A Free-Market Energy Blog

Industrial Wind Power: A Depleting Resource?

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- June 6, 2024

“Getting wind projects built is getting a lot harder. The low-hanging fruit, the easier access places are gone.” (Sandhya Ganapathy, EDP Renewables North America, quoted below)

The New York Times article, “As Solar Power Surges, U.S. Wind Is in Trouble” (June 4, 2024), discussed the problems of wind problems, such as site depletion. But the article has nary a quotation, much less mention, from the legion of critics of the aged, doomed technology for economical, reliable grid power.

In order of appearance, the seven chosen by authors Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich were:

Trevor Houser, Rhodium Group; Sandhya Ganapathy, EDP Renewables North America; Matthew Eisenson, Columbia University; Ben Haley, Evolved Energy Research; Michael Thomas, energy writer; John Hensley, American Clean Power Association; Ryan Jones, Evolved Energy Research.

Where were the real critics on industrial wind’s cost, aesthetics, health, and ecological issues? Conspicuously missing was Robert Bryce, whose renewable rejection database bank lists nearly 700 delayed or cancelled wind and solar projects.

Why not include a perspective from an energy specialist at the Competitive Enterprise Institute or the Institute for Energy Research? Cato’s Travis Fisher?

At the grassroots level, why not interview Lisa Linowes, Kevon Martis, or Sherri Lang? What about the North American Platform Against Windpower or National Wind Watch. Pick just one of fifty wind-opposed organizations that represent grassroots environmentalism, not Big Green. [1]

The article talks about cost inflation, but what is the all-in cost of wind and solar versus power generated by a natural gas combined cycle plant? How much is the government subsidy? What are the costs of offshore wind versus onshore? Tell us about the avian mortality problem and the infrasound issue of ill-sited, in-service wind turbines? And what are wind subsidies adding to the federal budget deficit and need to inflate the money supply to pay for it (wind counterfeiting?)?

The gist of the article is that wind is great and Net Zero inviolate–but the industry has run into various issues that have shifted the (government-enabled) energy “transition” to solar and batteries. More government is needed, the article implies, such as building out (uneconomic) transmission. “… a growing backlash against new projects in many communities” is mentioned almost as an aside.

Some quotations from the article follow:

The country is now adding less wind capacity each year than before the [Inflation Reduction Act] was passed.

Some factors behind the wind industry’s recent slowdown may be temporary, such as snarled supply chains. But wind power is also more vulnerable than solar power to many of the biggest logistical hurdles that hinder energy projects today: a lack of transmission lines, a lengthy permitting process and a growing backlash against new projects in many communities.

If wind power continues to stagnate, that could make the fight against global warming much harder…. A boom in solar power alone, which runs only in daytime, isn’t enough.

… wind power is much more sensitive to location. Wind turbines in a gusty area can generate eight times as much electricity as turbines in an area with just half the breeze…. That means developers can’t just build wind farms anywhere.

In the United States, the best places for wind tend to be in the blustery Midwest and Great Plains. But many areas are now crowded with turbines and existing electric grids are clogged, making it difficult to add more projects.

“Getting wind projects built is getting a lot harder,” said Sandhya Ganapathy, chief executive of EDP Renewables North America, a leading wind and solar developer. “The low-hanging fruit, the easier access places are gone.”

Because they can reach the height of skyscrapers, wind turbines are more noticeable than solar farms and often attract more intense opposition from local communities. In Idaho, the entire State Legislature has opposed a new wind farm that would be visible from a World War II historic site. A few years ago, hundreds of residents were arrested on Oahu, Hawaii, for blocking the construction of a relatively small wind project.

Across the country, hundreds of local governments have restricted or banned wind or solar projects. If a county blocks a solar array, a developer might be able to move next door. But it’s not always as easy to find a new location for wind farms. [Where is Robert Bryce?]

Wind turbines are more visible than solar farms and often attract more intense opposition.

The wind industry has also been hampered by soaring equipment costs after the pandemic wrecked supply chains and inflation spiked. The cost increases have been devastating for offshore wind projects in the Northeast, where developers have canceled more than half the projects they planned to build this decade.

Wind isn’t languishing only in the United States. While a record 117 gigawatts of new wind capacity came online last year globally, virtually all of that growth was in China. In the rest of the world, developers weren’t installing wind turbines any faster than they were in 2020.

If wind power can’t expand as quickly as many proponents hope, the United States would need to rely much more heavily on other technologies that can supply carbon-free power throughout the day, such as new nuclear reactors or advanced geothermal power. But those technologies are still in earlier stages of development and are currently more expensive than wind. [Early stages of development? Just the opposite]

…some experts argue that the recent slowdown is only a temporary artifact of tax policy. It can take years to develop a wind farm and most companies had raced to finish projects by the end of 2021, which is when the last big federal tax credit for wind power was set to expire.

Many experts say federal legislation is still needed to ease the process of building high-voltage transmission lines. But that’s unlikely to happen in a sharply divided Congress.

