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BOB SWEET: Wind power support fuelled by misleading figures

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 03, 2012

Comments (0) By Bob Sweet.

Although the truth that wind energy cannot reduce fossil fuel usage and therefore cannot have any effect on our climate is reluctantly being accepted by our Government, the same arguments that were used to support the use of wind as a climate change combating wonder is still being pushed as something that can give us a secure clean energy supply.

The reason as to why wind power has had very little effect in reducing the amount of CO2 produced is because when a wind farm starts generating power, other generators see a drop in their demand for power.

They have no idea how long this will continue or how stable that change will be.

Therefore, to maintain a secure supply, they must still keep burning fuel which means they are wasting it.

The national grid, which runs around parts of Cornwall and the South West together with what is called the local grid, is connected to secure reliable conventional power stations located all over the country. This system is very good at predicting our power requirements be it 500,000 people in Cornwall boiling a kettle at tea time or more people watching TV because the Olympics are on.

What it cannot predict is what the regional weather pattern will be and, therefore, how much power our scattered assortment of turbines will produce. Wind turbine power output is very sensitive to wind speed which compounds the problem.

We all know the weather in the South West does what it likes. We may boil for a week in summer and then stay indoors for the next to keep dry.

The fact is that all this hype about reliable local renewable power and us importing too much power from outside the region – as spouted by the likes of Julian German, Cornwall's Cabinet member for localisms, sustainability and devolution – is absolute rubbish.

One would only assume that such silly statements are either an attempt to defraud us or that they are spoken by a nice-but-dim politician.

When we are told that some wind farm will supply enough power for 3,000 homes, that does not mean that those turbines turning gently in the wind are always doing that.

Far from it because those misleading figures are derived by adding together all the randomly generated bits of power in a year and then dividing it by a number that is suppose to be a households average usage per hour, nothing to do with powering any number of homes at any instant. A wind turbine or solar panel cannot suddenly turn on when 3,000 people in Truro decide to boil a kettle.

Renewables are very good at making money but at the expense of all those that do not have it. If you pay someone several times the going rate to generate electricity, it stands to reason several other people will have to cover the cost. When we are told wind energy can be as cheap as 2p per unit, that's another attempt to fool us as that figure is the cost to the wind farm – not what it will cost us customer.

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  • Jim_Hunt  |  October 12 2012, 1:47PM

    @2LadyBugs - My pleasure. It's currently hailing here in the Haldon Hills. Here's another recent story from "This is Devon" that reveals a scientific explanation for all this weird weather we've been having: http://tinyurl.com/8hr4san You'll note I've added one of my customary helpful comments. While boffins around the world debate the causes, here are some of the effects: http://tinyurl.com/woolybugs Note all the red flags due to sewage spillages at Newquay, Torquay, Woolacombe, Weston and numerous other West Country beaches. @hensrule - What do effect do you suppose E. coli "in or close to a [blue flag beach] in tourist areas" might have?

  • 2ladybugs  |  October 11 2012, 10:56PM

    Thanks for those links Jim.

  • Jim_Hunt  |  October 11 2012, 1:46PM

    If there is a moderator wielding a big red pencil it would certainly be helpful if there was a public record of where, when and why comments have been removed. Getting back on to the topic of Bob's self proclaimed "truth", we still haven't moved beyond the first half of his first sentence! The truth is that whilst the wind is indeed variable so is the demand for electricity, and there are a number of ways of ameliorating the unfortunate side effects of those variabilities. "Wind energy cannot reduce fossil fuel usage" is quite simply an untruth. As already discussed, David MacKay suggests that "storage" is a good idea. I've already provided you with currently operational examples of pumped hydro in Wales, and what is essentially a large pile of electric vehicle batteries in Spain. Here is a publication from the Global Energy Network Institute containing lots of information and lots of references on a range of energy storage technologies in a variety of states of readiness: http://tinyurl.com/9qsazus Should you prefer YouTube videos to long lists of references, here's one in which a professor from MIT waxes lyrical about liquid metal: http://tinyurl.com/donisad

  • 2ladybugs  |  October 10 2012, 6:50PM

    There was actually a comment between my 5.05 and yours 4.44m which along with couple of my comments on both this and another report have become invisible. I am about to question Northcliffe as none of them broke any of the printed rules and I also have not been notified as to why they have become invisible. This will also follow the same route. The word Gods in the circumstance now does not make any sense.

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  • Jim_Hunt  |  October 10 2012, 6:33PM

    Thanks for your kind(ish) words 2Lady, but once again your imagination is working overtime. Your interpretation of my use of the word "Gods" is very different to my own, which is interesting in itself. Even more interesting is that your comment which I was replying to now seems to have vanished, which makes interpretation of my remark by a 3rd party rather difficult! Is there by any chance a moderator in the house?

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 10 2012, 5:05PM

    Oh and for you to think of them as Gods really belittles your otherwise informative comments. Bob Sweet I am even more drawn to your way of thinking.

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  • Jim_Hunt  |  October 10 2012, 4:44PM

    Hi 2Lady, I just tell it the way I see it. Pleasure doesn't enter into it. Who you choose to link me with in your own imagination is up to you. I have to admit I find the rating system here most confusing. When I arrived here I couldn't understand why Graculas' original comment was ranked at -8, or why my own contributions started going rapidly downhill. That process now seems to have reversed for some strange reason. I guess the Gods in South West England move in mysterious ways?

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 10 2012, 3:45PM

    I can't believe somebody can be so pathetic that they red arrow a comment where I am thanking an author(David) for taking his time to give us some interesting facts.

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  • Jim_Hunt  |  October 10 2012, 2:59PM

    Hi Graculas, I'm sure you're right about that. When it comes to solar versus wind "farms" I personally prefer wind. David MacKay's calculations notwithstanding, wind takes less land out of agricultural production than solar per (mean!) kWh per day. Before wandering too far off topic, I'm starting to wonder if David has turned around and headed back up the M5, disgusted by what's going on down here in South Devon: http://tinyurl.com/budebugs Even as we speak, sewage is still currently heading out into the English Channel from Exmouth, Dawlish and Teignmouth, amongst other places

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  • Graculas  |  October 10 2012, 7:52AM

    Here's an interesting twist. Elsewhere on 'Thisisccornwall' you will read about a public meeting in Luxulyan about a solar farm. The language is familliar – outgrage, solar energy is good but this one is in the wrong place and so on. Any form of power will attract oposition. I guess if solar was being pursued as much as wind we would get equivalent misunderstandings as Mr Sweet presents being bandied around.