November 29, 2005

November 22, 2005

Desperate times for Danish wind

According to a Nov. 10 news item from the Danish Wind Industry Association, Denmark is tackling the biggest problem they have had in integrating wind power. Currently, only a fraction of the wind plant production can be used, because Denmark has built and converted many conventional plants to provide both heat and power ("combined heat and power," CHP), thus doubling the amount of energy extracted from fossil fuels. Because they are providing heat, the plants can not be ramped up and down to accommodate the fluctuations of the wind. But the fact that Denmark exports most of its wind production must be getting embarrassing. The solution is to subsidize converting homes to electric heat! Of course, this means that the CHP plants won't be providing heat any more, so their fuel burning will be back to the old inefficient level, thus raising CO2 and other emissions. New inefficiencies also will be introduced by their being called upon to modulate their output.

But wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, Denmarks' second-largest company (after Lego), is experiencing hard times, and the most important thing is to make it appear that wind energy works. Vestas investors don't care if more fossil fuel has to be burned to make it so.

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Wind power does not work

To the Editor, Manchester (Vt.) Journal:

Rob Roy Macgregor (letter, Nov. 18) would have us believe that more than 50 gigawatts of wind power capacity installed worldwide, or its endorsement by some utilities, is proof that it works. He asks, as if he does not know the answer, where is the profit if wind is so unreliable?

To the first point, one need only ask for evidence that 50 gigawatts (or 10-15, representing the actual output from wind, or even any at all) of energy from other sources has been displaced to discover that wind power does not work as an energy source on the grid, that such claims are as puffs of smoke.

To the second point, endorsement by utilities comes from the same source as the profits: the requirement or expectation to buy a certain amount of renewable energy and the option of buying "green credits" instead. Whether the energy produced by a wind turbine is used or not, equivalent green credits are generated as well. There is great demand for them, and their trade is very profitable. Enron began this model of energy progress, and it remains a scam that benefits only a few investors. Some utilities set up as credit producers themselves, and others are typically bought off, as exemplified by Lyndonville Electric's East Haven deal, with a share in the racket.

Utilities, however, are clear about the futility of wind power. Eon Netz, one of Germany's grid managers, with over 7,000 MW of wind capacity connected, has described in their annual wind reports that they need additional conventional capacity to cover 100% of the possible infeed from wind, because even as it peaks it often drops off very quickly. Many utilities in Japan cap the amount of energy they will accept from wind facilities. A recent report boasting of the U.K.'s superb wind resource also points out that new "spinning reserve" must be built and kept burning to compensate for wind power's fluctuations, thus severely limiting any positive effect on the use of other energy sources. A February 2004 study by the Irish grid found that wind power caused minimal displacement of other sources, that it was essentially superfluous additional capacity. Eon Netz projects that at best wind turbines might displace barely 4% of their capacity in other sources.

Macgregor is right that storing the intermittent output of wind turbines is an essential solution. It only underscores the absurdity of building them now, when large-scale storage, if feasible at all, is still very far off.

If wind power worked, proponents would be able to point to real evidence of energy savings and cleaner air, not just a sales chart.

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November 21, 2005

"Neighbours Warn of Din From Wind Turbines"

From the Nov. 16 Wellington, New Zealand, Dominion Post:
Manawatu residents say they are being "driven stupid" by noise from wind turbines, despite living twice as far away as those planned for Makara.

Two residents who live up to three kilometres from Te Apiti and Tararua wind farms spoke at the resource consent hearing for Meridian Energy's proposed Makara wind farm yesterday.

On the Makara Guardians group's last day of evidence, Wendy Brock described three consecutive days of relentless noise and throbbing from 18 turbines 2.5km from her Ashhurst home.

"You have this drone, you can't escape it. After three days the residents were just worn down, fed up."

Meridian's Project West Wind proposes 70 turbines, some within 1km of homes. The Makara turbines would also be 35 metres taller than Te Apiti's.

Mrs Brock said Meridian's consultation for Te Apiti did not prepare residents for the noise levels.

"The turbines make noise, lots of it."

... Meridian has already paid an undisclosed sum to move one Manawatu family who could not live in their house because of noise and vibrations.

Daniel Sproull's farm lies within sight of both wind farms. He said he feared for Makara residents if Meridian's 70 turbines were allowed.

"If these go ahead and your place is downwind, you're stuffed."

