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How wrong can a press release for an anti-wind rally be?

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It’s time for another installment of Count the Whoppers. You may remember that we started this occasional feature a year ago with Max Rheese of the mischievously-named Australian Environment Foundation and Australian Climate Science Coalition, funded by the IPA and Heartland Institute respectively, and his fourteen whoppers in less than 1,700 words. We continued it in November with Senator John Madigan’s party policy on wind energy (subsequently removed), where he managed only 10 whoppers, but did it in a quarter of the words, 364.

This time the target in our sights is the anonymously written blog stopthesethings.com (STT). This site is setting new lows in the anti-windpower astroturfing arena, featuring new posts daily attacking all aspects of wind energy and the people associated with it with imaginary data and unpleasant prose. The author has been anonymously vilifying members of the wind industry, researchers into wind energy and proponents of wind energy for nearly six months.

It’s become the go-to echo chamber for Australian anti-wind power activists, and attracts regular comments from the few but impressively vocal anti-wind activists in Canada, the USA and the UK. Unsurprisingly, the Internet quality rating service Web of Trust gives STT very poor marks indeed.

STT is trying to mobilise their small but angry readership to rally at Parliament House in Canberra on 18 June and has issued an anonymous media release to publicise it. They’ve lined up a remarkable number of current and retiring politicians who don’t seem to be fazed by the vitriol, lack of facts or the anonymity of the organisers. These include: Senator John Madigan, retiring MP Alby Schultz, retiring Senator Ron Boswell (all of whom are challenged by climate science) and, oddly, Senator Nick Xenophon who used to hold a rather more fact-based view of wind energy. They also have a handful of others, including a barrister and a fact-challenged radio ‘personality’ to round out the slate.

Unsurprisingly, given their website’s quick-and-dirty approach and the track record of anti-wind campaigners on this front, the presser is chock full of whoppers. For those interested in reading the full statement, please see the complete text at the end of this article.

Wind Reality 1: Wind energy is saving Australian consumers money

The claims: Power bills have sky-rocketed and are set to double again – and all because of wind power.
and household power prices are set to more than double again over the next 2-3 years

The data: Sky-rocketing. Doubling. Doubling again! There’s a grain or two of truth, buried among the hyperbole. Consumer electricity prices have doubled over the past five years, not that anything as mundane as timeframes enter into STTs mind, and are set to increase substantially again next year in Queensland, but certainly not double again in the foreseeable future.  Australian electricity prices are expected to rise by an annual average of just 3 per cent in coming years.

But is wind energy even to blame for this? Well, no. What is causing the increases, according to the Australian Energy Market Commission, are upgrades and maintenance of the electricity networks (the poles and wires) to meet customer demand, with retail margins of profit on top of those expenditures. Wind power does not rate a mention anywhere in their report, because it is not a factor in increasing bills.

In fact, the merit order effect caused by wind energy in South Australia — the state with the most wind energy — is actually expected to contribute to lowering the impact of consumer price increases. Because their fuel costs are zero, wind companies are generally the lowest bidders in the market. Whenever the wind blows, wind energy is displacing higher-priced (and polluting) fossil fuel generators and reducing wholesale prices. In fact, the wholesale price, looking only at hard numbers before the carbon price is included, is at its lowest point ever according to the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Due to the world-leading penetration of wind energy in Nick Xenophon’s home state, the Essential Services Commission of SA (ESCOSA) had told retailers that they should pass on an 8.1 per cent saving to households.

Verdict: DOUBLE WHOPPER

Windpower Reality 2: Wind energy is cheap once fossil fuel subsidies and negative externalities are accounted for

The claims: Retailers are forced by the RET to take wind power at prices up to 4 times the cost of hydro, gas or coal fired power and exorbitant prices retailers are forced to pay for wind power.

As explained above, wind energy, driven by the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET), has actually reduced the wholesale price that retailers pay and will continue to do so. It’s worth having a think about who might be annoyed by these lower wholesale prices. Could it be coal and coal seam gas extractors and generators? They wouldn’t fund anonymous attacks on something that was hitting their bottom line, would they?

