurrected wind technology from the tomb that steam power had consigned it centuries ago. Giant energy corporations swaddled in coal and oil production, such as Florida Power & Light (NextEra), ExxonMobile, General Electric, BP, AES, Chevron, Shell, Weyerhaeuser, and Siemens, are all intensely invested in wind. Goldman Sachs is becoming “a leading US wind energy developer and generator,” investing “up to $1 billion in renewable energy projects.” As Rod Adams pointed out last year, there is a growing alliance among wind, natural gas, the nation’s largest banks, and politicians.

They all claim that their interest in wind is part of “diversifying” their power portfolios, adding new technologies that will improve quality of service—and help build a Smarter Planet through Ecomagination. But is this more windspeak?

Since reliable, affordable, secure electricity production has historically required the use of many kinds of generators, each designed to perform different but complementary roles, much like instruments in an orchestra, it is not unreasonable for companies in the power business to diversify their power portfolios. Thus, investment in an ensemble of nuclear and large coal plants to provide for baseload power, along with bringing on board smaller coal and natural gas plants to engage mid and peak load, makes a great deal of sense, providing for better quality and control while achieving economies of scale.

Traditional diversified power portfolios, however, insisted upon a key common denominator: their generating machines, virtually all fueled by coal, natural gas, nuclear, and/or hydro, had high unit availability and capacity value. That is, they all could be relied upon to perform when needed precisely as required.

How does adding wind—a source of energy that cannot of itself be converted to modern power, is rarely predictable, never reliable, always changing, is inimical to demand cycles, and, most importantly, produces no capacity value—make any sense at all? Particularly when placing such a volatile brew in an ensemble that insists upon reliable, controllable, dispatchable modes of operation. As a functional means of diversifying a modern power portfolio, wind is a howler.

Protecting Fossil Fuel Market Share

So what is really going on? Why are so many multinational corporations suffused in fossil fuels propping up a technology that promises to reduce their use, in the process also slashing their fossil fuel marketshare, as AWEA says it must? Why is it that so many of their executives join with Michael Eckhart, President of the American Council on Renewable Energy, when he calls for expensive rule changes on power grids that would favor unreliable, weather-dependent, tail-wagging-the-dog technologies like wind as a partner for natural gas. Does ExxonMobile, with “fully 50% of its annual energy production in the form of natural gas,” believe wind will reduce its natural gas marketshare?

Let’s examine the evidence.

  1. Despite more than 100,000 huge wind turbines in operation around the world, with about 35,000 in North America, no coal plants have been closed because of wind technology. In fact, many more coal plants are in the offing, both in the US and throughout the world. Moreover, a Colorado energetics company, Bentek, recently published a study about wind in Texas and Colorado showing, in its study areas, that wind volatility caused coal plants to perform more inefficiently, “often resulting in greater SO2, NOx, and CO2 emissions than would have occurred if less wind energy were generated and coal generation was not cycled.” Further examination of fuel use for electricity in both states during the time of inquiry suggested that wind caused no reduction in coal consumption.
  2. Unpredictable, undispatchable, volatile wind can provide for neither baseload nor peak load situations. It can only be an occasional supplement that itself requires much supplementation. Consequently, as Australian engineer Peter Lang once wrote, since “wind cannot contribute to the capital investment in generating plants… [it] simply is an additional capital investment.”
  3. Wind technology does NOT represent alternate energy. Since wind cannot provide controllable power and has no capacity value, it cannot be an alternative for machines that do provide controllable power and high capacity value. Wind therefore is incapable of entering into a zero-sum relationship with fossil-fired capacity—that is, more wind, less coal. All other conditions being equal (demand, supply, weather, etc), more wind generally means more coal.
  4. None of the considerable public subsidies for wind, indeed, not even state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) laws, are indexed to measured reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Consequently, there is no transparency or accountability for how wind technology will achieve the goals set forth by those policy initiatives. This means that corporations with a lot of fossil-fired marketshare to protect have no obligation to replace it with wind. And they don’t. Because they can’t. Freedom from responsibility is a child’s fairy tale dream come true.
  5. The work of a number of independent engineers—Hawkins, Lang, Oswald, Le Pair and De Groot—suggests that even the most effective fossil fuel pairing with wind, natural gas, will very marginally reduce overall natural gas consumption beyond what would occur using only natural gas generators, without any wind whatsoever.
  6. Because oil provides barely 1% of the nation’s electricity, wind represents no threat to oil’s marketshare.

