Library filed under Energy Policy
Many people accept the well-publicized claim that windmills will be able to supply a significant share of our country’s growing requirements for electricity. They also believe that wind energy is environmentally benign and a way to avoid emissions from other sources of energy for electric generation. Political leaders in windy states have even been persuaded that “wind farms” will provide economic benefits, principally through rental payments to landowners. As proposals to build “wind farms” have proliferated, however, the adverse impacts of wind energy are becoming clear to a growing number of citizens, consumers and taxpayers. They are learning that “wind energy” has adverse environmental, ecological, scenic and property value impacts. They are learning that many of the claimed benefits of wind energy are misleading or false, and that the true costs of wind energy are higher than advertised -- with those higher costs falling on taxpayers and electric customers.
Michigan mostly has wind resources of class 3 or lower, making wind power production costs high and non cost-competitive vs. conventional fossil power sources.
It's time to jump off the Production Tax Credit treadmill and work toward a more open, transparent support mechanism such as the Electricity Feed Law.
High annual growth rates over the past years resulted in an installed wind power capacity of 12 000 MW in Germany by the end of 2002 which generated about 17.3 MWh electricity, that is about 3.7 % of the German electricity consumption. This development was made possible by laws introducing feed-in tariffs for wind power generation. Due to the fluctuating nature of wind power generation the feed-in of growing amounts into the grid causes considerable challenges and costs for affected transmission system operators, who have to ensure a save grid operation, though basically good working wind power prediction tools exist. The owner of wind turbines do not have to deal with these problems since the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) ensures that their generated power is compensated for by fixed feed-in tariffs. In the long run, this is not a sustainable approach: Wind power needs to compete sooner or later fully with other power generating technologies at the market and wind turbine owners need to be able to sell a tradable product. After successfully supporting the development of the wind power technology, an approach is needed for including the owners of wind turbines in the task of realizing other ways than simply providing growing amounts of balancing power for wind power feed-in and gradually face them with the energy economic reality of integrating large amounts of wind power into the grid.
The story reveals that Radnor officials were misled and don’t understand that commercial wind energy is not an environmentally benign source of electricity. The officials are probably not aware of certain facts such as the following:
In line with the American, Russian and numerous other non-European governments, Australia is not submitting to globally planned greenhouse gas controls while third world competitors, such as China, India and South Africa, remain exempt from the strictures of the Kyoto Protocol. Contemporary Australian experts with years of serious research on global warming argue against the Australian government signing Kyoto.
In conclusion, this study has shown that in many countries deregulation is having the expected effect of increased competition leading to price reduction. However, it is evident that pricing in markets depends not just on the status of deregulation, but also on the broader aspects of competition. Key factors here include the balance of supply and demand, generation fuel costs, the learning process that new markets go through, competition within different market segments and the costs of access to transmission and distribution networks. Deregulation is a long-term process that requires sustained attention.
Wind energy, fed to the grid to save resources and reduce emissions, requires control power for balancing fluctuations; this causes fuel losses in thermal power stations and limits the degree of energy substitution. Facilities for energy storage are needed when greatly extending wind power use off-shore, at the same time generating secondary fuel for stationary and mobile applications.
The purpose of this report is to identify and characterize the range of options available to municipalities for purchasing green power and improving the efficiency with which electricity is consumed. Municipalities have several viable options for purchasing electricity in a fashion that is consistent with the energy, cost, and environmental goals of the community. Municipalities are in a better position to achieve certain policy goals than are individual customers through their collective buying power. A municipality’s advantage lies in the size of its electricity load, in the potential for more sophisticated decision-making than individual customers can apply, and in the potential for reflecting more of the public interest in the decision-making process.
Comments to FERC by the New England Conference of Public Utility Commissions and the Vermont Department of Public Service
The development of commercial wind power that is currently fashionable is potentially misguided, ineffective and neither environmentally nor socially benign; but it is the right of citizens of rural areas to enjoy both clean and safe energy generation and an unspoiled countryside.
With limited reserves of only oil and gas and the perceived onset of global warming, Denmark has a great incentive to develop new technologies for exploiting alternative sources of renewable energy and reducing energy demand. One of its many options is the harnessing of wind energy - a route that it has explored in great detail. This report describes some serious problems encountered in the extensive deployment of wind turbines in Denmark, and briefly summarises published accounts of the experiences and opinions of variously implicated Danish and foreign organisations and bodies.
This paper analyses aspects of environmental policy in Denmark, including, among others, policy on surface water quality, clean air and support for renewable energy, waste disposal and transport policy. Environmental policies are an important priority in Denmark, with implementation often highly decentralised, but in some cases environmental objectives have been pursued at what seems a high price, perhaps through a wish to support the development of a domestic industry or to protect existing industry from loss of competitiveness. The paper criticises some of the arguments used in favour of this high cost approach in a number of contexts, including wind power subsidies, the carbon tax and the treatment of nutrient discharges from agriculture. The paper also discusses a number of innovative and efficient policies introduced or planned, for example the new approach to promoting renewable energy (including wind power) through tradable “green certificates” and a CO2 trading scheme in electricity production. In some areas, such as policy for non-hazardous waste, apparent expansion of the role of economic instruments (through a series of differentiated taxes on disposal) seems to be dominated in practice by quantitative targets which may not provide the best outcomes.
Operating reports on the 11 turbine Searsburg, Vermont Wind plant. The development report (Dec 1997) and the third year operating report (Dec 2000) are available at as downloads. The first year operating report (Dec 1998) is available at the web link.
The stubborn competitive gap between renewable generation and its rivals explains why renewable-energy lobbyists on both the state and federal levels are trying to get governments to set quotas, and not just continue or expand current subsidies.
Although the nation's wind potential is very large, only part of it can be exploited economically. The economic viability of wind power will vary from utility to utility. Important factors not addressed in this study that influence land availability and wind electric potential include production/demand match (seasonal and daily), transmission and access constraints, public acceptance, and other technological and institutional constraints. Editor's Note: Though dated, this is a worthwhile read if read carefully.
This status report released by the California Energy Commission discusses the status of the technology, current and proposed development, regulatory processes, issues hindering development, and recommended actions needed to resolve identified issues. The section of the report on Noise and Aesthetics is provided below. Audible and low frequency impulse noise were reported as problems with the turbines. The full report can be accessed from the links on this page.
environmental pressure groups adamantly oppose fossil fuel, nuclear and hydroelectric power plants. Renewable energy – from wind turbines, or little solar panels on huts – is the future for Third World countries, they insist. Their prescription is totally inadequate for any modern society, India’s Barun Mitra points out. It would also mean sacrificing hundreds of thousands of acres of scenic and wildlife lands to gargantuan windmills that slice and dice birds and bats by the thousands.