When Did Energy Become the Enemy

By Alan Caruba

One of the most curious and, frankly, frightening aspects of environmentalism is its hatred of the use of energy. One can draw a straight line between the Carter administration that imposed a windfall tax on the U.S. oil industry and the present Obama administration that is all for offshore oil drilling just as long as it takes place in Brazil, not America.

There is, in fact, offshore oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly near Florida. The problem is that it is being undertaken by China and Russia.

In America, Ken Salazar, Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, is likely to slow offshore development, but it should be noted that 85% of the nation’s continental shelf has long been under a ban against exploration and development, and was throughout the eight years of the Bush Administration. The same holds true for vast oil deposits in Alaska’s ANWR area.

Until the 1970s, America’s economy thrived on affordable energy. Fully 85% of all the energy we need and use comes from coal, oil and natural gas. That is not going to change despite all the blather about “renewable energy” sources such as solar or wind. Neither of these has proven to be either reliable or affordable without huge government subsidies wherever they have been tried.

As Seldon B. Graham, Jr. notes in his book, “Why Your Gasoline Prices Are High”, in 1981 a windfall profits tax was imposed, “This tax, in effect, sent U.S.A. Oil’s exploration and drilling budgets straight to the government to spend as it pleased; thereby leaving little or no exploration and drilling budgets for USA Oil.”

The result was “a death notice” to the industry. “Many U.S. oil and gas companies went bankrupt because of the windfall profits tax. Those U.S.A. oil companies which survived were forced to go overseas to explore and drill in foreign countries.”

The result of the windfall profits tax was that it forced “the U.S.A. to defend Middle East oil.” And that, dear reader, is why we are still in the Middle East providing an umbrella of protection, rescuing Kuwait from Iraq, then having to re-invade Iraq, and now faced with a decision to militarily end Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons with which to threaten other Middle East nations.

Graham, with more than fifty years experience in the oil industry, has also been vocal in opposition to yet another idiotic government mandate, the addition of ethanol to every gallon of gasoline drivers must purchase.

Ethanol is touted as another “clean” energy alternative, but Graham notes that even as it reduces the mileage available from each gallon, it also emits more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “Clean biofuel is the big lie”, says Graham. That said, carbon dioxide not only plays no role in “global warming”, but there is no global warming; the Earth being in a cooling cycle for the past ten years.

Just like Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama regards oil, natural gas, and coal as the enemy. Jerome Corsi of World Net Daily recently warned that “President Obama declared war on oil and natural gas at the United Nations global warming summit and he made the same pitch to the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh.”

Obama told the UN, “I will work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge.”

On September 10, Buddy Kleemeir, chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America told a Senate Finance Committee that “The Obama administration’s budget request would strip essential capital from new American natural gas and oil investment by radically raising taxes on American production.”

A recent New York Times article noted that “The oil industry has been on a hot streak this year, thanks to a series of major discoveries…these discoveries, spanning five continents, are the result of hefty investments that began earlier in the decade when oil prices rose…”

First, note that the discoveries are the result of risks taken nearly a decade ago. It takes a long time to find new oil reserves and it requires billions of dollars. Second, note that these discoveries have largely been in other continents.

Third, if U.S. policy deliberately reduces the ability to make those investments by phasing out “fossil fuel subsidies”, it ensures that the nation remains dependent on Middle East and other foreign oil imports. Fourth, it puts the lie to the endless talk of America becoming “energy independent.”

America has been systematically stripped of access to its own interior and offshore energy reserves since the 1970s and at the heart of this conspiracy have been the many environmental organizations that have first secured legislation to enable their obstruction and second to impose, often through the courts, measures that attack, not just energy, but agriculture, timber, and other formerly thriving elements of the nation’s economy.

The destruction of America is moving apace and we have a president who continues to lie about “global warming” in order to further its decline. See post here.

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Dogfight over wind power subsidies

Copenhagen Post Online

The Liberal Party wants to cut state funding for land-based wind turbines in favour of financing biogas, hydrogen and solar cell development. Several parties oppose the idea.

Since 2005, the wind turbine industry has received an average of 1.3 billion kroner in subsidies each year.

Mette Gjerskov, climate and environmental spokeswoman for the Social Democrats, questioned the Liberals’ proclaimed commitment to green energy, describing it as ‘purely bogus’.

She said it was the wrong signal to send such a short time before the COP15 United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen in December.

Social Liberal Party leader Margrethe Vestager criticised the government for abandoning of its support for wind energy.

‘I don’t understand why the Liberals want to phase out subsidies for wind turbines when they are fantastic for both the climate and for the Danish economy,’ Vestager said.

She believed the Liberal Party’s ideological views were superseding environmental considerations.

Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen rejected the criticism, maintaining the Liberal Party was still committed to green energy. He pointed to this week’s opening of the Horns Rev II wind farm – the world’s largest offshore windfarm.

Løkke Rasmussen also said that before the next election, his party would propose how and when the country would become free from fossil fuels.