Even companies like Bechtel are jumping on the wind wagon, taking out full-page ads in North American Windpower. Reality indicates that these corporate behemoths are keenly aware that wind protects their fossil fuel marketshare. But it does so much more, as Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street traders well know, for they’ve used wind’s David v Goliath jingle to extract exorbitant rents from Congress and most state legislatures. Like most children, they prefer the lowest hanging fruit.

An Exercise in Green: Follow the Money

Consider how low the lame duck Congress hung the fruit to create incentives for investing in wind, though, as Glenn Schleede has pointed out, the wind industry had already received a good portion of the approximately $100 billion (in 2011 dollars) the federal government has mostly squandered on research and development for “promising” energy technologies over the past 40 years:

Wind developers now can choose between renewable energy investment and production tax credits. In lieu of a tax credit, the federal treasury can grant a direct cash payment equal to 30% of capital costs. All developers, including those for wind projects, along with any equity partners, can now take a 100% depreciation bonus on new equipment through the end of 2011, depreciating the entire cost of the project, less half of the investment credit cash grant, in the year it was placed in service.

To see how this spins out, imagine a wind “park” with a capital cost of $1 billion. Taxpayers would cut a check for the first $300 million. The developer can then deduct $850 million in the first year of operation, which, at current corporate tax rates, would generate income (that is, taxes not paid) worth another $330 million. It doesn’t end there, for taxpayers would also subsidize the costs associated with any guaranteed government loans for the project. In the hands of a good tax accountant, interests rates, as they have been in the bond market, could be flipped, generating even more income.

Or wind developers can elect to receive production tax credits worth 2.2 cents for each kWh produced during the first ten years of a wind plant’s operation, in the process deducting the total amount from their corporate tax obligations. This PTC deduction, which is pegged at 40% of the wholesale price of electricity (~5 cents per kWh), will occur simply because a wind rotor turns, not because of any reductions in fossil fuel consumption or carbon emissions. Moreover, if developers choose this option, they may also be eligible for additional income tax credits equal to 10% of the capital costs.

With this kind of “incentive,” it should surprise no one that GE, with heavy investment in wind equipment and production, paid no federal income taxes in 2009, despite having annual revenues in the billions.

These are just the major front-end Congressional subsidies. At the back end, particularly because of state RPS laws, are the generally uncompetitive prices wind developers would charge utilities for their production. For example, last November Massachusetts regulators approved a power purchase agreement between the National Grid and the proposed offshore Cape Wind plant at a beginning price of 18.7 cents per kWh, starting in 2013. This means that Cape Wind would sell its sputtering energy to the grid at 18.7 cents, which would then be increased 4% because of the grid’s cut, making the wholesale price of Cape Wind’s energy 19.4 cents. This would be the price charged throughout the service area. Meanwhile, as Lisa Linowes has pointed out, “the grid will sell Cape Wind’s energy in the real-time market at the going rate…. [But] … ratepayers will pay the difference between the real-time wholesale price of, say, 5 cents and 19.4 cents.”

New Englanders would therefore pay, for each kWh of wind energy produced, nearly four times the going wholesale rate–and about twice the retail rate (~ 10 cents per kWh). And this is just the beginning, since the power purchase price would continue to escalate for many years to come.

There are also many lateral subsidies necessary to enable wind projects, not least the socialized costs of building virtually dedicated transmission lines for wind across thousands of miles. Added to this would be a series of grid upgrades, including much new voltage regulation systems. If the country’s installed wind capacity increases substantially, the aggregate cost of this enabling equipment is likely to be in the trillions of dollars. The Texas wind situation should prove instructive, particularly in light of a recent decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allowing builders of proposed transmission lines that carry wind energy east from Iowa to pass costs along to customers in other states.

