Dialectic In Action

Happy New Year everyone! I’m going to start 2018 by posting in full the conversation between a reader and myself over the last two entries. It’s already there below the original blog posts, but due to the layout of WordPress you have to scroll way down to see all the comments, and as this Dialectic has taken up most of my writing time over the Christmas period, it makes sense to promote the conversation to the main attraction of the first post of 2018, rather than a mere footnote at the end of 2017.

The following discourse, which hopefully is ongoing and can be continued in the comments below, is a perfect illustration of how I believe, as did Socrates, that we can use the Dialectic Method as a tool to help us arrive at The Truth. My strident essays of 2017 are examples of Rhetoric – emotionally intense writing designed to be persuasive, hard-hitting, always truthful yet sometimes figurative or metaphorical rather than 100% hard science. Dialectic is different, and when it comes to wind power I want 2018 to be a year of Dialectic more than Rhetoric.

Rhetoric is when words are written or spoken with the express purpose of getting you to think something, and that is exactly what I have done thus far: I’ve wanted to share with you how angry wind turbines have made me feel, and I’ve wanted you to experience some of that anger for yourselves, so that you can empathise with me and my fellow wind victims. In short, I’ve wanted to turn you off wind power! But I’ve tried to keep my Rhetoric honest and open to feedback. In a formal debate, the speakers’ opening statements are generally examples of Rhetoric, where they lay out their case and try and persuade the audience of its validity. This introductory prose itself is an example of Rhetoric – framing the conversation and getting your attention! Making you interested, I hope…

Dialectic is what should follow, and it’s only where there is no room for Dialectic that I get frustrated and annoyed, when all we get is one-sided Rhetoric with no chance to challenge and discuss it. All in all, that’s exactly what I’ve felt with the pro-wind Rhetoric that has dominated our media coverage of wind energy for so long. That’s certainly what I’ve felt with The Guardian – all Rhetoric and no real Dialectic!

Dialectic is what we see in government in Prime Minister’s Questions, although hardly of the highest intellectual calibre, it must be said (maybe the aggressive nature of PMQ’s even puts casual observers off!). Dialectic is the technique of forensic cross-examination used by the police and judicial system. Dialectic can be found in your GP’s surgery, as he or she tries to diagnose exactly what is wrong with you. Dialectic is also used in IT troubleshooting, when we have to ask users all sorts of questions about why their laptops keep BSOD’ing. Dialectic. Diagnosis. Dialogue! (all from the Greek prefix “dia-” meaning “passing through”).

Dialectic is a fundamental of good mental health, because “passing through” both sides of an argument ensures our thinking is well-balanced and even-handed, even if ultimately we come down more on one side than the other. And dialectic is easy… everyone knows how to do Dialectic! I remember it from University – well, the University Bar, where we used to play a game called The Rizla Game. Did you ever play that? You have a celebrity’s name written on a Rizla on your forehead and you have to try and guess who you are, with only Yes / No questions. That’s Dialectic, and if you’re any good, you’ll work out simply from asking the right Yes / No questions who you are. So I repeat: EVERYONE CAN DO DIALECTIC!

Hegelian Dialectic is where a simple two-dimensional Yes / No scenario is expanded to become a more complicated three-dimensional Thesis / Antithesis / Synthesis affair. If the Thesis is “Yes” and the Antithesis is “No”,  the Synthesis is that nebulous “Kind of”, “Semi”, “Up to a point….” answer. Syntheses can infuriate people who like a simple, binary existence, but if we’re more motivated by The Truth and Critical Thinking than intellectual comfort zones that aren’t strictly speaking aligned with the facts, then we need to get good at working on formulating Syntheses.

That’s what Phil H has brought to this blog, to the point where it almost feels like it’s more worthwhile to make it a double-act than simply a one-man show, because I want to share with you all the value of Dialectic In Action. I believe you will find more truth about wind power in the following Dialectic than you will from pretty much any of the preceeding Rhetoric, hence wanting to cut to the chase and bring this entire conversation centre stage.

I will certainly draw upon my Rhetoric, and I will leave it standing to show my workings, evidence of just how badly the wind turbines affected my mood.  But moving forward, grab yourselves some popcorn and enjoy the following Dialectic.

The central thesis to my opening Rhetoric was that wind turbines are essentially useless and harmful blight, and those who support them have a hidden agenda, or at least are being controlled by someone else in the shadows. Phil introduced himself with an antithesis to my thesis, if I may paraphrase: hold on, these guys might actually be telling the truth, and wind power might actually be more useful than you give it credit for.

What follows is the search for Synthesis: a process local and regional authorities have to adhere to every single time they are faced with a controversial and divisive wind farm proposal. Not everyone will be happy with the decisions arrived at, but if we tick as many boxes as possible, from both sides of the debate, then hopefully we can at least find some kind of best-fit policy that works as well as humanly possible. Might offshore (but not onshore) wind farms be that synthesis? Or does the synthesis lie in a wholly different form of renewable energy generation?

We shall get nearer these answers as the Dialectic progresses. And to everyone reading, please do feel free to join the discussion! It’s a total free-for-all, everyone welcome.

So, without further ado…


I’d like to correct your apparent misunderstanding of the term ‘capacity factor’: “they don’t work almost 75% of the time“. This misunderstanding seems to be widespread, and promulgated by others who should know better.

When a turbine has, say, a 25% capacity factor, it doesn’t mean that it produces full power for 25% of the time and nothing for 75% of the time. It means that, depending on the turbine and its location, it produces full power for maybe 10% of the time, nothing for maybe 10% of the time, and intermediate levels of power for the remaining, maybe 80% of the time, such that the long term average of its output is 25% of its maximum.

So it ‘works’, in the sense of producing power, for maybe 90% of the time. If ‘works’ is defined as ‘being in a working condition’, like my car when it’s parked, it would be 100% (less malfunctions).


Hi Phil, many thanks for the explanation of what the “capacity factor” really means! Point taken on board.The net result is the same though, barely 25% of “the installed capacity to power 5,000 homes” or whatever claims are made, and that’s the bit I find thoroughly misleading. Thanks for the contribution, and please do set me straight if you see anything factually incorrect in the blog.


The ‘number of homes powered’ calculations take into account the expected capacity factor (CF).

I don’t see why a CF of 25% or whatever for a wind turbine is any more or less ‘misleading’ than that for other generation. Over a year, our combined cycle gas turbine plant typically produce just 40-50% of their full rated output, our coal plant currently 10-20%, and our open cycle gas turbine plant less than 5%.


It’s misleading when a wind farm proposal is put forward on the basis that “it has the installed capacity to power 5,000 homes”, missing out the vital fact: “but a capacity factor of 25%, meaning in actual operation only 1,250 homes can expect to be realistically powered.”


No: The ‘number of homes powered’ calculations do take into account the expected capacity factor (CF); they are not based on the turbine producing its full output all the time. I believe there is a legal requirement for the CF to be taken into account thus, either from Ofgem or the Advertising Standards Agency.

If you would like independent confirmation of this, look at the definition of the statistics compiled by the national wind trade association, in the ‘Homes Powered Equivalent (p.a.)’ section of http://www.renewableuk.com/page/UKWEDExplained (Their expression ‘load factor’ is effectively the same as my definition of ‘capacity factor’ for this purpose.)


Great information, many thanks! In particular that link will be very useful in furthering my research, much appreciated. OK, so let’s look at an example of the sales-pitch and break it down then. This is from Peel Energy:

“Port of Liverpool and Seaforth Wind Farms
Peel Energy’s operational wind farms in Liverpool have capacity to generate 13.6MW of electricity.”

“Scout Moor Wind Farm
The 26 operational turbines in Lancashire and Greater Manchester have capacity to generate 65MW.”

“Frodsham Wind Farm
Peel Energy has submitted a planning application for a wind farm
in Frodsham, Cheshire. It would have capacity to generate up to
57MW of electricity enough electricity to meet the average needs of approximately 24,500 homes.”

You see where the confusion arises!



Thanks for that link to a document I’d not seen before. It’s 6 yr old, but it mentions an interesting gas+CCS proposal I was not aware of, that seems to have come to nought. Using the document’s contents as an example:

The 13.6MW, 65MW & 57MW are indeed the maximum output powers of the farms (which is why it says “up to”), often called their ‘nameplate capacity’ or usually just ‘capacity’.

We can check the calculations for the ‘homes equivalent’ figures for Scout Moor on p4 of that PDF. The standard calculation method is based on the amounts of energy (in kWh or MWh) per year.

Expected generation would be: 65 MW * 24 hr * 365 days * (let’s guess) 25% CF = 142,350 MWh per year = 142,350,000 kWh per year

The average UK household now uses about 4000 kWh per year (it’s been falling in recent years, and so the ‘official’ amount that’s required to be used can vary according to the date of the calculation). This is the first document I’ve seen where a local consumption figure is used as well.

So I’d calculate the farm’s electricity would be the equivalent of powering 142,350,000 kWh/yr / 4000 kWh/yr = 35,588 homes. Which is a few more than Peel Energy calculated – if they hadn’t allowed for the CF, they would have got about 4 times my number.

I’d guess the CF isn’t mentioned in the document because it’s aimed at the general public, who are mostly non-technical, and Peel Energy wanted to only provide the essential information in this overview.

You can use this method to check any other such claims. I guess they will all take the CF into account, as it’s so easy for some-one to check, and if they’re found to be deliberately or accidentally wrong in even some minor part of their proposal, it’ll reflect badly on the rest of it.

We can even do some reverse engineering by working backwards from their figures, to calculate that in 2009, Scout Moor’s achieved capacity factor (usually called the ‘load factor’ when talking about what was actually achieved for a given period in the past like this) was

153,349,724 kWh / (65,000 kW * 24 hr * 365 days) = 26.9%


Thanks again for the informative reply, I’m truly grateful for the time and effort you’ve put into explaining this. So, if I understand you correctly, when the advert claims “Frodsham has a capacity of 57 MW, enough to power 24,500 homes”, the 57 MW is the total installed capacity, but the 24,500 homes is based on the capacity factor (ie running at 100% CF it would actually be able to power nearer 100,000 homes.

That genuinely clears up the mysteries surrounding these output figures and addresses my original complaint that the “homes powered” figure is based on the total installed capacity, not the CF. It does seem a weird and confusing way of describing wind farm output however, the installed capacity being neither here nor there if the capacity factors are routinely so low.

A good analogy would be saying “My car has the capacity to drive at 100mph, fast enough to get from Leeds to London in 4 hours.” Both statements are true, however at a distance of 200 miles, at top speed I should be able to do that journey in just 2 hours; the 4 hours takes into account traffic and rest stops rather than reflecting the top speed in any way. I’m glad that the homes powered figure is based on this real-life performance rather than the installed capacity, which as we can see has very little bearing on actual performance.

The next question is exactly what this “homes powered” means in real life. Does it mean meeting the full power needs of a home for the entirety of a time period (eg 100% of the power needs of my home for the entire month of December)? We know that can’t happen though, because the wind doesn’t blow 100% of the time! So when a wind farm claims to produce “enough energy to power 5,000 homes”, how can it fulfil all those homes’ power needs, 24-7, including those times when zero wind power is generated? I genuinely don’t understand! I know I’m biased against wind power, but this might explain why, and if you can correct me, then more power to your elbow!

It just doesn’t make sense to me. How can 5,000 homes be powered in no wind??? So what does the “homes powered” figure actually mean in terms of real-life operation?

Let’s use the “24,500 homes” powered by Frodsham as an example, let’s say based on a CF of roughly 25% (in fact, it’s been significantly down on that these last few months, nearer 13% according to the data below). [There’s also another column in this table, “Potential Output”, about 75% of the maximum output, which is itself significantly lower than the sales-pitch claims, more like 51 MW than the 57 MW claimed, but there we go…]

The potential output is only 38 MW, and the actual reported output over August 2017 an abysmal 5MW! That’s embarrassingly poor, surely, an achieved output of less than 10% CF!

So was this actually generated 5MW enough to power these 24,500 homes 24-7 throughout the entire month of August? How does this figure deal with the times when there was no wind?



Yes, your understanding expounded in the first para is indeed correct. Your car analogy is a good one: it could do the journey in 2hr in the pre-dawn hours, but 4hr is a more realistic expectation for a typical/average journey, though it could take all day if the M1 is closed by an accident.

To understand the info in that webpage on Frodsham, you need to be clear about ‘energy’ and ‘power’:

‘Energy’ is an invisible, intangible, sort-of material; it’s usually measured in Watt-hours, abbreviated Wh (and kWh, MWh, GWh, TWh in thousand-fold multiples). An analogy is quantities of water, which might be measured in ‘bucketfuls’.

‘Power’ is a flow of energy, usually measured in Watts, abbreviated W (and kW, MW, GW, TW). An analogy is a flow of water, which might be measured in ‘hosepipes’.
The two are linked by time: A power of 1W for 1hr would pass 1Wh of energy through a system; a hosepipe running for 1 hour might deliver 1 bucketful of water.
(Aside: ‘power’ is also often also used to mean ‘electricity’; and ‘energy’ to mean ‘energy of all sorts together, ie, electricity, oil, coal, firewood, etc’.)

