The Truth From Europe


The wind industry likes to tell stories about wind power in Europe and make us in the United States feel that we are woefully behind our friends across the Atlantic, imploring us to catch up.

The reality is that the European wind experience is increasingly colored by gross failure, economic problems related to unsustainable subsidies, curtailment of subsidies and citizen revolt.

This section is thus what the U.S. wind industry does not want you to know about Europe.


Table of Contents

10/1/09 - Economic impacts from the promotion of renewable energies:The German experience

2/15/10 - Wind Energy's Ghosts (Bankrupt Europe has a lesson for Congress about wind power)

3/10/10 -  ‘Anti-Lobbyist’ Obama Administration Recruited Left-Wing Lobbyists to Sell Bogus ‘Green Jobs’

9/12/10 - Denmark to abandon future onshore wind farms in the country?

1/26/11 - Austerity pulling plug on Europe's green subsidies

3/19/11 - Wind and Solar Subsidies Drying Up In Europe

5/10/11 - The Wind Experience (in Europe)

6/18/1111 - Governor LePage: Wind Turbines Damaging Maine's Quality of Life and Mountains" (references Sweden in Denmark)

8/28/11- Wind Power Is Dying

10/4/11 - Europeans look to UMaine for answer to wind energy problems

10/30/11 - Letter from EPAW, the European Platform Against Windfarms

11/19/11 - Wind farms are useless, says Duke of Edinburgh

2/1/12 - Learning from Others’ Mistakes: What Europe’s Experience with Renewable Mandates and Subsidies can Teach Texas

3/3/12 - The windfarm delusion

5/30/12 - Spain Ejects Clean-Power Industry With Europe Precedent: Energy

6/13/13 - America should learn from Europe on wind power

6/24/13 - Europe’s Renewables Hype Implodes As German Solar Goes Belly Up

6/25/13 - Danish Government Dumps Onshore Wind

7/16/13 - The dirty coal behind Germany's clean energy

9/05/2013 - Germans Revolt Against Germany's Green Energy Revolution

9/5/13 - Germany's Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good

 4/29/15 - Denmark Calls Halt to More Wind Farm Harm




October 2009 - Economic impacts from the promotion of renewable energies:The German experience


Excerpt: "Although Germany’s promotion of renewable energies is commonly portrayed in the media as setting a “shining example in providing a harvest for the world” (The Guardian 2007), we would instead regard the country’s experience as a cautionary tale of massively expensive environmental and energy policy that is devoid of economic and environmental benefits."

Download PDF: Germany_Study_-_FINAL.pdf


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February 15, 2010 - Wind Energy's Ghosts (Bankrupt Europe has a lesson for Congress about wind power)


February 15, 2010

Wind Energy's Ghosts

By Andrew Walden

Bankrupt Europe has a lesson for Congress about wind power.


The sound floats on the winds of Ka Le, this southernmost tip of Hawaii's Big Island, where Polynesian colonists first landed some 1,500 years ago.

Some say that Ka Le is haunted -- and it is. But it's haunted not by Hawaii's legendary night marchers. The mysterious sounds are "Na leo o Kamaoa"-- the disembodied voices of 37 skeletal wind turbines abandoned to rust on the hundred-acre site of the former Kamaoa Wind Farm.

 The voices of Kamaoa cry out their warning as a new batch of colonists, having looted the taxpayers of Spain, Portugal, and Greece, seeks to expand upon their multi-billion-dollar foothold half a world away on the shores of the distant Potomac River. European wind developers are fleeing the EU's expiring wind subsidies, shuttering factories, laying off workers, and leaving billions of Euros of sovereign debt and a continent-wide financial crisis in their wake. But their game is not over. Already they are tapping a new vein of lucre from the taxpayers and ratepayers of the United States.

The Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade Bill appears to be politically dead since Republican Scott Brown's paradigm-shattering Massachusetts Senate victory. But alternative proposals being floated by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and others still promise billions of dollars to wind developers and commit the United States to generate as much as 20% of its electricity from so-called "renewable" sources.

The ghosts of Kamaoa are not alone in warning us. Five other abandoned wind sites dot the Hawaiian Isles -- but it is in California where the impact of past mandates and subsidies is felt most strongly. Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy's California "big three" locations -- Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio -- considered among the world's best wind sites. 

 Built in 1985, at the end of the boom, Kamaoa soon suffered from lack of maintenance. In 1994, the site lease was purchased by Redwood City, CA-based Apollo Energy. 

Cannibalizing parts from the original 37 turbines, Apollo personnel kept the declining facility going with outdated equipment. But even in a place where wind-shaped trees grow sideways, maintenance issues were overwhelming.  By 2004 Kamaoa accounts began to show up on a Hawaii State Department of Finance list of unclaimed properties. In 2006, transmission was finally cut off by Hawaii Electric Company. 

California's wind farms -- then comprising about 80% of the world's wind generation capacity -- ceased to generate much more quickly than Kamaoa.  In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned.  Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills.

The City of Palm Springs was forced to enact an ordinance requiring their removal from San Gorgonio.  But California's Kern County, encompassing the Tehachapi area, has no such law. Wind Power advocate Paul Gipe, who got his start as an early 1970s environmental activist at Indiana's Ball State University, describes a 1998 Tehachapi tour thusly:

"Our bus drove directly through the Tehachapi Gorge passing the abandoned Airtricity site with its derelict Storm Master and Wind-Matic turbines and the deserted Wind Source site with its defunct Aeroman machines. We also got a freeway-close glimpse of Zond's wind wall with its 400 Vestas V15 turbines, the former Arbutus site on rugged Pajuela Peak where only the Bonus turbines are still in service, and steep-sided Cameron Ridge topped with FloWind's few remaining Darrieus turbines before reaching SeaWest, our first stop.

"As we approached SeaWest from the desert town of Mojave, the old Micon 108s were spinning merrily, but the Mitsubishis with their higher start-up speed were just coming to life. SeaWest and Fluidyne had done a commendable job of cleaning the Mitsubishis of their infamous oil leaks for the tour's arrival."

Tehachapi's dead turbines 
(image via 
webecoistsky#walkerCenter for Land Use InterpretationTerminal Tower)
Writing in the February, 1999 edition of New Energy, Gipe explains:

From 1981 through 1985 federal and state tax subsidies in California were so great that wealthy investors could recover up to 50 percent of a wind turbine's cost. The lure of quick riches resulted in a flood of development using new and mostly untested wind turbines. By the end of 1986, when projects already underway in 1985 were completed, developers had installed nearly 15,000 wind turbines. These machines represented 1,200 MW of capacity worth US$2.4 billion in 1986 dollars.

It took nearly a decade from the time the first flimsy wind turbines were installed before the performance of California wind projects could dispel the widespread belief among the public and investors that wind energy was just a tax scam.

Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst focusing on energy and environmental issues for the Heritage Foundation, is not surprised.  He asks:

"If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place?  It's a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end."

After the collapse, wind promoters had a solution to their public image problem.  Hide the derelict turbines.  Gipe in 1993 wrote for the American Wind Energy Association: 

Currently most of the older, less productive wind turbines are located within sight of major travel corridors such as I-580 and I-10. Many first generation turbines and some of the second generation designs are inoperative, and all turbines of these generations are more prone to mechanical failure than contemporary designs. Public opinion surveys have consistently found that inoperative wind turbines tarnish the public's perception of wind energy's efficacy."

Gipe then quotes a 1991 UC Davis study, which explains:

"Our research and that of others show that turbines' non-operation and public fear of wind farm abandonment is still a critical issue, and it therefore behooves the wind industry to return to the 'big three' wind farm sites (Altamont, San Gorgonio, and Tehachapi) and to ensure that these areas are operating as efficiently as possible, and all turbine arrays which do not contribute significantly and conspicuously to power production are either replaced or, if necessary, removed."

Altamont's turbines have since 2008 been tethered four months of every year in an effort to protect migrating birds after environmentalists filed suit.   According to the Golden Gate Audubon Society, 75 to 110 Golden Eagles, 380 Burrowing Owls, 300 Red-tailed Hawks, and 333 American Kestrels (falcons) are killed by Altamont turbines annually.  A July, 2008 study by the Alameda County Community Development Agency points to 10,000 annual bird deaths from Altamont Pass wind turbines. Audubon calls Altamont, "probably the worst site ever chosen for a wind energy project." In 2004 the group unsuccessfully challenged renewal applications for 18 of 20 Altamont wind farms.

From its beginnings as a slogan of the anti-nuclear movement, wind energy has always been tied to taxpayer support and government intervention.  Wind farms got their first boost with the Carter-eraPublic Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) which encouraged states to enact their own tax incentives.  PURPA also for the first time allowed non-utility energy producers to sell electricity to utilities -- the first step towards a bungled half-privatization of electricity supply which would come two decades hence.

In the 1985 book "Dynamos and Virgins" a San Francisco based PG&E utility heir tells the story of how he joined forces in the 1970s with lawyers from the Environmental Defense Fund.  Together they worked for years to obstruct coal and nuclear power plants until utilities were forced to do business with wind energy suppliers.  

Protest and litigation remain among the foremost competitive tools used by the now multi-billion dollar "alternative" energy industry.  Reviewing the book, Robert Reich, a Kennedy School of Government professor who would later become Clinton's Secretary of Labor, wrote:

"The old paradigms of large-scale production, centralized management, and infinite resources are crumbling.  We are on the verge of a new political economy."      

The new paradigm created by the generation of 1968 is more political and less economy.  Without government intervention, utilities normally avoid wind energy.  Wind's erratic power feed destabilizes power grids and forces engineers to stand by, always ready to fire up traditional generators.  Wind does not fit into an electric supply model made up of steady massive low cost "base load" coal or nuclear plants backed up by on-call natural gas powered "peaker" units which kick in during high demand.  No coal or nuclear power plant has ever been replaced by wind energy.

Although carbon credit schemes often assign profitable carbon credits to wind farm operators based on a theoretical displacement of carbon emitted by coal or natural gas producers, in reality these plants must keep burning to be able to quickly add supply every time the wind drops off.  The formulae do not take into account carbon emitted by idling coal and natural gas plants nor the excess carbon generated by constant fire-up and shut down cycles necessitated to balance fluctuating wind supplies.  

But with PURPA on the federal books, the State of California quickly created "Interim Standard Offer" (ISO4) contracts guaranteeing a purchase price based on utilities' "avoided costs"--launching the first "California Wind Rush".  By 1982 turbines were sprouting from the dusty terrain of Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio.  The ISO4 contracts were written with the assumption that fuel prices would continue to soar. 

But that's not what happened. 

By 1985 oil and natural gas prices were dropping.  This changed the "avoided cost" calculations to the disadvantage of alternative energy producers.  ISO4 contracts no longer guaranteed a price sufficient to attract investment in wind energy.  Construction of new turbines stopped.  As the old ten-year contracts began to expire in the late 1980s, renewals were pegged at much lower avoided cost estimates.  As a result, many California wind developers quickly closed up shop, abandoning their turbines to moan out the one note song. 

Then Enron got involved. 

Building on the foundation laid by PURPA, 1992 Energy Policy Act (EPAct) began the partial deregulation of wholesale -- but not retail -- electricity.  Reich in 1985 had lauded the "crumbling" of "large-scale production (and) centralized management".  He got his wish.  EPAct set the stage for Enron's California energy market manipulations which led to the 2003 recall of Governor Gray Davis (D-CA).  The movement started by a PG&E heir led to the bankruptcy of PG&E.  Perhaps this is why some call the children of the 1960s "the destructive generation."

Designed to create a renewable energy trading market, EPAct -- much of which took effect in 1997 -- created a combination of mandates, incentives, and tax credits.  These included:

  • laws requiring large wind producers to be allowed to tie into the existing utility grid
  • "Renewable Portfolio Standards" forcing utilities to buy intermittent wind generated electricity.
  • "Renewable Energy Certificates" tradable separately from the electricity itself to sell to companies needing to meet the portfolio standards.
  • A 10-year "Production Tax Credit" that now equals $.019/kWh
  • Accelerated depreciation allowing tax write-off using an accelerated 5-year double-declining-balance method (40% per year).

Wind capacity had stagnated through the mid-1990s.  But Enron in January, 1997 bought out Tehachapi-based industry leader Zond Corporation - launching the second California Wind Rush. 

Four years later, Enron would implode.  The company which gamed a government-crippled artificial marketplace was deconstructed as poster boy for unbridled capitalism. 

But the tax credits, mandates, and regulations which made Enron possible did not die with it.  Enron Wind's turbine manufacturing subsidiary was purchased by General Electric.  Many of its wind farms went to Florida Light and Power.  By 2009, the US Department of Energy estimates mandate-and-subsidy-driven wind capacity would rise to 28,635mw. 

That much coal or nuclear "capacity" would power 28.635 million homes, but wind "capacity" is calculated assuming perfect wind 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.  At the best wind sites, such as Kamaoa, newly installed turbines generate only 30-40% of "capacity".  At most sites, the figure is 20% or less.  After 30 years of development, wind produces only 2.3% of California's electricity.  

And then there is maintenance.  The turbines installed in the first wind rush were not very reliable.  Some never worked at all.  As the years passed and the elements took their toll, downtime climbed ever closer to 100% and production dwindled to negligible amounts.  Developers often set malfunctioning turbines to "virtual" mode -- blades spinning without generating electricity -- in order to keep oil circulating inside the turbine drive.  Of course this habit also gives passing drivers an illusion of productivity.

Wind developers claim that today's American and European-made turbines are more reliable and longer-lasting than their old-tech predecessors.  But new Chinese turbine manufacturers of untested quality are crowding the marketplace Europe's subsidy-driven turbine meisters are chased from their home markets.

After the debacle of the First California Wind Rush, the European Union had moved ahead of the US on efforts to subsidize "renewable" energy--including a "Feed in Tariff" even more lucrative than the ISO4 contracts.  EU governments provided government-backed securities to support utilities burdened by Feed-in Tariff costs.  But last year, as the national debt of wind-intensive EU countries became unbearable, the EU subsidy bubble burst.

Wind maven Gipe proudly takes a page from the disastrous European playbook, crediting himselfwith "Almost single-handedly launch(ing) a campaign for Advanced Renewable Tariffs (electricity feed laws) in North America." 

But addressing a Heritage Foundation seminar last May, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, Professor of King Juan Carlos University in Madrid explained what Feed In Tariffs and other wind subsidies did to Spain (as well as Portugal and Greece) got into debt:

"The feed-in tariff... would make (utility) companies go bankrupt eventually.  So...the government give back the money in the future -- when (they) are not going to be in the office any more.  Slowly the market does not want to have these securities that they are selling.  Right now there is a debt related to these renewable energies that nobody knows how it is going to be paid -- of 16 Billion Euros." 

