Wind Farms are Negative in Reducing CO2 and Cost Consumers More

A devastating new report by think tank Civitas has proven that the much-vaunted wind farms are “inordinately expensive and ineffective at cutting CO2 emissions.”

According to the report, titled  Electricity Costs: The folly of wind-power, the “focus on wind-power, driven by the renewables targets, is preventing Britain from effectively reducing CO2 emissions, while crippling energy users with additional costs.”

The report finds that wind-power is unreliable and requires back-up power stations to be available in order to maintain a consistent electricity supply to households and businesses.

“This means that energy users pay twice: once for the window-dressing of renewables, and again for the fossil fuels that the energy sector continues to rely on. Contrary to the implied message of the Government’s approach, the analysis shows that wind-power is not a low-cost way of reducing emissions,” report continues.

Written by economist Ruth Lea, the Civitas report uses Government-commissioned estimates of the costs of electricity generation in the UK to calculate the most cost-effective technologies.

“When all costs are included, gas-fired power is the most cost-efficient method of generating electricity in the short-term, while nuclear power stations become the most cost-efficient in the medium-term,” the report finds.

“Wind-power is acknowledged to cost more than traditional fossil fuel power stations. But estimates from Government-commissioned reports suggest that, when the cost of CO2 emissions is included, onshore wind-power becomes one of the more cost-effective means of generating electricity. Offshore wind does not however.

“Unfortunately, these estimates fail to factor in all the costs of wind-power. These costs are due to the fact that energy output from wind is unpredictable and rarely occurs in areas of most demand.

“This means that wind farms need to be supported by conventional capacity including gas-fired power stations that can be switched on whenever the available wind fails to match demand for electricity.”

The report cites research by Colin Gibson, former Power Network Director at the National Grid Group, who has produced some of the most comprehensive estimates for these ‘add-on costs’.

“When these add-on costs are included, the resultant levelised generating costs (£ per megawatt hour) for the main electricity generating technologies are, for medium-term projects:

* Nuclear pressurised water reactors (PWR): £67.8 per MWh.

* Gas-fired combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGT): £96.5 per MWh.

* Gas CCGT with carbon capture and storage (CCS): £102.6 per MWh.

* Coal (ASC) with CCS: £111.9 per MWh.

* Advanced supercritical (ASC) coal-fired power plants: £133.2 per MWh.

* Onshore wind: £146.3 per MWh (including ‘add-on costs’ of £60 per MWh).

* Offshore wind: £179.4 per MWh (including ‘add-on costs’ of £67 per MWh).

(Note: one megawatt hour can run approximately 1000 desktop computers for 8 hours)

“The most cost-effective technologies are nuclear and gas-fired. Onshore, and especially offshore, wind technologies are inordinately expensive.”

Apart from the prohibitive costs, the report shows that wind-power, backed by conventional gas-fired generation, can emit more CO2 than the most efficient gas turbines running alone:

“In a comprehensive quantitative analysis of CO2 emissions and wind-power, Dutch physicist C. le Pair has recently shown that deploying wind turbines on ‘normal windy days’ in the Netherlands actually increased fuel (gas) consumption, rather than saving it, when compared to electricity generation with modern high-efficiency gas turbines. Ironically and paradoxically the use of wind farms therefore actually increased CO2 emissions, compared with using efficient gas-fired combined cycle gas turbines (CCGTs) at full power.

“This means that the cost of having wind is not just carried by consumers but by the environment as well.”

The report explains how two competing environmental policies have generated a “perverse” set of priorities.

“The renewables targets have forced the energy sector to focus on more expensive, less reliable power sources, rather than those most likely to reduce emissions while keeping costs to the rest of economy competitive:

* The Climate Change Act 2008 requires that Britain’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions be cut by 80 per cent by 2050 compared with the 1990 level and by 34% by around 2020.

* The EU’s Renewables Directive (2009) commits the UK to sourcing 15% of final energy consumption (FEC) from renewables by 2020. Renewable energy sources include wind, hydro and biomass, but not nuclear power. [pp. 4-5]

“This means that UK legislation separately specifies an outcome (reduced CO2 emissions) and a process, more renewable energy.

“The outcome itself is substantial and threatens many Britons’ standard of life and employment prospects if not achieved efficiently: Consultants Redpoint Energy point out “…meeting these targets will mean a radical change in the way the UK produces and consumes energy over the coming decades.”

Furthermore, the “legislated process is ineffective at reaching its supposed outcome. The result of forcing unreliable renewables on the energy sector is higher costs to consumers as well as more CO2 emissions than are necessary for maintaining the electricity grid.

“One outcome of this micro-managed approach is that commercial and public sector energy users are, paradoxically, charged under the Climate Change Levy for their use of electricity generated by nuclear power stations (nuclear plants emit no CO2 after construction). The CCL is designed to encourage greater use of renewable energy sources even though wind-power can result in higher CO2 emissions than efficient gas turbines. “

“The report concludes: [Wind-power] is expensive and yet it is not effective in cutting CO2 emissions. If it were not for the renewables targets set by the Renewables Directive, wind-power would not even be entertained as a cost-effective way of generating electricity or cutting emissions. The renewables targets should be renegotiated with the EU.”

The full report can be downloaded here directly from Civitas.

6 thoughts on “Wind Farms are Negative in Reducing CO2 and Cost Consumers More

  1. Windpower, an excellent example of cranks, self-seekers and the mentally unsound in positions of power and influence driving an ‘agenda’.