Applying this to the Frodsham Wind Farm Output data:

Column 3 is its maximum, ‘nameplate’ capacity, a power, measured in kW as 51,300 kW (I don’t know why the figure above the table is slightly different). It’s the same in each month as no turbines are added or dismantled.

Column 4 is the maximum energy it could potentially produce in the time period of each 1 month, measured in MWh: 51,300*24*31 = 38,167,200 kWh = 38,167.2 MWh (proportionately less for the shorter months).

Column 5 is the actual energy it produced each month, as reported to the authorities, also measured in MWh.

Column 6 is the ratio of the actual to the maximum for each month, ie the load factor for the month (they call it the capacity factor for month, I won’t quibble), as a percentage. It varies each month, mainly according to how windy it was – winter months are usually windier than summer ones in the UK, and this table of Frodsham generation illustrates this. Also, it didn’t get into full operation till Feb, so the first months may have been adversely affected by ironing out the bugs. So the average of all the months in blue at top seems low because it’s mainly the calmer summer months, and is dragged down by the months of sub-optimal operation during commissioning.

“what this “homes powered” means”
A very good question! It’s used to make a figure of energy in MWh more meaningful to non-technical people, such as planning committees and the general public:

If you’re told a 1MW (capacity) turbine will produce 2,190,000 kWh in a year, even if you know that 1kWh is one unit on your electricity bill costing you about 15p, it’s still a blindingly big number of a ‘thing’ that few people readily understand. But if you’re told that’s equivalent to the energy consumed by about 550 homes in the year, it’s easier to grasp its scale. And a planning committee might think that siting your 1MW turbine on the top of Windy Hill above the village of Little-Blighty-on-the-Moors, which consists of about 550 houses, is an appropriate scale of new development given the scale of existing development in the area – or not, if the relative sizes are very different.

What is not intended, but some people mistake it, some unknowingly, some deliberately, is to imply that the turbine will supply all the power being used by those 550 homes (or any other 550 homes), no more and no less, at all times through the year – because it won’t. That’s why ‘equivalent’ is used frequently with this figure, as a caveat. The homes’ demand varies according to daily, weekly & annual activities; the turbine’s output varies according to the strength of wind blowing. The main correlation between the two in the UK is that we use more electricity in winter, as there are more hours of darkness to light and some is used for top-up heating; and winters are windier than summers. This lack of correlation is wind power’s biggest technical drawback, which I was going to address in a later comment.


Thanks again Phil, an awful lot to take in but it really does help explain. I think from what you’ve said, and how I honestly misinterpreted it, the “homes powered…” analogy isn’t entirely helpful. I wouldn’t say people deliberately misrepresent the claim, I would say it is genuinely confusing in its implication (even if unintended) that the turbines provide sole power to these homes, however I take on board the reality that it is merely an equivalent figure based on average home usage.

I’m therefore prepared to drop my criticism that the capacity factor statements are dishonest, I’ll leave my original post intact with these explanatory comments so readers can follow the dialogue, and once again I thank you so much for your contributions to the debate!

Moving my position forward with this new information… how would changing the total capacity impact on the actual energy generated? If Frodsham has a total capacity of 51,300 kW, which actually generated 5,158.00 MWh during August 2017, how different would its output be if, say, the total capacity was only half (around 25,000 KW)?

The reason I ask is, because there’s clearly a trade-off that we as a society need to make, between our power needs and also our well-being needs. The bigger and higher capacity a wind farm, the bigger its environmental impact (unless the capacity factors can be significantly improved), because clearly it will be more visible and have a greater visual blight over a wider area (http://personal.lse.ac.uk/gibbons/papers/windfarms%20and%20houseprices%20november%202013%20v5.pdf plus my personal testimony on the psychological and emotional impact of wind turbines).

I don’t know what the figure is, this is what we as a society need to agree upon, but there is surely a cut-off figure beyond which the rate of power generated simply isn’t worth the negative impact on the local environment. Would it be acceptable to depreciate the value of 10,000 homes in order to meet the energy needs of 5,000?

Or, to develop my car analogy: we’ve already established that my car has a top speed of 100mph, but the actual time it takes to travel the 200 miles to London is generally around 4 hours, so my average achieved speed is nearer 50mph (capacity factor 50%), and I will only occasionally be able to get anywhere near top speed.

Now, I can currently fit 4 passengers in my car, but if I reduced the physical size of the engine so that its top speed was now only 75mph, I could gain the space for an extra passenger. This is the trade-off I’m referring to: larger installed capacity equals larger landtake / lower installed capacity equals less landtake. There is the clear case to be made that having a smaller engine wouldn’t significantly impact on my actual driving time, and in fact would give me an extra seat for a passenger? (I drive a small car anyway, for exactly these reasons! I have no need for a huge, inefficient, uneconomical, over-engineered vehicle…)

Couldn’t we apply the same logic to wind farms: drastically smaller and less obtrusive wind farms wouldn’t in fact significantly impact on their actual achieved output?

It’d be interesting to compare the landtake / visual impact of Scout Moor and Frodsham, vs the output of each, and to see if reducing the size of the wind farms to improve their visual impact would significantly affect their output. My logic (which might be wrong!) is this: at a capacity factor of between 10 and 20%, the actual output doesn’t actually change that much with each removed turbine, so surely the fewer turbines, the more we can optimise exactly how much energy is produced? If there are 16 turbines at Frodsham generating 5,158.00 MWh, would reducing the number to 8 turbines only lower the output by approximately 2,575.00 MWh (not a great deal less in fact), or is that too simplistic?

My thesis is that wind farms seem to be too large and over-engineered, significantly more than other energy sources, and that making them smaller and less obtrusive would not drastically impact on actual energy generation. They seem to impact on far too many of our landscapes to justify the energy generated. In short: we’ve prioritised electricity over nature, far more than we’ve actually needed to.

I know Frodsham and Scout Moor and of the two I’d say Scout Moor has a far wider and more destructive visual impact on thousands of properties, all across South Lancashire and Greater Manchester. The altitude is too high for this sort of industrial development (high-altitude places being seen since the dawn of time as special places of great value to our health and well-being). Frodsham, while hardly a place of beauty (with Ellesmere Port industries already dominating the landscape), is at least low-lying and only visible locally.

I think the impact on landscapes is equally important as the energy generation figures, and there needs to be a better trade-off between environmental impact and energy output (it seems like things are swinging more in this direction now, mercifully). But I totally accept what you’ve said about how these energy generation figures are calculated, and appreciate you filling me in. Many thanks!


I don’t think your capacity factor statement is dishonest, rather ‘inaccurately interpreted’ perhaps. I’ve seen it similarly misunderstood by a British nuclear power boss, who really should have a better understanding of electricity generation.

Regarding your thoughts about the trade-off between turbine numbers, size, siting and electricity output:

From basic physics, the power harvestable from wind is strongly dependent on the speed of the wind: when the wind speed doubles, the power in it and potentially extractable from it increases eight-fold! (Conversely: to drive a car twice as fast requires 8 times the power to overcome the wind resistance, which is why driving very fast ruins fuel economy.)

So if you want to get maximum energy and financial value from a turbine, you want the longest blades, which can harvest power from the largest swept area, and site it in the windiest place possible. In most parts of the world, including the UK, the wind blows faster and more consistently the higher you get above ground level; hill-tops can be used to gain extra height. In Britain & Ireland the wind blows more close to west coasts, with their Atlantic gales, and also the further north you go, the windier it tends to get.

Best would be to build the turbine as big as possible, put it on the tallest tower you can build, and site it on the highest hill logistically possible, in the north-west of the country. In England this ideal location is called the Lake District National Park. These factors that maximise the energy output from a turbine (which is the same as minimising the number of turbines needed for a given energy requirement), are almost exactly the same as maximise its visual intrusiveness and other objectionability.

That’s where the problem enters the real world of dilemma and compromise. Is it better to site one large turbine on Scafell Pike, or several smaller ones on an unlovely industrial estate in the lowlands?

In the case of, say, Frodsham, halving the number of turbines of the same design & height would halve the farm’s maximum output power (capacity), and would halve the energy generated per day/month/year/project-lifetime. If the blades were longer and/or the towers taller, the same energy could be generated with fewer turbines in the farm. Which is worse: the distance from which they can be seen (largely governed by their height), or the ‘forest effect’ of having many shorter towers? Is it better to site several turbines in one place to confine the blight, or distribute them more widely in the hope that individual ones won’t be so overwhelming?

These are the problems and tradeoffs that wind-farm developers and planning officials have to wrestle with, as well as what’s possible regarding turbine engineering, let alone the financial costs of the various possibilities. Alas I too can offer no easy answers.


Fascinating reply Phil. The other tricky aspect of siting turbines is that of course, the higher the hill, the more remote and further away from demand it is likely to be, which then involves the logistics of shifting that electricity to where its needed.

Maybe this is the Achilles heel with wind power, to be at its most efficient it requires the very same locations that us humans require for our own energy and well-being, the upland sources of our water, more often than not areas of outstanding natural beauty or special scientific interest. Every hill turned over to electricity generation is one less hill available to energise us as a species.

For many people wind energy “jumped the shark” a few years ago, by no longer being seen to be done only sparingly and minimally, but done far in excess of what’s actually needed. This is still the case in Scotland, and as Craven Council informed me, the energy provided by wind turbines is “surplus” to requirements. (Like giving my car an engine capable of achieving 400mph when I only actually need 70mph)!

The Planning Process seemed for a few years to show no restraint, no upper limit to the amount of land set aside for energy generation, and scant attention paid to the negative impacts of wind blight (another issue with hilltop power generation – the impact is vastly greater). As a result, some kind of resistance to constant expansion was needed, a perfectly natural and logical response to saturation, in the same way as a parent saying to a greedy child: “No more cake…you’ll get fat and rot your teeth!” Without the type of resistance shown by myself and fellow campaigners, the fear is the wind companies would have not been limited by the amount of energy we actually need, or the amount of land we are prepared to lose, and would have just carried on and on sticking turbines up, regardless of effectiveness, far beyond generating the energy we actually need.

The other issue unique to wind turbines, of course, is their need for backup, and how this impacts on their ability to lower CO2 emissions (which is the reason we even have them). Is it even possible to lower CO2 emissions if we require a backup to wind power 100% of the time?


You’ve touched on at least three things I was wanting to address: your “surplus” question, CO2 reduction, and deciding how much wind power we need/want. I’ll try to answer the first as an aside, leave CO2 for later, and then tackle the last point, which is what ought to be decided first.…..“surplus energy supplied to the Grid by such wind turbines”? What does “surplus” mean?

I understand what Craven Council said as a concise way to cover two things:

A turbine consumes some electricity, to power its control electronics, hazard lighting, security CCTV, etc. This is like all other generation; nuclear power stations are the largest self-consumers, drawing several MW even when not generating. It makes sense if this is taken from what is being generated before passing the rest (the vast majority) of the power on to the Grid.

Some turbines, like other types of self-generation, are installed on the site of a business (eg, the one at Knostrop sewage farm) or home, with the intention that much or all of the power be used onsite, with only any left over being exported to the Grid for payment.

So in both situations the power sent to the Grid is only “surplus” to the requirements of the site on which the turbine is installed, not in any wider sense.…..

When I read through all the postings on this blog, they seemed long on wind power’s shortcomings and short on an alternative vision, other than the status quo by implication. I would find it much easier to be persuaded wind power is a bad idea, if you or anyone else could propose a better solution to the trilemma of our future energy supply: security, affordability & sustainability. In the posting of Sep 22, you mention nuclear, clean(er) coal and fracked gas, though mostly their aesthetics rather than evaluating their ability to supply Britain’s energy needs with hard numbers.

There are a lot of people in Britain, who have got used to a lifestyle that consumes a lot of energy. It used to be mainly from coal, but is now mainly from oil and gas. All three of these fossil fuels have their problems, which I’ll pass over and cut to the chase: the biggest and most unarguable one is that they’re finite. The colloquial phrase is “they’re going to run out”: they’ll never run out completely, but before long they’ll run short, by which I mean the decreasing rate at which they can be extracted will fall below the rate we use them. Before then we, as a nation, need to decide what to do instead. There are three alternatives, each with various pros & cons: nuclear, renewables, or possibly a combination.

One of the aspects that needs to be addressed is financial cost. I’m fortunate in being better off than average, such that I could seriously ponder whether I would be prepared to pay 50% more, or even 100% more, for my energy if it were to come from a source that I preferred, for some reason, over one I disliked. But half the country’s households are less well-off than average, of course, and of them a significant fraction are in fuel poverty, for whom even a 10% increase for any reason would be a serious problem, causing many of them to heat their homes less than needed for optimum health, or even worse consequences. So I feel compelled to accept whichever of the alternatives is going to be the cheapest.

