Back in the early Nineteen Eighties the wind energy rush was a like a free-for-all 19th Century gold rush in the U.S. Get-rich-quick scheming companies exploited ridiculously generous tax breaks that resulted in the States being peppered with thousands of wind turbines. That should have meant plenty electricity, but did it? Green Europe is now in the belated midst of its wind energy adventure with Ireland trotting along behind like Sancho Panza on his donkey. Europe’s wind energy adventure will inevitably suffer the same results as its U.S. counterpart, broken down and rusting. Is this the future of Europe’s and Ireland’s ‘wind farms’? Are the rusting wind turbines of Hawaii and California where it all began a sign of the future for Irelands wind turbines? With U.S. wind turbine operation and Maintenance costs expected to rise from $45,000/MW per year for turbines less than 10 years old to $60,000/MW per year for those 10-15 years old and rising, the European cost is likely to be much higher.
Operation and Maintenance costs consist of the following:
- inspection and regular maintenance
- breakdown and damage repair
- replacement parts
- labour costs
Very few modern turbines to date have succeeded in reaching their projected life expectancy, so the operation and maintenance costs data is largely unknown and for their end-of-life dismantling and disposal costs no account has been taken. Is wind energy proving to become a hot air industry?
Hawaii’s Sad Experience
A heartbreaking sight awaits those who travel to the southern tip of Hawaii’s beautiful Big Island that’s not mentioned in any guidebook. On a 100-acre site behind broken ‘Keep Out’ signs, starkly stand the rusting skeletons of scores of Hawaii’s wind turbines a technology that is supposed to be about saving the environment that is instead ruining it. Locals call it the monument to folly. Others call it the graveyard of greed. But wasn’t and isn’t that the new environmentally Green energy resource that is going to secure all of our future energy needs?
Hawaii’s environment would seem to be ideally suited for wind farms. The gales are so relentlessly strong on the tip of South Point that its trees grow almost horizontally. However the 27-year-old Kamaoa Wind Farm is a stark relic of the boom and rusting bust of the world’s first major experiment in wind energy and what became America’s ‘wind rush’. Back in the early Eighties the wind rush was a free-for-all where get-rich-quick companies exploited ridiculously generous tax breaks that resulted in the States being peppered with thousands of wind turbines. Worldwide, wind turbines are killing hundreds of tens of thousands of birds and bats each year, but in Hawaii the wind turbine experiment has failed and wildlife can now safely perch on the motionless undisposable fibreglass blades.
With the EU and the Irish Government both fully paid-up wind power evangelists the lesson from America should be a warning of their folly but the Green agenda is as blind as it’s dumb. For anyone daring to question Irelands Green agenda driven by EU green targets resulting in millions of Euro’s-a-year subsidies to wind farms and hefty incentives amounting to bribes to landowners all to encourage the building of thousands of turbines, this wind rush sounds eerily familiar. America’s growing wind scepticism based on bitter experience warns that what happened three decades ago is very likely to recur over the next few years in Ireland and the E.U. As the subsidies are reduced the wheels will come off the wind energy gravy train once again.
What Went Wrong?
The late 1970’s oil crisis convinced America to look for other sources of power. Wind power was considered to be a viable alternative to fossil fuel. Wind Turbines were built and heavily subsidised across several states with nearly 17,000 built in California alone. Despite all of its wind turbines and solar farms California today is unable to supply sufficient electricity either for its domestic or industrial consumption. Energy wise California is now in deep trouble.
Perfect Conditions for Disaster
Theoretically, California’s weather conditions couldn’t be better for wind energy with the strong and almost continual wind that turbines need. They also had under-used high voltage power lines readily available to distribute the power at little additional cost. That together with investors snouts hungry for the California’s State subsidies trough amounting to the immediately recovery of 50% of the cost of a wind turbine a boom was in the wind. Even better the price of their wind generated electricity was tied to the price of oil, which had shot through the roof. They were on to a winner and for many wind energy investors it also amounted to a readymade tax scam.
Blowing in the Wind
California’s wind energy bonanza however lasted only as long as the subsidies lasted. In 1986 oil price tumbled and the subsidies started to be phased out. Because of those factors and rising maintenance costs the wind energy sums didn’t add up any longer. The wind prospectors departed in such a hurry that they didn’t even bother to take down the turbines they had littered the State with. They were left like sterile statues starkly blowing in the wind.
Costs and Collapse
With so many moving parts the maintenance of wind turbines is expensive so the electricity they produced was suddenly worth very little. With turbine manufacturers going out of business also, there were no spare parts available for many turbines. According to the California Energy Commission, the elimination of subsidies stalled the state’s huge wind energy industry for nearly two decades.
