News & Analysis
The Disaster of Wind Farming
Wind farms: The monuments to lunacy that will be left to blot the landscape. These pointless monstrosities will continue to proliferate until the Government sees sense ... [It] is fast becoming a full-scale disaster bearing down on Britain. – UK Telegraph/ Christopher Booker blog
Dominant Social Theme: Wind and solar power are good, indeed. They are kind to the environment and provide plenteous sources of cheap energy.
Free-Market Analysis: This blog-article by Christopher Booker brings up fundamental points about the dysfunction of wind power in Britain. But one could make the case that the same problems affect mainland Europe and the US as well.
We try to track elite memes, and it seems to us that – as we have long anticipated – time may be running out for the latest alternative energy movement. There are several turning points we think we are witnessing.
When the latest green mania subsides, the alternative energy movement will be seen for the nonsensical fad it is. During the 1970s, billions were wasted on ludicrous energy schemes that had no chance of working out. The first decade of the 2000s has in many ways been a repetition of the 1970s, with the same dominant social themes of "sustainable energy" being promoted by the elites – with the same eventual problems and dysfunction.
We recently wrote about an FBI raid on the solar-power company Solyndra, which received $535 million in federal loans under a green energy program promoted by President Barack Obama. The Obama administration's fingerprints are all over Solyndra, which was apparently supposed to be a showcase for solar power. Instead, it is broke. Solyndra may mark a turning point for solar power in the US.
Now comes this article in the Telegraph about wind power. It repeats many of the criticisms that we have read elsewhere. Wind turbines are huge, inefficient behemoths and anyone who lives near one of them is likely to be driven daft by the incessant whooshing noises when they are turned on. Here's some more from the article:
In the nine years since I began writing here about wind turbines, I have been approached by more than 100 local campaigns in every part of Britain, trying to fight the rich and powerful companies subsidy bonanza available to developers of wind farms. Having been the chairman of one such group myself, I know just how time-consuming and costly such battles can be.
Alas, despite all the practical evidence to show why wind power is one of the greatest follies of our age ... We can forget any last vestiges of local democracy. Our planning system is to be rigged even more shamelessly than before, to allow pretty well every with thousands of monster pylons, themselves up to 400 feet high, marching across Scotland, Wales, Suffolk, Somerset and elsewhere to connect them to the grid.
What is the reason for such "lunacy"? According to Booker, it is the EU that is driving wind power. The EU has set a target to "generate nearly a third of our electricity from 'renewables' – six times more than now – by 2020. Obviously this is impossible, Booker writes, but the Tory government is pressing ahead anyway with an ambitious building project that will entail the building of literally thousands of inefficient and colossal wind turbines.
Booker points out that the continued focus in Britain on "green" energy is actually going to shove more British households into "fuel poverty." The investment directed toward wind turbines is made at the expense of replacing various coal-fired and nuclear power stations that now produce some 40 percent of British power.
Unfortunately, British subsidies have made building wind farms a good deal more attractive financially than building practical energy plants that are needed. Eventually, the subsidies shall be abandoned as it becomes clear that wind power is not the key to future energy needs.
This will leave, Booker writes, "vast areas of steel and concrete, which it will be no one's responsibility to cart away ... Alas, by that time the companies will all have gone bankrupt, and we shall be left with a hideous legacy as a monument to one of the greatest lunacies of our time."
Whatever points Booker has made about Britain can no doubt be made regarding America as well. There are plenty of stories already in the American press about the annoyance of living close to one of these gargantuan turbines – the endless whooshing and hissing that permeates one's daily life and makes even the most mundane activities intolerable.
Wind turbines are an inefficient blight. It takes up to a 1,000 tons of concrete to anchor one, and the actual output is spotty at best because wind is not constant. Coal-fired plants must be kept online to compensate for wind outages. In addition to being a blight on the environment, wind turbines kill birds.
Not only that, but when turbines ARE generating power, they are often generating too much, and current transmission grids have no way of storing the excess power. Transmission lines are extraordinarily expensive.
Conclusion: Once again, governments have distorted the Invisible Hand of the market by subsidizing wind power. Booker is likely correct. The end result of this latest green mania will be thousands of useless, titanic turbines dotting hitherto pristine areas – areas that were environmentally sound until tens of thousands of tons of concrete were injected into the region to support the erection of inefficient, bird-killing devices. Unless the subsidies that support these turbines are repealed, this is doubtless the outcome from this latest outbreak of green lunacy.
