They are too expensive, their production is irregular, they concrete the environment, they kill birds … Are the criticisms leveled at wind turbines founded? To a large extent, no.
By the very nature of the resource, renewable energies are intermittent. The electricity network knows how to manage: in France, RTE has had software since 2009 to forecast wind production hour by hour, until the next day, and to balance everything. France also has three wind regimes ensuring constant production throughout the territory, notes the industry.
In a few years, the progress expected in storage (hydrogen, batteries, etc.), as well as the establishment of “super-networks” at European level, should meet the needs.
In the meantime, will the rise of renewables and the decline in nuclear power require the use of coal? Rather no. In 2020, coal-based electricity production reached an all-time low (-12.7% compared to 2019), according to the government. “If we had to occasionally call on coal-fired power stations this winter, it is because the nuclear fleet was less available (due to maintenance delayed by the Covid, Editor’s note), not because the wind turbines are intermittent”, according to Barbara Pompili.
The foundation of an onshore wind turbine requires 600 to 800 tonnes of concrete, indicates the industry, referring to “an inert material which does not pollute the soil”. Launched at full speed, wind power would absorb 0.7% of national concrete production. It also needs rare metals (in magnets for the rotors of offshore wind turbines, for example), as for all technologies founding the energy transition. According to the International Energy Agency, the world has no shortage of them, but will have to organize the market to avoid jolts in supply and price.
Regarding dismantling, steel, concrete, copper and aluminum are 100% recyclable, notes Ademe. It is more difficult for the blades, made of composite combining resin and glass or carbon fibers, and the subject of research (Suez and Veolia have announced solutions for example). For rare metals, research aims to reduce the quantity needed, and to recycle them.
In France, “recycling wind turbines is a regulatory obligation”, underlines Barbara Pompili: “90% of the mass must be dismantled, foundations included, then recycled or reused. It will be 95% at least in 2024”. She cites the dismantling this week in the Pyrénées-Orientales of the “eight oldest wind turbines in France”, which will be replaced by six more powerful, responsible for supplying 11,000 inhabitants instead of 6,000. A wind turbine should produce 30% of more electricity by 2030, according to Ademe.
Birds, especially migratory birds, raptors as well as high-flying bats are recognized as the most sensitive to the development of wind power: collisions with the blades, loss of habitat, behavioral disturbances, according to the League for the bird protection (LPO) and the National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS).
“Large-scale planning taking into account the challenges of biodiversity is the most effective measure to select sites and avoid impacts”, according to them.
On Thursday, the LPO deplored the death in the Netherlands of a bearded vulture, a protected species, and Allain Bougrain-Dubourg asked the French government, “driven by laudable ambitions in terms of ecological transition”, to exclude areas wind power development the classified Natura 2000 areas.
Producing 1 MWh in onshore wind costs around 60 euros (compared to 82 euros five years ago), taking into account all costs, from the purchase of wind turbines to dismantling, according to Ademe. This is around the market price of electricity in May, according to the public authorities. And “in 2035, renewables will be three to four times cheaper than new nuclear,” adds the Minister of Ecological Transition.
To achieve such competitiveness, we needed long-term financial support from the public authorities for renewable energies. Regarding the impact of the presence of wind turbines on the price of property located nearby, Ademe must produce a new study. The previous one, in 2010, had not shown any consequences.
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It is rare to read in Knowledge of Energies an article accumulating so many untruths. Just one example:
“France is endowed with three wind regimes ensuring constant production throughout the territory”.
Today, from midnight to 9 a.m., wind power has varied from 3,300 MW to 1,400 MW, a drop of more than 50%. What wouldn’t we say if nuclear power displayed such performance?
I dare not imagine a serious incident at a nuclear power plant.
The following days we would have a real problem of electricity production.
We would then be happy not to have 80% nuclear power yet.
It took 2 centuries to get people to admit that the Earth revolved around the Sun and not the other way around. Some still think the Earth is flat. So I wonder how many centuries it will take for energy enthusiasts to look at weather data in Europe and more and finally understand that wind variability is not a huge problem and that it corresponds to moderate additional needs. in energy (flexibility / storage) and in cost. There are a lot of detailed studies on the subject (including those biannually by Entsoe operators responsible for networks working in cooperation with Entsog, Euroheat etc) but at the “Café du Commerce” we drink and we never study any scientific study. nor modeling, we prefer to say conn … eries and repeat them over and over again !!!
It’s good to have produced a summary document for our beginners, it may make them less stupid! So I put the link here:
Related title :
– The Figaro letter of May 31, 2021
– Wind turbines: Stéphane Bern accuses Barbara Pompili d& # 39; ecocide
– L& # 39; wind power in France: criticism and responses from the sector
– Ecology: Stéphane Bern wind up against wind turbines