In early 2009 the Socialist government of Spain reduced alternative energy subsidies by 30%.  Calzada continues:

"At that point the whole pyramid collapsed.  They are firing thousands of people.  BP closed down the two largest solar production plants in Europe.  They are firing between 25,000 and 40,000 people...."

"What do we do with all this industry that we have been creating with subsidies that now is collapsing?  The bubble is too big.  We cannot continue pumping enough money.  ...The President of the Renewable Industry in Spain (wrote a column arguing that) ...the only way is finding other countries that will give taxpayers' money away to our industry to take it and continue maintaining these jobs."

That "other country" is the United States of America.

Waxman-Markey seems dead, and Europe's southern periphery is bankrupt.  But the wind-subsidy proposals being floated in Congress suggest that American political leaders have yet to understand that "green power" means generating electricity by burning dollars.

Andrew Walden edits
on "Wind Energy's Ghosts"


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3/3/10 -  ‘Anti-Lobbyist’ Obama Administration Recruited Left-Wing Lobbyists to Sell Bogus ‘Green Jobs’


A FOIA reveals the Department of Energy turned to George Soros and to wind industry lobbyists to help cover up two economic studies pointing to the failure of European wind energy programs.



March 3, 2010 - 11:57 am

After two studies refuted President Barack Obama’s assertions regarding the success of Spain’s and Denmark’s wind energy programs, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveals the Department of Energy turned to George Soros and to wind industry lobbyists to attack the studies.

Via the FOIA request, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has learned that the Department of Energy — specifically the office headed by Al Gore’s company’s former CEO, Cathy Zoi — turned to George Soros’ Center for American Progress and other wind industry lobbyists to help push Obama’s wind energy proposals.

The FOIA request was not entirely complied with, and CEI just filed an appeal over documents still being withheld. In addition to withholding many internal communications, the administration is withholding communications with these lobbyists and other related communications, claiming they constitute “inter-agency memoranda.” This implies that, according to the DoE, wind industry lobbyists and Soros’s Center for American Progress are — for legal purposes — extensions of the government.

This is a defense commonly employed against FOIA requests when seeking to withhold certain communications with, for example, paid consultants.

As candidate and president, on eight separate occasions Barack Obama instructed Americans to “think about what’s happening in countries like Spain [and] Germany” if they wanted to know what successful “green jobs” policies look like, and if they wanted to know what we should expect here in the U.S. from his agenda.

Some European economists took a look. In March, a research team from Madrid’s King Juan Carlos University produced a detailed, substantive, heavily sourced, two-method paper: “Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources.” The paper concluded that Spain’s “green jobs” program was an economic failure, in fact costing Spain many jobs.

The president of Spain’s renewable energy association — along with a Communist Party affiliated trade federation — decried the paper’s lead author as being unpatriotic.

The former wrote in Spain’s leading paper, El Mundo, slamming the research paper. However, he did not critique the paper itself — he agreed with its conclusion. He was furious only that the study was publicized. By revealing the truth about Spain’s increasingly mythologized “green jobs” and renewable energy experience, the revealed study threatened the prospects for Spain’s companies to be bailed out by the U.S. repeating these mistakes.

Incidentally, this became a common refrain. After the Spanish study embarrassed the White House, prompting substantial media attention and even questioning at a press conference, Obama swapped out Denmark for Spain for later references to an enacted “green jobs” program.

Soon, Denmark produced a study (“Wind Energy: The Case of Denmark“) through the think-tank CEPOS. This paper also revealed tremendous costs, and that Obama’s claim about Denmark’s “renewables” experience was also steeped in mythology.

The response from windmill advocates in Denmark was similar: such studies threaten Danish industry by reducing the chances that the U.S. will serve as the hoped-for massive new market to make inefficient energy sources profitable for their foreign manufacturers (Danish Radio TV News, Thursday, February 25, 2010).

Back in the U.S., the American Wind Energy Association — the lobby for “Big Wind” in Washington, D.C., which includes a few Spanish wind giants — also attacked the publication of the Spanish paper.

Soon, the Obama administration published a five-page talking points memo assailing the economic assessment — written by two young, non-economist, pro-wind activists from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Boulder, Colorado.

NREL is an extension of the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). EERE is run by Assistant Secretary of Energy Cathy Zoi, who, until assuming this post, served as CEO to Al Gore’sAlliance for Climate Protection. Zoi is responsible for many millions of the “green jobs” stimulus dollars pushed for and designed by Van Jones (this according to Jones himself).

The Obama administration’s criticisms — drafted in often personal terms — distilled to two main points, which we now know were politicized, lobbyist-assisted complaints. These were:

– The Spanish paper suffered from a “lack of rigor.”

– The Spanish paper applied “consensus economics.”

NREL made the most noise regarding the latter, upset that the Spaniards refused to use the input-output (or Leontief) methodology designed for central planning, in which all is assumed to be knowable, controllable, and static. This method has been discredited outside of social democratic government agencies and select associations. Instead, the Spanish study relied upon methodology employed by real-world businesses in competitive fields when deciding how to deploy resources — which is not “non-traditional,” as claimed by NREL.

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September 12, 2010 - Denmark to abandon future onshore wind farms in the country?

An ill wind blows for Denmark's green energy revolution

Denmark has long been a role model for green activists, but now it has become one of the first countries to turn against the turbines.

Even as parts of the British Government continue to blow hard for wind, other countries seem to be cooling on the idea
Even as parts of the British Government continue to blow hard for wind, other countries seem to be cooling on the idea Photo: PA

To green campaigners, it is windfarm heaven, generating a claimed fifth of its power from wind and praised by British ministers as the model to follow. But amid a growing public backlash, Denmark, the world's most windfarm-intensive country, is turning against the turbines.

Last month, unnoticed in the UK, Denmark's giant state-owned power company, Dong Energy, announced that it would abandon future onshore wind farms in the country. "Every time we were building onshore, the public reacts in a negative way and we had a lot of criticism from neighbours," said a spokesman for the company. "Now we are putting all our efforts into offshore windfarms."

Even as parts of the British Government continues to blow hard for wind, other countries seem to be cooling on the idea. This summer, France brought in new restrictions on wind power which will, according to the French wind lobby, jeopardise more than a quarter of the country's planned windfarm projects.

According to the latest Wind Turbine Price Index, produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, world prices for new wind turbines are down by 15 per cent on their 2008 peak amid a sharp slump in European and global demand. William Young, manager of Bloomberg's Wind Insight Service, says: "Expectations for turbine prices have never been so low, and the current market oversupply will continue for quite a while longer."

But it is in Denmark, the great windfarm pioneer, where some of the most interesting changes are taking shape. In 1980, the Danish government was Europe's first to bring in large-scale subsidies - on which, just as in Britain, the wind industry depends.

The results have been dramatic. According to the Danish Wind Energy Association, there are more than four thousand onshore turbines – two-thirds more than Britain - in a country a fifth the size. Nowhere else has more turbines per head, and Denmark is also a global centre of wind turbine manufacturing – with Vestas, the world's leading turbine firm, based in the country.

Unfortunately, Danish electricity bills have been almost as dramatically affected as the Danish landscape. Thanks in part to the windfarm subsidies, Danes pay some of Europe's highest energy tariffs – on average, more than twice those in Britain. Under public pressure, Denmark's ruling Left Party is curbing the handouts to the wind industry.

"Since 2005 alone, 5.1 billion kroner [£621 million] has been paid to the wind turbine owners. That cost has been borne by businesses and private consumers," says the party's environment spokesman, Lars Christian Lilleholt. "It seems to have become a political fashion to say that there should be more support for wind. But we have to look at other renewables. We cannot go on with wind power only."

The subsidy cuts are almost certainly the main reason behind Dong's move out of onshore wind. But public anger is real enough, too. Until recently, there was relatively little opposition to the windmills. But now a threshold appears to have been crossed. Earlier this year, a new national anti-wind body, Neighbours of Large Wind Turbines, was created. More than 40 civic groups have become members.

"People are fed up with having their property devalued and sleep ruined by noise from large wind turbines," says the association's president, Boye Jensen Odsherred. "We receive constant calls from civic groups that want to join."

In one typical battle, in the central city of Svendborg, the local council set height and number limits on turbines under heavy pressure from locals. "The violent protests and the uncertainty about low-frequency noise means that right now we will not expose our citizens to large windmills," said the deputy mayor, Lars Erik Hornemann.

There has also been growing scrutiny of the wind industry's macro claims. Though wind may indeed generate an amount of electricity equal to about a fifth of Danes' needs, most of that electricity cannot actually be used in Denmark.

Except with hydropower, electricity cannot be stored in large quantities. The power companies have to generate it at the moment you need to use it. But wind's key disadvantage – in Denmark, as elsewhere – is its unpredictability and uncontrollability. Most of the time, the wind does not blow at the right speeds to generate electricity. And even when it does, that is often at times when little electricity is needed – in the middle of the night, for instance.

So most of the wind electricity Denmark generates has to be exported, through interconnection cables - to Germany, to balance the fluctuations in that country's own wind carpet, or to Sweden and Norway, whose entire power system is hydroelectric, and where it can be stored. (The Swedes and Norwegians use it themselves - or sell it back, at a profit, to the Danes. If they use it themselves, there is, of course, no saving whatever of C02 – because all Norway and Sweden's domestically-generated hydropower is carbon-neutral anyway.)

"I would interpret the [export] data as showing that the Danes rely on their fossil-fuel plants for their everyday needs," says John Constable, research director for the London-based Renewable Energy Foundation, which has commissioned detailed research on the Danish experience. "They don't get 20 per cent of their electricity from wind. The truth is that a much larger unit, consisting of Denmark and Germany, has managed to get about 7 per cent – and that only because of a fortuitous link with Norwegian and Swedish hydropower."

Britain, meanwhile, almost certainly could not manage even that. "Our system is totally different," says Constable. "We are an island grid.

We have virtually no interconnectors with other countries, only a very limited amount of hydro, and the British Government simply doesn't know how to integrate the very large fleets of wind turbines that they are blithely introducing. It's a leap in the dark."

Britain will almost certainly, in fact, end up having to build as many new fossil-fuelled power stations as it would have done without windfarms, to provide covering power for the fluctuations of the wind.

Apparently oblivious to all this, the Government's climate change watchdog, the Committee on Climate Change, continues to praise Denmark's example and only last week demanded the building of 10,000 more onshore wind turbines to help meet a Whitehall target that 30 per cent of Britain's electricity should be generated from renewables by the end of the decade. This goal (the current figure is 4 per cent) is politely described as "optimistic" by the National Audit Office; privately, most observers view it as total fantasy.

Interestingly, however, Chris Huhne, the previously anti-nuclear, pro-wind Energy Secretary, appears to be undergoing a mood shift.

There is still much government talk of offshore wind, but he has sounded a more emollient note on a new generation of nuclear stations.

"I think there's an outbreak of realism," says Constable. "Wind is not a bad technology. It's just a lot more limited than people thought in the past." Denmark, of course, was also the place where UN efforts to reach an overarching climate deal collapsed in acrimony last year. The country appears to be developing a habit of puncturing greens' wilder hopes.

Fair Use Notice: This website may reproduce or have links to copyrighted material the use of which has not been expressly authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available, without profit, as part of our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, economic, scientific, and related issues. It is our understanding that this constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided by law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.



January 26, 2011 - Austerity pulling plug on Europe's green subsidies


Austerity pulling plug on Europe's green subsidies

ERIC REGULY | Columnist profile | E-mail
LONDON— From Thursday's Globe and Mail


The Spanish and Germans are doing it. So are the French. The British might have to do it. Austerity-whacked Europe is rolling back subsidies for renewable energy as economic sanity makes a tentative comeback. Green energy is becoming unaffordable and may cost as many jobs as it creates. But the real victims are the investors who bought into the dream of endless, clean energy financed by the taxpayer. They forgot that governments often change their minds.


Spain is famous for its housing bubble, whose bursting drove the national unemployment rate to 20 per cent-plus. Less well known is the renewable energy bubble, inflated by a government bent on shaking down the taxpayer to subsidize clean energy – a social program disguised as a politically correct industrial program.

It worked. Sunny Spain became the world’s top solar power producer. Since 2002, about €23-billion has been invested in Spain’s photovoltaic (PV) industry, which sucked up €2.7-billion in subsidies in 2009 alone, or more than 40 per cent of the freebies doled out to the country’s entire renewables sector.

When the Spanish economy went into the toilet in 2008 and 2009, austerity measures were put into place. At first, it appeared the solar industry would be spared the worst of the cutbacks. That changed a bit, but only a bit, in November, when a royal decree reduced tariffs by up to 45 per cent on new PV plants; existing plants would remain untouched. Then – whammo! – a new royal decree landed with a thud just before Christmas. While it didn’t change the tariff, it retroactively limited the number of production hours that PV plants could qualify for the subsidies.

Spain’s solar industry lobby group, the Asociacion Empresarial Fotovoltaica, estimated that the second decree would effectively reduce tariffs received by PV plants by 30 per cent, forcing many of the PV companies to default on their debt. Infrastructure Investor magazine called the second decree “the Christmas Eve massacre.”

Other European countries are also taking a long, hard look at their renewable energy sector and wondering whether it’s affordable. In December, the French government unveiled a plan for a three-month moratorium on new solar projects that are eligible for subsidized tariffs. The goal was to prevent a speculative PV bubble while it mulls new regulations for renewable energy.

There is no doubt the replacement regime will be less generous. CRE, the independent regulator of the French energy and natural gas markets, recently estimated that taxes on electricity would have to almost triple to meet the rising costs of renewable energy. The question, of course, is whether rising energy taxes could kill more jobs than those created by renewable energy expansion.

Germany is scaling back subsidies, too, and revealed another reduction a few days ago to households that generate electricity with their own solar panels. In the United States, where the incentives generally come in the form of tax credits instead of subsidized tariffs, the appetite for long-term support seems to be waning, partly because of the natural gas glut. Ditto in Canada. In Ontario last year, the average price for power was 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour. The feed-in tariff for solar installations ranged from 44 cents to 80 cents, that is, up to 20 times the market rate. (Ontario revised that higher end of the range downward to 64.2 cents last summer.) Watch the next Ontario government drain the renewable energy slush fund.

