Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Are green energy sources like solar power and wind power good for the environment?

Green energy harms wildlife, especially birds

Green energy harms wildlife, especially birds

Investors Business Daily explains how green energy hurts birds, even rare, endangered species of birds.

Excerpt:

What do you call an energy source that consumes vast tracks of open land and fries birds that cross its path? If you’re the president, you call it “safe,” “reliable,” “green” and worthy of massive taxpayer subsidies.

That, at least, is the case with the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station that covers a vast area of desert outside Las Vegas and, thanks to the generous support of the Obama administration, has officially opened.

The plant points hundreds of thousands of mirrors at three towers to boil turbine-spinning water. But the heat rays aren’t very friendly to the area’s birds, including falcons, hawks, warblers and sparrows that have shown up dead near the towers.

One of the inconvenient truths that global warming fanatics and renewable energy purists try to ignore is that wind and solar energy are not so environmentally friendly. At least, not if you care about wildlife and land preservation.

First, these energy sources are massive land hogs. Ivanpah requires more than 5 square miles of mirrors to produce enough electricity to light 140,000 homes. It would take roughly 3,600 Ivanpahs to supply all the country’s electricity needs, with mirrors covering New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and a chunk of Massachusetts combined.

Wind power is hardly much better. According to the Nature Conservancy, it takes 30 times the land for windmills to produce as much electricity as a nuclear power plant.

And their turbines amount to bird Cuisinarts. To keep wind farms spinning, the Obama administration recently issued permits letting them kill protected bald and golden eagles for 30 years, provided they take some steps to mitigate the slaughter.

People who friend me on Facebook know that I love birds very much and I keep them as pets – they are my favorite animal. So this just gives me another reason to be disgusted with the policies of the secular left. When you add this wholesale slaughter of birds to the fact that we could be creating many more new jobs by investing in traditional sources of energy at home, it makes me even more angry.

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

Obama administration issues permits to wind energy companies to kill rare birds

From National Review.

Excerpt:

We have to kill eagles in order to save them.

That’s now the official policy of the U.S. Interior Department. On Friday, the agency announced that it would grant some wind-energy companies permits that will allow them to kill or injure bald and golden eagles for up to 30 years without penalty.

The move is an unprecedented gift to the wind-energy industry, which has been lobbying for the 30-year permit for several years. Shortly after the deal was announced, the wind-energy lobby issued a statement that would make George Orwell proud. An official with the American Wind Energy Association declared that this “is not a program to kill eagles.” It is, he claimed, “about conservation.”

Well then. We can now rest easy. Big Wind is saving eagles by getting permits to kill them.

Dozens of environmental groups, including the American Bird Conservancy, the Conservation Law Center, and the National Audubon Society, opposed the deal. Under the headline “Interior Dept. Rule Greenlights Eagle Slaughter at Wind Farms,” Audubon issued a statement calling it “a stunningly bad move” and quoting the group’s president and CEO, David Yarnold: “Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check.” He called it “outrageous” that “the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the Bald Eagle.”

[...]On September 11, some of the top raptor biologists at the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a report that found that the number of documented eagle kills by wind turbines has increased dramatically over the past few years, rising from two in 2007 to 24 in 2011. In all, some 85 eagles have been killed by wind turbines since 1997. And that figure is “an absolute minimum,” Joel Pagel, the lead author of the report, recently told me. Among the carcasses: six bald eagles.

In an interview shortly after the publication of his findings in the Journal of Raptor Research, Pagel told me that he and his colleagues have since documented additional eagle kills by wind turbines in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota. He refused to give a number but said “it’s quite a few.” There are now 14 states where the problem has been identified, he said, adding that more than half of the eagle carcasses have been found “incidentally” — that is, by people not out looking for them. And so the total of dead eagles is likely far higher than what Pagel and his colleagues are reporting.

As someone who loves birds of all kinds and who has owned different species of parrots for the last 25 years, I am outraged by the Obama administration’s war on birds. Birds are among the most intelligent animals, and many species are capable of forming bonds with humans in ways that most other animals cannot. We should not be subsidizing “green” energy projects that result in the killing of rare birds. Although global warming theory is now widely recognized as being contrary to observations, the need to protect endangered species is real.

