Understanding Wind Development

Essential documents for understanding public concerns over wind turbine developments:


1. Calculating the Real Cost of Industrial Wind Power: An Information Update for Ontario Electricity Consumers. 2007. http://www.windaction.org/documents/14007


Energy experts report that industrial wind power is proving to be exceptionally expensive to consumers once required backup and additional infrastructure are factored in. The high cost is caused by (a) the need to maintain backup generating reserve to cover times when the wind does not blow. (b) The need to stabilize the grid when wind produces power that is not needed by current demand. (c) Government subsidization and tax benefits for the wind industry.


U.K energy expert David White BSc, C Eng, F I Chem E writes:


The assessment of the national emissions benefit . . . has to be based on      the extent to which wind generated power can displace conventionally generated power from the total electricity supply system on a minute by minute basis…. any calculation of the CO2 emissions reduction from wind must take into account the quantity of conventional generating capacity that has to be retained in varying states of readiness while the wind-generated power is taken into the grid.  


The German Electricity generating Authority E-OnNetz report of 2004:


“The massive increase in construction of new wind power plants in recent years has greatly increased the need for wind-related reserve capacity (conventional generation). This new generation would be apart from firm generation necessary to meet expectations of increased demand, and installed at 90 percent of the nameplate capacity of aggregate wind plant, using more conventional fuels in the process, producing copious carbon emissions as much or more than if wind facilities had never existed.           


The Ireland Electricity Supply Board National Grid (ESB) stresses the consequential cost-effects of wind generation and their assessment in meeting the EU target will entail a 15% increase in electricity cost.


In Denmark which has one of the world’s highest concentrations of wind turbines, 80% of the wind energy that is produced has to be sold to Denmark‘s neighbours Norway and Sweden at a price far below the cost of production in order to stabilize the grid. Denmark has the highest consumer electricity charges in Europe. Danish households already pay 100% more for their electricity than other European consumers.


The Tallinn report presented by the Tallinn Technical University of Estonia at the

International Energy Workshop at Laxenburg, Austria in 2003 concludes:


Participation of thermal power plants in the compensation of fluctuating production of windmills eliminates the major part of the expected positive effect of wind energy. . . . It seems reasonable to ask why wind-power is the beneficiary of such extensive support if it not only fails to achieve the CO2 reductions required, but also causes cost increases in backup, maintenance and transmission, while at the same time discouraging investment in clean, firm generation capacity.


Robert M. MacIntosh, past president of the Canadian Bankers Association said in ‘Overblown Wind’, in the Financial Post 10/21/05:


“It’s time for reality to replace ideology in energy policy”.



2. Less for More: The Rube Goldberg Nature of Industrial Wind Development. Jon Boone: December 22, 2006. http://www.windaction.org/documents/7013


Functionally, wind turbines produce little energy relative to demand and what little they do produce is incompatible with the standards of reliability and cost characteristic of our electricity system. Moreover, wind plants are unable either to mitigate the need for additional conventional power generation in the face of increased demand or to reliably augment power during times of peak demand. Ironically, as more wind installations are added, almost equal conventional power generation must also be brought on line. Crucially important, however, wind technology, because of the inherently random variations of the wind, will not reduce meaningful levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide produced from fossil-fueled generation, which is its raison d`etre”.


3. Wind Forecast Error Impacts on Efficiency. Hok Ng. IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator): 2008. http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/pubs/consult/windpower/wpsc 20080514-Item3.pdf


This short presentation summarizes the increasing cost to Ontario electricity consumers from the inefficiency caused by adding unpredictable wind energy to the grid. “If we assume that the forecast error percentages remain the same in 2009 we could expect the annual costs of inefficiencies to increase –Due to over forecast: $866K –Due to under forecast: $37K”  


4. Arran Lake: a study of a sensitive wildlife habitat under threat. 2008.

This environmental study, using up-to-date European research, demonstrates why proposed wind turbines would have a devastating effect on one of Ontario‘s sensitive wildlife habitats. It highlights the urgent need to establish definite provincial regulations for constraint planning in order to protect these valuable natural heritage systems from degradation and abandonment as a result of encroaching wind turbine developments.


Dr. Scott Petrie of Bird Studies Canada believes that “there has not been a rigorous coordinated approach to the assessment of suitable sites, or to addressing concerns about existing proposals. There also do not appear to be sufficient guidelines for the placement of wind farms; hence the proposals and possibility that wind farms will be placed on the shorelines of Lake St. Clair and Long Point, two of the most significant wetland complexes in North America.”


5. The Renewables Obligation, and Climate Change Levy. John Constable and Robert Barfoot, published by the Renewable Energy Foundation, London, England. http://www.ref.org.uk/PublicationDetails/43

The U.K. Telegram summarized this report on 14 September 2008: “Wind farms are failing to deliver value for money and distorting the development of other renewable energy sources, [the] report claims. Excessive subsidies make them an expensive and inefficient way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a study by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) think-tank says. The industry admits that for up to 30 per cent of the time, turbines are idle because wind speeds are either too low to turn the blades, or too high, risking damage to the machines. The report says that wind farms are unprofitable and rely on hefty subsidies that ultimately come from consumers in the form of rising energy prices. This cost comes on top of increases in gas and electricity prices caused by the high price of oil. They risk leaving the poorest members of society struggling to heat their homes.


7. False Wind Industry Claims about the Integration in Electric Grids of the Intermittent, Volatile & Unreliable Electricity from Wind Turbines. Glenn Schleede, (former Vice President of the New England Electric System). http://www.windaction.org/documents/4710


 Wind turbines have little if any real ‘capacity value,’ the measure of the generating capacity that can really be counted on when needed to meet customers’ demands, particularly when electricity demand is at peak levels. . . .  Wind turbines do not provide significant amounts of electricity during periods of peak electricity demand. The practical implication of this is that areas with growing peak electricity demand will need to add reliable, dispatchable generating capacity even if they already have built wind turbines. Arbitrarily high “capacity values” assigned to “wind farms” by some grid managers or regulators are, in effect, an added subsidy at the expense of electric customers.


8. Noise Radiation from Wind Turbines Installed Near Homes: Effects on Health. Barbara Frey, BA, MA, and Peter Hadden, BSc, FRICS



In 2006, the French National Academy of Medicine issued a report that concludes:


“The harmful effects of sound related to wind turbines are insufficiently assessed. . . The sounds emitted by the blades being low frequency, which therefore travel easily and vary according to the wind, . . . constitute a permanent risk for the people exposed to them.. . . The Academy recommends halting wind turbine construction closer than 1.5 km from residences”.







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