Why Wind Power Won't Work

Viv Forbes
Wind power's biggest problem is unreliability.

In calm times or gentle breezes, the turbines generate nothing; and in high winds they must be turned off to prevent damage. No matter how it is configured, a wind farm delivers only an average of about one third of installed capacity.

The second big problem is that wind power is generated only when the wind blows, not when consumers need it - the wind power supply profile seldom matches consumer demand. And the wind can start and stop suddenly, creating network instability.

When you want it, you can't get it; and when you get it, you don't need it.

This unreliability means that wind power always needs backup supply, ready to swing into production at short notice. In Australia this usually means "spinning reserve" - a gas or coal plant fired up and idling along, ready to deliver full power at short notice. This wastes fuel, labour, land and capital.

Wind power also has low energy density - a large area of land must be peppered by turbines and networked by roads and transmission lines in order to collect significant energy, even when the wind blows. The resources needed to manufacture, transport, erect and maintain the windmills and transmission lines, construct the access roads and build and operate the backup generators, makes wind a very costly power option - so costly it must be subsidised and forced onto consumers thus causing soaring electricity bills.

Even if reducing carbon dioxide were a sensible aim (which it isn't) gas alone would be a far cheaper way to do this.

Noisy and dangerous wind turbines also disrupt the lives of neighbours, kill birds and bats, and cause bushfires. And they leave behind a huge de-commissioning cost at the end of their short lives.

Wind power is not sensible for base-load power - it wastes community resources and does not benefit the climate or the environment. It should not receive special legislated privileges.

Cheap reliable electricity, mainly from coal and hydro, has been the ace-in-the-hole for Australia, giving us the luxury of low power costs, competitive industries and well-paid jobs.

Wind power is a ball and chain for the economy.

Wind power's biggest problem is unreliability.

In calm times or gentle breezes, the turbines generate nothing; and in high winds they must be turned off to prevent damage. No matter how it is configured, a wind farm delivers only an average of about one third of installed capacity.

The second big problem is that wind power is generated only when the wind blows, not when consumers need it - the wind power supply profile seldom matches consumer demand. And the wind can start and stop suddenly, creating network instability.

When you want it, you can't get it; and when you get it, you don't need it.

This unreliability means that wind power always needs backup supply, ready to swing into production at short notice. In Australia this usually means "spinning reserve" - a gas or coal plant fired up and idling along, ready to deliver full power at short notice. This wastes fuel, labour, land and capital.

Wind power also has low energy density - a large area of land must be peppered by turbines and networked by roads and transmission lines in order to collect significant energy, even when the wind blows. The resources needed to manufacture, transport, erect and maintain the windmills and transmission lines, construct the access roads and build and operate the backup generators, makes wind a very costly power option - so costly it must be subsidised and forced onto consumers thus causing soaring electricity bills.

Even if reducing carbon dioxide were a sensible aim (which it isn't) gas alone would be a far cheaper way to do this.

Noisy and dangerous wind turbines also disrupt the lives of neighbours, kill birds and bats, and cause bushfires. And they leave behind a huge de-commissioning cost at the end of their short lives.

Wind power is not sensible for base-load power - it wastes community resources and does not benefit the climate or the environment. It should not receive special legislated privileges.

Cheap reliable electricity, mainly from coal and hydro, has been the ace-in-the-hole for Australia, giving us the luxury of low power costs, competitive industries and well-paid jobs.

Wind power is a ball and chain for the economy.