The turbines' sound at Te Apiti, 3km away, was like a truck rumbling past his house, though "it doesn't pass in seconds, it can rumble for hours".

The turbines were enough to "drive you stupid".

Several nights he was woken by turbine noise, thinking the clothes dryer had been left on overnight or road works were directly outside his property, he said.
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Save the world, save the ridgelines

To the Editor, Vermont Guardian:

I am puzzled by Jane Newton's stand against opposition to industrial wind turbines (letter, Nov. 16). Are not the ridgelines part of the world that needs protecting? If we allow our own back yard to be destroyed merely for corporate profit, how can we go on to save the rest of the world from the same process?

I am surprised by her apparently unquestioning acceptance of claims from the developers that wind power is a step in the right direction. Despite decades of experience, and at least ten years of substantial installation, proponents can not point to any savings of other fuels. It won't move us away from fossil or nuclear fuels, let alone war, exploitation, and pollution. Besides a lack of positive impact, the negative effects are not negligible.

Just as military invasion is sold as "spreading democracy" and corporate piracy as "bringing opportunity," the needless industrialization of our last rural and wild landscapes with wind turbines just as falsely sold as "clean energy."

Newton suggests countering corporate crime in small ways, yet dismisses the crimes of big wind as minor. A scam is a scam, destruction destruction. The fight against it at every level can -- and ought to -- begin in our own back yards. My experience in working with many individuals against big wind is that their concern does not stop at their own ridgelines. The network of individuals and groups helping each other extends around the world. Their activism should be praised not denigrated.

In August 2004, the Point Pierce Aboriginal community of Australia watched 40,000 years of Dreaming destroyed by the construction of 50 wind turbines at Wattle Point. This past autumn, Zapotecos of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico asked Mark Duchamp, a bird conservationist who fights giant wind turbine facilities in Spain and Scotland, to help them against "the imposition of neoliberal megacorporations destroying nature and our cultures" (the whole letter in Spanish is reproduced on the web at

Giant wind turbines on our ridgelines won't reduce the use of other sources of energy in Vermont or anywhere else on the grid. According to a Nov. 18 article in the Times Argus, the U.S. president of the Italy-based company targeting Sheffield and Sutton shamelessly boasted of construction on "state-owned virgin mountain tops" on Maui, Hawaii. It's corporate invasion and conquest, nothing else.

The fight against big wind is not to deny the necessary struggles Newton is active in. It is to join them.

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November 19, 2005


'"Just when you thought you'd seen it all, the Republicans have stooped to new lows, even for them," said Ms. Pelosi, who assailed Republicans as impugning Mr. Murtha's patriotism.'  --New York Times

To show the Republicans that Democrats can stoop even lower, Pelosi then urged her party to vote with them against Democrat Murtha's plan to remove troops from Iraq. And all but three members of the House did.

November 18, 2005

Wind developers and the urge to conquer

From today's Barre-Montpelier (Vt.) Times-Argus:
"Officials behind a major wind project proposed here unveiled more details of their plans Thursday evening, meeting with the planning commission as required by the state law that regulates energy projects.

"Massachusetts-based UPC Wind Management presented the update, bringing in its president, power sales director, project manager, lawyer, publicist and environmental consultant. They were joined by Avram Patt, general manager of East Montpelier–based Washington Electric Co-op.

"UPC has ... U.S. offices in Maine, New York, San Diego, Toronto and Maui, Hawaii, where UPC's first U.S. wind project is under construction on state-owned virgin mountain tops," Gaynor said." [Paul Gaynor, president of UPC, which is actually based in Italy]
Sheffield and Sutton residents appear to be overwhelmingly opposed to the project, which will sprawl across three mountain ridges. After the usual private dealings with town officials, whom they easily wooed, the company is clearly upset by the public response. Despite an earlier promise to heed the public's wish, UPC never intended to abandon its quest. Besides the show of force to the planning commission reported here, they have hired an advertising firm to organize a "grass roots" support campaign.

A few supporters of the project argue for property rights, even as they sign away control of their own property for decades in a lease written by the lessee and drastically impinge on the rights of the neighbors to enjoy their property.

But the revealing comment is about the "state-owned virgin mountain tops" on Maui. It's about conquest and nothing else. That's why progressives, feminists, and environmentalists oppose these projects. Industrial wind power provides no mitigating benefit that even begins to justify this rape and pillage.

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