German wind power fails – a cautionary tale

Germany is a leader in electricity production from wind turbines. In 2014, Germany had 25,000 wind turbines installed. Their total installed capacity rating is 39,612 MW. But as Pierre Gosselin reports, these turbines actually produced an average of only 5,868 MW or just 14.8% of rated capacity. Even wind turbine installations in the windy North Sea are delivering only 20% of rated capacity (see report here).

This story shows the folly of replacing fossil-fuel or nuclear generation of electricity with solar and wind. In Europe as a whole, infrastructure investment in renewable energy (wind, solar, biomass) has consumed 600 billion Euros with little to show for it except high electricity prices (Source).

The graph below shows the intermittent nature of wind energy, the light blue area is the total generating capacity; the dark blue is actual electricity produced.

German wind power 2014

You can see the extreme volatility of wind power. Such volatility plays havoc with the electric grid and makes fossil fuel backup generation more expensive to run because it must constantly change production rate; it cannot be run efficiently. Those constant changes cause production of more emissions than would be produced without having to contend with the quirky wind power contribution.

Gosselin (a US citizen living in Germany, who received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Arizona) notes that “Resistance to wind power in Germany is snowballing.” “The turbines, which the German government says will become the ‘workhorse’ of the German power industry, ran at over 50% of their rated capacity only for 461 hours [out of a possible 8,766], or just 5.2% of the time.”

In addition to the unreliable power produced by allegedly “green” wind power, it is becoming increasingly obvious that wind generation is taking a large toll on wildlife and has deleterious effects on human health.

See: The effect of wind turbines on human health – “People who live near wind turbines complain of symptoms that include some combination of the following: difficulty sleeping, fatigue, depression, irritability, aggressiveness, cognitive dysfunction, chest pain/pressure, headaches, joint pain, skin irritations, nausea, dizziness, tinnitus, and stress. These symptoms have been attributed to the pressure (sound) waves that wind turbines generate in the form of noise and infrasound.

Wind turbines versus wildlife – “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and American Bird Conservancy say wind turbines kill 440,000 bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, cranes, egrets, geese and other birds every year in the United States, along with countless insect-eating bats.

Wind turbines killed 600000 bats last year

Wind farms raise local and regional temperatures

Winds farms decrease weather radar ability to track storms

UPDATE: In a separate post, Gosselin adds in solar power and shows that in the last 30 days, in the dead of winter, both wind and solar power went AWOL three times.


Carbon tax failures – lessons from Australia and Germany

In a national election yesterday, frustrated Australians threw out the administration that imposed a carbon tax on the country.

An article in the Daily Caller notes that the carbon tax did not decrease carbon dioxide emissions.  One year “after the tax was enacted electricity prices had risen 15 percent, including the biggest quarterly price increase in the country’s history. Furthermore, 19 percent of the typical Australian household’s electricity bill is due to the tax and other “green” programs in the country. Taxing carbon may have also impacted the job market, as unemployment shot up by 10 percent after its implementation.”

The Daily Caller article notes some other consequences of the carbon tax: a record 10,632 businesses faced insolvency in 2012; and provincial hospitals forked over an extra $6.1 million for energy costs in only six months.

A report from the Institute for Energy Research said the carbon tax failed to deliver any of its promised benefits.  The IER report also says that the “carbon tax will permanently reduce GDP below what it otherwise would have been in every year that it is in place, with these costs growing over time.”  The study notes that there has been a reduction in real wages and predicts that electricity costs will double by 2050.

Germany, the greenest of the green in Europe, is suffering the consequences of its foolish energy policy of carbon taxation and heavily subsidizing alternative energy schemes.  The German paper Spiegel Online has a long article titled “Germany’s Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good” with the subtitle “Germany’s aggressive and reckless expansion of wind and solar power has come with a hefty price tag for consumers, and the costs often fall disproportionately on the poor.”

Even though Germans already pay the highest electricity prices in Europe, the government predicts that electricity bills will increase an additional 20 percent due to renewable energy surcharges.  “After the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan two and a half years ago, [German Chancellor] Merkel quickly decided to begin phasing out nuclear power and lead the country into the age of wind and solar.”  The result was that “German consumers will be forced to pay €20 billion ($26 billion) for electricity from solar, wind and biogas plants — electricity with a market price of just over €3 billion. Even the figure of €20 billion is disputable if you include all the unintended costs and collateral damage associated with the project. Solar panels and wind turbines at times generate huge amounts of electricity, and sometimes none at all. Depending on the weather and the time of day, the country can face absurd states of energy surplus or deficit.”

The increased electricity costs have resulted in power shut offs in more than 300,000 households a year because of unpaid bills.  “It is only gradually becoming apparent how the renewable energy subsidies redistribute money from the poor to the more affluent.”  “Germany’s renewable energy policy is particularly unfair with respect to the economy. About 2,300 businesses have managed to largely exempt themselves from the green energy surcharge by claiming, often with little justification, that they face tough international competition.”  Where have we heard about “waivers” before?  Could it be Obamacare?

“More and more wind turbines are turning in Germany, and solar panels are basking in the sun, yet the amount of pollutants and greenhouse gases emitted by smokestacks increased last year.”

We see that in both Australia and Germany, the green dream is a costly mistake that fails in its primary goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, puts a damper on the economy, makes things more expensive, and cuts jobs.  It’s not easy being green.

See also:

Study says subsidies and tax incentives for renewable energy have minimal effect on greenhouse gas emissions

The economic impact of Arizona’s renewable energy mandate

Petition to Arizona legislature – Dump Renewable Energy Mandates

Does alternative energy actually replace fossil fuel consumption?