What do we know about likely future costs in the UK for the options? The best guide is what level of guaranteed price for their electricity companies are prepared to build new power generation, which has been established in recent years by the Contract for Difference (CfD) reverse auctions. For reference, the current average wholesale price of electricity in Britain is about £40 per MWh (=4p per kWh). Hinkley Point C was given a CfD for £92.50 per MWh, or with Sizewell C £87.50. The most recent CfD award to onshore wind was for £82 and for solar £79, both in 2014, since when in similar CfD auctions in other countries, the price of both has fallen substantially, eg, in Chile between 2013 and 2016 by more than 50%. As the current British government has excluded further CfDs to onshore wind and solar we don’t know how much it would now be here, but as there’s talk in the trade about new wind farms and solar farms being built with no more subsidy above the expected wholesale price, they’re probably not much more than £40. This year’s CfD for offshore wind resulted in £58 to £75 awards, and it’s generally held to be more expensive than onshore wind.

So on present, limited, evidence, renewables look cheaper than nuclear. However, to complicate the picture, both generate power over time in a way little related to the variation of electricity demand with time, so each needs to have measures, which add significant cost, to match their supply with demand. Despite a lot of looking, I’ve not found a study that compares these, so have to guesstimate that the costs of this matching are similar for the two, and that renewables still retain their significant cost advantage.

So I was going to ask if you had further thoughts than the Sep 22 posting, with or without my thoughts, about an alternative future energy supply for Britain that involved less wind, or none at all?


I’m aware that the blog might seem incredibly negative and biased. I can’t really apologise for that, because the overriding theme of the blog has been “the negative impact of wind power on my psychological state”, if you like, and any alternative points of view have been sought from readers, who I’ve repeatedly invited to step up and defend wind power. I’m truly glad you’ve seen through the spiky rhetoric and been able to make some great points in defence of wind power, addressing some of my “paranoid” concerns. That’s great! One of the hallmarks of a worthwhile debate is the removal of confusion and the correction of false beliefs.

I believe I’ve also made the point that the unremittingly negative hatchet job I’ve done on wind is precisely because for a number of years we’ve only ever had unremittingly positive spin about how “green” it is, Did you ever see that Panorama on Scientology, with Jon Sweeney, “the exploding tomato”, screaming at the top of his voice because he felt they were constantly trying to brainwash him! I’ve had to raise my voice to even be listened to. Fact is, Phil, it actually works. “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” Look at government policy and realise that if enough people make a noise about something, it enters the Overton Window and becomes a genuine political cause. This HAS happened with wind! I sometimes use the rhetorical device of making it seem like I personally changed government policy, but of course I’m merely one of thousands of people who have all contributed to a genuine political movement.

As I hope I’m proving, with your help, the “rhetoric” is almost separate from the nitty-gritty of the actual debate and policy discussions. Although clearly I lack technical expertise in how wind turbines work, I certainly don’t lack geographical knowledge of the United Kingdom, and that’s really the topic I feel I can bring into the debate, a much better understanding of how our hills link up, and dare I say it, a finger on the pulse of public opinion much more accurate than the Planning Inspectorate. It’s at the point now where I can almost predict which turbines were allowed on appeal (generally the most offensively-sited), where the council and community said “No!” but were overturned on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

This more than anything has been what I’ve targetted in my official documents. This has changed recently, and of course it begs the question, if they get it now, how come they previously got it wrong for so many years? (If they were right all along, then why change the policy now?)

So my answer to your question is long, drawn-out and nuanced. I believe I gave my best answer in the “Turbine Traffic Light Scheme” entry. More of a focus on actually achieved energy generation figures. More weighting given to public complaints. A grading of all our wind farms so we can see which ones have achieved the most. Higher standards of what is expected, and higher penalties for non-compliance. Just treating wind energy the way we treat everything else – transparency, targets, accountability and democracy.

If we MUST have wind power, let’s at least have some kind of quality control and honesty about the impacts.

My solution, Phil, is dialogue like this! To be involved in the process, representing the voice of nature-lovers. To be an engaged citizen and awkward customer challenging the wind industry to up their game and be responsible corporations. A watchdog like Ofcom! Ofwind, there you go.

Just to be someone who says vocally “If you can’t PROVE your wind farm is essential, you can’t do it” Let’s compare wind farm planning proposals with motorway planning proposals, and bring wind farms more into alignment with other essential services. You would not catch a motorway developer astroturfing fake support or acting as unprofessionally as Coronation Power. We would only ever allow a motorway after rigorous, objective analysis, it certainly wouldn’t be as arbitary as whether we allow or reject certain wind farms.

My solution is simply a results-based wind policy: PROVE IT WORKS! If a wind farm can prove it is meeting the targets we as a society have set, in terms of both achieving sufficient energy generation and also an acceptably low number of complaints from the public, it gets the Green Light and can stay. If however a wind farm has not met the targets we’ve set, or it has received too many complaints, then it needs to get the Red Light!

That’s my compromise and bargaining position – prove every wind farm works sufficiently and isn’t upsetting too many people, and I’ll drop any opposition. If we were to analyse all the wind farms in the South Pennines and grade them in order of achieved output / visual impact, we might well find that 3 or 4 are doing a great job, 3 or 4 an adequate job, and 3 or 4 really underperforming. Removing the underperformers would have no negative impact on energy supplies if they are barely generating anything anyway!

Alternatives to wind? I’m not sure about fracking. My instinct tells me it’s nowhere near as harmful as wind (in real life, has any fracking ever led to any actually documented eco-disasters?) but I accept that everyone else in Britain reacts to fracking the way I react to wind blight, so I’d be a hypocrite were I to insist on imposing it on communities against their will. What do you think of fracking? And nuclear seemed like by far and away the most efficient source of electricity, although your comment raises questions about its price.

I’m in favour of renewables in principle, who wouldn’t be? But I believe there is far more to pollution than just CO2 emissions, and loss of our mountaintops is just as bad for the planet IMO, this is why I call attention to it!

I’m not opposed to Wind Done Well. Just Wind Done Badly!


I’d agree that a consistent, national system of objectively assessing the visual impact and other negative consequences, taking into account the proposed location, to be compared with expected energy output, would be a useful tool for planners, local residents and others to help in the planning decision process, and even for developers to screen proposals before that stage.

Having realised the scale of wind power required to supply a substantial part of the nation’s energy demand, I have been deeply concerned at the prospect of what it would mean for the industrialisation of the British countryside. However, the size of the fall in support cost shown in this year’s offshore wind CfD was a surprise, and I think that, together with the prospect of its further fall, it can now be advocated that we should put our efforts into developing offshore rather than much more onshore.

It seems that this is now the effect of the UK government policy, as the large majority of the new turbines that are likely to be built in the next four years are offshore, so that by 2021 more power will be generated offshore than onshore.

The more that this prospect is realised, the more I’d support tightening the planning criteria for onshore wind power.

“actually achieved energy generation figures.”
I think councils’ planning departments don’t keep track of the performance of wind farms they’ve permitted like they don’t keep track of the success of other developments they’ve permitted, such as the occupancy of speculative office buildings. It’s not something they’re required to do by law, so there’s not the money or interest to do so. If you know the site’s name, you can track its performance at
with the Rolling Load Factor and (most-recent-)Annual Load Factor columns.

“higher penalties for non-compliance”
The universal penalty for any generator not producing what was promised in the prospectus is losing money, which also results in backers being warier of any other schemes that the developer might propose. Lower than expected generation can be due to accidents and unpredictable malfunctions, which it would be hard to justify penalties for. But where turbines are left non-producing for extended periods without being repaired, I certainly think they should be required to be removed within a specified time period.

“What do you think of fracking?”
In order of increasing total environmental damage and thus decreasing desirability, I’d rank fossil fuels: UK conventional gas, imported conventional gas, UK fracked gas, imported fracked gas, UK coal, imported coal. But I see running remaining fossil fuel generation only as a necessary evil to fill-in while renewables and appropriate storage are developed and built.

“Is it even possible to lower CO2 emissions if we require a backup to wind power 100% of the time?”
All power stations require 100% backup 100% of the time, as they can develop faults suddenly, or have to be shut down for refuelling and other maintenance, etc. Instead of each having a dedicated ‘shadow’ station running in standby, so doubling the fuel used, this is covered by the other stations acting in a pool. Wind power is no different – its output can be forecast well enough in advance to schedule other generation as part of the normal electricity system management.

“they don’t actually lower CO2 emissions”
this is a widespread misunderstanding arising from an incomplete analysis of the special case of Germany, such as the Forbes article linked to above that statement.

In Germany, for reasons of internal politics, they are effectively using the low-carbon wind & solar generation they’ve been building in recent years to replace their low-carbon nuclear generation, rather than their fossil-fuel generation, as you can see from this graph:

Thus there has been little or no reduction in their electricity system’s CO2 release in recent years from its previous levels, but the renewable power will have substantially reduced their CO2 release from what it would have been if they had closed their nuclear stations and replaced their output with more fossil fuel generation instead, or if they had kept their nuclear open, the renewables would have reduced fossil fuel burning and reduced CO2. (Everyone can have their own opinion on how sensible this policy is in a world that needs to reduce its CO2.)Thus there has been little or no reduction in their electricity system’s CO2 release in recent years from its previous levels, but the renewable power will have substantially reduced their CO2 release from what it would have been if they had closed their nuclear stations and replaced their output with more fossil fuel generation instead, or if they had kept their nuclear open, the renewables would have reduced fossil fuel burning and reduced CO2. (Everyone can have their own opinion on how sensible this policy is in a world that needs to reduce its CO2.)

Here in the UK, our wind, solar and other renewable generation has contributed a significant part to the substantial reduction in the national CO2 emissions of recent years.


The third of your objecive objections I’d like to comment on is the suicides connected with wind farms. Sadly, there have been other associated deaths: eg, construction workers without harnesses have fallen from height, and a delivery lorry driver died in a road accident recently.

As usual, one has to ask what the alternatives are: what is the mortality associated with other means of generation? And as well as mortality, what are their associated non-lethal ill-health effects (‘morbidity’).

This has doubtless been looked into by several academic studies, with results available online. Without looking into this myself, I’d guess that coal (cleaned up or dirty) would be the worst, what with direct deaths in mining accidents, indirect deaths such as Aberfan, and lung disease from the dust of mining and smoke of combustion.

For this line of argument to stand up to scrutiny, it would need to shown that total morbidity & mortality of wind power was significantly worse than the realistic alternatives.


“Offshore wind may be a solution, but then it screws up our beach resortsOffshore wind may be a solution, but then it screws up our beach resorts”
Only if they’re installed close to the shore. I’ve visited a few:

At Skegness, I think the contiguous Lynn, Inner Dowsing & Lincs offshore arrays are too close to the shore (about 3 miles), given their total width.

However, I visited Rhyl/Prestatyn years ago to see the pioneering North Hoyle offshore array, which is about 4 miles offshore, and standing on the beach I had to use binoculars to tell if the rotors were turning, so I thought that was a reasonable set back distance.

Visiting Llandudno recently, where the Rhyl Flats & Gwynt y Mor arrays are 4 & 7 miles offshore, I thought their visual intrusiveness on the natural landscape & seascape was a lot less than that of the pier, which seems to have become accepted over the years.

Visiting Brighton a few weeks before that, where the Rampion array is 6 miles offshore, again I had to use binoculars, and found their visual intrusiveness less than the rusting ruins of the West Pier which has Grade 1 listed status, and of the monstrous i360 tower which has actually been built on the promenade in the nicest part of the town!

The offshore windfarms that are in the construction pipeline are much further offshore, eg, the East Anglia arrays are to be 20-30 miles. At this kind of distance, much or all of the turbines will be below the horizon for people standing on the beach. Another good reason for preferring offshore wind.


Hi Phil again hope you had a good Christmas. I’m off to Brighton tomorrow to see for myself as I have family in the area, so I will take a look and report back! Just a few pieces of news from the last couple of weeks. Firstly, look back at the previous entry, “Another Awkward Question Answered”, dated 20 November 2017. I have been informed by a local resident that the upper of the two wind turbines in the photo illustrating the entry has lost its blades in the 5 weeks since I took the pic (I will take some pictures on my return to the north). Bearing in mind I was stood next to another turbine that had also just lost its blades, that’s two in one village that have had blades fall off within 5 or 6 weeks of each other. I’ll do my best to find more information about the whys and wherefores of these two failures within the area under surveillance, and no it’s not me going up there yanking the blades off, before anyone accuses me!

One turbine breaking could happen anywhere – but two in such a small area and such a short time becomes a worry and a very real “Quality Concern” (as we would call this if it happened at my workplace). Were they the same model turbine, installed at similar times, ie likely to fail at similar times, or were they separate models installed at separate times? Was it particularly windy or were there any other contributory factors? Whose responsibility is it to log and record these failures? This is what we see visually, with our laymens’ eyes: we see these unstable, dangerous looking turbines that due to their design are clearly vulnerable to being damaged by the very wind upon which they rely. It’s not even the first time the turbine in the photo has had its blades fly off, apparently. It was also without blades for a large part of 2016 having caught fire previously. Apparently the turbine maker has gone bust too. (The turbine is located at Marsden Gate, Calderdale (just), if you want to research it pending any further details I can provide). So this is just a case study of a real-life turbine failure within the area I happen to be monitoring!