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How well is government promotion wind and solar power working out in Germany?

Surcharge paid by German households and SMEs

Surcharge paid by German households and SMEs

First, let’s hear from the ultra-leftist New York Times. (H/T Dennis Prager)

Excerpt:

It is an audacious undertaking with wide and deep support in Germany: shut down the nation’s nuclear power plants, wean the country from coal and promote a wholesale shift to renewable energy sources.

But the plan, backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and opposition parties alike, is running into problems in execution that are forcing Germans to come face to face with the costs and complexities of sticking to their principles.

German families are being hit by rapidly increasing electricity rates, to the point where growing numbers of them can no longer afford to pay the bill. Businesses are more and more worried that their energy costs will put them at a disadvantage to competitors in nations with lower energy costs, and some energy-intensive industries have begun to shun the country because they fear steeper costs ahead.

Newly constructed offshore wind farms churn unconnected to an energy grid still in need of expansion. And despite all the costs, carbon emissions actually rose last year as reserve coal-burning plants were fired up to close gaps in energy supplies.

A new phrase, “energy poverty,” has entered the lexicon.

“Often, I don’t go into my living room in order to save electricity,” said Olaf Taeuber, 55, who manages a fleet of vehicles for a social services provider in Berlin. “You feel the pain in your pocketbook.”

Mr. Taeuber relies on just a single five-watt bulb that gives off what he calls a “cozy” glow to light his kitchen when he comes home at night. If in real need, he switches on a neon tube, which uses all of 25 watts.

Even so, with his bill growing rapidly, he found himself seeking help last week to fend off a threat from Berlin’s main power company to cut off his electricity. He is one of a growing number of Germans confronting the realities of trying to carry out Ms. Merkel’s most ambitious domestic project and one of the most sweeping energy transformation efforts undertaken by an industrialized country.

[...]The cost of the plan is expected to be about $735 billion, according to government estimates, and may eventually surpass even that of the euro zone bailouts that have received far more attention during Ms. Merkel’s tenure. Yet as the transition’s unknowns have grown, so have costs for the state, major companies and consumers.

[...]With consumers having to pay about $270 each in surcharges this year to subsidize new operators of renewable power, the hardest hit are low-wage earners, retirees and people on welfare, Mr. Gärtner said. Government subsidies for the plan amounted to $22.7 billion in 2012 and could reach $40.5 billion by 2020, according to John Musk, a power analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

[...]Part of the reason consumer prices have risen so sharply is that, for now, the government has shielded about 700 companies from increased energy costs, to protect their competitive position in the global economy.

Industrial users still pay substantially more for electricity here than do their counterparts in Britain or France, and almost three times as much as those in the United States, according to a study by the German industrial giant Siemens. The Cologne Institute for Economic Research said there had been a marked decline in the willingness of industrial companies to invest in Germany since 2000.

Note that German industry has been EXEMPT from paying the green energy surcharge. Households and small-to-medium-size enterprises are paying it.

The key part of the article, I think, is this:

One of the first obstacles encountered involves the vagaries of electrical power generation that is dependent on sources as inconsistent and unpredictable as the wind and the sun.

And no one has invented a means of storing that energy for very long, which means overwhelming gluts on some days and crippling shortages on others that require firing up old oil- and coal-burning power plants. That, in turn, undercuts the goal of reducing fossil-fuel emissions that have been linked to climate change.

Last year, wind, solar and other nonfossil-fuel sources provided 22 percent of the power for Germany, but the country increased its carbon emissions over 2011 as oil- and coal-burning power plants had to close gaps in the evolving system, according to the German electricity association BDEW.

Didn’t anyone think of that problem before starting out this crazy plan? No. Because they important thing was feelings – politicians had to feel good about solving a made-up crisis.

Cost of renewable wind and solar energy

Cost of renewable wind and solar energy

Why can’t leftists learn from the failed experiments of others?