The government’s ally, the Danish People’s Party, welcomed the proposal, pointing out that the subsidies had cost residents and electric companies billions of kroner.

Party group chairman Kristian Thulesen Dahl said consumers had paid huge additional charges on their electric bills for almost three decades, based on an ideological desire to promote the development of wind turbines.

‘When the current energy agreement expires in 2012, we expect a new agreement will be reached where support for onshore wind turbines is phased out.’

See post here.

Stop the turbines

By J Dwight, Sun Journal

You begin to feel like you’re being used,” a long-time Maine Audubon supporter and state legislator told me about the wind power movement in Maine. “There seems to be no real benefit to the people or communities of Maine.”

What? We are being used? No benefit to the people of Maine? Won’t wind power decrease carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel use, increase employment, while sending millions of dollars to the state government in taxes?

Nope. Nope. Nope. And, well, nope. Here’s why: Not one of those high-minded objectives has been achieved by installation of over 35,000 wind-turbines in Europe.

Why do we think it will work any better here?

For Maine, wind turbines are imported from other states and countries, financed by shadowy hedge funds and private equity firms, and buoyed by national debt financing. If turbine farms were solely privately funded projects, they wouldn’t be so bad.

Instead, they are built on the backs of the taxpayers, to benefit wealthy corporate interests.

There are four subsidies for the wind power industry: 1. direct grants (of which already $1 billion has been awarded this year alone); tax credits (30 percent to developers when the wind farm is ‘turned on’); a subsidy of 13 cents per kilowatt-hour produced from federal government in the form of direct cash payments and carbon offsets; and ‘First in line’ status for every kilowatt-hour produced.

The immense subsidies more than offset any public financial benefit from their existence. So turbines offer the prospect of receiving little or no return, while destroying scenery and killing tens of thousands of migratory birds. To me, this sounds like corruption.

Why is the combined power of environmental groups, lobbyists and financiers coming to bear on the citizens of Maine without so much as a “by your leave?”

Money. Lots of it.

I want to prosper just like the next guy, but not on the backs of the workers and teachers, or our children and grandchildren. Getting rich from subsidies given away by politicians to save us from “climate change” or to create “energy independence” just doesn’t seem honest to me.

Former governor Angus King has been involved in this from the beginning. His company, Independence Wind, has received a permit to install 22 turbines in Roxbury. King has said he wants to leave a “legacy to the people of Maine” in the form of dozens of wind turbines and farms.

Opponents are saying that King’s company stands to generate almost $100 million from this project alone. Yet given the subsidies, this and other wind farms will contribute little or nothing to the revenues of the communities in which they are placed, or the depleted coffers of the state of Maine.

All the benefits are mitigated by the giveaways.

The only tangible benefit, Independence Energy’s offer of subsidized electricity to residents of Roxbury, amounts to nothing more than a bribe.
Why should Mainers pay for the electricity produced by wind farms at all? We should get it for free, and the state should get royalties from wind farms.After all, we are paying through our taxes and the additional debt issued by the federal government to pay the subsidies to these projects.

Why should we pay twice?

Worse, a report was filed in August with the Ocean Energy Task Force, a state committee that advised the Legislature and governor on offshore projects like wind, on the subject of instituting lease fees and royalties to site offshore wind projects, but our elected officials, bureaucrats, and environmental groups seem keen on giving away this potential revenue.

Other states do not. Why should Maine?

Too many questions still linger on wind power. No wonder people in Maine are questioning motives of wind power advocates, including environmental groups who now support it, after years of opposition. Even prominent Maine ornithologists are willing to accept the slaughter of tens or hundreds of thousands of birds to spare us climate change.

Is the premise behind wind power development even valid?

The sky will not fall. The seas will not rise to strike the unfaithful. Neither will the earth crumble beneath the feet of the unbelievers, nor, for that matter, the believers, if we do not build windmills.

Maine, and every state in the Northeast, should put a moratorium on granting new permits until the details of wind power are worked out.

J. Dwight is a SEC registered investment advisor and an advisory board member of the Maine Heritage Policy Center. He lives in Wilton. E-mail jdwight@gwi.net.

Wind farms cause decline in bird population – RSPB

The study, in conjunction with the Scottish Natural Heritage, looked at 12 upland wind farms in the UK during the breeding season for a dozen common species including rare species such as hen harriers and skylarks.

WIndmillsUK

The research, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, found seven species were found less often than would be expected close to the turbines. The breeding population of buzzard, hen harrier, golden plover, snipe, curlew, wheatear and meadow pipit were reduced by up to half within 500m of the turbines.

It suggested that the most likely cause of the decline is the fact that birds are less likely to live near wind farms because of the noise and development, therefore the number of predators will also decline. Strikes with turbines was also suggested as a cause, but was thought to be less likely.

The RSPB recently came out in favour of wind farms, causing many members to leave in protest because of concern about the developments ruining the view in remote areas and contributing to the decline of birds.

