Calculating The Real Cost of Industrial Wind Power

Friends of Arran Lake Wind Action Group Bruce County, Ontario


Compiled by
Keith Stelling, MA (McMaster), MNIMH, Dip. Phyt., MCPP (England)
November, 2007


1.0 The history of human technological innovation is littered with projects that have had to be abandoned because they were based on a narrow theoretical view that failed to take into account the whole picture. The commercial exploitation of wind energy is fast showing signs of such failure.

The last ten years in Europe has provided ample opportunity to evaluate the real costs and claimed benefits of industrial wind turbines based on actual operating statistics.

· Studies by public electricity distributors now challenge the very assumption upon which the ecological value of commercial wind power is based: that it reduces carbon emissions.

· Energy experts report that industrial wind power is proving to be exceptionally expensive to consumers once required backup and additional infrastructure are factored in. The high cost is caused by
(a) the need to maintain backup generating reserve to cover times when the wind does not blow.
(b) The need to stabilize the grid when wind produces power that is not needed by current demand.
(c) Government subsidization and tax benefits for the wind industry.

· New studies show that the perceived benign environmental footprint of the industrial wind turbine does not correspond with the latest field studies of effects are being provoked by wind turbine installations.

In the United States, Senator Lamar Alexander put it bluntly when introducing his Envirnonmentally Responsible Wind Power Act of 2005:

“My studies suggest that at a time when America needs large amounts of low-cost reliable power, wind produces puny amounts of high-cost unreliable power. We need lower prices; wind power raises prices.”

In Ontario, – Tom Adams, formerly of Energy Probe, wrote in the National Post on 20 November, 2007:

“Without radical technological advances, wind power will only burden Ontario consumers.”

Read the full pdf report

5 Responses to “Calculating The Real Cost of Industrial Wind Power”

  1. ron m Says:

    Ideally we should conserve as much as we can before building new power plants of any kind. Reality is growth requires new power generation to be built.

    The EU has quantified costs of different power sources, including environmental and health costs.

    The anti-nuke environmentalists and fruit fly breeders tell us that wind can replace nuclear. In Ontario, that would require installing 4 times the power generation capacity on account of the intermittency of wind and also a means to store the energy. Costs make such a plan unfeasible. Practice is to back up wind with gas or coal power generation.

    How does backing up 25% efficient wind with gas power plants compare to nuclear power? Based on the EC study considering various technologies for emission controls and natural gas generation, e.g. combined cycle and CHP.
    • a wind-gas energy mix (25%-75%) would have a total social, environmental and avoidance cost of 0.88 Euro cents per kW-hr.
    • a nuclear energy supply would have a total social, environmental and avoidance cost of 0.25 Euro cents per kW-hr.

    Using the EC numbers, assuming an annual base load of 100 TW-hrs, Nuclear would save Ontario $600 million annually in social, environmental and avoidance costs vs. wind backed up by gas AND another $1700 million annually in financial costs.

    Meanwhile Ontario’s Energy Minister Dwight Duncan has issued a directive to reduce base load nuclear generation with a wind-gas energy mix.

    External Costs-Research results on socio-environmental damages due to electricity and transport – EUROPEAN COMMISSION 2003

    Click to access externpr.pdf

  2. David Says:

    The automotive industry is moving toward battery operated vehicles. This means that mass production of high energy density Li-ion battery packs will soon be readily available at an affordable cost. Storage of wind energy in such a medium will revolutionalize this market.

  3. Black Sheep Says:

    The theory would be …we’ll convert cars to electrical…recharge batteries during low demand…ie night time….

    Now lets say we have 1 million battery powered vehicles in the GTA.
    We have to generate the power somewhere and transmit the power to the GTA.
    The grid must operate within a very tight band of voltage and frequency or the lights go out.

    Wind power is variable. During peak power demand times during the hot summer lulls wind power generation can fall to ZERO in southwestern Ontario.

    Will the batteries feed back into the electrical distribution system. NOT!!!!
    I don’t see how all these batteries installed in vehicles will be providing storage capacity for electrical energy generation.

    The Ontario energy plan is to back-up 30% efficient wind power with natural gas power plants. So we aren’t recharging batteries with wind power. We are recharging batteries with mostly gas generated power, power that has to transmitted over long distances resulting in power losses along the way.

    Extra power generation will be needed to be installed and transmission built to back up wind unless the boss is going to say. OK Bub. Take the next few days off until your car batter recharges and you can make it to work!

    Have we solved problem of wind variability with car batteries? I don’t see how.

    Meanwhile Ontario’s nukes get backed down at night time. Nukes aren’t dependent on the wind. They don’t need storage. They can be used to re-charge car batteries.

    We still haven’t made a case for building low variable efficient power producing wind farms.

  4. Don McPhee Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with the preceding statement and can only add that the need to “reduce our carbon footprint” is based on faulty science, misinformation, and downright lies. In a nutshell man-made climate change is a crock. The elected nitwits in Chatham-Kent, (Home of the most depressed property values in South-Western Ontario have committed us to a study to see if they can further depress our properties by erectin a wind farm here. Rest assured I will be using the information here to help fight against such folly.

  5. Don McPhee Says:

    I apologize to all for notincluding this, but I have learned that Italy is reducing its reliance on wind power and building something in the order of 44 coal fired generating plants.

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