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If you have already guessed that I do not like wind turbines: well done, you’re less stupid than most wind farm fans.

Unlike the wind.

Without knowing much about them factually, I have never thought of them as a good idea.  In my simple mind I imagine that wind is not consistent.  I have also driven passed wind farms, many of them (on our ~600 mile trips up and down the UK to see relatives). Much of the time the wind farms ruin a view of the landscape, but even more frustratingly a large proportion of them do not appear to be working at all. Feeling provoked, I ask about a little and discover that other people have noticed this inactivity too, and that these turbines kill wildlife, and that they cost more to make than they save from energy production for about 8000* years.

*Statistical information may have been pulled out of my rear end.

Hearing these stupid devices in the news again, I thought I’d prod about and see if the landscape had changed.

(1) Bat and Bird Butchery – In the US wind turbines kill “only” about 450,000 birds a year. Hardly anything compared to other things, so it doesn’t matter. The case for bats is a little more alarming, as the spinning blades (so this applies only to working turbines) cause odd pockets of air pressure which confuse the bats. But they are a mite creepy so we don’t worry about that. Just so you know, I often use sarcasm.

(2) Basic Design Flaws – The grout (yes, tile glue) used in some wasn’t meant to handle the bending/twisting provided by wind. Yes. That’s right, wind turbines weren’t built to withstand wind. More on that here.

(3) Fault Regularity – There are two common types of fault with the turbines. Every 7 years the gearboxes fail – and every 2 to 2.5 years there’s an electrical fault. So, add the two together and, on average, they break about every 20 months. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. Read more, if you dare.

(4) Bad Numbers – The numbers predicted by wind farm fanatics, manufacturers, or huggers appear to differ considerably from reality.
(i) Turbines will generate 30% of their rated capacity … readings show it to be ~25%.
(ii) The wind always blows … average is 1600MW, 124 times it was under 20MW.
(iii) Few periods of long low wind … low wind events once ever 6.4 days for 5 hours.
(iv) Low wind and high demand together unlikely … at the 4 periods of highest demand, the turbines were at ~5% of capacity.
(v) “Pumped storage hydro” will cover gaps of low wind … no, not at all; only full power for 5 hours, and runs out completely in 22.
More detail here.

This blogger chap wrote the 3 pages I linked to, and is well worth a gander.

(1) Solar energy: Even dull light produces energy, and it’s a lot more predictable and consistent than wind. Existing building and structure can be fitted with solar, and even though it isn’t high gain, it can be a  cheap and effective way to help.
(2) Bore Holes: Drill a mile down into the earth for constant heat which is easy to harness, and high in power. The downside is that the earth only has enough of this heat for a few million* years.
(3) Tidal Power: This has big flaws, but it is totally predictable and very powerful. If you’re an engineer and you can devise a cheap, robust way to harness this energy, you’ll put an end to sodding wind farms.
(4) BIOGAS: This was pointed out to me (again) by the very cool SixSixEight. Basically, a lot of waste (natural and processed) can be used to very effectively produce fuel. Read about it here.

Remember folks, green is good but wind is just a warning of shit to come.