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Wind farms, says the Duke of Edinburgh, are ‘absolutely useless and a disgrace’: thank heavens for the Duke, I say

All these windmills are a product of irrational global warming panic

By on Monday, 21 November 2011

Wind farms are not helping Britain's economy (Maurice McDonald/PA Wire)

Wind farms are not helping Britain's economy (Maurice McDonald/PA Wire)

Here, to begin with, is a story which made me first chuckle, and then say (as I so often have before) thank heavens for the Duke of Edinburgh; for he has never in his life refrained, out of misguided notions of tact and constitutional propriety, from attacking the current conventional wisdom, whatever it may be. I suppose, being who he is, he ought in theory never to have a go at government policy. But aren’t you glad when he does, even if you disagree with him? I present yesterday’s Telegraph splash, by Jonathan Wynne-Jones, with its deeply inspiring headline:

Prince Philip: Wind Farms Are ‘Absolutely Useless And A Disgrace’

The Duke of Edinburgh has made a fierce attack on wind farms, describing them as “absolutely useless, completely reliant on subsidies and an absolute disgrace”. The Duke’s views are politically charged, as they put him at odds with the Government’s policy.

In a withering assault on the onshore wind turbine industry, the Duke said the farms were “a disgrace”.

He also criticised the industry’s reliance on subsidies from electricity customers, claimed wind farms would “never work” and accused people who support them of believing in a “fairy tale”.

The Duke’s comments will be seized upon by the burgeoning lobby who say wind farms are ruining the countryside and forcing up energy bills.

Criticism of their effect on the environment has mounted, with The Sunday Telegraph disclosing today that turbines are being switched off during strong winds following complaints about their noise…

The country has 3,421 turbines – 2,941 of them onshore – with another 4,500 expected to be built under plans for wind power to play a more important role in providing Britain’s energy.

Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, last month called opponents of the plans “curmudgeons and fault-finders” and described turbines as “elegant” and “beautiful”.

The Duke’s attack on the turbines… came in a conversation with the managing director of a leading wind farm company… [who] said his attempts to argue that onshore wind farms were one of the most cost-effective forms of renewable energy received a fierce response from the Duke.

“He said, ‘You don’t believe in fairy tales do you?’” said Mr Wilmar…

It emerged last year that electricity customers are paying an average of £90 a year to subsidise wind farms and other forms of renewable energy as part of a government scheme to meet carbon-reduction targets.

The fact is that the so-called renewable energy to which we are being increasingly committed by the fanatical Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (pah!) Chris Huhne – who never misses an opportunity to stoke up global warming hysteria (even though the globe isn’t even currently warming) – is massively expensive, and therefore an albatross weighing down our national economy (which you may have noticed is already having a tough time). That means that wind farms are a direct threat to economic growth, and therefore one cause of our growing unemployment and other social ills.

Lord Marland, a junior minister in Huhne’s Department, told the House of Lords last month that “green energy” (mostly wind farms) is currently costing £7.1 billion. According to the Renewable Energy Foundation, that figure will have risen to some £40 billion by 2020 – that’s between £6 billion and £8 billion a year. And quite simply all the wind farms in the country don’t produce any more than a single gas-fired power station: they can never remotely be any kind of solution to our energy needs, or even any more than a totally insignificant part of a solution: and yet, Huhne ploughs ahead, uncontrollably spending money on these hideous things (which he apparently thinks beautiful) like a drunken sailor, swelling our already bloated electricity bills (though we’ve seen nothing yet, it seems). A “disgrace” is absolutely what it is.

But what about anthropogenic global warming, you may say. Surely we’ve got to do something drastic about that? Well, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s propagandist for global warming, and thus far its official panic monger, will soon, its seems, be publishing a new report which will give a different and presumably reluctant conclusion (it has in the nature of its remit in the end to reflect the emerging evidence, even though so far it has shamelessly distorted it): that, over the next few decades, “climate change signals are expected to be relatively small compared to natural climate variability”.

Natural climate variability: now there’s a very big and so far surprisingly little considered factor in all this. What does it include? Well, little things like the activity of the sun (source of all warming, after all) and equally important considerations like the water vapour rising from the sea (infinitely the most important greenhouse gas, accounting for about 95% of the “greenhouse effect”, as compared with 0.28 for anthropogenic CO2 and other gases produced by human activity).

So, all these windmills, apart from being expensive and environmentally disastrous and ineffective, are also wholly unnecessary. So, as I say, thank Heaven for the Duke. It’s one thing to say “the emperor has no clothes”: it’s entirely another to be absolutely certain to make the front page of the newspapers when you say it.

  • mikeg

    Its not just about global warming but also about sustainable energy. There is uncertainty over the price of fossil fuels and these supplies are not limitless.

  • Mikethelionheart

    “absolutely useless, completely reliant on subsidies and an absolute disgrace”.

