HC 517 The Economics of Wind Power

Memorandum submitted by Kes Heffer (WIND 60)

Although important, economics is not the critical issue with wind power. I would like to pick up on two points associated with the introductory statements by Tim Yeo MP:

1) Indeed government policy should not be based on political pressure from a small minority; but that includes the minority of activists who have hijacked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [1] to the extent that the scientific content behind its Assessment Reports has been distorted by the small number of green activists controlling the Summaries. A far more balanced analysis of the effect of carbon dioxide emissions on climate was given to the House of Commons’ committee on climate change by Professor Richard Lindzen [2] , Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on 22nd February 2012. I hope that his submission has not been forgotten. In case it has, the following extract is pertinent to any perceived need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions:

"The evidence is that the increase in CO2 will lead to very little warming, and that the connection of this minimal warming (or even significant warming) to the purported catastrophes is also minimal. The arguments on which the catastrophic claims are made are extremely weak – and commonly acknowledged as such. They are sometimes overtly dishonest."

Of course there was an immediate scramble to purportedly critique his presentatione.g. [3] ; that followed by a rebuttal [4] . Although such arguments continue to rage, there is no doubt that there is a significant body of scientific opinion (as well as published peer-reviewed literature [5] ) that is sceptical of the alarmist claims by green activists about the effect of carbon dioxide emissions on the climate. The IPCC Assessment Reports do not reflect the true weakness of the scientific case for such alarmism and it would be lazy and irresponsible politics to rely on their summaries.

2) "Wind farms are over forty times less polluting than gas burning power stations – per unit of energy produced". This statement is totally at odds with the analyses of the effect of wind energy on carbon dioxide emissions by Dr. C. lePair [6] for The Netherlands; and by Dr. F. Udo [7] for Ireland. Those analyses rigorously demonstrate that wind developments of various sizes cause extra fuel consumption instead of fuel saving, when compared to electricity production with modern high-efficiency gas turbines only. Factors taken into account are: low thermal efficiency at low power; cycling of back up generators; energy needed to build and to install wind turbines; energy needed for cabling and net adaptation; increase of fuel consumption through partial replacement of efficient generators by low-efficiency, fast reacting Open Cycle Gas Turbines. I have written several times to DECC asking for comments on these analyses without a sensible response. I can only conclude that DECC analyses do not take into account the full set of factors.


Not only is there considerable and well-founded doubt about the need to reduce ‘carbon’ emissions to any great extent, wind turbines do not themselves effect any significant reduction.

The financial cost comparison with other forms of power generation is consequently somewhat of a red herring. Windpower requires equivalent back-up by conventional power generation, and saves little, if any, ‘carbon’.

Therefore to sanction the severe actual harm to the environment caused by onshore wind turbines, and by the associated new power lines necessary for both onshore and offshore turbines, would be extreme folly. Some of the most sensitive countryside in Britain, including National Parkland, is at risk of despoilment by these unnecessary constructions. Their sole utility would be to act as ugly monuments to the blinkered infatuation of activists with their cause, and the failure of politicians to make proper assessment of the issues.

June 2012

[1] Donna Laframboise : The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World's Top Climate Expert, available digitally from amazon.co.uk.

[2] R. Lindzen “Reconsidering the Climate Change Act Global Warming: How to approach the science

[3] Hoskins, B, Mitchel , J., Palmer, T., Shine, K. & Wolff, E. “A critique of the scientific content of Richard Lindzen’s Seminar in London, 22 February 2012”

[3] https://workspace. i mperial.ac.u k /cl i matechange/Public/pdfs/Opinion%20pieces/Critique%20of%20Lindzen's%20lecture.pdf

[4] R. Lindzen : “Response To The Critique Of My House Of Commons Lecture”, http://thegwpf.org/the-climate-record/5437-richard-lindzen-response-to-the-critique-of-my-house-of-commons-lecture.html

[5] 1000+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skeptic Arguments Against ACC/AGW Alarm http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-sup p orting.html

[6] C. lePair : “Wind turbines increase fossil fuel consumption & CO2 emission”.

[6] http://www.clepair.net/windSchiphol.html

[7] F. Udo : “Wind energy in the Irish power system.” http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html

Prepared 10th July 2012