NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Blown Away by Evidence

February 5, 2004

The cost and unreliability of wind power far outweighs its economical and environmental benefits, according to H. Sterling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Environmentalists have praised wind power as a clean, alternative source of energy, yet empirical evidence shows it to be otherwise:

  • Wind power is unreliable: Towers require a minimum wind speed to generate power, whereas, too much wind can blow them down; they also require supplemental energy from conventional power plants when they're not operating..
  • Wind power is costly and inefficient: Europe's two largest wind farms use 159 turbines on thousands of acres, yet take a year to produce only four day's output when compared to a conventional 2,000-watt power station.
  • Wind farms are noisy and unsightly: In Great Britain, the untouched countryside has been spoiled by the presence of wind turbines, which are likened more to highways and industrial buildings in terms of aesthetics.
  • Over the past 20 years, wind turbines in Altamont Pass, California have killed an estimated 44,000 birds
  • In Tarif, Spain, the area's 269 wind turbines have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of birds, including 13 species protected under law by the European Union.
  • In West Virginia, at least 400 bats, including some possibly endangered species, were killed at a 44-turbine wind farm.

Nonetheless, a wind farm has been proposed off the coast of Massachusetts which would require 130 towers and 24 square miles of ocean, yet produce only 450 megawatts.

Wind power, says Burnett, "doesn't merit continued government promotion or funding."

Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "Wind Power Puffery," The Washington Times, February 4, 2004.


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