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What big feet you have

27 Mar 2024 | News Roundup

The people who insist that “green” energy (other than nuclear) is an environmental and economic marvel are quite wrong on both points. Wind and solar cannot get the job done, which is why as noted below, in our eighth item this week, the world is becoming more not less dependent on fossil fuels regardless of how intensively politicians are degassing about a “transition”. But people are finally realising that “green” energy isn’t even green, because (a) it is very dirty and energy-intensive to make solar panels and windmills; (b) when they wear out, which they do surprisingly fast, they are very hard to get rid of (including by comparison with spent nuclear fuel); and (c) while operating they have a massive “footprint” on the landscape. How big? Well, they’ve vindicated Blake’s warning about “dark satanic mills” destroying England again, even turning Charlotte Brontë’s “Wuthering heights” into “Windmill heights” as these three-bladed monsters swarm across the landscape like H.G. Wells’ Martians. And now someone going by the name Reliable AB Energy has “started a map of all the wind and solar projects in Alberta” that includes the visual impact zones across that formerly green and pleasant land. It’s not a pretty sight.

Alberta is quite big. At 661,848 square kilometres (255,541 square miles) it’s Canada’s fourth-largest province and, Canada being the world’s second-largest country (though in the name of pedantry we should note that because Canada has so many wonderful lakes, in terms of land area it’s actually fourth), if Alberta were independent it would be the world’s 39th-largest country, ahead of Myanmar and more than twice the size of the UK. Not, you’d think, a place that even politicians could litter even in the name of cleaning it up.

You’d be wrong. Here’s a link to the map and the simple fact is that they’ve made quite a mess of the southern part, especially the southeast. So if you consider that those same politicians are convinced that we have to double, triple, quadruple or whateverple our generating capacity in less than 25 years, and must not use the stuff proven to work (and which abounds in astonishing amounts under the Alberta soil), we’re going to trash the landscape in every way from toxic minerals to hideous views.

In keeping with our general philosophy that one swallow does not make a summer, we concede that this map could stand refining. It may be discovered that it exaggerates the impact in some ways. But it may also be discovered that it understates it in some. What cannot be doubted is that if we’re really going full wind ahead on these kinds of energy projects, everybody needs to start looking hard at this kind of data, developing maps and indeed going out for a walk or, if permitted, a drive and seeing whether the once-magnificent scenery wherever you live is increasingly spoiled by these wretched things.

It stands to reason that you cannot install vast solar farms without dramatically altering ecosystems. Any light that we intercept, just for starters, cannot then be absorbed by plants, who don’t do well without it. And what of the animals, insects, and microbes dependent on those plants as part of their ecosystem? Or those slaughtered by windmills directly or, as in the case of some endangered whales, indirectly?

Those of us skeptical of government in all kinds of ways, including the completeness, accuracy and even honesty of the information it puts out and indeed takes in, are not surprised that if the state promises to clean up the environment it’s very likely to trash it instead. Just as you should beware the politician who promises more housing or social harmony. But it’s still important to gather facts. So let’s insist in the name of properly informed debate that we get such maps wherever and whenever they promise “green” energy, and showing not just what they’ve already done, but when they intend to do, or need to, to reach Net Zero.

Not a pretty picture, we’ll wager.

9 comments on “What big feet you have”

  1. If you think these "green enterprises" were expensive to build just wait for the clean up bill! People have to stop electing these morons!

  2. What worries me are the enormous reinforced concrete bases that each wind turbine requires. A typical turbine base would be about 15 metres in diameter and up to 3 metres in height containing up to 250 cubic metres of concrete plus huge amount of rebar. Dismantling and removing just one of them would be a massive undertaking so I'm afraid they're probably here to stay - for the next 5000 years. And we have tens of thousands of them, many on good agricultural land.

  3. Roger, in addition, there is no way to manufacture concrete without emitting huge amounts of CO2. It is the chemistry of lime production which cannot be avoided, plus the energy input which cannot be achieved with anything other than fossil fuels. There are no electric lime plants and there never will be.

