The Elephant In the Turbine

Sometimes when Billothewisp is reading through papers on the foolishness that is wind turbinery, he comes across a paper or article which makes him feel a bit Queasy. A bit like he has read something that is not for general consumption, but has inadvertently been put into the public domain. Something that makes old Billothewisp feel like a spy in a foreign camp.

You know - a bit like overhearing a crimmo secretly confess to a crime while the press and the cognoscenti are baying about a miscarriage of justice.

Or hearing one of "His Majesty's" entourage quietly whisper: "Yes! the King really is wearing no cloths".

Recently I had two of those almost meta-physical moments. And they were related and did not involve any cider.

The first concerned a new  piece of posh propaganda released by the zealots in Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE).

Who are the CSE?

Yet another "charity" (and I wonder where the cash comes from.). While they are no doubt, a bona-fide charity, I don't think any-one there is going short on the pay and perks front.

Anyway, I digress. The CSE have released a document called "Common Concerns about Windpower"

It is without doubt a truly wonderful piece of propaganda.

It is so good Billothewisp awards it the Joseph Goebbels Truth Economy Award for 2011. (First Class)

To be fair, it doesn't tell many lies (although there are some) but it does vigorously, wholeheartedly, and with serious malice afore-thought, twist the truth into its own perverted little vision.

Not since some guy in the CIA described the 1975 failure in Vietnam as a "sub-optimal victory" has there been such a shiny spin put on such a dismal subject.

There is so much that is wrong in this document it is difficult to know where to start, so as Julie Andrews once said "I'll start at the very beginning" (a very good place to start).

There will, no doubt, be several posts about this as I cut my way through this "charitable work" of the CSE.

Anyway part one show us all how wonderfully greeeeeeeen the average turbine is, and how is repays its energy deficit in the wink of an eye.

In fact, according to our charitable friends at the CSE  (billothewisp assumes a straight face here) the average turbine repays its energy cost within 3 months - 6 months at the outside.

The CSE then go to tell us that in its lifetime, a turbine will return at least 20 times the energy used to manufacture it.

Now we come to the first "spy in the camp moment"

3 months x 20 = 5 years. Does a "productive" wind turbine really wear out in 5 years? Or maybe 10 years for the ones that hardly produce anything - aka The Wind Turbine in Reading

Or maybe the figures are..... (dare I say it) Wrong.

Oh, I can hear the indignation.
I can see the trembling bottom lips.
The tears of of outrage welling up in the average windies eyes.

That was "at least 20 times". At least means more than. 5 years is the minimum.

Hmmm let us have a comparison.

I buy a new car. It will be good for at least 100,000 miles. Most though won't get to 120,000 let alone 200,000. 300,000 will be a freak exception.

As a comparison it would (sort of) indicate that hardly any turbines (if any) will ever make it to the much vaunted 20 -25 year life span.

But that of course is just an old engineer making a dodgy comparison.

How about some inside facts?

Here my grubby little Englanders we come to the second document and the second "spy in the camp" moment.

This second article was so well named  I stole the title for this post. It is available Here.

The document is the June 2010 cover story for the August journal: "TRIBOLOGY & LUBRICATION TECHNOLOGY" The article is obviously written by an "enthusiast" i.e. one who thinks wind turbinery can do no wrong.

But the basis of the article, which the author  does comprehensively expound on, is that the gear box blows up every (wait for it) 5 to 7 years. Actually, although it is written by an enthusiast, the article lacks the self serving  deceit of the CSE document. The guy is obviously an engineer. He just needs treatment.

Here is a cut and paste of highlighted paragraphs...

Oh Dear! but then... (Ugh!) there is this....

The author informs us that gear box reliability has been a known problem for well over ten years, without yet even coming close to being solved.

So today the problem of gearbox reliability is NOT solved.

One day it maybe solved. One day. but not today. Maybe tomorrow, maybe never.

We are building these things and plan forcing the Grid to rely on them, even though have a known ( and terrible) reliability issue.

Let us go back to the transport analogy.

Say you operated a a fleet of lorries. Would you replace your existing old but "known to work" fleet with a fleet of shiny new lorries which were known to have a massive reliability problem?

If the salesman came up and said to you, "Oh that'll (probably) be solved in a few years" would whip out your cheque book or kick him out of the door?

Not only are these things ugly, inefficient, intermittent and uneconomic. they are also hideously unreliable.

Other than that (besides the health issues, the subsidy and landscaper damage) I suppose they are (to paraphrase the CIA propagandist) sub-optimally OK

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