The Pickering Post
Wednesday, 12th December 2018

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Blowing Our Dollars in the Wind

Viv Forbes

Viv has a degree in Applied Science Geology and is a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy


Wind energy produces costly, intermittent, unpredictable electricity. But Government subsidies and mandates have encouraged a massive gamble on wind investments in Australia - over $7 billion has already been spent and another $30 billion is proposed. This expenditure is justified by the claim that by using wind energy there will be less carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere which will help to prevent dangerous global warming.

Incredibly, this claim is not supported by any credible cost-benefit analysis - a searching enquiry is well overdue. Here is a summary of things that should be included in the analysis.

Firstly, no one knows how much global warming is related to carbon dioxide and how much is due to natural variability. However, the historical record shows that carbon dioxide it is not the most important factor, and no one knows whether climate feedbacks are positive or negative. Also, in many ways, the biosphere and humanity would benefit from more warmth, carbon dioxide and moisture in the atmosphere.

However, let’s assume that reducing man’s production of carbon dioxide is a sensible goal and consider whether wind power is likely to achieve it. To do this we need to look at the whole life cycle of a wind tower.

Wind turbines are not just big simple windmills – they are massive complex machines whose manufacture and construction consume much energy and many expensive materials.  These include steel for the tower, concrete for the footings, fibre glass for the nacelle, rare metals for the electro-magnets, steel and copper for the machinery, high quality lubricating oils for the gears, fibre glass or aluminium for the blades, titanium and other materials for weather-proof paints, copper, aluminium and steel for the transmission lines and support towers, and gravel for the access roads.

There is a long production chain for each of these materials. Mining and mineral extraction rely on diesel power for mobile equipment and electrical power for haulage, hoisting, crushing, grinding, milling, smelting, refining. These processes need 24/7 reliable electric power which, in Australia, is most likely to come from coal.

These raw materials then have to be transported to many specialised manufacturing plants, again using large quantities of energy, generating more carbon dioxide.

Then comes the construction phase, starting with building a network of access roads, clearance of transmission routes, and excavation of the massive footings for the towers. Almost all of this energy will come from diesel fuel, with increased production of carbon dioxide. Moreover, every bit of land cleared results in the production of carbon dioxide as the plant material dozed out of the way rots or is burnt, and the exposed soil loses its humus to oxidation.

Once the turbine starts operating, the many towers, transmission lines and access roads need more maintenance and repair than a traditional power plant that produces concentrated energy from one small plot of land using a small number of huge, well-tested, well protected machines. Turbines usually operate in windy, exposed, isolated locations. Blades need to be cleaned using large specialised cranes; towers and machinery need regular inspection and maintenance; and mobile equipment and manpower needs to be on standby for lightning strikes, fires or accidents. All of these activities require diesel powered equipment which produces more carbon dioxide.

Even when they do produce energy, wind towers often produce it at time when demand is low - at night for example. There is no benefit in this unwanted production, but it is usually counted as saving carbon fuels.

Every wind farm also needs backup power to cover the +65% of wind generating capacity that is lost because the wind is not blowing, or blowing such a gale that the turbines have to shut down.

In Australia, most backup is provided by coal or gas plants which are forced to operate intermittently to offset the erratic winds. Coal plants and many gas plants cannot switch on and off quickly but must maintain steam pressure and “spinning reserve” in order to swing in quickly when the fickle wind drops. This causes grid instability and increases the carbon dioxide produced per unit of electricity. This waste should be debited to the wind farm that caused it.

Wind turbines also consume energy from the grid when they are idle - for lubrication, heating, cooling, lights, metering, hydraulic brakes, energising the electro-magnets, even to keep the blades turning lazily (to prevent warping) and to maintain line voltage when there is no wind. A one-month study of the Wonthaggi wind farm in Australia found that the facility consumed more electricity than it produced for 16% of the period studied. A detailed study in USA showed that 8.3% of total wind energy produced was consumed by the towers themselves. This is not usually counted in the carbon equation.

The service life of wind towers is far shorter than traditional power plants. Already many European wind farms have reached the end of their life and contractors are now gearing up for a new boom in the wind farm demolition and scrap removal business. This phase is likely to pose dangers for the environment and require much diesel powered equipment producing yet more carbon dioxide.

Most estimates of carbon dioxide “saved” by using wind power look solely at the carbon dioxide that would be produced by a coal-fired station producing the rated capacity of the wind turbine. They generally ignore all the other ways in which wind power increases carbon energy usage, and they ignore the fact that wind farms seldom produce name-plate capacity.

When all the above factors are taken into account over the life of the wind turbine, only a very few turbines in good wind locations are likely to save any carbon dioxide. Most will be either break-even or carbon-negative - the massive investment in wind may achieve zero climate “benefits” at great cost.

