The Real $ound of Wind Turbines in Iowa

September 2, 2014

Above, an ad from Siemens, a manufacturer of  wind turbines.

Below, a Nextgen campaign ad attacking Iowa Senate Candidate Joni Ernst on environmental and clean energy grounds. (see more details in story at top of page)


20 Responses to “The Real $ound of Wind Turbines in Iowa”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Peter is back and feeding us great stuff!

    The Siemens ad is terrific—great images and sound track—I watched it three times and smiled all through it each time. Someone should make a similar ad about the “real light” of the sun and PV’s.

    The anti-Ernst ad is an example of the kind of hard-hitting, take no prisoners stuff that we don’t see enough of. Right on, Nextgen!

    • andrewfez Says:

      Siemens is the German version of GE. Their stock however hasn’t been moving up the chart as well as GE’s or even the broader market’s. It’s actually relatively well valued because of such.

      However, their ‘turn around’ plan to push the stock up involves playing a big roll in unconventional oil and gas. Here’s a quick summary from SA:

      “SIEGY has identified Digitalization, Automation, Electrification and Unconventional Oil & Gas as its primary growth areas. The last one, “Unconventional” Oil and Gas impressed me, as it indicates SIEGY is willing to play (a large role) in the controversial US and Canadian oil and gas fields. To support growth in this segment, the company is acquiring for $1.3 billion (£785 million) Rolls-Royce’s Aero Derivative Gas Turbine business; closing is anticipated in late 2014.”

      I found that when trying to figure out how to make money off the European ‘smart grid’ of the future…

      • andrewfez Says:

        This is off topic but i also found some good primer info on the cost of geothermal on SA:

        Geothermal Power Producers – Lowest Levelized Cost, Base Load Compatible And A 100-Year History

        I also read that there is a bit of a radiation waste problem with GT:

        “Geothermal energy produces a substantial amount of radioactive waste. (see e.g. If generation is strongly expanded, I expect this will cause a significant radiation protection problem – not necessarily for the workers at the plant (although individual exposures can be quite high if not handled correctly, the dose rates can reach >10µSv/h close to the heat exchangers and internal exposure can be a problem if the workers have no protective gear when cleaning the pipes from scales) then for the disposal of that waste. The scales have high concentration in Radium (Ra-226+,228+), Thorium (Th-228+) and Pb-210++, you can’t pile this up indefinitely, and Radon emissions will also be a problem (Nr. 2 cause of lung cancer, after smoking). You can avoid the problem by having closed water circuits, but this significantly reduces the efficiency of these plants and is only suitable for smaller operations (e.g. heating for individual houses).”

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Ah yes—-“unconventional” gas and oil—-translates as “dirtier”. So Siemens is showing some hypocrisy and speaking out of both sides of its mouth? No surprise there, since they are a corporation and their only “ethics” are concerned with profit and “growth”. That doesn’t mean this is not a great ad as it stands.

        And Andrew? Do you not realize that you are personally helping to fuel the destruction of the planet by participating in the “capitalism and stock market and economic growth” games? You’ve talked often about making money in the stock market. The top 1% (and really the top 1/10 of 1%) are the ones making the money on stocks, not the 99%. Do you think you will make enough to insulate yourself when the SHTF? Just asking—-I’m not looking for an argument or trying to put you down in any way.

        • andrewfez Says:

          Hi oldguy,

          I think we had this conversation before, when we were talking about university divestment from fossil companies, but i’ll try to recall my points, as it’s something i’ve thought a little on:

          – Indeed the most overwhelming way I cause economic growth to happen is by consumption of gas, electricity, food, and clothing (and showing up at work and working). The most overwhelming way I push against it, is by not having any children.

          – owning shares in a company does not cause economic activity to occur, but only represents a consensus that it will continue to occur (in the near term). When one buys a share of a company, that money doesn’t go to the company; it goes to the guy that owned the share beforehand; it doesn’t give the company access to capital to invest in further growth (unless it’s an IPO, or share dilution). In order to further economic growth, the company must either borrow money from a bank, from a bond investor, or from its acute revenue. I’d say the greatest lubricant for investment driven growth comes from the fact a bank can leverage its reserves in large multiples (i.e. it can create money out of thin air to give to a company to convert to growth).