  2. Pollution is directly related to numbers of people. More people, more pollution, more landfill problems, more road congestion, more concreting of our countryside with roads and housing development, more housing shortages, if they was concerned about pollution, they’d be factoring that in.

    Trees are made of Carbon which they fix from the atmosphere, in fact, trees are mostly Carbon ( after water maybe )
    So the vast majority of the weight of a tree is Carbon, fixed from the atmosphere, ie extracted from the atmsphere.
    If we in this nation closed the borders and began a program of tree planting, we could plant maybe 100billion (ok i made that figure up, I’ve no idea how many we could plant in what timescale) trees over the next 50 yrs.
    If each tree weighs 10 Tonnes (eventually,) That is 1 TRILLION Tonnes of CO2 removed from the atmosphere.
    Yet our masters are talking about Carbon Capture facilities, IE More Concrete.
    The tree is the perfect carbon capture unit.
    It’s also great building material and a small percentage of this could be used as fuel.
    Scotland has just opened up its first wood fired power station.
    The beauty of wood as a fuel is it is carbon neutral, the CO2 released is only the CO2 it absorbed in the first place while it was growing, so there is no net CO2 gain to the atmosphere.
    What do people want to see, more overcrowded cities and more concrete or billions more trees and a bit more breathing space. I know what I’d rather see.

  3. Not so much ‘cranks’ as Con Men. There are vested intersts behind all this who are making millions, mainly wealthy (Tory?) landowners and later of course, large housebuilder firms who now have a large supply of ex Industral Land ( downgraded from Green Field to Brown Field ) to spoon feed yet more Tory donors?

    Off subject, but lying on my heart, The dammed lie about the so called Government Reduction Budger, given as to ‘save money’ and get us out of debt.

    The reductions being made are a pittance in comparison tp the HUGE extra outpouring of our cash to pay for the recent wars, that had nothing to do with us as a country; and the massive ( so called) loans to the EU debt crisis.

    My question, IF we have umteen BILLIONs to shell out on wars and th EU, why are we having to make people unemployed for a pittance?

  4. Why is geothermal never considered as a viable alternative? The fact is that after building a geothermal power station, the heat from the earth will continue to be available for as long as it is required. It is the closest thing we will ever get to an eternal energy source. The idea is a highly realistic one. It is very possible to tap into the heat from the Earth, even here in Britain, and I have always been surprised as to why it is never considered by nationalists as a viable policy. Gas, oil, coal or any of the so called green energy production methods do not come close to the potential that geothermal could give as a permanent and relatively pollution free method of electricity generation. Nuclear is not safe, and the Germans are quite right to reject it. Even if we discovered how to harness nuclear fusion we would still have the terrible problem of radiation. Geothermal is the cleanest and most efficient method of generating electricity. I truly believe it is something that will be eventually considered once the madness of trying all the other fallacious ideas has been used to take billions of pounds from a well meaning population that sincerely wants to reduce pollution but is being fed lies by those politicians who have a vested interest in maintaining the vast profits of certain industries.

  5. This article is right, and very good, but the root-problem which causes such blinkered multi-tentacled administrative incompetence is deeply embedded in our nation’s unbalanced social structure, and will be with us until we can have a Nationalist government. We have a large number of problems as a nation, such as incompetent power generating as detailed in this article, uncontrolled population imports, maintaining economic balance (even economic survival), social unrest, etc, etc. but all of these problems, in my humble view, are compounded (and many of them directly caused) by one massive central problem, which might be called the “elephant in the room which nobody is noticing”. That problem is that – unlike, say, the majority of European countries – Britain has won all the past wars threatening its own turf since 1066 that, if lost, would have compelled the system of rulership and government to have changed and evolved, by forcibly imposing a new social order. We are now paying the price of our past victories – elitist stagnation and dry rot -, and the major cost to modern Britain is to be ruled, or governed if you prefer the word, on the basis of a standard and monolithic socio-political model which has evolved unchallenged for many centuries, and in some cases hearkens back to the Norman Conquest itself (knighthoods, for example) and even earlier (the monarchy). Thus we can still have, for instance, a big-headed Eton schoolboy, with no experience, qualifications or idea specifically regarding how to run a country properly, becoming leader of the Tory Party and thence Prime Minister. Many large commercial companies are still run, at least partly, in this antiquated and privileged way – even today, a knighthood (a title from the time of the Norman conquest) can virtually guarantee someone a place on some board of directors or another. You cannot legally drive a car or pilot a jet plane unless you have passed a stringent test, in case you endanger people’s lives; and yet any dork can be prime minister just by going to the right school and being rich, and/or being pally to the right kind of people, as it has always been – and they will then endanger every life in the entire country! Until we introduce a system where you cannot be in government without passing a stringent aptitude test under close supervision, in which liberals, pansies and crooks can be weeded out and barred from office, and where the House of Lords (medieval privilege) is closed down and replaced by a publicly elected Upper House, Britain will continue to be run by an incompetent power-hungry elite whose hidden agenda is to always look after its own kind. (Remember, in theory, one member of the House of Lords could swing a ruling of Parliament one way or another if it came to a split vote. So ask yourself this question – Are you happy that Andrew Lloyd Webber is a Lord, and that writing pretty songs is considered a perfect qualification for being one of the rulers of our country in the 21st century?) QED. Viewed in this light, it is no wonder that the British government always legislates like the Goon Show on steroids. The massive investment in nearly useless wind farms is merely one example of this – there are numerous others!

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