This from Christopher Crossman ...
Several UK newspapers have been calling lately for a halt to the rush to build more wind farms, and an end to the subsidies paid to wind farm developers, as well as a complete re-evaluation of the assumptions surrounding onshore wind energy “solutions”. An article in the Sunday Times recently quoted extracts from a KPMG report (first published at the end of last year, but so far given little exposure) said “Britain could cut billions off the cost of meeting its emission targets - if it only ditched green energy”. The footnote to the piece concluded that “affordability is the new driver of the energy discussion”.
The clear implication of this and many similar articles is that there is a massive scandal in the making here, involving poor planning and huge sums of public money with wind farm developers and their friends raking in hundreds of millions in profits. With the present situation being not unlike the 1950s and 1960s when construction of hundreds of high-rise, town centre tenement blocks took place in the UK, as a quick fix solution to the post-war housing shortage.
Of course, two decades later they were all demolished in controlled explosions, as seen by millions on the TV screens. In Ireland particularly there has been far too little public debate on wind farms and few people realise wind farms do not produce free or cheap electricity, or that wind energy schemes cost a great deal more than any of the available alternatives.
The real reason why wind farms are being rolled out on the scale they are is twofold.
a) There’s megabucks in it forth promoters – more than enough to stuff a few hundred brown envelopes. In Ireland there is now a huge gravy train of promotors, experts, lobbyists and consultants stoking the engine and carriages full of planners and politicians with their own or family fingers in the pie.
b) Because our leaders signed up both the UK and Ireland up to such unrealistic and burdensome C02 reduction targets. These were blithely assumed to be achievable in the far distant future and Tony and Bertie were secure in the knowledge that they themselves would not have to see things through and would all be living high off the hog on their payoffs and pensions, when the ordure hit the turbines.
Typical of what is happening all over Ireland now is the anger in the tiny town of Glenties, Donegal, where a few dozen brave and farsighted citizens are fighting to overrun a planning decision to site twenty two 300 feet high wind turbines on hilltops within two miles of the centre of their town. Almost twenty separate appeals have been lodged with An Bord Pleannala, all at individual expense, whilst the council’s planners can use public funds to defend their own short-sighted policy and to keep themselves in work.
Essentially the Glenties objectors are saying there was no due process of public consultation, the developer’s supporting documentation was incomplete, misleading and inaccurate, and that the proposed site is much too near the town. In addition, they say that several of the approved turbines are so close to nearby to inhabited dwellings, that for the occupiers there are likely to be long term health effects from audible and sub-audible turbine noise, as the local GP has been tirelessly pointing out.
Can't see what all the fuss is about, can you?
But is anybody listening? Scenarios like this are playing out all over Ireland, with opponents indignantly refuting spurious claims that wind farms create local employment. Quite the opposite, they say, wind farms bring no long term benefit to the surrounding community at all, except for a handful of temporary local material delivery jobs at the construction phase, because the turbines are made abroad, the engineers, technicians and managers to install them are brought in from outside the area, the electricity generated flows into the national grid, and the income therefrom flows into the pockets of the promoters.
Indeed, opponents claim, these schemes do enormous actual harm in rural areas that depend on visitors and tourists.
Most impartial observers now freely admit that these projects would not even get off the ground without the help of large subsidies (financed by “green energy” levies on our ESB bills) used to pay entrepreneurs to build wind farms they would not otherwise build on solely commercial grounds.
They also admit wind energy is also not even superficially economic if you factor in the considerable capital and disturbation costs against the deliberately optimistic megawatt output forecasts. Claims on national CO2 reductions and net energy output are misleading too, they say, because if considered and assessed on a proper cost/benefit basis the total cost would far outweigh the marginal benefits of wind farms that can only ever operate at around 30% of maximum claimed output.
Maybe the time has come for the Irish Government to consider if the present rate of wind farm construction here is just a flawed legacy policy and not the sound economics, or prudent future-proofing, they still pretend to believe. Because Ireland is well behind the curve, compared with the UK, where only last month over 100 MPs signed a letter to David Cameron asking for the subsidies to wind farms (collected there as here, via consumers’ electricity bills) to be removed. If wind farms make good commercial sense the MPs say, let them be built, if at all, on solely commercial grounds, not to meet rashly agreed Kyoto targets, whatever the cost and consequences.
So if all or any of this is true, why then is Ireland, just when the US, Canada and even the UK are back-tracking on wind farms, apparently pressing ahead at full speed? Why are planners up and down the country so readily obliging all these get rich quick developers, mostly backed by UK venture capital funds, to ride roughshod over local opinion? Why are we still investing billions of borrowed money in what is already becoming an outdated, discredited technology?
Why are we doing this on such a scale, to produce electricity unreliably and uncompetitively at enormous capital cost, and then leaving our sons and daughters to inherit a legacy of tens of thousands of redundant turbine towers that will cost fortunes to remove (if ever) and to restore the landscape to its original condition, as Sustainable Ireland’s guidelines require? Anybody know?
“Follow the money” again?
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