However James Pearce-Higgins, senior conservation scientist with RSPB Scotland and lead author of the study, said charity still supported wind farms. But developments should not be put in the wrong area – where they can harm birds.

“There is an urgent need to combat climate change, and renewable energy sources, such as wind farms, will play an important part in this. However, it is also important to fully understand the consequences of such development, to ensure that they are properly planned and sited,” he said.

“Our results emphasise the need for wind farms to avoid areas with high densities of potentially vulnerable species such as curlews and golden plover, and help offer a way forward by informing the likely extent of positive habitat management which may help to offset the impacts of development.”

See also: Wind farms ‘are failing to generate the predicted amount of electricity’

Analysis: Flawed Intelligence Guides The Obama Energy Plan

By Daniel Kish,  OpEd Contributor, Washington Examiner

President Obama has embarked upon a costly and potentially dangerous energy path that may threaten our quality of life, our place in the world, and even our economic and national security.

As a result, the energy most Americans depend upon will become more foreign, more expensive, and more scarce, and the U.S. may find its national security interests compromised in order to secure the supplies necessary to run our economy.

The singular tragedy of this looming threat is that it is based upon the false but oft-repeated premise that the U.S. and North America is running out of energy while the government’s own documents and the energy industry’s experience has shown that it is not.

Under Obama and President George W. Bush before him, the main impediment to reducing foreign imports of oil has been the government itself, and flawed intelligence.

Obama’s intelligence about energy resources is flawed because it has come mostly in sound bites from the very groups most opposed to more domestic energy development. These are the groups who condemned Bush for a mad rush to drill at any cost during his eight years.

Their false claims about reckless leasing and drilling for oil and gas on government lands and waters have convinced Obama to slow down or in some cases, stop domestic energy leasing.

But here are the facts regarding leasing, courtesy of the Congressional Research Service: The administration of Bill Clinton and Al Gore offered more lands for lease than the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

In fact, on western government lands, the Clinton Administration offered 50% more acreage for leasing than the Bush Administration.(46 million acres Clinton/Gore; 31 million Bush/Cheney.

Why then did Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar postpone a national offshore leasing program in February while criticizing his predecessor, saying “a ‘drill-only’ approach – onshore or offshore – is not enough?” It must be flawed intelligence.

In April, Salazar claimed “we sit on 3% of the world’s oil reserves. We consume 25% of its oil. Our dependence on foreign oil is a national security problem, an environmental security problem and an economic security problem.”

Based on his department’s own estimates, Salarzar could quadruple those reserves from the OCS, and increase them by 50% from the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) alone. Salazar is landlord for almost 2.5 billion acres of onshore and offshore lands, but his department currently has only leased about 3% of them for energy production.

Look at Brazil, which was formerly thought to be out of oil until the government let companies look for oil off the country’s coasts. Now, Brazil is becoming one of the biggest energy success stories in the world.

Private lands throughout the U.S. where owners are eager to lease them for energy are where most of our new shale natural gas supplies are being found. But it’s hard to find oil reserves if the government doesn’t let us look for them.

For example, the U.S. has the world’s largest reserves of oil shale, and the government earlier this year added 500 billion barrels of shale oil to the official estimates, bringing the total to 2.6 trillion barrels. America currently uses about seven billion barrels of oil per year.

While no one would expect all of that to be recoverable, the Department of Energy has estimated that about 40% of the oil shale reserves are recoverable, meaning we have about 1 trillion barrels of recoverable oil shale, or about as much as the entire world’s known reserves. But Salazar has stopped previously planned commercial leasing on government lands.

Other Obama energy decisions reveal the same dependence upon flawed intelligence, including  cancellation of already-issued oil and gas leases in Utah and delaying Outer Continental Shelf leasing another six months.

There is no substance on earth as important to economic growth as oil. It would be a shame for America to endure economic and national security threats because our leaders insist on using flawed intelligence about what energy supplies we have right here at home. See post here.

Daniel Kish is senior vice president of the Institute for Energy Research

The Real Green Revolution and the Great Man Behind It

Renowned agricultural scientist Dr. Norman Borlaug has died at the age of 95. Borlaug, known as the father of the “Green Revolution” for saving over a billion people from starvation by utilizing pioneering high yield farming techniques, is one of only five people in history who has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal.

U.S. agronomist, Univ. of Minnesota (Ph.D.,1942). He worked as researcher with the E. I. du Pont Company until 1944, when he joined the Rockefeller Foundation in Mexico. He became a director at the Foundation and headed a team of scientists from 17 nations experimenting with improvement of grains. In 1970 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to eradicate hunger and build international prosperity.

Renowned agricultural scientist Dr

During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. As a result, Mexico became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. Between 1965 and 1970, wheat yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India, greatly improving the food security in those nations. These collective increases in yield have been labeled the Green Revolution, and Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people from starvation. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply. 

Later in his life, he helped apply these methods of increasing food production to Asia and Africa.

