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Mr Taylor's first statement (on the right) also made it as lie of the month for December 2012


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Gross exaggeration
Chinese resort
Cherry picking
Subsidies? Cheaper ways of reducing carbon emissions?
Lost argument
Link to Stop These Things
Mr Taylor's background
Index

Angus Taylor: wrong on wind power

A page of the Wind Power Ethics group*

Mr Taylor has made the demonstrably ridiculous statement that wind power is "gobsmackingly inefficient" and "it is also clear that there are much cheaper ways to reduce carbon emissions". I went to his Facebook page and challenged him to justify the second statement. After a bit of to-and-fro, he realised he was losing the argument and deleted the conversation. Fortunately I had recorded it and have published it below.

The fact that more than 70% of electricity generation installation world-wide in 2017 was renewable, and 29% of that was wind power, shows that renewables in general and wind power in particular are viable and very competitive to the fossil fuelled power that Mr Taylor likes and supports.

 
The reputable Australia Institute provides the facts on Wind Enegy, Climate and Health
False and emotive statements such as Mr Taylor's lead to ill-informed and emotive opposition to wind power, which in turn, leads to social disruption when wind farms are proposed.

Mr Taylor's opposition to wind power seems to be related to a proposed wind farm near his home.

Written 2012/12/07, modified 2018/06/07 – ©
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com (David Clarke)
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I, Dave Clarke, the writer of these pages, do not receive any payment of any kind from the wind industry. I write these pages in an attempt to spread the truth about wind power in Australia.

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Foreword: "Gobsmackingly inefficient"

 
Wind generation overtakes nuclear in China
Nuclear and wind in China
Wind is overtaking nuclear, next one to go will be coal.
Graph credit Earth Policy Institute
 
Warren Buffett's $1B wind purchase
Bloomberg Businessweek reported 2013/12/17 that Warren Buffett's utility company MidAmerican Energy Holdings had ordered 1050 megawatts of Siemens AG (SIE) wind turbines for projects in Iowa; apparently the largest order to date for land based wind power.

Perhaps Mr Taylor should tell Mr Buffett that he's making a big mistake because of the "gobsmacking inefficiency" of wind turbines?

The Chinese installed 13 000MW (about 5000 wind turbines) in the year 2012. For the ten years to 2012 the Chinese economy has grown by about 9 per cent per year. This suggests that the Chinese know what they are doing, but perhaps if the Chinese had our Angus Taylor to tell them how "gobsmackingly inefficient" wind turbines were they would manage a growth rate of 15 per cent per year? Angus, do China Australia a favour; move to China.

Unlike Mr Taylor, the people in charge of the Chinese economy believe that wind power is very efficient.

Wind energy is recognised world-wide as being a highly viable form of renewable energy and it is growing exponentially. Mr Taylor is right in one thing; we should be looking at all the possible ways in which we might reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but perhaps Mr Taylor does not realise that most of the strategies he recommends are already being pursued. In his opposition to wind power he is out of touch with almost all those who want to reduce emissions.

PJM, the independent grid operator for all or parts of 13 US states produced a report that confirmed that wind energy is decreasing both the price of electricity and emissions of harmful pollutants. (See Into The Wind.) This totally contradicts Mr Taylor's stance on the 'inefficiency' and 'high cost' of wind power.

Mr Taylor's association with Alan Jones and the ignorant anti-wind power blog Stop These Things would be enough to make the more perceptive of the public sceptical of his utterances, but this is probably not the audience he is aiming at.






Gross exaggeration

 

Can Mr Taylor be called evil?

No doubt it partly depends on one's definition of evil, but the answer is probably no. I think Socrates once said "no-one does wrong knowingly"; meaning, I think, that whatever one does one feels justified in doing. The justification might not be accepted by others. For example, a thief probably justifies steeling by his belief that the system is unfairly weighted against him and he is simply getting his fair share. Similarly, those who oppose a nearby wind farm (and in doing so, oppose much needed action on climate change), probably believe they are justified by the 'need to protect themselves from the big industrial machine' or similar.

I find it very hard to agree with Angus Taylor's views because he seems to me to be heavily biased. He is standing in the way of the fight against climate change and is therefore condemning future generations to a much inferior planet. Is that evil? It might depend on whether he believes that what he says is true? What are his motives?

In a letter to the Editor of the Goulburn Times (published 2013/08/10) Mr Taylor wrote "The exorbitant costs of the RECs flows through to the cost of electricity, making it much higher for every electricity consumer in the nation."