Renewable energy is fraught with difficulties. In less-sunny climates, PV panels make little sense, though that hasn’t stopped Germany and Britain from installing them on rooftops everywhere. Wind power is becoming hugely popular in some parts of the world. But since the wind doesn’t always blow, backup power has to be installed. That means consumers have to pay for the capacity twice and the backup power is usually of the fossil-fuel variety. Denmark, which has a reputation as the cleanest of the clean countries, actually generates about half its electricity from coal, the grubbiest fuel. That proportion hasn’t varied in a decade in spite of the country’s relentless pursuit of wind power.

The austerity programs have piled on additional difficulties in the form of subsidy reductions. No government would announce “temporary” subsidies, for fear of scaring off investment in renewable energy. Still, that’s exactly what the subsidies are turning out to be. Investors everywhere are going to get slaughtered as debt-swamped governments trim or eliminate the freebies. The ailing share prices of renewable energy companies such as Spain’s Iberdrola Renovables gives you an idea of the (waning) investor sentiment.

The renewable energy bubble was inflated by government subsidies. Those same governments are now deflating them. Turns out the subsidies were too good to be true.

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March 19, 2011 - Wind and Solar Subsidies Drying Up In Europe


Wind and solar energy subsidies are experiencing drastic cutbacks in many European nations and some places in the United states


Wind and Solar Subsidies Drying Up In Europe


 - Jack Dini  Saturday, March 19, 2011


Wind and solar energy subsidies are experiencing drastic cutbacks in many European nations and some places in the United states



In a radical change of policy, the Netherlands is reducing its targets for renewable energy and slashing the subsidies for wind and solar power. It has also given the green light for the country’s first new nuclear power plants in almost 40 years. Why the change? Wind and solar subsidies are too expensive. Holland thus becomes the first country to abandon the EU-wide target of producing 20 percent of its domestic power from renewables. (1)

Italy’s government passed a decree to stop solar energy and deep cuts in wind energy due to their high costs to consumers and technical problems integrating these sources into the existing infrastructure. (2)

Lawrence Solomon reports that December 2010 was a bad month for subsidies (3):

  • Spain slashed payouts for wind projects by 35% while denying support for solar thermal projects in their first year of operation. This latest round of Spanish cuts followed announcements in November that payouts for solar photovoltaic plants would be cut by 45%.
  • France announced a four-month freeze on solar projects and a cap on the amount of solar that can be built. These measures and others continue a retrenchment that saw industry payouts cut twice last year, and that will likely continue as opposition grows to France’s rapidly using power tax on electricity.
  • The German government announced it may discontinue the solar industry’s sweetheart tariffs in 2012. This latest announcement follows a surprise reduction in 2009 and another reduction to start in 2011.

Solomon also reported that in October, New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, slashed by two-thirds the revenue that homeowners who had installed solar panels would receive from 60 cents per kilowatt-hour to 20 cents. New South Wales overnight went from being Australia’s most generous to least generous subsidizer. Also in October, the UK government announced that withering spending cuts were coming to renewable projects. (3)

Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Virginia either cancelled or delayed renewable energy projects

In the US, state regulators in Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Virginia either cancelled or delayed renewable energy projects that would raise rates for consumers. (3)


Thanks in part to the wind farm subsidies, Danes pay some of Europe’s highest energy tariffs—on average, more than twice those in Britain. (4)

In Spain, ‘green jobs’ can require a subsidy of $1,000,000 per job. Wind-related jobs in Denmark are subsidized at the rate of 175 to 250 percent above average pay, roughly costing taxpayers $90,000 to $140,000 for each ‘green’ employee. (5) Spain increased its electricity costs for households and small businesses 20% between January 2010 and January 2011. The government’s official explanation of this increase is the huge bill for renewables’ subsidies. Industry’s electricity costs have risen 110% and Spain has over 20% official unemployment. (6)

Extreme green Ontario is experiencing rate hikes 50 times greater than those countenanced in some US jurisdictions. (3)


Green jobs cannot reduce unemployment when they require significant government assistance. When the President and Congress talk about green jobs, they are talking about ones created via federal tax breaks, subsidies, or outright mandates. For example, wind and solar-generated electricity already enjoy subsidies nearly 50 times higher per unit of energy output than ordinary coal and 100 times higher than natural gas. (7)

Kenneth Green sums this up quite well: “With $2.3 billion in Recovery Act tax credits allocated for green manufacturers, President Obama and other Democratic politicians have high hopes for green technology. But their expectations clash with both economic theory and practical experience in Europe. Green programs in Spain destroyed 2.2 jobs for every green job created, while the capital needed for one green job in Italy could create almost five jobs in the general economy. Wind and solar power have raised household energy prices by 7.5 percent in Germany and Denmark has the highest electricity prices in the European Union. Central planners in the United States trying to promote green industry will fare no better at creating jobs or stimulating the economy.” (8)


  1. Andrew Orlowski, “Holland slashes carbon targets, shuns wind for nuclear,” The Register, February 2, 2011
  2. P. Gosselin, “Arrivederci Solare! Italy Pushes to Cut Solar Subsidies,”, March 7, 2011
  3. Lawrence Solomon, “Green Collapse,” Financial Post, December 3, 2010
  4. Andrew Gilligan, “An ill wind blows for Denmark’s green energy revolution,”, September 12, 2010
  5. Ed Hiserodt, “Danish Wind Power Overblown,” the, September 15, 2009
  6. Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, “Greenpeace Still Tilting at Windmills in Spain,” Institute for Energy Research, February 15, 2011
  7. Ben Lieberman, “Green Jobs: Environmental Red Tape Cancels Out Job Creation,” The Heritage Foundation, February 4, 2010
  8. Kenneth P. Green, “The Myth of Green Energy Jobs: the European Experience,” American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy, February 2011

Jack Dini has been writing on science and environmental issues for the past 13 years, publishing in places like Hawaii Reporter, Environment & Climate News, American Council on Science and Health and others. Jack can be reached at:

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May 10, 2011 - The Wind Experience (in Europe)

The Wind Experience

Although wind is a renewable, European experience has shown that its development causes loss of jobs in the economy, grid stability problems, high subsidization, higher retail electricity rates, and usage issues

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the world now has 197 gigawatts of installed wind capacity with the largest amount in China (45 gigawatts), followed by the United States (40 gigawatts). Europe, led by Germany (27 gigawatts), has thelargest regional share of the total, 44 percent, followed by Asia with 31 percent. But the issue of much of this capacity is useable and benefiting the electricity grid and jobs is another question entirely. European countries have found that subsidies, set asides, and special treatment for renewables cost the country job losses in other sectors. Denmark, a country that generates 20 percent of its electricity demand from wind, can only use half that amount and must export the remainder to Norway and Sweden whose hydroelectric power can serve as a storage device. In the United Kingdom, wind farms were paid 900,000 pounds to disconnect their units for one night because the electricity was not needed. In China, the wind expansion was so great that many wind units were sitting idle because they were not connected to the grid. Add to that, noise pollution, property devaluation, frozen turbine blades, bird kills, and the cost of revamping the electric grid starts to make one wonder whether wind power was the correct course of action and what its future entails.

The European Experience

Germany. Germany began its onshore wind expansion in 1997, instituting a feed in tariff to cover the higher cost of wind power that was 300 percent higher than traditional electricity costs. The highly subsidized wind market generated numerous investors who were guaranteed a market for 20 or more years and a high enough price to earn a profit. But, in 2008, German consumers were paying about 7.5 percent higher rates ( 1.5 cents more on a 20 cent per kilowatt hour household rate) and the abatement costs for carbon from wind generation were $80 a metric ton, four times the cost of carbon traded in the European trading system. Worse still, wind generally only produced about a fifth of its capacity. When its output rose to over 20 gigawatts on a windy weekend, grid connections to neighboring countries had to be shut down because they could not handle the additional power. Now that Germany has temporarily shut down some of its older nuclear units due to the nuclear accident in Japan, Germany has had to import power, principally nuclear power, from France and the Czech Republic. Certainly an ironic situation‚Äìwith domestic nuclear being unpopular, imported nuclear had to be used to keep the lights on.

Germany is now moving its wind expansion to the offshore in an attempt to replace nuclear power.  On May 2, 2011, Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel toured Germany’s first commercial offshore wind farm. The50-megawatt wind farm is located 10 miles north of the Darss Peninsula in the Baltic Sea.  Because of rough conditions in the Baltic and North Sea and because of the difficulty of getting loans for a large wind farm due to its cost, offshore wind has not progressed as quickly in Germany as in other European countries. Germany would like to have 10,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2020 and is planning to finance $7.4 billion in loans for the first 10 offshore wind farms despite its problems from subsidizing onshore wind. According to German think tank Dena, in order to integrate its renewable energy sources, Germany will need to spend at least $13 billion on new transmission lines, covering about 2,240 miles.

Spain. In Spain, a study by Gabriel Calzada Alverez of the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos released in March 2009 found that:

  • Since 2000, the Spanish government spent $791,597 to create each green energy job, with subsidies of more than $1.38 million per each wind industry job.
  • For each green job created, 2.2 jobs were destroyed in other industries.
  • Each megawatt of wind energy installed destroyed 4.27 jobs elsewhere in the economy.

Dr. Alverez’s findings were substantiated by a Spanish government document that was leaked indicating that the country’s foray into green energy was not a net producer of jobs. Spain can ill afford to lose jobs, particularly when it has spent so much in an attempt to gain jobs. Spain’s unemployment rate is now at 21.29 percent, almost a point higher than last quarter, with 4.9 million jobless in the first quarter of 2011. The country’s prime minister announced that he would not seek a third term.

Italy. Italy is experiencing a similar situation. A study by Italy’s Bruno Leoni Institutefound:


  • The amount of capital that generates one job in the renewable sector would generate either 6.9 or 4.8 jobs in the industrial sector or elsewhere in the economy, respectively. The study looked at just subsidies and not the energy value of the project which would have increased the numbers even more in favor of non-renewable jobs.
  • The jobs in the renewable sector by 2020 are estimated to be between 50,000 to 112,000, but 60 percent would be temporary, disappearing after the wind tower or photovoltaic cell is installed.

Denmark. In 2009, a Danish think tank, CEPOS, published a study on that country’s wind industry, investigating reports of its 20 percent wind generation. The study found that while 19 percent of the country’s electricity generation was supplied by wind, wind only supplied an average of 9.7 percent of its electricity demand over a five year period.  And, in fact, in 2006, wind generation only supplied 5 percent of demand.  The country cannot use all the wind energy it generates since most of it is produced at night. Over an eight year period, West Denmark exported 57 percent of its wind generation and East Denmark exported 45 percent to neighboring Norway and Sweden, whose hydroelectric power can be easily switched on and off and can act as storage for the excess wind generation.

As a result of the subsidization for wind power, Denmark’s electricity customers have the highest electricity rates in Europe. Further, little carbon dioxide abatement results because displacing hydroelectric power does not displace carbon dioxide emissions. While some fossil displacement takes place in Denmark, it is at a cost of $124 per metric ton, nearly 6 times the trading value of carbon on the European Exchange. The CEPOS study also found that employment was reduced when it shifted from more productive sectors to the wind sector. An anti-wind association in Denmark, Neighbors of Large Wind Turbines, now has over 40 civic groups as members, protesting the noise and property devaluation caused by wind turbines

United Kingdom. The United Kingdom joined the renewable power band wagon andVerso Economics assessed the impact. They found that for every renewable job created in the UK, 3.7 jobs were lost elsewhere in the economy.  In 2009/2010, the cost to electricity consumers in the UK was $1.75 billion and in Scotland, it was $159 million.  The Verso study was different than its predecessors in that it used an input-output model to generate its results. Environmental groups had criticized earlier studies for using methodologies other than input-output models.

According to a recent study, wind installations in the UK produce wind power at only 21 percent of capacity. One factor for this poor performance is that Awind turbines in the UK freeze in the winter, suspending their generation and requiring the turbines to be heated, creating a demand for additional energy. And besides freezing temperatures, very high winds have caused the turbines to be turned off to prevent damage. Recently, the British have found that three of its older coal-fired power plants will need to be retired sooner than originally expected needing to turn to wind for its replacement power. The irony is that any one of the coal plants provides almost twice as much electricity as all of Britain’s 3,000 wind turbines put together. The contribution of the country’s wind mills during weeks of freezing weather last winter was minuscule, and during hot weather recently, the country had to import nuclear power from France since there was no wind power. Recently, wind operators were asked to turn off their wind turbines and were paid900,000 pounds to do so because there was insufficient demand. The payments were about 20 times the cost of the power they would have produced.

Europe has pushed so hard and so quickly into renewable technologies with its subsidies, loans, and other incentives that it forgot to see if the electricity grid could handle it. According to Oxford University economist Dieter Helm, “Basically, governments have allowed the buildup of wind without thinking through the grid consequences. There are two responses: Stop wasting so much on the rapid development of wind and its questionable economics, or plough on regardless, in which case enormous grid investments are urgently needed.”Estimates are as high as $138 billion to upgrade the grid for onshore networks over the next 10 years.

The costs and technical obstacles are much, much higher for offshore wind, getting power from the offshore to where it is needed, when it is needed, and at the time of production. And the question is: Who should pay for grid development? Should it be subsidized or should the market bear the brunt? Another issue with new transmission is where to place the lines. Overhead is an eyesore to many, underground has cooling problems, and there is also lost energy getting it from either the windy north or sunny south to central European demand centers.

The U.S. Experience

Like Germany, the United States has built its wind onshore and ranks second in the world in total wind capacity. Last year, wind generated 2.3 percent of the electricity demand in the United States. Like Germany, the United States would like to venture to its offshore for wind generation. It has approved the construction of wind turbines off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The problem is getting buyers for the power which is more expensive than onshore wind generation and more expensive than current electricity rates in Massachusetts. Only half of the currently planned capacity has a buyer.

Other issues have also surfaced. On the same day that Chancellor Merkel toured Germany’s first commercial offshore wind farm, May 2, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement announced that they were more than halving the amount of offshore areas in Massachusetts that would be available for lease to offshore wind. That came as a result of a request from Massachusetts Governor Patrick Deval and other political officials from Massachusetts, who are reacting to concerns from the fishing industry. The original area to be leased was about 12 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket and extending about 31 nautical miles offshore.

Noise pollution is also a problem. In Maine, for example, the current minimum setback is1.5 times the height of the tower, or between 582 and 615 feet for most projects. The setback distance is based on safety guidelines from the turbine manufacturer. But, folks affected would prefer a mile setback to keep people from being disturbed by the noise, the low-frequency sound pressure and vibrations that turbines and their blades make under various wind conditions.