          – The growth of a company is not a function of number of shareholders. It doesn’t matter if there are only 10 billionaire shareholders, like the Kochs in Koch Industries, or 10,000,000 middle class shareholders, like me, in some publically traded company; this will not affect revenue, productivity, cost, demand, &c. So it doesn’t matter if I participate in revenue sharing or not. (It will still happen as long as I keep buying gas, electricity, food, and clothes, and as long as I keep working; but by investing, though, I get a little of my money back, instead of letting Warren Buffet have it all).

          – Until most people agree to reduce the human population down to 1 Billion or so, we all are stuck participating in catastrophic growth. My two options are 1) invest to retire and to pull enough money out of the system that i can lead a more sustainable life that’s less reliant on the system (homesteading, low-energy home and car, permaculture, etc.); or 2) don’t invest, which entails working until I die, which in itself causes economic growth (the working part; not the dying part). I imagine most retirees live off a pension (a vehicle for investing in the stock market on behalf of a group of people), a social program (which is reliant on growth for revenue), or now-days a 401k (again, a stock investment vehicle), and IRA. We’re all on the conveyer belt together.

          – The middle class majority divesting from all market vehicles won’t stop the engine of those vehicles: all it will do is concentrate wealth even greater in the billionaire class; basically we’d just be creating a few more 0.1%er’s.*

          *This idea breaks off into some interesting and horrific philosophy, and I’ll try to be brief as I’m in the middle of packing and preparing to go to Wyoming tomorrow for vacation (give me a week to respond to any replies, as I’ll be offline).

          The horrific philosophy goes something like this: If we give republicans everything they politically ask for – destroy all social programs – people living in 3rd world poverty – a resulting tiny middle class – etc., we could have something that looks like feudalism. And in that case, the average lifespan dips back down into the 30’s, and 40’s range; consumption goes way down; women have more children, but the majority die of disease before they reach adulthood, etc. Now we may end up chopping down all the forests for wood to burn for cheep fuel, and we may eat every rabbit, deer, trout, in those forests, etc., causing great ecological collapses across the world, if the transition were too volatile (or we may just end up killing each other for resources before we can do too much destruction). But on the other end of it all, the feudal system is a more sustainable system, as it allows for human population collapses. Oil depletion may exogenously cause such, but I’m just making this up as I go along right now, so feel free to poke holes in my ideas….

  2. There’s a massive error in the Siemens ad.  It’s possible (though neither likely, nor a good idea) for wind to generate 20% of America’s electricity by 2030; it is impossible that wind could provide 20% of America’s energy.

    Meanwhile, despite the loss of San Onofre and Kewaunee (mostly due to political rather than technical reasons—rigged processes and markets) nuclear generated 19.44% of US electricity in 2013 and more carbon-free energy than all renewables combined.  It could have been 78%, like France… but for the efforts of people who still claim they are “for the environment”.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Lighten up, E-Pot. If Heartland and Idso can tell us that CO2 is good for us, Siemens should be allowed a little slack when fighting for the good cause of CO2-free power. (Just as we gave some slack on another thread to a certain nuclear power proponent who touted the benefits of having all that wonderful cesium left over from nuclear power generation—my laugh of the day, that one).

      I didn’t comment on that thread and the related one on the demise of centralized power plants and what’s going on in Germany Denmark, Sweden, etc. I didn’t want to bore everyone yet again by suggesting that talking about renewables vs. nuclear in the West is a waste of time until we address COAL, CHINA, and INDIA.

      Now that I have brought out and beaten that dead horse yet again, I will again suggest that everyone google “projected CO2 emissions images” and look at the many dozens of graphics there. They are a lot more informative than the “hanging dotted line” of the one in the piece, particularly the ones I call the “stacked wedges” that showing the “market share” of various energy sources and energy usage by country. There is little good news there when it comes to reducing worldwide CO2 levels.

      • Siemens should be allowed a little slack when fighting for the good cause of CO2-free power.