No discussion of wind revenue sources would be complete without mentioning renewable energy credits/certificates (RECs). These contemporary analogs of religious indulgences allow multinational companies with a diversified power portfolio to purchase and trade them within the organization, using the proceeds to invest in wind technology, among others, and, at the same time, generate more revenue from funds that otherwise would be spent cleaning up their dirtiest burning coal plants.

Politicians of every ideological stripe—liberal and conservative, libertarian and socialist—continue to speak in windese. Note especially how New Jersey’s Republican governor windspeaks in syncopation with his Democrat counterpart in Maryland. By supporting such nonsense, they give the appearance of challenging the status quo, placating a number impassioned but highly ignorant constituencies—the mainline environmental groups, many religious organizations, the national Chamber of Commerce, the mainline media—while in reality strongly reinforcing the status quo, since wind works to increase fossil fuel marketshare, not reduce it.

Let’s Get Real!

The subprime mortgage derivative scams were based upon arcane Wall Street market knowledge and an uninformed sense of underlying assets—and therefore might have been excusable because so few were knowledgeable about the practice. Today, even fewer know much about the workings of electricity production and those who do are profiting by keep information about wind performance “assets” hidden from public scrutiny. Given the distress caused by subprime mortgage schemes, why not a call to arms about the potential fallout that will flow from subprime wind energy, since this has happened in Spain?

The arcania of electricity production and the proprietary confidentiality of wind performance notwithstanding, there is still plenty of information available about the meretricious nature of wind—for those who would look. But no one evidently thinks to demand historic data—in energy produced, fossil fuel conserved, and impact on electricity prices—that has long been in the public domain. In a recent preliminary study about state RPS laws, a group of economists I encountered were content to do long term out year projection analyses using the most questionable assumptions while comparing apples to orangutans. They never even considered looking at past and present data in Europe, California, and Texas, where renewable use already exceeds what a national RPS would require. That data is incredibly damning–and does not require featherbedding with speculative future projections.

There are thousands of broken and abandoned wind turbines in California, which not that long ago were considered modern and cutting edge. Why isn’t the closure of a solar plant in Massachusetts, after only two years of operation and $58 million of state government support, a front-page story? It is dumbfounding that otherwise bright people seem to have no clue about how to conduct genuine inquiry using tangible data—when that inquiry is about renewables. Has windspeak tied our collective tongues? Have we become so delusional about renewables that we accept deranged inquiry as normal?

Where have you gone Ike Eisenhower: The nation turns its lonely eyes at you

This litany of wind howlers is a tale about the wholesale dumbing down—the VIP-like juvenilization— of our culture at virtually every level: mainstream media, including the blogosphere; energy economists; the regulatory environment; the political scene at many local, virtually every state, indeed, the entire national governmental strata; and, not least, the multinational corporate sector, not forgetting international environmental organizations. In the final analysis, windspeak is little more than childish prattle, much like the justifications roguish children use to justify vicious behavior in an unsupervised romper room—often the smartest kids in that room.

As the old song lyric goes, “Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you—if you’re young at heart.” Or have the innocent gullibility of a four year old.

Where is the adult supervision? Where is the statesmanship that insists upon putting childish ways behind?

As a partial answer, consider this passage from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell address 50 years ago, which now seems even more clairvoyant than his warning about the military/industrial complex:

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.

“Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

“It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.”

The juggernaut for the dumb and dim of wind—a defective technology resurrected to sell tax shelters, made in China and assembled by temporary teams of international workers, justified by American and European “scientists,” engineers, gadgeteers, and an assortment of political wonks from both Republicans and Democrats spawned via federal grants to major universities (Stanford/MIT)—is the very apotheosis of Ike’s concern. And it’s all done, much like the derivative’s trading schemes in housing and banking, to sell subprime energy–at the public’s expense.