Like Europe, the United States is dealing with grid-related issues. One issue is the ramping up and down of fossil fuel and nuclear generators based on when the wind blows or does not blow. When wind capacity was small, natural gas turbines were able to deal with most of the ramping. But now, coal is being ramped up and down based on the output of the wind units. That ramping up and down of coal units that were designed to operate continuously, exposes valves, piping and other components to more extreme temperature shifts and causes potentially damaging changes in steam operation. It also causes carbon dioxide emissions to increase because more carbon dioxide is released due to the ramping than if the coal unit was run continuously because more fuel is burned.

Another grid-related problem results from the oversupply of electricity. Recently, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) indicated that they were going to draft a policy to shut down wind turbines during excess electricity because of high water levels that resulted from storms and spring runoff from melting snow. That caused concern from wind turbine operators, who receive a production tax credit based on their actual generation levels.  As a result, renewable advocates and environmentalists indicated that BPA should spill water over the dams instead of shutting down wind turbines. BPA argued against spilling water and curtailing hydropower production because it conflicts with a mandate to protect endangered salmon and steelhead and meet water quality standards in rivers. Because the force of falling water creates air bubbles that dissolve as gas in waterways, the gas can harm fish and violate the Clean Water Act. According to BPA, a wind power shutdown would be a last resort, but it must balance its energy load.

The ad below from Idaho Power points out issues with variable generation sources.



Although wind is a renewable, European experience has shown that its development causes loss of jobs in the economy, grid stability problems, high subsidization, higher retail electricity rates, and usage issues. Europe increased their renewable generation so quickly that it did not evaluate how its electric grid would be affected and now needs to make substantial investments. The United States is also involved with grid-associated problems with renewable energy including generation over supply and ramping problems primarily when backing up wind generation with coal units.

Most disturbing, though, is the level of subsidization that Europe has amassed from developing its wind industry, the higher rates that its population pays for wind-generated electricity and the limited amount of wind generation actually available to the countries that paid for it. There is still time for the United States to learn lessons from the European wind experience, but will it?

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June 18, 2011 - Governor LePage: Wind Turbines Damaging Maine's Quality of Life and Mountains" (references Sweden in Denmark)


Governor LePage: Wind Turbines Damaging Maine's Quality of Life and Mountains"

June 18, 2011

Governor takes town hall meeting to Rockport

About 250 people turn out for his fifth Capitol for a Day event since his inauguration.

By Susan M. Cover
MaineToday Media State House Writer


ROCKPORT - Gov. Paul LePage talked about windmills, methadone clinics, taxes, child support and welfare programs Friday night before a feisty crowd of supporters and opponents.

At his fifth Capitol for a Day town hall meeting since his inauguration in January, the Republican governor fielded questions at Camden Hills Regional High School. He was greeted by many people wearing "61%" stickers -- a reference to the percentage of voters who did not support him last fall -- and a strong contingent of supporters with LePage T-shirts and buttons.

The crowd, estimated at 250 people, yelled back at LePage a few times, prompting his press secretary to remind the audience to be respectful.

One exchange came early in the event, when a woman asked him why he doesn't think it is discriminatory to reduce welfare benefits for legal noncitizens. LePage said that, with limited resources, he wants to take care of Maine people first.

When the woman yelled back that the immigrants are here legally, LePage responded by saying: "My answer stands. I will feed Maine people before I feed foreigners."

After questions about why the state doesn't provide bus service or an expanded road system, state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin stepped in.

"We have to make sure we realize our state is broke," he said. "We have no new money."

A man yelled: "Raise taxes!"

That prompted LePage to list statistics about higher incomes in nearby states. "We have the oldest state in the country," he said. "The highest number of people on fixed incomes. Sir, that's not the answer!"

LePage's response prompted some to rise for a standing ovation.

The governor was joined on the high school stage by several Cabinet members, including Pattie Aho, who was chosen by the governor Friday to be acting commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection.

While LePage spent much of the day traveling to Knox County businesses, he also vetoed three more bills. All were resolves that called for the Department of Health and Human Services to do studies or create programs.

At the town hall meeting, LePage said he's working with DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew to make methadone clinics more effective. And he spoke of the need for the Legislature to pass tougher laws against domestic violence and deadbeat dads.

"In the state of Maine, in the last two weeks, we had two children in the morgue, two mothers in the morgue, and two fathers who blew their brains out," he said. "The problem in the state of Maine is, the laws are too lenient. I tried to make changes and the Legislature didn't want to make them."

When asked what he will do to reduce the state's dependence on foreign oil, LePage said he's concerned about a directive he received recently from the federal government regarding heating with wood.

He said his daily briefing book included a message from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, warning that it may soon crack down on states that rely heavily on wood to heat homes.

"That is one law, if the EPA put in, I will disobey," he said.

LePage continued to criticize the state's wind power industry, saying windmills are hurting the state's quality of life.

"They are doing an awful lot of damage to our quality of life, our mountains," he said. "I don't think it's going to lower the cost of energy. I think in 10 years we're going to be like Sweden and Denmark and we're going to be swearing at ourselves."

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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August 28, 2011- Wind Power Is Dying

Wind Power Is Dying

Posted by Tait Trussell Bio ↓ on Aug 28th, 2011

While the U.S. is dumping billions of dollars into wind farms and onshore and offshore wind turbines, this energy source is being cast aside as a failure elsewhere in the world.

Some 410 federations and associations from 21 European countries, for example, have united against deployment of wind farms charging it is “degrading the quality of life.”

The European Platform Against Wind farms (EPAW) is demanding “a moratorium suspending all wind farm projects and a “complete assessment of the economic, social, and environmental impacts of wind farms in Europe.” The EPAW said it objects to industrial wind farms which “are spreading in a disorderly manner across Europe” under pressure from “financial and ideological lobby groups,” that are “degrading the quality of life living in their vicinity, affecting the health of many, devaluing people’s property and severely harming wildlife.” A petition for a moratorium has been sent to the European Commission and Parliament, said EPAW chairman J.L Butre.

France, earlier his year ran into opposition to its plan to build 3,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind turbines by 2020. That year is the target date the European Union set for providing 20 percent of its energy through renewable sources. An organization called the Sustainable Environment Association, opposes wind power, saying the subsidies will “not create a single job in France.”

In Canada, Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) has launched a province-wide drive against wind power. It said Aug. 8 it wants to ensure that the next government is clear that “there is broad based community support for a moratorium…and stringent environmental protection of natural areas from industrial wind development.” WCO claimed, “ The Wind  industry is planning a high powered campaign to shut down support” for the WCO’s aims. “Our goal is to store the petition until the next legislative session gets underway in the fall…”


The Netherlands has approximately 2,000 onshore and offshore wind turbines. But even though Holland is synonymous with windmills, the installed capacity of wind turbines in the Netherlands at large has been stagnant for the past three years, according to an article in February in the Energy Collective. It was 2237 megawatts (MW) at the end of 2011. That was said to be about 3.37 percent of total annual electricity production. The principal reason for the stagnant onshore capacity “is the Dutch people’s opposition to the wind turbines.” They are up to 400 feet in height.

The Dutch national wind capacity factor is a dismal 0.186. The German wind capacity factor “is even more dismal at 0.167,” the article said.

Expanding wind power to meet the European Union’s 20 percent renewables target by 2020 meant adding at least another thousand 3 MW, 450-foot wind turbines to the Dutch landscape “at a cost of about $6 billion.” Not surprisingly, the Dutch people found that to be far too costly—“an intrusion into their lives and an unacceptable return on their investment, especially when considering the small quantity of CO2 reduction per invested dollar.”

An added 3,000 MW of offshore turbines also was rejected. The capital cost was figured at $10 to $12 billion. The cost was judged to be too much and the wind energy produced too little. “The energy would have to be sold at very high prices to make the project feasible.” The article added, “The proposed Cape Wind project in Massachusetts is a perfect example of such a project.” Environmental Lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in July wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal blasting the project off Cape Cod as “a rip-off.” Recently, the Netherlands became the first country to abandon the European Union target of producing 20 percent of its domestic power from renewables by 2020.


In Denmark, the Danes became aware that the poor economics of their heavily-subsidized wind energy is a major reason for the nation’s high residential electric rates. Opposition to the gigantic onshore turbines was so great that the state-owned utility finally announced last year that it would abandon plans for any new onshore wind facilities.

The Energy Collective article also reported that a CEPOS (Center for Political Studies) study found that 90 percent of wind energy sector jobs were transferred from other technology industries and that only 10 percent of the wind industry jobs were newly created jobs. As a result, the study said, Danish GDP is $270 million lower than it would have been without wind industry subsidies.

The Australian government, like the U.S., has placed a major emphasis on deploying renewable sources of energy, especially wind energy. As in the U.S.,Australia set a target of 20 percent of its energy to come from renewal sources by 2020. The government provides generous subsidies and tax breaks to wind energy developers. But medical studies on farmer families living within 5 miles of wind farms found health problems ranging from sleep deprivation to nausea. Similar health effects have been discovered in other locations, including in the U.S.

Because wind blows only intermittently, Britain has determined that it will have to construct an additional 17 natural gas-powered plants as back-ups to wind to keep the lights on by 2020. These plants will cost 10 billion pounds, according to a posting by the Institute for Energy Research. One analyst was quoted as saying, “Government’s obsession with wind turbines is one of the greatest blunders of our time.

Onshore wind power today costs about $0.13 per kWh. That’s nowhere neareither the objective of the U.S. Department of Energy or the cost of competing power sources. The wind turbines jutting into the sky all across the country exist only because of the massive federal subsidies. Is this considered a failure by Obama officials? No way. Obama’s 2012 budget proposal increases renewables spending by 33 percent.

Wind farms in Texas that will cost $400 million over the next two years produce, incredibly, an average of only one job for every $1.6 million of capital investment. So the state’s comptroller general figured, according to a December 20, 2010 story in the Austin American-Statesman.


As long ago as 1973, then- President Nixon  called for “Project Independence” in reaction to the OPEC oil embargo. The project was to achieve energy independence through development of alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal power. So, there’s nothing new about renewable energy.

The Obama 2012 budget asks for $8 billion for “clean” energy, mainly wind power subsidies. As recently as Feb. 7, the secretaries of Energy and Interior announced plans to launch dozens of offshore turbines miles out at sea, while admitting the expense would be unknown. Despite generous subsidies, wind power is expected to provide no more than 8 percent of electric power in the U.S. by 2030.

The American Wind Industry Energy Association, the wind lobby group, said the top five states for wind energy were Texas, Iowa, California, Minnesota, and Washington. It said the second quarter of 2011 saw over 1,033 megawatts of capacity installed. It also maintained that wind is second only to natural gas and U.S. wind power represents more than 20 percent of the world’s wind power.

Over the next half century, say, it’s possible some new technologies will revolutionize energy. But, if so, they surely will come from the private sector — not government.


About Tait Trussell

Tait Trussell is a national award-winning writer, former vice-president of the American Enterprise Institute and former Washington correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.

Fair Use Notice: This website may reproduce or have links to copyrighted material the use of which has not been expressly authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available, without profit, as part of our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, economic, scientific, and related issues. It is our understanding that this constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided by law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.




October 4, 2011 - Europeans look to UMaine for answer to wind energy problems

Europeans look to UMaine for answer to wind energy problems
Posted Oct. 04, 2011, at 5:26 a.m. 
Last modified Oct. 04, 2011, at 5 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — European officials are looking to the University of Maine’s offshore wind efforts to boost the amount of wind power produced on the continent and to ease public distaste for wind turbines.

Officials from Italy, Germany and Norway visited UMaine’s Offshore Wind Laboratory on Tuesday to get a preview of plans to install a 500-megawatt floating wind turbine farm in the Gulf of Maine by 2020.

The six delegates represent the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based international group that studies and tries to push forward social, economic and environmental changes worldwide, according to Raffaele Trapasso, a group representative from Italy.

The debate over wind turbines in Europe is decades old, Trapasso said.

“Landscape has a high value over there,” Trapasso said. But with decades of wind development onshore, the public eventually started turning against turbines, complaining that the aesthetic costs were too high.

“You need the population to be supportive,” he said. “You need acceptance.”

So European nations led the push to take wind farms off the land and put them offshore. The first offshore wind turbine farm on the planet was finished in Denmark in 1991.

But those turbines had to be in shallow water so the base could be embedded into the sea floor. That meant people in coastal areas could see the turbines, which led to complaints that business, tourism and the economy in general were being hurt, according to Trapasso.

Turbines have grown more efficient over the years, producing more energy at less cost, but installing new turbines is difficult or impossible in many parts of Europe because the public has turned against them, Trapasso said.

The solution: out of sight, out of mind.

After the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development heard about the DeepCwind Consortium, a collaboration of UMaine and several private companies attempting to get offshore wind farms floating, it decided to send representatives to find out more.

The organization, which represents 34 countries, also sent officials to examine energy and economic projects in Vermont, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington, D.C.

By putting the turbines on a floating “footprint,” or base, DeepCwind plans to anchor them in much deeper water more than 20 miles offshore — well out of view from the coast.

It’s an answer to a longstanding problem in Europe that Trapasso said he will take back with him.

It might not be a perfect solution, he said, because the European public still has many of the same worries that are echoed by Maine’s offshore wind opponents: How will the turbines affect sea life and fisheries? How will energy be brought back to shore? How will the turbines hold up in rough weather?

UMaine has studied these questions closely, according to Habib Dagher, director of the DeepCwind Consortium and Advanced Structures and Composites Center.

DeepCwind hopes to have a 100-turbine farm in the Gulf of Maine around 2020. The turbines would be anchored in an area that would have a minimal effect on the fishing industry. Testing on small-scale models has indicated that the turbines won’t have a problem holding up to high winds or rough seas.

More testing will take place at the Offshore Wind Laboratory leading up to the deployment of a one-third scale model floating wind turbine in April 2013. Just last week, Dagher received approval to place the test turbine about 2½ miles south of Monhegan Island, he said.

The test turbine will be built by Cianbro and assembled at Bath Iron Works before a tugboat tows it down the Kennebec River — at about 2 mph — to its new home off the island. The trip will take 10 hours, according to Dagher.

After testing, the project will be scaled up over the next 10 years, with bigger turbines and larger numbers, until the full-scale turbine farm is completed.

Dagher said he was pleased to see that the university’s wind development efforts were drawing international interest.