There is another grain of truth hidden among the outrageous distortions, however. The LRET obliges retailers to buy renewable energy certificates in proportion to their customers’ usage. This policy, originally introduced by John Howard’s conservative government in 2001, has been extended twice, each time with the endorsement of the Coalition, Labor, the Greens, and also the mercurial Nick Xenophon.

The LRET only contributes 2 per cent to the average energy bill and isn’t expected to contribute any more in 2020 when Australia’s renewables share will be almost double what it is today.

Of course, if you are comparing costs, you need to keep in mind that:
•    Australia’s ‘old-school’ electricity system was built almost entirely with taxpayer funds and still benefits from significant direct and indirect subsidies throughout the supply chain. With the RET simply leveling a very tilted playing field, it’s no wonder the incumbents are squawking.
•    You can’t compare the costs of a fully depreciated coal generator with a new wind farm. Bloomberg New Energy Finance has recently reported that new wind is cheaper than new coal in Australia.
•    All energy sources have externalities — but none so much as fossil fuels (see below).

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 10.45.22 AM

Verdict: DOUBLE WHOPPER

Windpower Reality 3: RECs aren’t a tax, but a market-based incentive

The claim: Under the REC tax scheme

It’s amusing to see this play out in both the US and Australia. In the US, the comparable market mechanism is a Production Tax Credit, aka a reduction of tax rates paid by generators when they are producing MWh of renewable energy. This is a lower tax argument being thrown at something that, um, lowers taxes.

Similarly, in Australia, no taxes are spent on the RECs. As pointed out above, electricity retailers pay a lower average price per MWh for wind due to the merit order effect. The generators earn certificates that they sell to retailers. Meanwhile, energy developers are incented to build more renewable energy generators and the sector emits less polluting and climate-degrading emissions. It’s a pretty virtuous circle all around.

Verdict: WHOPPER

Windpower Reality 4: Wind energy and other incremental renewables are on target to avoid the rarely paid REC penalty price

The Claim: The REC price will rise to $90, if the current REC tax system is maintained

Ironically, a higher REC price will only occur if the anonymous anti-wind funders of STT get their way and stifle wind farm development!

Let’s imagine for a moment that no wind farms are built, the RET stays in place as it continues to have the support of the major parties, and insufficient new solar, biomass or incremental hydro generation gets built to meet the renewable energy target.

If this happens, there is insufficient REC-compliant renewable energy supply for retailers to purchase, and the retailers pay the penalty for not surrendering RECs. The penalty is much higher than the cost of just purchasing RECs on the competitive REC market, and so the cost of energy would go up.

The reality is that the RET is an effective, mature, competitive energy market mechanism, and as long as wind energy continues to do the heavy lifting in meeting the target, REC prices will remain at an efficient level (currently they are significantly less than half of of the alarmist $90/MWh figure claimed by STT)

The penetration of renewables in Australia is a great success story, which is why coal miners and generators are upset and spending money on astroturfing campaigns that look remarkably like STT.

Verdict: DOUBLE WHOPPER

Windpower Reality 5: REC will continue to be a reasonable percentage of the overall electricity cost structure and drive consumer prices down

The claim: From now until 2031 RECs worth an estimated $52 billion will be issued.

Once again, for this to be true, black would need to be white, the earth would need to be flat and a variety of other realities upended.

The calculation, as far as it is possible to tell if any calculation was done except that of outrageous PR calculus, would require scenario 1 in Windpower Reality 4 above to immediately come true. Magically inverted demand change curves. Magical success by an angry minority in imposing their counter-factual, deeply biased and myopic views upon all of Australian society. And a government and private sector who ignored all of that.

Verdict: WHOPPER

Windpower Reality 6: Jurisdictions with wind farms have the lowest electricity prices in their countries

The claim: With the REC tax and the exorbitant cost of wind power added directly to power bills, SA will soon have the highest retail power prices in the world.

This claim is amusingly similar to equally false claims in the US. There, an independent analysis show that states in the Midwest, Texas and Mid-Atlantic as well as New York State have lower electricity prices than they would if they hadn’t started building out wind energy.

