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Alan Jones; wind power and climate change

A page of the Wind Power Ethics group*

Alan Jones denies climate science and is strongly opposed to wind power. This page will not go into any depth about Mr Jones' many statements, but will list enough errors to show an open-minded person that Mr Jones is not to be taken seriously on these subjects.

Alan Jones does not accept that the climate is changing and that the primary reason for that is due to human activity. The great majority of climate scientists take the opposite view. Alan Jones' refusal to accept climate science is one reason he sees no need for renewable energy.

Mr Jones ignores the fact that we need to stop using coal to generate our power. Apart from climate change, the World Health Organisation tells us that air pollution from burning coal is killing millions of people each year.

Written 2013/11/04, modified 2017/01/11
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com – ©
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I, David Clarke, the writer of these pages, do not receive any payment of any kind from the wind industry and am not a member of any political party

A link; other wind energy opposition groups and people who have little respect for the facts.

Leonard's Hill WF
Leonard's Hill Wind Farm, Hepburn, Victoria

Alan Jones and wind power

The points below came from a discussion between Alan Jones and Angus Taylor; November 1, 2013

Alan JonesThe facts
"Wind power is a hoax" In mid 2014 South Australia was geting more than 30% of its electricity from wind power.

The Chinese installed 13 000MW (about 5000 wind turbines) in the year 2012 giving them a total of 75 300MW of wind power (29 times as much as in all of Australia at the time). For the ten years to 2012 the Chinese economy has grown by about 9 per cent per year. If wind power is a hoax, as Alan Jones claims, how can the Chinese be blind to that 'fact' and yet be doing so well with their economy?

World-wide more and more nations are building more and more wind farms. Are the world's energy experts all wrong, or is it Alan Jones who is wrong?

Global wind power
Graph credit Geospatial Blogs

Alan JonesThe facts
Jones is quite wrong in claiming that wind power is causing 'devastation' in rural and regional Australia
 
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It is only when there is an active opposition group that a division in a community over a proposed wind farm develops. These opposition groups are a recent development and there was little, if any, division in communities where wind farms were built before around the year 2010.

For example, just in my part of Australia (Mid North SA, where there is the greatest concentration of wind power in the nation) Snowtown and Brown Hill Range wind farms were completed in 2008, and Clements Gap in 2009, all with no opposition and no social disruption. I could list many other wind farms elsewhere in Australia, built before 2010, where there was little or no opposition and little or no bad feeling between neighbours.

It is the opposition to wind power from people like Alan Jones and Sarah Laurie that causes social ill-feeling.

Alan JonesThe facts
Alan Jones says that foreign-owned wind farms are "subsidized by the taxpayer". This is false. Utility scale wind farms do not receive subsidies from the tax payer. What they do receive is a bonus to the price that they get for the electricity that they generate because it is emissions-free. This amounts to about 1¢ per kilowatt-hour and is passed on to consumers. Domestic electricity consumers pay around 25¢ per kWh.

This does not even mean that the price of electricity to consumers is being pushed up 1¢/kWh by wind power, the Chief Executive of the Energy Supply Association of Australia is on record as saying that renewables are suppressing the wholesale price of electricity.

On the other hand, mining and fossil fuels are heavily subsidised, but Jones seems to find this quite acceptable.

  • The Federal Government funding for the Hunter Valley Corridor Capacity rail upgrade, to move coal from mines to the coast, cost taxpayers $855 million. (See Beyond Zero Emissions, Is Coal Mining Harming Our Health?)
  • The Victorian government is to spend $4.2 million to strengthen the brown coal mines in Gippsland following flooding; 2013/05/08.
  • The South Australian government spent many millions of dollars building a power line from Port Augusta 240 kilometres to Roxby Downs for the Olympic Dam mine. No government anywhere in Australia has built a major power line for renewable energy.
Alan JonesThe facts
Wind power is no use because it is not available when the wind does not blow
 
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Of course wind power is intermittent, just as is solar power. This is not ideal. It would be wonderful if it was available all the time, but it is obvious that it is not.

In 2014 South Australia was geting more than 30% of its electricity from wind power but required no more 'back up' power than it had before the wind power was installed.

The fact that wind power is not dispatchable – that is, not available whenever we want it and as we want it – just means that we cannot get by on wind power alone. I do not know of anyone who claims otherwise (Jones gives the impression that some people do.)

We need other sources of electricity when the wind is not blowing.

Alan JonesThe facts
Jones claims, or implies, that wind turbines can damage people's health Both the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Medical Association have reported that there is no evidence that wind turbines cause illness.

Click on these links for the relevant facts...

Reasons why you should not believe that wind turbines cause illness;

There have been at least 19 scholarly reviews of the health literature, all of which found no reason to believe that wind turbines cause health problems.