A recent report from the Clean Energy Council gave a very different picture. From the CEC report:

  • The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal put the cost of the RET at "around 5 per cent of the average annual bill in NSW".
  • The Queensland Competition Authority put the cost of the RET at "approximately 3.5 per cent of the total bill".
  • The Australian Energy Market Commission "estimates that the RET is around 3 per cent of the current unit cost of electricity and that this will drop to 2.5 per cent in the coming years.
 
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Chinese to build resort around wind farm

While Angus Taylor is telling Australians that no-one wants to live anywher near a wind farm the Chinese are investing $185 million in a resort "based around the Musselroe Bay wind farm" in Tasmania. See ABC on-line news.

But then Mr Taylor seems to believe he knows far more about wind farms than the Chinese do, as can be read elsewhere on this page. The Chinese should know as much about wind power as anyone, in 2012 istalled wind power in China reached 75GW, at the same time Australia had 2.6GW.

 
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Mr Taylor picks some cherries

 
Median prices for Cape Bridgewater/Cape Nelson – commissioned 2008/09
Median prices
 
Median prices for Challicum Hills – commissioned 2003
Median prices
 
Median prices for Codrington – commissioned 2001
Median prices
 
Median prices for Toora – commissioned 2002
Median prices
 
Median prices for Waubra – commissioned 2009
Median prices
 
Median prices for Wonthaggi – commissioned 2005
Median prices
 
Median prices for Yambuk – commissioned 2007
Median prices
This example of Mr Taylor's activities in trying to discredit wind power shows how he is willing to quote any 'evidence' at all, no matter how dubious its value, if he believes it might be useful to him.

Cherry picking is the selection of evidence that suits ones preconceptions, while ignoring all the evidence that is contrary. Wind power opponents often use cherry picking.

The overwhelming bulk of the evidence on land prices and wind farms tells us that the presence of a wind farm has very little effect on land values. For example, the US Berkeley Laboratory analysed more than 50 000 home sales near 67 wind facilities in 27 counties across nine US states, yet was unable to uncover any impacts to nearby home property values. See Into The Wind, 2013/08/26.

The graphs on the right were created using data from propertyvalue.com.au by Victorian Greens MP Greg Barber (see here). Each is in an area where a wind farm has been built. The graphs clearly show that there are no long-term declines in land values associated with wind farms. I have produced similar graphs from South Australian property values (using realestate.com.au), but as they all show the same trend as Greg's graphs it seems superflous to display them here.

Peter Reardon's 'study' of land values

Mr Taylor chose to ignore this and many other major professional studies coming to similar conclusions and grasped a study by a lone real estate valuer that claimed to show big falls in land prices near wind farms. The study that Mr Taylor liked, because of its conclusions, concerned three properties; those that Mr Taylor did not like concerned tens of thousands of properties.

The Financial Review on 2013/10/14 published a piece on registered land valuer Peter Reardon who produced a report stating that land values can fall by 30% or even 60% due to nearby wind farms. Not surprisingly this report has been spread around by those who oppose wind power, including Mr Taylor. A critique of the study can be read on Renew Economy.

How many properties near wind farms were involved in Mr Reardons study? Three.

How were the properties chosen? We were not told.

What other factors might have been involved in the perceived values of the properties?

Mr Reardon tells us that one of them, 'Cullerin' (lots 21, 22, 24 and 25, Hume Highway and Lerida Road), has the Hume Highway passing through it. This is probably the busiest interstate highway in Australia, with trucks going through at all hours of the day and the night. Certainly any sound from the wind farm would not be a problem, no-one would hear the turbines because of the traffic noise. Mr Reardon writes about the properties in the area being attractive to 'tree changers' and people looking for a country 'retreat'. Who would want a hobby farm within a few hundred metres of the noisiest highway in the nation?

Since the original writing of this piece further information has come to me via a third party and apparently from the new owner of the 'Cullerin'. It seems that it is bisected by not only one (as Reardon stated) but two high voltage power lines; not only is the highway passing through, but there are also two truck parking bays (so there would be trucks starting and stopping, with all the noise associated, at any time of the day and night) and 30% of the block has water-logging and drainage problems. Is it at all surprising that this block had a low market price?