Final Comment

Little doubt that authors authors Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich are under pressure from the New York Times nation to put wind power in the best light possible, while gingerly pointing out its problems. But the fact is that dilute, intermittent, land/seascape intensive industry wind turbines are bad economics and bad ecology. But the narrative must not be shaken too much, particularly in an election year when “the earth hangs in the balance.”

[1] Allegheny Treasures, Keyser, W. Va.; Allegheny Front Alliance, W. Va. & Md.; Allegheny Highlands Alliance, W. Va., Va., Pa., Md., & N. Car.; Altamont Landowners Against Rural Mismanagement, Calif.; Aspen’s Horse Ranch Preserve, Cle Elum, Wash.; Barbara Durkin, Mass.; Better Plan, Wisconsin; Calhan Wind Fraud, Colo.; Canyon Country Coalition for Responsible Renewable Energy, Ariz.; Citizens Against Wind Turbines in Lake Erie (CAWTILE), N. Y.; Citizens for Clear Skies, Ohio; Coalición Pro Bosque Seco Ventanas Verraco, Guayanilla, P. R.; Coalition for the Preservation of the Golden Crescent and 1000 Islands Region, N.Y.; Coalition for Rural Property Rights, Iowa; Concerned Citizens of Branch County, Mich.; Concerned Residents of Hammond, N.Y.; Columbia Gorge Audubon Society, Wash. & Ore.; Cumberland Mountain Preservation Coalition, Tenn.; Deepwater Resistance, R.I.; El Paso County Property Rights Coalition, Colo.; Flying M Ranch, Ellensburg, Wash.; Forest Ecology Network, Me.; Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County, W. Va.; Friends of Lincoln Lakes, Me.; Friends of Maine’s Mountains; Great Lakes Concerned Citizens, N.Y.; Great Lakes Wind Truth; Greenwich Neighbors United, Ohio; Health Care Professionals Against Commercial Wind in the Appalachian Mountains; The Heart of Henderson, N.Y.; Helderberg Community Watch, N.Y.; Howard County Citizens for Safe Energy, Ind.; Ill Wind, R.I.; Industrial Wind Energy Opposition (AWEO); Indiana Wind Watch; Kansas Wind Alert; Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance, Kent County, Md.; Keepers of the Blue Ridge, N. Car.; Know Wind Organization, Ubly, Mich.; Lake Michigan P.O.W.E.R. Coalition, Pentwater, Mich.; Lower Laguna Madre Foundation, Texas; Laurel Mountain Preservation Association, W. Va.; Lucien Rosenbloom, N. Car.; Lynn Studebaker, Ind.; Mountain Ridge Protection Act Alliance, N.Car.; National Wind Watch; Neighbors Caring About Neighbors, Wis.; New England Wind Turbine Education Center, Vt.; No Union Beach Wind Turbine!, N.J.; No Wind Farm, New Castle, Ind.; Open Water, West Olive, Mich.; Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed, Me.; People Against the Lake Michigan Wind Farm, Mich.; People’s Task Force on Wind Power, Me.; Porter Quarter Horses, King City, Mo.; Preserve the Sandhills, Neb.; Protect Our Lakes, Me.; Saint Francis Arboreal and Wildlife Association, Fla.; Save God’s Country, Pa.; Save Coteau Prairie Landscape, N. Dak.; Save Our Allegheny Ridges, Pa.; Save Our Seashore, Mass.; Save Our Sherman, Mich.; Save Our Tehachapi Mountains, Calif.; Save Western Ohio; Save the Prairie, Woodward, Okla.; Savoy Neighbors, Mass.; Selman Ranch, Okla.; Seneca Anti-Wind Union, Ohio; Stearns Wind Truth, Minn.; Stop Ill Wind, Md.; Swanton Wind, Vt.; Vermonters With Vision; Whitley County Concerned Citizens, Ind.; Wind Energy – Concerns About Rural Environment (WE-CARE), N. Dak.; Wind Energy Is a Scam!, Wis.; Wind Power Ethics Group, Cape Vincent, N.Y.; Wind Turbine Syndrome


  1. Ed Reid  

    No dispatchable generation technology is currently more expensive than wind or solar plus storage. Most of the installed wind and solar capacity is not dispatchable, but rather is “source of opportunity” generation.
    There is currently an enormous storage deficit (https://www.therightinsight.org/Current-Storage-Deficit) resulting from our irrational approach to the energy transition (https://www.therightinsight.org/Irrational-Transition). If the energy transition is necessary, there is a more rational approach to achieving it (https://www.therightinsight.org/A-Rational-Transition), though that approach would likely not be popular with the UN, the alarmists and the industrial renewable generation community.
    I was amused by the concern regarding the inflation caused, at least in part, by the “Inflation Production Act”.


  2. edmh  


    “Renewables” productivity matters.
    European values
    Onshore ~24%
    Offshore ~31%
    Solar ~ 11% thats no way to run a railroad.


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