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BEN SCALLAN: Dan Boyle’s wind energy delusion

“85% of electricity on the island of Ireland is being produced through wind generation right now.”

That’s what Green Party Councillor Dan Boyle said on Sunday morning, heralding the development as an apparent win for green energy. And what a victory indeed! Champagne, anyone?

The number in question came from WindPower.ie, which uses Eirgrid for its figures. And admittedly, Dan’s tweet sounds quite compelling at first glance.

“Gee whizz,” you might be inclined to say. “85% of our energy came from renewables yesterday? Maybe Eamon Ryan and the gang were right after all.”

But if you look just a tiny bit closer, you realise that this is not quite the triumph Boyle thinks it is for many reasons.

Firstly, we need to look at the time frame we’re talking about.

The figures from Eirgrid are updated on a live basis every 15 minutes, and they vary wildly from moment to moment.

For example, Boyle zeroes in on the fact that, at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday, for a brief 15 minute period, 85% of Ireland’s energy came from wind.

But he completely ignores the fact that at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, at the same time just one day prior, just 7% of Ireland’s energy came from wind – 78% less:

Conveniently, that is left out of Dan’s equation entirely.

In fact, if you want to go back further, you’ll see moments on days like June 21st of this year where wind power produced literally 0% of Ireland’s energy – i.e. nothing.

This is actually quite notable, as Boyle recently indicated that in the next decade or so Ireland should move towards receiving 100% of its energy from renewable sources. And wind would obviously make up a large component of that.

So if God forbid a significant amount of Ireland’s energy came from wind, and we had a day like June 21st where wind produced close to nothing in terms of power, we could easily see mass blackouts across the country.

So in effect, all Boyle has done is proved what we’ve known all along – that wind power and renewables are extremely temperamental and that they change…well, like the wind.

The councillor went on to say that Sunday was “a good day for wind,” adding that “most days are.”

There are two main problems with this – chief among them being that it isn’t true.

As reported by Gas Networks Ireland in their Annual Gas Demand Statement 2021:

“Gas remained the primary source of electricity in 2021, with wind’s share of electricity generation falling from 35% in 2020 to 29% in 2021.”

Last year, only 29% of Ireland’s electricity came from wind, representing a drop of 6% from the year prior. If most days were “good days for wind,” this figure would be higher. And this also highlights the fundamental flaw in green energy.

Nobody has ever denied that wind can produce power – it obviously can. But it’s not good enough to just produce power occasionally, or even most of the time. It has to produce energy all the time to run a functioning society. We can’t have one season where everything runs smoothly, and another season where we’re all huddling in our homes using candles for half the week because the grid has collapsed.

The problem is not that wind doesn’t work – it’s that it only works sometimes. And that’s not acceptable for a modern civilisation.

I mean, Ireland received 85% of its power from wind once before this year – the only problem is, it was in early February.

So in other words, it was pretty decent once at the start of the year, decent in October, and in between it was mediocre or non-existent for 8 months.

Wind energy is like an employee who doesn’t show up to work half the time, and even when he’s in he spends most of his time dossing. But occasionally, once in a blue moon, he has a day when he’s on point and does some really good work.

Would you say that’s a good employee, because he’s competent a couple of times a year? Or would you fire him and toss his ass to the curb? Because that’s effectively what wind power is.

This is to say nothing of the fact that there is already a resource war taking place in Europe over the components which make wind turbines, meaning that the more we invest in these things the more expensive they’ll get. We’re already effectively in a bidding war with our EU neighbours.

The more we pursue this white whale of 100% renewable energy, the closer to get to the stone age. And the day our leaders develop a bit of cop on regarding this issue will be a good day indeed.

 

 

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