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Study on turbine lifespan 'just more anti-wind propaganda'

Study on turbine lifespan 'just more anti-wind propaganda'

This article by Julian Scola is cross-posted from the European Wind Energy Association blog.

The anti-wind energy Renewable Energy Foundation yesterday published an “anonymously peer-reviewed” study by wind energy critic Professor Gordon Hughes (author of ‘The myth of green jobs’ and ‘Why wind energy is so expensive’) claiming that the economic life of wind turbines is 10-15 years rather than the 20-25 years stated by the wind industry.

Given that the author and publisher have a history of attacking wind energy and the fact that they do not say who peer-reviewed the study, perhaps one should not take the study too seriously. But that does not stop it being reported in the British media.

But at least some papers showed some scepticism. The Financial Times reported that the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change rejected Prof Hughes’ findings. “Our expectations of wind turbine lifetimes are based on rigorous analysis and evidence,” the department said. “Britain’s oldest commercial turbines at Delabole in Cornwall have only recently been replaced after 20 years of operation, and the technology has come on in leaps and bounds since that project started generating in 1991.”

The Financial Times also quotes Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, one of the UK’s oldest renewable energy companies, saying the study was “just more anti-wind propaganda."

“Today’s turbines have been designed and built to last 25 years,” he said. “In fact Ecotricity’s first turbine was built 16 years ago using old technology and is performing better than ever and will still be around for its 25th birthday.”

RenewableUK’s Director of Policy, Dr. Gordon Edge, also rejected the study, saying  “it’s absurd to focus purely on the past as this report does, and pretend that that’s the way things are going to be in the future.”

“If what REF is claiming were true, then the industry simply wouldn’t be able to raise money–the fact that investors have remained confident in the wind energy sector demonstrates their confidence in the technology.”

In Scotland The Herald quotes Jenny Hogan, director of policy for Scottish Renewables, saying, “Let’s also remember that Gordon Hughes’s previous research on wind energy has been described by the UK Energy Research Council’s Dr Robert Gross and others at Imperial College, London, as ‘economically irrational, a nonsense scenario’ and ‘economically absurd, spurious and misleading’.”

The Renewable Energy Foundation claims to be “a registered charity promoting sustainable development for the benefit of the public by means of energy conservation and the use of renewable energy” although [its] website is made up almost exclusively of criticism of wind energy.

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