U.S. Should Not Repeat Germany’s Wind Power Mistake

Before the U.S. Congress commits any more taxpayer dollars, it is time to look realistically and with a jaundiced eye at “green energy” policies being touted by the Obama administration.: : There are very expensive examples around the world showing:  these “green” energy technologies to be abysmal failures.:  The new Republican Congress should reconsider, defund and halt projects which have been put “in the pipeline” by spendthrift Democrats.

An aerial view of the offshore energy park Alpha Ventus in the North Sea

German science/energy writer Edgar Gaertner, in an essay: : for the Science and Public Policy Institute blog, asks why would America follow Germany’s example of energy “suicide” with wind power?

Barely two months after the inauguration ceremony for Germany’s first pilot offshore wind farm, “Alpha Ventus” in the North Sea, all six of the newly installed wind turbines were completely idle, due to gearbox damage. Two turbines must be replaced entirely; the other four repaired.

Friends of the project, especially Germany’s environment minister, Norbert Roettgen, talked of “teething problems.” The problem is far more serious than that, for wind turbines in the high seas are extremely expensive for power consumers, even when they run smoothly. When they don’t, the problem intensifies. Germany could face blackouts — a new dark age.

Even 5 years ago, Germans were beginning to question the efficacy of wind power:

National Center for Policy Analysis, July 12, 2005:

The Germans, once steadfast believers in wind power, have begun to doubt its value. Recently, the German government released a study claiming that wind farms were an expensive and inefficient way of generating sustainable energy.

According to the German government’s energy agency:

  • Joining Germany’s existing wind farms to the national supply grid, in order to meet the government’s target of producing 20 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2015 would cost 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
  • About 800 miles of cable would need to be laid or modified.
  • Power plants would have to be upgraded or replaced so the system would be able to cope with the large fluctuations associated with wind-based energy.

The researchers concluded that instead of spending billions on building new wind turbines, the emphasis should be on making houses more energy efficient.

“There is simply no getting around the intermittency problem of wind power,” says National Center for Policy Analysis senior fellow Sterling Burnett. The wind doesn’t always blow so even large wind farms need conventional power plants to supply backup power. Overall, this raises electricity prices and the German government is finally learning about the problems with “green power,” adds Burnett.

“Unfortunately, most governments look through rose-colored glasses at these ‘green power’ projects that are supposed to provide power and improve the environment,” says Burnett. “Initial opponents to such projects are immediately labeled shills for industry. But once governments start implementing these plans, problems appear.”

Source: Iain Murray and Myron Ebell, “German Government Study Questions Value of Wind Power,” Heartland Institute, June 1, 2005.

Nevertheless,:  Democrats led by President Obama are fixated on : green jobs, energy and very expensive start-up technology.:  : The $787 stimulus bill in 2009 devoted huge chunks of funding: to wind and solar “anything” projects.

Barack Obama has often touted wind power, campaigning: in cities: using wind turbine equipment factories as backdrops.:  He even took credit for 50,000 wind-power-related jobs which were created during George’s Bush administration.

Bloomberg: :  Obama in Ohio at wind turbine factory says Germany is a good example to follow:

The Department of Energy issued a report saying that reaching the goal of having 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030 would be feasible. The biggest challenge is stringing new transmission lines from areas where wind power production would be most efficient.

About $44.4 billion (34 billion euros) was invested in wind projects worldwide last year, and this figure may rise to $198 billion (150 billion euros) by 2020, the Global Wind Energy Council, a Brussels-based trade group, estimates. The industry employs 350,000 people worldwide.

At the end of 2007, Germany had the most wind-energy capacity at 22,300 megawatts, followed by the U.S., Spain, India and China. While use of wind power has been growing in the U.S., it still represents only a fraction of the nation’s total electricity production, about 0.4 percent, according to the Department of Energy.

CNS News: : Obama spoke after touring a plant that makes wind turbines.

The United States must lead the world in clean energy production, he said, and he cited tax credits included in last year’s economic stimulus package.

They “helped make it possible for America to install nearly 10 gigawatts of new wind generating capacity last year alone, enough to power more than 2.4 million American homes,” he said. “And each new wind farm has the potential to create hundreds of construction jobs, and dozens of permanent local jobs, in communities just like Fort Madison.”

Wind power conceivably could produce 20 percent of the nation’s energy in 20 years, Obama said. It’s part of a strategy, he said, “to move us from an economy that runs just on fossil fuels to one that relies on more homegrown fuels and clean energy.”

MSNBC: “Hot air? White House takes credit for Bush-era wind farm jobs”

WASHINGTON: – The Obama administration is crediting its anti-recession stimulus plan with creating up to 50,000 jobs on dozens of wind farms, even though many of those wind farms were built: before the stimulus money began to flow or even before President Barack Obama was inaugurated.

Out of 70 major wind farms that received the $4.4 billion in federal energy grants through the stimulus program, public records show that 11, which received a total of $600 million, erected their wind towers during the Bush administration.: And a total of 19 wind farms, which received $1.3 billion, were built before any of the stimulus money: was distributed. ( See a list of the projects here.)

Yet all the jobs at these wind farms are counted in the administration’s figures for jobs created by the stimulus.

In testimony to Congress earlier this year, the Department of Energy’s senior adviser on the stimulus plan, Matt Rogers, touted the wind farm program for creating as many as 50,000 jobs. He acknowledges that these figures were provided: by a wind industry trade and lobbying group. The trade group, in turn, cites a government study, which found that most of the jobs are short term.

The Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University fact-checked that claim, using the federal government’s own documents. Not only were 19 of the wind farms already in place before the first: stimulus payments were made, but 14 of them were already sending electricity to the grid.

American science writer Eric Rosenbloom examined Norway and Denmark’s forays into wind power in the 90s and later, which found that no fossil-fuel electrical plants could ever be shut down due to the unreliability of wind.

In California’s windy Altamont Pass,: wind power has: never been profitable. The big turbines have: prompted years of legal action between dueling environmentalists, because the: big spinning blades “chop up” eagles, hawks and other birds of prey.:  (see video)

Minnesota’s wind turbines, which were bought used from California, suffered from frozen hydraulic fluid last winter.:  Boink.

Read all of the German Gaernter’s essay. : After reviewing the Germany’s struggles with wind, nuclear, fossil fuels, and high-voltage and below-ground power lines he concludes:

The bottom line: Germans will have to prepare for significantly higher electricity tariffs — and more frequent blackouts.

“If all German wind power projects are realized as planned, the country will incur economic losses well over 100 billion Euros by 2030,” [University of Hamburg meteorologist Thomas] Heinzow says. “The only word that describes this ‘world improvement’ strategy is suicidal.”

Does America really want to go down this suicidal path?

Cross-posted at UNCOVERAGE.net

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