The second link that I have seen across my newsfeed is this: https://www.thegwpf.com/green-activists-withdraw-adverts-which-falsely-claim-price-of-wind-energy-has-fallen-by-50-per-cent/ No disrespect to Peter Capaldi’s acting skills, but he is clearly more adept at fiction than documentary! According to the article: “GWFP director Dr Benny Peiser said: ‘The claims in the Westminster offshore wind campaign are some of the most blatant distortions of the truth that I have seen in pro-wind advertising.’” This is the trust issue Phil – who are these lying liars and why are they always lying to me, just before wrecking yet another unspoilt green hill. How can we trust a word these people say? Why do wind operators continually have to lie and deceive and overexaggerate? I’ve said before – you simply would not catch motorway constructors lying in the same way, there is something very peculiar to wind operators that seems to make them singularly untrustworthy, and this is exemplified by the “twisted, warped” shape of the blades! “By their fruits, so shall you recognize them.”

I know what it’s like to make an honest mistake, that’s fine. But this once again seems like a willful and deliberate attempt to make wind power seem like a better solution than it really is. It certainly tallies with my impression of Greenpeace as having a hidden agenda.

Finally: https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2017/12/28/wind-farms-in-england-only-supply-2-of-power/ It says 2%. Is that fair and accurate? I’d say that’s not been worth the bother, absolutely.


I’d be interested to learn what you think about the Rampion array of offshore turbines in the light of my comments above – their visual obtrusiveness depends on how clear/murky the weather is. I got a free ‘flight’ on the i360 – it may or may be worth the £16 normal adult ticket price. It’s somewhat taller than a typical large turbine, for scale.

Re: the Master Resource webpage – it is 9 yr old and relates to the US. However, it says much the same thing as I did: it calculates the homes equivalence correctly, and points out that its purpose is for illustration of a project’s scale using less-technical units, but should not be used to think that that number of homes will get their electricity exclusively from the turbine(s).

Whose responsibility…failures The company expecting to receive the income stream from the electricity sales ought to be monitoring its output and need for maintenance & repairs, and holding the manufacturer to any warranty; I don’t know if it’s usual to have insurance against lightning strikes, etc. Endurance is the bankrupt manufacturer, and a quick Google shows at least one of their turbines in the area, but I can’t tell if they two failed turbines were the same model or even manufacturer.

Re: the GWPF article, about them objecting to the advertising saying “The price paid for electricity from offshore wind farms has fallen by 50% over the last five years” To be strictly accurate, that sentence should read “The price to be paid for electricity from new offshore wind farms has fallen by 50% over the last five years”. I don’t know how much of the responsibility for the wording lay with the doubtless non-technical advertising agency copy-writers, whose job is to write the snappiest and most memorable wording for their clients. The inexactness of wording is minor compared with many of the distortions and rubbish written by the general press and anti-renewable energy commentators.

Regarding who is lying to you and why, you always have to ask what is the agenda of people telling you things: Nigel Lawson is the driving force behind the GWPF, which despite its name is a pressure group against doing anything about global-warming. When he was on Radio 4’s Today program recently he made statements that many people pointed out were plain wrong, but he went unchallenged on the broadcast, though he admitted the errors later ( http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nigel-lawson-climate-change-sceptics-global-temperatures-fall-false-claim-warming-gwpf-bbc-radio-4-a7894686.html ). So this is a case of pot and kettle.

“you simply would not catch motorway constructors lying in the same way”
I’m sure there have been roads built in the UK as well as elsewhere on the basis of exaggerated claims for need – just look at the near-deserted M45.
Greenpeace…having a hidden agenda I would have thought their agenda is quite plain: get rid of nuclear power (and weapons) and fossil fuels, and replace them with renewables. I can’t see what else there is that is not obvious.

Re: the Not A Lot Of People Know That link. This is a renewable energy sceptic website that has selectively used statistics to further its agenda. England is the constituent country of the UK with by far the largest population (and thus energy consumption), densest population (and thus the hardest to find sites that are suitable for onshore wind) and the least good wind resource. England has 83% of the UK’s population, but only 25% of its onshore wind capacity (though 83% of its offshore capacity). So its 2800 MW of onshore turbines did produce only 2.4% of its electricity last year (which was the least windy year for some time). Though is the article talking about the electricity generated in England or consumed in England (the difference being the net imports from other countries of the UK & its neighbours)? A less arbitrarily isolationist approach would be to look at the island of Great Britain as a whole, with its unified electricity system – in 2016 its 8800 MW of onshore wind generated 6.2% of its electricity, and its 5100 MW of offshore generated 4.9%, for a total of 11%. The article’s headline is “Wind Farms In England Only Supply 2% Of Power” – again the ASA should make them be more accurate: “Onshore Wind Farms In England Only Supplied 2.4% Of Power in the low-wind year of 2016“. I also think ‘England’ includes its territorial waters, and so the article should include its offshore generation too, which would boost the figure to about 8% in 2016, 9% in 2017, and probably 10% in 2018 and 12% by 2023.

As a devil’s advocate, I can play a similar game with nuclear: Most of England’s population is in the south-east, and most of that is in London and its contiguous conurbation. Nuclear generated precisely 0% of the power generated in the London conurbation, so Londoners should forget all about nuclear as it’s obviously utterly useless.

Finally, the 2800 MW of England’s current onshore capacity could be replaced by about 2000 MW of offshore, which is 5 times Rampion’s capacity – this may help inform your opinion in Brighton. Have a Happy New Year there!


PS to the Not A Lot Of People Know That link comment. Taking the fairly arbitrary official statistical region of England of Yorkshire & the Humber, it has 1083 MW of onshore wind that generated 2.9 TWh in 2016, and 654 MW of offshore wind making landfall on its coasts that generated 1.3 TWh in 2016. Its population of 5.5 million used about 28 TWh in 2016, if pro rata to the UK, so its turbines provided 10% + 5% = 15% of its electricity. Does that selection of statistics make your local turbines appear more reasonable and acceptable than Paul Homewood’s selection?


Regarding the advert, yes I accept the point that the GWPF has an agenda of its own, but that doesn’t mean the Greenpeace crew weren’t caught lying – they were.

Regardless of whose to blame, the bad PR from being caught in a lie doesn’t reflect well on the intentions of those involved. If it was an honest mistake fair enough, but judging from readers’ reactions in this article, people are very very skeptical. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5213733/Activists-withdraw-advert-making-false-claim-wind-farms.html#comments So yes the GWPF might be the pot calling the kettle black, but all that means is they are equally dishonest, not that the Greenpeace guys aren’t! The net result is more bad PR for renewables, more people turned off and alienated by those who would impose wind turbines on them against their will.
Greenpeace’s true intentions? Who knows? The guy who invented them certainly isn’t impressed… https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/mar/29/lovelock-wind

I take on board your point about the misuse of statistics relating to the “2%” figure, but the idea of blaming a “low-wind year” for below-par performance seems a bit poor really, Phil, a bit “trains delayed due to the wrong type of leaves on the line” – how can the wind ever be truly sustainable as a source of energy (ie at a constant, forecastable rate)??? I thought before wind farms were built there are supposed to be forecasts made about the amount of wind that can be expected. Are low-wind years not factored in to these forecasts? What makes a year low-wind? How often do we have low-wind years? Do we also have corresponding high-wind years? Surely we can’t be taken by surprise when the wind doesn’t blow on demand for us? The reliable course of action is surely to assume that the wind will start and stop whenever it feels like it, therefore wind power can only ever be reactive to the weather, we can never rely on it all the time. Just when we need it most, it will let us down!


Oh by the way, do we know why Endurance went bust? Weren’t they able to sell enough electricity?!


And the M45, yes I know it! A great April Fool’s Joke once claimed it had been turned into a Heritage Motorway, with only vintage cars allowed to drive it. Of course it’s a quiet, deserted motorway now, but it was one of the first ever built, as a spur off the M1 to link with Coventry, originally the main signed route to Birmingham and the West Midlands. I’m not sure if when it was built the route of the M6 had been decided, but when it was constructed a few years later it took the brunt of the traffic and left the M45 almost deserted. The “wind turbine” equivalent (well, according to my hypothesis…no doubt you take the opposing view!) would be if the M45 had been built entirely for profit for the constructors, with the full knowledge that the M6 was on its way about to make it largely redundant, but authorized anyway! I am actually intrigued now: when the M45 was constructed did they know that the M6 was coming and about to supersede it?


Our energy system is somewhat weather-dependent already: if it’s windy, which is because of fronts coming in from the Atlantic which are relatively mild, our demand for gas for space heating and electricity for top-up heating falls; and if it’s overcast our demand for electricity for lighting rises.

The official National Grid position on renewable energy (RE) is that they can handle any amount, since the predictability of its generation, thanks to sufficiently accurate weather forecasting, is such that it can be managed in the system that schedules the other generation to match the demand which is forcastable only on similar timescales.

The wind is indeed not constant, but neither is electricity demand – GB’s varies between 18 GW and about 55 GW – so large amounts of constant generation, ie nuclear, similarly require extra effort & resources to make use of.
Weather varies from day to day, month to month and year to year. The economics of an RE project will be made based on the long-term average of recent years, and over the multi-decade operations of the facility it should be achieved. In a given year the wind depends on the number of Atlantic fronts that come through and the number of high-pressure systems that sit over NW Europe blocking them, both of which are probably largely dependent on the variable position of the jet stream. 2016 was a low-wind year for the UK, and also a low-rainfall year for hydro. 2017 has been a high-wind year, with UK wind farms producing about 50% more output than 2016, with only a 15% increase in capacity.

Yes, there will be times when wind and solar production will be negligible, so enough stored electricity and ‘dispatchable’ generation capacity needs to be available to cover demand at such times, after mitigating the situation with demand management. The wind and solar can thus be viewed as reducing the need to burn fossil fuel, which is CO2-emitting and will be increasingly scarce and expensive (and needs to be imported). Fuel for such occasions is also proposed to be made artificially at times of excess RE generation. The details of this and the pro & con arguments would take another whole blog.…Endurance were manufacturers of small to medium turbines, not operators of them, and seem to have gone bust as a result of too-sudden changes to the wind support schemes by the government in 2015 causing their sales to drop faster than they could manage.…I love the M45 and put up with the A45 round Coventry before it when I drive to north London, rather than using the M6, just for that experience of what roads were like in the past. The bliss evaporates when joining the M1 of course.


(1) “The wind and solar can thus be viewed as reducing the need to burn fossil fuel, which is CO2-emitting and will be increasingly scarce and expensive (and needs to be imported).”

This of course is the entire raison d’etre of wind farms, to contribute to lower CO2 emissions. How have they got on? Do we have any quantifiable evidence yet of how much less CO2 we are now emitting as a result of wind energy? BTW I think it’s very important not to conflate wind energy with all renewables, which also include biomass and solar, don’t they? A lot of the positive press seems to be about “renewables” as a single entity, often illustrated with a wind turbine, without specifying which type of renewable energy they are referring to.

There is a difference between renewable and sustainable too, which often seems to get mixed up. Of course wind energy is renewable energy, but the point I have made (borne out by 2016 being a “low-wind year) is that wind cannot be truly described as sustainable energy because the wind itself is not sustained (ie maintained at a constant rate or level).…

(2) “Endurance were manufacturers of small to medium turbines, not operators of them, and seem to have gone bust as a result of too-sudden changes to the wind support schemes by the government in 2015 causing their sales to drop faster than they could manage.”

OK, now we’re cooking with gas (or rather, cooking with wind….ahem) Wind support schemes. Subsidies. Another huge bone of contention and controversy. You can see why this blog is the gift that keeps giving, and why, when looked at closely, wind power is such a fascinating, multilayered topic. I’m actually surprised not more people have studied it. We now come onto the political/economic dimension. What changes were made in 2015, with what effect on sales?

As far as I’m aware, the main change in 2015 was a change in planning policy, with the Planning Inspectorate having less power to overturn local community decisions. To a certain extent, this is the outcome I wanted all along, just an investigation into the appeal process because it seemed to be hurting a lot of people, and almost all of the most offensively situated wind turbines are ones that were rejected locally, for very good reasons. Carsington Pastures and Crook Hill Wind Farms are two in particular that have screwed up the White Peak and the Dark Peak respectively.

Nobody round these parts wants them, as I have documented in my official letters (do some research and you’ll find out the verdict of local communities on these two schemes). They are strikingly at odds with the values of the National Parks, as I expressed to the Planning Inspectorate.

So what else changed in 2015 that caused a turbine manufacturer to lose sales? Did this affect other turbine businesses, or just Endurance? How come their business model wasn’t, erm, “sustainable”?!