Australia’s AEMO shows that wind energy has placed significant downward pressure on South Australian wholesale electricity prices. Those price drops are realized by retailers, who could pass them on to consumers, with a projected residential reduction of around $160 per year inclusive of GST if they chose to do so, or other costs didn’t prevent it.

Verdict: WHOPPER

Windpower Reality 7: A few people have left their homes because of anti-wind activists creating stress and health fears

The Claim: incessant low-frequency noise from wind turbines is driving people out of their homes all over the country.

Wind farms don’t harm human health and don’t emit undue amounts of noise at the setbacks mandated in Australia. Nineteen reviews of all the available peer-reviewed literature as well as the collection of anecdotal complaints by experienced and appropriately credentialed individuals and organisations worldwide have all concluded this.

The low frequency sound myth is the latest in a long line of pseudoscience now that anti-wind activists have been pushed off of ultrasound – it’s actually used in therapy and diagnostic imaging constantly – and infrasound – it can’t harm you if you can’t hear it. However, claims of noise from wind turbines consistently evaporate whenever test equipment shows up, to the point where Waubra Foundation CEO Sarah Laurie ascribes it to a conspiracy by nearby wind farm operators to turn nearby turbines off when they know testing is occurring.

Most recently, studies published in the past year in the UK, Australia and New Zealand by very credible researchers in public health and psychology have cast light on the disparity between the lack of means of harm and the number of complaints.

In the UK, researchers at the University of Nottingham studied psychological reasons for complaints about noise, and found in two separate studies no correlation between level of noise and complaints, but strong correlations between negatively oriented personalities or negative attitudes to wind energy and complaints.

In New Zealand, researchers found that symptoms ascribed to infrasound from wind turbines could be induced easily in people by showing them videos describing the effects then exposing them to nothing at all. And of course in Australia, researchers found that wind farm health and noise complaints were strongly correlated to the activities of anti-wind campaigners near wind farms.

While a handful of documented cases of people leaving their homes near wind farms exist, the evidence just doesn’t suggest that it has anything to do with noise emissions from the wind farm, yet there is strong evidence that it has everything to do with the negative and fearful messages pushed by anti-wind campaigners.

Verdict: WHOPPER

Windpower Reality 8: Wind farms displace greenhouse gases from fossil fuel generation on almost exactly a 1:1 basis

The claim: Because they are continually backed up by fossil fuel generators, wind turbines do not reduce greenhouse gases and the industry can’t  produce any actual evidence to show they do.

Wind farms reduce CO2e emissions in the overall electrical grid by substantial amounts. Typical grids produce 800 g of CO2e per KWh (1000 in Victoria) generated by their mixes and wind energy displaces virtually all of that. Claims related to concrete use are pure disinformation as is shown by apples-to-apples comparison of full-lifecycle comparisons of wind energy to other forms of generation in Texas, Australia and the UK.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 10.49.42 AM

The chart above is a typical assessment of fossil fuel versus wind generation and implications for greenhouse gases. It shows that fossil fuels are cut off by virtually exactly the amount that wind energy is produced, eliminating 99.8 per cent of their greenhouse gases.

This, of course, would be just one example of actual evidence the industry can produce. And here’s a Sustainability Victoria report with similar conclusions.

As for the claim of backup, South Australia wind energy has gone from near zero to 25 per cent penetration in a decade. In that time, SA’s greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by just under 30 per cent, and no back-up generation has been built to achieve this.

Verdict: DOUBLE WHOPPER

Windpower Reality 9: Wind farms are the best choice of any form of generation for wildlife, the environment and ground water

The Claim: Wind turbines are not clean, not green.

There’s a reason why every major environmental, wildlife and bird organisation in the world is strongly in favour of wind energy: it’s pretty much the lowest impact source of energy available for the things these organisations care about. Millions fewer birds would be killed annually if all fossil fuel generators were replaced with wind energy. Ground water would be much, much cleaner and aquifers would diminish more slowly. Habitat currently being destroyed by open pit and mountaintop removal coal mining, acid rain and immense oil spills would be left alone instead.

