We nearly called this article “why flatulence (biogas) is better than wind”, but we decided that it was a little bit too flippant for such a serious subject. There are in fact that least five reasons why anaerobic digestion as an energy source, is better than wind energy. We know that statement might surprise our readers, and if that is you to read on, and we hope you will think differently by the end of this article.
1. The most important fact that outstrips all others, and we make no apology for placing first in in our list, is that AD Plants generate electricity 24 hours every day. A reliable and well run anaerobic digestion plant will provide a base load of electrical power 24/7 and 365 days a year, every year.
Until technology finds a low-cost and reliable way to store electricity, or to store energy which is ready on-tap for use on-demand, when people want to use it, it will remain necessary to maintain fossil fuel generating capacity alongside all the wind farm capacity.
The true cost of wind energy should therefore be calculated on the basis of the cost of the wind energy itself, plus the cost of maintaining a fossil-fuel powered power station capable of delivering the energy of the wind farm, and to do that while being on-call at a moment’s notice, ready for when the wind stops.
Although, the reserve backup capacity may not need to be 100% of the wind farm generating capacity, if the power grid extends over an extremely large geographical area. The above reserve capacity then provided, can only be less than 100%, if it can be shown that there will be no occasions when all wind farms in the grid feed area, would never all be becalmed simultaneously.
Winter farm subsidies, are not based on this presumption and therefore are subsidized at an unrealistically high level by governments. By contrast, anaerobic digestion power, due to its continuous baseline supply capability, holds none of these hidden costs. Which also include, the use in the case of wind energy, unsustainable energy in the form of carbonaceous fuel consumption.
2. Anaerobic digestion is better than wind farms, because most anaerobic digestion consumes waste, this waste would have harmful consequences if it was not digested. Clearly some wastes are more hazardous to the environment than others. The biggest advantage to the environment when a waste is digested comes from digesting food waste. Food waste increases the risk that the environment will be damaged by polluting emissions if it is placed in landfills. However, all of organic waste is less hazardous to the environment once it has been digested. Not only that, anaerobic digestion contains a pasteurization stage during which it is sanitised and any pathogens present, and seeds, will be killed.
3. A wind farm, once it has been constructed and commissioned, provides very little in the way of jobs for local people. By contrast, an anaerobic digestion plant will require at least one, possibly more, plant operators for as long as it is in use.
4. The turbine blades at wind farms provide a hazard to birdlife. An anaerobic digestion plant does not provide any hazard to birdlife.
5. The motion of wind turbine blades produces noise which can be heard over very long distances. An anaerobic digestion plant, may produce some noise which is potentially audible to those within about 50 metres of an AD plant. Noise nuisance from AD plants is orders of magnitude less intense.
Anaerobic digesters, can be described as able to kill three birds with one stone, because they produce renewable energy, treat waste, and provide a valuable agricultural fertilizer.
It would be a little bit unkind, to say that winter turbines only in comparison, kill three birds with one blade! However, the reader will by now have picked up the views of the author in respect of wind energy… All the author would ask of governments which promote wind energy, that they set tariffs and other incentives at a level which reflects the fact that wind energy is not such a good (nor economic) provider of energy as it might appear to be at first sight.
To give incentives to wind energy which are comparable to, or greater than, anaerobic digestion facilities is illogical. So, we return to where we started this article and repeat that; “flatulence, not wind, is the way to go”.