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October 30, 2011 - Letter from EPAW, the European Platform Against Windfarms

Dear members of EPAW,
The launching pad of the windfarm invasion is a mountain of public funds. If you withdraw the subsidies, the wind industry will collapse.
If we want to go for the throat, we must denounce these subsidies. Now is the time to do it, because they are contributing in no small measure to the budget deficits of EU countries, to their sovereign debts, and to the crisis of the euro. This in turn causes governments to make drastic cuts in social benefits. If the public knew that windfarms are hurting their wallets this way, the wind monsters would be a lot less popular.
We have thus decided to denounce publicly the fact that Greece and Spain (implying Italy, Ireland, and Portugal as well), continue to increase their sovereign debts by financing with public funds economically inviable "green" energy projects. What this means is that the countries that collectively guarantee these sovereign debts, and who just paid billions of euros to save Greece, must tighten their own social belts to allow the profligate countries to continue spending money they don't have on windfarms and other expensive and inefficient projects.
To denounce this is to hit our enemy where it most hurts. It is therefore what we must do.
Here is a press release that we invite you to send to your contacts in the media:

October 30, 2011
Someone has to pay for the “green fiesta”
Spanish electricity giant Iberdrola warns of another bubble

The president of Iberdrola, Ignacio Sánchez Galán, declared Thursday in Madrid that the brakes should be applied on the development of thermosolar energy in Spain, because it is "economically inefficient".He warned that this immature technology may create “a new bubble” similar to that of the photovoltaic, with a cost to the Spanish consumers of €2 billion annually (1).
"Someone has to pay for the green fiesta”, he warned at a conference attended by analysts. He added that the amount of public funds spent to support green technologies “makes the Spanish MWh the most costly in the whole of Europe”.
The European Platform Against Windfarms (EPAW) remarks that, like Greece, Spain continues to squander on uneconomic energy projects money it doesn’t have. The Iberian country has conveniently placed off-budget € 22 billion's worth of "deficit tarifario", or green energy deficit, which nevertheless needs to be financed by sovereign debt. EPAW has learned that the Saudis have been invited to finance it, but no details have been released regarding State guarantee or other security being offered.
“What's most worrying is the lack of transparency", says Mark Duchamp, EPAW’s CEO. What kind of deal is being offered to the Saudis, he asks? Like the Chinese, who are being asked to fund the European Financial Stability Facility, it is unlikely they will lend billions on an unsecured basis, or without important perks. They've seen the German and French banks bite the bullet on Greek debt, now worth to them 50 cents on the euro. "What is being offered that we don't know?" wonders Duchamp. "Having sold its furniture to pay for decades of public overspending, are the EU governments now mortgaging the European house to be able to continue wasting away money that we don't have on uneconomic renewable energies?"
EPAW has been provided with scientific proof that "the most mature" of the green technologies, wind farming, doesn't actually save on C02 and fossil fuel imports. "More on that next week", adds Duchamp.
The North American Platform Against Windpower (NA-PAW) comments along the same lines. Says her CEO, Sherri Lange: "The United States and Canada are following the European model. It would be wiser to watch and learn, instead of jumping on a bandwagon that's headed for the cliff."

Mark Duchamp
Tel: 34 693 643 736 (Spain)
Sherri Lange
Tel: 1 416 567 5115 (Canada)

(1) References:

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11/19/11 - Wind farms are useless, says Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh has made a fierce attack on wind farms, describing them as “absolutely useless”.

Wind farms are usless, says Duke of Edinburgh
The Duke's views are politically charged, as they put him at odds with the Government’s policy

In a withering assault on the onshore wind turbine industry, the Duke said the farms were “a disgrace”.

He also criticised the industry’s reliance on subsidies from electricity customers, claimed wind farms would “never work” and accused people who support them of believing in a “fairy tale”.

The Duke’s comments will be seized upon by the burgeoning lobby who say wind farms are ruining the countryside and forcing up energy bills.

Criticism of their effect on the environment has mounted, with The Sunday Telegraph disclosing today that turbines are being switched off during strong winds following complaints about their noise.

The Duke’s views are politically charged, as they put him at odds with the Government’s policy significantly to increase the amount of electricity generated by wind turbines.

Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, last month called opponents of the plans “curmudgeons and fault-finders” and described turbines as “elegant” and “beautiful”.

The Duke’s attack on the turbines, believed to be the first public insight into his views on the matter, came in a conversation with the managing director of a leading wind farm company.

When Esbjorn Wilmar, of Infinergy, which builds and operates turbines, introduced himself to the Duke at a reception in London, he found himself on the end of an outspoken attack on his industry.

“He said they were absolutely useless, completely reliant on subsidies and an absolute disgrace,” said Mr Wilmar. “I was surprised by his very frank views.”

Mr Wilmar said his attempts to argue that onshore wind farms were one of the most cost-effective forms of renewable energy received a fierce response from the Duke.

“He said, 'You don’t believe in fairy tales do you?’” said Mr Wilmar. “He said that they would never work as they need back-up capacity.”

One of the main arguments of the anti-wind farm lobby is that because turbines do not produce electricity without wind, there is still a need for other ways to generate power.

Their proponents argue that it is possible to build “pump storage” schemes, which would use excess energy from wind power to pump water into reservoirs to generate further electricity in times of high demand and low supply.

It emerged last year that electricity customers are paying an average of £90 a year to subsidise wind farms and other forms of renewable energy as part of a government scheme to meet carbon-reduction targets.

Mr Wilmar said one of the main reasons the Duke thought onshore wind farms to be “a very bad idea” was their reliance on such subsidies.

The generous financial incentives being offered to green energy developers have led landowners to look to build wind farms on their estates, including the Duke of Gloucester, the Queen’s cousin.

Prince Philip, however, said he would never consider allowing his land to be used for turbines, which can be up to 410ft tall, and he bemoaned their impact on the countryside.

Mr Wilmar said: “I suggested to him to put them on his estate, and he said, 'You stay away from my estate young man’.

“He said he thought that they’re not nice at all for the landscape.”

The Duke’s comments echo complaints made by his son, the Prince of Wales, who has refused to have any built on Duchy of Cornwall land.

Yet a turbine will be erected opposite the Castle of Mey in Caithness, where he stays for a week every August, if a farmer succeeds in gaining planning permission from Highland Council.

While they are opposed to onshore wind farms, the Royal family stands to earn millions of pounds from those placed offshore.

Last year, the Crown Estate, the £7billion land and property portfolio, approved an increase in the number of sites around the coast of England. The Crown Estate owns almost all of the seabed off Britain’s 7,700-mile coastline.

Experts predict that the growth in offshore wind farms could be worth £250million a year. Britain has 436 offshore turbines, but within a decade that number will reach nearly 7,000. From 2013, the Royal family’s Civil List payments will be replaced, and instead they will receive 15 per cent of the Crown Estate’s profits, although the Queen, the Duke, the Prince of Wales and other members of the family do not have any say over how the estate makes its money.

Mr Wilmar was at a reception last week in Chelsea, west London, marking the 70th anniversary of the Council of Christians and Jews at which the Queen and Duke were guests of honour.

The Dutch businessman’s company describes itself as committed to preserving the planet. Infinergy, which is a subsidiary of the Dutch firm KDE Energy, is planning to build on a number of sites across the country, from the north of Scotland to Totnes in Devon.

Mr Wilmar claims that onshore turbines are less reliant on subsidies and more cost-effective than those built in the sea. “If you go offshore it costs you twice as much as being on-shore because you have to lay foundations in the sea,” he said. “It’s very expensive for very obvious reasons.”

Two-thirds of the country’s wind turbines are owned by foreign companies, which are estimated to reap £500million a year in subsidies.

A spokesman for the Duke said that Buckingham Palace would not comment about a private conversation.

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2/1/12 - Learning from Others’ Mistakes: What Europe’s Experience with Renewable Mandates and Subsidies can Teach Texas

Download the PDF here:


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3/3/12The windfarm delusion

The windfarm delusion

The government has finally seen through the wind-farm scam – but why did it take them so long?

The government has finally seen through the wind-farm scam – but why did it take them so long?

To the nearest whole number, the percentage of the world’s energy that comes from wind turbines today is: zero. Despite the regressive subsidy (pushing pensioners into fuel poverty while improving the wine cellars of grand estates), despite tearing rural communities apart, killing jobs, despoiling views, erecting pylons, felling forests, killing bats and eagles, causing industrial accidents, clogging motorways, polluting lakes in Inner Mongolia with the toxic and radioactive tailings from refining neodymium, a ton of which is in the average turbine — despite all this, the total energy generated each day by wind has yet to reach half a per cent worldwide.

If wind power was going to work, it would have done so by now. The people of Britain see this quite clearly, though politicians are often wilfully deaf. The good news though is that if you look closely, you can see David Cameron’s government coming to its senses about the whole fiasco. The biggest investors in offshore wind — Mitsubishi, Gamesa and Siemens — are starting to worry that the government’s heart is not in wind energy any more. Vestas, which has plans for a factory in Kent, wants reassurance from the Prime Minister that there is the political will to put up turbines before it builds its factory.

This forces a decision from Cameron — will he reassure the turbine magnates that he plans to keep subsidising wind energy, or will he retreat? The political wind has certainly changed direction. George Osborne is dead set against wind farms, because it has become all too clear to him how much they cost. The Chancellor’s team quietly encouraged MPs to sign a letter to No. 10 a few weeks ago saying that ‘in these financially straitened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies onshore wind turbines’.

Putting the things offshore may avoid objections from the neighbours, but (Chancellor, beware!) it makes even less sense, because it costs you and me — the taxpayers — double. I have it on good authority from a marine engineer that keeping wind turbines upright in the gravel, tides and storms of the North Sea for 25 years is a near hopeless quest, so the repair bill is going to be horrific and the output disappointing. Already the grouting in the foundations of hundreds of turbines off Kent, Denmark and the Dogger Bank has failed, necessitating costly repairs.

In Britain the percentage of total energy that comes from wind is only 0.6 per cent. According to the Renewable Energy Foundation, ‘policies intended to meet the EU Renewables Directive in 2020 will impose extra consumer costs of approximately £15 billion per annum’ or £670 per household. It is difficult to see what value will be got for this money. The total carbon emissions saved by the great wind rush is probably below 1 per cent, because of the need to keep fossil fuels burning as back-up when the wind does not blow. It may even be a negative number.

America is having far better luck. Carbon emissions in the United States fell by 7 per cent in 2009, according to a Harvard study. But the study concluded that this owes less to the recession that year than the falling price of natural gas — caused by the shale gas revolution. (Burning gas emits less than half as much carbon dioxide as coal for the same energy output.) The gas price has fallen even further since, making coal seem increasingly pricey by comparison. All over America, from Utah to West Virginia, coal mines are being closed and coal plants idled or cancelled. (The US Energy Information Administration calculates that every $4 spent on shale purchases the same energy as $25 spent on oil: at this rate, more and more vehicles will switch to gas.)

So even if you accept the most alarming predictions of climate change, those turbines that have ruined your favourite view are doing nothing to help. The shale gas revolution has not only shamed the wind industry by showing how to decarbonise for real, but has blown away its last feeble argument — that diminishing supplies of fossil fuels will cause their prices to rise so high that wind eventually becomes competitive even without a subsidy. Even if oil stays dear, cheap gas is now likely to last many decades.

Though they may not admit it for a while, most ministers have realised that the sums for wind power just don’t add up and never will. The discovery of shale gas near Blackpool has profound implications for the future of British energy supply, which the government has seemed sheepishly reluctant to explore. It has a massive subsidy programme in place for wind farms, which now seem obsolete both as a means of energy production and decarbonisation. It is almost impossible to see what function they serve, other than making a fortune from those who profit from the subsidy scam.

Even in a boom, wind farms would have been unaffordable — with their economic and ecological rationale blown away. In an era of austerity, the policy is doomed, though so many contracts have been signed that the expansion of wind farms may continue, for a while. But the scam has ended. And as we survey the economic and environmental damage, the obvious question is how the delusion was maintained for so long. There has been no mystery about wind’s futility as a source of affordable and abundant electricity — so how did the wind-farm scam fool so many policymakers?

One answer is money. There were too many people with snouts in the trough. Not just the manufacturers, operators and landlords of the wind farms, but financiers: wind-farm venture capital trusts were all the rage a few years ago — guaranteed income streams are what capitalists like best; they even get paid to switch the monsters off on very windy days so as not to overload the grid. Even the military took the money. Wind companies are paying for a new £20 million military radar at Brizlee Wood in Northumberland so as to enable the Ministry of Defence to lift its objection to the 48-turbine Fallago Rig wind farm in Berwickshire.

The big conservation organisations have been disgracefully silent on the subject, like the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which until last year took generous contributions from the wind industry through a venture called RSPB Energy. Even journalists: at a time when advertising is in short supply, British newspapers have been crammed full of specious but lucrative ‘debates’ and supplements on renewable energy sponsored by advertising from a cohort of interest groups.

And just as the scam dies, I find I am now part of it. A family trust has signed a deal to receive £8,500 a year from a wind company, which is building a turbine on land that once belonged to my grandfather. He was canny enough not to sell the mineral rights, and the foundations of the turbine disturbs those mineral rights, so the trustees are owed compensation. I will not get the money, because I am not a beneficiary of the trust. Nonetheless, the idea of any part of my family receiving ‘wind-gelt’ is so abhorrent that I have decided to act. The real enemy is not wind farms per se, but groupthink and hysteria which allowed such a flawed idea to progress — with a minimum of intellectual opposition. So I shall be writing a cheque for £8,500, which The Spectator will give as a prize to the best article devoted to rational, fact-based environmental journalism.

It will be called the Matt Ridley prize for environmental heresy. Barring bankruptcy, I shall donate the money as long as the wind-gelt flows — so the quicker Dave cancels the subsidy altogether, the sooner he will have me and the prizewinners off his back.

Entrants are invited forthwith, and a panel of judges will reward the most brilliant and
rational argument — that uses reason and evidence — to gore a sacred cow of the environmental movement. There are many to choose from: the idea that wind power is good for the climate, or that biofuels are good for the rain forest, or that organic farming is good for the planet, or that climate change is a bigger extinction threat than invasive species, or that the most sustainable thing we can do is de-industrialise.

My donation, though significant for me, is a drop in the ocean compared with the money that pours into the green movement every hour. Jeremy Grantham, a hedge-fund plutocrat, wrote a cheque for £12 million to the London School of Economics to found an institute named after him, which has since become notorious for its aggressive stance and extreme green statements. Between them, Greenpeace and Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) spend nearly a billion a year. WWF spends $68 million a year on ‘public education’ alone. All of this is judged uncontroversial: a matter of education, not propaganda.