Instead of the statesmanship Ike had called for to quell such dystopean energy policy, we get VIPed by windspeak.


  1. JavalinaTex  

    Excellent post. Especially like Part I – and a discussion of the historical situation of mankind before the industrial revolution (heck, even the elite in the Victorian/Edwaridan Era didn’t have it so great).

    I had been fairly “pro-wind” but the more I have looked into the issues and economics I am increasingly becoming convinced that wind is really a bad idea.

    An thought, having just seen the generally overwrought movie “Gaslands” – way, way overstates negative environmental impacts of natural gas exploration and production – essentially an NIMBY screed/crusade. I think it would be especially interesting to make a “Windlands” counterpoint movie. It would be far more truthful. The amount of steel and concrete per installed MW (compared to nuke, coal & gas plants). The lack of dispatchability. The counter peak nature of its generation. The impact on the still required fossil plants. The very high real cost per Mw-Hr generated. The additional tax subsidies. Rolled in rates on transmission. Noise. Bird deaths. Now, let’s compare it to this Nuc-u-lar thingy… that everyone has been convinced is so bad and an economic disaster…

    One of the more damning things I have ever seen on wind, and I can no longer find on the ERCOT website (apparently removed when the site was redone for nodal market roll out on 12-01-10); are the forward wind power generation forecasts. Basically showing the rapid decline in wind power production as Texas power demand takes off during the heat of the day.

    Getting back to your essays. The larger philosophical argument (not on social philosphy like Objectisim or Libertarianism, Socialism, or any other ism) is exceedingly important. It is what do we need and expect to have when we flip a switch, drive a car, go to the market, etc.? What are we buying? What do we buy when we purchase gasoline? Are we buying just transportation? Or are we buying freedom?

    Communist societies like the USSR, China and Eastern Europe also had light switches, autos, etc. Much of the debate is a fantasy that goes far beyond social organization and which model works the best (Communism and Socialism lost) and is instead an attack on modernity.

    Essentially wind power relies on peoples’ willingness to believe in a free lunch and the idea that there was a better, idyllic past that was lost in the “Age of Petroleum”. The reality this is nothing but a fantasy and the “good old days” were terrible and virtually no one will want to go back.

    Jon, I love your pulling up Ike’s farewell address. I have used it a number of times and have even used it in Bible studies as Ike adressed the spiritual nature of work in his words. Ike also saw the angst of the times and how society had changed and the spiritual issues that resulted. Ike in a lot of ways represented the consummate large organization bureaucrat; but Ike – despite his success – knew and understood the limitations of those organizations and the risks that they entailed (AT&T could invent many technologies, but couldn’t really do anything with many of them – it took entrepreneurs, other companies, investors, etc. to fully utilize them). Most especially the risks of group think (think of all the technologies Ike witnessed in his miliatry career… the development of the tank, airplane, aircraft carrier, missiles, etc.).


  2. Beware of Geeks Bearing GIFs  

    A great two part post outlining the folly of any nation pursuing an energy infrastructure that involves the use of wind turbine technology.

    I wish the MSM would take even one or two of these points whenever wind integration is discussed but they do not, it is all copy.

    In the future, when the subsidies are removed from wind farms, who is going to provide the funds to excavate the large concrete foundations from the ground so that the land these wind turbines occupied can become useful again?


  3. bill  

    Without wind, Pine’s turbine is a bust
    Wednesday, January 19, 2011
    By Sandy Trozzo


  4. Jon Boone  

    Thanks, Javalina Tex. The gush for wind surely does have some of its roots planted deeply in the fertile soil of nostalgia. You may recall a passage I wrote a while back about wind and The Sierra Club:

    “Wind technology does nostalgically embody [John] Muir’s doctrine of using nature’s own resources to put the quietus on nature’s evil avatar, human technological hubris. It’s the stuff Muir’s dreams were made of. Energy religionists have run the Sierra Club for some time, and they practice a high church kind of back-to-nature faith in wind as an effective weapon in the war against carbon that is akin to dogma (and as such is not susceptible to right reason).”

