Wind turbines cannot be the priority to fight climate change
A carte blanche from Maël Dumont, 28, engineer.
A few months ago, we were informed of a project to build a wind farm in a plain near our house, on the territory of the municipality of Villers-la-Ville, in Walloon Brabant. The arrival of such a project on our doorstep leads us to ask ourselves certain questions and in particular this one: does it make sense to want to protect our environment by installing wind turbines when these wind turbines also result in damage this same environment?
It seems to me that this question can only be answered with the help of a compromise. But are the terms of this compromise well laid out? To believe the numbers, not really …
A first term of this compromise, as we know, is the environmental impact of wind turbines on our countryside. The second is the production of clean energy replacing the production of fossil energy emitting greenhouse gases. It is this second term that we will examine more closely.
Since it is energy in question, let us try to see more clearly on this question too rarely approached from a technical point of view.
The annual final energy consumption in Belgium, that is to say the total energy used by the Belgian population in a year to live (neglecting certain losses) fluctuated around 4,000,000 toe (tonnes-oil equivalent ) between 2000 and 2018, without a real drop being observed. By approximating a minimum, this corresponds to approximately 450 TWh (terawatt-hours). If Belgium wanted today to achieve carbon neutrality to avoid climate disaster, all of this energy would have to come from renewable sources.
So where are we now? In 2020, the production of renewable electric energy amounted to 20.5 TWh, which can be broken down roughly as follows: 6.5 for off-shore wind power, 5 for photovoltaic power and 4 for wind power on -shore, the rest being supplied by biomass and hydraulics.
In view of these figures, we can therefore say that when we talk about on-shore wind power today, we are talking about an energy source that covers less than 1% of the final energy consumption of Belgians. . Not to mention that the question of storing energy which is only available on average 20% of the time, when the wind is blowing “well”, is not addressed here.
“Imposture! Manipulation of numbers masking advanced stage Nimby (1) syndrome?”
Obviously the point of view is well chosen, but is it so dishonest?
Does this mean then that all is lost? Hopefully not. Does this mean that wind turbines are useless? The figures show us in any case that they are not the priority to fight against climate change …
In reality, these numbers tell us that the real question may not be whether we are for or against wind turbines but rather whether we are ready to tackle the main part of the problem: our energy use. If we want to achieve carbon neutrality while preserving our landscape to a minimum, these 450 TWh should be divided by 5 according to a study carried out in 2019 by the PMP association, supported by the Walloon Region.
This reduction is absolutely colossal and will require a real revolution, a radical change of paradigm. Faced with the urgent need to save our planet and faced with such figures, is it not obvious that it is this radical change that we are called upon as a priority? Perhaps the greatest merit of these wind turbines in our gardens is to help us become aware of it …
(1) Acronym for “not in my backyard” (pas dans mon jardin), an expression used to describe an opponent of a development project motivated, not by an opposition in principle or of an environmental nature, but by the location of this project that harms its living environment and its heritage.