Wind Power Sales Hype

-By Dan Scott

When I reviewed the alternative energy options I quickly dismissed wind turbines based on the Danish experience of 40% run time. It seems my dismissal was a little too hasty from a lack of considering other country’s experiences to this problem of reliability. I recently came across some very interesting articles discussing the problem the EU has had in two other of it’s member countries on the Alternative Energy bandwagon and I did not truly appreciate the depth of wind power’s inability to provide reliability.

According to the writer of this blog, who parsed a report from a German wind turbine operator E.on Energie

As wind power capacity rises, the lower availability of the wind farms determines the reliability of the system as a whole to an ever increasing extent. Consequently the greater reliability of traditional power stations becomes increasingly eclipsed.

As a result, the relative contribution of wind power to the guaranteed capacity of our supply system up to the year 2020 will fall continuously to around 4% (FIGURE 7). In concrete terms, this means that in 2020, with a forecast wind power capacity of over 48,000MW (Source: dena grid study), 2,000MW of traditional power production can be replaced by these wind farms.

When you get past the sales talk of what wind power is supposed to deliver, here a German operator only reasonably expects to provide 100% reliability of 2,000 MW by having to build 48,000 MW, that’s 24 times the capacity! So the upshot for Germany’s experience is a wind turbine connected to an electric grid can only deliver 4% of it’s capacity. Looking at this from the other side of the equation, in order to ensure 100% reliability of the 48,000 MW wind turbine capacity, 96% of that 48,000 MW has to be backed up by conventional power plants. The 40% figure experienced by the Danish is 40% per wind turbine. To say the least this is totally counterintuitive. One would expect to see greater reliability by connecting geographically dispersed wind turbines on an electric grid, however, this is not the case at all, in fact wind turbines make the situation worse by a factor of 10. Their variable input causes a very large load instability to maintain voltage for the electric grid as a whole.

The E.on Energie company report linked is a must read especially figures 3 and 7. (Download PDF here.)

According to Christopher Booker of the UK Telegraph Online,

Wind power comes to my back yard

Furthermore, as was recently admitted by Paul Golby, the chief executive of E.ON, one of our leading energy companies, even if we could build all those turbines, we would have to build dozens of conventional power stations to provide 90 per cent back-up for when the wind is not blowing. (This is E.on UK)

Christopher Booker discovers that E.on UK’s experience is they can only get 10% reliability when connecting wind turbines to an electric grid. In other words, they have to build 10 wind turbines to ensure 100% reliability of the capacity of from one wind turbine. The final conclusion for Britain is they have to build enough conventional power plants in addition to the wind turbines to ensure that the other 90% of wind turbine capacity is covered reliably.

In his follow up to the above article: Unspinning the wind farmEven if we could build the 7,000 additional wind turbines Gordon Brown dreams of, their combined output would not be much more than that of the single coal-fired power station at Drax.

It seems that others as well have discovered the ever diminishing benefits of wind power. Neil Reynolds of the Globe and Mail discovered in, Wind turbine marketers are full of hot air.

It turns out that Denmark’s vast array of turbines often produce minimal electricity when demand is high, maximum electricity when demand is low. Basing his analysis on data from a single year (2002), Mr. Sharman reported that wind power produced less than 1 per cent of the country’s electricity supply on 54 different days. On one of these 54 days, the wind turbines took more power from the grid than they produced. (Wind turbines consume considerable electricity whether winds are blowing or not blowing.)

British author and energy analyst Tony Lodge makes the same point in a report by the Centre for Policy Studies, a London think tank. “Not a single conventional power plant has been closed in the period that Danish wind farms have been developed,” he says. “Because of the intermittency and variability of the wind, conventional power plants have had to be kept running at full capacity to meet the actual demand for electricity and to provide backup.”

In the German experience, at 4% reliability, it would take 24 wind turbines to meet the 100% reliability needs of the electric grid for the 25th unit. Perversely, the more wind turbines available to generate electricity, the more unstable the electric grid becomes from the power fluctuations they create from the individual wind turbine’s variable inputs. I was clearly far too generous in citing the Danish experience of 40% when it turns out when they are not generating electricity, they actually consume power the rest of the time. In my opinion, this is why Al Gore is pushing alternative energy, his investments have essentially an unlimited sales volume via the legislative fiat of mandated renewables and subsidies for their installation. This is also why Al Gore will probably never install a wind turbine, he wants his lights to stay on and his house to be air conditioned. I must agree with Christopher Booker, this is the greatest scam ever! No wonder why Al Gore didn’t want the press at those investor meetings.

It defies logic that legislators with literally hundreds of staffers and lobbyists didn’t know about the reliability issues of wind power before they mandated alternative power and subsidies via legislation. There are only really two choices here, either total incompetence on the part of legislators who voted for alternate energy or complicity with it’s supporters. Given our experiences with Ms Pelosi getting caught with her hand in the cookie jar twice so far not to recuse herself from legislation that in some way materially benefits her or rather her husband financially, it seems to me that three times may just be a charm. There needs to be an independent investigation of this supposedly most ethical Congress in history to weed out corrupt political officials who are profiteering at the public’s expense. I submit voting on or sponsoring legislation that materially benefits a legislator is unethical and certainly illegal. It is also unethical and illegal to cause via legislation (drilling ban) a price rise in energy and then invest in so called alternative energy which will handsomely benefit by such a price rise. It’s called Quid Pro Quo. That investigation needs to start with Al Gore. It’s time to start asking the questions: What did you know, when did you know it and who else knew about it.
Dan Scott calls himself a “Member of the Global Capitalist Cabal preaching Capitalism and personal responsibility as the economic solution to world poverty.” He is also a member of the 14th Amendment Society — victimhood is a liberal code word for denying the civil rights of others. He is also a proud member of the Global Warming Denier Cabal, insisting that facts not agendas determine the truth.

Dan can be seen on the web at as well as, And can be reached for comments at

3 thoughts on “Wind Power Sales Hype”

  1. Y’know, I get more and more amazed at the really important stuff we’re never told. This is one of those times.

  2. Isn’t the internet an amazing thing? The entire knowledge of the world at your fingertips. Each of us doesn’t know what we really don’t know… It’s the MSM’s job to obfuscate and distract everyone from the seminal facts in order to convince everyone of the truth of the Party line. Propaganda is the art of leading people to an alternate conclusion using their own presumptions. Yes, Tom it’s the stuff you don’t know is the real truth of the matter.

    Not as many as you’d think. Humans, for the
    most part, don’t have a clue. Don’t want
    one, either. They’re happy. They think
    they’ve got a pretty good bead on things.

    Why the big secret? People are smart, they
    can handle it.

    A person is smart. People are dumb.
    Everything they’ve ever “known” has been
    proven to be wrong. A thousand years ago
    everybody knew as a fact, that the earth
    was the center of the universe. Five
    hundred years ago, they knew it was flat.
    Fifteen minutes ago, you knew we humans
    were alone on it. Imagine what you’ll know

Comments are closed.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001