The following testimonial to Borlaug from CORE’s Paul Dreissen is especially telling: 

“Since when did you become a global warming alarmist?” I kidded Norman midway into our telephone conversation a few weeks before this amazing scientist and humanitarian died. “What are you talking about?” Dr. Borlaug retorted. “I’ve never believed that nonsense.” I read a couple sentences from his July 29 Wall Street Journal article. “Within the next four decades, the world’s farmers will have to double production on a shrinking land base and in the face of environmental demands caused by climate change. Indeed, [a recent Oxfam study concludes] that the multiple effects of climate change might reverse 50 years of work to end poverty.”

I mentioned that my own discussions of those issues typically emphasize how agricultural biotechnology, modern farming practices and other technological advances will make it easier to adapt to any climate changes, warmer or colder, whether caused by humans or by the same natural forces that brought countless climate shifts throughout Earth’s history.

“You’re right,” he said. “I should have been more careful. Next time, I’ll do that. And I’ll point out that the real disaster won’t be global warming. It’ll be global cooling, which would shorten growing seasons, and make entire regions less suitable for farming.” I was amazed, as I was every time we talked. Here he was, 95 years old, “retired,” still writing articles for the Journal, and planning what he’d say in his next column.

The article we were discussing, “Farmers can feed the world,” noted Norman’s deep satisfaction that G-8 countries have pledged $20 billion to help poor farmers acquire better seeds and fertilizer. “For those of us who have spent our lives working in agriculture,” he said, “focusing on growing food versus giving it away is a giant step forward.”

Our previous conversations confirm that he would likewise have applauded the World Bank’s recent decision to subsidize new coal-fired power plants, to generate jobs and reduce poverty, by helping poor countries bring electricity to 1.5 billion people who still don’t have it. For many poor countries, a chief economist for the Bank observed, coal is the only option, and “it would be immoral at this stage to say, ‘We want to have clean hands. Therefore we are not going to touch coal.’” Norman would have agreed.

“Governments,” he argued, “must make their decisions about access to new technologies…on the basis of science, and not to further political agendas.” That’s why he supported DDT to reduce malaria, biotechnology to fight hunger, and plentiful, reliable, affordable electricity to modernize China, India and other developing nations. His humanitarian instincts and commitment to science and poverty eradication also drove his skepticism about catastrophic climate change.

He was well aware that recent temperature data and observations of solar activity and sunspots indicate that the Earth could be entering a period of global cooling. He had a healthy distrust of climate models as a basis for energy and economic policy. And he knew most of Antarctica is gaining ice, and it would be simply impossible for Greenland or the South Pole region to melt under even the more extreme temperature projections from those questionable computer models. He also commented that humans had adapted to climate changes in the past, and would continue to do so. They would also learn from those experiences, developing new technologies and practices that would serve humanity well into the future.

The Ice Ages doubtless encouraged people to unlock the secrets of fire and sew warm clothing. The Little Ice Age spawned changes in societal structure, housing design, heating systems and agriculture. The Dust Bowl gave rise to contour farming, crop rotation, terracing and other improved farming practices. Norman’s dedication to science, keen powers of observation, dogged perseverance, and willingness to live for years with his family in Mexico, India and Pakistan resulted in the first Green Revolution. It vastly improved farming in many nations, saved countless lives, and converted Mexico and India from starving grain importers to self-sufficient exporters. 

In his later years, he became a champion of biotechnology, as the foundation of a second Green Revolution, especially for small-holder farmers in remote parts of Africa. Paul Ehrlich and other environmentalists derided his ultimately successful attempt to defuse “The Population Bomb” through his initial agricultural advances, and attacked him for his commitment to biotechnology. His response to the latter assaults was typically blunt. “There are 6.6 billion people on the planet today. With organic farming, we could only feed 4 billion of them. Which 2 billion would volunteer to die?”

 Norman_Borlaug

Borlaug speaking at the Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology in June 2003. See one of his lectures here.

The Atlantic Monthly estimated that Norman’s work saved a billion lives. Leon Hesser titled his biography of Borlaug The Man Who Fed the World. Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Greg Conko dubbed him a “modern Prometheus.” Science reporter Greg Easterbrook saluted him as the “forgotten benefactor of mankind.” And the magician-comedy-political team of Penn and Teller said he was “the greatest human being who ever lived.”

He deserved every award and accolade – and merited far more fame in the United States than he received, though he was well known in India, Mexico and Pakistan, where his work had made such a difference.

Norman was also a devoted family man and educator. He served as Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University into his nineties. A year and a half ago, he gladly spent 40 minutes on the telephone with my daughter, who interviewed him for a high school freshman English “true hero” paper – and did so just after returning from the hospital and on the one-year anniversary of his beloved wife Margaret’s death.

He told my daughter it was because of Margaret, “and her faith in me and what I was doing, that we were able to live in Mexico, under conditions that weren’t nearly as good as what we could have had in the United States, and I was able to do my work on wheat and other crops.”