        Two points there:
        1.  They could change one word and make it right.  They didn’t.  They put out a message which misleads people, and makes them vulnerable to attack.
        2.  Nothing that needs 60-70% backup from natural gas (or, in the case of Germany, coal) is “CO2-free”.

        we gave some slack on another thread to a certain nuclear power proponent who touted the benefits of having all that wonderful cesium left over from nuclear power generation—my laugh of the day, that one

        Do you doubt my sincerity?  Go ahead, call my bluff:  give me enough of the stuff to be useful (which happens to be quite a lot, actually), and I’ll take it.  I’ve got a sketch for the containment capsule and rough numbers for the shielding too.  The beauty of that is that by the time I and my descendants are done with it, at least half of the “problem” would have gone away by itself.

        talking about renewables vs. nuclear in the West is a waste of time until we address COAL, CHINA, and INDIA.

        Which depends on policy here, to an extent; India’s nuclear program was held back for decades by the US-led uranium embargo which followed New Delhi’s bomb test.  That has changed, but what’s past is past.

        The USA could influence China’s CO2 emissions by re-shoring the lost industry and driving to slash domestic fossil fuel consumption, but too many billionaires get their money from WTO-dependent trade for that to be likely.

        There is little good news there when it comes to reducing worldwide CO2 levels.

        Sad, but true.

  3. […] Above, an ad from Siemens, a manufacturer of wind turbines. Below, a Nextgen campaign ad attacking Iowa Senate Candidate Joni Ernst on environmental and clean energy grounds. (see more details in …  […]

  4. redskylite Says:

    Interesting to note that wind turbines provided more power to the UK national grid than coal plants on five separate days during August and also beat Nuclear on one day. It is certainly a major and growing energy source suited to countries like mine with strong prevailing trade winds. Germany produced over 30% of electricity from green sources during the first 7 months of this year and France has recently announced a plan to increase it’s renewable portfolio and reduce it’;s dependency on nuclear.

  5. Alec Sevins Says:

    The dollar $ign in this article title is ironic, considering the tax breaks for windoggle projects. But my main objection to them has always been aesthetic. Mr. Sinclair is so obsessed with carbon reduction that he’s forgotten that a major reason for environmentalism was always to protect nature from industrial blight. Wind turbines’ lack of carbon emissions (during use that is, not construction) is only one aspect of their presence, but Sinclair treats it as the only important one. That’s not environmentalism, it’s tunnel-vision.

    To ignore that the emperor’s new clothes are white and 400 feet tall with red flashing lights all night is a type of aesthetic blindness that defies understanding, especially when one claims to be “green.” Is “green” suddenly just about electricity generation? There are many layers to protecting nature and I can’t fathom that building towering, alien-looking obscene structures on rural landscapes is consistent with “protecting” the environment. Protecting it from photographers, maybe! When you really think about the fungal spread of wind turbines, dark humor is the only bright spot.

    The large and growing number of additional bird and bat deaths (via pressure related lung collapse) is ignored with glib comments about how existing infrastructure “also kills” flying creatures. Yeah, so what? Wind turbines sure aren’t reducing those deaths! Are we to pretend that wind turbines are invisible in the realm of cumulative man-made damage to nature? That would just be denial. I thought denial was bad.

    No matter how you spin wind power, it has enormous effects on rural landscapes and soundscapes. Automatically branding its opponents as right wing climate deniers is a closed-minded as climate denial itself.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      There is no “none of the above’ option for providing energy.
      You make it clear that you prefer




      which speaks volumes about you.

      • Alec Sevins Says:

        I do not “prefer” any of those scenes and wind turbines are ADDING blight, not magically cancelling it out. We can’t tear up the Appalachians with coal mines, then tear up mountain ridges in Vermont and claim that the mines are nullified. You show a stripped mountaintop but wind turbines are doing the exact same thing in a more scattered way (made more insidious with a green label). Blight is cumulative and wind turbine acreage isn’t reclaimable unless they’re torn down, which defeats their purpose They just sit there for decades with a vertical footprint that’s only rivaled by offshore drilling. That particular oil patch scene is much lower on the horizon, and again, it already exists and the damage is done. Wind turbines are blighting new areas that never expected it. They’re a lot like fracking blight, except much taller and more permanent. Just because they don’t threaten groundwater or the climate doesn’t mean they threaten nothing. It’s about the total quality of life, not just electric power.