By contrast, a storm of protest broke recently over the news that one small conservative think-tank called Heartland was proposing to spend just $200,000 in a year on influencing education against climate alarmism. A day later, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, with assets of $7.2 billion, gave a grant of $100 million to something called the ClimateWorks Foundation, a pro-wind power organisation, on top of $481 million it gave to the same recipient in 2008. The deep green Sierra Club recently admitted that it took $26 million from the gas industry to lobby against coal. But money is not the only reason that the entire political establishment came to believe in wind fairies. Psychologists have a term for the wishful thinking by which we accept any means if the end seems virtuous: ‘noble-cause corruption’. The phrase was first used by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir John Woodcock in 1992 to explain miscarriages of justice. ‘It is better that some innocent men remain in jail than the integrity of the English judicial system be impugned,’ said the late Lord Denning, referring to the Birmingham Six.

Politicians are especially susceptible to this condition. In a wish to be seen as modern, they will embrace all manner of fashionable causes. When this sets in — groupthink grips political parties, and the media therefore decide there is no debate — the gravest of errors can take root. The subsidising of useless wind turbines was born of a deep intellectual error, one incubated by failure to challenge conventional wisdom.

It is precisely this consensus-worshipping, heretic-hunting environment where the greatest errors can be made. There are some 3,500 wind turbines in Britain, with hundreds more under construction. It would be a shame for them all to be dismantled. The biggest one should remain, like a crane on an abandoned quay, for future generations to marvel at. They will never be an efficient way to generate power. But there can be no better monument to the folly of mankind.

5/30/12 - Spain Ejects Clean-Power Industry With Europe Precedent: Energy

By Alex Morales and Ben Sills | Bloomberg –  13 hours ago

Spanish renewable-energy companies that once got Europe's biggest subsidies are deserting the nation after the government shut off aid, pushing project developers and equipment-makers to work abroad or perish.

From wind-turbine maker Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA (GAM)to solar park developer T-Solar Global SA, companies are locked out of their home market for new business. These are the same suppliers that spearheaded more than $69 billion of wind and solar projects since 2004 that today supply more than 50 percent of Spain's power demand on the most breezy and sunny days.

Saddled with a budget deficit more than twice the European Union limit and a ballooning gap between income and costs in its power system, Spain halted subsidies for new renewable-energy projects in January. The surprise move by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy one month after taking office helped pierce investor confidence in stable aid for clean energy across Europe.

"They destroyed the Spanish market overnight with the moratorium," European Wind Energy Association Chief Executive Officer Christian Kjaer said in an interview. "The wider implication of this is that if Spanish politicians can do that, probably most European politicians can do that."

Spain's $69 billion of investment in power capacity from 2004 to 2011 was about triple the spending per capita in the U.S. in that period, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data and U.S. Census Bureau population estimates. Most of the 2012-2013 spending will be for the legacy of projects approved before the aid cuts to wind, solar, biomass and co-generation.

Spending Skids

Investment in solar photovoltaic alone is headed to skid to as little as $107 million in 2013 from $879 million this year and $1.5 billion last year, New Energy Finance estimated. For new wind projects, investment should plunge to $963 million in 2013 and $244 million in 2014 from $2 billion this year.

T-Solar, which became the world's biggest solar-farm operator by leveraging its Spanish business, currently has more than 40 running in Spain, Italy and India. While it still makes solar panels in Orense, Spain, they're bound for Peru.

"We have an important pipeline of projects, and it's 100 percent outside Spain right now," T-Solar Managing Director Juan Laso, who also heads the country's photovoltaic power association, said in a telephone interview. "If you take such a brutal measure, what you do is oblige the industry to move out," he said of the January moratorium.

Gamesa, the world's fourth-biggest wind-turbine maker by market share according to Navigant Consulting Inc. (NCI)'s BTM Consult unit, plans to reduce the factory output of its Spanish plants to 1,000 megawatts by 2013 from 1,200 megawatts at the end of last year.

Gamesa to India

Instead, Zamudio-based Gamesa is adding capacity in India where it plans to open a third factory this year. In 2011, the company got less than 9 percent of its revenue in its home nation, down from almost 33 percent in 2009. Former CEO Jorge Calvet didn't mention Spain on a May 10 call with analysts after announcing the company's first quarterly loss.

"The future is outside of Spain," said Sean McLoughlin, clean energy analyst at HSBC Bank Plc in London. "Gamesa already moved most of their business out of Spain and the moratorium only helps to accelerate and complete that process."

Thirty-one years ago, Spain erected its first wind turbine at Tarifa, a city on the peninsula's southern tip that juts into the gusty Straits of Gibraltar which divide Spain from Morocco.

German Model

In the 2000s, Spain copied the German clean-power aid model, as did nations from Portugal to Israel and Japan, increasing subsidies to a pinnacle in 2007. That's when a law granted 444 euros ($556) a megawatt-hour for home rooftop solar panels feeding the power grid, compared with an average 39 euros paid to competing coal- or gas-fired power plants.

By 2009, the consumer bill for clean-energy aid had risen to 6 billion euros a year, ahead of the 5.6 billion euros in Germany, whose economy is almost four times bigger, according to the Council of European Energy Regulators.

After four successive reductions in subsidies since then, the government on Jan. 27 this year announced the moratorium on aid for new projects. The next month Spain saw itself drop out of the 10 most attractive markets for renewable-energy investors for the first time, due to reduced aid, on an Ernst & Young ranking. Spain led the list from October 2003 through July 2006.

"What happened in Spain is that abruptly, they changed the industry by changing the policy, and that doesn't help build a sustainable industry," said Stephan Ritter, general manager of General Electric Co.'s European renewables unit.

‘It's a Bomb'

"The history of Spanish wind energy policy is ‘We're going to keep it stable' and suddenly out of the blue this comes, and it's a bomb," the EWEA's Kjaer said.

The decline started before this year. The 75,466 renewable energy jobs that existed in Spain at the industry's peak in 2008 shrank to 54,925 in 2010, according to the Renewable Energy Producers Association's most recent data. Including indirect jobs, the tally slumped from 131,229 to 111,455.

Iberdrola SA (IBE), based in Bilbao, became the world's biggest owner of wind farms, taking its Spanish experience abroad over the past decade. It campaigned for solar subsidies to be ended, because much of the power-tariff deficit sits on the utilities' balance sheets straining their finances. Iberdrola, which also runs gas, hydro and nuclear plants, is Spain's biggest utility.

Solar Drag

Solar energy was the biggest drag on the system, accounting for almost half of the annual 6 billion euros of liabilities and producing just above 2 percent of the power, said Eduardo Tabbush, an analyst in London at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

With peak electricity demand at less than half of capacity, the country doesn't need more power plants, he said. Spain has a capacity of 99 gigawatts, and peak demand of 44 gigawatts.

Spain's power-system debt swelled to 23 billion euros as successive governments set electricity prices for consumers that didn't cover the revenue utilities booked. Even with January's moratorium, the electricity system racked up another 762 million euros of debt in the first two months of the year, according to the energy regulator.

"You're making renewables a scapegoat for a problem that was created as a result of incredibly bad policies," said Kjaer.

Spain is the world's fourth-biggest wind energy market by cumulative installed capacity, and in solar photovoltaic power, it ties the U.S. for fourth, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The nation installed at least a gigawatt of wind power capacity every year since 2001, peaking at 3.5 gigawatts in 2007, according to the Spanish Wind Energy Association.

Installation Rhythm

"At the moment there's not a single project planned for 2013," Heikki Willstedt, director of energy policy at the Spanish Wind Energy Association, said in an interview. "We have to keep a rhythm of installation over the next two or three years to keep the industry here in Spain."

Solar power installations have been bumpier, totaling 550 megawatts, 2,760 megawatts, 70 megawatts, 390 megawatts and 430 megawatts for the five years through 2011, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data.

Even before the moratorium was established, opportunities were dimming for renewable power in Spain. The so-called pre- registry of wind projects, which had been approved to receive above-market electricity prices, was set to expire at the end of 2012. And a retroactive cap was set on the number of hours when solar generators can earn higher rates.

Acciona, Abengoa

Acciona SA (ANA), a developer of wind and solar projects that in 2011 derived more than three quarters of electricity sales in Spain, has less than half of its pipeline of new projects for 2012 in Spain. Energias de Portugal SA's renewables division, based in Spain, has less than a fifth of its pipeline there.

At Abengoa SA (ABG), the portion of revenue from Spain fell to 27 percent last year from 39 percent in 2007. Abengoa has 1,210 megawatts of solar thermal plants either in construction or in a pre-construction phase, a third of it in Spain.

"It reaches a point where if more interesting markets open up and you have to export to those markets, many times it's better to take the factories there," said Willstedt. "All of this know-how could be lost quickly, or it'll move away, or it could be bought by competitors."

In a country where unemployment in April rose to 24.4 percent, the subsidy moratorium puts more positions at stake, according to Willstedt.

'Five Years on Ice'

In its March 30 budget, Spanish Premier Rajoy's government gave no sign of when it would bring back subsidies, and the National Energy Commission, an advisory body, has published scenarios including a suspension until 2017.

"I don't know any sector that can be put on ice for 5 years and then be taken out intact," said T-Solar's Laso.

Abengoa Chief Executive Officer Manuel Sanchez Ortega said Feb. 28 in an interview he thought the moratorium would last 18 months at the most.

"Then the industry will pick up the pace again," Ortega said. "If it lasts more than 18 months we are running the serious risk of driving all this industry out of the country."

June 13, 2013  - America should learn from Europe on wind power

Germany and Spain have been hit by the downside of alternative energy.

As the Department of Energy considers a loan guarantee for the Cape Wind Project in Massachusetts, it should learn from Europe's failed wind energy experiments – and from its own troubled experiences with renewable energy projects.

Germany and Spain are waking up to the inevitable truth about renewable energy, especially offshore wind. They are now realizing the projects cannot survive without subsidies and that they make energy much more expensive to households and businesses. In an age of austerity, they are a luxury even Germany, Europe's economic powerhouse, cannot fully afford any more.

When Germany decided to close down its nuclear power stations after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the original plan was to replace most of the lost generating capacity with wind power. However, wind power is expensive, and the growing size of the industry has meant that subsidies – and energy bills – have surged. The German subsidy is paid for by a surcharge on household electricity bills. The growth in wind power meant that in January the surcharge increased to over 5 cents (euro) per kilowatt hour,representing 14% of all electricity bills.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel, realizing that wind power is economically unsustainable, has proposed capping the subsidy until the end of 2014 and capping further rises to 2.5%, with the probability of further significant reform after the federal elections this year. It's a similar story in Spain, where subsidies have been cut so much that the chairman of the country´s Association of Renewable-Energy Producerssaid recently: "Spain's government is trying to smash the renewable-energy sector through legislative modifications."

President Obama has repeatedly said we should look to Spain and Germany for the lead on renewable energy policy. He is right, but not in the way he thinks.

Furthermore, he should look to the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound. The project will cost $2.6 billion, and it has secured funding for $2 billion of that from a Japanese bank. But this is believed to be subject to the project gaining a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy. And there is every reason to believe that this would be as bad a bet as its loan guarantee to Solyndra.

The contracted cost of the wind farm's energy will be 23 cents a kilowatt hour (excluding tax credits, which are unlikely to last the length of the project), which is more than 50% higher than current average electricity prices in Massachusetts. The Bay State is already the 4th most expensive state for electricity in the nation. Even if the tax credits are preserved, $940 million of the $1.6 billion contract represents costs above projections for the likely market price of conventional power. Moreover, these costs are just the initial costs, and like in Germany, they are scheduled to rise by 3.5 percent annually for 15 years.

This massive increase in energy costs is bad news for Bay State businesses and may well drive some of them out of the state entirely. That's a disaster for jobs and for tax revenue.

The likelihood that businesses will not be willing to pay the bill means that the burden will fall increasingly on households. Yet, in all probability, this will be politically unsustainable, and the cost will therefore fall back on taxpayers across the nation, via the loan guarantee.

That's just the economic argument. When you consider the environmental arguments, the case becomes a no-brainer. As the Alliance to Protect Nantucket sound points out, "Cape Wind threatens the marine environment and would harm the productive, traditional fisheries of Nantucket Sound."

The Alliance also notes that, "Cape Wind would not make a significant contribution to the effort to reduce pollution emissions, and, in fact, could aggravate the problem by causing dirty power plants to run more often in order to be ready to generate power instantly when the wind stops blowing."

For the Department of Energy to grant the loan guarantee to Cape Wind would be a triumph of blinkered ideology over real economic and environmental concerns. The president, true to his word, should learn from Germany and turn down the loan guarantee to Cape Wind.

6/24/13 - Europe’s Renewables Hype Implodes As German Solar Goes Belly Up

Europe’s Renewables Hype Implodes As German Solar Goes Belly Up

Energy insiders have long known that the notion of viable ‘renewable energy’ was always a romantic proposition – and an economic bust. But it is amazing what the lure of guaranteed ‘few strings’ attached government subsidies can achieve. Even the Big Oil companies bought into the renewables revolution, albeit mostly for PR reasons. Like Shell, however, many quickly abandoned their fledgling renewable arms. Post-2008, they knew, the subsidy regimes could not last. Neither was the public buying into the new PR message.

Now it was just a question of time before Europe’s world leading pioneers of solar and wind power, Germany and the UK, decided they had had enough of the self-inflicted economic pain. And all the signs are, as Germany’s solar sector just went belly up and the UK is made aware of how much every wind job actually costs, that the slow implosion of the renewables revolution is under way.

The plain fact is that installing solar panels, especially in the northern hemisphere, makes about as much economic sense as Iran heading up a UN Human Rights Commission (which they have done by the way). Equally, the viability of windfarms has always been the renewables industry’s worst kept secret. But, aided by aggressive and heavily funded green lobbies, leftist social engineers, appalling journalism, naive politicians and unscrupulous opportunistic renewable energy entrepreneurs, wind turbines and the photovoltaic industry quickly became established facts on the ground, giving the appearance of economic ‘viability’. Why else would government back them using our cash?

I have written before about ‘Hamish’ who is convinced that his wind turbine investment offers him some ‘free’ energy. ‘Free’ so long as you overlook the double-whammy of ‘front end’ feed-in tariffs and other green levies and the ‘back end’ high energy bill tariffs pass on by the power companies to others now forced to buy Hamish’s electricity at above market prices. And that’s before you consider Hamish’s maintenance costs, his need for hydrocarbon back-up, intermittent and unreliable generation, not to mention that the power company cannot store his product which may never be used. Oddly, Hamish is a radical green socialist who bought his turbine to benefit society. It never once occurred to him how his green extravagance was subsidized via hiked energy bills that forced thousands into fuel poverty. Not much social conscience there.

Let’s get it straight once and for all, wind and solar power is never ‘free’ however it may appear to the micro-scale domestic entrepreneur. Just like any resource, someone, somewhere has to pay to develop, utilize and distribute it.  If the sole criteria is that wind and solar are free, you might as well say the same applies to oil and gas.  And that brings me to the latest macro-scale renewable energy disasters.