Entrepreneurs or consumers who choose wind power should be free to do so but taxpayers and electricity consumers should not be forced to subsidise their choices for questionable reasons. People who claim climate sainthood for wind energy should be required to prove this by detailed life-of-project analysis before getting legislative support and subsidies.

Otherwise we are just blowing our dollars in the wind.


Sorry that should be LNP not KNP

Election 2016 if these polls are correct (54 labor/green 46-KNP) then labor is a disaster waiting to happen onto Australia again, they will even approve Putin's policy on the Crimean region or any region that the North Koreans Russians and Iran may take, you wait and see Australia. What with Milne/Shorten and Palmer at the helm Australia is on a well-oiled ship called the "Titanic 2" sailing and adopting the policies of the united world of doom and gloom of carbon tax, let anyone into our country and economic bankruptcy of the highest sorts deficits of trillions with no economic emergency as far as Bowen will be concerned, Australia can handle it will be the news headlines from Canberra’s leftist leaning media. Union corruption running rampant, business having to cop out billions to the union movement, Shortens pet union super funds making trillions of dollars because we compulsorily have to choose them Windmills covering our extensive wilderness solar panels on every house building and every space of Australia, 100 of million dollar bicycle lanes throughout every city, $10 per liter for fuel gas and electricity bills averaging $1000 per quarter, organic everything etc, etc, great place this Australia will be that all these don’t give a shit voters want it to be with the labor/green/pups in charge.

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company." - Mark Twain

~ The TRUTH: Wind generation locks us into dependence on fossil fuels.

~ Adding wind as a supplement to our conventional generating system requires so much supplementation that in many areas of the country (USA), adding wind actually causes increased CO2 emissions in the production of electricity than would be the case with no wind at all. Iowa exemplifies this -- As Iowa's installed wind capacity has increased over recent years, so has their coal use and CO2 emissions.

Read the entire summary:

Industrial Wind: The BIG "S-WIND-LE" - Not Clean, Not Green, Not Free!:

how many times will it need to updated upgraded uploaded integrated in my childrens life time to be permanent, my government promised me , you see there is only one true governence and that is the governance that lives inside your own mind

got a big plant on my roof

How about the solar farm at Windorah, population 100 or so. The cost to build 4.5 million,seriously. The estimate of diesel fuel saved, 30,000 to 100,000 litres. Somebody not really good at estimation. Say 70,000 litres at retail cost, 120,000 dollars for fuel. Say 4.5 million invested at 4%, 180,000. Just on that alone the costs exceeds 60,000 a year. 25 year life of system, extra cost, 1.5 million, then add the replacement cost of, at today's prices, another 4.5 million. For 100 people? Crazy. $350 per person per month cost to generate. But hang about, that is only day time, with good sun, gets right out of hand. Still need to run the diesel about 14 hours out of 24.

Planet warming, planet cooling, read the facts about the single weather controller of our planet. Everything natural has various cycles, including the sun, do the research, discover the cycles of of our weather which primitive tribes were aware of thousands of years ago. Modern instruments over a few dozen years do not tell the real, long-term story, they are used to create a factor of fear and, a hoax and money-extractor from the people who believe in the Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Magician In The Sky myths.
Planet Earth heats up when the sun moves further away, and vice versa, all the information is on the Internet for people who are intelligent enough to comprehend.

So Viv is wrong?

THINK is right, enough money buys anything!

Jones may sort Hadley out ins Monday re Smith.

Reply Dosa, perhaps informing him of the Pickering Post site might be a suggestion so as he could debate in first person , rather than third Party insult.It certainly places you in an awkward position somewhat Dosa ? Embarrassing for both parties .What a shame.

Lots of wind power emitting from the ample rear end of SHY, Prune Face loves her, NOT.

Craig Kelly writes:The Pro-Carbon taxers, those that seek to maintain the world's largest Carbon Tax (or the politically correct term 'Carbon Price') upon the nation - a tax that is costing the average Australian household $550 per year - argue that the Carbon Tax is needed as it's "taking action on climate change".

They then take the high moral ground, claiming that by "taking action" on climate change, they are saving the world, preventing; floods, bush fires, and cyclones.

But what measurable effect will this "taking action" by maintaining the Carbon Tax have on 'climate change' (previously known as global warming) ?

What would be the effect on temperatures in the year be 2030 by retaining the Carbon Tax ?


* Australia emits 1.2% of the world's made-made Co2 emissions.

* At best, the Carbon Tax would abate 5% of Australia's predicted CO2 emissions from man made sources.

* Therefore, the Carbon Tax will abate 5% x 1.2% = 0.06% of the world's emissions.

* Currently, the global CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is around 390 parts per million (ppp).

* To run the world economy and to continue to lift millions out of poverty with fossil fuels, the level of Co2 in the atmosphere is currently increasing at around 2 ppp annually.