    But no savvy politician really jumps when the likes of the Sierra Club commands. But they do when people like T. Boone Pickens give a shout out. Nothing illustrates the rot at the core of the wind mess better than this photo of Pickens and Carl Pope together playing footsie with “concern” for, uh, climate change:http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://sierraclub.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/08/27/popeandpickens.jpg&imgrefurl=http://sierraclub.typepad.com/scrapbook/2008/08/index.html&usg=__8g_KQ1SfLOWeC7bnLApxT-wqTXo=&h=308&w=470&sz=22&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=bS3p48_sx32NXM:&tbnh=149&tbnw=240&ei=qBA3Td_5MMOC8gaVxsm0Aw&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dcarl%2Bpope%2Band%2Bt%2Bboone%2Bpickens%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D862%26bih%3D450%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=331&vpy=93&dur=926&hovh=182&hovw=277&tx=156&ty=72&oei=qBA3Td_5MMOC8gaVxsm0Aw&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=6&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0.

    You might go to the Bonneville Power Administration site http://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/Wind/default.aspx) for information about the rent between wind forecast and actual delivery. But even if wind could be perfectly forecast, its relentless variability would still cause substantial inefficient cycling in wind balancing thermal units, which would largely negate any benefits claimed for wind.

    And yes, the philosophical underpinnings for all this are intriguing. What is the meaningful relationship between modern machines and quality and longevity of life? Should government get into the business of religion, as it did for much of human history (the pharaohs and the great kings of medieval Europe, for example) and subsidize entire physical edifices built on behalf of secular abstract hopes and dreams that provide no tangible product or service (think of the Great Pyramids or the the cathedral at Chartres and compare them to the lilt of wind “farms”)? Should government get in the business of “human fulfillment” to sell bullshit like Chanel markets perfume–just because millions “believe” bullshit adds to their happiness.

    This is no longer in the realm of philosophers. It is what is happening on the ground throughout much of the modern world with the wind mess, where “practical politicians” are working hand in glove with snakeoil salesmen to build massive wind cathedrals for the faithful.

    So yes, let’s, in the best Mickey and Judy tradition, put on a show. Let’s make a movie about the fandango of wind, showing all its phony interconnections, and its deep down roots in corporate kleptocracy.


  5. KHawkins  

    At the request of the author, this post has had some minor changes in wording without altering the message.

    As well a new paragraph has been added near the end of the “An Exercise in Green: Follow the Money” section. The new paragraph starts with “No discussion of wind revenue sources would be complete without mentioning renewable energy credits/certificates…”

    We trust that this does not cause inconvenience to viewers.


  6. Paul Stichbury  

    A superb essay, now linked to
    a website dedicated to the saving of our city from a monster wind farm development.


  7. Jeffrey Eric Grant  

    What if…..
    1. Windpower generators produced sufficient electricity without all of the rare earth magetism extracted from China
    2. Windpower Farms were not an eyesore (some people actually like the look – better than the landscape they invade).
    3. Windpower farms were a long range solution, with end-of-life issues addressed when inaugurated.
    4. Wind power is available when people want to use the power.
    5. Power from wind generators can be relied upon and predictable (even from the day before).
    6. Wind power (along with a future technology still to be determined) would provide stable, smooth uninteruptable power delivered in a way that would replace power generated from existing facilities.
    7. Wind power generators would be placed in a location remote from existing homes and farms, kinda out of sight and therefore outa mind.
    8. Wind power would be so economical that the free market would be glad to invest in them.
    9. Wind power could be located close to the power users, so there would not be the need for huge infrastructure development to make use of the ‘free energy’.
    10. Wind generators would not kill birds and bats
    11. Wind turbines were actually made in this country
    12. Wind turbine construction and maintainence would be done by US workers
    13. Wind turbines did not need a 30% ‘grant’ of taxpayers’ money to install them
    14. The power from a wind turbine could be sold at the marginal rate so that elctricity users would not pay more for it
    15. The CO2 sent to the atmosphere would actually be less than the CO2 currently being sent, while using Wind Power
    16. The land would be restored after the useful life of the Windpower Farm
    17. Wind power would be so useful there wouldn’t be a public ‘fight’ each and every time a Wind Farm was proposed.
    18. Wind Farm economics would be such that the use would be ‘pay as you go’

    I could continue, but you get my point. I used to be a proponent of the technology. However, after a quick study, I now oppose it. IF there were a way to smooth out its’ generation pattern it would be as useful as solar collectors — still not as good as existing power, but useful nevertheless.