The real threat to the environment, birds and other wildlife is global warming, pollution and the massive habitat destruction that accompanies fossil fuels. Pretending otherwise is yet another remarkable inversion of reality.

Verdict: WHOPPER

Windpower Reality 11: Wind energy is the cheapest new form of generation except shale gas, and has virtually no downsides compared to the alternatives

The claim: There are smarter and cheaper ways to save the planet.

In addition to 1:1 greenhouse gas reductions, wind power also reduces particulate matter emissions from fossil fuel generation on a 1:1 basis as well, reducing childhood asthma, and emphysema and other cardiovascular conditions in adults. The benefits aren’t just for humans though: all wildlife benefits from the vastly reduced habitat destruction, cleaner air and reduced species extinction threat from fossil-fuel induced global warming.

As has been shown above, it’s cheaper to build brand new wind energy to displace all existing coal generation once societal costs are calculated in. And with coal seam gas producing 50 times the CO2e on its full lifecycle as wind energy, the question should be how little gas generation we can get away with.

Verdict: WHOPPER

So how did the anonymous stopthesethings do compared to Max Rheese and Senator Madigan and their collected whoppers? Well, the presser has 485 words and according to the count above, they manage an amazing 14 whoppers in those few words.

It’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to something and hide behind layers of anonymity to protect yourself from being called out on your lies.

Full text of ad by STT below:

Wind Power Fraud – Australia  Can’t  Afford  it

Power bills have sky-rocketed and are set to double again – and all because of wind power. Wind turbines are going up throughout rural Australia in an effort to satisfy the Federal Government’s  2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET).

Every turbine is issued between 8,000 to 10,000 Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) every year, which is, in effect, a Federal Government tax on power consumers. Each REC is currently worth around $35: a single turbine will be issued between $280,000 and $350,000 worth of RECs this year. Retailers are forced by the RET to take wind power at prices up to 4 times the cost of hydro, gas or coal fired power.

Under the REC tax scheme power consumers are being forced to subsidise wind power. The REC tax and the exorbitant prices retailers are forced to pay for wind power are added directly to your power bills.

The REC price will rise to $90, if the current REC tax system is maintained. This means that wind farm operators will be issued between $700,000 and $900,000 worth of RECs for each turbine every year until 2031: a subsidy paid by power consumers, worth more than $12 million per turbine.

From now until 2031 RECs worth an estimated $52 billion will be issued. As a result, household power prices are set to more than double again over the next 2-3 years.

In South Australia wind power now makes up around 35% of its total generating capacity, all attracting the REC tax. With the REC tax and the exorbitant cost of wind power added directly to power bills, SA will soon have the highest retail power prices in the world.

If  ripping  off  power  consumers  wasn’t  bad  enough,  incessant low-frequency noise from wind turbines is driving people out of their homes all over the Country, at places like Waubra and Waterloo, gutting our rural communities.

Wind turbines are not clean, not green and the cost consumers are forced to pay for the unreliable and intermittent power they produce is ridiculous. Because they are continually backed up by fossil fuel generators, wind turbines do not reduce greenhouse gases and the industry  can’t  produce  any actual evidence to show they do.

This is the greatest economic fraud Australia has ever seen. Federal Liberal MP, Alby Schulz and DLP Senator, John Madigan are investigating windfarm operators in breach of State planning laws and, therefore, collecting RECs worth tens of $millions on a fraudulent basis.

Australia simply can’t  afford  to  let this go on any longer. There are smarter and cheaper ways to save the planet.

To  bring  it  to  an  end  join  “The  Wind  Power  Fraud  Rally”  on  June  18,  2013 at Parliament House, Canberra.

Anyone who pays a power bill should be there to hear what the Coalition plans to do about it when it wins Government. For details of the Rally check stopthesethings.com

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  • Ketan Joshi

    Good stuff, Mike. The anonymously-run website is a bastion of shameless hyperbole and cruel vilification. Australia really doesn’t need its own tea party.

