by Miranda Devine, Herald Sun
Wind turbines have not produced tangible benefits but the Government wants green energy to generate a fifth of our power by 2020. The architecture show Grand Designs on ABC TV never laughs at the people it features embarking on ambitious home building projects. But it was hard to keep a straight face last month when it featured a well-meaning scientist who had built an eco-friendly house in the English countryside, complete with a massive $60,000 wind turbine that never worked.
“The turbine is completely motionless,” said host Kevin McCloud when he visited Dr Jonathan Belsey’s new house in Suffolk.
“It’s been up for 16 months now,” admitted Belsey. “But essentially it’s not generated anything to speak of in that time.
“It turned out the super-duper gearbox was sapping more power than it was saving,” he said.
“So that came out. But unfortunately, taking that big weight out from the top changed the resonance of the turbine itself so at the moment if it goes above a certain speed the whole thing starts vibrating,” he explained.
“Gawd,” said McCloud, which just about sums up the whole green con.
The hapless Belsey is a typical victim of the feel-good fakery of wind power.
A high-cost “clean energy” resource that promises so much and delivers so little, wind is a key plank of the Gillard Government’s carbon tax legislation, which began its passage through Parliament this week.
The Government has committed to produce 20 per cent of the country’s energy needs from “clean” green sources (mostly wind) by 2020.
The carbon tax companion bills for a $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the $3.2 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency to fund it are expected to be pushed through next year.
But even this largesse is not enough for the Greens, who are doing everything in their power to destroy the coal industry and move Australia to 100 per cent wind and solar energy.
“We are in the midst of (an) energy revolution. We want to get to 100 per cent renewable energy as fast as we can,” said Greens deputy leader Christine Milne.
Last week she warned the renewable energy sector at an Ecogen conference in Brisbane that there would be a backlash to its plan for domination.
“It’s no longer possible to be an advocate of renewable energy and be apolitical,” she said. “This is a rearguard action we are now fighting.”
The Greens’ tune is music to the ears of the sharks of Big Wind, drawn by billions of easy taxpayer dollars, as they prowl country lanes, paying off farmers to erect gigantic wind farms on their rural properties.
The idea of clean green wind power sounds good in theory, but the problem is that wind is intermittent. When it doesn’t blow there is no electricity, so you need fossil-fuelled power ready on standby to provide the base-load electricity at peak times or on still days.
The cost of building and running the turbines just doesn’t stack up.
But, of course, when you artificially skew the market with mandatory renewable energy targets and billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies, you get a wind boom.
Across the country, in some of Australia’s most picturesque places, with names like Collector, Boorowa, Rugby and Nimmitabel, in NSW; in Ararat, Mortlake, Beaufort, Moorabool and Ballarat, in Victoria; in Nilgen, Walkaway and Emu Downs, in WA, thousands of wind turbines 150m high have been springing up, with minimal consultation, and measurable health effects.
Families are being driven from their homes by the strobe-like sun shadows and infrasound throbbing of the turbines, which sufferers claim causes headaches, high blood pressure and nausea.
The Baillieu Government made good on a pre-election promise and last month announced strict new planning restriction laws to ban wind farms from parts of Victoria. It also has stopped development within two kilometres of houses and will give locals a say in where the turbines are located.
But across the border in NSW, the O’Farrell Government has backed away from a plan to impose a moratorium on wind farms.
There are currently 19 wind farms in NSW comprising 2539 turbines, mainly on the central and southern tablelands, which have been approved under the previous Labor government, and which are in limbo.
Company liquidator Tony Hodgson, who owns a farm in Collector, about 30km from Goulburn in southwest NSW, says he was at a meeting last December with Nationals MPs Katrina Hodgkinson and Duncan Gay where they both promised a moratorium and an inquiry into all aspects of wind farms. He says he watched Gay make a note in his diary to that effect.
Hodgkinson then submitted a 37-page draft policy to the Coalition’s shadow cabinet calling for a moratorium on wind farms, which was quietly rejected.
Hodgkinson says he hasn’t been able to meet with the Premier or his ministers. “They were all over us like a rash before the election and I supported them, and now they don’t want to know. But we’re not going away.”
THE 80 turbines planned for Collector, near Hodgson’s farm, will cost developer Transfield $563 million – a staggering sum that would be impossible without government subsidies, skewing the market.
The value of his property will be slashed by more than a million dollars, says Hodgson, and the health effects will probably drive him out.
“It’s wonderful feel-good touchy-feely policy,” says Hodgson, “but my wife has high blood pressure and tinnitus. She may not be able to visit the farm once these things are built.”
Farmer Sam McGuiness, 44, of Willowmere, east of Boorowa, and his neighbour, Charlie Arnott, 38, drove to Sydney yesterday for a meeting today with the NSW Department of Planning to address their grievances.
A total of 90 turbines are destined to encircle the McGuiness farm and Arnott will have 12 turbines as close as 1.3km to his house, where he is worried about the impact of the ever-present throbbing sound on the health of his one-year-old daughter Lilla.
The two farmers had hoped the new O’Farrell Government would save them from the turbines. But instead they are disillusioned.
“They’re going slow on just about everything,” said Arnott.
“If the Government allows more turbines to be built,” he says “they’ve done it deliberately with that knowledge they’re knowingly harming people. It’s an insidious thing to do to people while pretending to feel good.”
As for Dr Belsey’s 13m-high wind turbine in Suffolk, it has suffered the fate of all expensive white elephants. He put it up for sale on eBay this month.