More gibberish about wind turbines

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The belief that wind turbines do not reduce emissions appears to be incapable of dying. Humans however are rather fond of myths, so don’t expect an imminent death.

So, the Irish Times this week reports the usual gibberish from the usual quarters. Wind farms require extra spinning reserve etc. etc. and so they do not reduce CO2 emissions.

I’ve explained why this is gibberish before, so will not do it again.

But it should be easy to prove that wind farms do not reduce emissions in Ireland. It now gets over 15% of its electricity from wind turbines, hardly an insignificant figures. Statistics are readily available for how much natural gas, coal, and in Ireland’s case peat, is used to generate electricity. These statistics can then be analysed to see if the fuel consumption of conventional power plants is consistent with wind turbines reducing emissions or not. If wind turbines don’t reduce emissions, as people claim, then these power plants should be consuming far more fuel per unit of electricity than expected. And this can be tested quite easily.

So why have wind farm opponents not got hold of this data to prove that wind farms do nothing to reduce emissions? I can guess the answer.

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25 thoughts on “More gibberish about wind turbines

    Owen said:
    April 16, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Hi Robert
    Your website is very informative but you are mistaken in the 15% wind figure. This has been debunked in a report prepared by Pat Swords BE CEng FIChemE CEnv MIEMA
    “How Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) blatantly
    deceives the Irish Public”
    I can email you a copy if you like.

      Robert Wilson responded:
      April 16, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      I find it hard to believe the Irish electric authorities are lying about this. But my email address is in the contacts section of the site.

        Owen said:
        April 17, 2014 at 6:35 pm

        Hang on, Robert the article does not say “wind turbines do not reduce emissions”. It says they are ineffective- “This further reduces the quantity of saved energy.”

        So you are trying to argue against something that was never said. Wind energy does save fuel at the marginal level – the question is what is happening at the macro level.

        1) The first thing is SEAI admit that they dont include effect on spinning reserve in their figures and that there are “clear limitations” in their analysis.

        2) Even if you do get these figures that you talk about we dont have a parallel system with fossil fuel only to compare it to. Then there are the problems of what is included and what is not in Eirgrid’s figures eg is parasitic power counted ?

        3) Total dispatchable capacity has increased in Ireland since 2006. You can see this on Eirgrid’s Adequacy Reports. It is projected to increase even further. So even if you do see marginal savings in your analysis, the pie has gotten bigger. What would the pie have done if there was no wind ?

        Robert Wilson responded:
        April 17, 2014 at 7:19 pm


        You are on the one coming on here making claims. Either provide some evidence to back them up or stop wasting people’s time. As I said in the post there is an easy way to confirm how in-effective wind farms are at reducing emissions, but opponents of wind farms do not do it.

        Owen said:
        May 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm

        Download Eirgrid’s reports and do your own analysis. From my calculations, fossil fuel plant increased 20% and 1MW of wind required 1MW of conventional back-up. This happened from 2006 – 2013 when demand for electricity dropped…any savings on fossil fuel are made in an inflated generation capacity so irrelevant no matter what way you count them.

        Sean said:
        May 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm

        Recent engineering analysis of bearings in greater than 2 megawatt wind turbines now proves that gear box driven machines are likely to fail every 2 YEARS. Larger direct drive machines have major design and ware with their linkages.Which means greater down and much larger maintenance bills. Which also leads to the use of increased back up power. As your ability to forecast accurately is significantly reduced.If you look back at Eirgrids forecasting efforts in February you will see days with a short fall of 500 Megs from forecast. This extra back up was probably close to 100% fossil based production. So there is no reduction in co2 from the wind program.After 1000 Megs installed co2 emissions actually increase.Incidenatally after 10 years production wind turbines are essentially piles of metal junk producing little or no electricity.

    Bob Smith said:
    April 17, 2014 at 2:32 am

    In my country, Ontario/Canada, we’ve just shut down the last coal generator. The political party and our Wind Energy Association is proudly taking credit for getting our province off of coal generation. Unfortunately its not true. Coal generation in Ontario was no longer needed because of a) falling demand as our province de-industrialized, b) the return of a full fleet of CANDU reactors, and c) the building of 17 natural gas plants. The data supporting this assertion is irrefutable. When we are forced to accept Wind generation into our grid now, we actually have to shut down our rather plentiful hydro generation, and steam off nuclear generation, or sell surplus power to nearby jurisdictions – at a very significant loss that costs us ratepayers every single time it happens. So if we were to shut down every turbine tomorrow here’s what would happen in Ontario. Nothing. No rise in emissions. No loss of power generation. Nothing. So, I ask you, if you have a product and you remove it and it has absolutely no beneficial effect, why is it there in the first place?
    The Wind Industry oversells a product that is only marginally useful in most jurisdictions. Look at what is happening in Germany. Emissions are going up in parallel with increased “renewables”.
    There are much better ways for us to save ourselves on this planet that building hundreds of thousands of wind turbines. There are a few places in this world that actually need wind turbines… but not many.

