For over 15 years now, Europe’s energy policy has focused mainly on the development of renewable, wind and solar photovoltaic electricity, with substantial subsidies paid by consumers. More and more rural areas are being invaded by giant wind turbines, and photovoltaic panels are springing up on roofs or in fields, even in countries with little sun even in summer and where winter nights are long. All in the name of the environment and the fight against CO2 emissions!
Let’s summarise what many engineers and scientists familiar with the issue, such as members of the Energy groups of the Académie des Sciences and the Académie des Technologies in France, but also many others across all European countries, are saying about wind power. Most of the media have not deigned to publish their warnings, and they have apparently not shaken the “convictions” of the public authorities in the least. Europe, as we are reminded every day, does not need scientists. Like her elected officials, she just knows, full stop.
The arguments from engineers and scientists
Wind power was initially “sold” to the citizens of European countries in the name of environmental protection, and in particular the fight against CO2 emissions. There has been intense and relentless media hype for years to “convince” citizens of its indispensable role in this campaign. But in fact, it has been very ineffective in that regard. However, this was particularly obvious from the outset in France’s case, because its electricity production already emitted very little CO2 (France is the leader of the major industrialised countries in this field), thanks to its nuclear reactors and its hydroelectric power plants. But we can now clearly see that this is also the case for all 28 European countries*. Germany in particular, which had championed it, supposedly in the interests of the environment, has totally failed in this area.
Nor does wind power by itself make it possible to close nuclear reactors, as those in “ecological” circles confidently claim, because nuclear reactors are dispatchable, i.e. controlled by human agency and not only by the weather, as is the case with wind power. It is therefore essential for a country to retain the total production of its dispatchable plants, and we can verify that this is indeed the case in all European countries, to take account of days without wind. In fact, there are many more of them than is being admitted, and this applies to the whole of Europe. So if we want to close nuclear reactors, it is would be necessary to build an equivalent capacity of other types of dispatchable plants, gas or coal-fired, and thus increase CO2 emissions and air pollution in Europe. And since Europe has hardly any coal and gas resources left, it is becoming increasingly dependent on the major producing countries, in particular Russia for gas and the United States for coal.
Even if the production price of wind power has decreased over time, its growth, like that of photovoltaic solar energy, has considerably increased the price of electricity for households, as Germany has already seen for quite some time, and as France has begun to see since the implementation of the Grenelle de l’Environnement wind power programme in 2007**. Indeed, the need to retain the same total production from dispatchable plants to deal with windless days in Europe, means that the wind power (and photovoltaic solar) introduced is added to that of the dispatchable plants and cannot replace it. There is therefore a double investment to produce the same amount of electricity. This will remain the case until huge amounts of electricity can be stored, which may never happen. And if one day we do manage to store it to any significant extent, that price will be added to that of wind power. Additional power lines would need to be built and the power grid reinforced to withstand the enormous variations in wind power, even greater than those of wind speed. And it would still even be necessary to subsidise dispatchable plants: since to produce the same amount of electricity in Europe, they would have to share this production with wind power (and also photovoltaic solar). So, they become much less profitable because of a lack of sufficient production, and without these subsidies they would have to close down, even though they are essential.
All this has a cost, which is added to the cost of production. Oddly, the media are silent on this subject, and only cover the drop in producer prices.
Electricity that is in fact non-renewable and will not ensure a nation’s electrical security.
Contrary to “popular” belief, while wind is renewable, wind electricity is not because it cannot be used without the support of dispatchable plants using non-renewable energies (mainly fossil fuels in Germany, and nuclear energy in France). The end of these non-renewable energies will also spell the end of wind power. It can therefore neither singlehandedly underwrite electricity consumption nor the long-term security of electricity supply, whether in France or elsewhere in Europe.
– for the same reasons, wind power alone cannot ensure the electrical autonomy of a territory or a region, let alone its total energy autonomy, since electricity represents only about 20 to 25% of a community’s energy needs.
The development of intermittent electricity is antisocial, because its financing mechanism, through taxation of electricity consumption, and now taxation specifically on combustible fuel consumption like in France, steals from the poor to give to the rich!
The amount of space required for wind power to produce significant quantities of electricity means that its development entails taking very large areas of land out of use, increasing conflicts of use and interest, environmental destruction and blighting of the rural landscape of entire regions.
A state-sponsored lie
These observations are in stark contrast to the idyllic image of wind power, which is currently insistently pushed by all channels of information, who day in day out are promoting what looks very much like a state lie.
Our elected representatives, rightly concerned about improving the daily lives of their constituents, are motivated exclusively by the subsidies granted them by vested interests, without realising that this is dragging European countries down a dead end, the self-same one that Germany has just been ensnared in. And the subsidies in question are actually paid for by their constituents, who are now beginning to realise this.
European governments and the European Commission are also behaving irresponsibly, clinging despite all the warnings given by the scientific community, to impulsively-passed laws imposing the development of renewable electricity at the expense of nuclear power, such as France’s Law for Energy Transition and Green Growth (LTECV), whose stated aims are unrealistic and contradictory. That’s autism!
Yes, it’s madness! Offshore wind power is actually off-the-scale madness. What else could you call paying astronomical sums, much higher than the cost of production of electricity from the much-criticised EPR**, to produce useless electricity, unusable without the support of dispatchable plants, and simultaneously harm the environment in Natura 2000 areas, or in marine natural parks which should be environmental sanctuaries. The most scandalous thing is that this is being done with the unfailing support of the large NGOs that claim to defend the environment: FNE, WWF, or Greenpeace!
All this will go to discredit public action in Europe, but also to widen the gap that is currently being created between political and scientific circles!
But above all, carrying on like this means spending a fortune on something that is useless, harmful to the environment and threatens the European electricity system, while there are enormous needs elsewhere!
It’s high time Europe got a grip!