* By 2030, the level of Co2 in the atmosphere is expected increase 30 parts per million to 420ppp.

* Therefore, by 2030, the Carbon Tax would abate 0.06% x 30 parts per million = 0.018 of one part per million.

* So by 2030, at best, the Carbon Tax would reduce the level of Co2 in the atmosphere by 0.018 of one part per million.

* Therefore, without the Carbon Tax, by 2030, the level of Co2 in the atmosphere would around 420ppp parts per million.

* But with the Carbon Tax, by instead of Co2 levels being 420 ppp, it would be reduced to 419.982 ppp (a saving of 0.018 parts per million).

So how much warming will be avoided (the entire purpose of the carbon tax) by the Carbon tax reducing Co2 levels by 0.018 ppp ??

* The IPCC's computer model predicts 3 degrees of warming by the end of the century (even though these models are failing, given there has been no further warming over the last 17 years).

* Assuming the IPCC computer models are right, the Global warming abated by the Carbon tax over the next decade is 0.00005 0.000075 Degrees Celsius - or expressed as a fraction 11/13,333 of one degree Celius.

*And here' real kicker, the most accurately we can measure temperatures is to 0.05 of a degree (that's 1/20 of one degree), but with the Carbon Tax only reducing temperatures by 1/13,333 one degree Celsius by 2023, the "action taken" on climate change by the Carbon Tax is a 666 times SMALLER than we can EVEN MEASURE.

If someone told you, that a government would legislate to force every family to hand over $550 in tax, claiming this was for the purpose of "taking action" on climate change, and at best, it was going to reduce global temperatures by 1/13,333 of one degree Celsius by 2030, an amount 666 times smaller than we can measure - you'd think mass insanity had taken over.

But after promising never to introduce a Carbon Tax before the 2010 election, then introducing the world's largest carbon tax after that election, then asserting they had "terminated" the Carbon Tax before the 2013 election, and now voting against the repeal of the Carbon Tax - that's the insanity and hypocrisy of the Labor Party.

But anyone that understands the maths, Labor's Carbon Tax was never about climate change, it was a sham that was never going to change the temperature, it was simply designed to appeal to the righteous and morally superior, so they could enjoy a warm inner glow, by deluding themselves that they were "taking action" - all at the expense of hundreds of thousands of Australian families and small businesses, whom are struggling with higher than necessary electricity prices.

Since Human Beings breathe in the atmosphere to extract O2
Then breathe out CO2, it is obvious that WE are the Biggest Poluters.
I think the Gumment should declare September 11th (9/11 if you will) "Atmosphere Day"
On 9/11 @ 1100HRS. All Greenies and Climate Change Believers should HOLD THEIR BREATH for 5 Minutes to show Their Support for Reducing CO2.......

THAT orta' make a DIFFERENCE!

"a traditional power plant that produces concentrated energy from one small plot of land " Huh ? Have you never been up to the Hunter Valley ? The power stations alone take up as much land area as a wind farm, plus the coal mines, the coal processing plants, the rail lines, etc etc. All of which produce just as many greenhouse gasses during construction as a wind farm, plus ongoing pollution and public nuisance with coal mining and transportation.

Viv may I please request that for your next expose of green energy bullshit you tell the good people why ethanol fuel is a crock of crap and that there is nothing green or renewable about it?

and don't forget the destruction of birds & bats ; ;

Well done Ingrid !

Since 1998, more than 31,000 American scientists from diverse climate-related disciplines, including more than 9,000 with Ph.D.s, have signed a public petition announcing their belief that “…there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” Included are atmospheric physicists, botanists, geologists, oceanographers, and meteorologists.

So where did that famous “consensus” claim that “98% of all scientists believe in global warming” come from? It originated from an endlessly reported 2009 American Geophysical Union (AGU) survey consisting of an intentionally brief two-minute, two question online survey sent to 10,257 earth scientists by two researchers at the University of Illinois. Of the about 3.000 who responded, 82% answered “yes” to the second question, which like the first, most people I know would also have agreed with.

Then of those, only a small subset, just 77 who had been successful in getting more than half of their papers recently accepted by peer-reviewed climate science journals, were considered in their survey statistic. That “98% all scientists” referred to a laughably puny number of 75 of those 77 who answered “yes”.

That anything-but-scientific survey asked two questions. The first: “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?” Few would be expected to dispute this…the planet began thawing out of the “Little Ice Age” in the middle 19th century, predating the Industrial Revolution. (That was the coldest period since the last real Ice Age ended roughly 10,000 years ago.)

The second question asked: “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” So what constitutes “significant”? Does “changing” include both cooling and warming… and for both “better” and “worse”? And which contributions…does this include land use changes, such as agriculture and deforestation?