PIK Researcher Stefan Rahmstorf Plays It Loose With His Sources, Mischaracterizes Wind Energy Drawbacks

Stefan Rahmstorf has problems with his sources

By Die kalte Sonne
Translated by NoTricksZone

Stefan Rahmstorf, is just as we know him. In a new Spiegel column, the climate researcher from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research attempts a sweeping blow – but apparently without really checking the numerous sources he links to.

Recycling turbine blades

Just two examples from his recent article:

The switchover of the fossil propaganda machine from fake news about climate research to fake news about solutions is a worldwide trend that can also be observed in Germany. Wind turbines allegedly endanger the population of red kites (no), cause dangerous infrasound (wrong) and are not recyclable (indeed they are), electric cars are allegedly more harmful to the climate than combustion engines (no) or cause the power grid to collapse (no).”

If Rahmstorf had followed the link on recycling, for example, he could (should?) have read that the blades of wind turbines, and that’s what we’re talking about, are crushed using various methods, then (please note!) burned in the kilns of cement factories. This is not recycling, but a material thermal utilization, moreover one that releases a lot of CO2. Cement factories do not have the filters that waste incinerators have. These would become gummed up and unusable when the blade fragments are incinerated. The Bremen-based company Neocomp offers to shred the rotor blades. There, the subsequent incineration is described in flowery terms.

With the experience of three decades of recycling and waste management, Neocomp sees itself as part of the recyclable economy. As a professional reprocessor, the company offers a 100 percent recycling guarantee. Thus, your GRP waste is turned into a high-quality substitute for the cement industry in our processing plant, providing both energy and raw materials (SiO2). This recycling process represents an economically and ecologically viable alternative to fossil fuels.”

The Tagesspiegel gives a good overview of where the problems lie in this area. Possibly, Rahmstorf had neither the time nor the inclination to inform himself about the topic. Fundamental problems such as the different regulations from state to state regarding the dismantling of wind turbines are better left out altogether; for Rahmstorf, a link to a lobby site is sufficient.

For example, there is no nationwide uniform clarification of what happens to concrete turbine foundations. In principle, concrete can of course be recycled, but in some states the foundations may remain in the ground, in others only a certain height has to be milled off. The linked lobby article also explicitly refers to burning the crushed blades, again nicely packaged. However, with a remarkable logic:

The plastics separated from the wood and other filler material consist of two components: Fibers and resins. When the blades are burned in conventional incinerators, the glass fibers remain. Therefore, they are shredded by special recycling companies so that they can be used as substitute fuel by the cement industry, whose kilns reach up to 2000°C. The ash produced during incineration consists mainly of silicon and can be added to cement right away as a raw sand substitute.”

According to this, everything that is burned is part of the recyclable economy, because all that is left is ash, which can even be recycled. It would be the canonization of coal.

Hazards to birds

On the subject of bird strikes, again only one aspect is considered. In this case, a study that is only available as an interim result so far. The study was carried out by an engineering office that earns its money with expertise for the wind power and electricity industry. There is criticism of this study, but nothing of the sort can be found in Rahmstorf’s selection.

We recently reported on a study by researchers from the United Kingdom, who pointed out the risk of birds being killed by wind turbines and power lines. According to the logic of the study linked to by Rahmstorf, there has to be two huge poison areas in Europe, one via the West (France, Spain) to North Africa and one via the Balkans and the Middle East to the North of Africa. These are the classical migration areas and it is exactly there the researchers determined the largest danger, equally by wind power plants and power lines and not by poisoned rats and mice as the cause.

Rahmstorf also achieves a real feat. He actually blames Fritz Vahrenholt (who in fact had earlier built up the wind power division for power utility RWE) for the company’s CO2 pollution by casually mentioning it in one sentence. One reads nothing in the Rahmstorf text from the RWE wind power subsidiary Innogy. Rahmstorf rather tries to produce the impression that Vahrenholt personally shoveled the coal into the coal power plants. Currently, RWE is now involved in wind power in a great many countries, including outside Europe. Just recently, RWE announced that it would expand its wind power capacity to 50 GW by 2030, investing 50 billion euros to do so. Without the Vahrenholt’s early efforts beginning in 2008, this would hardly have been possible.

But differentiating was not the aim of the column anyway. Rahmstorf is more interested in attacking as many protagonists as possible. They’re all paid by the fossil mafia is what should stick in the mind of the reader, nothing more.

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April 15, 2022 at 12:52PM

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