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Stats Blow Windpower - Terry McCrann, 5th August, 2009, The Daily Telegraph

Stats blow windpower - Terry McCrann, 5th August, 2009, The Daily Telegraph


The Rudd Government's green power strategy has been shredded by analysis which shows the uselessness of the power on which it is almost all based - wind. Further, this independent analysis is a damning indictment of not only the Federal Government and all state governments for their betrayal of their most fundamental duty to the public interest. But it also exposes the disgarve of the so-called public service bureaucracies.

Where is the official analysis of what wind power generation does in practice - at either federal or state level? Which if it had been done would have embarrassingly exposed its uselessness? Why has it had to be done by privateers?

The answer is federal and state public service abandoned not just the general duty to the public, but its narrower duty to tell political government the truth with policy advice and analysis.

Simply and damningly. If you don't ask the question, if you don't do the analysis, you won't come up with the wrong answer.

If you do, you find that not only does the wind fail as a power source. Not that that's a surprise to anyone show's prepared to look.. When the wind don't blow the power don't flow. Even more devastatingly, as this analysis shows, the wind not only don't blow an awful lot of the time. It tends to not blow everywhere at the same time.

This utterly shreds the claim that if we build enough of the so-called wind farms in southern Australia, the wind will always blow somewhere. Not it won't. But you'll look in vain for official advice saying that.

What makes the analysis even more damning, is that wind fails even in the main reason for its costly and ineffective existence - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Precisely because of that problem.

An unreliable 484mW wind farm would not only cost more than two times a gas-fired 550mW power station. But it would only allow perhaps 25mW of coal-fired generation to be shut down- whereas the gas plant could close its full 550mW.

The analysis from weather analyst Andrew Miskelly and physicist Tom Quirk tracks the performance of the wind farms across Victoria, South Australia, NSW and Tasmania for June in five minute intervals.

Two huge and unmistakeable messages leap out of the graph. Wind farms spend most of their time not generating power, or not generating very much. They move from a lot of power to zero.

Second, even though spread right across southern Australia, they tend to produce or not produce at much the same time, making impossible any practical ability to ask nature to turn on, say Victorian wind farms when nature has turned off SA ones. Or even distant Tasmanian ones.

And when you put all the wind farms in the four states together you get a devastating image of uselessness that would require you to keep almost the equivalent capacity coal-fired station on and operating pretty much at full power all the time.