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Wind Power Slammed as Inefficient

Wind farm offshore from Belgium.  ©Hans Hillewaert/ CC BY-SA 4.0
Wind farm offshore from Belgium. ©Hans Hillewaert/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Oxford University Professor Emeritus Wade Allison has warned in a paper, published by a nonprofit group, that his analysis of wind power generation data shows serious inefficiency in this alternative energy resource.

“The generation of electricity by wind tells a disappointing story,” Prof. Allison writes in a 2023 paper for The Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Inefficiency is not the only problem with wind power, adds Prof. Allison, who teaches mathematics and physics at Oxford, is a researcher for The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, and supports nuclear energy.

“Vast ‘farms’ that monopolize the natural environment are built to the detriment of other creatures,” he says.

According to Prof. Allison, a global push to reduce and eliminate fossil fuel emissions has led to an “instinctive reaction” to turn to renewables whose sources—originating from the Sun—are “intermittent” and “weak.” He says “The political enthusiasm and the investor hype are not supported by the evidence, even for offshore wind.”

Prof. Allison provides the following example: “If the wind speed is 10 meters per second (about 20 mph) the power is 600 watts per square meter at 100% efficiency. That means to deliver the same power as Hinkley Point C [nuclear power station in the UK] (3200 million watts) by wind would require 5.5 million square meters of turbine swept area—that should be quite unacceptable to those who care about birds and to other environmentalists.”

Moreover, “if the wind drops to half speed, the power available drops by a factor of 8. Almost worse, if the wind speed doubles, the power delivered goes up 8 times, and as a result the turbine has to be turned off for its own protection,” he writes.

There is also a problem with grid storage battery technology that is used to store the power generated by wind, the professor adds. “It can provide for laptops and other portable applications, even car batteries at up to 75 kWh, but larger batteries have problems with safety and mineral shortages.”

“Batteries 20 million times larger are never going to be available,” he argues, and “storage batteries will never make good the failure of offshore wind farms” when the wind speed drops for a week. “The wind can drop for longer periods than that.”




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