This cut and paste is lifted directly from the CR4 web site with permission. The author's pen name is zgm. Personally, I would have liked to see a lot more internal links or foot notes. Does any of my good readers have an opinion?
Excerpts from my book "Conned with the Wind"
Intermittent energy requires reserves for inactive periods.
One cannot expect households to stop their heating or
refrigerators, nor industry to stop its operations, just
because the wind stopped blowing.
Now, reserves must come from plants capable to start, stop,
change the rate in matter of minutes, which practically
restricts them to fossil plants (oil, gas, coal). Fossil
plants are the most polluting even in permanent regime.
In the irregular regime of reserves their pollution ratio
is still increased by a large factor.
An intermittent source provides only that part of its
installed capacity, which corresponds to the periods of
Now, wind turbines shut down for:
-wind too weak,
-wind too strong (for security reasons),
-wind-blasts (for security reasons),
-ideal conditions, when all wind turbines work at full
capacity, because it would heat white the high tension lines,
which were not build to accommodate wind energy picks.
Their productive capacity, corresponding to the periods of
activity has been evaluated in the 2005 report of E.On, the
leading German electricity provider controlling about
15 000 wind turbines.
A quote from E.On report_2005
"In 2004 two major German studies investigated the size of
contribution that wind farms make towards guaranteed capacity.
Both studies separately came to virtually identical conclusions,
that wind energy currently contributes to the secure production
capacity of the system, by providing 8% of its installed
That is, wind power construction must be accompanied by almost
equal construction of new conventional power plants, which will
be used very nearly as much as if the wind turbines were not
Translated to ordinary language, E.On considers wind power
as mere window dressing behind which the real work is done
by fossil reserves.
Internal energy consumption
Large wind turbines require a large amount of energy to operate.
Other electricity plants generally use their own electricity,
and the difference between the amount they generate and the
amount delivered to the grid is readily determined. Wind plants,
however, use electricity from the grid, which does not appear
to be accounted for in their output figures. The manufacturers
of large turbines do not include electricity consumption in
the specifications they provide.
In order not to overcharge the body of the essay, the details
of the internal energy consumption are presented in Appendix.
In their light it seems reasonable to assume that wind turbines
consume more than 50% of energy they produce in their own
With the internal consumption added to intermittency reducing
the productive capacity to 8% of the installed, wind turbines
may produce less energy than they draw - perhaps unpaid for -
from the grid.
E.On's PIR (Productive/Installed Ratio) of 8% does not account
for the internal energy consumption (about 50% of produced
energy). Accordingly adjusted PIR of 4% tallies with the study
of the Deutsche-Energie Agentur, which concludes:
"while wind power capacity will reach 48 GW by 2020 in
Germany, the source is so intermittent and unreliable that
it is equivalent to only 2 GW of stable fossil fuel capacity."
Now, 2/48 is indeed equal to 4%.
Wind share of electricity production
Media give the wind share of electricity production
arbitrarily, without any justification, as 19% for Denmark,
11% for Spain and Portugal, and 7% for Germany and Ireland.
The German Wind Energy Association (BWE), which cannot be
suspected of anti-wind bias claims only 5% for Germany.
This claim is based upon an estimated PIR of 16%.
Corrected for the adjusted E.On's PIR of 4%, the wind share
in German electricity production may be reasonably evaluated
at 1.25% (0.5% * 4/16).
Media overestimate the wind share of German production
by the factor of 5.6 (7 / 1.25).
Applying this factor to media estimates quoted above, we
get corrected estimations for:
Germany - 1.25% instead of 7%
Spain and Portugal - 2% instead of 11%
Denmark - 3.4% instead of the famous 19%.
SOME USUAL CLICHES ADVERTISING WIND POWER
CLICHE: Wind energy is a practical, efficient alternative.
COMMENT: 18 000 German wind turbines produce 1.25% of German
electric energy. To have an idea of wind efficiency, imagine
a train replacing electric or diesel engines with sails.
Wind energy is a NON-ALTERNATIVE.
CLICHE: Wind energy is clean.
