After decades of federal subsidies—almost $24 billion according to a recent estimate by former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm—nowhere in the United States, or anywhere else, has an array of wind turbines replaced a single conventional power plant. Nowhere. --
Taxpayer support for wind energy will eventually come to an end, I optimistically predict. The only question is how soon. My pessimistic guess is it will take another decade—by which time the number of wind turbines, currently about 45,000 according to the American Wind Energy Association, could more than double.
It is unclear whether very many wind-energy firms have sufficient monetary reserves to cover dismantling these behemoth lawn sculptures once the tax credits wind down or disappear. If not, the result will be a scene from a science fiction movie—as though giant aliens descended onto our planet only to freeze in place.
The promise that wind and solar power could replace conventional electricity production never really made sense. It's known to everybody in the industry that a wind turbine will generate electricity 30% of the time—but it's impossible to predict when that time will be. A true believer might be willing to do without electricity when the wind is not blowing, but most people will not. And so, during the 30% of the time the blades are spinning, conventional power plants are also spinning on low, waiting to operate during the other 70% of the time.--
Wind is at best a niche player in energy. Grandiose claims made on behalf of wind-generated electricity are rubbish, whether or not renewable-energy advocates admit it. Wind-power developers will milk taxpayers across the world out of a few billion more dollars, euros or pounds in subsidies, tax credits and the like, but sooner or later the public will wise up.
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