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Wind energy report riddled with flaws

The New Zealand
Climate Science Coalition

28 November 2011 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wind energy report riddled with flaws

The report issued by the New Zealand Wind Energy Association claiming that New Zealanders could be $390 per annum better off with 20% wind energy is riddled with flaws and makes a number of very dubious assumptions, says Bryan Leyland, energy commentator and member of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

“The most dubious assumption is that carbon dioxide will be costed at $50 or $100 per tonne. This is a key assumption and without it, their whole economic argument collapses. In Europe, the current carbon price is about €7.5 per tonne and falling rapidly. Everyone agrees that there is now no chance that Kyoto will be extended or that a new agreement will occur before 2020 - if ever. At the same time, more revelations are coming out about the dubious science behind the whole global warming myth and, with economies all over the world in serious trouble, the prospect of them saddling their consumers and industries with carbon charges is decreasing rapidly. The world has not warmed the last 10 to 15 years and it is almost certain that the world has entered a sunspot driven cooling period.

“The next dubious assumption is that they assume gas will increase to $17 per gigajoule. In the USA (and soon in Europe and the UK) gas prices are falling rapidly due to the development of shale gas which has massively increased reserves. Even if there were no more gas discoveries in New Zealand, we could import liquefied natural gas for less than $17/GJ,” said Mr Leyland.

“Finally, they assume that wind generation could supply 800,000 plug-in electric vehicles. This is nonsense. Wind generation is unpredictable and electric cars must be charged every day. So additional - probably gas-fired - generation would be needed and this is likely to supply more than half the power needed by the electric vehicles.

“The report uses an economic model of New Zealand which is totally unsuited to analysing the effect of 20% energy generation from wind. Any model that does not take into account the intermittent and seasonal nature of wind and its effect on power prices and the fact that, in a dry year, hydro cannot backup wind, is worthless. The model makes no allowance for the fact that over peak demand periods, only about 10% of the wind generation can be relied on. It also does not consider the need for extra transmission lines and the poor efficiency of the gas fired power stations that must be built to back up wind. For example, one study in the United States showed that, in Texas, a large amount of wind energy results in a tiny reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

“This flawed report reflects little credit on the Infometrics and on the New Zealand Wind Energy Association. It does not alter the fact that wind is expensive, requires backup, and has only a small effect on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide–which is, in any event, an entirely beneficial gas that causes plants to grow,” Mr Leyland concluded.

Ends

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