    I challenge anyone who is in favor of this technology to make their case in this blog….aside from the case for decreased CO2. The reason for that stipulation is that no one actually measures the CO2 released; it is calculated, not measured. Also, the case mist include all costs associated with the use of Wind Power (installation, operation, and plant decommission), and the required transmisswion, control and backup power needed.

    Let’s compare apples with apples!


  8. Eldon Karr  

    Great work Jon,
    Can I add a few graphics and post it on our blog?


  9. Jon Boone  

    Sure, Eldon. Hope it helps.


  10. Benjamin Van Thiel  

    Here’s a simple website to cut down on URL size:

    It will turn this image you submitted:

    into this:

    I read your post thoroughly weighing it against my own pro-wind opinions and I appreciate the cognitive dissonance you’ve provided me.

    If you would care to provide a short answer, or even direct me to another source – What do you propose we as a society do about climate change? How can we meet our energy needs in a less impactful way?


  11. Jon Boone  

    Thanks, Benjamin. Others have kindly proffered your recommendation about reducing url size, for which I’m grateful.

    As to your query about a societal response to climate change, I presume you make reference to predictions about worldwide catastrophic global warming that threatens most life on earth and would greatly diminish quality of life for billions of people. Given the complexity of interconnected climate variables, given our current impoverished levels of understanding about that complexity and the likelihood that the algorithms in use for modeling climate interactions are not fully informed sufficient to make accurate predictions about future climate, let alone 100-year predictions, I’m not convinced the world is headed to the kind of hell your question suggests. Truth is, however, I don’t know enough about the whole issue to have firm knowledge about climate future. And, candidly, I don’t know anyone who genuinely does.

    As someone concerned about expanding biological diversity and protecting sensitive ecosystems, I believe our species must prepare for a future where we tread as lightly upon the earth and oceans as will be necessary to ensure our modernity. Toward this end, wind technology is an environmental wrecking ball, speaking of cognitive dissonance. For more of my views on this, I suggest you read my essay on Wind and The Sierra Club:http://tinyurl.com/yfamlvf.

    And although I don’t subscribe to climate eschatology, I’m concerned that we also don’t know what dumping 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions will augur for the future. Consequently, it seems prudent to continue down the path, begun centuries ago, of decarbonizing our machines. Here you might refer to the work of Rockefeller University’s Jesse Ausubel http://phe.rockefeller.edu/jesse), who has written good articles on this subject available on the Internet. For my own views, consider reading my take on Robert Bryce’s latest book, Power Hungry:http://tinyurl.com/6gclcgt.

    Best wishes….

    The question you pose doesn’t lend itself to facile responses, for any answers must consider so many issues entwined in our history, our experience, our diverse cultures, our informed sense of environmental stewardship, and a nuanced sense of civility. However, we should be intolerant of cant and skeptical about snake oil.


  12. David  

    Great article – straight into my favourites.
    We poor souls here in the UK now have ‘The greenest government ever’. Our Prime Minister’s words – which I think will come back to haunt him – I hope he’s aware of the ‘other’ use of the word ‘green’ – i.e. naive or inexperienced..!
    He – and our beloved eco-loon of a Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (I kid you not) – have promised to produce ‘30% of electricity from renewable resources by 2030..! Even if the things actually produced any meaningful power, that would mean carpeting an area the size of Wales with wind farms. During the cold/snowy spell we had before Christmas 2010 here in the UK, peak demand hit 60000MW for the first time ever – contribution from wind..?? 0.1%. Actually I think it was lower than that – but the graph only gives figures to one decimal place…



    […] Boone posted “Oxymoronic Windpower (Part II:Windspeak)” on the MasterResource site and lists reasons why windpower is not presently a viable energy […]


  14. archaeopteryx  

    Excellent posts and I loved the statement “follow the money”

    I have been “following the Green money” in my quasi-bankrupt home and I have slightly different conclusions. I also thought, a year ago, that it was Al Gore and crowd. Now I am becoming convinced it is the …Germans.

