Regular visitors to this blog over the last few years will know that I am no fan of onshore wind farms. My main opposition to them has been based on the damage they do to landscape and natural beauty for minimal benefit - even if my opposition to the project to cover the uplands of Mid Wales with mass turbines and pylons has been based on the sheer lunacy of the idea. But I've realised that no-one cares about landscape, and that there are many otherwise sensible people who have been conned into believing in this lunacy. So - in a moment of mental clarity today, it dawned on me that if we are to defeat this madness we must fight it on economic and financial grounds. We must help people to see the truth. Future posts on this issue will no longer be about the desecration of our uplands and valleys, awful though that is. Because its about a search for truth, I will write in a way that invites those who disagree to inform me, and my readers where they think I'm mistaken.
In this post, I'll look at the misleading nature of claims made by onshore wind developers - and use a local example to demonstrate. In last week's local press, a developer was lauding, with great pride, a new wind farm application which could produce 80 megawatts of power (and power several million homes! ). OK, so I exaggerated the second bit! Well, lets look at this a bit more closely, assuming that the power would be sold to Scottish Power. We know that the most recent production factor for Welsh onshore wind farms is 19% (despite some ill-informed journalists claiming it to be higher). So this new wind farm is actually going to produce an average of just 16 megawatts, at completely random times - sometimes delivering 80 megawatts and sometimes nil. This means that Scottish Power would need some other form of conventional power source (oil, gas or nuclear?) to provide 80 megawatts of rapid back-up whenever the wind doesn't blow. For the wind farm to provide anything at all needs some other form of power generation to be running at reduced power - and reduced inefficiency. A bit like a car idling.
What was being boasted about as delivering 80 megawatts, actually delivers bu**er all. Probably makes the position worse. And that's why the people of mid Wales, who began by opposing a mad project to desecrate their homeland, have become opponents of the whole onshore wind farm sector now that they know a bit more about it.