I sent him occasional articles, and we talked every few months, about biotech, global warming, malaria eradication, some new scientific report one of us had seen, or some website he thought I should visit. As we wrapped up our early August chat, we promised to talk again soon. Sadly, he entered a hospice and passed away before that could happen.

His mind was “still as clear as ever,” his daughter Jeanie told me, but his body was giving out. To the very end, Norman was concerned about Africa and dedicated to the humanitarian and scientific principles that had guided his life and research, and earned him the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Norman left us a remarkable legacy. But as he told my daughter, “There is no final answer. We have to keep doing research, if we are to keep growing more nutritious food for more people.” The world, its climate and insect pathogens will continue to change. It is vital that we sustain the incredible agricultural revolution that Norman Borlaug began. END

Borlaug historian Gregg Easterbrook in the Wall Street Journal in “The Man Who Defused the “Population Bomb”on September 16th sung the praises of this little known great man.

 Renowned agricultural scientist

“In the mid-1960s, India and Pakistan were exceptions to the trend toward more efficient food production; subsistence cultivation of rice remained the rule, and famine struck. In 1965, Borlaug arranged for a convoy of 35 trucks to carry high-yield seeds from CIMMYT to a Los Angeles dock for shipment to India and Pakistan. He and a coterie of Mexican assistants accompanied the seeds. They arrived to discover that war had broken out between the two nations. Sometimes working within sight of artillery flashes, Borlaug and his assistants sowed the Subcontinent’s first crop of high-yield grain. Paul Ehrlich gained celebrity for his 1968 book “The Population Bomb,” in which he claimed that global starvation was inevitable for the 1970s and it was “a fantasy” that India would “ever” feed itself. Instead, within three years of Borlaug’s arrival, Pakistan was self-sufficient in wheat production; within six years, India was self-sufficient in the production of all cereals.

After his triumph in India and Pakistan and his Nobel Peace Prize, Borlaug turned to raising crop yields in other poor nations especially in Africa, the one place in the world where population is rising faster than farm production and the last outpost of subsistence agriculture. At that point, Borlaug became the target of critics who denounced him because Green Revolution farming requires some pesticide and lots of fertilizer. Trendy environmentalism was catching on, and affluent environmentalists began to say it was “inappropriate” for Africans to have tractors or use modern farming techniques. Borlaug told me a decade ago that most Western environmentalists “have never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists in wealthy nations were trying to deny them these things.” END

Like most agronomists and nurserymen, Dr Borlaug saw the importance of CO2 for plant growth.

The last 50 years has indeed seen a green revolution in part due to the great work of Borlaug and other plant scientists and in part ironically from increasing CO2, a plant fertilizer. NASA satellite shows the persistence of greening that resulted in a 30% increase in yields the past 50 years. More vigorous and healthy plants are also more drought resistant.

 

 GROWTHVSCO2NASAGREENING

 PINEvsCO2

 

PLANTSHAPPY

Wind Power Exposed: The Renewable Energy Source is Expensive, Unreliable and Won’t Save Natural Gas

By Peter Glover and Michael J. Economides

This is not what President-elect Barack Obama’s energy and climate strategists would want to hear. It would be anathema to Al Gore and other assorted luminaries touting renewable energy sources which in one giant swoop will save the world from the “tyranny” of fossil fuels and mitigate global warming. And as if these were not big enough issues, oilman T. Boone Pickens’ grandiose plan for wind farms from Texas to Canada is supposed to bring about a replacement for the natural gas now used for power generation. That move will then lead to energy independence from foreign oil.

ET112408_wind

Too good to be true? Yes, and in fact it is a lot worse.

Wind has been the cornerstone of almost all environmentalist and social engineering proclamations for more than three decades and has accelerated to a crescendo the last few years in both the United States and the European Union.

But Europe, getting a head start, has had to cope with the reality borne by experience and it is a pretty ugly picture.

Independent reports have consistently revealed an industry plagued by high construction and maintenance costs, highly volatile reliability and a voracious appetite for taxpayer subsidies. Such is the economic strain on taxpayer funds being poured into wind power by Europe’s early pioneers — Denmark, Germany and Spain – that all have recently been forced to scale back their investments.

As a result this summer, the U.K., under pressure to meet an ambitious E.U. climate target of 20 percent carbon dioxide cuts by 2020, assumed the mantle of world leader in wind power production. It did so as a direct consequence of the U.K. Government’s Renewables Obligations Certificate, a financial incentive scheme for power companies to build wind farms. Thus the U.K.’s wind operation provides the ideal case study — and one that provides the most complete conclusions.

The U.K. has all the natural advantages. It is the windiest country in Europe. It has one of the continent’s longest coastlines for the more productive (and less obtrusive) offshore farms. It has a long-established national power grid. In short, if wind power is less than successful in the U.K., its success is not guaranteed anywhere.