    AGW is, I believe, made in Germany. I have had its a hunch about it (based on the number of German companies benefitting from it), but please check [ http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/secret-history-climate-alarmism%5D on the 1985 German origins of AGW as a “cause” and [http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/article/43291] on the EU role in promoting AGW since 1990. It is not so difficult to preach “save the planet” to perfectly normal well intended people if you ever so subtly influence Greenpeace, WWF or Scientific American. On the possible role of the latter, may I suggest [http://www.trans-int.com/wordpress/?tag=bertelsmann].

    A casual review of German Green sites may be found here: [http://greenfraud.blogspot.com/2011/03/not-so-random-walk-through-various.html]; I believe Siemens was on this path before GE and it has been driving the coordination and marketing before GE. GE is a clearly willing partner. What is in it for Siemens? The US cap-and-trade; whether you subscribe to the “conspiracy” theory that the Germans are trying to impose a competitive disadvantge to the US (and Japan), or whether you prefer the notion that a German expansion in its market targets is easier if a “global” carbon tax is imposed. Same thing. The carbon quotas issued under Kyoto are worthless without the threat of real money carbon tax. While on the subject, you, in the US may have the resources to research the connection between Siemens and Enron’s lobbying for cap-and-trade; this is beyond my casual Google skills. What I am suggesting is that within the “following the money” context, carbon trading and the carbon tax business is bigger than just windmills.

    A hypothesis that the Green Plan is a German Plan may be found here: http://greenfraud.blogspot.com/2011/03/german-green-business-plan.html

    A case study of the German Green Business Plan is something called “Desertec” a summary of which may be found in Wikipedia, but an intersting analysis may be found here: http://www.ecofascism.com/article22.html. Frankly, if I had access to, or owned North Africa, I would gladly sell mirrors and beads to the locals (they would be paying for the CSP electricity) in exchange for either oil and gas or the siting of a reactor or two.

    At the risk of abusing your hospitality, I would like to entertain you with Al Gore in the company of nice people in Zug. Here [http://privatewealthcouncil.org/people/] is Al Gore in good company. The owner of the money within the group is here: http://privatewealthcouncil.org/people/18/; he controls this: http://www.cofraholding.com/en/gro_org.asp; of which this http://www.goodenergies.com/ is a small part. I believe they are in the Atlantic Seaboard cable business. Perfectly normal stuff. Follow the money.

    Here is where my sensitivities get tickled. The Private Wealth Council has published this [http://issuu.com/privatewealthcouncil/docs/9001-reviewe2?mode=embed&layout=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.privatewealthcouncil.org%2Fmedia%2Fissuu%2Fthemes%2FPWC%2Flayout.xml&showFlipBtn=true]; Al Gore is on page 4. On page 12, 8 pages later, is a nice piece of anti-American prose. All in the spirit of doing good while making money.

    Apologies for the lengthy comment


  15. Oxymoronic Windpower | Wind Turbine Property Loss  

    […] http://www.masterresource.org Windspeak: Language used by those who profit financially, politically, or ideologically from wind technology that disguises, distorts, or reverses the meanings of words in order to promote the technology. Oxymorons, which combine incongruous or contradictory terms, abound in windspeak—viz, windpower, wind capacity, responsible windpower (double oxymoron), windfarms, windparks, wind jobs, wind reliability workshops, and wind as alternate energy. Generally any claim made for the technology in windspeak produces the virtually opposite effect in reality. Read more… […]


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  17. Carly Thorpe  

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