Matt Ridley

Say no to wind farms: Shale of the century

The arguments for wind farms just became obsolete. We’re entering an era when gas will be cheap, plentiful – and green

The arguments for wind farms just became obsolete. We’re entering an era when gas will be cheap, plentiful – and green

Which would you rather have in the view from your house? A thing about the size of a domestic garage, or eight towers twice the height of Nelson’s column with blades noisily thrumming the air? The energy they can produce over ten years is similar: eight wind turbines of 2.5 megawatts (working at about 25 per cent capacity) roughly equal the output of an average Pennsylvania shale gas well (converted to electricity at 50 per cent efficiency) in its first ten years.

Difficult choice? Let’s make it easier. The gas well can be hidden in a hollow, behind a hedge. The eight wind turbines must be on top of hills, because that is where the wind blows, visible for up to 40 miles. And they require the construction of new pylons marching to the towns; the gas well is connected by an underground pipe.

Unpersuaded? Wind turbines slice thousands of birds of prey in half every year, including white-tailed eagles in Norway, golden eagles in California, wedge-tailed eagles in Tasmania. There’s a video on YouTube of one winging a griffon vulture in Crete. According to a study in Pennsylvania, a wind farm with eight turbines would kill about 200 bats a year. The pressure wave from the passing blade just implodes the little creatures’ lungs. You and I can go to jail for harming bats or eagles; wind companies are immune.

Still can’t make up your mind? The wind farm requires eight tonnes of an element called neodymium, which is produced only in Inner Mongolia, by boiling ores in acid leaving lakes of radioactive tailings so toxic that no creature goes near them.

Not convinced? The gas well requires no subsidy — in fact it pays a hefty tax to the government — whereas the wind turbines each cost you a substantial add-on to your electricity bill, part of which goes to the rich landowner whose land they stand on.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.

Or

Unlock more articles

REGISTER

Written by
Matt Ridley
Matt Ridley is the author of How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom (2020), and co-author of Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19 (2021)

Topics in this article

Comments

Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in