Germany’s wind power chaos should be a warning to the UK
By Christopher Booker
7:00PM BST 22 Sep 2012
On Friday, September 14, just before 10am, Britain’s 3,500 wind turbines broke all records by briefly supplying just over four gigawatts (GW) of electricity to the national grid. Three hours later, in Germany, that country’s 23,000 wind turbines and millions of solar panels similarly achieved an unprecedented output of 31GW. But the responses to these events in the two countries could not have been in starker contrast.
Germany is way ahead of us on the very path our politicians want us to follow – and the problems it has encountered as a result are big news there. In fact, Germany is being horribly caught out by precisely the same delusion about renewable energy that our own politicians have fallen for. Like all enthusiasts for “free, clean, renewable electricity”, they overlook the fatal implications of the fact that wind speeds and sunlight constantly vary. They are taken in by the wind industry’s trick of vastly exaggerating the usefulness of wind farms by talking in terms of their “capacity”, hiding the fact that their actual output will waver between 100 per cent of capacity and zero. In Britain it averages around 25 per cent; in Germany it is lower, just 17 per cent.
The more a country depends on such sources of energy, the more there will arise – as Germany is discovering – two massive technical problems. One is that it becomes incredibly difficult to maintain a consistent supply of power to the grid, when that wildly fluctuating renewable output has to be balanced by input from conventional power stations. The other is that, to keep that back-up constantly available can require fossil-fuel power plants to run much of the time very inefficiently and expensively (incidentally chucking out so much more “carbon” than normal that it negates any supposed CO2 savings from the wind).
But for the billions of taxpayer Euros wasted, this would be humorous: nothing was (is being) learned in this exercise! All these problems are exactly what knowledgeable people - people not caught up by starry-eyed idealism and ignorance - said would happen. No technological advance (recent or foreseeable for decades or more) can transform an intermittent “energy source”, wind, into reliable continuous energy. Compounding the sadness of the predictability this I-told-you-so episode is that this is a repeat of the smaller but identical boondoggles committed in the late 70s and early 80s! And this is the known dead-end road down which Pres. Obama and his starry-eyed ignorant Envirocrats want to drag the US!!!