  • George Papadopoulos

    Mike: “Astroturfing refers to political, advertising, or public relations campaigns that are designed to mask the sponsors of the message to give the appearance of coming from a disinterested, grassroots participant. Astroturfing is intended to give the statements the credibility of an independent entity by withholding information about the source’s financial connection. The term is a derivation of AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

    I guess such a definition includes yourself, as I really wonder who keeps your prolific international appearance and article writing going!
    At least I know Infigen is behind Ketan

    • Nick Valentine

      George, anything to add on the issues raised in Mike’s piece? Or is it just easier to disparage the author?

      • George Papadopoulos

        Nick, disparaging the author? See Mike’s comment below. I am a ‘homeopath’ even though I have no qualifications in the area, and am not registered as one either.

        Clearly such a subjective, nasty, mean, man needs no response to his articles.

    • http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/ Mike Barnard

      For those following along at home, please read the About page of my blog, which spells out exactly how much money I have received as a result of my writing — zero to date –, what I would do with it if I received it — donate to charity — and why I am, as noted homeopath Mr. Papadopoulos, points out, prolific — it’s my volunteer giveback to society.

      http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/about/

      • George Papadopoulos

        Mike, isn’t it an amazing coincidence that the pro-wind professor at Sydney also apparently doesn’t receive a cent from the wind industry, DIRECTLY, but seems to be ever involved in actions and “research” that serves purposes beyond his role as academic.
        You must have some rather interesting motivations. So what does motivate you to promote the wind industry so widely, but hardly a word about other renewable energy sources?

        • http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/ Mike Barnard

          Focus, just the inverse of yours, George, but positively inclined and based on facts.

          What’s your motivation for posting and commenting so prolifically on wind and spreading vitriol and disinformation so widely? And hardly a word about other energy sources at all?

          • George Papadopoulos

            Mike, I thought you knew that I was the “strange guy” from Yass that hears and gets very disturbed from the low frequency noise from wind turbines in the region? I will not live in a world governed by stupid and harmful monstrosities that ruin the environment in such a way. Now you know why I don’t talk about other energy sources, apart from the occasional attack on CSG?

    • Ketan Joshi

      George, unless stated otherwise, all statements I make on fora, comment boards and blogs are my own and not my employer’s.

      • George Papadopoulos

        Ketan, would you have had the same convictions over wind energy if you weren’t working in that industry?

        • Ketan Joshi

          That’s an interesting question – with regards to ‘stop these things’, no, I probably wouldn’t, simply because if I weren’t in the industry, ‘Stop These Things’ would probably not have opted to post anonymous vilification of me on their site.

          (Remember that the submission of an anonymous complaint regarding research malpractice is vastly different to posting someone’s photo and accusing them of masturbation and brainwashing)

          One conviction that I hold regardless of employment is that rationality and calm ought to win out over fury, outrage and emotion. That’s why assessing the claims of ‘Stop These Things’ is a win for level-headedness and a lose for anonymous hate-blogging.

          • George Papadopoulos

            Ketan, I think you are taking the STT comment out of context: “A frequent tweeter, Infigen’s Ketan Joshi has 120 followers. In our opinion that’s akin to social media masturbation. You’re practically doing it on your own, mate.” http://stopthesethings.com/rogues-gallery/
            With regards to the anonymous complaint, it had an interesting similarity to the output of documents coming from Infigen, were you its author?

          • Ketan Joshi

            No.

          • George Papadopoulos

            Wow! A simple “no” – brevity for once Ketan! No long winded vicious response like I normally would get!
            Ketan, I know that you can’t speak on behalf of Infigen, but it would be interesting if the anonymous complaint came from another Infigen employee – perhaps a manager. Your well known cosy relationship with Simon Chapman, who was privy to the contents of the anonymous complaint, makes the search for the anonymous author of the document rather narrow doesn’t it?
            Also isn’t it coincidence that the complaint was lodged after Chapman produced his “research” suggesting that Sarah Laurie was a mental health hazard for rural Australia?
            Another coincident: the complaint was produced after Infigen saw its Cherry Tree Hill wind farm go under the VCAT ruling that acknowledged the opinion and evidence produced by Sarah Laurie that wind turbines are making people sick.
            Correct me if I am wrong. I would nevertheless welcome any representations you can make to convince your boss to put out a statement confirming that Infigen or its employees were in no way the anonymous author of the PHAA complaint.

