Ideological electricity


Word choices are interesting. When we hear the word “wind farm”, we associate it with something nice, even when we see twenty 150-metre high turbines sticking out of the landscape. If somebody spoke about a “power line farm” referring to high-voltage turbines rising as high as trees or about a ”nuclear power grove” referring to two to three reactors on the same island, quite a ruckus would be raised. We are being manipulated!

It isn’t a pure coincidence that we let our choice of words caress some things whereas we reject others through our lingual expressions. For the sake of impartiality, I speak quite knowingly about the wind power industry and wind power lobbying – although many would prefer only to speak of production and experts. Wind power is an industry that has its own individual lobbyists, just like any other sector. This field is not exactly profitable as such but that doesn’t really bother the wind power lobby since the matter has been aided by society.

For the time being each megawatt to be built requires half a million euros of state support. It is clear that this kind of subsidisation cannot continue, as according to the EU’s objectives, a couple of megawatts more in addition to the present 120 will be built. However, the wind power industry won’t be left without any help, as the consumer will be forced to support it through feed-in tariffs.

Thus in the name of honesty, these should be called force-feeding tariffs.

At present these projects are launched with the blessing of the Finnish National Coalition Party, which is now in government. I really can‘t say that I would be happy about the extensive destruction of our seascape, especially when the environmental benefit gained is insignificant compared to the economic input. I am convinced that not even the voters will be satisfied when the theoretically soft values of a farm idea, in practise, turn into a blatantly hard and expensive fact sticking out of the landscape.

The upheaval has already begun. The giant wind power project of Inkoo-Raasepori has given birth to the ProBarösund movement and UNESCO has already requested a report concerning the effects of the wind power complex that threatens the World Heritage Site of Kvarken.

Popular movements do not oppose wind power as such, but they demand similar kinds of criteria as are in place in Sweden, such as how to locate wind power farms: a decision in principle not to destroy the archipelago scenery, and an overall plan at the national level instead of proceeding project by project. A further wish is that residential areas be protected by a minimum distance and no wind power industry would be erected closer to that border due to noise impacts and landscape hazards. These are reasonable wishes, especially as the project is financed through tax payers’ or consumers’ money.

If it concerned some other form of energy, environmental groups would defend citizens’ rights and the integrity of conservation areas, and a couple of well-paid Greenpeace stunt performers would eagerly be dangling from a crane tower.

As I said this isn’t any normal form of energy. This is ideological energy. When hazards some day become more obvious and the EU’s renewable energy target are found to be unrealistic, the present-day supporters will have had time to turn their coats and to understand, so to say, that, as a matter of fact, they had never supported wind power in the first place. But that is another story – and a damage done for the National Coalition Party?

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