The Spectacle Blog

The Pain of the Danes, Coming Your Way

By on 7.29.10 | 2:41PM

After President Obama's repeated (eight times) assurance that Spain proved his "green" central planning was an economic boon was debunked (as was his contemporaneous citation of Germany's supposed success), the White House simply replaced "Spain" with "Denmark" in his stump speech.

That, too, was debunked. So now Obama no longer points to any country as a success. I wonder what that tells us.

Anyway, one (other) thing our apparently not overly worldly Obama White House apparently didn't  realize was that when a US political leader hails a small country it makes the newspapers there. And academics respond to such challenges, despite the flattery.

So it is again today, where we read "Profits of Doom" in, of all places, the Times Higher Education, including the following excerpt:

DENMARK'S WIND TURBINES: A DANGEROUS AMOUNT OF HOT AIR

Denmark is the wind capital of the world - that's one of the reasons why Copenhagen was chosen to host the great climate change conference last year. Between 1985 and 2005, more than 3GW of wind-turbine capacity was installed, of which about 15 per cent was sited offshore.

There are few areas on western Denmark's coast and in its flat or gently rolling countryside that are unaffected. Fortunately, the nation's agricultural community has learned to love the modern intruders - or at least the subsidies.

As the sector expanded, so did the size of the wind turbines. The latest idea is to build 20MW versions as tall as the Eiffel Tower. Each turbine requires an access road, massive concrete foundations and, of course, electricity pylons.

Wind turbines, despite being so very green themselves, are antipathetic to nature. On forested hillsides, they require the clear felling of woodland; on low-lying coastal sites, they necessitate the draining of wetland to facilitate the construction of access roads and enormous concrete foundations.

As independent energy consultant Vic Mason has pointed out, such side-effects could stimulate the oxidation of peat (releasing carbon dioxide) and damage many sensitive habitats essential for particular species of wildlife.

Until recently, the most important subsidy supporting the sector was that the Danish National Grid (and hence consumers) was obliged by law to buy all the electricity produced by wind-power projects - and to do so at prices determined by the government, not the market. That's why Danish householders must pay almost double the UK price for electricity.[NB: that's three times U.S. rates...you can mandate anything, and sometimes it can be done; but at great cost, despite the silly, free-ice-cream economics so fashionable among environmentalists and politicians]. Estimates of the costs of the subsidies differ - the Danish government says it is about DKr4 billion (£443 million) a year - but independent experts put it at about DKr10 billion a year. If the higher estimates are correct, it would mean that Denmark has been spending more on wind turbines each year than on education.

In spite of the cost, wind power generates only about 4 per cent of the electricity used in Denmark: the truth is that almost all of it is wasted.

Specialists believe that it is unrealistic to expect turbines to produce much more than 20 to 25 per cent of their potential annual output, and that has been the experience in Denmark. Sometimes there is too little wind, sometimes there is too much. Sometimes the machines are broken or being serviced and polished.

With wind turbines, a conventional power station must always provide back-up. For the Danes, traditional power stations with capacities equal to 90 per cent of the installed wind-power capacity must be permanently online to guarantee supply at all times. (emphases added)

Just in time Washington is preparing to cram down its Power Grab anyway. But it's nice to see that the mythologizing does not go unchallenged.

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