Posted by Tilman Kluge on 09/25/11 01:52 PM
I agree to many points. Let me add a special information and opinion.
Surely the latest green mania subsides have mostly been "thrown in the wind". But not only subsidies with an extent of billions Pounds and € were wasted on ludicrous energy schemes that had no chance of working out.
Beside subsidies, also in some european countries the electric power companies and individuals, who feed the grid with "green energy" get money collected from the so called energy consumers at the end of the pipeline authorized by such regulations as for example "Renewable Energy Law" (in Germany the "Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz").
This law had been made, because the price of "green energy" could and cover the costs of "green energy" and can not be regulated by economic mechanisms.
Posted by SPakan on 09/13/11 05:32 PM
As I write this, Cross Texas Transmission is destroying the ranch that has taken three generations of my family's blood, sweat and tears to build. Why? So that major contributors can get paybacks. That's really what "green" energy is really all about. Check this out if you want to know more: Click to view link Please read both parts of the article.
Posted by Dilence Sogwood on 09/13/11 04:25 PM
Want a "sustainable" energy source? Try oil and gas.
Posted by Dilence Sogwood on 09/13/11 04:22 PM
You know what is even more stoopider?
Offshore wind. The idea that you are going to take something that is not marginally profitable and put it in the ocean and build an entire transmission system there and back. Right now the state of North Carolina is building their $500mm program out. It is a huge crony feeding frenzy.
Posted by Friend_of_John_Galt on 09/13/11 02:37 PM
Let the grass grow tall and, in the Mediterranean climate of California, a service truck (with an overheated catalytic converter) visiting the windmills will likely set off a humongous wild fire -- an occurrence that is hardly uncommon in California. Such a fire has the potential of destroying many of the existing windmills (as most of the 5000 in the wind farm are relatively small, close to the ground units).
The "not in my backyard syndrome" hardly applies, since I'm more than 50 miles from the Altamont pass -- but occasionally I drive through the area. I've seen wind farms in many locations throughout the country (I've traveled by RV extensively) and I'm not disturbed by their physical presence in the least. There are some localized situations where I truly would not want a wind turbine in MY backyard -- but so long as they're beyond my immediate hearing and I'm free of the visual "shadow flutter" effect -- then I have no problem with either a single windmill or a wind farm.
However, it is the economics that bother me. I'd have zero problem if wind farms were competing for investment in a free market, where subsidies and government directed investment are not involved. I do feel, that if that were the case, that there would be almost no wind farms -- and those that currently exist would go out of business fairly rapidly, since they are very inefficient energy producers. The dream of "free power" from the sun, winds, and ocean waves/currents has been around for a long time. The most effective technology to use wind power was the sail boat -- but fossil fueled boats proved to be more economically effective, and sail boats are now a hobby.
I'm sure that a wind turbine might provide useful energy production in extremely isolated locations -- where the cost of bringing in other sources of power is prohibitive. But there is absolutely no economic justification for the 5000 windmills twirling away in Altamont Pass if the free market had been allowed to operate.
Posted by jellyman on 09/13/11 09:07 AM
Works well on our property, trickle feeds nearly on a constant. Would be lost on our boat without one.
A pity governments just screw it all up. Mind you, try to navigate at sea around 2000 turbine poles , not nice.
Posted by David_Robertson on 09/13/11 08:07 AM
I watched a short documentary at the recent advances web page I linked to in my previous post and in this documentary they were demonstrating and testing the 50KW power cell from Blacklight Power.
Now for the interesting bit: the researcher, Dr. Jansson the Professor of Engineering at Rowan University, perhaps inadvertently let slip what I believe is the name of the catalyst or what he called the Blacklight powder, nickel. What is interesting about this is the the ECAT cold fusion process also mentions nickel. Hmmm.
In any event the documentary proves I believe that the powder acts to release considerable power from the small amount of hydrogen available in the cylinder while being chemically unaffected itself. This as I understand it is the purpose of such a catalyst.
Posted by David_Robertson on 09/13/11 07:41 AM
Thanks for the feedback Dave. The issue with this technology appears to be scepticism in some quarters about the existence of the hydrino and the non-existence of a working model. I am not impressed by the intemperate ad hominem attacks from Robert Park when other equally competent scientists are more accepting of the possibilities offered by this theory. As always the proof of the pudding is in the eating and this proof now seems to be emerging.
