NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 12, 2005

The Germans, once steadfast believers in wind power, have begun to doubt its value. Recently, the German government released a study claiming that wind farms were an expensive and inefficient way of generating sustainable energy.

According to the German government's energy agency:

  • Joining Germany's existing wind farms to the national supply grid, in order to meet the government's target of producing 20 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2015 would cost 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
  • About 800 miles of cable would need to be laid or modified.
  • Power plants would have to be upgraded or replaced so the system would be able to cope with the large fluctuations associated with wind-based energy.

The researchers concluded that instead of spending billions on building new wind turbines, the emphasis should be on making houses more energy efficient.

"There is simply no getting around the intermittency problem of wind power," says National Center for Policy Analysis senior fellow Sterling Burnett. The wind doesn't always blow so even large wind farms need conventional power plants to supply backup power. Overall, this raises electricity prices and the German government is finally learning about the problems with "green power," adds Burnett.

"Unfortunately, most governments look through rose-colored glasses at these 'green power' projects that are supposed to provide power and improve the environment," says Burnett. "Initial opponents to such projects are immediately labeled shills for industry. But once governments start implementing these plans, problems appear."

Source: Iain Murray and Myron Ebell, "German Government Study Questions Value of Wind Power," Heartland Institute, June 1, 2005.


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