        You’ve done a good job debunking climate deniers but your hard line on this obscenely large form of power has stuck you in a see-no-evil box. I hope you’ll at least respect America’s remaining mountain ridges. Wind turbines on flat farmland are more of an industrial mix, but still not ideal. There’s no reason to pigeonhole wind turbine opponents as part of a right-wing cabal. People like me just see a great tragedy in lost landscapes. Ocean horizons are also under attack. People deserve to gaze on the closest earthbound feature to infinity without seeing rows of machines (e.g. Santa Barbara’s oil rigs with a green spin). They’ve blocked several large offshore wind projects in the UK and Cape Wind may never go through.

        We should be using as little oil as possible and invading as little new acreage as possible with more industry. All the money wasted on wind “farms” could be going toward global birth control, conservation technology and solar panels on existing man-made structures.

        There’s a green fantasy of eliminating oil (and its many untold uses) by moving to an electric economy, but the scale of modern life may be too vast now. Heavy transport may always need a combustible energy source capable of sustained torque over long periods. The world never came with a clause that a large fossil fuel economy could be run entirely on something else. Let’s focus on rooftop solar more than anything. Wind is just a secondary form of solar energy and direct solar eliminates the goliath middleman.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          You display an amazing level of selfrighteousness, tunnel vision, and hyperbole with all your anti-wind power bullshit.

          You obviously DO prefer those scenes or you wouldn’t be pushing so hard against wind power. And your mild endorsements of solar power make me wonder what your real agenda and real motivation may be.

          Right now I’m thinking that you are another Russell Cook, and just as he sings his one note song about Ross Gelbspan, you sing your boring tune about wind turbines being ugly. Do you also work for Heartland? Are you a sower of doubt about wind power?

          • greenman3610 Says:

            “You show a stripped mountaintop but wind turbines are doing the exact same thing”
            “They’re a lot like fracking blight, except much taller and more permanent”

            both statements show a completely absent awareness of the very permanent impacts on habitat and water supply that come from mining and fracking. The difference is that, someday, no doubt, those wind turbines can come down, and the underlying ground and water will be no worse for the wear.

            “wind turbines are ADDING blight, not magically cancelling it out.”

            dead wrong. Wind turbines directly cancel the need for more coal mines and fracking.
            “vertical footprint that’s only rivaled by offshore drilling.”

            uh.. minus the occasional devastation of the Gulf of Mexico. Right, your care for living creatures comes shining through, bro.

            Your inability to understand these distinctions confirms everything I’ve ever thought or written about windbaggers.

      • Alec Sevins Says:

        Also, you mourn oil-soaked birds but where are your tears for the growing numbers of birds & bats that the wind industry takes a “live and let die” stance on?

        “(Washington, D.C., June 19, 2014) Today, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) filed suit in federal court against the Department of the Interior (DOI), charging DOI with multiple violations of federal law in connection with its December 9, 2013, final regulation that allows wind energy companies and others to obtain 30-year permits to kill eagles without prosecution by the federal government.”

        I suspect you’ll trivialize that by comparing it to existing death causes, but remember what cumulative means. Nature just sees overall declines. A bird or bat’s last breath isn’t spent in gratitude for carbon reductions, any more than it cares about an office worker’s window view.

        Many (true) environmentalists are seeing the big picture of the expanding human footprint, and realize that people can blunder in the wrong direction for decades. I hope you’ll slowly back out of wind turbine denial, just as Republicans will eventually admit that AGW is real.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          the American Bird Conservancy is a fake “grass roots” organization. If you are interested in Birds, you check on
          what Audobon has to say, and they are big fans of wind energy, to ward off the real threat to birds, and all species,
          climate change.
          I am sure that as solar energy really gets going, we’ll be hearing from you on “solar cell syndrome”..

          • dumboldguy Says:

            The more he comments, the more Alec looks like a troll. Birds and bats are unlikely to be driven to extinction because of “wind turbine predation”, but continued use of fossil fuels may kill every living thing on the planet (the hills will look pretty as every tree and animal on them goes extinct, though)

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