Mr Taylor used Reardon's study in an article published in the Goulburn Post on 2013/10/21 as sufficient evidence to claim that:

"The study shows potentially dramatic negative impacts on the value of property located near wind farms. In some cases, land has been identified as dropping up to a staggering 60 per cent in value."
 
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Well, not actually in 'some cases' Mr Taylor, Mr Reardon's study claims a 60% lower value in one case (Taylers Creek Road). One of the three cases showed no change in value.

More news 2013/10/28; It seems that Mr Reardon reported an incorrect selling price

The property at 243 Taylers Creek Road, Tarago, that Mr Reardon reported was sold for $250 000 is listed in Tarago Real Estate as having been sold for $295 000.

Another update; 2013/11/06

This came to me indirectly and I was told it was from the agent that sold one of the example properties, 243 Taylors Creek Road:
"I was the selling agent for the Taylors creek road property and can confirm the sale price of $295,000. I have seen Peters report before and upon reading it I phoned him to point out the mistake. He said that he would correct it, but I guess some original publications are being used?

The property in my opinion was overstocked and generally in a bad state of repair including fencing/weeds and, mains power connection would be expensive, due to distance. I had the property on the market for 4 months and of the 3 genuine inquiries, none were concerned about the close proximately of the turbines to the western boundary. All were concerned about the cost to improve the pasture, fencing and rubbish removal."

And what did Mr Taylor say about all the studies that show negligible negative impact on land prices? Nothing.

The graphs on the right were created using data from propertyvalue.com.au by Victorian Greens MP Greg Barber (see here). Each is in an area where a wind farm has been built. The graphs clearly show that there are no long-term declines in land values associated with wind farms.

 
House prices at Edithburgh
House prices at Edithburgh
Edithburgh is the closest South Australian town to a wind farm, Wattle Point, which was completed in 2005.
The graphs above were all from Victoria. This graph is of house prices in a South Australian town, uses values from realestate.com.au, and shows that prices there were not adversely affected either. No other sizable town in SA is within 3km of a wind farm.



Subsidies? Cheaper ways of reducing carbon emissions?

In the same Financial Review article Mr Taylor
"vowed to continue his campaign against 'the bad economics' of heavily subsidising wind energy developments, when there were 'far cheaper ways to reduce carbon emissions'"
Mr Taylor has made these statements before; they do not stand up to scrutiny.

Mr Taylor has listed 'changes in building practices', 'home solar water' and 'household energy efficiency' as some measures that are much cheaper options for reducing emissions than wind energy. It is quite true that these things should be pursued and they are being pursued, but they are not enough, and it is not easy for governments to make people or businesses save energy.

Mr Taylor is unable to specify any cheaper ways of reducing emissions that are both practical and are not already being pursued.


Are wind farms really subsidised? What about fossil fuels?

Utility scale wind power is not generally subsidised but the operators do receive a bonus on the electricity that they produce. This adds about 1¢ to the price that consumers pay for each kilowatt-hour of electricity (typically around 25¢).

On the other hand, the highly polluting fossil fuel industry is heavily subsidised and is a major cause of climate change and ocean acidification, but this does not seem to concern Mr Taylor.

 
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Mr Taylor loses and argument, cuts and runs

This section records an exchange between Mr Taylor and me that was held on his Facebook page in late 2012. When it became clear that Mr Taylor was losing the argument he deleted the Facebook record.

 

Other contributors

There were three other contributors to the discussion. I did not record what these people wrote at the time. I retrieved two contributions later, but at least one was lost and I was not sure where and in what order the two I had fitted in. For the sake of simplicity and brevity I have included only the statements from Mr Taylor and myself here. Apologies to the other contributors.

Cost of reducing emissions

Mr Taylor's figure of $60-100/tonne as the cost of reducing carbon emissions via wind turbines seems excessive. While it is difficult to be sure, it seems that the cost of wind-generated electricity is around $80/MWh; Wikipedia puts it at around $100/MWh. I believe that the cost of coal-fired electricity from an existing power station is around $40 (Wikipedia puts coal-fired electricity for a new power station at around $100/MWh). It seems from these figures that coal is only cheaper than wind if the old power stations are kept going, not if you have to build new ones.

Fugative emissions from coal-seam gas

Mr Taylor referred to 'non-conventional' gas; this is a 'weasel word' for coal-seam gas (CSG), which is methane. Methane is weight-for-weight over a hundred year period 20 times more efficient at trapping radiation than carbon dioxide. There is increasing concern that fugitive emissions from CSG operations could be a major problem.