In spite of this, wind power opponents claim that wind turbines cause over 200 diseases or symptoms.

The World Health Organisation has estimated that air pollution causes around seven million deaths each year. Burning coal is one of the main causes of air pollution. By displacing polluting coal-fired generation that causes millions of serious illnesses and deaths each year wind turbines save lives.

General and detailed information on wind power and health

Why support wind power






Alan Jones on Q&A

Alan Jones made a fool of himself on Australian national TV, ABC's Q&A 2015/07/20, by claiming that wind power was $1502 per kilowatt-hour (about 13,000 times the actual figure).

Alan Pears wrote a Fact Check for The Conversation three days later. Pears showed that the cost of wind power was actually a little more expensive than some coal technologies and cheaper than others, especially so when there was a price on CO2 emissions or with carbon capture and storage.

Jones said:

"80% of Australian energy comes from coal, coal-fired power, coal-fired power, and it's about $79 a kilowatt hour. Wind power is about $1502 a kilowatt hour. That is unaffordable. If you take that power and feed it into the grid, then every person watching this program has electricity bills going through the roof."
Pears showed that the actual cost of wind power was $111-$122 a megawatt-hour (MWh) and coal ranged from $84 to $205 depending on the type of technology and whether CO2 emissions were taken into consideration.

Mr Jones' use of 'kWh' rather than 'MWh' was probably a 'slip of the tongue' that many of us could easily make, but even allowing for this, his figure for the cost of wind power was still too high by a factor of about 13.

Recent (2015-16) contracts written by the ACT government have named wholesale prices from $77 to $92/MWh.

Giving a price for wind power 13,000 times as high as the actual figure Jones came as close as anyone I know of to another wind power opponent, Dr Roger Sexton who over-estimated the time it would take a wind farm to pay-back the carbon released from its construction by a factor of 60,000.






Climate change

 
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Jones claims that climate change is not hapening or is not due to Man's activities

What is the science telling us?

 
Climate articles
Graphic credit: James Lawrence Powell
New Matilda carried an expose of some of Alan Jones' statements on climate change.

The pie chart on the right shows graphically what climate scientists have been trying to tell us for years; that the science of climate change is settled.

There's about as much doubt about global warming as there is about whether the Earth is flat or round.

 
Is it caused by Man?
Graphic credit: The Berkeley Blog
While the first graph showed how the vast majority of climate scientists accept that the climate is warming, this one shows that the vast majority of climate and earth scientists accept that global warming is largely caused by Mankind.

Obviously the scientists in those specialties where they would be well placed to know about climate change are in no doubt. The fact that the popular media are suggesting that there is a lot of doubt on the matter explains much of the confusion in the general public. Respectable popular science journals, such as Scientific American and New Scientist, are not in any doubt that climate change is happening and is largely caused by human activity.

One must be cautious about quotes from 'scientists' about any subject outside of the field of the individual scientist. A scientist, like any other person, often has little expertise outside of his or her own specialty.

 
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Jones and ACMA
Jones and 2GB in breach of ACMA codes again

In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, 2013/10/23, Linda Morris discusses the Australian Communications and Media Authority's complaints about Jones expressing his opinion as if it was fact.





Alan Jones and Steven Cooper's report on Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm

Acoustician Steven Cooper produced a report on the impact of a wind farm at Cape Bridgewater, Victoria, on six self-selected subjects, in February 2015. Cooper wrote about 'sensations' perceived by the subjects. Of particular interest, it seems about half of the 'sensations' were reported when the wind turbines were not working.

For more in Cooper's report I refer readers to a piece written by Jacqui Hoepner and Will J Grant and published in The Conversation in response to the report on 2015/01/22. It was titled "Wind turbine studies: how to sort the good, the bad, and the ugly".

(I found Cooper's report unclear in what he was ascribing the 'sensations' to.)

Alan Jones on 2GB 2015/02/25

Jones introduced Steven Cooper's report as "research demonstrating a link between wind farms and adverse health".

He went on to say "It found many people living near wind turbines at a wind farm near Cape Bridgewater in Victoria are suffering health complaints caused by low-frequency noise generated by wind turbines". The report dealt with six people in three homes. There are many other people living near the wind farm who have not reported health complaints.

A few days earlier, on ABC's Media Watch, 2015/02/16, Steven Cooper himslef was quoted as saying "No, it's not correct... You can't say that noise affects health from this study".

 
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Links

Fact-check, The Conversation, 2015/07/23: does coal-fired power cost $79/kWh and wind power $1502/kWh (as claimed by Alan Jones). Even allowing for the fact that Mr Jones meant MWh rather than kWh, he was still hugely in error. The same document shows that Mr Jones was also wrong in claiming that renewable energy significantly increases electricity prices.


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