    Is that wind-farms or the Royal Family?

  • Charles Martel

    I occasionally disagree with you, Dr. Oddie, but this article is superb. Thankyou!

  • Confusedof Chi

    The wind farms of course!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I usually disagree with Dr Oddie, but on this occasion he is totally correct.

  • Anonymous

    What’s wrong with renewable energy sources?
    We’re an island – quite a windy one – and why can’t we achieve a considerable percentage of our energy from off-shore wind & wave-generators? If it’s costly – well next time the US tells us to go and kill some arabs for them  we tell them ‘only if you pay us – or get lost’ – then we could afford it.   

    Just as I’m angry with eco-maniacs telling us that unless we kill most of the world’s livestock and live on mung beans and sterilise most of the developing world and systemically abort for mother gaia; that we’ve not to leave a light on or flush the toilet…

    …I’m mad at virulent anti-AGM-ers like Delingpole who tell us [and where's their evidence?] that there’s absolutely nothing wrong and we can keep polluting and raping the world’s resources at whim – if you screw with Mother Nature there are consequences – and even if these phenomena like melting icecaps and ozone layer depletions are natural global events – it still means we have to deal with them irrespective of the cause.

    PLUS – we have a Middle-East which is in perpetual turmoil ; irrespective of Arab springs et al – I don’t want to live in a nation which has to solely rely on energy supplies from the Middle East or former soviet states run by oligarchs. I’d prefer a country which could actually take care of itself- even if just a little bit…so we wouldn’t have a national meltdown in an energy crisis.

    We ruined the mines for ludicrous political/ideological reasons so we now are stuck in the farcical solution of having centuries of coal we can’t touch but oil is so expensive we’re trying to extract energy from the flooded mines’ coal water!!!

    …and as for Prince Phillip?
    I pity him – for he’s either incredibly stupid or he’s diabolically evil.
    For need I remind everyone what he said in regard to his fellow human being:

    “In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus,
    in order to contribute something to solve overpopulation.”
    Prince Philip, in his Foreward to If I Were an Animal; United Kingdom, Robin Clark Ltd., 1986.

  • Colmar4

    Wind turbines are promoted on a claimed capacity in  Mw, but this assumes running at optimum speed for 24 hours a day every day. To achieve this output needs constant winds of 30-55mph.
    In real life these windspeeds are rare and not constant thus bringing turbine output down to 30-40% of claimed capacity. Below wind speeds of 30mph the performance of a wind turbine collapses dramatically to some 12% of claimed capacity.
    In fact as I write this there is no wind at all and turbine output would be zero !
    Turbines are being promoted by energy companies who are pressurising rural communities to be allowed to install wind farms with little regard for aesthetics in the landscape, based on spurious output figures which in real life are a fraction of the output claimed.
    Wind turbines are not the answer to our energy needs and are only being promoted because of the artificial situation with feed in subsidies which is not sustainable.

  • Brian A. Cook

    What, praytell, is wrong with supporting efforts to help the environment?  If not wind farms, then why not solar farms?  What is wrong with sustainable energy?  What is wrong asking tough questions about oil companies? 

  • Acleron

    Oh the IPCC are going to be reluctant to publish the facts? No Dr Oddie, scientists are mostly reluctant to publish lies. I know this must be a mystery to you, but it is the facts that drive the conclusions, not as in your piece above, your beliefs, driving the facts. Try actually learning something about climate, painful perhaps, but it may enable you to write about something with authority and not just wishful and rather washy thinking.

  • Anonymous

    why aren’t we building more off-shore?

  • Davidfsavage

     It is very simple.50 windmills give the same energy as a nuclear power station. (when wind is down coal and gas can take the strain).  Sorry I don’t think it is worth the risk of a nuclear accident. Wind power gets less subsidy than nuclear, again its simple logic.  Just what logic allows people to judge that nuclear is better.  Please use rationality. Are you locked into a mindset?  When God created us to be stewards of his creation did he want us to take risks with the kind of catastrophes that nuclear causes.  

  • Cassandra

    Or good person but a misguided one who had enough personal tragedy in his childhood and youth.
    But does not moan about like some! Pretends to be more tough than he is!

  • Anonymous

    Hear, hear ! (to the D of E, and also to the article).

  • Anonymous

    Because they are eye-sores. Simples.

  • Joan

    It is interesting that W Oddie is so keen on the Duke of Edinburgh who said he’d like to return to earth as a deadly virus to wipe out the population (he’s fallen for the overpopulation lie).

  • Anonymous

    I am truly not trying to be contrary, but as a design student and a keen hiker I have always found them beautifully simple and beautiful objects.

    I have been fascinated by them from a young age when my parents would point them out to me in the car, and I would gape in wonder!

    I often get good snaps of them with my SLR, on my daily commute. I understand the reasons that people object to them – but I can’t understand how people can see them as ugly.

