BY Viv Forbes
Common sense on carbon, food, energy and climate.
We are told we must replace coal powered electricity with wind and solar, because of the “dangerous carbon dioxide” produced when coal is burnt. But a bit of investigation shows that carbon dioxide is a benefit to the biosphere, whereas wind and solar do real damage to the environment and the economy.
IMAGE Tehachapi Pass Wind Farms - 5,000 turbines cover virtually every ridgeline in the mountain pass between the Mojave Desert and California’s Central Valley. Source
Finally, both wind and solar farms produce zero or negligible power for at least 60% of the time. Thus they need 100% backup to avoid power failures. These backup facilities sterilise more land, and often need to be on “spinning reserve” in order to be instantly ready when clouds hide the sun or the wind fails at a time of peak demand. This additional construction causes more environmental harm and massively increases the cost of green electricity.
IMAGE Wind Power means investing in Two Sets of Generators, with Two Land Footprints, in order to guarantee the Same Supply Cartoon Credit: Steve Hunter
In this way both wind and solar energy affect far more land per unit of energy generated than a compact coal mine and its nearby linked power station.
Finally, what about gas? The carbon tax and the green war on coal and carbon dioxide have artificially boosted gas in preference to coal for generating electricity. This is generally a misallocation of resources. Gas is a very useful carbon fuel, but is generally too valuable to burn for generating electricity. It also needs to be gathered from a far bigger area than coal, creating more surface disturbance for a network of wells, pipelines, roads and waste water containment dams. In a sensible world, industrial electricity would be generated mainly by low-cost hydro, geothermal, coal or nuclear, with some gas for variable peak loads. Gas is more useful as fuel for mobile equipment, it provides a cleaner transport fuel in cities than petrol or diesel, and is invaluable for petrochemicals, fertilisers and plastics. Gas is surely being wasted providing backup for the token wind and solar plants being built.
They complained about the coal mine,
So we gave them 500 gas wells.
They complained about the gas wells,
So we gave them 5,000 wind turbines.
But then the wind failed, and their lights went out,
And now they wish they had stuck with the coal mine.
The conclusions are obvious – political force-feeding of wind and solar energy does more harm to the natural environment than coal, affects the local climate, hits consumers with unnecessary costs and threatens industry with power failures.
Solar is sensible for domestic hot water, powering small remote facilities and re-charging portable batteries. Wind power is sometimes useful for pumping water and generating power in remote locations. Consumers should be free to choose and pay for whatever energy they prefer, for whatever reason. However, wind and solar both produce costly intermittent power and should never be subsidised or mandated as a primary source of industrial electricity.
Further Reading: James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate alarmists and leader of the war on coal says: “Coal is the single greatest threat to civilisation and all life on our planet. The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.” See:
“The Greens have said very clearly: no new coalmines, no extension of existing coalmines; let's invest in renewables - the technology exists," Senator Milne. See:
Last weekend as blizzards swept across Europe, and over three hundred people died, Russia's main gas-company, Gazprom, was unable to meet demand. Did anyone even think of deploying our wind turbines to make good the energy shortfall from Russia?
Of course not. We all know that windmills are a self-indulgent and sanctimonious luxury whose purpose is to make us feel good. Had Europe genuinely depended on green energy on Friday, by Sunday thousands would be dead from frostbite and exposure, and the EU would have suffered an economic body blow to match that of Japan's tsunami a year ago. See:
Lies, Damn Lies and Green Statistics. Almost all predictions about the expansion and cost of German wind turbines and solar panels have turned out to be wrong – at least by a factor of two, sometimes by a factor of five. --Daniel Wentzel, Die Welt, 20 October 2012:
Large-scale exploitation of wind energy will inevitably leave an imprint in the atmosphere. Although the winds will not die, sucking that much energy out of the atmosphere may change precipitation and turbulence and have a climate effect as big as a doubling of the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere. See:
Spanish wind farms kill 6 to 18 million birds & bats a year. See:
Maryland wind farm ranks as the most deadly to birds and bats in USA. See:
The only sustainable population of whooping cranes in the wild is declining, concurrently with the invasion of their migration route, the Central Flyway, by over 2,000 wind turbines and their power lines. Nearly one hundred of these critically-endangered birds were lost this year. See:
Residents as far as 10km from the nearest wind turbine are affected by infra-sound and low frequency noise from the turbine. Unable to live in their homes, and unable to sell them, they become homeless “wind farm refugees”See:
Look how well wind turbines burn:
Peak production from solar panels in Australia occurs at noon. Peak annual demand on the power grid occurs at 6.30pm in mid-winter, after the sun goes down. Therefore solar panels contribute ZERO to supplying peak demand. See:
The cost of renewable energy for Australia is explained here:
The products of combustion of all carbon fuels are normal and natural components of the atmosphere, and essential nutrients for all life. This paper looks at the compositions of solid carbon fuels, the process of coal combustion, the exhaust products produced, and the benefits and pollution potential of those exhaust products. See:
An increase of 300ppm in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere (currently about 395ppm) would cause an increased growth in food plants of about 40% and trees of about 70%. See:
CO2 is essential for life. More CO2 will do much good and no harm. If it is allowed to increase at the current rate it will feed the world’s coming peak population without needing more land, seed, cultivation or water. For a beautifully illustrated article on the many benefits of carbon dioxide for the all life see:
IMAGE clean coal