In Europe, Germany was a major green pioneer, especially regarding solar energy. The UK, being the windiest country in Europe, focused on wind power. In both countries, however – to mix metaphors – the wheels are fast coming off. In June, the sun finally set on Germany’s solar sector with power companies, large and small investors seeing their £21 billion investment in solar energy disappear into the ether. As one German commentator wryly observed, “the sun does send an invoice after all”.  In mid-June the German company Siemens announced it was winding down its solar division with a view to shutting down completely by next spring. Siemens had entered the solar thermal systems market when it bought the Israeli company Solel, believing market growth would be rapid. The gamble failed. Siemens lost around one billion euros. In March, Bosch signalled its withdrawal from the solar cell and solar module market. Bosch board chairman Franz Fehrenbach, who had been behind the company’s push into solar energy since 2008 has further admitted that the German solar sector generally is “doomed to die”. Bosch will lose even more than Siemens, probably around €2.4 billion. But it is the private investors who bore the full tbrunt of the loss as the former hot shots of the stock exchange Germany’s SolarWorld and Q-Cells, among other solar companies, lost tens of billions in capital investment.

Meanwhile, in the UK, wind power is again making the headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. A new analysis of government and industry figures revealed that every UK wind industry job is effectively subsidized to the tune of £100,000 per year.  In some cases it rises to £1.3 million per job. In Scotland, with its 230 onshore windfarms, the figure is £154,000 per job. Even if the highly optimistic maximum projection of 75,000 wind industry jobs by 2020 is realised the figure would only drop to £80,000. But, as the Renewable Energy Foundation, a UK think-tank, has pointed out, to meet its EU obligation of providing 15 percent of its generated energy from renewable sources by 2020 – a ridiculously untenable goal – the lavish subsidies will need to rise still further to £6 billion per year. Neither do the figures take into account the cost to the country of an exodus of energy-intensive industries; a very real threat if green levies on energy bills continue to rise. European industry and power stations have already turned to burning millions of imported tonnes of American wood pellets in a desperate bid to keep costs down. And that, as has been reported, is to the detriment of fine forests in the US and a resultant impact on CO2 levels.

The attraction of a quick buck when government slush-fund subsidies are on offer has always attracted entrepreneurs, corporate industry and investors alike. The trouble is that lavish subsidies will always be subject to what our Gallic friends would call: Le Guillotine. There’s a cut off point – and its fast approaching. In many parts of northern Europe, wind and solar projects may be highly visible facts on the ground. But the headline economic fact behind renewable energy is, and always has been, its sheer and blatant “unsustainability”.

6/25/13 - Danish Government Dumps Onshore Wind

This is worth noting given how the wind industry and their sock puppets at the so called and on-the-take environmental groups in Maine like to cite Denmark as a shining role model of wind power. DONG is 76% owned by the Danish government. ""Every time we were building onshore, the public reacts in a negative way and we had a lot of criticism from neighbours," said a spokesman for the company. "Now we are putting all our efforts into offshore windfarms."

25.06.2013 10:05

DONG Energy today signed an agreement with the Danish energy company SE and the
Danish pension fund PFA under which SE and PFA will acquire DONG Energy’s 
Danish onshore wind business. 

The aggregate sales price (enterprise value) for the onshore wind business is 
DKK 760 million (equivalent to approx. EUR 102 million). The divestment 
concerns a total of 272 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of 196 
megawatt. The turbines are located at approx. 80 different sites in Denmark 
with an average operational track record of 16 years. The divestment includes 
an early stage development project totalling up to 23 megawatt. The business 
includes a Danish organisation consisting of approximately 18 employees, who 
will be employed by the purchasing company going forward. 

With the publication of its new strategy and financial action plan on 27 
February 2013, DONG Energy announced its intention to divest non-core assets of 
a value of DKK 10 billion in 2013-2014 and that its Wind Power business will 
be focusing on offshore wind in the future. 

“With the agreement to divest our Danish onshore wind business, we are taking a 
further step towards the realisation of our strategy and financial action plan. 
Going forward our competences and capital will be deployed in offshore wind 
where we have a strong and differentiated competitive platform,” said Henrik 
Poulsen, CEO of DONG Energy. 

The transaction is expected to be completed later in 2013 following approval by 
the Danish competition authorities. The transaction is expected to result in a 
gain before tax of up to DKK 453 million (equivalent to approx. EUR 61 

The information provided in this announcement does not change DONG Energy’s 
previous financial guidance for the 2013 financial year or the announced 
expected investment level for 2013-2014. 

For additional information, please contact: 

Media Relations 
Rune Birk Nielsen 
+45 9955 6543 

Investor Relations 
Allan Bødskov Andersen 
+45 9955 9769 

DONG Energy is one of the leading energy groups in Northern Europe. Our 
business is based on procuring, producing, distributing and trading in energy 
and related products in Northern Europe. DONG Energy has nearly 7,000 employees 
and is headquartered in Denmark. The Group generated DKK 67 billion (EUR 9.0 
billion) in revenue in 2012. For further information, see

7/16/13 - The dirty coal behind Germany's clean energy

Germany's energy portfolio may not be as green as you think, Grealy writes. Coal-fired power plants made up 52 percent of Germany's electricity demand in the first half of 2013, while output from natural gas and wind turbines is falling. 

By Guest blogger / July 16, 2013

Steam billows from the cooling towers of Vattenfall's Jaenschwalde brown coal power station behind wind turbines near Cottbus, eastern Germany.

Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters/File


In the very crowded field of unintended outcomes of EU energy policy, what is happening in Germany this year would be hilarious if it wasn't so tragic:

is a shale gas consultant and publisher of No Hot Air, a forum on energy issues published from Britain that follows the emergence of shale gas around the world. For more of his insights, click here.

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Coal-fired power plants contributed 52% of Germany's first-half electricity demand as output from natural gas-fired power plants and wind turbines fell, research organization Fraunhofer Institute (ISE) said.

Coal plants increased production by about 5% to 130.3 TWh in the first six months of 2013 as output from gas-fired power plants fell 17% to 21.9 TWh, said ISE, which collated data from Germany's statistical office and the EEX transparency platform.

It get's worse. Germany is not only building new coal plants, but they use lignite, a soft brown coal halfway between coal and peat with an even higher CO2  and ash content than hard coal. Germany is the largest lignite producer on earth - and get it from strip mining.  So much for romantic vision Germans have of themselves as nature friends which they have managed to con the rest of the world into thinking too, as Robert Wilson at Carbon Counter notes:

It is one of the finest achievements in public relations in history. Germany has managed to be praised by environmentalists more than any other developed nation and yet is building more coal plants than more or less any other developed country. If China is watching on they should take note. The easy way to receive the adulation of Western Greens is to put up a stack of solar panels, and to just keeping building coal plants as before. Just think of the headlines: “China gets 50% of its electricity from solar power.” The green adulation will be remarkable, yet the carbon emissions will keep soaring.

If you like me you'll love Robert by the way, and he's an actual scientist to boot, he deserves more readers. 

The essential problem in Germany is complicated, which explains why the simple narrative of saying solar is 50% of power, which isn't the case  at the July midday time of writing today anyway, gets the exposure. German gas prices have the strongest link to Russian oil indexed prices. The link continues in no small part thanks to the German horror of fracking, despite it happening in Germany since the 1950s. Throw in the dysfunctional carbon market and add megatons of US coal displaced by lower US gas prices and we have baseload power, the stuff that actually keeps the streetlights on, coming from nuclear and coal. But there is so much subsidised solar generation, in a country not known for it's low latitude or sunshine,  that solar, effectively free,  provides much of the peak capacity during peak daylight business hours. That means that gas provides the extra power needed at shoulder periods in the 0700 to 0900 and 1700 to 1900 peaks.

But this is where it gets really complicated - and far more unfortunate. Germany has a lot wind generation as well, but wind, being wind, isn't as reliable as the 20000 MW solar generator that reliably disappears and returns every day.  Sometimes, it's there, sometimes it's not and depending on the time of day, wind generators can make a lot of money by NOT generating electricity. This of course goes to the heart of the issue, that energy can't be stored, something most greens need a Duh! moment to understand. The result:  expensive wind seems to be the co-victim of high gas prices, in some bizarre evil twin dynamic. The result:

Wind turbine output fell 10% to 22.4 TWh, while solar output was unchanged at 14.3 TWh. Hydro output rose 3% to 9.2 TWh, with nuclear output up 1.8% to 46 TWh.

Hydro output rose, but then again so did the calamitous floods of early this year. Whether they were the result of global warming from increased CO2 production is up to you. But next time Mark Ruffalo or Josh Fox or the UK Friends of the Earth hold up Germany as an example of the way forward, let some facts intrude. Energiewende? This is an Energie Katastrophe. Not only for Germany, but for the rest of us who all share the same sky.

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9/05/2013Germans Revolt Against Germany's Green Energy Revolution

If Germany’s green energy revolution – the “energiewende” – proceeds as planned, the price of electricity in Germany will increase by upwards of 20%, according to government estimates.

German consumers already pay the highest electricity prices in Europe and many of them are raising hell over the prospect of paying still more to support what the Spiegel calls the “aggressive and reckless expansion of wind and solar power.”

In a story published yesterday, Spiegel, one of Germany’s most widely read newspapers, reported that:

After the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan two and a half years ago, Merkel quickly decided to begin phasing out nuclear power and lead the country into the age of wind and solar. But now many Germans are realizing the coalition government of Merkel’s CDU and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) is unable to cope with this shift. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the public has any more confidence in a potential alliance of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens. The political world is wedged between the green-energy lobby, masquerading as saviors of the world, and the established electric utilities, with their dire warnings of chaotic supply problems and job losses.

Even well-informed citizens can no longer keep track of all the additional costs being imposed on them. According to government sources, the surcharge to finance the power grids will increase by 0.2 to 0.4 cents per kilowatt hour next year. On top of that, consumers pay a host of taxes, surcharges and fees that would make any consumer’s head spin.

By 2020, Germany’s green energy program will increase production of wind power from 31,000 to 45,000 megawatts (MW).

In 2013, electricity from renewable energy will cost German consumers about $26 billion, a considerable premium compared to the cost of electricity generated by nuclear power plants and fossil fuels.

Per Via Media, Walter Russell Mead’s blog on The American Interest, “the political backlash [against Germany's green revolution] has now moved from the fringes to the mainstream, with even the German media calling for an end to the green lunacy . . . the costs of uncompetitive technologies have to be paid by someone. In Germany, these costs fall disproportionately on the poor.”

