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"The Wind Power Paradox"

A recently released report titled “The Wind Power Paradox” from BENTEK Energy finds that wind energy is neither green nor cost effective. In a radio interview with Amy Oliver Cooke on News Talk 1310 KFKA (Part I and II), BENTEK president Porter Bennett* (a self-described “natural gas guy”) explained that the because the wind blows intermittently and usually when energy demand is low, wind requires fossil-fuel based back-up power.

The constant ramping up or “cycling” of the base load power plant actually increases carbon emissions. It’s analogous to how your car performs in city traffic versus more efficient highway driving. This issue is not new. What is new about this study is that it is the first to “systematically assess the emission reduction performance of wind generation based on hourly generation and emissions data.”

According to Bennett, wind as a small scale power supply such as for an individual home or farm is very green. However as a large scale power source such as commercial wind farms, it is actually much less eco-friendly than modern fossil fuel power plants.

Also wind is expensive. When asked if wind would be competitive without tax subsidies, Bennett replied no. When asked if wind would be competitive without the benefit of a carbon tax on fossil fuel, Bennett replied no. When asked if he thought investor owned utilities such as Xcel Energy would procure wind as a reliable, cost effective energy source without a state mandate, Bennett replied no.

To summarize:

  • Wind as a large scale energy source does not reduce carbon emissions.
  • Without corporate welfare and a carbon tax, wind is not an economical source of energy.
  • Without a mandate, wind probably isn’t a large scale source of energy.

Replacing one megawatt hour of fossil fuel generated energy with one megawatt of wind generated energy does not automatically equate to reduced emissions, and it most certainly isn’t cost effective. The actual cost of wind energy must include its own deficiencies as a large power source but sadly this is often lost on policy makers and self-described environmentalists so infatuated with wind energy that they cannot get beyond the hot air that is blowing in the wind.

*Porter Bennett makes no apologies for his support of natural gas, especially as an alternative to coal. The Independence Institute is agnostic about energy sources.  We promote a least cost principle when it comes to energy sources — free of taxpayer-funded subsidies, carbon taxes and mandates.