(3) A few miles north of the M45 lies the M6(Toll), and this might be a better analogy for a wind farm, as it is a privately operated motorway, run for profit. Therefore in terms of the original mention of motorways – I asked if motorway constructors act as dishonestly as some wind farm constructors, referring to the “astroturfing” of support and the misrepresentation of stats, albeit accidentally (giving them the benefit of the doubt) – the M6(Toll) gives us some insight into what happens when private companies take over essential public services. This was the concern of the Green Party candidate I corresponded with, he was totally pro-wind power in terms of science, but he shared my concerns about the corporatisation of open access common land, preferring that wind farms were owned and operated by the public sector.

Subsidies are all part of the debate here – is it morally right that a private company receives subsidies from the government? At what point should a product stand on its own two feet without the need of assistance?

Presumably the M6(Toll) makes enough profit to survive without assistance now, but if say 2017 was a “low-traffic year” and the motorway didn’t generate enough tolls, would it be right to ask the government to bail it out?
I note too that the motorway had its fair share of eco-protestors. I’ve never been wound up by road developments myself, even good old Brighton has an excellently landscaped bypass that, at the time of building, I was dead worried would screw up the Downs. But it’s a job well done. I have mixed feelings for the anti-roads protests. I respect and admire the protestors for being passionate and motivated and standing up for nature. But in most cases I would make the case that the new road is beneficial to the environment in terms of how it helps the old roads being bypassed.

Allowing cars to bypass a town in a couple of minutes at 50mph or 60mph is surely better for the environment than making them crawl along urban streets at 20 or 30mph?

If we spend too long debating roads and transport we’ll be here forever (a whole other debate). so to keep it on-topic, the M6(Toll) is an example of a road run by a private company, the way wind farms are run. Is it the best model for wind farms, or are there other ways of financing and operating them that would be better for society?

(4) Finally, I didn’t get to see Rampion as it was dark by the time I arrived at Seaford, however my friends live on the coast and can see the workings on the horizon. Believe it or not, I don’t rant on about wind power in “real life” (it’s a topic I keep strictly limited to those interested in a serious discourse about it), so I just said I’m interested to know if it affects them in any way over the upcoming months.
I also saw wind turbines at Polegate, and on the way back up north, at Ockendon in Essex. These in particular look horrible, impacting heavily on the Thames Chase Community Forest, an unbelievably tranquil green belt inbetween East London and the Thames Estuary in Essex. These horrific turbines are the last thing the area needs. Horrible!

I saw a fair few “Devil’s Eyes” blinking red lights further into the Midlands. Again, horrible! I don’t think it’s morally right to inflict these bright flashing red lights on people living in the countryside, they look sinister and unnatural, and the whole point of my blog is that introducing sinister and unnatural elements into an area lowers the tone and worsens the mental health and wellbeing of those who would otherwise get refreshment and tranquillity from such areas.


I mentioned Polegate…the wind farm is called Shepham and further research reveals the same old, same old story. It seems to be absolutely typical of the wind farm experience in so many ways!

(1) Divisiveness between Thesis (Pros) & Antithesis (Cons)

Yet again there is a huge divide between those of the local population who are opposed and those in favour. My question, as always, is “Do they have an internal or external locus of control?” Ie is anyone pulling the strings behind-the-scenes? To be fair, in this case both of these look like genuine grass-roots movements. I’d be lying if I claimed residents were unanimously opposed. But many were.

THESIS: SAY YES TO POLEGATE WIND FARM!!! https://yestopolegatewindfarm.wordpress.com/


(2) Corporate Not Community Locus Of Control

I actually went for an interview with Galliford Try and winced as he told me about their wind turbine constructions! Maybe for the best I didn’t get the job…I was narrowly pipped to the post! Would I have even accepted? To be honest I just find the whole glossy brochure approach to the industrialisation of green fields makes me feel physically sick. All we need are children with gleaming white teeth frolicking around the turbine with ice creams and puppy dogs! Why does it have to be so corporate? It seems phoney and cringeworthy – ie BAD AESTHETICS! Again, unnatural and creepy, which has a negative impact on most right-thinking people’s mental health and well-being. The corporate nature changes the whole tone and impression of the scheme as purely and simply in the interests of the company’s shareholders, of no benefit whatsoever to the locals. I’m not totally anti-corporate, but nature and the countryside are supposed to be places where living creatures can escape the rat race. This is now one more area of the UK owned and dominated by a corporation with dangerous electrical equipment, one less area of public “safe space”. http://www.consense.co.uk/portfolios/galliford.aspx

(3) Opposed Locally, Overturned On Appeal

You couldn’t make it up Phil. Two hours ago I typed my first comment about how you can always tell when a wind farm was opposed locally and only approved on appeal. Well here we go again! I’d be fascinated to know if there are as many appeals pro rata when it comes to other development proposals. https://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/news/controversial-wind-farm-given-green-light-in-polegate-1-6526151

(4) Confusing Use Of Statistics

“The proposed development would supply renewable electricity generation of up to 7.5 MW of installed capacity, sufficient to power up to 4,000 homes,and would achieve an annual saving of up to 8,475 tonnes of carbon.”
Let me see if I’ve got this now… the 7.5 MW is the TOTAL capacity, but the 4,000 homes figure has factored in the capacity factor, likely to be around 20-30%. At no time will these 4.000 homes be solely powered by the wind farm, it’s merely an equivalent figure. I don’t know how the carbon figure was arrived at. Do they mean carbon or carbon dioxide? Are we CERTAIN that lowering CO2 emissions will stop the world’s temperature rising? What evidence is this based on? (Not that I don’t believe it, just interested to know what data was used to come to this calculation). https://www.eastbourneherald.co.uk/news/shepham-wind-farm-gets-the-go-ahead-on-appeal-1-6517346

So there we go, it’s a fairly typical case study that highlights some of the issues associated with wind farm construction. Is it worth it, that’s the question?!

Feel free to comment below!

8 thoughts on “Dialectic In Action”

  1. A fascinating exchange. Insightful. Future energy? Let’s just hope fusion comes to fruit. As regards the total acceptance that CO2 is the biggest threat the planet faces….what a shame this blinkered view led to the true threat to our environment being ignored. Something that could have been actually solved with all the money wasted on efforts to reduce CO2…..microplastics in the oceans of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This of course is the entire raison d’etre of wind farms, to contribute to lower CO2 emissions.

    Well, for me, their purpose is being a way of generating electricity long-term, when there is no longer enough burnable stuff to power our country. That they produce much less CO2 than burning fossil fuels is just a side benefit.


    Do we have any quantifiable evidence yet of how much less CO2 we are now emitting as a result of wind energy?
    The UK’s greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions have fallen about 43% from the 1990 base-line year to 2017. This includes things other than CO2, but CO2 reduction is by far the largest component. The growth in wind power and other renewables is a significant part of the CO2 reduction. How much CO2 has been saved depends on what you think the alternative would have been in a parallel version of UK where things were done differently:

    * If we had built and used more low-carbon generation (solar, hydro, nuclear) instead, then the wind energy would have made little difference.

    * If we had run our gas-fired power stations more instead, then last year’s 37 TWh [my estimate] of onshore wind energy saved over 15 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2.

    * If we had run our coal-fired power stations more instead, then it saved over 30 Mt of CO2.

    (For comparison, the UK’s total GHG emissions was about 450 Mt of CO2 equivalent. Offshore wind was about ¾ that of onshore, in addition. So if our onshore & offshore wind had been replaced by coal, our total GHG emissions would have been about 10% higher last year.)


    sustainable. The word in the context of energy systems means ‘is usable very long-term / indefinitely’. You’re seeming to use it to mean more like ‘constant’?


    What changes were made in 2015.
    As you can see from the tables at
    in mid-Jan 2016, the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) for turbines of 100 – 500 kW was halved. I think this is just the size range made by Endurance, and that thus the financial cases for their potential customers were slashed at a stroke, and with only six months warning, so that many orders would have been postponed or cancelled.


    Virtually all energy has received and continues to receive various subsidies, directly and indirectly. Nuclear energy took vast amounts of governments’ money to develop over decades – I can’t quantify how much, as I doubt anyone has kept a tally. But it’s reasonable that governments invest in developing such a new means of energy production, as it has the potential of being of huge long-term benefit to the country and all its citizens. Similarly for renewable energies, where the development has been mostly done by companies and individuals, but supported through subsidy payments, rather than the government doing the work directly. The Renewable Obligation, FiT and CfD schemes were started with the intention of reducing the subsidies over the years, as the renewable technologies benefited from economies of scale and their learning curves. That the industries are now talking about unsubsidised solar farms, onshore wind farms, and now even offshore wind farms, shows that the plan is working, no thanks to the sharp & sudden changes in the support schemes by the government. Contrast this with nuclear, where despite all the money spent on it over the decades, electricity from the next generation is still set to cost twice its wholesale value.


    …wind farms were owned and operated by the public sector.
    This would have the advantage of much lower costs for borrowing the money to build them, improving their economic case, so resulting in more onshore wind being economically viable.

    Corporate Not Community … Control.
    There are cooperative groups that propose and build wind turbines, and other renewables, usually based on mostly local membership, so that such facilities are thus owned by and financially benefit the community in which they’re located. Would you feel differently about the visual intrusion and harm to the land caused by a given wind turbine if you knew it was owned thus, compared with if you knew it was owned by a foreign multinational energy corporation?

    is it morally right that a private company receives subsidies from the government?
    If they’re doing what the government and society want, and would not do so otherwise, why should they not be rewarded reasonably?

    At what point should a product stand on its own two feet without the need of assistance?
    A good question. Compare and contrast renewables and nuclear (see above).


    M6(Toll). The difference from onshore wind farms is that the M6(Toll) was proposed and designed by the government, which then got a company to finance, build & operate it. Onshore wind farms are proposed from the start by companies, and the authorities just react to the proposals. (Offshore wind farms are somewhere between the two.)
    [Aside: I get the impression from the news, that the M6(Toll) has not lived up to traffic forecasts and is presumably losing the company money – so companies may be more hesitant about building public roads in the future.]


    (4) Confusing Use Of Statistics. I don’t know how the carbon figure was arrived at. Do they mean carbon or carbon dioxide?
    Good questions. Let’s check their figures, starting with the homes equivalence, as you correctly did: 7,500 kW * 24*365*0.25 = 16,425,000 kWh/yr. At about 4,000 kWh/yr per home, that’s about 4,000 homes. Check!

    If 16,425,000 kWh save 8,475 tonnes, that’s about 530 g of CO2 per kWh – burning gas releases about 400 g(CO2)/kWh and coal about 800 g(CO2)/kWh, so being within that range the 530 figure seems about right. More accurately, it implies that each kWh of wind energy displaces ¾ kWh of gas-derived electricity and ¼ kWh of coal-derived, which is roughly the ratio actually used in the UK in 2016. Check!

    Confusingly, weights of both carbon and carbon dioxide are used for carbon dioxide pollution; they differ by a factor of 3.7. We can see that their calculation must be referring to carbon dioxide, but the quote uses the term ‘carbon’.


  3. (1) CO2 emissions. No reason to challenge any of your sums here. I think the question is therefore, would other forms of energy generation contribute more efficiently to lower CO2 emissions? What is the opportunity cost of relying so much on wind at the expense of R&D or investment into other forms of renewable energy? How long do you estimate it takes wind farms to pay back their own carbon footprint? Do we keep track of all their construction and maintenance carbon emissions, factoring the “cost” of wind farms into our calculations. And, as always, are the figures independently and objectively audited, to ensure that every wind farm is operating sufficiently? If it could be proven that a wind farm had really not contributed to lower CO2 emissions, especially if failing to meet its claims, do you agree that it should be penalised for false advertising?

    (Would punishing or even getting rid of the bad wind farms in fact help the good ones? A bit of pruning and rationalising of the wind farm network, like the Beeching rail cuts?)

    (2) My definition of “sustainable” is the Oxford dictionary definition (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/sustainable): “Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level”. It does the wind companies no favours to redefine words, because those of us who are sticklers for semantics will only pick holes and lose trust in any use of words that seems misleading or distorting somehow. I think “sustainable” is entirely the wrong word to describe wind energy, due to its ups and downs, and as such I class this usage as another example of “greenwashing”. It’s not my major issue with wind power, but it’s another way in which the industry’s reputation for slippery untrustworthiness could be improved: stop playing with words and misusing the English language!!! I prefer the term “intermittent” as a more accurate description of how wind energy works.

    (3) Feed-in Tariffs. Please don’t feel under any pressure to reply Phil, as you can see I am truly grateful for your contributions and am making every effort to give your words high billing so people can read them for themselves. But if you don’t mind elaborating, it might be helpful to explain to people exactly how these tariffs work. Am I right in thinking they are basically payments from public funds to those who generate electricity from renwewables? Why should members of the public be bothered by a tightening of the public purse? Couldn’t the money saved from halving FiTs be better spent on the NHS or Disability Benefits?