COMMENT: True for 8% of time. For the rest, taken integrally
with reserves it is the most polluting form of energy.
CLICHE: Wind energy is an alternative to Nuclear.
COMMENT: False. Shelving for the moment that Wind is a
NON-ALTERNATIVE to anything:
In order to replace French Nuclear one would
have to cover all available places in France
THREE TIMES with turbines, change France to 3 layers of
turbines standing on top of one another. With fossil plants
on top of them for 92% of the installed wind power.
SOME ADDITIONAL CHARACTERISTICS
One does not get a full picture just by negating false cliches.
Let's recall some characteristics of wind power less known to
COST. A wind KWH is 9 times more expensive (in France and
Germany) than the traditional. That, for the operative 8%.
For 92% of reserve use the ratio varies from 14 to 40 under
normal reserves availability (see next paragraph). The extra
cost is carried by the citizen in form of tax increase
(state subventions of wind power), or electricity bill.
IMPACT ON RESERVES AND ON GRID. Reserves control is one of
most complex issues of electric grid management. Reserves
are used, of course, not only to support wind power, but
to compensate any unforeseen drop in supply, like failure
of a transformer, etc. Reserves management is in hands of
a central command unit of a provider. Once facing emergency
(e.g. a meteo message warning of closing the turbines), the
manager considers an internet site offering reserves by
international auction. Offer and demand determine the price,
which usually fluctuates between 14 and 40 times that of
traditional supply. Occasionally it reached 500 and more.
But what if there are no available reserves?
Simply a black-out like that in the US, in Greece and in
Italy. One or two wind turbines of course don't count. But
thousands contribute seriously to disequilibrate the grids.
A study concludes that if the increase trend continues, the
wind power may cause a several months black-out for whole
Europe, with devastation comparable to that of the WWII.
The only way to avoid it is to follow E.On's example and
to build dedicated fossil reserve plants with capacity
nearly equal to that of the new wind plants.
SUBSOIL. Pictures from the energy companies show slim towers
rising cleanly from the landscape or hovering faintly in the
distant haze, their presence modulated by soft clouds behind
them. But a 200- to 300-foot tower supporting a turbine
housing the size of a bus and three 100- to 150-foot rotor
blades sweeping over an acre of air at more than 100 mph
requires, for a start, a large and solid foundation.
On a GE 1.5-MW tower, the turbine housing, or nacelle, weighs
over 56 tons, the blade assembly weighs over 36 tons, and
the whole tower assembly totals over 163 tons.
As FPL (Florida Power & Light) Energy says, "a typical turbine
site takes about a 42Ã-42-foot-square graveled area." Each tower
(and a site needs at least 15-20 towers to make investment
worthwhile) requires a huge hole filled with steel rebarâ€"
reinforced concrete (e.g., 1,250 tons in each foundation at
the facility in Lamar, Colo.). According to Country Guardian,
the hole is large enough to fit three double-decker buses.
At the 89-turbine Top of Iowa facility, the foundation of each
323-foot assembly is a 7-feet-deep 42-feet-diameter octagon
filled with 25,713 pounds of reinforced steel and 181 cubic
yards of concrete. The foundations at the Wild Horse project
in Washington are 30 feet deep. At Buffalo Mountain in Tennessee,
too, each foundation is at least 30 feet deep and may contain
more than 3,500 cubic yards of concrete (production of which is
a major source of CO2). On Cefn Croes in Wales the developer
built a complete concrete factory on the site, which is not
unusual, as well as opened quarries to provide rock for new
roads -- neither of which activities were part of the original
On many such mountain ridges as well as other locations,
it would be necessary to blast into the bedrock, as Enxco's
New England representative, John Zimmerman, has confirmed,
possibly disrupting the water sources for wells downhill.
At the Waymart plant in Pennsylvania, the foundations extend
30-40 feet into the bedrock. At Romney Marsh in southern England,
foundation pillars will be sunk 110 feet. For each 6-feet-deep
foundation at the Crescent Ridge facility in Illinois, another
24 feet was dug out and filled with sand. Construction at a
site on the Slieve Aughty range in Ireland in October 2003
caused a 2.5-mile-long bog slide.