It is interesting that both the recent cold fusion and this hydrino technology use catalysts. The cold fusion technology using the ECAT is much more recent and is surrounded by confusion and obfuscation so I am less confident that anything will appear from it any time soon. The Blacklight Power technology has been in development for twenty years and seems to offer greater potential for the immediate future given its adaptability to scale. Here is a link to recent advances and an excerpt from them below. Click to view link
GEN3 Partners and Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) Scientists have confirmed the light signature of hydrino formation, high-energy radiation emitted as the electron of the hydrogen atom undergoes a transition below what was previously considered the lowest energy state. Read the results in the GEN3 and CfA Report "Validation of the Observation of Soft X-ray Continuum Radiation from Low-Energy Pinch Discharges in the Presence of Molecular Hydrogen."
Rowan University scientists have issued their third report on the independent validation of solid fuels that on demand generated energy up to 6.5 times the maximum energy potential of these materials from known chemical reactions and thermally regenerated the reactants demonstrating their capability of a maintaining a continuous fuel cycle for power production. A new form of hydrogen was again confirmed to have formed as a result of the heat release. Read the results in the Rowan University Report "Anomalous Heat Gains from Regenerative Chemical Mixtures: Characterization of BLP Chemistries Used for Energy Generation and Regeneration Reactions" - 11/29/10
Identification of New Hydrogen States, R.L. Mills, J. Lotoski, G. Zhao, K. Akhtar, Z. Chang, J. He, X. Hu, G. Wu, G. Chu, Y. Lu - Review of large body of BLP's and independent's data showing conclusively that hydrogen can form more stable states called hydrinos.
Documentary Video of Rowan University's Validation of BlackLight's 50 kW Hydrino Thermal Reactor: Rowan University Engineering Professor Dr. Peter Jansson P. E. performs a live demonstration of the replication of BLP's thermal power cell that on demand generated energy greater than that of combustion at power levels of kilowatts using BLP's solid fuel chemistry with business commentary by BLP's CEO Dr. Randell L. Mills - reformatted from 10/24/08 on 11/29/10
Posted by elray on 09/13/11 05:26 AM
E-Cat is to be released mid Oct 2011 in the USA.
If this tech does work, if we have vast amounts of power at very very low cost, What would the world be like ???
Would we use it wisely, for the betterment of our fellow man and the planet ???
I have been off-grid for most of the last 12 years with wind, solar and diesel.
1) Blade (HAWT) turbines make a lot of noise and don't work that well.
Click to view link
2) VAWT turbines work better and make very very little noise.
Click to view link
3) Grid tie can cause more problems then it's worth for both yourself and the grid.
4) Photovoltaic solar cells are very expensive for producing kilowatts of power and have an Ugly Side.
Click to view link
All forms of energy production must produce more power in their working life then they consume being produced.
This is where "Alternative Energy" fails and economies of scale seem to be inverted.
Individual consumption and production seem to be able to get closer to a "Sustainable" goal then Large scale production from "Alternative" sources.
What you read in the press and TV (and the internet?) about alternative energy is another Elite meme propagating the lie of Infinite Expansion and Consumption.
Reality of energy production is far more time consuming, expensive and complex then the meme would have us believe.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Thanks. Obviously we agree.
Posted by RF on 09/12/11 11:53 PM
so let the grasses grow tall in Altamont Pass- wouldn't that satisfy the eagle, hawk, vulture problem??common sense- I love to see the eagles and hawks soar, ,maybe the 400 foot tall mills are a little out of hand- but the concept and tecnology has been proven right thru history,it makes a great generator- --your letter of reply I'm sure has grains of truth,( maybe gallons) but in judging complaints one must look at the source carefully before agreeing... the "not in my backyard syndrome" that prevails thru out this article ,pales in comparison to the price complaints about oil and what to do when the Middle East no longer sells to us..
Reply from The Daily Bell
Nonsense. We have no trouble with any kind of "green" power so long as it arises spontaneously from the free market and is not pre-planned and instigated via government grants and endless, distortive subsidies.
Posted by Jason on 09/12/11 11:37 PM
This article doesn't mention another serious drawback of the wind turbines, which is the stray voltage they emit into surrounding areas.
