Have you noticed the massive misdirection now going on? For the last couple of weeks, the internet has been filled with stories about how great wind energy did in 2012. See what they’re doing? All of those stories talk about last year, but it’s now August of 2013 and, as we recently noted, wind energy has fallen flat ever since. Last quarter, ZERO installations came online! Wind advocates are so worried the truth might get out that they’ve been trying to cover it up by feverishly writing story after story saying “Hey, did you hear about last year? Sure was great, wasn’t it?” Why would they do that? It’s not hard to understand. They can’t handle the truth and they’re doing damage control trying desperately to hide it from you.
Hey, look over there!
Any stage magician knows the way to pull off an illusion is simple misdirection. Keep waving your right hand while the left hand does the trick. He keeps your attention where he wants it and you miss what is happening right before your own eyes and those smiling assistants in skimpy outfits are a nice distraction, too. Pretty clever.
Unfortunately, wind energy is an illusion of mammoth proportions. It’s not magic, it simply doesn’t work. Without huge government support the industry dies. Last year the industry thought the PTC would expire and Section 1603 cash grants did expire and the industry went into a tailspin. Lisa Linowes has a nice explanation here. Some wind advocates say all energy sources get government support, and to some degree, that’s true, it would be better if the government was not involved at all, but “green energy” gets the most and one thing the “green energy” folks get that’s unique is the Renewable Portfolio Standard or RPS, or in Pennsylvania, the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard. The government has written into law a requirement that utility companies use “renewable” sources for an ever growing portion of the energy they provide to their customers. Utilities are literally forced to buy it. Every other energy source has a free and ready market waiting, customers want what they’re selling, but “renewables” don’t. Renewables are intermittent, unreliable and expensive. Real customers know it’s inferior to conventional energy sources so the government is using the RPS to make it look like there’s a market for it, when there isn’t.
When much of the support went away at the end of last year, or the industry thought it would, wind energy collapsed, but you would never know it if all you read were the stories coming from wind advocates, according to them, everything is going fine, sort of like the Black Knight of Monty Python fame, “Tis but a scratch.”
When you see the trick, it’s no longer magic
So, keep your eyes open and pay attention. When the next story comes out breathlessly telling you about wind energy’s great success in 2012, just smile to yourself or laugh out loud. You know the truth, you won’t be fooled again, it’s just too bad so many people still are.
While wind and other renewables are subsidized, nothing is more subsidized than fossil fuels. If the true cost of gasoline were posted at the pump we would be paying $15 gallon. Yes those are the estimates. The consumers of gas do not pay for the military in the Middle East, they don’t pay for the pollution they emit. While coal is a domestic product the producers and consumers don’t pay for the pollution they emit. Pollution affects people’s health, puts a huge burden on the health care system, and the polluters don’t pay a dime for their air pollution. Obama should have included a health care tax in his health care plan. If the consumers of fossil fuels paid their way renewables would have no problem competing.
Paul Crowe says
Your comment is the standard response the pro wind or pro green energy groups keep offering when they have no specifics. In the article above, I suggested looking here for a few numbers you might find interesting, but you chose to ignore that reference. While I offered those specifics, you offered “estimates” based on nothing. You’ll have to do better than that.
The hidden costs not considered is a neat debating trick, they are often called “externalities” and can be added up endlessly after which you say, the price should have been some much higher number. Well, what about the benefits not considered? I’m an optimistic guy and see the huge benefits of fossil fuels, especially for power since the discussion on this site is about electricity, the lives saved because power was available when we needed it, the companies able to compete because of low cost electricity, the jobs created and maintained as a result, the comfort of heat and light and power delivered to people and places where there had previously been none. People might have willingly paid far more but the market charged less so there was a huge benefit that offsets costs, but setting some arbitrary price never works because no person or committee is as smart as the billions of people who decide every day whether or not to buy something based on their own needs, desires and resources at the moment of the purchase. I suggest you read Hayek for the best exposition of those ideas.
Almost half of the electricity in the USA is produced by coal, yet the air today is extremely clean. Our technology for making clean power from every fossil fuel has dramatically advanced over the years and is still getting better. Whether it’s internal combustion engines or coal fired power plants, the newest technology is amazing.
Fossil fuels have paid their own way with the tremendous benefits civilization has reaped as a result of their use. None of the advanced technology we have would have been possible without them. Only people who have grown up in a world made possible by fossil fuels have the luxury of sitting back and now condemning them because the world is not yet perfect.
S. Nunn says
The main issue with coal as I see it is the mining. Surface mining has been very destructive to Pennsylvania’s land, even though the companies are supposed to “reclaim” it. It is never the same afterward. Same with West Virginia, they are tearing the tops of mountains. There now exists massive mineral removal equipment, compared to the days when my grandpa mined coal underground. This surface mining is supposedly more “efficient” but I would challenge that, if we truly value the earth. If we lived in a society where the earth was respected as having an energy of her own, they would stick primarily with underground extraction. It would create more jobs and be more respectful to the land surface. Of course, wind installations have some of the same issues as coal mining: the leveling of mountaintops, installations degrading natural habitats, soil erosion leading to waterway defilement, etc. The difference is that at least coal actually works to generate reliable electricity. But overall, I wish that this debate would turn to conservation, because all fossil fuels are limited, nuclear energy is the worst of all, and industrial wind is unreliable and harmful to the people who live near the turbines.
Larry Lorusso says
Comparing IWT’s with gasoline makes no sense as wind turbines are not going to have any impact on gasoline use as there isn’t much electricity generated by that fuel. IWT’s pollute in various ways and the impacts to mountainous projects alter the area considerably and including watersheds. The mountaintops are flattened with thousands of trees removed, blasting and tons of crushed rocks brought in for fill on larger projects. As they are many times far off the existing roads roads built and the power lines erected to bring the power to the grid. While wind is free harvesting it is far from free. Wildlife no longer frequent the area and people living nearby are suffering as IWT’s can make a lot of noise and just not being able to sleep at night brings health issues and that’s not accounting for impacts due to infrasound, the issues of which are well known and the military uses such frequencies as a weapon and the impacts can induce symptoms as headaches, ringing in the ears, disorientation among other problems. The bottom line is wind isn’t dependable and has nothing to do with demand and have to be mirrored by conventional plants which usually are gas fired turbines and in the end no real lowering of burning fossil fuels can be obtained. Mostly IWT’s are a scam to let people continue their wasteful ways and not feel guilty. I’d rather see the government pay for the neighbors for PV as it would provide more power, lessen the need for power on the grid and have people more independent with their own power generation with no need to invest in other infrastructure such as lines and substations.