ENVIRONMENT. German League of Landscape Protection compares
wind turbines devastation of environment with that of the 30
BIRDS. The "Bird Grinders" kill millions of birds a year in
NUISANCES. Noise, stroboscopic effects, disco effects, and
infrasounds impact the health and the quality of life of
close residents. These effects were used as tortures by Nazis
and/or Gulag, more acutely of course, but qualitatively alike.
PROJECTIONS. 50 kg blocks of ice projected at 1 km.
In several cases of brakes failure 30m long and 3 tons
heavy blades were projected at 500m.
One may ask, why wind turbines are so progressing, if they
are inefficient, polluting, depletable, costly, devastating
environment, harmful to neighbors' health, life quality and
Money is the answer. Wind power is probably the biggest fraud
of the century. The German wind lobby grifted in the present
decade 50 billion Euros from the taxpayers in form of
subventions, tax reductions, interest free credits and law
obliging providers to buy Wind Energy at 9 times the current
One estimates that 30% of this money goes to bribe involved
politicians from ministers and lawmakers to village mayors.
CHOKING REAL ALTERNATIVES
But we did not yet tell the worst: draining all money and
resources, the Wind Monster chokes other really clean and
In Brittany, traditionally competent in things of the sea,
a company produced an efficient prototype of "hydrolienne",
a sea current turbine. Now, that is clean, permanent (no
reserves) and environment friendly. The company is going
broke for want of 500 thousand Euro.
A small fraction of grifted billions could save it and
Some of crucial assertions of the present essay are supported
by the ABS report, as can be seen in the following excerpts:
The most important findings of this report highlight studies
that raise critical concerns challenging some of the claims
made for wind power.
These studies are the first real evidence showing how wind
actually works, as opposed to what has been claimed, and
come from some of the most authoritative voices on energy
in the world. Reports from E.On Netz, the system operator
with the largest wind power feed-in in the world, and
Eltra of Denmark, which had the largest percentage wind
power contribution, show disturbing results.
E.On cites a study from the Deutsche-Energie Agentur. The
report was sponsored by the German government and all sides
of the industry. Among bombshells contained inside, the study
suggests that while wind power capacity will reach 48 GW by
2020 in Germany, the source is so intermittent and unreliable
that it is equivalent to only 2 GW of stable fossil fuel
... because of this variability in wind, back-up fossil fuel
plants must be operated at low load to maintain system
reliability. There is new evidence that shows that switching
base load fossil fuel plants on and off to balance a system
produces higher carbon emissions than continuous operation,
certainly not a supposed benefit from switching to renewable
Because wind installations tend to be concentrated in areas
with high wind speeds, regional grids are heavily overloaded
at times of maximum feed-in. Each country studied reported
extreme difficulties in balancing the grid. A further 2,700 km
of costly high voltage transmission lines will be required
in Germany to accommodate new wind capacity.
Setting benefits of wind power against its drawbacks we find
on the one hand nearly nothing - wind power boils down to
a political window dressing, concealing the fossil reserves
doing practically all the work in the background;
and, on the other hand:
-highest pollution rate of the irregularly operating
-environment devastation comparable with that of the 30 years
-choking of all pertinent renewable energy options,
-and last, but not least, effects used by the Nazis as
tortures inflicted on neighboring populations.
We read in the ABS report: "ABS Energy Research's report
does not relegate wind power to the dustbin... objective
analysis is essential."
They had to cream their report with a bit of political
cosmetics, but "objective analysis" seems, indeed, essential
and clearly indicates that dustbin is the only suitable place
for wind power and that the citizens are taken for ride by
the fraudulent mafia and corrupted governance.
Internal energy consumption.
NOTE: The present appendix is still a stub. The highly
technical and complex details kept undisclosed by wind
turbine manufacturers request still a lot of probing,
evaluating and editing. Consisting of direct quotations
of several American studies, it may contain confusions
of terms and units such as might appear in the originals.