9/5/13 - Germany's Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good

Photo Gallery: The Costs of Green EnergyPhotos
Germany's agressive and reckless expansion of wind and solar power has come with a hefty pricetag for consumers, and the costs often fall disproportionately on the poor. Government advisors are calling for a completely new start.
If you want to do something big, you have to start small. That's something German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier knows all too well. The politician, a member of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has put together a manual of practical tips on how everyone can make small, everyday contributions to the shift away from nuclear power and toward green energy. The so-called Energiewende, or energy revolution, is Chancellor Angela Merkel's project of the century.
"Join in and start today," Altmaier writes in the introduction. He then turns to such everyday activities as baking and cooking. "Avoid preheating and utilize residual heat," Altmaier advises. TV viewers can also save a lot of electricity, albeit at the expense of picture quality. "For instance, you can reduce brightness and contrast," his booklet suggests.
Altmaier and others are on a mission to help people save money on their electricity bills, because they're about to receive some bad news. The government predicts that the renewable energy surcharge added to every consumer's electricity bill will increase from 5.3 cents today to between 6.2 and 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour -- a 20-percent price hike.
German consumers already pay the highest electricity prices in Europe. But because the government is failing to get the costs of its new energypolicy under control, rising prices are already on the horizon. Electricity is becoming a luxury good in Germany, and one of the country's most important future-oriented projects is acutely at risk.
After the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan two and a half years ago, Merkel quickly decided to begin phasing out nuclear power and lead the country into the age of wind and solar. But now many Germans are realizing the coalition government of Merkel's CDU and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) is unable to cope with this shift. Of course, this doesn't mean that the public has any more confidence in a potential alliance of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens. The political world is wedged between the green-energy lobby, masquerading as saviors of the world, and the established electric utilities, with their dire warnings of chaotic supply problems and job losses.
Even well-informed citizens can no longer keep track of all the additional costs being imposed on them. According to government sources, the surcharge to finance the power grids will increase by 0.2 to 0.4 cents per kilowatt hour next year. On top of that, consumers pay a host of taxes, surcharges and fees that would make any consumer's head spin.
Former Environment Minister Jürgen Tritten of the Green Party once claimed that switching Germany to renewable energy wasn't going to cost citizens more than one scoop of ice cream. Today his successor Altmaier admits consumers are paying enough to "eat everything on the ice cream menu."
Paying Big for Nothing
For society as a whole, the costs have reached levels comparable only to the euro-zone bailouts. This year, German consumers will be forced to pay €20 billion ($26 billion) for electricity from solar, wind and biogas plants -- electricity with a market price of just over €3 billion. Even the figure of €20 billion is disputable if you include all the unintended costs and collateral damage associated with the project. Solar panels and wind turbines at times generate huge amounts of electricity, and sometimes none at all. Depending on the weather and the time of day, the country can face absurd states of energy surplus or deficit.
If there is too much power coming from the grid, wind turbines have to be shut down. Nevertheless, consumers are still paying for the "phantom electricity" the turbines are theoretically generating. Occasionally, Germany has to pay fees to dump already subsidized green energy, creating what experts refer to as "negative electricity prices."
On the other hand, when the wind suddenly stops blowing, and in particular during the cold season, supply becomes scarce. That's when heavy oil and coal power plants have to be fired up to close the gap, which is why Germany's energy producers in 2012 actually released more climate-damaging carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than in 2011.
If there is still an electricity shortfall, energy-hungry plants like the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Hamburg are sometimes asked to shut down production to protect the grid. Of course, ordinary electricity customers are then expected to pay for the compensation these businesses are entitled to for lost profits.
The government has high hopes for the expansion of offshore wind farms. But the construction sites are in a state of chaos: Wind turbines off the North Sea island of Borkum are currently rotating without being connected to the grid. The connection cable will probably not be finished until next year. In the meantime, the turbines are being run with diesel fuel to prevent them from rusting.
In the current election campaign, the parties are blaming each other for the disaster. Meanwhile, the federal government would prefer to avoid discussing its energy policies entirely. "It exposes us to criticism," says a government spokesman. "There are undeniably major problems," admits a cabinet member.
But this week, the issue is forcing its way onto the agenda. On Thursday, a government-sanctioned commission plans to submit a special report called "Competition in Times of the Energy Transition." The report is sharply critical, arguing that Germany's current system actually rewards the most inefficient plants, doesn't contribute to protecting the climate, jeopardizes the energy supply and puts the poor at a disadvantage.
The experts propose changing the system to resemble a model long successful in Sweden. If implemented, it would eliminate the more than 4,000 different subsidies currently in place. Instead of bureaucrats setting green energy prices, they would be allowed to develop indepedently on a separate market. The report's authors believe the Swedish model would lead to faster and cheaper implementation of renewable energy, and that the system would also become what it is not today: socially just.
Trouble Paying the Bills
When Stefan Becker of the Berlin office of the Catholic charity Caritas makes a house call, he likes to bring along a few energy-saving bulbs. Many residents still use old light bulbs, which consume a lot of electricity but are cheaper than newer bulbs. "People here have to decide between spending money on an expensive energy-saving bulb or a hot meal," says Becker. In other words, saving energy is well and good -- but only if people can afford it.
A family Becker recently visited is a case in point. They live in a dark, ground-floor apartment in Berlin's Neukölln neighborhood. On a sunny summer day, the two children inside had to keep the lights on -- which drives up the electricity bill, even if the family is using energy-saving bulbs.
Becker wants to prevent his clients from having their electricity shut off for not paying their bill. After sending out a few warning notices, the power company typically sends someone to the apartment to shut off the power -- leaving the customers with no functioning refrigerator, stove or bathroom fan. Unless they happen to have a camping stove, they can't even boil water for a cup of tea. It's like living in the Stone Age.
Once the power has been shut off, it's difficult to have it switched on again. Customers have to negotiate a payment plan, and are also charged a reconnection fee of up to €100. "When people get their late payment notices in the spring, our phones start ringing," says Becker.
In the near future, an average three-person household will spend about €90 a month for electricity. That's about twice as much as in 2000.
Two-thirds of the price increase is due to new government fees, surcharges and taxes. But despite those price hikes, government pensions and social welfare payments have not been adjusted. As a result, every new fee becomes a threat to low-income consumers.
Consumer advocates and aid organizations say the breaking point has already been reached. Today, more than 300,000 households a year are seeing their power shut off because of unpaid bills. Caritas and other charity groups call it "energy poverty."
Lawmakers, on the other hand, have largely ignored the phenomenon. In the concluding legislative period, the government and opposition argued passionately over a €5 increase in payments to the long-term unemployed. But no one paid much attention to the fact that those welfare recipients would subsequently see the extra €5 wiped out by higher electricity bills.
It is only gradually becoming apparent how the renewable energy subsidies redistribute money from the poor to the more affluent, like when someone living in small rental apartment subsidizes a homeowner's roof-mounted solar panels through his electricity bill. The SPD, which sees itself as the party of the working class, long ignored this regressive aspect of the system. The Greens, the party of higher earners, continue to do so.
Germany's renewable energy policy is particularly unfair with respect to the economy. About 2,300 businesses have managed to largely exempt themselves from the green energy surcharge by claiming, often with little justification, that they face tough international competition. Companies with less lobbying power, however, are required to pay the surcharge.
In this respect, at least, all of Germany's political parties are pushing for change. They want to close loopholes and more widely distribute the costs of clean energy subsidies. But even this improvement would translate into a relatively minor financial benefit to citizens. According to the SPD plan, an average household would see only about 70 cents a month in savings -- slightly less than under the plan Environment Minister Altmaier proposed a few months ago.
In the end, what actually drives up costs would remain unaffected: the haphazard expansion of wind and solar energy.
The Offshore Trap
Far out in the North Sea, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the island of Norderney, there is a large, bright yellow steel box. It's as wide as the Brandenburg Gate and taller than the Federal Chancellery building. It's essentially a giant electrical socket, which collects the electricity from the nearby offshore wind farms and transmits it to the mainland via a thick cable. The system, along with the cable, cost grid operator Tennet about €1 billion and is designed to last 20 years, although there is no data to show that this will actually be the case.
According to an official at Tennet, the company has no experience with such systems. It knows only one thing: There are always obstacles in the way.
In the case of Germany's offshore projects, those obstacles currently include weather and porpoises. In heavy seas, work on the wind farm is suspended. The same applies when porpoises and their young are spotted, because of the potential damage to their sensitive hearing by construction noise. As a result, there are still many spots where metal stumps protrude from the water instead of wind turbines.
Still, the government is pressing ahead with wind expansion, and the plans are breathtaking. By 2020, offshore wind turbines are expected to generate up to 10 gigawatts of electricity, theoretically as much as eight nuclear power plants. To attract investors, the government has created the best possible subsidy conditions, so that operators will be paid 19 cents per kilowatt-hour of offshore electricity, or about 50 percent more than from land-based wind farms. The government has also assumed the liability risk for the wind farm operators. If anything goes wrong, taxpayers will bear the cost.
Hidden Costs
As fascinating as the plan is for engineers, economically it's a potential disaster. Experts believe that because of the more challenging conditions, the power offshore wind turbines generate will be consistently two to three times as expensive as on land. Although the wind blows more consistently at sea, this comes far from offsetting the higher costs.
The less visible costs are also high. There is little demand for electricity in the thinly populated coastal region. New high-voltage power lines will be needed to transport the energy to industrial centers in western and southern Germany. The government already estimates the costs of expanding the grid at €20 billion, which doesn't include the additional ocean cables for offshore wind power.
If the government sticks to its plans, the price of electricity will literally explode in the coming years. According to a current study for the federal government, electricity will cost up to 40 cents a kilowatt-hour by 2020, a 40-percent increase over today's prices.
Worse yet, it remains completely unclear whether the offshore facilities are even needed. The Federal Environment Agency believes it's enough to install modern turbines in the best terrestrial wind sites. It would also be cheaper.
But even if that were the case, the environment minister still believes consumers can expect to see rising prices. Experts say the miniscule impact wind energy has had on current prices is due to an uncooperative Mother Nature: 2013 has been an unusually windless year so far.
The Storage Conundrum
The Cossebaude reservoir is Dresden's largest and most popular open-air pool. On summer days, up to 8,000 sunbathers lounge on its sandy beach or cool off in the 10,000-square-meter (2.5-acre) lake.
Cossebaude is also part of the enormous Niederwartha pumped storage hydroelectric plant. At night or on weekends, when there is plenty of available power, lake water is pumped electrically through big pipes into a second reservoir 140 meters above the main reservoir. At noon, when electricity is scarce, the water is released from the higher-elevation reservoir, spinning giant turbines as it descends. The system generates electricity when the cost is high and consumes it when the cost is low. Plant operator Vattenfall makes its profit on the difference. When the plant was connected to the grid in November 1929, it was considered the technology of the future.
Now the power plant, along with the recreational lake attached to it, could soon be gone. The company plans to shut down the energy storage facility within the next two years. This is bad news for Dresden's swimmers, but it's especially detrimental to Germany's energy transition, which depends on backup power plants like the Niederwartha facility.
When the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing, gas-fired power plants and pumped storage stations are supposed to fill the gap. A key formula behind the Energiewende is that the more green energy is produced, the more reserves are needed to avert bottlenecks.
This is true in theory, but not in practice. On the contrary, an ironic result of the green energy expansion is that many of the reliable pumped storage stations could be forced out of the market. There are roughly 20 of these power plants in Germany, with Vattenfall being the most important operator. The plants were very profitable for utilities for decades, but now the business has become highly unreliable. Dresden is a case in point.
When it's sunny and people are most likely to head to the lake, solar power is abundant and electricity prices drop. This means the pumped storage station earns less money, so the power plant is shut off. In 2009, for example, the turbines in Niederwartha were in operation for 2,784 hours. Last year, Vattenfall ran the facility for only 277 hours. "Price peaks that last only a few hours aren't enough to utilize the plant to full capacity," says Gunnar Groebler, head of Vattenfall's German hydro division.
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4/29/15 - Denmark Calls Halt to More Wind Farm Harm

Denmark Calls Halt to More Wind Farm Harm

Wind energy in Denmark : wind turbines in Holstebro , Westjutland

Danes being driven insane, cry: “enough is enough”.


Denmark is the home of struggling Danish fan maker, Vestas – an outfit that – after our Wind Power Fraud Rally in June 2013 – paid $millions to a crack team of Australian propaganda parrots to invent a campaign aimed at winning back the “moral” high ground.

It called its new public relations model “Act on Facts” – we covered some of their “facts” in this post.

Well, as is often the case, the facts eventually surface; and, when they do, the ‘unhelpful’ ones have a nasty habit of working against those that, like Vestas, have worked hardest to suppress them:

Three Decades of Wind Industry Deception: A Chronology of a Global Conspiracy of Silence and Subterfuge

Danes complain about precisely the same effects from the incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound that Vestas’ victims at Macarthur in Victoria do (see our posts here and here).

And the Danes’ complaints have seen victims awarded substantial compensation for the sonic torture being inflicted unnecessarily and endlessly by Vestas & Co:

Danish High Court Orders Compensation for Wind Turbine Noise Victims

Danish wind power outfits have had to concede that human beings and giant fans simply don’t mix, and have taken to buying up huge numbers of homes, and even whole villages; bulldozing them in order to carpet the entire country in their blade-chuckingpyrotechnicsonic torture devices:

This Town is ‘coming like a Ghost Town: Wind Industry Buys Up & Bulldozes Whole Danish Villages

Now, the Danish government has gone into legal liability damage control by refusing to issue any further permits for wind farms. Here’s NoTrickZone on the Danes’ latest lament.

Under Fire Due To Health Impacts From Infrasound … Danish Permitting Halts!
P Gosselin
21 April 2015

Beleaguered Industry: Wind Parks Coming Under Fire Due To Health Impacts From Infrasound … Danish Permitting Halts!

The debate on the effects of infrasound on the health of people and animals living near wind parks has been raging on with more intensity than ever – especially since Denmark unexpectedly halted the permitting of new wind parks due to “health concerns” from infrasound.

Infrasound is defined as low frequency sound under 16 Hz – below the threshold of human hearing. Wind farms are notorious for generating these potentially harmful sub-audible frequencies. It is said that infrasound can be sensed as pressure to the ears or to the stomach, or as a slight vibration.

There’s a Swedish report available on the hazard, click here. It calls for the legal framework for the creation of wind parks to be revised.

German NTV public television reports recently that in Denmark mink farm operator Kaj Bank Olesen from Herning is a neighbor to four large-scale wind turbines only 330 meters away. Olesen and other neighbors had protested the planning of the wind turbines, fearing negative consequences from their noise and shadows.

However the community rejected their claims, basing it on a lack of credibility. The turbines were installed. Now it seems that Olesen’s earlier fears may have had merit as he claims that the infrasound generated by the turbines are making the mink animals on the farm aggressive and is leading them to die. After one night he found 200 dead minks the next morning. The incident has since sparked the Danish government to take action. Permitting of wind parks in Denmark is now on hold.

The alleged health impacts from wind turbines have been making the news (0:55) in Germany as well.

In Schleswig Holstein, Germany, the Hogeveens have been forced to sleep and eat in their basement in a desperate attempt to find refuge from the maddening infrasound emitted by recently installed turbines near their home.

The wind industry and many government authorities deny there’s a connection between infrasound from wind turbines and health impacts on humans. Hermann Albers of a wind lobby group says there’s no connection between the turbines and the irritation sensed by those living close by, claiming that it is a “subjective” perception or that it’s “politically motivated”. In other words, people living close to wind turbines are just making it all up and they should instead just shut up and live with it.

The German government says it will study the matter further and consider if infrasound should be taken into consideration during the wind park permitting process.

In Australia a link has also been found between wind turbines and health in the so-called Cape Bridgewater report. Steven Cooper investigated the possible link, saying that availbale data so far is very small, but adds:

“There’s definitely a trend. There’s definitely a connection between the operation of a wind farm and what the residents were identifying as disturbances, and so it’s definitely open to debate as to what the cause or link is in terms of that data.”

Data from comprehensive studies are difficult to come by. Wind farms are reluctant to share their data with researchers, fearing unfavorable results and consequences.

The impacts from infrasound on human health will continue to be debated in the future. But other things are already sure and beyond debate: Wind farms are rapidly losing their attractiveness and support from the public due to their poor performance, hazard to birdlife, ruining of property values, and their blighting of the natural landscape.

An adverse connection to human health would be yet another large nail in the coffin of the now increasingly controversial wind industry.

Hat-tip: Wolfgang Neumann at Facebook.

In the piece above it’s said that “Permitting of wind parks in Denmark is now on hold“.

STT’s Danish operatives have confirmed that that is, indeed, the case. Not that you’ll read about in the Australian press; or see or hear it on your ABC.

Governments – Federal, State and Local – around the world are getting jumpy about their legal liability to their citizens, for having set up planning laws so lax as to be risible and/or for manifestly failing to enforce even those derisory rules. Moreover, the very existence of the wind industry is the direct result of massive subsidies and/or mandated government targets, fines and penalties, so governments are in it up to their necks; and can’t possibly hope to get out of trouble by pulling the Sergeant Schultz defence:

sgt schultz

I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing …


In liability terms, governments that continue to allow turbines to be speared into peoples’ backyards, or which fail to shut them down wherever neighbours can’t sleep, are sitting ducks as defendants in negligence actions. The evidence of harm and personal injury is clear enough; and those in power can no longer claim to be unaware of it (seeour post here).

Having set themselves up for compensation claims that will run into the hundreds of $millions, governments (and their insurers) are keen to limit their exposure by pointing to others: for example, wind power outfits and their pet acoustic consultants who claimed the noise standards they wrote were the gold-standard in protecting public health (see our post here). Or, in the case of Brown County, Wisconsin making it clear that it’s not game to rely on the lies pitched up the wind industry’s mercenary acoustics acolytes by coming out publicly:

“To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County. WI. a Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.” (see our post here)

Now, it seems that the Danish government is also out to draw a line between it and the wind industry; if only in an attempt to quarantine its liability to thousands of its victims.

It was due to Vesta’s corporate malfeasance and insidious institutional sway that Denmark became the birthplace for the great wind power fraud in the first place; and, thereafter, became the Mecca for the wind industry’s cult-like followers.

STT thinks that it’s fitting, in its way, that this despicable industry and its worshippers have their “Doomsday” in Denmark.


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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We have the facts on our side. We have the truth on our side. All we need now is YOU.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

 -- Mahatma Gandhi

"It's not whether you get knocked down: it's whether you get up."
Vince Lombardi 

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

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