Government-subsidized green energy scams have been tried before in Spain and Denmark. Did they work?

Well, we know that in Spain, the green jobs programs failed. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain’s experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide.

For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget proposal contains about $20 billion in tax incentives for clean-energy programs. In Spain, where wind turbines provided 11 percent of power demand last year, generators earn rates as much as 11 times more for renewable energy compared with burning fossil fuels.

The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power – – which are charged to consumers in their bills — translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.

“The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” he said in an interview.

The Heritage Foundation cites a study from Denmark, which shows that wind power has also failed.

Excerpt:

But according to a new study from the Danish Centre for Political Studies (CEPOS), commissioned by the Institute for Energy Research, the road to increased wind power is less traveled for a reason. The study refutes the claim that Denmark generates 20 percent of its power from wind stating that its high intermittency not only leads to new challenges to balance the supply and demand of electricity, but also provides less electricity consumption than assumed. The new study says, “wind power has recently (2006) met as little as 5% of Denmark’s annual electricity consumption with an average over the last five years of 9.7%.” Furthermore, the wind energy Denmark exports to its northern neighbors, Sweden and Norway, does little to reduce carbon dioxide emissions because the energy it replaces is carbon neutral.

The study goes on to say that the only reason wind power exists in Denmark is “through substantial subsidies supporting the wind turbine owners. Exactly how the subsidies have been shared between land, wind turbine owners, labor, capital and its shareholders is opaque, but it is fair to assess that no Danish wind industry to speak of would exist if it had to compete on market terms.”

But there’s a cost involved. When government spends more money, it necessarily diverts labor, capital and materials from the private sector. Just like promises are made in the United States about green jobs creation, the heavily subsidized Danish program created 28,400 jobs. But “this does not, however, constitute the net employment effect of the wind mill subsidy. In the long run, creating additional employment in one sector through subsidies will detract labor from other sectors, resulting in no increase in net employment but only in a shift from the non-subsidized sectors to the subsidized sector.”

And because these resources are being diverted away from more productive uses (in terms of value added, the energy technology underperforms compared to industrial average), “Danish GDP is approximately $270 million lower than it would have been if the wind sector work force was employed elsewhere.”

Why do people keep voting in leaders who don’t know what they are doing? Why are people surprised when emotional craziness and moral preening doesn’t work out financially?

Previously, I blogged about how Obama was causing our electricity prices to skyrocket by effectively banning coal power. Not to mention blocking the Keystone XL pipeline. Keep that in mind when you are lighting your house with 5 Watt light bulbs. This doesn’t happen by accident – you need politicians to wage war on the free market system in order for this to happen. And that’s what we’ve been voting for in the last two elections.

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Wind power turbine kills white-throated needletail

White-throated Needletail

White-throated Needletail

My friend Barbara G. sent me this UK Telegraph story about rare birds, because she knows that I love birds.

Excerpt:

Around 40 people were watching the White-throated Needletail, the world’s fastest flying bird, on the Isles of Harris when the tragedy happened.

Sightings of the bird have only been recorded eight times in the UK in nearly 170 years, most recently in 1991, prompting around 80 ornithologists to visit the island in the hope of catching a glimpse.

John Marchant, a project coordinator for the British Trust for Ornithology, visited the island on a specially-arranged trip with a group of other birdwatchers and witnessed the death.

The 62-year-old bird enthusiast said he travelled from Norfolk when he heard about the arrival of the bird, which had brown, blue and black bird plumage.

“We were absolutely over the moon and thrilled to see the bird. We watched it for nearly two hours. While we were watching it suddenly it was a bit close to the turbine and then the blades hit it,” he said.

[...]During the 1991 sighting, a single bird was spotted four times in Kent, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and finally Shetland.

The White-throated Needletail, also known as the Needle-tailed Swift or Spine-tailed Swift, is known to fly up at speeds of up to 69mph, although there are unconfirmed reports of them reaching 105mph.

The birds have very short legs, which they use only for clinging to vertical surfaces, and they build their nests in rock crevices in cliffs or hollow trees. They spend most of their lives in the air, living on the insects they catch in their beaks.