Among the functions of wind turbines using electricity are
-Yaw mechanism keeping the rotor perpendicular to the wind.
(the nacelle (turbine housing) and blades together weigh 92
tons on a GE 1.5-MW turbine).
-Blade-pitch control keeping the rotors spinning regularly.
-Lights, controllers, communication, sensors, metering, data
-Heating the blades which may require 10%-20% of the nominal
-Heating and dehumidifying the nacelle.
-Oil heater, pump, cooler, and filtering system in gearbox.
-Hydraulic brake locking the blades in very high wind.
-Thyristors graduating the connection and disconnection
between generator and grid.
-Magnetizing the stator. The induction generators used in
most large grid-connected turbines require a large amount of
continuous electricity from the grid to actively power the
magnetic coils around the asynchronous "cage rotor" that
encloses the generator shaft; at the rated wind speeds, it
helps keep the rotor speed constant, and as the wind starts
blowing it helps start the rotor turning (see next item);
in the rated wind speeds, the stator may use power equal to
10% of the turbine's rated capacity, in slower winds possibly
-Using the generator as a motor (to help the blades start
to turn when the wind speed is low or, as many suspect,
to maintain the illusion that the facility is producing
electricity when it is not, particularly during important
site tours) it seems possible that the grid-magnetized
stator must work to help keep the 40-ton blade assembly
spinning, along with the gears that increase the blade rpm
some 50 times for the generator, not just at cut-in (or
for show in even less wind) but at least some of the way
up towards the full rated wind speed; it may also be
spinning the blades and rotor shaft to prevent warping when
there is no wind, or - some cases have been reported - just
to show that turbines are not idling.
-It may be that each turbine consumes more than 50% of its
rated capacity in its own operation. If so, the plant as a
whole, which may produce only a part of its rated capacity
would be using (for free!) twice as much electricity as it
produces and sells.
-Whatever the actual amount of consumption, it could seriously
diminish any claim of providing a significant amount of energy.
Instead, it looks like industrial wind power could turn out
to be a laundering scheme: "Dirty" energy goes in, "clean"
energy comes out. That would explain why developers demand
legislation to create a market for "green credits" -- tokens
of "clean" energy like the indulgences sold by the medieval
church. Ego te absolvo.
-In large rotating power trains such as this, if allowed to
stand motionless for any period of time, the unit will
experience "bowing" of shafts and rotors under the tremendous
weight. Therefore, frequent rotating of the unit is necessary
to prevent this. As an example, even in port Navy ships keep
their propeller shafts and turbine power trains slowly rotating.
It is referred to as "jacking the shaft" to prevent any tendency
to bow. Any bowing would throw the whole train out of balance
with potentially very serious damage when bringing the power
train back on line.
-In addition to just protecting the gear box and generator
shafts and bearings, the blades on a large wind turbine would
offer a special challenge with respect to preventing warping
and bowing when not in use. For example, on a sunny, windless
day, idle wind turbine blades would experience uneven heating
from the sun, something that would certainly cause bowing and
warping. The only way to prevent this would be to keep the
blades moving to even out the sun exposure to all parts of the
-So, the point that major amounts of incoming electrical power
is used to turn the power train and blades when the wind is
not blowing is very accurate, and it is not something the
operators of large wind turbines can avoid.
-In addition, there is the likely need for a hefty, forced-feed
lubricating system for the shaft and turbine blade assembly
bearings. This would be a major hotel load. One can't imagine
passive lubrication (as for the wheel bearings on your car)
for an application like this. Maybe so, but it would be very
surprising. Assuming they have to have a forced-feed lubrication
system, given the weight on those bearings (40 tons on the
bearing for the rotor and blades alone) a very robust (energy
sucking) lubricating oil system would be required. It would
also have to include cooling for the oil and an energy-sucking
lube oil purification system too."
One need only ask utilities to show how much "dirty"
electricity they purchase because of wind-generated power
to see that something is amiss in the wind industry's claims.
If wind worked and were not mere window dressing, the industry
would trot out some real numbers. But they don't. One begins
to suspect that they can't.