I agree with quite a lot of the green agenda – I’ve never had a car, I don’t do much leisure flying, I recycle many of my jokes – but I confess I’ve never got the point of wind farms. As I wrote in June, we seem to be subjecting large parts of our countryside to environmental degradation for little, if any, real C02 benefit.
The average wind farm operates to only about a quarter of its capacity- because the wind often doesn’t blow. And even when it does blow, that can be at times – overnight, for instance – when the electricity it generates isn’t needed. (We can’t store electricity in large quantities – the power companies have to generate it at the exact moment when you want to use it.)
Now, as I reported in yesterday’s paper, there’s interesting news from the original Wind farm Central, Denmark. In the country with the world’s highest density of turbines per head, the political wind appears to be changing. The Danish government is phasing out the Gale Force 10 of public subsidy that, there as here, is the real life-force of the wind farm industry. Public opposition to the turbines is growing. As a result of these two things, Denmark’s state electricity company has decided to get out of onshore wind altogether. We should follow – but of course, dear old Britain is still talking about ever more windmills.
The problem with British greens is not that they’ve misdiagnosed the problem – I’ve very little doubt that climate change is real. Even in the unlikely event that the science is wrong, it’s not a gamble we can afford to take. The problem is the unpopularity and ineffectiveness of many of their most cherished solutions.
Wind isn’t totally useless. But as an inherently intermittent and unpredictable resource, it simply can’t provide energy on anything like the scale we need. There are far better renewables– ground-source heat for instance – so why’s nobody talking about them? Perhaps it’s because you can’t see a ground-source heat pump (it is, as you might expect, buried under the ground.) A wind turbine, by contrast, is a tangible, visible source of political commitment and moral righteousness.