STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Wind Power – Just Better?
By Staff News & Analysis - February 08, 2013

Australian Wind Energy Now Cheaper Than Coal, Gas, BNEF Says … Wind is now cheaper than fossil fuels in producing electricity in Australia, the world's biggest coal exporter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Electricity can be supplied from a new wind farm in Australia at a cost of A$80 ($84) per megawatt hour, compared with A$143 a megawatt hour from a new coal-fired power plant or A$116 from a new station powered by natural gas when the cost of carbon emissions is included, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report. – Bloomberg

Dominant Social Theme: Wind power and alternative energy solutions are just better.

Free-Market Analysis: One of the problems with elite dominant social themes in the era of the Internet is that despite the best efforts of the mainstream press, promotions may be undercut for a number of reasons.

In the excerpt above, we can see Bloomberg, a mainstream media elite mouthpiece, positioning wind power as a great boon and economically efficient approach to energy generation.

The real reason for promoting alternative energy consumption such as wind power has little to do with the environment, from what we can tell, and everything to do with control.

Huge energy producing wind farms, solar farms and other alternative resources are vastly complex to develop and integrate into the power grid.

Coal, oil and other naturally occurring sources of power, meanwhile, are continually demonized. From our point of view, this is by design. The idea is to disenfranchise those who seek to be energy independent and to promote complex solutions that demand bureaucratic oversight.

In this article, excerpted above, Bloomberg makes a continual argument for energy complexity. The wire service explains that coal-fired power stations built in the 1970s and 1980s can still produce power at a lower cost than that of wind, the research shows, but that fossil fuels are growing more expensive.

Of course, reading further informs us that this is not due to supply and demand but because government itself is raising the costs because of government's "price on carbon emissions imposed last year."

Australia is the first major Western country to formally tax carbon emissions. And there remains a great deal of controversy about such taxes, given the infinitesimal contribution of manmade carbon to the atmosphere.

Global warming – AKA climate change – remains highly controversial, too. But that hasn't constrained Australia's leftist government when it comes to taking action. Bloomberg writes the following:

"The fact that wind power is now cheaper than coal and gas in a country with some of the world's best fossil fuel resources shows that clean energy is a game changer which promises to turn the economics of power systems on its head," Michael Liebreich, chief executive officer of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in a statement today …

Australia last year started charging its biggest polluters a price of A$23 a metric ton for their carbon emissions to discourage the use of fossil fuels and fight climate change. Natural gas prices in Australia may triple by 2030, BNEF said.

"The low and falling costs of renewable energy and high and rising costs of coal- and gas-fired plants suggest that much of Australia's new generating capacity is likely to be renewable," Sydney-based Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Kobad Bhavnagri wrote in the report.

We can see Bloomberg is flogging its own subscription-finance facility, above. Leaving aside the conflict of interest inherent in reporting so dramatically on trends that one is monetizing, we are left with the ongoing questions about why these sorts of articles never recognize the larger controversies.

The meme itself is obviously in disarray. The Daily Mail, for instance, ran a long article late last year on why wind power is coming into increasing disfavor in Britain. Christopher Booker writes, in part:

Ten years too late, it's good riddance to wind farms – one of the most dangerous delusions of our age … Energy Minister John Hayes has announced no more wind farms are allowed to be built in the UK … The significance of yesterday's shock announcement by our Energy Minister John Hayes that the Government plans to put a firm limit on the building of any more onshore windfarms is hard to exaggerate.

On the face of it, this promises to be the beginning of an end to one of the greatest and most dangerous political delusions of our time. For years now, the plan to cover hundreds of square miles of the British countryside with ever more wind turbines has been the centrepiece of Britain's energy policy — and one supported by all three major political parties.

Nowhere will this announcement be greeted with more delirious surprise than in all those hundreds of communities across the land where outraged local protest groups have formed in ever greater numbers to fight the onward march of what they see as the greatest threat to Britain's countryside for centuries.

So unreliable are wind turbines — thanks to the wind's constant vagaries — that they are one of the most inefficient means of producing electricity ever devised.

Indeed, the amount of power they generate is so derisory that, even now, when we have built 3,500 turbines, the average amount of power we get from all of them combined is no more than what we get from a single medium-size, gas-fired power station, built at only fraction of the cost.

No one would dream of building windfarms unless the Government had arranged to pay their developers a subsidy of 100 per cent on all the power they produce, paid for by all of us through a hidden charge on our electricity bills.

The only way the industry managed to fool politicians into accepting this crazy deal was by subterfuge — referring to turbines only in terms of their 'capacity' (i.e. what they could produce if the wind was blowing at optimum speeds 24 hours of every day). The truth is that their average actual output is barely a quarter of that figure.

Yet it was on this deception that the industry managed to fool pretty well everyone that windfarms could make a contribution to Britain's energy needs four times larger than reality — and thus was 'the great wind scam' launched on its way.

Wind power has many difficulties, which is why it has never been relied upon as a chief source of power. The Bloomberg article provides us with a mainstream narrative but such a narrative does not offer us the larger reality.

After Thoughts

In an era of information plenty, we wonder how long such articles can be convincing, let alone the investment opportunities they purport to provide.

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