    (4) Subsidies. At the 2015 General Election, the two largest political parties had different policies regarding wind power subsidies, and the party that wanted to bring them down won, with the party that wanted to keep them high losing. Why do you think that was? Ditto, in America, the more anti-wind of the two parties won decisively (not even getting into a Trump conversation here…I’m more interested in the psephology). Subsidies for wind farms are NOT an election winner. Why do you think that is?

    I for one think the overload of wind farms has meant people have lost sympathy or support for subsidising them any further. The term “subsidy junkies” is often used to describe people who set up wind farm businesses based on the very model of government support funding them rather than what I would deem “an honest profit”, like the company I work for. Satisfied customers voluntarily choose to buy our products, with no support from public money required. the idea of wind companies being “subsidy junkies” might just be public perception, but it’s a perception based on multiple examples of wind companies appealing and appealing until they get their way, riding roughshod over local concerns.

    I’m personally not in favour of my tax money being used to fund wind energy companies.

    (5) “Corporate Not Community … Control”

    Would I feel better about wind farms being community-owned? Yes I would. 500% better. Because then I’d know that the wind farm was integrated into the local community, at its request and with its consent. I think there’d be better aesthetics and ethics associated with community wind farms, less divisiveness and more attention to the environmental impacts on the neighbourhood.

    (6) “Is it morally right that a private company receives subsidies from the government?
    If they’re doing what the government and society want, and would not do so otherwise, why should they not be rewarded reasonably?”

    I put it to you that they have not been doing what the government and society want, hence the cut in subsidies. Why would the government cut the subsidies were the wind companies providing a service they wanted? Therefore we need to look at where the wind companies have gone off track and understand how come they’ve lost the support of the government.

    (7) M6(Toll) – now this is interesting. Maybe we’ve just stumbled across a key difference. You said: “M6(Toll) was proposed and designed by the government, which then got a company to finance, build & operate it. Onshore wind farms are proposed from the start by companies, and the authorities just react to the proposals.”

    The problem is that companies will propose as many wind farms as possible to maximise profit. Left unchecked, companies could feasibly apply to build wind farms on every hill and mountain in the UK. Why not? Each hill is another opportunity to make profit! It’s not that I’m anticorporate, it’s precisely because I understand the corporate mindet (expand or die) that I’m so aware of what heppens if corporations are underregulated. By allowing corporations to tout for as many wind farms as they can possibly get away with, we have inevitably allowed some superfluous ones to slip through the net (even David Cameron acknowledged the public had become “fed up” with wind farms).

    There’s also no increased standards through competition if a company gets to call the shots, and even choose its own planning advisors to provide the EIA reports – which is what happened at the Scout Moor expansion!). Whereas if each local authority had been assigned with the task of selecting a wind farm site and asking operators to tend for the contract, this would increase the incentive for wind operators to do a better job in making their schemes acceptable, instead of applying for a contract with no competition (other than from us proud NIMBYs!) and then having carte blanche to run amok as they see fit.

    (8) Carbon / carbon dioxide

    Another example of playing with words, or using confusing terminology. Yet again we can say “no harm intended”, but surely you can see by now, almost every claim made by a wind operator, whilst maybe not proveably deceitful, is still ambiguous and confusing to the general public.


  4. Over the last 5 years, the UK government has commissioned a series of professionally-conducted surveys of the general public’s view of various energy sources (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/656795/Wave_23_Excel_tables.xlsx – Q3, Q13 & Q12), which have consistently shown support:opposition for renewables in general at about 80%:4%, and for onshore wind specifically at about 65%:6%. Only about 1½% of people strongly oppose onshore wind. Even, those who would be happy:unhappy to have a large-scale renewable energy development in their area are about 57%:17%, ie far more YIMBYs than NIMBYs. Compared with the 52%:48% majority in the Brexit referendum, I’d call this level of support ‘overwhelming’.

    (2) ‘sustainable’.
    That definition makes more sense applied to physiology, than renewables’ output (what fraction of the maximum output is one wanting to sustain?). In the much-larger world of environmentalism (not just wind power), that this topic is part of, ‘sustainable’ has long meant ‘being based on non-depleting resources’. Can we agree to use ‘intermittent’ and ‘non-depleting’ instead, to avoid misunderstandings? (It’s a bit like ‘hacker’ has opposite meanings for computer scientists and the general media.)

    (1) would other forms of energy generation contribute more efficiently to lower CO2 emissions?
    ‘Efficiently’ could have 2 meanings here: financially, ie cost; and physical resources expended. New onshore wind turbines are the cheapest form of new low-carbon non-depleting generation in the UK. They have a CO2 payback of typically a couple of years, and a lifetime of a couple of decades; you’ll have to research online the figures for other generation for comparison, as I don’t have a ready reference. There have been various independent academic studies of CO2 and other forms of payback – their results vary somewhat according to the assumptions used, some of which might be considered to be biased in favour of one form of generation or another, so take the average of several studies. As I explained before, there’s no independent tracking of the performance of individual turbines or farms, and the penalty for getting things wrong is losing their money. So I would guess that proposers would err on the side of underestimating output.

    (3) Feed-in Tariffs.
    FiTs are effectively top-up payments to owners of small-scale renewable energy installations, from which the value of electricity generated would not be enough to justify their capital cost, to encourage people to install them nevertheless, to kick-start the industries making and installing the equipment, with the intention that with the increasing size of the industries, economies of scale and experience will reduce the costs over time, allowing the FiT rates to be steadily reduced to zero over time (the scheme runs from 2010 to 2019). The money for the FiTs comes from electricity bills, rather than out of general or specific taxation.

    As far as I can tell, the FiT scheme for small-scale wind, solar and other renewables together now costs around £1000m/yr, which is less than £20 per household with a matching contribution from non-domestic consumers. Of course this money could have been spent on the NHS, as could any other sum of money you can point to in the economy, such as the £1600m/yr spent on facial cosmetics, for example. But why should there be a choice? Each use of money should be decided on its merits. The FiTs help create a clean energy future, where the reduced air pollution from the reduced burning of stuff helps improve general health, lessening the burden on the NHS and the need to pay Disability Benefits, as well as reducing our energy imports.

    (4) Subsidies.
    2015 General Election…bring them down won.
    I’d say it was a factor for less than 1% of voters, and they would be Conservative voters already. I’d bet there were more voters exercised by bringing back fox-hunting or grammar schools than cared significantly about renewable subsidies.

    in America, the more anti-wind of the two parties won decisively.
    Ironically, most wind power in the US is in the mid-west, esp Texas, which is mostly Republican territory, which is why the federal tax support for wind (and solar) ended up being untouched in the two budgets since Trump’s election.

    Subsidies for wind farms are NOT an election winner.
    Given the overwhelming public support in the UK for renewables generally and onshore wind in particular, discussed above, the only way I find that a believable proposition is in the sense that most voters don’t care about the topic enough to translate their support for wind power into their voting.

    ‘subsidy junkies’…businesses based on…government support funding.
    What do you think of the subsidy dependence of nuclear power then, which should be a mature technology after more than half a century and uncounted billions of subsidies already? Hinkley Point C is only going ahead because the UK government has promised that British electricity bill payers will pay EDF, a company owned by a foreign government, a larger subsidy than is to be paid to offshore wind farms built in the same timeframe, even though offshore wind is only 15yr old.

    I’m personally not in favour of my tax…fund wind energy companies.
    It comes from your electricity bill, so you might like to minimise this, by improving your energy efficiency, eg by fitting LED bulbs, etc, and fitting solar panels to your roof to reduce the amount of electricity you need to buy in. You’re unlikely to live in a home that would benefit from installing a micro wind turbine [grin].

    (5) Corporate Not Community … Control
    Would I feel better about wind farms being community-owned? … 500% better.
    [starts grinning again] Great. Here’s a suggestion for your next road-trip holiday:
    * Duckmanton, near Chesterfield – a 500 kW EWT turbine on former colliery land, owned by Four Winds Energy Cooperative
    * Shafton, near Barnsley – another 500 kW EWT turbine on former colliery land, also owned by Four Winds Energy Cooperative
    * Haverigg, near Millom, Cumbria – a 600 kW Wind World turbine on a disused airfield, owned by Baywind Energy Co-operative; this is an early modern turbine, and the first in the UK to be owned cooperatively
    * Harlock Hill, Cumbria – a pair of large, 2.3 MW Enercon E70 turbines, erected just last year (ie, receiving low FiT rates) on a site previously used as a community wind farm, by High Winds Community Energy Co-operative
    * Watchfield, near Swindon, Wilts – five Siemens turbines owned by The Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative since 2008; now has a co-located community-owned solar farm
    * Kellybank, Wemyss Bay, Scotland – a pair of 100 kW Norvento nED100 turbines, owned by Small Wind Co-operative
    * Troed y Bryn, Ceredigion – a 180 kW Vestas V27 turbine, also owned by Small Wind Co-operative
    and others owned by Dingwall Wind Co-operative (in Dingwall, Scotland), Wester Derry Wind Co-operative (in Angus, Scotland), Heartland Community Wind (in Aberfeldy, Scotland), Fetlar Community Wind (in Shetland) and many more.

    (6) I put it to you that they have not been doing what the government and society want.
    See series of surveys discussed above which shows they have.

    Why would the government cut the subsidies were the wind companies providing a service they wanted?
    In the early years of this decade, the government set an arbitrary limit on the total subsidies for renewables, but the renewables industries were more successful more quickly than expected, such that the total support scheme costs threatened to breach the limit. The government chose to reduce the support rates faster and less smoothly than intended, rather than raise the limit.

    David Cameron acknowledged the public had become ‘fed up’ with wind farms.
    The above-discussed series of surveys show that the level of general-public support for onshore wind has not fallen in the last five years that it has been polled, and remains overwhelming.

    This level of general-public support is the ‘social licence’ that could be used to justify wind power and other renewables and their support schemes, and why I think you have a lot of persuading to do to change the situation. And is why I suggest that you need to develop a compelling vision of a better alternative as part of that persuasion campaign.


    The flaw with the opinion poll is that it doesn’t show how support for wind farms drops the nearer you get to them, so sure, lots of metropolitan respondents who never seem them day-to-day will no doubt say they approve of “clean, green energy”, But as you get nearer you find levels of protest rise. So I would say more people like the abstract concept of wind turbines rather than the reality of living near them..

    I would also say that the polls don’t show the intensity of feeling, so maybe more people only casually, half-heartedly like the idea of wind power (or tell an interviewer that they do), but those who oppose specific turbine developments will have much stronger, deeper feelings, and will be more committed and motivated to pursue their case in real life, not just in an opinion poll. OK, there are a few committed pro-wind campaigners, but looking at the wind farms near me that have aroused my interest in the topic – the real strength of feeling is always more anti than pro. This is absolutely the case with the Scout Moor expansion, Rooley Moor (rejected), Gorpley (rejected), Todmorden, Crook HIll, Carsington Pastures, Knabbs Ridge and Hook Moor wind farms. It’s also the case in every other wind farm proposal where the council has rejected the scheme only for it to be overturned.

    Bear in mind it only takes a single Planning Inspector to overrule a rejection and allow a wind farm, whereas councils have to vote as a group. (You’ll maybe notice I left Ovenden Moor out of the above list, even though I personally hate the place, I do not deny that Calderdale Council approved it, and therefore at least a group of local representatives sat down and came to the joint decision to approve it. To me, there’s a difference there. Local people have decided they feel it’s best for their community. Although I disagree, I respect the process that led to this decision.

    You have provided so much great factual evidence of good things about wind turbines Phil. which is fantastic, but you’ve still not come up with a definitive explanation for what it is about wind turbines that has such a negative impact on my mood (and clearly many other people’s, see this photo from today’s news-feed: http://www.peak-productions.co.uk/windcartoon.jpg)?

    In some people, wind turbines trigger a very strongly negative physiological and psychological reaction. They de-energise us and makes us feel unhealthy and adversely affected by their presence. People calling us NIMBYs or insulting us (not you, for which I’m truly grateful…at least you seem interested to engage and understand!) is merely simplistic name-calling and victim-blaming, and doesn’t actually begin to address the nature of so many people’s bad reactions to them.

    Nothing sticks in the craw more than when someone who’s never even heard of a “nacelle” glibly writes off our concerns or calls us stupid or narrow-minded simply for expressing that wind turbines adversely affect our mental state. People have every right to disagree with our opinions, sure, but they are factually wrong if they think our opinions haven’t been thought-through, or we are making things up, or if they don’t acknowledge the hours and hours of research and study most anti-wind campaigners have carried out to understand what on earth is going on. Our feelings of discomfort are not merely “back of a fag packet” prejudices, they run much deeper and are much more substantial, even if not always logically sound in how they are expressed (hence the need for dialectic, to systematically work through the points made, one by one, to see which ones hold water).