  • Anonymous

    For any assessment of renewable energy in the UK you should consult Prof. MacKay’s brilliant and authoritative book: “Sustainable Energy: Without the Hot Air” 

    His conclusion, simply put, is for a combination of approaches, including wind power as a greater or lesser component depending on which of his various plans you favour – see

  • Oconnordamien

    I thought we should embrace traditional values..and what is more traditional than using natural local resources!
    W.O. even refers to windmills, showing perhaps that he doesn’t like wind-turbines but is fine with picture-esque towers with sails. Maybe we just need knight’s to charge at them.

  • Davidfsavage

    actually its 250 windmills = nuclear power station but I think they still out trump nuclear power 

  • Davidfsavage

    nuclear reactors  also have down time and only work 60% of the time.. they never work at full capacity so they arent much different to wind power in this area. 

  • John Sturman

    The Global Warming caused by the richer nations insatiable thirst for energy, if not dealt with, will kill millions of people in the poorest parts of the world through drought and floods. It is highly irresponsible, extremely selfish and un-Christian to take no action. Man made CO2 in the atmosphere is now at its highest level for many thousands of years. Yes, natural variability causes natural CO2 increases from sources such as volcanos, but those historic high levels are not continuous and drop back. We have created very high CO2 levels in the atmosphere that are still rising. We don’t yet know the full consequences of this, just that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and WILL warm the Earth – CO2 is why the surface of Venus is so hot – 460 degrees and its oceans have evaporated.

    To try and argue anthropogenic global warming is not occurring is to fly in the face of the vast majority of climate scientists worldwide and the vast amount of irrefutable evidence now available and climate models created and run independently. Man made global warming deniers, more often than not, are so for selfish reasons.

    Onshore wind, as Policy Exchange recognises, is the cheapest form of low-carbon generation currently available, and its inclusion into our generation mix will displace gas generation while the wind is blowing, lowering overall demand and thus lowering gas prices – as well as emissions. Without it, we will be locked into higher gas demand up until the 2020s. The economics of nuclear and CCS technologies are not tested – no nuclear plant has been built in Britain in over 15 years, and CCS does not exist at a commercial scale anywhere in the world.In contrast, the economics of wind, both offshore and onshore, are well known.
    Moreover, nuclear power and CCS are certainly not market-based solutions.With the prospect of over 70,000 jobs in theoffshore wind industry, if the UK chooses not to move into the lead in this area, this would be a lost opportunity.Our previous “dash for gas” set up under a previous (Conservative) Government that destroyed our coal industry, has led to the very high increases in household bills we’ve observed over the past few years, as demand for gas has soared and wholesale prices have shot up.

    Nuclear is not a ‘Green’ option. The mining and processing of uranium ore releases vast amounts of CO2 and uranium is a finite resource. In addition, going on past experience, decommissioning of nuclear power plants not only costs billions and takes hundreds of years, also releases vast amounts of CO2. It is also NOT a solution for our energy supply as it is slow reactive power generation and is only good for base load generation i.e. we will still need another source of electricity to meet our peak demands.Integrating wind power into our current grid is possible with around a 30% penetration for our electricity supply because backup gas and pumped storage ALREADY EXIST. This is needed for the times when a nuclear power station shuts down for an emergency (which is a worryingly common occurrence). When this happens we INSTANTLY lose around 1GW of generation from the grid. This does not happen with wind generation. (I am not arguing the morals of leaving the toxic nuclear waste legacy for future generations to deal with).

    When the wind is blowing we are not burning expensive gas.The solution, which is now in planning phase, is to build numerous interconnector cables to other European countries such as Norway and Germany. This will allow us to export our wind generated electricity when the wind is blowing strongly and we are over producing. In addition we can import electricity – such as Norway’s surplus hydro power, during the rare occasions when the wind is not blowing. 

    Great Britain can become a net exporter of electricity – a great opportunity to improve our Balance of Payments deficit AND greatly reduce our reliance on foreign imports of fuel.
    Building new (French) nuclear plants is a flawed solution and not in the best interests of the country or the world.

  • Anonymous

    Once upon a time there was an old and rather stupid prince who all his life had made insulting and arrogant remarks which had always been rejected by all except the house newspaper and some rather stupid clerks. But the prince could say anything he liked even occasionally really evil things because everyone knew it was just stupidity.  Neither the prince nor his foolish followers were ever taken seriously.

  • Brian A. Cook
  • Anonymous

    Please do your mathematics ypu are out buy about a factor of 10 i.e abot 500 wouod equal the output say 0f Wylfa Power station. 

  • Ribestafg

    Tidal power is the most untapped source of energy and is centimeter predicatble. We should embrace all forms of clean energy – even if it is expensive – even if man didnt warm the planet – hadnt we better start looking after it a bit better? Fossil fules WILL run out – we should start thinking about that sooner rather than later…