McKinsey reports

Two of the other contributors (Richard Mackie and David Perry) pointed out that Mr Taylor referred to a report by McKinsey (see on the left, at the end of Mr Taylor's statement) that was five years old and that there was available a 2012 update aimed specifically at Australia. Far from supporting Mr Taylor's claim that "there are much cheaper ways to reduce carbon emissions" than wind power, this McKinsey report stated:
"Onshore wind is currently the most cost-effective of the renewable-energy technologies after hydroelectric power. Unlike hydroelectricity, which we assume cannot feasibly be expanded, onshore wind capacity in Australia has room to grow. Barring major technological breakthroughs in other areas, it is expected to remain relatively cost-competitive through to 2030, by which point we assume it has the potential to capture over 15 percent of energy production."

Clarke:
Mr Taylor, you said in the Goulburn Post some time ago "It is also clear that there are much cheaper ways [than wind turbines] to reduce carbon emissions". Could you please tell the world what those much cheaper ways are? We desperately need to know.

Taylor:
David, wind power is a very expensive way to reduce carbon emissions. Reducing carbon emissions via wind turbines costs around $60-100/ tonne. [Questionable, see the box on the right] The current Australian carbon tax is $23, and carbon credits in Europe are less than $10. The reason these prices are so much lower than the cost of abatement via wind, is there are many other cheaper options than wind (which is why wind needs a big subsidy over an above the carbon tax). These alternatives include changes in building practices, home solar water (in the right places), household energy efficiency measures, [*] and replacement of coal with CONVENTIONAL gas to reduce emissions (and even non-conventional from the right locations). Other promising technologies include geothermal and photovoltaic cells, but these are still quite expensive. If you are interested, you will find much more detail on the cheaper options to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in this very good piece of research: http://www.epa.gov/oar/caaac/coaltech/2007_05_mckinsey.pdf". [This is an old report, see the note in the box on the right.]

Taylor:
David, By the way, this is widely accepted amongst energy experts. It is not particularly controversial, but it is amazing how the facts don't matter when a debate gets emotive. Thanks for your interest! Angus

Clarke:
 
I was wrong here, China installed 18GW of wind power in 2011, and another 20GW in the first three quarters of 2012. China's total installed wind power at the end of 2011 was about 50GW, at the end of the third quarter of 2012 it was about 70GW; they were expected to add another 8GW in the last quarter of 2012. (See cleantechnica)
I see that the Chinese are on track to install 18GW of wind power this year, that's seven times all the wind power we have in Australia. They must think that wind is cost-effective. You would say that they are wrong? You are right that we should explore other options, but wind power has the greatest potential to replace fossil fuels, as shown by South Australia going from 0% to 26% wind power from 2003 to 2011 and its percentage of coal-power going from 42% down to 25% over the same period. You are right about the potential of solar PV (and solar thermal has a lot of untapped potential), but you should know that geothermal has been tried in Oz over the last ten years or so and has not been successful.

Taylor:
 
Mr Taylor liked statements such as "let's focus on the facts" and "no amount of spin will change that". Perhaps it was a part of his training as an aspiring politician.
Thank for your interest, but let's focus on the facts. Wind power is almost irrelevant in the Chinese grid - it is too expensive to play a real role. China CURRENTLY has around 1,000 GW of generation capacity growing at around 6-10% per year (60-80 GW per year) - 18 GW of wind turbines running at 30% utilisation (which is typical wind utilization) is irrelevant. China is using wind as a means of building an equipment supply business to the developed world - it is an insignificant as part of China's energy policy. The truth is that nearly all of the hew capacity is Coal, with some gas and nuclear. No amount of 'spin' will change these facts.

Clarke:
Angus; Irrelevant? Insignificant? Accepting your figure of 60-80GW additional electricity generating capacity in China each year, and 18GW of that being wind power, [it is easy to calculate that] from 22-30% of the power infrastructure they are installing is wind. No amount of spin will change this fact. Yes they are installing a lot of coal; it is cheap and dirty.

Taylor:
 
Actually, coal runs at around 85% availability, wind more than 95% availability, but about 34% capacity factor (in SE Australia), which is probably what Mr Taylor is referring to.

From greentechmedia: "According to the GTM Research-Azure International report, China's wind industry is on track for a cumulative 80 gigawatts by the end of 2012 and 150 gigawatts of installed capacity by the end of 2015." This is a targeted growth rate 23GW per year. Where did Mr Taylor get his figure of 8-9GW per year? (On the left) Let's focus on the facts Angus!

