It’s a very hot evening and I’m on official business in Paris for the week. The Moulin Rouge is just a few doors down: an archetype for my previously touted Turbine Traffic Light Scheme, with underperforming wind turbines compulsorily painted red as a demonstration of their proven uselessness. Maybe, however, red is too sexy a colour to use as code for condemned wind turbines (those that should never have been built in the first place). Maybe black is more fitting, more symbolic of death.
I had a fascinating flight over much of England (from Leeds to Eastbourne), then barely a few minutes later into France and the gradual descent to Paris Charles De Gaulle. From what I could see out of the plane window, Northern France seems to have had more than its fair share of wind blight – it really is popular on the continent, isn’t it? I was hoping to see Rampion from the air, but alas my window was looking out in the other direction.
No real overriding topic today, just a catchup on the various different wind-related conversations I’ve been having these last few weeks!
In a classic “meta” social media exchange the other day, I came across yet another commenter using the word “majestic”, and so I pointed them to the article I’d already written just a few weeks ago debunking the use of this stupid term to describe wind blight. I ended up getting stuck right into a fascinating dialogue, once again. I really do enjoy debating wind power with its supporters, and once we get past the “comedy” insults, we can usually settle down into a robust discourse.
Yet again part of 10:10 Climate Action’s continued (and doomed) campaign for the resurgence of rigged planning policies in favour of wind turbines, against the wishes of those communities who’d have to host them (in 2015 the Conservatives swung the balance of power back to local communities…yes, really!), this debate saw the usual fantasists mixed in with a healthy number of realists. I’m never the only one in a group to criticise wind power, there’s always a fair few of us (many from the fields of engineering and science).
Did anyone say anything that really got through to me and helped me see things differently? Well, nobody was able to defend the aesthetics of wind turbines, other than the usual “it’s subjective” crap, which I was able to refute immediately by pointing out that our planning policy is not, never was, and never will be “subjective” – justice under the law is by its very nature objective and therefore fair to everyone.
Up until 2015 the law presumed in favour of renewable energy development, resulting in vast numbers of successful appeals despite local communities saying “no”; since the changes the law now presumes in favour of those NIMBYs like me (bearing in mind as I’ve said before: my back yard is your back yard; mi casa su casa!). Subjectivity doesn’t come into it; how do we as a society objectively view the aesthetic impact of wind turbines? Mercifully, right now, we officially view them as unwanted blight. But it could change again in the future, if the likes of 10:10 and Ben & Jerry’s have their way.
Ben & Jerry’s? The ice cream people? Yup. For some reason a bunch of Californian hippies (I’m guessing) seem to feel it’s their duty to stick their oar into whether we allow wind turbines on appeal in the Fens and the Wolds. This is yet another company promulgating the use of wind turbines. WHY??? Maybe they’d be better off sorting out the problems of the dairy industry rather than interfering in matters which have got nothing whatsoever to do with them. I’ve given Ben & Jerry a piece of my mind, anyway. I’m sure they appreciate my customer feedback 😉
On my “Remove All Wind Blight” YouTube channel, somebody came along and started calling me rude names, so I bantered with them and tried to up the standard of debate to a point where it actually becomes interesting and useful for the general public. Name-calling is fine for the opening attack, but you do actually need some empathy towards the person you’re debating, otherwise it merely ends up alienating the public. A great public debate is absolutely not about hurting or upsetting your opponent, indeed it’s not really even about changing their mind… it’s about persuading the audience as a whole to reconsider its own assumptions about the world we live in.
Once again I was asked “What would YOU do, instead of wind power?” My answer has involved analysing the mix of the National Grid over the last few weeks, a habit I now find quite compulsive. You can study it yourself. Here, have a look…
My first observation is that wind is currently providing around 11% of the UK’s power needs, feeding a total of 4.05GW into the grid. However last week, wind was barely providing 3% of our power. What this tells us is that the amount of power generated by wind turbines is highly erratic, ranging from almost zero to a good 10% of the UK’s overall power supply. In fact, today’s figure of 11% is the highest I’ve seen it. Woopy Doo!
My next query is to break down that 11%, that 4.05GW, and see if it’s possible to find out exactly which turbines contributed most to that total? Taking this research further, I’d love to look at the total output of every single wind farm ever constructed in Britain, and I’d love to see if there are some turbines that have genuinely done their owners proud. Conversely, I’d love to know if there are some freeloading turbines that do buggerall but try and nab some of the glory.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the bad wind turbines spoil the reputation of the good ones. Let’s root out the underperformers, and I for one will give more credit to the genuine high achievers.
In an ideal world I’d rather see that 4.05GW of our energy generated from other sources that don’t have as much negative impact upon our landscapes as wind power does, gigawatt per gigawatt. I’d be happy with a mass cull of our lowest-performing 75% of wind farms, and instead of relying so much upon the wind, we simply ramp up the contributions made by our other key energy sources: nuclear and CCGT. Bearing in mind nuclear is already generating of 7.33 GW, and CCGT a whopping 16.45GW, would it really take that much innovation or investment to bump those figures up by a couple of GW each, thus removing the need for wind power altogether?
What would the implications be of replacing all (or the vast majority) of our wind turbines with just enough additional nuclear and CCGT capacity to cover the shortfall?
How can it be Green to have an entire industry and infrastructure, blighting pretty much every county in the UK, unable to provide much more than a tenth (at most) of our energy supply?
WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO OURSELVES???
Safely back in the UK after a frenetic few days in sweltering Central Paris, I’m continuing to monitor the state of the National Grid, and the 11% high point from a few days really does seem like an unsustainable spike in wind’s output. Remember the definition of “sustainable”: able to be maintained at a constant rate. Well, that 11% sure ain’t sustainable, as right now wind’s contribution is down to a measly 3.86% (that’s 1.37GW). Nuclear is contributing 18.74% (7.08GW) and CCGT 47.02% (17.77GW).
The biggest downside with nuclear power is the safety factor, but exactly how much greater is the risk of generating an additional 1.4GW to the 7GW nuclear power already provides for us? It’s that M62 analogy again: adding a couple more lanes to an existing six-lane highway is clearly nowhere as near as destructive as building eight brand new single-lane routes across the moors.
The more I gaze upon the National Grid status in real-time, the more convinced I am that wind power is nothing but a parasite, an almost entirely worthless addition to our power mix that AT BEST can possibly save a thimbleful of CO2 emissions. The fact is, literally one or two more nuclear and CCGT power stations could vastly outperform wind with little or no extra risk or pollution than we already have.
I cannot get my head around how on earth we ended up going down the wind power route.
Never in the field of human endeavour has so much been squandered, for so many, to generate so little, for so few.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS??? [several links that prove the absolute idiocy of promoting wind turbines]