But wind infrastructure has come at a steep price. In fiscal year 2007-08 U.K. electricity customers were forced to pay a total of over $1 billion to the owners of wind turbines. That figure is due to rise to over $6 billion a year by 2020 given the government’s unprecedented plan to build a nationwide infrastructure with some 25 gigawatts of wind capacity, in a bid to shift away from fossil fuel use.

Ofgem, which regulates the U.K.’s electricity and gas markets, has already expressed its concern at the burgeoning tab being picked up by the British taxpayer which, they claim, is “grossly distorting the market” while hiding the real cost of wind power. In the past year alone, prices for electricity and natural gas in the U.K. have risen twice as fast as the European Union average according to figures released in November by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. While 15 percent energy price rises were experienced across the E.U., in the U.K. gas and electricity prices rose by a staggering 29.7 percent. Ofgem believes wind subsidy has been a prime factor and questions the logic when, for all the public investment, wind produces a mere 1.3 percent of the U.K.’s energy needs.

In May 2008, a report from Cambridge Energy Research Associates warned that an over-reliance on offshore wind farms to meet European renewable energy targets would further create supply problems and drive up investor costs. No taxpayer respite there. But worse news was to come.

In August, the most in-depth independent assessment yet of Britain’s expanding wind turbine industry was published. In the journal Energy Policy gas turbine expert Jim Oswald and his co-authors, came up with a series of damning conclusions: not only is wind power far more expensive and unreliable than previously thought, it cannot avoid using high levels of natural gas, which not only it will increase costs but in turn will mean far less of a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions than has been claimed.

Oswald’s report highlights the key issue of load factor, the actual power generated compared to the theoretical maximum, and how critical it is to the viability of the wind power industry. In 2006, according to U.K. government statistics, the average load factor for wind turbines across the U.K. was 27.4 percent. Thus a typical 2 megawatt turbine actually produced only 0.54 MW of power on an average day. The worst performing U.K. turbine had a load factor of just 7 percent. These figures reflect a poor return on investment. But this poor return is often obscured by the subsidy system that allows turbine operators and supporters to claim they can make a profit even when turbines operate at a very low load factors. So what’s the bottom line? British consumers are paying twice over for their electricity, funding its means of production and paying for its use as end users.

Variability is one of the chief criticisms levelled at wind power. When the wind drops or blows too hard, turbines stop spinning and you get no power. Wind turbine advocates have claimed that this can be avoided by the geographical spread of wind farms, perhaps by creating an international “supergrid.” But, as Oswald’s report makes clear, calm conditions not only prevail on a fairly regular basis, they often extend across the country with the same conditions being experienced as far away as France and Germany. Worse still, says Oswald, long periods of calm over recent decades occurred in the dead of winter when electricity demand is highest.

Periods of low wind means a need for pumped storage and essential back-up facilities. Oswald told The Register online news service that a realistically feasible U.K. pumped-storage base would only cope with one or two days of low winds at best. As regards back-up facilities, Oswald states the only feasible systems for the planned 25 gigawatt wind system would be one that relied equally on old-style natural gas turbines. As Oswald says however, the expense of a threefold wind, pump storage and gas turbine back-up solution “would be ridiculous.”

The problems don’t end there. The British report highlights what more and more wind farms would mean when it came to installing gas turbine back-ups. “Electricity operators will respond by installing lower-cost plant ($/kW) as high capital plant is not justified under low utilisation regimes.”

But cheap gas turbines are far less efficient than big, properly sized base-load turbines and will not be as resilient in coping with the heavy load cycling they would experience. Cheaper, less resilient plants will mean high maintenance costs and spare back-up gas turbines to replace broken ones that would suffer regular thermal stress cracking. And of course, the increasing use of gas for the turbines would have a detrimental effect on reducing carbon dioxide emission – always one of the chief factors behind the wind revolution.

Oswald’s report concludes also that the all this wear and tear will further stress the gas pipeline network and gas storage system. “High-efficiency base load plant is not designed or developed for load cycling,” says Oswald. Critically, most of the issues raised in the independent report have not been factored into the cost of wind calculations. With typical British understatement, Oswald concludes that claims for wind power are “unduly optimistic.”

We think they’ve been blown away. See the Energy Tribune.

Opinion: Something Rotten

By Chris Horner, Planet Gore

Uh oh. First President Obama pointed to Spain and Germany as models for how the U.S. could create a robust “green jobs” economy that even would lift us out of our current – an increasingly approriate term – malaise.

Confronted by meddling academics who analyzed the Spanish situation and laid out the monitory lesson of its green-jobs regime, the White House quickly pivoted and said, uh, look to Denmark and Germany, yeah, that’s it, Denmark.

wind_farm__denmark

OK. That’s been done – by the establishment think tank CEPOS, and you can read it here. The answer is that the president’s (repeat) claim that “Denmark produces almost 20 percent of their electricity through wind power” is false. Denmark actually produces much less of its own electricity from wind, as low as 4 percent depending on the year, with the recent average of 9.7 percent. This despite a massive buildout of what they flatteringly call the “wind carpet,” on some of the most hospitable terrain for wind power in the world.

