A Free-Market Energy Blog

Are Wind Opponents Zealots?

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- January 5, 2012

This [new report on advances in wind integration] will make uncomfortable reading for those on this list who appear to be religiously opposed to wind energy, i.e. irrespective of the objectively verifiable facts. Wake up people, wind energy is growing world wide at 22% with 194 GW installed already, and “grid operators are increasingly positive about integrating wind power….”

– Wind advocate email, January 4, 2012

The communication concerned a new report sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: Strategies and Decision Support Systems for Integrating Variable Energy Resources in Control Centers for Reliable Grid Operations.

Subtitled Global Best Practices, Examples of Excellence and Lessons Learned,” the report admits that “there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to successful wind integration that applies to all power systems.” But that is about all that can be said about, as John Droz puts it below, trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. Another analogy: integrating agriculture on ocean liners. (Any more analogies welcomed in the comments.)

Two Responses

The advocates’ email drew this response from Thomas Marks, Executive Director of Great Lakes Wind Truth; New York Director,  Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council and North American Platform Against Windpower:

I see a few names on the distribution list who are or should be “religiously opposed to wind energy”…

When you consider the human health concerns, bird and bat mortality, impacts to the ecosystem caused by the “facility” sprawl, economic impacts (business and residential) from high electric rates for wind, the cost of maintaining back-up generation that could be the primary generation source, the huge tax load and deficits for national economies to subsidize an industry that is uncompetitive and can not sustain itself, the lunacy of government support and mandates for a power source that has not been shown to result in any net reductions in CO2 emissions, the intermittent and variability of wind as a power source makes it a poor choice for a society the needs power on demand 24/7/365.

I could go on but this conversation has become pathetic. Wind zealots use reasoning as diffuse as the power in wind to make its case. Let’s stop wasting resources (natural and economic) and time; if climate change from CO2 emissions is as serious as the climate zealots say let’s get to work on real energy systems and sources that will reduce CO2.

And John Droz of MasterResource responded:

I am not aware of anyone on this list who is “religiously opposed to wind energy.”

What they are opposed to are alternatives that are politically mandated without adequate prior scientific vetting. To this day there is no scientific report that proves that wind energy is a cost-beneficial solution. Of course I could be wrong, and would be glad to see such a document if you can find it.

Now regarding the reports you sent. Yes, there is some interesting material in that report.

The authors are with a company whose business is all about integrating things like wind energy on the grid, so it should be clearly understood that is their lens.

In that vein, I do not see anywhere where they actually questioned the merits of wind integration — rather, the focus seems to be: how to best do it.

This is the scenario that we find ourselves in: evangelists, rent seekers and hangers-on all clamoring to get on the gravy train to “help” pound this square peg into a round hole.

I would think that an analogous report would be: how best to integrate horses into the modern transportation system.

The reality is that the government has created an artificial industry that will excruciatingly contract as consumer/ratepayer/taxpayer subsidies are scaled back.

And then new issue will be: who will dismantle the increasing dead turbines? And the question raised: just why did Big Environmentalism support industrial wind power?


  1. David Bergeron  

    The solar industry does the same thing. They talk about how best to install solar but never the harder questions:

    “Is it really helpful?”,
    “What are we trying to accomplish?”,
    “Is this the best way?”

    I attended a wind power integration symposium in Austin and ask the panel if the Bentek report was potentially correct and that wind was not reducing CO2, and not one member of the panel knew the answer. I also spoke to several utility folks over lunch and asked the same thing, but they lamented it was just too complicated to know.

    Why doesn’t the DOE try to answer these harder questions?


  2. Bill Batt  

    Post and Beam Construction:
    In the eighteenth century, a spoon bit was used to hand drill a right-cylinder hole in the posts and beams and a square peg was driven into the hole with a large wooden maul. The result was a very tight joint. A round peg would eventually work loose.
    That was back in the days of wind mills. Before the industrial revolution replaced wood with steel.


  3. Breaking Wind – Quick hits from the industry for January 5, 2012 | Allegheny Treasures  

    […] 1:Interesting discussion starting at MasterResource – “Are Wind Opponents Zealots?“ […]


  4. Lionell Griffith  

    “just why did Big Environmentalism support industrial wind power?”

    Answer: To destroy the economy.

    The purpose of a system is what it does. Words (aka claims of good intentions) to the contrary are irrelevant and immaterial. Only actions and consequences have impact upon the economy.


  5. Trey  

    Another analogy: integrating sailing ships in to the modern container ship fleet.


  6. hunter  

    They may have installed 194GB nominal wind power rating by now. If it delivers even 50% of that on average days, that would be amazing. Most days will deliver sub 30% of rated capacity. Without massive government operating subsidy, ~0% would be delivered. And do not come back with the bait and switch of confusing writing off expenses and depreciation as “govt. subsidy” to defend the direct operating supports paid by tax payers for wind.


  7. archaeopteryx  

    Well, I am a wind opponent/zealot on technical, financial and aesthetics grounds.

    Yes, as long as there are fools that pay, the installed wind MW will continue to increase.

    The example of the Falklands is indicative: Advertized to fools as “saving 40% of energy needs”: (http://en.mercopress.com/2010/02/17/wind-turbines-to-supply-40-of-falklands-power) , then officially rated to save 20%, it managed to replace 6,3% of actual fuel used: http://kirbymtn.blogspot.com/2008/02/less-than-one-fourth-of-projected-fuel.html

    On the other extreme, we have the master planner of Green Fraud, Germany itself. It has about 25,000 intalled wind MW, and has been providing 6-6,5% of electical demand — no mention of % of fuel saved (my guess is under 3%) , then in 2011 it supplied 7,6%. (http://www.germanenergyblog.de/?p=8235) also no mention of % of fuel substitution. But here is the catch:


    If it was not for Austria, Germany would have had a blackout in December (and in about anothe 900 instances in 2011). Similar incident in the UK last year, saved by France.

    I too can be sustainable if my neighbours sustains me.

    The “installed MW” are just a waste of money. The statistics on MWhrs produced are for the ignorant. The question wind lovers should be answering is “how many thousands of 2 MW wind generators does it take to manufacture a single ball bearing”? Methinks the answer is “infinite”.


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