They breed in rocky hills in central Asia and southern Siberia but migrate south to the Indian Subcontinent, southeast Asia and Australia.

The SNP administration at Holyrood is pressing ahead with a rapid expansion in the number of wind farms after setting a target to generate the equivalent of all Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The SNP is the socialist Scottish National Party. They are basically secular communists, so they love subsidizing green energy – and killing rare birds.

Here’s a related story closer to home, from Fox News. (H/T Melissa)

Excerpt:

The Obama administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind farm for killing eagles and other protected bird species, shielding the industry from liability and helping keep the scope of the deaths secret, an Associated Press investigation has found.

More than 573,000 birds are killed by the country’s wind farms each year, including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles, according to an estimate published in March in the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin.

Each death is federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines. No wind energy company has been prosecuted, even those that repeatedly flout the law.

[...]Documents and emails obtained by The Associated Press offer glimpses of the problem: 14 deaths at seven facilities in California, five each in New Mexico and Oregon, one in Washington state and another in Nevada, where an eagle was found with a hole in its neck, exposing the bone.

One of the deadliest places in the country for golden eagles is Wyoming, where federal officials said wind farms had killed more than four dozen golden eagles since 2009, predominantly in the southeastern part of the state. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the figures. Getting precise figures is impossible because many companies aren’t required to disclose how many birds they kill. And when they do, experts say, the data can be unreliable.

When companies voluntarily report deaths, the Obama administration in many cases refuses to make the information public, saying it belongs to the energy companies or that revealing it would expose trade secrets or implicate ongoing enforcement investigations.

Nearly all the birds being killed are protected under federal environmental laws, which prosecutors have used to generate tens of millions of dollars in fines and settlements from businesses, including oil and gas companies, over the past five years.

“What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK,” said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent based in Cody, Wyo.

Most other people like dogs and cats, but I like birds. I am concerned about birds of prey who are endangered species. I believe in conservation. To me, what this story says is that Obama doesn’t really care about the environment. The federal government does have some legitimate functions, like protecting us from threats, maintaining roads and protecting endangered species. But they don’t have to be subsidizing wind power, especially when it causes pain and suffering to innocent birds.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama administration won’t prosecute wind farms for killing thousands of endangered birds

From Fox News. (H/T Melissa)

Excerpt:

The Obama administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind farm for killing eagles and other protected bird species, shielding the industry from liability and helping keep the scope of the deaths secret, an Associated Press investigation has found.

More than 573,000 birds are killed by the country’s wind farms each year, including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles, according to an estimate published in March in the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin.

Each death is federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines. No wind energy company has been prosecuted, even those that repeatedly flout the law.

[...]Documents and emails obtained by The Associated Press offer glimpses of the problem: 14 deaths at seven facilities in California, five each in New Mexico and Oregon, one in Washington state and another in Nevada, where an eagle was found with a hole in its neck, exposing the bone.

One of the deadliest places in the country for golden eagles is Wyoming, where federal officials said wind farms had killed more than four dozen golden eagles since 2009, predominantly in the southeastern part of the state. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the figures. Getting precise figures is impossible because many companies aren’t required to disclose how many birds they kill. And when they do, experts say, the data can be unreliable.

When companies voluntarily report deaths, the Obama administration in many cases refuses to make the information public, saying it belongs to the energy companies or that revealing it would expose trade secrets or implicate ongoing enforcement investigations.

Nearly all the birds being killed are protected under federal environmental laws, which prosecutors have used to generate tens of millions of dollars in fines and settlements from businesses, including oil and gas companies, over the past five years.

“What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK,” said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent based in Cody, Wyo.

Most other people like dogs and cats, but I like birds. I am concerned about birds of prey who are endangered species. I believe in conservation. To me, what this story says is that Obama doesn’t really care about the environment. The federal government does have some legitimate functions, like protecting us from threats, maintaining roads and protecting endangered species. But they don’t have to be subsidizing wind power, especially when it causes pain and suffering to innocent birds.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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