It is also in return for its households paying the highest eletricity rates in Europe. With a substantially lower per-capita energy use. That means, to get half of what Obama seeks, the U.S. would have to carpet itself twice over – which means lots of windmills where birds fly and Kennedys live – and pay Danish-style rates.

Oh. Wait. That still won’t do it. Apparently Denmark’s experience isn’t even scalable to Scanadanavia. It turns out that, if the Norwegians and Swedes tried to replicate Denmark’s expensive folly, well, it would blow the system up. Here’s why. Denmark took advantage of long-since-paid-for interconnectors between Jutland and Norway, and the island on which Copenhagen sits and Sweden. It made a political decision that windmills would be their “national champion” industry, and as you will hear to no end throughout the Copenhagen COP, a big part of their national identity. So they built a lot of windmills, and started a mythology.

This buildout was only possible because the Norwegians and Swedes use enormous percentages of hydropower and nuclear, both of which can be dialed up or down according to the whimsy of the wind. When the wind does deign to blow, Denmark sends fully half of its very expensive, ratepayer subsidized wind power to its neighbors at cut rates, in return for said neighbors indulging Denmark’s wind mill image-making by dialing up or down its hydro power or nukes at other times (which, most of the time, means “up”).
When the wind picks up, the story gets worse. On top of subsidizing their neighbors’ electricity and allowing them to go without building more of their own, it turns out that increases in wind generation, under the current buildout, are shipped nearly 100 percent and at a considerable below-cost discount right out of the country. With its politicians now vowing to massively increase installed wind (“50 percent of our elecricity” – how about getting to 20 percent first?), that means Denmark will be sending even more domestic wealth to its neighbors.

Because it is displacing carbon-neutral electricity – as a condition precedent even to deploying the machines, mind you, so this is not something that can be changed – you can kiss claims to massive CO2 reductions (or reduced fuel use) goodbye.

When it comes to Obama’s claim that Denmark, not discredited Spain, is the model to follow: waiter, the food was horrible, and the portions too small. You can’t replicate Denmark’s model – and its a good thing, too.

Although, I’m informed that the Danish wind industry admitted the problems to the media this morning before muttering about needing further (ratepayer) investment, expect the American wind power industry to spin wildly in coming days. Which, incidentally, is more than we can say about their products.    Read post here.

 

 

Environmental scientist exposes wind farm scam

In The Wind Farm Scam, to be released on 30th September 2009, Dr. John Etherington argues that wind farm technology is a wholly counter-productive and undesirable response to the problems of climate change and electricity generation. Dr. Etherington is a former Reader in Ecology, Thomas Huxley Medallist at the Royal College of Science and former co-editor of the Journal of Ecology.

The Wind Farm Scam explains that the intermittent nature of wind power cannot generate a steady output, a fact that necessitates back-up systems from coal and gas-powered plants that significantly negate any reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, there are the ecological drawbacks, including damage to habitats and wildlife, and the far from insignificant aesthetic drawback of the assault upon natural beauty which wind turbines entail.

Moreover, wind power is being excessively financed at the cost of consumers who have been neither consulted nor informed that this subsidy is being paid from their bills to support an industry that cannot be cost-efficient.

With the recent proliferation of local groups opposing wind farm planning applications (now over 300), and the increasingly frequent and challenging discussions on wind farms in all the media – including a round condemnation by James Lovelock on the BBC’s Hard Talk programme – this meticulously researched and compellingly-argued book could not be more timely.

As Christopher Booker says in his introduction:

“Eventually the obsession of our politicians with tower blocks was seen to be one of the greatest follies of the age. In time to come – it may be sooner than we think – the obsession with wind power will likewise come to be seen as an even greater folly”

The Wind Farm Scam: Isbn 9781905299836, £9.99, published 30th September 2009 by Stacey International

Please contact David Birkett on 020 7221 7166, 07982 75 4646 or by e-mailing him at marketing@stacey-international.co.uk

Notes for Editors

Publication of The Wind Farm Scam comes at a crucial time, as our government appears determined to confront public opposition to deployment of wind power. Just a few months ago Energy Secretary Ed Miliband publicly stated “It is socially unacceptable to be against wind turbines.” And more recently Huw Irranca-Davies, DEFRA minister for marine and natural environment, supported the fast-tracking of wind power through the planning system by allowing developers to finance local projects. Such action is contrary to the government’s own 2007 policy set out in “Delivering Community Benefits from Wind Energy Development: A Toolkit” which contained the categorical statement that: “To put it simply, planning permission cannot be ‘bought’.”

Despite the government’s statement that 81% of people are in favour of wind power and that 62% would be happy to live within 5 km of a wind power development, media polls have recently shown a consistent 70% to 90% of people opposing local wind farm development. For example, whilst this book was in press, the Scottish “Lochaber News” asked if councilors should approve a plan for wind turbines, to which question the poll gave a resounding “No – 90%”. We are not alone. In Germany, usually presented as a showcase for wind power, the response to the State of Brandenburg’s decision to increase the already large areas covered by wind farms, was a local petition of 27,000 signatures opposing the decision.

