wind turbines

Wind Farms: Bird Killers?

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[Update: after some feedback on Twitter, and in the comments  I should point out the main objection to the Spectator article I refer to. I probably didn’t do a good job making it clear originally. The piece claims wind turbines are an extinction threat for many species. The “threat status” assessments of the species the article refers to indicate that this is probably not the case.]

Wind turbines kill birds and bats. A rather stark and provocative sentence, yet somewhat uninformative. This week’s Spectator however has an article which goes somewhat further. Written by Clive Hambler, of Oxford University, it starts like this:

Wind farms are devastating populations of rare birds and bats across the world, driving some to the point of extinction. Most environmentalists just don’t want to know. Because they’re so desperate to believe in renewable energy, they’re in a state of denial. But the evidence suggests that, this century at least, renewables pose a far greater threat to wildlife than climate change. Read the rest of this entry »


Why hyping solar is bad for renewables

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For a few hours in May this year Germany got over half of its electricity from solar power. A much hyped event that Bill McKibben claimed demonstrates we already have the technology to solve climate change. However, there is a great danger that selectively reporting peak production of different renewable energy sources will lead to public misunderstanding of the relative merits of different renewable energy sources. Read the rest of this entry »

When is a GW not a GW?

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A report in the Guardian today included a rather curious statement. Covering a speech by Labour Party leader Ed Milliband at Whitelee Wind Farm near Glasgow, Damian Carrington claimed the following:

The windfarm, which spreads out across low, heather-clad hills, currently has 140 turbines and will add another 75 turbines soon, giving it a capacity equivalent to more than half a nuclear power station (about 550MW).

Now, it is true that the capacity of most nuclear power plants is somewhere around 1000 MW, however one would expect that a journalist who regularly writes about energy would understand that 550 MW of wind was not equivalent to 550 MW of nuclear. Read the rest of this entry »

How predictable is wind power?

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I have sometimes heard people say wind power is reliably predictable, but have never looked into the issue before, mainly because some of the people I have heard make the claim are not likely to be stupid enough to have this wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

“70-85% of the time”

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During the recent storm over UK Energy Minister John Hayes’ rather silly comments about onshore wind farms, the Green Party leader Natalie Bennett made a quite curious intervention to the debate. Most curious was the following challenge, a taunt if you will, to those who say the intermittency of wind is a problem:

No energy source functions 100% of the time – but still as Green Party leader I still get the truly clueless question from media sources that really should know better, variations of: “But the wind doesn’t blow all of the time so wind power can’t work, can it?” In fact, wind turbines produce electricity 70-85% of the time and last year generated enough electricity for more than 3.5 million homes. Read the rest of this entry »