David, let's focus on facts, not rhetoric. Even if the Chinese managed to get all of those turbines up, remember that coal runs at near 100% utilisation, wind at around 30% (in a good spot!). So divide your numbers by more than three. Then recognise that to get that outcome, they have put in place large subsidies. Moreover, remember that China is targeting growth of about 8-9 GW per year between 2011 and 2015 - not 18 GW per year. I know the Chinese energy market well - wind is not playing any relevant role solving their major problems, because it is too expensive. BUT let's get back to the core issue - Stern, Guarnaut the IPCC and other leading climate change 'thought leaders, recognise that wind is an expensive way to reduce carbon emissions. Please read the article up above - it is clear, widely accepted and well researched.

Clarke:
As you said, let's focus on facts, not rhetoric.

Fact; You claim that wind power is "gobsmackingly inefficient" and "it is also clear that there are much cheaper ways to reduce carbon emissions". Yet China is building many, many wind turbines; apparently more wind power than any other form of renewable energy except, perhaps, hydro (if you can call Chinese hydo renewable, considering the environmental damage and displaced population). Are you implying that the Chinese are stupid?

Fact; coal fired power stations run at about 85% availability, not 100%; the remainder of the time they are shut down for routine maintenance or for breakdowns. (Wind in SE Australia, by the way, has an average capacity factor of 34%, not 30%.)

Fact; burning coal causes a huge health burden. A paper published in the prestigious health journal, The Lancet; "Electricity generation and health", by Anil Markandya and Paul Wilkinson (Sep 15-Sep 21, 2007; 370, 9591; Research Library pg. 979), regarding coal-fired power in Europe, stated that air pollution from coal fired power stations result in 24 deaths and 225 serious illnesses per Terawatt-hour of electricity generated. 1GW of coal-fired power station running at 85% capacity factor would generate about 7.4TWh of electricity in a year, from which, if it was in Europe, you could expect about 180 death and 1700 serious illnesses each year. You can probably imagine how much worse it would be with the laxer pollution standards in China. Yes, wind power is more expensive, but it doesn't kill people.

 
Burning fossil fuels also is causing ocean acidification.
Fact; Coal-fired power is one of the major causes of climate change and gas-fired power produces about half as much greenhouse CO2 as does coal.

Fact; Coal-seam-gas causes leakage of the highly active greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere and still produces CO2 when it is eventually burned.

Taylor:
David, I have an updated abatement curve with the same results in hard copy. I'm sure you'll find the soft copy if interested - it was central to the Copenhagen and subsequent debates. I'm sure you are well enough informed to know the core results have not changed for what is required to reach targets in the next few years. You will also find that Stern, Garnaut and others don't see abatement from $60-80 options in the short to medium term. Let's move on people, Angus"
At this point Angus Taylor deleted the conversation from his Facebook page!
 
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Mr Taylor is a fan of Stop These Things (STT)

The fact that Mr Taylor is a contributor to, and apparently an admirer of, the anonymously authored anti wind power site Stop These Things which specialises in name-calling, abuse and ad hominem (personal) attacks, and has no respect for the truth, probably tells us something about the man.

If the author of STT was to make his (the behaviour is difficult to attribute to a woman) identity public he would be sued for a number of libellous statements that he has made.

It is often said, with considerable justification, that we are judged by the company we keep.






Mr Taylor's background

The Weekly Times Now, 2012/09/05, published the following: "Taylor is a director at Port Jackson Partners, a consulting firm that has worked for big agricultural companies and the Minerals Council of Australia on issues such as coal-seam gas, carbon and foreign investment."

It has been reported that the following was on the Crookwell Conversation Facebook page, although I have been unable to confirm it:

"Mr Taylor has a personal interest in wind power as the wind industry were once circling the Taylor family property at Nimmitabel. The family refused an invitation to host wind turbines."
There are few people so opposed to wind turbines as those who have missed out on hosting them and then see their neighbours doing very well financially. It is envy.

Mr Taylor should be careful to declare his interests when discussing things like fossil fuels versus renewable energy.






Index

Cherry picking
Chinese resort
Foreword
Gross exaggeration
Lost argument
Mr Taylor's background
Peter Reardon's 'study'
Link to Stop These Things
Subsidies? Cheaper ways of reducing carbon emissions?


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