Wind Energy is not Green

Wind turbines in Dun Law, ScotlandBy SIMON PARRY in China and ED DOUGLAS in Scotland

This toxic lake poisons Chinese farmers, their children and their land. It is what’s left behind after making the magnets for Britain’s latest wind turbines… and, as a special Live investigation reveals, is merely one of a multitude of environmental sins committed in the name of our new green Jerusalem

The lake of toxic waste at Baotou, China, which as been dumped by the rare earth processing plants in the background

The lake of toxic waste at Baotou, China, which as been dumped by the rare earth processing plants in the backgroundOn the outskirts of one of China’s most polluted cities, an old farmer stares despairingly out across an immense lake of bubbling toxic waste covered in black dust. He remembers it as fields of wheat and corn.

Yan Man Jia Hong is a dedicated Communist. At 74, he still believes in his revolutionary heroes, but he despises the young local officials and entrepreneurs who have let this happen.

‘Chairman Mao was a hero and saved us, ’ he says. ‘But these people only care about money. They have destroyed our lives.’

Vast fortunes are being amassed here in Inner Mongolia; the region has more than 90 per cent of the world’s legal reserves of rare earth metals, and specifically neodymium, the element needed to make the magnets in the most striking of green energy producers, wind turbines.

Villagers Su Bairen, 69, and Yan Man Jia Hong, 74, stand on the edge of the six-mile-wide toxic lake in Baotou, China that has devastated their farmland and ruined the health of the people in their communityLive has uncovered the distinctly dirty truth about the process used to extract neodymium: it has an appalling environmental impact that raises serious questions over the credibility of so-called green technology.

The reality is that, as Britain flaunts its environmental credentials by speckling its coastlines and unspoiled moors and mountains with thousands of wind turbines, it is contributing to a vast man-made lake of poison in northern China. This is the deadly and sinister side of the massively profitable rare-earths industry that the ‘green’ companies profiting from the demand for wind turbines would prefer you knew nothing about.

Hidden out of sight behind smoke-shrouded factory complexes in the city of Baotou, and patrolled by platoons of security guards, lies a five-mile wide ‘tailing’ lake. It has killed farmland for miles around, made thousands of people ill and put one of China’s key waterways in jeopardy.

This vast, hissing cauldron of chemicals is the dumping ground for seven million tons a year of mined rare earth after it has been doused in acid and chemicals and processed through red-hot furnaces to extract its components.

Wind power’s uncertainties don’t end with intermittency. There is huge controversy about how much energy a wind farm will produce (Pictured above, wind turbines in Dun Law, Scotland)

Inside the Baotou Xijun Rare Earth refinery in Baotou, where neodymium, essential in new wind turbine magnets, is processed How the latest wind turbines work One unit cell of Nd2Fe14b, the alloy used in neodymium magnets. The structure of the atoms gives the alloy its magnetic strength, due to a phenomenon known as magnetocrystalline anisotropy Nuclear, coal, solar, hydro, wind: How the energy options stack up

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Q&A

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What makes wind energy green?

it does not require burnig anything

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Is wind energy considered green?

Of all the different types of alternative energy, Wind power is leading the charge due to its minimal carbon footprint compared to energy output.