  • Simon_Chapman

    This is to introduce George Papadopoulos, in his other life an authority on all that nasty radiation out there that the products he flogs can protect you from http://geovital.com.au/geovital_george_papadopoulos_nsw.html

    George, mind telling us all a little more about Dr.med Ivan Engler the “Noble (sic) Prize winner” who you quote on your site? http://web.archive.org/web/20130421152429/http://geovital.com.au/geopathicstressshielding.html

  • Giles

    I deleted a whole bunch of comments because the conversation was getting out of hand. We aspire to higher standards than other web sites, and because this system does not allow editing out of nastiness, rudeness and unpleasantness, then the whole lot comes down.
    By all means start over, but keep it above the level of a coal pit.

  • Jason

    It shows no one is really in control- that well funded self interested groups can shrug off facts and shamelessly propagate information that is totally deceptive around issues of such importance makes me worry, not about the solutions for they are there, but about the delays this type of thing is allowing… when NASA is collecting data that the permafrost is heating up at rates higher than expected and the scale of the release of methane and carbon dioxide in the permafrost that this entails makes the risks of further delay way outside a responsible approach, the people behind stop these things are entering the region of being criminally negligent in my opinion. When the preponderance of the evidence is stating the exact opposite of your case and you think going even more extreme and fruit loopy will win the day at some point there needs to be consequences to your actions….

  • Guest

    Wind farms turned me into a zombie.

  • Guest

    Wind farms turned me into a zombie. But I got better.

    • Calamity_Jean

      Do we really need this?

  • OOOOOHhhh

    Wind farms turned me into a zombie. But i got better

  • Peter Lang

    It is astonishing how confident wind advocates are, when the
    facts don’t support them at all. You can see that in Climate Spectator just
    about every day.

    Having just looked through the list of what he asserts are
    “Whoppers”, I’d summarise that his responses are a mass of misinformation,
    distortions, and, in his own terms, whoppers!
    There are so many misleading statements I wouldn’t know where to
    begin. Therefore, to avoid wasting much
    time on this I provide a quick brain-dump. Following is a short,
    off-the-top-of-my-head response to each of his eleven points.

    Wind Reality
    1: Wind energy is saving Australian consumers money

    Wrong! Wind energy is
    very high cost. It is already costing consumers
    in higher electricity prices despite contributing only 3 of our electricity. It has to be mandated as ‘must take’ by
    legislation, otherwise no wind farms would be built. The wind farms need about $110/MWh to make them
    viable; this should be compared with the roughly $30/MWh for the coal fired
    electricity it is intended to displace.
    But there are many hidden extra costs: grid costs and costs transferred
    to the dispatchable generators, – similar to solar PV as described by Energy
    Supply Association of Australia (ESAA): http://www.esaa.com.au/Library/PageContentFiles/0ed86edb-b445-43f7-b1da-04dba6c4b4bf/Who_pays_for_solar_energy.pdf

    Windpower
    Reality 2: Wind energy is cheap once fossil fuel subsidies and negative
    externalities are accounted for

    Wrong! See
    above. There is little subsidy for
    fossil fuel electricity generation. But
    the subsidy for wind is more than 100%.
    The LCOE of wind power is around $110/MWh plus grid costs and costs
    transferred to dispatchable generators.
    This must be compared with the average cost of coal fired electricity of
    about $30/MWh (coal is what the mandating of wind power is intended to
    displace).

    The link for his assertion there are high subsidies for
    fossil fuels goes to “Crikey” another ‘Progressive’ web site. They just keep regurgitating the same
    baseless assertions. They mix up claims
    about subsides for petroleum products and try to imply these apply to
    electricity generation. They do not and
    it is disingenuous they keep repeating it.

    The chart showing cost of electricity (LCOE) and external
    costs is unreferenced. It is nonsense.
    The LCOE’s shown in the chart bear no relation to the authoritative
    figures for Australia:
    http://www.bree.gov.au/documents/publications/aeta/Australian_Energy_Technology_Assessment.pdf

    The external cost estimates should be taken seriously. They are highly contentious and depend
    entirely on who you believe.