Proponents of wind power repeatedly stress that opposition is based primarily on the impact on landscape, but justify this by the need to “tackle climate change” through reduction of carbon dioxide emission. As this book shows, the saving of CO2 proposed by government’s own 2010 target for electricity generated by renewables is a minute 0.04% of the global total and, by 2020 this will not have grown in any way comparably with the huge increases of emission from the developing world. To achieve the target, installed capacity of wind will have grown to near 50 gigawatts which according to predictions by wind farm operators E.ON UK and Iberdrolla, will necessitate up to 90% of this 50 GW being backed-up by conventional power stations. Paradoxically then, we need to build more CO2-emitting power stations to allow deployment of hugely subsidized wind farms.

The title of this book expresses the author’s belief that wind power is an institutional confidence trick – succinctly summed-up by Lord David Howell, former Secretary of State for Energy in Mrs. Thatcher’s government: “Extensive wind farm developments will be seen in due course to have taken public opinion for a colossal ride.” It is indeed colossal – electricity compulsorily priced at two or three times its real value, saving a derisory amount of CO2 emission and, as conceded last year by the British Wind Energy Association, mitigating only half the amount of CO2 emission which was claimed for most wind farms already installed. See wind farm scam.

Solar Economics: Would You Pull A Lever to Get $12,000 if Somewhere in Massachusetts a Person Lost $58,000?

<i>Coyote Blog</i>

With articles about solar prices coming down, and living in Phoenix (one of the best solar sites in America), I yet again have priced out solar for our home.  The short answer is that it makes sense, IF you don’t mind reaching into the pockets of all your neighbors.

For this analysis, I will use the prices here.  The $72,167 cost for a 11.76kW system is pretty competitive at $6.13 per watt installed  (this is rated watts, not actual — see footnote).  The panels themselves can be bought for about $3 per watt, with about $1 a watt for other equipment like inverters and $2 per watt for installation.  Do-it-yourself packages for a similar size system are here and go for around $4-$4.50 per watt.

The solar company estimates that this system in Phoenix will save me$2,779 a year on my electric bill.  I have not checked their math, but I assume they are not under-estimating this number in their marketing literature.  Taking this savings, we get a payback on the installation of about 26 years.   This ignores future electricity price increases, but also ignores the time value of money.  At 8% over 20 years, it has a net present value of  NEGATIVE $41,558.   At the end of the day, this is a terrible return — in fact a huge value destruction.

But I began this post saying a solar investment might make sense.  How?  Well, that is where your willingness to reach into your neighbor’s pocket comes in.  Our solar company estimates the following tax breaks and rebates on the system described above:

  • Utility rebate:  $35,280
  • State income tax credit: $1,000
  • Federal income tax credit:  $21,650

So, in building this $72,167 improvement on my house, I get to use $57,930 of other peoples’ money**.  As Steve Martin says in the Jerk:  “That takes the pressure off!”

Like in many other cases, other peoples’ money suddenly makes solar a good investment.  Now we are looking at $2,779 a year in savings from a net investment of $14,237, or about a five year payback.    Over 20 years even assuming no inflation and an 8% cost of money that has an NPV of $12,081.

So — I officially reverse my past conclusions that home solar does not pay.  It can in fact be a good investment — for you.  For the country, it is a terrible investment.   Your neighbors are contributing $57,930 in subsidies while you receive just $12,081 in benefits.  The remainder, just over $45,000, is a dead-weight loss to the economy.  It is money destroyed by the government.

This is surprisingly like the ethics problem of pulling a lever to get a million dollars but someone you don’t know in China dies.  The only difference is that you get $12,000 and someone you don’t know loses $58,000.

** Footnote: Yeah, I know, theoretically the utility rebate is a substitute for the capital spending and not a wealth transfer.  But trust me, it’s a wealth transfer.  To understand this, we have to shift from rated solar watts to actual capacity in watts.  In Phoenix, one of the best solar sites in the world, panels produce only about 25% of their rated capacity in a day (6 equivalent sun hours per day divided by 24 total hours in a day).  So, on average, a 100 watt panel is producing 25 watts.

This means that by APS paying about $3 per rated watt in rebates, they are paying about $12 per actual watt.  And there is no way this is what they are paying for other capacity.  A typical brand new power plant might be $2-$3.50 per watt.  So at $12, this is clearly a transfer mandated by the PUC, and not a smart substitute for capital expenditure.   Besides, if this payment made economic sense for the utility, there would not be an annual cap on the amount paid out.

As wealth transfers go, this is a particularly egregious one, as it tends to add costs to the electric bills of the poor and middle class so rich folks can build hobby solar systems so they can tell their friends at cocktail parties that they are “green.”