    Donough Shanahan said:
    April 17, 2014 at 8:04 am


    Being Irish the data to get is below. It is a mix of live data and pdf reports. I would look at the data but it is a long weekend for me here; maybe later

    Now there have been studies and reports on this issue and certainly CO2 was avoided. In the past anti-wind groups tended to focus on the amount and claim that wind is not saving as much as it should. Reports like below were trotted out.

      Robert Wilson responded:
      April 17, 2014 at 10:48 am

      I have looked through Eirgrid’s data before. They base their CO2 calculations on actual fuel consumption. Of course the anti wind groups prefer to estimate CO2 emissions using flawed engineering arguments from individual engineers, and not on the amount of carbon that is being burned.

        Donough Shanahan said:
        April 17, 2014 at 11:35 am


        I mean how long would it take to download the carbon intensity graphs from say 2008 and then from say 2013, look at what has changed and try and piece together the contribution. A bit of time sure for sure (a week of concerted effort perhaps) but these people do seem to have a lot of time on their hands.

      Owen said:
      April 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      The problem is that Eirgrid dont take account of inefficiencies on other plant due to wind. SEAI have refused to supply the basis for calculating wind generation under an Access to Information request.

        Robert Wilson responded:
        April 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm

        This is not true. If their CO2 calculations are based on actual fuel consumption of power plants then these so called inefficiencies would be taken into account. These inefficiencies should also show up in statistical year books for Ireland’s energy consumption. Why do they not? Are people hiding this fossil fuel consumption?

    Sean O' Dubhlaiogh said:
    April 17, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Eirgrid and The S.E.A.I. when claiming CO2 reductions, due to the wind program, ignore the CO2 produced by Spinning Reserve and the start up of fossil fuel plant, They only count CO2 produced while fossil plant produces electricity. The admit it themselves, Eirgrid and the S.E.A.I. , all you got do is lookup their website. So there is no CO2 savings from wind. Now that wind turbines installed up to 7 years ago are beginning to fall apart the true savings, if any, are turning into a big negative. We would save more CO2 by closing down wind energy and replacing it with combined cycle gas.

      Robert Wilson responded:
      April 17, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      Please point me to where Eirgrid admit this.

    Val Martin said:
    April 17, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    When european countries transposed the E U renewable energy directive , they came to section 5 .3 which asked how much co2 it would save . They left it blank .

      Robert Wilson responded:
      April 17, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      And this is evidence that wind turbines don’t reduce emissions?

    Val Martin said:
    April 17, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Sustainable Energy Association of Ireland reported in 2012 and 2013 that Irish wind saved fuel and co2 . They twice admitted that there reports were limited because they did not count the inefficiencies on the fossil fuel plant . Their chair man is brendan halligan who holds 500,000 euros in mainstream renewable power . Wind farms are appliances in the same way that a washing machine is an appliance . They are met consumers of power .

      Robert Wilson responded:
      April 17, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      How about actually responding to my post? As I said we can test whether this is true by looking at total fuel consumption. Why not show me higher actual fuel consumption than you would expect?

    Val Martin said:
    April 17, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Google ” the impact of wind generation on an all Island Grid System February 2004″ this is by the Irish electricity supply board who ought to know . See page 24 read paragraph 2 and all that page . As wind level rises the contribution fall to zero . You cant power a grid system from the wind . Its just a subsidy racket .

      Robert Wilson responded:
      April 17, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Google it yourself and provide me with a link.

    Val Martin said:
    April 17, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    No house or factory or economy can or was ever powered by wind alone . It cant be used alone . So the question is at what level of penetration does it give its best contribution ? The answer it never gives a contribution . When you add something that does not work to something that does it takes away from the whole so you have to withdraw the one which fails to work . Thats is now happening by saying curtailment fees to wind which driver up costs . Its just a scam causes by greed and a lack of education .

      Robert Wilson responded:
      April 17, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Well. I’m still waiting for actual evidence that wind turbines don’t reduce emissions. As I said in the post there is easily available evidence that would persuade me of the case.

      However ranting will persuade me of little.

      Owen said:
      May 8, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      Absolute rubbish. This article is about the Irish grid and the conventional generation in Ireland has grown since 2006 on a 1MW wind to 1MW conventional basis. Do the analysis on Eirgrid’s reports – links like these are opinions. Opinions have no basis in science or fact. We need to check what has happened in reality.

        John Dooley said:
        May 8, 2014 at 3:02 pm

        Even Eirgrid admit to wind energy back. This back is increasing as their forecasting abilities decrease with increasing amounts of unreliable wind on the grid. As this uncertainty increases the probability of a nationwide blackout increases . This blackout will last for weeks and will be caused by too much wind penetration . The science deniers , wind scammer supporters, should starting doing some science and learning some mathematics if they want to make non delusional comments on a subject they clearly are ignorant of.

        Sean O’Dubhlaoigh

        Sent from my iPod

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