Posted by Dave Jr on 09/12/11 07:07 PM
Einstein on his death bed was struggling with the Grand Unified Theory of Quantum Mechanics and was unable to solve it. It has been the holy grail of physicist and mathematicians ever since. Randy Mills wrote a book that claims to have solved it with much criticism from the scientific community.
Apparently, the existence or possibility "hydrinos" are based on his theory, but no working model.
This from Wiki:
"Independent commentaries in chronological orderOctober 27, 2000: Robert L. Park, of the University of Maryland, writes a follow-up:
"Unlike most schemes for free energy, the hydrino process of Randy Mills is not without ample theory (WN 8 Jan 99). Mills has written a 1000 page tome, entitled,"The Grand Unified Theory of Classical Quantum Mechanics," that takes the reader all the way from hydrinos to antigravity (WN 9 May 97). Fortunately, Aaron Barth (not to be confused with Erik Baard, the Randy Mills' apologist), has taken upon himself to look through it, checking for accuracy. Barth is a post doctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Institute, and holds a PhD in Astronomy, 1998, from UC, Berkeley. What he found initially were mathematical blunders and unjustified assumptions. To his surprise, however, portions of the book seemed well organized. These, it now turns out, were lifted verbatim from various texts. This has been the object of a great deal of discussion from Mills' Hydrino Study Group. Mills seems not to understand what the fuss is all about." - Park
2007: In a review of cold fusion research, Edmund Storms, a cold fusion researcher, concludes that the hydrino model provides a possible explanation for cold fusion.
June 6, 2008: Robert L. Park, of the University of Maryland, writes a follow-up:
"BlackLight Power (BLP), founded 17 years ago as HydroCatalysis, announced last week that the company had successfully tested a prototype power system that would generate 50 KW of thermal power. BLP anticipates delivery of the new power system in 12 to 18 months. The BLP process, (WN 26 Apr 91) , discovered by Randy Mills, is said to coax hydrogen atoms into a "state below the ground state," called the "hydrino." There is no independent scientific confirmation of the hydrino, and BLP has a patent problem. So they have nothing to sell but bull shit. The company is therefore dependent on investors with deep pockets and shallow brains." - Park"
Posted by Dave Jr on 09/12/11 05:37 PM
I just found this in their executive summary;
"Water can be used as the stored hydrogen, generated on demand by electrolysis using less than 1% of the electrical output."
This is an extraordinary claim! So extraordinary that I would have to see it to believe it.
Once the electron falls to a lower valance (lower energy state), how is it lifted back up, or is the hydrogen atom or hydrino spent? I still can not believe this will put out 100 times more energy than what is needed to split a water molecule.
I hope this isn't just another energy scam. We could use a breakthrough.
Posted by David_Robertson on 09/12/11 05:24 PM
No it is not a fuel cell Dave. I am familiar with that technology which is over one hundred years old. The hydrino is a more stable form of hydrogen that results from inducing the electron in the hydrogen atom to move closer to the nucleus and thus release energy. This is an entirely new process.
The energy produced by this shift is greater than the energy required to separate the oxygen and hydrogen in the water which acts as the fuel. Therefore output power is much greater than the input power needed. This is why I said it is efficient. Check out the website, they have tons of scientific info there.
My question is whether I am missing something really critical because I do not understand some fundamental principle that would make the whole technology useless.
Posted by Dave Jr on 09/12/11 05:03 PM
It is a fuel cell. I don't know what these "hydrinos" are but it still uses hydrogen for the fuel source. There is no naturally occurring pool of hydrogen that can be harvested, and so the hydrogen has to be made. Like photovoltaics, it takes more energy to create than what is output for use. An energy loss, not an energy source.
Posted by Friend_of_John_Galt on 09/12/11 05:01 PM
Since I live somewhat in the vicinity of the Altamont Pass Wind Farm, I can comment on the bird kill situation and on the economics of wind generated power. I note that the Altamont Pass wind farm is one of the earliest (first windmills erected during the 1970's "energy crisis"* and largest in the United States.
Birds first: Altamont has been quite effective at killing birds, particularly raptors attracted to the wind farm (where the grasses are mowed, exposing mice, voles, and ground squirrels to predation). It is estimated that 1300 raptors are killed annually (including 70 "endangered" golden eagles) and a total of more than 4700 birds of all kinds.
The Altamont wind farm is also located on the Pacific Flyway, a major migration route for birds. As a result, the wind farm is shut down for at least part of the migration season (spring and fall) each year. (This leads to a 100% loss of the power generation capacity during those times.)