    If wind turbines are as good as you make them sound – and by God, you do make a GREAT case for them! – then what do you think it it is about them that has such a strong negative impact on so many people, consistently, nay SUSTAINABLY, with every scheme proposed, and all across the world?

    It’s good to rule out the factual untruths from my diagnosis of the problem, but the fact remains that for many, many of us we get a very bad physiological reaction from wind turbines and SOMETHING must be causing it. Bear in mind of the millions of words I’ve written in this blog, not to mention all the other anti-wind blogs such as Stop These Things and Mothers Against Wind Turbines. I’m not being paid a penny so have no ulterior motive other than to log this worldwide issue that I too suffer from, and to try to resolve it. The issue being: “when we encounter wind turbines, it negatively affects our mental health and well-being. WHY????”

    Knowing that it does, shouldn’t we research what could be causing this reaction? Wouldn’t that be in the wind developers’ best interests? To understand what causes opposition to their schemes and to work to improve the product so that fewer people have reason to complain? Why is it that wind power seems to be getting ever more unpopular, not more popular?


    I’ve addressed this in the blog. I don’t think consciously many people would shout “wind turbines!” as their number one political issue, but I think subconsciously and as part of a wider cultural interpretation, wind turbines do tend to represent in many people’s minds the EU (maybe because of EU climate change directives), or in Scotland the SNP. Why did the Scottish Tories do so well, especially in Southern Scotland? “Because the SNP don’t listen” is an answer you find frequently. The SNP has also plastered loads and loads of unpopular turbines across Southern Scotland (see my entry for some real-life comments from Scottish residents). Here in the Pennines, there are a few noteable islands of blue surrounded by the red urban areas. Areas like Calderdale and Rossendale that also host the wind farms.

    I’m not claiming causality, that the wind farms directly change how people vote. What I am claiming is some kind of correlation – those parties that win General Elections seem to be those that are the least gung-ho about wind power.

    “Given the overwhelming public support in the UK for renewables generally and onshore wind in particular, discussed above, the only way I find that a believable proposition is in the sense that most voters don’t care about the topic enough to translate their support for wind power into their voting.”

    Sorry Phil, I think this is the first time in all your posts that you’ve said something I find factually debatable. I simply do not see any tangible evidence at all of support for onshore wind in Britain, far from it, other than in very vague, low-intensity, abstract opinion polls on the internet, not in terms of large, populist, pro-wind support movements within local communities. In fact I see the opposite (David Cameron’s quote…) The reality is that the government has effectively banned onshore wind farms in England. Unless they were ideologically opposed to wind power, why would they risk alienating so many voters by pulling the plug on something they want, like and need?

    Having disagreed with you above, I 100% agree about the need, and responsibility for each of us, to minimise our electricity usage and bring the total amount we use down as much as possible. The danger with relying on wind farms, and maybe why they have the level of popularity you claim they do, is that it’s quite an easy way of virtue-signalling without fundamentally addressing the root of the problem. “Oh it’s OK, I can leave my lights on all day, it’s fine, I support wind turbines and their clean, green energy, so I’ve done my bit, I can get on with my life…” I exaggerate for effect but hopefully you get the point. The danger is we simply carry on with our wasteful, consumerist lifestyles, albeit releasing less CO2 into the air, but losing our natural spaces in the process. Not the world I want to live in! I want to protect the uplands for future generations. Nature is more important than electricity in the long run. Obviously we live in the real world, I’m typing on a computer…but all in all I think energy effiiiency is something I totally agree we should all be striving to achieve.

    “and why I think you have a lot of persuading to do to change the situation”.

    With respect, bearing in mind I have more or less got the policy I want from the government now, who do I need to persuade that we don’t need any new wind farms in the UK? The SNP maybe, and clearly the Green Party. I don’t even expect the Greens to drop their support for wind power, but at least a glimmer of emotional reaction to the degradation of our upland landscapes would be a start!

    I do need to persuade people to closely monitor the turbines we have, to ensure they comply with their claims and that they don’t hurt anyone. But if anyone needs to persuade anyone of anything, right now I’d say it’s the wind developers who have to persuade the government and the public of the need for their product, because right now, in England at least, people aren’t buying it any more. They could do with more like you Phil, and less like Vickram Mirchandani of Coronation Power, who was run out of town by the locals!

    “And is why I suggest that you need to develop a compelling vision of a better alternative as part of that persuasion campaign.”

    Not necessarily, there is a role in society for purely exposing the flaws in a product, as long as the public balance the negatives with equal and opposing positives (hence me promoting your comments here, to provide that balance). My role so far has been as a journalist and blogger, highlighting the negative impacts wind turbines have had on my own sense of well-being, along with several other people who feel exactly the same. Simply giving more voice to these people’s feelings is a socially good thing to do, I feel. Now, were I a politician or someone who works in the industry, I may indeed go forward with more positive solutions and compelling visions.

    Here’s the best I can do though Phil. Here’s 10 wind farms. How could we rank them? If I asked you to rate the value of each of these and to rank them from best to worst, how would you go about evaluating them?


    Whatever criteria we judge them on, my goal is the improvement of the bottom five wind farms on the list, with a Service Level Agreement of what we expect to be a satisfactory performance. Should they underperform, they should have the option of remedial action, or alternatively they should be decommissioned. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: get rid of the bad apples and that will improve people’s perceptions of the good ones.

    In a way, the “compelling vision” thing might be part of the problem – because in reality things very rarely live up to the hype. True believers in a vision tend to be prone to confirmation bias in which they filter out data that contradicts that vision, We do need believers to innovate and invent, sure, but we also need sceptics and critics to ensure compliance and to drive innovation and product development by highlighting areas in need of improvement.

    If I do have a vision it’s probably, deep down, the same as yours. A clean, green environment to live in. The debate isn’t about whether this is a valid vision, it’s about monitoring the real-life implementation of the vision and providing useful feedback about any issues encountered.

    (From an IT point of view…, we don’t expect praise or compelling visions about the perfect IT network. We just expect feedback when there’s a real-life issue, which we try to resolve and add details to our Knowledge Base. My job in IT is as a troubleshooter rather than a visionary, and I’ve only ever seen problems when people come in with bright ideas that don’t stand up to real-life practice (my five years in the NHS showed me this happen over and over again,.., compelling visions that ultimately cause more harm than good!).

    In the case of clean, green energy, I fully accept the vision, I just call attention to when real-life experience doesn’t match up to it!

    Now, that said, I do have compelling visions about our interactions with the “countryside” (an interesting term worthy of a whole essay….what exactly “is” the countryside?) As I have said in the blog, the National Parks and the Green Belts are the political crystallisations of that vision, so as a troubleshooter my role is to log and resolve any issues that affect the integrity of our National Parks and Green Belts.

    I therefore have the compelling vision of encouraging more research into what it is about wind turbines that impacts on our National Parks and Green Belts (I wouldn’t have been as bothered had their impacts not encroached upon the Peak District, not because it’s “MY” back yard, but because it’s everyone’s!!!!).

    I have the compelling vision of removing any reported cases of turbine torture from people’s lives and restoring the quality of life to its pre-turbine state for everyone whose neighbourhood has become blighted and unpleasant.

    I didn’t draw this cartoon (once again: http://peak-productions.co.uk/windcartoon.jpg), I’ve absolutely no idea who did and what triggered it. But someone did. Showcasing their art is part of my compelling vision – alerting the world to the fact that people are being hurt by these things and are struggling to have their voices heard.

    Above all, my compelling vision is of a world where the tops of hills and mountains, and the pockets of open countryside between towns, are places to energise humans, free, beautiful and wild, open and accessible to everyone, monopolised by no-one. A world where the most honest and clear expression of Green values is one where as a society ensure we keep our countryside GREEN!

    By the way, why on earth are wind turbines painted high-visibility white paint? What is the environmental benefit of this paint? Wouldn’t they have less harmful impact if the garish white paint was removed? Even getting this paint removed would be a small but significant improvement! These are the sort of workable tweaks that I think I can bring to the wind industry, small incremental changes that would all improve the end-user experience.

    Some links from today’s news feed:
    In The Shadow Of Wind Farms: http://gatehousenews.com/windfarms/home/?skipintro=true
    Petition: Stop The Production Tax Credit For Industrial Wind: https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/stop-the-production-tax-credit-for-industrial-wind.html
    Turbine Failure (Germany): https://www.tag24.de/nachrichten/nienburg-stadthagen-schaumburg-windkraftanlage-umgeknickt-windrad-sturm-burglind-412540
    Turbine Failure (France): https://www.ouest-france.fr/pays-de-la-loire/challans-85300/en-images-tempete-carmen-une-eolienne-de-bouin-s-est-ecrasee-au-sol-5480065?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook
    Deforestation In Scotland To Make Way For Wind Farms: https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2018/01/02/huge-areas-of-forest-destroyed-to-make-way-for-7-wind-farms/
    Infrasonic Frequencies: http://www.auniogroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/InfrasoundAunioGroupKauppaSuomiwk342017.jpg


  6. The Public Attitudes Tracker (PAT) series of surveys are conducted by an independent, professional polling company, commissioned by the UK government, from samples of over 2000 people selected at random by postcode, and interviewed in person. 2000 respondents gives a standard deviation accuracy of +/-2%, which is significantly more accurate than the typical political poll run by newspapers. This is precisely why I would put so much more reliance on it than, say, the set of commenters on your Scottish posting, who are a small, self-selected group found over the internet.

    But as you get nearer you find levels of protest rise
    There’s less protest if the turbine(s) is to be community-owned. So some of the protest is to do with the ownership and perception of ownership, rather than the turbine(s) per se.

    the polls don’t show the intensity of feeling
    The PAT surveys do – I’m trying to keep my comments brief, or it’ll become more my blog than yours. These are the approximate figures eyeball-averaged over the 5 yr of the surveys (2012-17). None of the categories shows a statistically significant trend over that time.
    20% strongly support
    47% support
    22% neither support nor oppose, and don’t knows
    8% oppose
    3% strongly oppose
    [My apologies for having misread the last category as 1½% previously.]

    when we encounter wind turbines, it negatively affects our…
    They don’t phase me, nor any of my family or friends, including those that live in rural northeast Wales amidst a number of turbines of various sizes scattered over the surrounding landscape. Indeed from the window of the B&B’s room that we usually stay in when visiting, there’s a picturesque view of a lone turbine on a hill in the near distance, Teletubby-like, which I like watching, and prefer that room for that reason.

    Why is it that wind power seems to be getting ever more unpopular
    The consistency of the PAT surveys over the years shows that the ‘opposed’ & ‘strongly opposed’ percentages have been stable with time. If you’re encountering increasing numbers of strongly anti-wind people, it must be because you’re encountering more members of that 3%, or they are becoming more active & vocal.

    I simply do not see any tangible evidence at all of support for onshore wind
    You could invest the minimum amount in the next wind-energy coop to be set up, and go to its AGMs and meet some of the hundreds of its members who believe in onshore wind enough to take part in building more of it and risking their money to do so. Of course they are making money from their investments, but they could make more, and probably with less risk, by investing in Shell or BP shares; and often/usually they will be giving up some of the money they could make to fund programs of local benefit. You might even be able to attend, as an observer, the AGMs of existing wind-energy coops – the nearest one to you is probably Four Winds. There are dozens of wind-energy coops in the UK, typically with a couple of hundred members each, that have been set up in recent years, so that’s growing numbers, in the thousands, of people who strongly support onshore wind without making their presence felt in public.

    why on earth are wind turbines painted high-visibility white paint?
    I don’t know. Many German ones are painted green at the base fading into white higher up, as are Ecotricity’s 2 turbines at Swaffham, Norfolk, which seems a reasonable compromise. White would be more visible to aircraft for daytime safety, though you identified one application for a grey-painted one.

    rank them in order of most useful to least useful
    Some combination of their capacity and capacity factor, preferably calculated before construction. With bonus points for being sited in a previously-developed area, and for being built on a site where the power’s to be used. Once built, it would be a waste of the expended resources to remove a still-functioning turbine.

    Nature is more important than electricity in the long run.
    If you’re seriously suggesting that the British population should put up with power cuts, and consequent freezing in the dark, in order to preserve British moorland landscapes, then you’re by far the deepest green person I’ve ever encountered.

    who do I need to persuade that we don’t need any new wind farms in the UK?
    Whoever you’re aiming this blog at? As well as expounding your personal reasons, you’ve also tried to corral some objective objections to wind power: some hoary old anti-renewable myths, and some interesting new lines of argument of your own. I’ve tried to show there’s little in these objective objections [thank you for allowing me the extended opportunity to do this, by the way]. But if you’d still like to bolster your personal reasons with objective line(s) of argument, if only as something of more interest for your readers, then I’m suggesting what I see as the most promising way to go. But it is, of course, your blog.

    Simply giving more voice to these people’s feelings is a socially good thing to do
    Sure. But I got the impression you wanted to change things as well, with this blog and in other ways.

    you do make a GREAT case for them
    I’ve not been trying to promote onshore wind, rather to explain why I think it’s the least-expensive, but second-worst, option for coping with the inevitable, and thus why there’s likely to be substantially more of it.


