The public’s disenchantment with wind power is growing rapidly: its supporters have become a minority. More and more French people are concerned about the environmental and health damage and the blots on their country’s famous landscapes as a result of its massive development. They are also exasperated by the cavalier methods used to impose it, and the corruption of elected officials that too often accompanies it.
But the French still do not realize, due to the intense campaigns of disinformation on these subjects, how much wind generated electricity will actually cost them, without contributing to combating global warming, or doing away with nuclear reactors. It will destroy more jobs than it creates. This work explains why. It also dismantles the structures of lies and financial scams that allow wind energy promoters to make money from it without worrying about its real efficiency or the human and environmental damage, just for their own financial or electoral benefit.
Wind power spoils the countryside and coastlines, impoverishes the French people, and is of no use to them. It is a weapon of mass destruction on their environment and economy. It compromises their energy security. It must be stopped as a matter of urgency and the money wasted on it must be used to reduce CO2 emissions from housing and transport, which emit considerably more CO2 and are therefore more harmful to the climate than our electricity.
Bernard Durand is an engineer, researcher and naturalist. He was Director of the Geology-Geochemistry Division of the Institut français du pétrole et des énergies nouvelles (IFPEN) [the French Institute of Petroleum and New Energies], then of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Géologie [College of Geology] He also chaired the Scientific Committee of the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE). He is a co-founder of the environmental association “Nature en Pays d’Arvert”. Alfred-Wegener Prize from the EAGE.
Bernard Durand, how can you be both a co-founder of an environmental association and write a book entitled “Un vent de folie: L’éolien en France : mensonge et arnaque?” [ Mad as the sea and wind: Wind power in France: a lie and a swindle?]
It is perfectly compatible, and this book demonstrates the fact: wind power in France is in fact a weapon of massive environmental destruction for rural areas. It will soon be equally the case for the marine environment, if offshore wind power is installed in force as our government wants it to be. What would be incompatible for an ecologist, and therefore profoundly hypocritical, would be to promote wind power on the grounds of a defence of the environment and the climate, as do the well-established NGOs that claim to be “environmental”, such as Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and France Nature Environnement (FNE), among others.
You claim that disenchantment with wind power is growing amongst public opinion and that its supporters have become a minority. No doubt this is due to the numerous critical works published in recent years. However, your book sets out an original critique, that is still unknown to the general public.
The works you are talking about are in fact mainly concerned with denouncing the effects of wind turbines on the environment and human health, the corruption of elected officials that is far too often part of the process of taking the industry forward, and the absurdity of this development from an economic point of view. They have indeed contributed to a growing public disenchantment, springing from the increased perception by local residents – of whom there are more and more – of the harmful effects of wind power on their immediate environment and their health.
This is currently the only work intended for the general public which demonstrates, with the help of basic physics, that wind power cannot in any way achieve the aims used to justify promoting it. In particular, it can only increase the price of electricity, and now of fuel, for French households, and as a result increase the energy insecurity of low income households, while it can do nothing to reduce our CO2 emissions and combat climate change. It will do nothing towards the closure of our nuclear reactors. Is it sensible to wreck our environment for something that costs a lot of money and is useless?
Public opinion has not in fact genuinely grasped this, because disinformation on these subjects by the media, under pressure from a large part of the political and financial world but also unfortunately from so-called “environmental” NGOs such as those mentioned above, has provided intense blanket coverage for quite some time. Fortunately this is changing now. Hopefully not too late!
You talk a great deal about the German example, about non-dispatchable electricity provision, about CO2 production remaining high, and about the dramatic rise in electricity prices. What lessons can we learn from this?
The most important lesson to be learned is that we should not follow the example of Germany, which has, impulsively and thoughtlessly, run headlong into an ecological and economic dead end and a lasting dependence on fossil fuels by wanting to develop wind and solar photovoltaics at all costs; apparently quite literally, because the expenditure on this programme is already running into hundreds of billions of euros, for a very poor result. Due to the intermittency, i.e. the uncontrollable (non-dispatchable) variability of the electrical power generated by their wind power, Germany was forced to retain all its energy from coal-fired dispatchable plants. It had to replace the nuclear reactors it had shut down with gas-fired power plants. It now imports large quantities of coal from the United States, and will soon be importing large quantities of Russian gas to supply its gas-fired power plants via the Northstream 1 and 2 gas pipelines that have just been installed in the Baltic Sea to supply these plants. As a result Germany is, and will be for a very long time, the main polluter of the European atmosphere, with the climate-lethal CO2 emitted by its power stations, but also with the fumes from these power stations which are harmful to health. The planned replacement of its coal-fired power plants with gas-fired power plants by 2038 will come too late, and while it will reduce its CO2 emissions it will also increase its emissions of methane (CH4), the main component of natural gas, which is much more harmful to the climate than CO2.
The current government seems to want to put an end to nuclear power generation, as with the Fessenheim power station, and replace it with wind power. Is this desirable for the consumer? Or the climate?
The example of Germany shows just what will happen if we close down our nuclear power plants. Like Germany we would be obliged to replace our lost power with equivalent power from coal and/or gas-fired power stations and, again like Germany, to have considerable CO2 emissions from our electricity production. This would mean reneging to a huge extent on the commitments we made at COP 21 in Paris in 2015. The closure of Fessenheim, which emits practically no CO2, is already an extraordinary aberration!
Of course, we may imagine that one day it will be possible to replace coal and gas-fired power stations with massive wind and solar power storage. But at this point engineers do not even know what this kind of storage would constitute, and so actually building it, if that is ever even possible, will not be happening any time soon. But the climate will not wait. In addition, their cost is likely to be higher than the plants they would replace. In any case, Germany is obviously not counting on this, since it will be supplying its future gas-fired power stations with Russian gas.
Now if it did one day become possible, our country would be covered with giant wind turbines. And, of course, we would also have to accept a very sharp increase in the price of electricity and fuel for households.
You talk about a disinformation mechanism and use some very strong expressions such as “lies” and “financial swindles”. How has it come to this?
Yes, I’ve used strong words. Because the disinformation on these subjects is quite extraordinary and must be denounced in the strongest possible terms. This is due to a convergence of powerful political and financial interests that use modern advertising and marketing techniques to shape public opinion, and most of the media goes along with it.
So, it has become virtually impossible to debate these issues calmly on a scientific basis, and this represents a great danger to our democracy.
I hope that my book will stimulate this kind of debate amongst the public.
This post is also available in: FR (FR)