Lawsuits have been filed by the Audubon Society to shut down the wind farm permanently -- however, reports are that a settlement has been reached where about half of the nearly 5000 windmills (mostly smaller, older models) will be replaced by "newer, more bird-friendly models." Of course this hurts the economics of wind power, since the investment in the original turbines will not have been fully recovered.
Another aspect of the Altamont Pass Wind Farm is that weather conditions tend to maximize production when weather conditions actually reduce the need for power. The inland valleys of the Bay Area and the Central Valley generally require air conditioning to be livable. The Bay Area generally has cool evenings, and AC loads are reduced in the evening and night. (There is little humidity, so AC does not need to operate for humidity reduction.) The wind blows most strongly in the late afternoon and early evening reducing the power needs in the Bay Area for AC as the onshore air flow brings cool ocean air (and fog) inland. The winds are generated by the high heat in the central valley, creating a "local low" that eventually draws in the cooling ocean breeze. The hotter the valley, the stronger the winds, and the cooler the Bay Area becomes resulting in less demand for power.
Because of this power profile, (there are only moderate breezes at other times of the day) the back up power production facilities are still required to provide 100% of the power that the wind mills provide. So, there is no net savings in investment and the additional cost of the investment in the wind mills simply adds to the base cost of the electricity that is produced by them. So an already expensive source of power, simply adds even more to the cost making it a wasted investment. This is, of course, an entirely expected result when governments direct investments rather than letting the free market provide incentives to invest and to let lowest cost of production help investors pick from the most economically efficient means of meeting demand.
Conclusion: We have dead birds and wasted investment. But we're "green."
*I could argue that the 1970's "energy crisis" was a politician-produced "crisis" that would have solved itself (as it eventually did) if prices were not artificially held down by the politicians.
Posted by David_Robertson on 09/12/11 04:41 PM
Here is a press release below from a company I have been following for over ten years because I believe what they have developed is revolutionary. They are private, receive no government subsidies and have developed a new form of energy that actually works efficiently. I am not a chemist or a physicist so I would appreciate some feedback from anyone who is able to say whether this technology makes sense. Here is the website: Click to view link
Cranbury, NJ (November 29, 2010)-BlackLight Power, Inc. (BLP) today announced that CIHT (Catalyst-Induced-Hydrino-Transition) technology has been independently confirmed by Dr. K.V. Ramanujachary, Rowan University Meritorious Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
'We have demonstrated the ability to produce electrical power using chemical systems for the direct production of electric power from the conversion of hydrogen to hydrinos, a more stable form of hydrogen,' said Dr. Randell Mills, Chairman, CEO and President of BlackLight Power, Inc. 'CIHT has a forecasted nominal cost per unit of power compared to that of thermal-based systems and produces electricity without requiring enormous thermally-driven mechanical generators. Consequently, more rapid dissemination is expected by deploying many autonomous distributed units that circumvent the huge barriers of entry into the power markets such as developing and building massive billion-dollar power plants with their associated power distribution infrastructure. This is especially true in emerging markets.'
BlackLight Power is first focused on advancing CIHT technology to produce power to ultimately sell directly to consumers under power purchase agreements.
'The business plan is akin to that of solar leasing, but the costs are potentially vastly cheaper, and the systems may be deployable for essentially all applications of all scales untethered to the Sun or the grid, or as in the case of fuel cells and cars, a fuel supply,' said Dr. Mills. 'To realize how transformational this technology will be, imagine that an electric car can travel over 5,000 miles on the hydrogen energy from a gallon of water without any pollution whatsoever. The power source can then be lifted out and plugged into your electrical panel to power your home with enough power to spare to also power your neighborhood,' continued Dr. Mills.
Posted by laceja on 09/12/11 04:41 PM
Actually, the PE's will own the new companies formed to clean up the mess "we made". There will always be away for the PE's to rob from citizens. When the wind power industry goes belly up and leaves such a huge mess, the PE's will say, see you folks are all pigs, making a mess of our environment.
Posted by Wrusssr on 09/12/11 04:14 PM
If you liked DB's informative article "The Disaster of Wind Farming," you'll also be interested in "The Great Texas Wind Hoax" if you haven't read it. it.Click to view link
Posted by Agent Weebley on 09/12/11 03:46 PM
We've been looking for you . . .
Here's a couple of YouTube videos I used recently - pretty funny.