Magical Wind Power: Illusions versus Reality
The number-one challenge of our times is to separate the wheat from the chaff. To assist in this task, we are blessed with more information than ever before – but we are also simultaneously burdened with more misinformation than any prior generation has ever had to deal with. We look back and wonder how trusting citizens were so easily victimized by snake oil salesmen, but today, in the golden age of cons, we are being duped on a daily basis.
As a representative matter (and a national issue of great significance), let's look at what's happening with industrial wind energy.
The primary reason why wind energy has been a success has nothing to do with wind energy! Instead, its success is 100% due to the fact that wind energy proponents are masterful lobbyists. If one reads The Business of America Is Lobbying, it's apparent that the wind industry has used every trick in the book, and then written some of its own.
For example: Wind lobbyists have successfully infiltrated our language with totally inaccurate and misleading terminology, such as "wind farms" and "clean energy." Neither exists.
For example: Wind marketers have successfully portrayed their product as "Free, Clean, and Green" – despite it being none of those. The reason they have coined these malapropisms is simple: those who control the words control the narrative.
For example: Wind salespeople have successfully convinced financially distressed communities that hosting a wind project will be a economic windfall – even though numerous studies from independent experts indicate that the net local economic impact could well be negative.
For example: Wind-peddlers have successfully sold technically challenged local representatives that the wind-developer is their friend and business partner – even though these sophisticated and aggressive entrepreneurs typically look at these rural people as rubes and marks, and their number-one focus is to make as much money as possible, at the rubes' expense.
For example: Wind developers have successfully persuaded much of the public that wind energy is an inevitable matter, so fighting it is a lost cause. The reality is that in many cases, local communities can effectively defend themselves by simply passing a proper wind ordinance.
For example: Wind-supporters have successfully imparted the belief that a certain wind project will power 20,000 homes – even though that project will not actually power a single home 24/7/365.
For example: Wind advocates employ a sleight-of-hand tactic to dismiss noise complaints by claiming that "wind turbines don't make any more noise than a refrigerator." The fact is that the main acoustical concern with wind turbines is the infrasound generated (which is below our level of hearing). So discussing the audible part of turbine noise purposefully distracts from the serious inaudible (but still very much experienced) noise issue.
For example: Wind propagandists say that wind energy is saving the environment – even though the evidence indicates that it is environmentally destructive on multiple fronts.
For example: Wind-promoters have successfully conveyed the idea that wind energy is a low-cost option of electricity – even though when all its costs are fully accounted for, wind energy can be three to five times as expensive as traditional electricity sources.
For example: Wind advocates have successfully communicated the notion that using more wind will directly result in the closure of coal plants – even though 10,000 wind turbines could never equal the performance of even a single coal facility.
For example: Wind-boosters have successfully disseminated the impression that wind is a major and essential contributor to preventing climate change – even though there is no empirical scientific proof that wind energy saves any consequential CO2.
For example: Wind champions have successfully relayed the conviction that the DoD Clearinghouse assures us that wind projects will not adversely affect the mission or operational readiness of our military or our national security – even though the DoD Clearinghouse was set up to accommodate wind energy (not the military), and the actual process is much more about promoting political correctness than protecting our national defense.
I could go on and on, as the list of wind lobbyists' deceptions is distressingly long. That said, there is an additional major falsehood that needs to be exposed: that there is such a thing as wind energy by itself. This seemingly innocuous deceit is actually extraordinarily important.
The fact is that there is no such animal on the grid as wind energy by itself. What actually typically exists is a "Wind+Gas" package. This is mandated by the inescapable reality of wind energy's unrelentingly unpredictable and uncontrollable output. No conventional source of electrical energy has these characteristics, so none need this special augmentation.
The importance of understanding this reality is that when we are talking about wind energy economics or environmental consequences, the only truthful analysis is objectively and comprehensively looking at the results of the Wind+Gas package.*
For example, it should be apparent that wind energy (i.e., the Wind+Gas package) is not a CO2 zero-emitter. In fact, due to other technicalities (never acknowledged by wind lobbyists) some studies have concluded that gas (combined cycle) by itself produces less CO2 than the Wind+Gas package.
Let me restate that extraordinary finding: gas can produce less CO2 than wind energy does!
Is the success of wind energy due to the sophistication of the con artists they've engaged or to our gullibility? In either case, the takeaway is that lobbyists are not reliable sources of information, especially when it involves significant money, our health, or our national security. The bottom line is that wind energy is palliative pabulum, not suitable for prime time.