  7. (1) Wind turbines affect some people, not others

    I realise they don’t affect everyone, but they do affect some people drastically, this is undeniable. I’ve linked to dozens if not hundreds of articles by people who perceive wind turbines to have a negative impact on them. It’s unrealistic to deny that there are several people negatively impacted by wind turbines, for whatever reason. I’m interested in looking into these reasons. If someone says “I am suffering” I believe them, in the same way that if someone at work says their computer is broken, I believe them! Now the root cause maybe not be what they think it is, or it may even be something they’re doing wrong (which would be someone else’s fault really, for not adequately training them). Ultimately though, we never ever blame the client for any negative impact the computer system has on them.

    It is a scientific fact that lots of people really, really do not like wind farms (over 2,000 members from all around the world in one of the activist groups I’m part of). Do you have any possible explanations why we feel this way? I have lots, which I’ve thrown out there to be discussed. There are the obvious things such as degradation of the countryside, corporatisation of open access common land etc, but there are others which might or might not be accurate, and are definitely worthy of further study. Eg infrasonic sound, shadow flicker, seasickness, epilepsy, migraines…who knows? I’ve testified in an entry that I came close to vomiting next to Todmorden Wind Farm, and had I actually thrown up I would have photographed it as evidence!

    It would be equally wrong for me to say they affect everybody as it would were you to say they affect nobody. As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle, with no simple Yes/No answer. SOME wind farms affect SOME people. So which turbines affect which people, in which way, and what could be the cause? If you look at my blog in the context of me trying to log and resolve this widespread issue which has affected me too, and persuading people of the strength of bad feelings wind turbines can cause being its original objective. Obviously as more people have read and engaged with my correspondence, I’ve reached out and taken the dialogue further. But it is a scientific fact that wind turbines negatively affect my mood and sense of well-being, with no prior bias against them, only in favour of them (right up until 2014). What do you think it is about wind turbines that drove me to post so many words, bearing in mind I have no hidden agenda of any sort, what you see is what you get. Why do you think I don’t like them? Why did that cartoonist draw them as instruments of Death? Why do so many of us hate them Phil? What do you think is the real reason we are affected negatively by wind turbines?

    This is where YOU need a compelling vision Phil! Wind turbine advocates need to demonstrate real understanding of the adverse reactions to their products, and they need to come up with some solutions that reassure the opponents. You don’t do a bad job personally, but the industry itself needs to be more receptive to the fact that there are several people round the world who have a bad reaction to wind turbines. Even if they were to say, “Wind turbines have all these great qualities, but unfortunately they have these side effects on certain individuals.”, that’d be reality.

    Once we’re all agreed on the fact that wind schemes are almost always opposed strongly by a sizeable and vocal contingent of the electorate, which I think the UK government is now, we can start looking into the issue of what’s upsetting them a bit more deeply. But whatever it is about wind turbines that triggers us, it is a real-life issue, I passed several on the road yesterday, with this blog in mind, and I still had the negative impact on passing them. Words and explanations don’t take away the physiological reaction I still have to these machines. they literally make me feel like my very life force is being sucked out of me, and I still don’t know why! I wish someone, somewhere would be able to explain it. All I can hope for at the moment is to be listened to and understood.

    Let me break it down as simply as possible. Imagine two identical hills. One gets a wind turbine stuck on top, the other doesn’t. Now those hills are no longer identical. I personally, and those like me, would find the hill with the turbine on it has now been degraded and made less pleasant than the hill with no turbine, and I would no longer visit the hill with the turbine on it by choice. More than that, I would proactively try and avoid it. This means the countryside is now divided into blighted (negative quality) areas and unblighted (positive quality) areas. Instead of having say a dozen hills to choose from to get my leisure, recreation and exercise and a general sense of positivity, now I might only have six (the view of wind turbines has a negative impact on adjacent hills). Worst of all, if I lived in an area where there was only one or two undeveloped green spaces nearby, the erection of a single badly located turbine could literally remove all areas of unspoilt natural beauty from an entire district.

    The wind turbine at Jaytail Farm near Silsden is one such badly located turbine (thank you Brendan Lyons of the Planning Inspectorate, based down in Bristol, for knowing better than Bradford Council what’s good for the Green Belt around Keighley. Thank you for wrecking Ilkley Moor. The people of Yorkshire are really grateful to you!) The truth is, a vast area of countryside has been degraded by this single, intrusive and inappropriate turbine.

    I mentioned ranking wind farms…we could also rank areas of countryside, on a number of criteria. The introduction of a wind farm into a landscape has a clear and mathematically proven impact on the desirability of that area, compared to an equivalent landscape with no wind turbines. To me this is a logical no-brainer, and even the Environmental Impact Assessments required as part of the planning process concede the impact of wind farms as “Negative”, or at best “Neutral”. I have literally never seen a single EIA that describes a wind farm as having a “Positive” impact on a landscape.

    So it is very easy to calibrate the impact of a wind farm on a landscape, and to admit that the same landscape without a wind farm would score more highly than with it. Thus the problems occur when a local council, eg Derbyshire Dales, says the impact of Carsington Pastures wind farm, barely a mile from the edge of the Peak District, is unacceptable to them, but then a lone Planning Inspector like Mr Robin Brooks has the power to say, “Nonsense! People visiting the Peak will barely even notice it.” The weighting of Mr Brooks’ opinion over the Council’s decision is arbitary and unfair I feel, and it really does appear that this weighting has shifted back in favour of local communities. That makes sense to me, it seems pragmatic, logical and ethical.

    When I look at the schemes I’ve been involved with, the support for the proposals is conspicuous by its absence in the community, Rooley Moor, Gorpley. Scout Moor expansion. Crook Hill. I could introduce you to dozens of people who have their own reasons for opposing these schemes. I’d barely be able to introduce to a single supporter of each. That’s just my real-life experience. (For example in a Residents’ Meeting at a crowded church hall in Rochdale, not even specifically about the wind farm proposal, when there was a show of hands amongst residents for who supported the Rooley Moor wind farm, not a single person raised their hands). Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale, even launched a “Not On Our Hills” petition against the Scout Moor expansion, which got 1,000 signatures. It was claimed by Jake that 97% of all respondents were negative towards Scout Moor expansion. Hook Moor near Leeds was rejected THREE TIMES before approval. Crook Hill was even opposed by the LibDem MP of the time Paul Rowan (the LibDems being incredibly pro-wind power as I’m sure you’re aware!).

    I’m almost tempted to say: “Fine, go ahead and believe the opinion polls if you really want!” But because I respect you Phil and want your understanding of the world to be accurate, I will say this, don’t be complacent. Don’t think that just because a poll informed you people like wind farms, that’s a true and up-to-date reflection of reality and that won’t change, or hasn’t already. My real-life experiences lead me to believe the opposite. I think the wind industry is in denial if it doesn’t acknowledge the strength of opposition against wind farms, and as I want the industry transformed, or at least the bad apples removed, I don’t mind personally if wind companies react too slowly to the increasing opposition that will only do them harm if they fail to acknowledge it. I believe that 100%. Industries and businesses go belly-up when they ignore customer feedback and continue to think they’re more popular than they really are.

    (2) Ranking Wind Farms

    “Some combination of their capacity and capacity factor, preferably calculated before construction. With bonus points for being sited in a previously-developed area, and for being built on a site where the power’s to be used. Once built, it would be a waste of the expended resources to remove a still-functioning turbine.”

    Yes good points. I’d also get feedback from the community. How has it affected you? If opinion polls are to be used as an indicator of popularity, then let’s get some opinion polls done on a more local basis. It’s not that polls are untrustworthy, it’s just down to the questions and methodology used. Asking random people what they think of something abstract will throw up different results from asking a specific community what it thinks of a specific project. Any wind farms that are outstandingly unpopular, or have very bad capacity factors, would need remedial action.

    (3) Nature is more important than electricity in the long run.

    “If you’re seriously suggesting that the British population should put up with power cuts, and consequent freezing in the dark, in order to preserve British moorland landscapes, then you’re by far the deepest green person I’ve ever encountered.”

    I feel the moorlands are the very last places I want to see transformed into places of power generation. It should be done as minimally and sparingly as possible, literally as few wind farms as we can possibly get by with. I think we’ve already hit upon the root of the problem here, the old system in which the whole of England was basically a free-for-all for prospective wind developers to tout their wares, then the communities would say no, only for the Planning Inspectors overturn them. I’d rather see local communities draw up areas where wind development is acceptable to them, preferably as small areas as possible, and then say no to everywhere else. Again, method and implementation has been the problem. The sheer volume of successful planning appeals says there has been a mismatch between what local councils want and what the planners have wanted. This has changed though, in my direction! So I’m reasonably happy now.

    (4) Debunking Anti-Renewables Myths

    “who do I need to persuade that we don’t need any new wind farms in the UK?
    Whoever you’re aiming this blog at? As well as expounding your personal reasons, you’ve also tried to corral some objective objections to wind power: some hoary old anti-renewable myths, and some interesting new lines of argument of your own. I’ve tried to show there’s little in these objective objections [thank you for allowing me the extended opportunity to do this, by the way]. But if you’d still like to bolster your personal reasons with objective line(s) of argument, if only as something of more interest for your readers, then I’m suggesting what I see as the most promising way to go. But it is, of course, your blog.”

    You’ve done a great job Phil, you’ve transformed the blog for the better. I hope this proves the truth is more important to me than any anti-wind dogma on my part. It’s also a blog about the role of discourse and decision-making in terms of Policy & Impact, aimed at those who maybe didn’t even realise there were two sides to the wind debate. Regarding the accusations I’ve thrown at wind energy, sure, I’m the first to admit they won’t all hold water, but in all IT troubleshooting we start with the basics and then gradually get more complicated. Is it plugged in? Have you turned it on? Were you able to log in? We’ve started with the old chestnuts and then gradually refined our questions to more complicated stuff.

    You’ve definitely helped me rule out most of the basic conceptual arguments against wind power for being the trigger to the negative reaction I have towards wind turbines. I had to ask, even if simply to rule them out. So what are we left with? Something about how the wind turbines operate, whether it be the look, the sound or the motion, or a toxic combination of all elements. Do some affect me worse than others? It can depend on the weather, and the proximity to the turbines, plus how long we are in their presence. Off the top of my head, the area around Todmorden, Reaps Moss and Crook Hill wind farms routinely makes me feel nauseous. The turbines near Sheffield/Rotherham visible from the M1 are very bad triggers. Ovenden Moor is bad. If, in the name of research, I had to pick a wind farm that doesn’t affect me too badly, well Knabbs Ridge near Harrogate is relatively inoffensive (despite losing a turbine in a fire this time last year!). I’d have to do more detailed research and analysis to say for sure though..

    In summary, to me it’s quite good and interesting that we’ve been able to refute some of the more simplistic accusations against wind, because it means that whatever IS causing the bad reaction is clearly more complicated and worthy of investigation. The mystery is only increased by ruling out the false causes. The best thing turbine proponents could do would be to work with victims, with good intentions and mutual respect on all sides, to really get some objective truth on this matter. A more receptive approach from wind companies to the unintended consequences of their products would be helpful, and I would love to be involved in this research. In turn, I would be happy to concede that, done well, wind “can” work.

    In terms of keeping a record of wind energy’s impacts locally, well I’ve managed to capture two faulty turbines in one village, both having lost blades within seven weeks. Even assuming everything you’ve said about wind power is true, a wind turbine without blades won’t be producing a single watt of renewable energy! Especially if the turbine maker is now bust. Two going down in one village over a couple of months isn’t a great advert for the sustainability of wind turbines.

    (5) More Wind Power?
    “I’ve not been trying to promote onshore wind, rather to explain why I think it’s the least-expensive, but second-worst, option for coping with the inevitable, and thus why there’s likely to be substantially more of it.”

    Really? Not in England, over the next five years, anyway! Not near me, anyway, if I can help it, unless I am persuaded that it’s in my interests to support any such schemes. If it is the case that there will be more onshore wind power in England, there will be more people experiencing negative impacts from wind turbines, more division within local communities, more opposition from residents, more anti-wind art and culture. It will certainly give fodder for more blogging, that’s for sure!

    Final comment: Phil, you’ve been a great sport and have personally contributed to shifting my stance, from the moment you joined the debate. My position is now to drop any attacks on wind power for “not working”. Other people will still pursue this line of attack, not me. You’ve persuaded me that wind power can work, albeit not the best solution, but it’s not intrinsically an out and out scam, sure.

    I can now formulate a new synthesis: yes, wind turbines do generate a certain amount of CO2-free electricity, but unfortunately in the process, something about their operation triggers an adverse reaction in several people’s mental health and well-being. Possibly even (at a lower rate) everyone’s.

    That’s where I’m at now, which is significantly different from where I was when I started the blog, only a few months ago.

    The power of dialectic in action 🙂


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