Home Wind Turbines Are A Worthless, Dangerous, Wasteful Vanity

We're entering a phase where anything expert "greens" say can and will be used to argue against renewable energy. Or at least put in a lousy context by the media. Here's an anecdote that illustrates the process, brought to us via tip. The Daily Mail reports under the headline Wind turbines 'may actually do more harm than good' that:- "Home wind turbines have become the must-have home improvement among people eager to help save the planet and flaunt their green credentials. Dubbed 'the ultimate green fashion statement', [turbines] are selling in the thousands, amid claims they can cut household electricity bills by 30 per cent". The story goes on to state that "...they barely produce enough electricity to power a hairdryer in many houses. They also do nothing to tackle greenhouses gases, while there are far better ways to cut down on energy bills". Wow. Green fashionistas are ruining the view from the street with useless equipment, then, eh? Worse than that, the story goes on to point out that 'in some cases chimneys may be toppled and structures made noisy or unstable as a result of wind turbines.'A water bed can fall through a floor of an old Victorian home. A badly installed TV antennae can destabilize a chimney. And, even a basketball backboard, improperly mounted on a garage roof, can cause objectionable noise, inside and out, and contribute to structural problems. While it may be a good thing to point out why professional roof-mounted turbine installation is recommended, the tone of this article makes it seem like a piling-on of negatives. Reminiscent of the tone of those who constantly remind us that fuel efficient cars 'can be unsafe.' Like "You're better off in an SUV, kiddo."

Our favorite passage in this story has to be: "As well as being noisy and unsightly, they barely produce enough electricity to power a hairdryer in many houses". Lets take these one at a time.

"Noisy." Compared to what? Lawnmowers? Street traffic? Airliners overhead? Give us some decibel numbers.

"Unsightly." That's a value judgement. Compared to what? The homes they are on? Yard ornaments? Their dogs?

"barely produce enough electricity to power a hairdryer." Yes: people are going to buy a wind turbine to blast a hair dryer all day long!

This writer just looked at the wattage on a newly purchased Revlon brand hairdryer: Rating was 1985W. That's roughly equivalent to twenty, 100-W incandescant bulbs...surely more than a whole residence-worth of what's actually lit at any one time... or to over one hundred forty (14W-rated, 60W incandescant equivalent) compact flourescent bulbs.

Picking a number out of the air for the sake of discussion, let's say the average home turbine, so pictured, runs at 20% of rated output, due to wind variability and whatever. That's still enough juice to power over twenty bright CFL bulbs. We wouldn't want that now, would we? Especially if the UK grid has been prounouced under-powered and getting worse, increasing the likelihood of future brownouts.

Some prospective benefits seem to have been overlooked in the story. Citizens could donate their Pounds Stirling to a climate lobby, or, better still, invest the same in a properly installed home turbine, to more immediate practical effect, while providing a transparent polling of concerns. A tally of a district's all-in-a-row turbines, as in the photo, would be a good way to for a local politician to figure out what the body politic really feels about climate change and energy security. Quite a savings on political consulting fees could result.

And then there's the prospective carbon credits issue to resolve. Do the savings go to the home owner or the utility?

Tags: Wind Power