Robert Bryce, writing in the National Review Online, claims that wind turbines are nothing but climate change scarecrows. And he is of course right:
Global energy use has nearly doubled since 1982, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. As for non-hydro renewable energy, despite decades of hefty subsidies and in some cases, mandates, it now provides about 2 percent of the 250 million barrels of oil-equivalent energy (from all sources) that is being consumed globally every day.
The hard truth is that renewable energy cannot even keep pace with soaring global energy demand, much less replace significant quantities of hydrocarbons. That’s not an opinion. It’s basic math.
Last year, all of the wind turbines on the planet provided about 2.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day to the global economy. That sounds like a lot until you compare wind’s contribution with that of the world’s fastest-growing source of energy: coal. In 2012, global coal use increased by about 2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. Thus, just to keep pace with the growth in coal usage, we’d have to nearly replicate the entire global fleet of wind turbines — some 285,000 megawatts of capacity — and we’d have to do so every year. --
Now let’s look at carbon dioxide emissions. In 2012, the American Wind Energy Association claims, wind energy reduced U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 80 million tons. Again, that sounds significant. But consider this: Last year, global emissions of that gas totaled 34.5 billion tons. Thus, the 60,000 megawatts of U.S. wind-generation capacity reduced global carbon dioxide emissions by about two-tenths of 1 percent.
To make the point even clearer, let’s look at the history of carbon dioxide emissions. Since 1982, global carbon dioxide emissions have been increasing by an average of about 500 million tons per year.
If we take the American Wind Energy Association’s claim that 60,000 megawatts of wind-energy capacity can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 80 million tons per year, then simple math shows that if we wanted to stop the growth in global carbon dioxide emissions by using wind energy alone, we would have to install about 375,000 megawatts of new wind-energy capacity every year. If we assume each turbine has a capacity of two megawatts, that would mean installing 187,500 wind turbines every year, or nearly 500 every day.--
Over the past few years, the U.S. and other countries have been subsidizing the paving of vast areas of the countryside with 500-foot-high bird- and bat-killing whirligigs that are nothing more than climate talismans. Wind turbines are not going to stop changes in the earth’s climate. Instead, they are token gestures — giant steel scarecrows — that are deceiving the public into thinking that we as a society are doing something to avert the possibility of catastrophic climate change.