    Windpower
    Reality 3: RECs aren’t a tax, but a market-based incentive

    Nonsense. If REC’s
    were market based they wouldn’t have to be a product of politics and
    bureaucrats and they wouldn’t have to be legislated. They add about $40/MWh to the cost of
    electricity generated by wind. There are
    other costs that are also added such as grid costs and hidden costs transferred
    to dispatchable generators that must be, and are, then included in their cost
    of electricity. The consumer pays.

    Windpower
    Reality 4: Wind energy and other incremental renewables are on target to avoid
    the rarely paid REC penalty price

    Irrelevant and disengenuous!
    There is no realistic prospect that wind can make a major contribution
    to Australia’s
    electricity generation. Like us, the
    European countries are now recognising the high cost for no benefits and are
    backing away from mandating and subsidising wind and renewable energy as fast
    as they can unwind the subsidies and regulations that mandate it.

    Wind generates less than 3% of Australia’s
    electricity and would have to get to close to 20% by 2020 to meet the RET. So, at first blush, the additional cost of renewables
    paid by consumers will increase by a factor of up to seven by 2020. It may not be as high as this, but could be
    more if the legislation is not repealed.

    This recent article shows the cost per MWh escalates as the
    proportion of renewable generation increases: http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/michael-shellenberger-and-ted-nordhaus/no-solar-way-around-it/

    Windpower
    Reality 5: REC will continue to be a reasonable percentage of the overall
    electricity cost structure and drive consumer prices down

    Nonsense! Renewable
    energy will drive consumer prices up.
    This is obvious. More high cost
    generation means higher electricity prices.
    But it’s worse than it appears because as the proportion of renewable energy
    increases the cost per MWh increases disproportionately. See the first figure here: http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/michael-shellenberger-and-ted-nordhaus/no-solar-way-around-it/

    Windpower
    Reality 6: Jurisdictions with wind farms have the lowest electricity prices in
    their countries

    Nonsense! The highest
    electricity prices in the OECD are in the countries with the highest proportion
    of wind power. In fact the top three
    are: Denmark, Germany
    and South Australia (see Figure 3
    here: http://www.euaa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/FINAL-INTERNATIONAL-PRICE-COMPARISON-FOR-PUBLIC-RELEASE-19-MARCH-2012.pdf

    Windpower
    Reality 7: A few people have left their homes because of anti-wind activists
    creating stress and health fears

    No comment.

    Windpower
    Reality 8: Wind farms displace greenhouse gases from fossil fuel generation on
    almost exactly a 1:1 basis

    Nonsense! Many
    studies show wind power is nowhere near 100% efficient at displacing
    emissions. An recent study by Joe
    Wheatley shows that wind power was just 53% effective at cutting GHG emissions
    in Ireland in
    2011: http://docs.wind-watch.org/Wheatley-Ireland-CO2.pdf
    . Ireland’s
    grid is similar to South Australia’s
    in many relevant ways so this study is particularly relevant.

    Windpower
    Reality 9: Wind farms are the best choice of any form of generation for
    wildlife, the environment and ground water

    No comment.

    Windpower
    Reality 11: Wind energy is the cheapest new form of generation except shale
    gas, and has virtually no downsides compared to the alternatives

    Nonsense! You have to
    include the costs of back up generation, the cost of the grid and the hidden
    costs transferred to the dispatchable generators caused by mandating wind as
    ‘must take’. When you include all these
    costs, wind is far more expensive than fossil fuels and nuclear power.

    “Objectively speaking, intermittent renewables
    are still very far from challenging fossil fuels as the preferred energy source
    of our industrialized civilization. Some tremendous technological breakthroughs
    will be necessary to change this outlook and such amazing advances, if they are
    even possible, are likely to require many more decades of basic R&D. “

    http://theenergycollective.com/schalk-cloete/235431/renewable-energy-grid-parity-reality-check-part-1

  • Louise

    To Mike Barnard

    Great article Mike.