• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Wind Power: An Expensive and Inefficient Way to Reduce CO2

    In a speech in May, President Obama pushed for our nation to transition to renewable energy and pointed to Denmark as an example of proof it can be done:

    [U]nfortunately. America produces less than 3 percent of our electricity through renewable sources of energy like wind and solar — less than 3 percent. In contrast, Denmark produces 20 percent of their electricity through wind.”

    But according to a new study from the Danish Centre for Political Studies (CEPOS), commissioned by the Institute for Energy Research, the road to increased wind power is less traveled for a reason. The study refutes the claim that Denmark generates 20 percent of its power from wind stating that its high intermittency not only leads to new challenges to balance the supply and demand of electricity, but also provides less electricity consumption than assumed. The new study says, “wind power has recently (2006) met as little as 5% of Denmark’s annual electricity consumption with an average over the last five years of 9.7%.” Furthermore, the wind energy Denmark exports to its northern neighbors, Sweden and Norway, does little to reduce carbon dioxide emissions because the energy it replaces is carbon neutral.

     

    The study goes on to say that the only reason wind power exists in Denmark is “through substantial subsidies supporting the wind turbine owners. Exactly how the subsidies have been shared between land, wind turbine owners, labor, capital and its shareholders is opaque, but it is fair to assess that no Danish wind industry to speak of would exist if it had to compete on market terms.”

    But there’s a cost involved. When government spends more money, it necessarily diverts labor, capital and materials from the private sector. Just like promises are made in the United States about green jobs creation, the heavily subsidized Danish program created 28,400 jobs. But “this does not, however, constitute the net employment effect of the wind mill subsidy. In the long run, creating additional employment in one sector through subsidies will detract labor from other sectors, resulting in no increase in net employment but only in a shift from the non-subsidized sectors to the subsidized sector.”

    And because these resources are being diverted away from more productive uses (in terms of value added, the energy technology underperforms compared to industrial average), “Danish GDP is approximately $270 million lower than it would have been if the wind sector work force was employed elsewhere.”

    The entire study is available here.

    This is very similar to what we’ve seen in Spain. Research directed by economist Gabriel Calzada, at King Juan Carlos University, analyzed the subsidized expenditure necessary to create the green jobs in Spain. It compared those funds to the private expenditure needed to support the average conventional job. Supported by other data as well, they conclude that each subsidized green job in Spain eliminated over two conventional jobs.

    And it will be very similar to what we see in the United States if we move forward with cap and trade and a renewable electricity standard that mandates a certain percentage of electricity come from wind and solar. The intent of a subsidy is to increase the production of a good or service if it is underprovided by the market for some reason. This is not the case with energy. The market, not the government-funded industries, can provide the most affordable energy for consumers. Mandates, subsidies and other preferential treatment simply benefit few at the expense of many. Denmark and Spain are learning the hard way.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Wind Power: An Expensive and Inefficient Way to Reduce CO2

    1. Bill San Antonio TX says:

      Great Article. Wind Energy is way "overblown".

      Even if it was cost effective, the very people who support it would not want the wind turbines ruining their view from their estates. Build them elsewhere would be the indignant response.

      Solar, however is a great idea, especially in the SOuthwestern Region of the US. God knows we get enough sun year-around here in San Antone.

      The problem is always cost efficiency and would need to be phased in to reduce impact on other economic segments. We should have done this long ago but it is never too late.

    2. Bobbie Jay says:

      If anyone in the private sector can see that this is inefficient and costly and inconsistent, IT IS. Why isn't anyone mentioning the killing of birds? And other flying species?

      the president wants everything that doesn't work as his intent is to collapse.

    3. TonyfromOz says:

      What most people in the general populace believe is that Wind power and Solar power are actually taking the place in filling the consumed power void that coal fired power used to fill.

      To that end, without a real knowledge of electrical power, those people then point at the overall generating capacity of those two forms of power.

      This is the Nameplate Capacity, and as those plants start to proliferate, that number climbs.

      However, the real figures are in the power supplied to the grids that is actually consumed.

      Those figures for the REAL power show an entirely different thing indeed.

      Take this link.

      http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/tabl

      The number you are looking for is at the bottom right of that huge table, the power actually consumed in the U.S. It says 4,010,417. That's thousands of MegaWattHours (MWH), but the number is the thing I am pointing you to for comparison.

      Now, take this link.

      http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/tabl

      The numbers you are looking for here are the two at the bottom left of that table, power actually delivered to the grid for consumption by all users.

      Wind 58,775. (Thousand MWH)

      Solar 794 (Thousand MWH)

      Added together 59569. (Thousand MWH)

      Together when compared to the overall consumption, (the above much larger figure) Wind and Solar only deliver 1.48% of the power actually consumed by all users in the US.

      So, where you see that Wind and Solar are actually supplying large amounts of power, be aware that the hype will tell you the larger figures for Nameplate capacity, but what is actually delivered is only one third of that, and THAT latter figure is the actual percentage for Wind and Solar Power.

      The Solar power figure is even more worthy of looking at. It only supplies 0.018% of overall power, and if it was supposed to be the way of the future, people would be flocking to construct them. That percentage of supplied and then consumed power has changed very little over the years, and the only reason it is rising in the overall mix is that coal fired plants are supplying less power as they close down.