  4. Presumably the wind power companies have some intelligence and have picked the windiest locations. Accordingly, further expansion of wind power will be in increasingly less desirable locations..

  5. With capacity factors of between 26 to 30% at best, these LCA concentrated carbon footprint grid parasites will require on average70% of their nameplate capacity randomly generated by others ranging from near zero to 100% and all at no cost to the wind and solar proponents. The cost of such inefficiencies of supplying the spinning backup up and down capable of keeping the grid functional is born ultimately by the rate payers. To add insult to injury, wind and solar operators get priority over all other producers so will be paid at times when surplus power must be exported at negative pricing.

    Given they're not green and not economical on the grid they should be relegated to off grid anomalies.

  6. Yes, Philip, they do pick the windiest locations - which are also preferred by eagles, hawks, owls,and other magnificent raptors. That's why windmills kill those birds by the thousands.

  7. Deseret News Jan 30, 2021
    The dark side of ‘green energy’ and its threat to the nation’s environment
    What happens to old solar panels, windmills and high tech batteries?
    MSTA briefing paper released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency predicts these startling global numbers for countries by 2050 just for solar waste:
    United States, 10 million tons.
    Germany, 3 million tons.
    China, 20 million tons.
    Japan, 7.5 million tons.
    India, 7.5 million tons.

  8. Another accurate post on one of the world's best internet sites. Thanks.
    But the real dirty secret about wind energy is NOT found in the truthful accounts of viewscapes and wildlife destroyed, the relentless unhealthful noise produced, the high cost in dollars and the evisceration of epistemic truth. Rather it is the fact that, all things considered, wind energy for the production of electricity produces more overall CO2 emissions than would be the case without any wind generation at all. With more than a million giant wind turbines installed around the world, there is no empirical evidence that they have reduced the overall production of any conventional generator, including those fueled by coal. The hypocrisy surrounding this issue is astonishing. I urge readers to peruse the websites of any major energy producer, say Shell, or Exxon, or BP, or even that nuclear darling, Areva (https://www.neimagazine.com/news/newsareva-turns-to-wind-721) to witness their groveling "partnerships" with the wind industry--for they know full well that wind is no competitor. It only boosts the use of conventional generation.
    This is easily understood for those who understand the physics of how wind energy is converted into ancient power production--at the cube of the windspeed along a very narrow windspeed range. Wind turbines don't produce any energy until wind speeds hit about 8mph and max out at their rated capacities when wind speeds hit around 33mph. Any change in the wind speed along that range produces a substantial change in output that must be compensated for by reliable conventional generators, typically fueled by coal or natural gas that are, in this wind shadowing mode, operating much more inefficiently. Given the whimsical nature of the wind, wind plants substantially alter their production hundreds of times daily. Much like a car in stop and go traffic uses more gasoline than while cruising without stops along the highway, fossil-fired generators use more of their fuel--and hence produce more CO2 emissions when to-ing and fro-ing to balance intrinsic, existential, wind volatility.
    This situation arises because modern grids must precisely match supply with demand at all times on a less than second by second basis. Any unpredictable increase in wind output forces a throttling back of conventional output. Ditto for the reverse. The volatility is enormous. in the process unleashing enormous inefficiencies.
    Wind produces no modern power capacity (energy when desired), only desultory energy, often when it is least desired (it typically produces least when most desired).
    As a source of electrical energy, it's dysfunctional for use at scale. It is, however, very useful as an income producer via tax obligation reductions for large corporations in search of increasing their bottom lines. Of course, it's also been deployed by the craven as a PR ploy to make the dim and dumb believe that the non-existent problem of global warming can be solved by energy dysfunction in the best David v Goliath tradition.

  9. Nicely put, many thanks. And i agree with your assessment of this site, CDN has been singularly objective in the technical and amusingly written (dry and subtly cynical)

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