Anyone driving past one of America’s mega wind farms today can’t fail to be struck by how few blades are turning, even in strong winds. Fewer still may be producing electricity as many are switched to a blades turning mode with just enough movement to keep oil moving around the mechanism and with no electricity being generated.
The wind turbine frenzy didn’t just ruin the view, it also devastated the wildlife. An estimated 10,000 birds including up to 80 protected golden eagles, 380 burrowing owls, 300 red-tailed hawks and 330 falcons were being shredded each year in Altamont’s massed massacre banks of turbine blades to say nothing of thousands of bats until outraged conservationists sued America’s ‘deadliest’ wind farm. As a result, it agreed to grind to a halt for four months every year to avoid causing carnage during the bird migration season. The size of majestic unsuspecting eagles hunting for prey makes it difficult for them to manoeuvre through the forests of spinning wind turbine blades reaching speeds of up to 200mph. The great irony about wind energy in the U.S. is that the people you might expect to cheer for it the most, wildlife conservationists who care about the planet are its most vociferous critics. It’s not hard to see why when you look at the statistics. The American Bird Conservancy estimate that wind turbines kill between 75,000 and 275,000 birds each year.
Wind Farm Horror
Conservation is not the only problem. There are horror stories about turbines toppling over and catching fire after lightning strikes, lethal shards of ice hurling like missiles from the blades, nerve-racking low frequency noise (like a 24 hour pulsing disco) and the disorientating strobe light effect of spinning blades in the sunshine. Hawaii has six abandoned wind farms, and most of California’s derelict turbines are only being removed now decades later, and then only after local authorities threatened to sue.
What is ‘Abandoned’
Where the turbine owners had walked away when their investment failed or they had gone bankrupt the hapless land owner had to foot the $1,000-a-tower clean-up bill. How many wind turbines have been abandoned across the U.S.? This is an intensely sensitive question for wind energy enthusiasts, who will obfuscate by saying it depends on how you define ‘abandoned’. Wind power sceptics estimate that 14,000 turbines across the U.S. have become derelict since the Eighties, with around 38,000 in operation. The number of abandoned wind turbines in California is around 4,500, of which 500 still remain standing in their silent defiance.
A Flawed Industry
Whatever turbine makers boast about their impressive kilowatt hour output, there remains an intractable problem with an industry that can’t survive without massive government support. When the subsidies go, the wind farms quickly follow. It costs too much to maintain them so they are just abandoned. Despite all of this the EU and the Irish government are pushing through planning permission for thousands of new turbines just as the Americans are going cold on the idea. When it’s too late they too will discover that all the hype about wind turbines and wind energy was all just problem producing hot air. They are unable to deliver on their promises.
An Unviable Industry
The latest U.S. figures show that investment in wind energy plunged 38% last year. Experts excuse this by saying that there are simply too many turbines out there and not enough people buying their electricity. That isn’t the real reason for the decline in wind energy investment as California now has to ration electricity usage because it can’t produce enough to meet demands. Wind energy production is just a bad failing technology for many reasons. Despite all the hype and the turbines wind only accounts for 2.3% of America’s electricity and 8% of its pollution-free electricity? Wind energy companies whine that the removal of subsidies will ‘kill 37,000 jobs, shut plants and cancel billions of dollars in private investment’. You can build anything no matter how unviable if it is subsidised enough. Shouldn’t the wind energy industry have matured enough by now to be able to stand on its own two feet? The reality is that it never will with more and more abandoned windmills standing testimony to its folly. Come on back Don Quixote, you will have the last laugh tilting with mirth at windmills.
Who in their right mind apart from Eamon Ryan, the Greens and the ‘woke’ Irish government would want to install any of the new generation wind turbines? Under EU plans, the next generation turbines will be nearly 1,000ft tall based on the idea that bigger is better without taking into account that bigger maintenance problems and bigger decommissioning problems come with bigger turbines that are bigger eyesores. They will all end up eventually as environmental disasters rusting away as monumental failures that scornfully blight the beauty of the countryside? When will they ever learn?
The wind farm in Mt. Pulaski has been running for 3 1/2 years. They have been replacing the generators in all the wind towers. There are 100 of them in this wind farm. So evidently the life span on the generators on these things is about 3 to 4 years. It takes 12 semi trucks and trailers, A 9 axle 500,000 pound crane, A 100,000 pound crane and 12 pick up trucks to change each generator. That is a huge amount of diesel fuel being used to maintain these wind towers. And the “Green Groups” would like You to believe they are all fueled by magic fairy dust.