4.5 windfarms per yeah/nah

Never mind the view, feel the green

Our beloved Minister of Energy and Resources, the Hon Dr Megan Woods, (who seems to have a well-rounded approach to her portfolios) has assured us that all we need for future energy security is to commission 4.5 windfarms per year.

Last year we missed that target. Along with planting (or was that mulching?) a million or so trees, building 1000 Kiwifarce houses, halting immigration, fixing child poverty, achieving a zero road toll and opening a mine. But these are minor matters, I am sure that everything is actually tickety boo. Indeed, we exceeded all targets for the number of working groups, commissions of enquiry and such like. Quote.

The Global Wind Energy Council recently released its latest report, excitedly boasting that ?the proliferation of wind energy into the global power market continues at a furious pace, after it was revealed that more than 54 gigawatts of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market last year?. end quote.

Minister Woods can, thus, take solace that she is on the right side of history with her 4.5 windfarms per year, surely? quote.

You may have got the impression from announcements like that, […] that wind power is making a big contribution to world energy today. You would be wrong. Its contribution is still, after decades ? nay centuries ? of development, trivial to the point of irrelevance.

Here?s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world?s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? None of the above: it was 0 per cent.

That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.

[…] Remember this is total energy, not just electricity, which is less than a fifth of all final energy, the rest being the solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels that do the heavy lifting for heat, transport and industry.

Such numbers are not hard to find, but they don?t figure prominently in reports on energy derived from the unreliables lobby (solar and wind). Their trick is to hide behind the statement that close to 14 per cent of the world?s energy is renewable, with the implication that this is wind and solar. In fact the vast majority ? three quarters ? is biomass (mainly wood), and a very large part of that is ?traditional biomass?; sticks and logs and dung burned by the poor in their homes to cook with. Those people need that energy, but they pay a big price in health problems caused by smoke inhalation.

Even in rich countries playing with subsidised wind and solar, a huge slug of their renewable energy comes from wood and hydro, the reliable renewables. Meanwhile, world energy demand has been growing at about 2 per cent a year for nearly 40 years. Between 2013 and 2014, again using International Energy Agency data, it grew by just under 2,000 terawatt-hours. end quote.

It is indeed fortunate that, many years before the Greens popped up, New Zealand had built a significant hydro infrastructure.quote.

If wind turbines were to supply all of that growth but no more, how many would need to be built each year? The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. That?s one-and-a-half times as many as have been built in the world since governments started pouring consumer funds into this so-called industry in the early 2000s.

At a density of, very roughly, 50 acres per megawatt, typical for wind farms, that many turbines would require a land area greater than the British Isles, including Ireland. Every year. If we kept this up for 50 years, we would have covered every square mile of a land area the size of Russia with wind farms. Remember, this would be just to fulfil the new demand for energy, not to displace the vast existing supply of energy from fossil fuels, which currently supply 80 per cent of global energy needs.

Matt Ridley, The Spectator

Matt may be over-egging the facts here. 50 acres is 20 hectares/MW. In New Zealand the data indicates 10 hectares/MW. Perhaps we are just windier?

To be continued …