      Be also aware that those coal fired plants are not closing because of any environmental concerns. They are closing as they come to the end of their effective life span. A large coal fired plant has a prospective life span of around 50 years. The average age of all coal fired plants in the whole of the U.S. is now approaching 47/48 years, and that's the average. More coal fired plants are closing than are opening, and as they close, actual power supplied to the grids decreases, and by a hell of a lot more than is being replaced by Wind and Solar, which, because of their variability will never be able to supply the continuous 24/7/365 power that is required absolutely.

      For costing perspectives, Wind and Solar are seven to 10 times more expensive to produce the electrical power than any other conventional method of producing electrical power. Cost however is incidental if they cannot supply that constant level of power, which they cannot do.

      Sorry about the length of this reply.

    4. SaneOne says:

      "Why isn’t anyone mentioning the killing of birds? And other flying species?"

      um…because that issue is a deliberately exaggerated non-problem cynically perpetuated by fossil fuel energy interests whose sudden "concern" for wild life is frankly sickening.

      Have you even seen a modern wind turbine?

      A bird is little more likely to kill itself flying into one of the giant slow moving turbines than it would be to kill itself flying into a building.

      The few thousands of bird deaths from wind turbines is miniscule compared to the millions and millions of birds killed on our roads and/or by household pets.

      Then there is the FACT that burning fossil fuels is already killing BILLIONS of animals and will kill TRILLIONS more (Don't believe me? Go take a look at some research on the effects of acidification on the worlds coral reefs – and that's just ONE example).

      Get your head out of the sand, learn something for yourself and get used to the idea that the world needs to change.

    5. Pingback: PA Pundits - International

    6. SaneOne, London says:

      SaneOne, London

      "Why isn’t anyone mentioning the killing of birds? And other flying species?"

      um…because that issue is a deliberately exaggerated non-problem cynically perpetuated by fossil fuel energy interests whose sudden "concern" for wild life is frankly sickening.

      Have you even seen a modern wind turbine?

      A bird is little more likely to kill itself flying into one of the giant slow moving turbines than it would be to kill itself flying into a building.

      The few thousands of bird deaths from wind turbines is miniscule compared to the millions and millions of birds killed on our roads and/or by household pets.

      Then there is the FACT that burning fossil fuels is already killing BILLIONS of animals and will kill TRILLIONS more (Don't believe me? Go take a look at some research on the effects of acidification on the worlds coral reefs – and that's just ONE example).

      Get your head out of the sand, learn something for yourself and get used to the idea that the world needs to change.

    7. JoAnne, Arizona says:

      Wind and solar can be useful supplementary energy sources for specific applications. However, it is hogwash that they can be major sources in the foreseeable future for even 20% of our energy needs. Since 1979 (for 30 years!) when President Carter created the Dept. of Energy during the Oil Embargo, Oregon has offered tax credits up to 30%of the cost for installing residential solar hot water heaters. According to the Oregon DOE, "More than 16,000 solar water heaters have been installed in Oregon since 1979 for domestic hot water, swimming pools or spas. A typical solar domestic water heater provides between 50 percent and 60 percent of a home's water heating needs." Do the math: that is 533 of these government subsidized ugly flimflams sold to the homeowners in a super-environmentalist state per year, where the political will and personal commitment to the "cause" is extreme. And despite the overcast skies, the Oregonians claim better efficiency than Florida for their solar systems!

      The Far Left wants all fossil fuel consumption to stop immediately, and thinks the devastation to the world economy, and the millions of dead humans that would result, would be a good consequence, not a bad one. Unfortunately, they've got true believers in elected, appointed, and bureaucratic jobs throughout all levels of government now. They have had their federal and state subsidized experiments now for decades, and the results are worse than pathetic. It is time to pull the plug. We can't afford their sandbox to play in anymore, and they've become dangerous to themselves and others.

    8. Michael Goggin, USA says:

      For a thorough debunking of the misleading and false claims presented in this fossil-fuel industry funded report, please see our website:
      http://www.awea.org/blog/?mode=viewid&post_id

      Michael Goggin, American Wind Energy Association

    9. Bobbie Jay says:

      Saneone- you are the exaggerater! I'm sure your ties and profit are in this waste! Your ignorance reigns supreme!

      Oh, and thank you JoAnne.

    10. Alex says:

      I don't think wind or solar can be a large scale electricial source for energy security reasons. Either you need backup generation or you need transmissions lines to send (or receive) power elsewhere. Both solutions cost lot of money, so you are better to not rely too much on wind.

      However, I don't think it a bad idea to use wind power, take for exemple in Texas, they use lots of gas, which is suited well to backup wind electricity, while being less reliant on gas.

      I think the idea is to reduce CO2 with any solution possible, and that's why Obama is pushing renewables. No one is for inefficients methods, i. e. wind power without backup or transmission lines.

    11. Pingback: Putting Conservation Back into Conservatism « Intelligence, Please…

    12. Vince, Chicago, IL U says:

      @SaneOne

      I could think of a deliberately exaggerated non-problem cynically perpetuated by alternative energy interests whose sudden “concern” for the earth is frankly sickening.

      Oh, what a coincidence, many of the loudest voices also have a ton of money sunk into alternative energy… ulterior motive much?

      For the record, I don't own an estate. I'm a truck driver, and I still think those things are eyesores.

    13. Pingback: Unfortunately for you, the green in Green Energy is your dollars… | RedState

    14. Pingback: $50 light bulbs! Unfortunately for you, the green in Green Energy is your dollars…[Reader Post] | Flopping Aces

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×